I don’t think that there’s anybody who’s into traveling or digital nomading that hasn’t at least considered visiting the beautiful countries in SE Asia. For those who still haven’t made the leap for various reasons, I am listing below my top 5 best reasons why you should visit South East Asia.
1. The climate
When I get off the plane and exit the airport, the first thing that hits me is the sweet smell of the air and the heat. The first time that I visited Thailand, this feeling hit me. There was something different with the smell, a kind of sweet smell combined with the heat. It was totally different from anything that I had experienced in the UK or Europe. Although sometimes the air is not sweet, especially near the drains…
I hate wearing warm clothes, you know things like jumpers, cardigans, scarves, hats, gloves, padded jackets and so on. All of those items of clothing I can leave behind – nothing better than walking around in a short sleeved shirt and shorts or jeans all year round and feel insanely comfortable.
At least when I wake up in the morning, I know that I will not be cold or shivering! The heat can sometimes be unbearable, but air con units will always save the day! As well as the pool. Or the sea. Anything goes!
2. Food, glorious food!
The food in Southeast Asia, oh yes, sweet, sour, spicy, salty and delicious! I’ve always enjoyed Thai food, but my first authentic Gaeng Keeow Wan Gai (chicken green curry) in Bangkok was aroi mak mak (very tasty). The same applies to Vietnamese food, I had tried in some in various cities outside SE Asia before, it was good. But my first Vietnamese chicken Pho soup was in Hanoi last year. I ate the first one and then ordered a second one, it was that good!
I’ll never forget my first Tom Kha Gai (chicken coconut soup). I was sitting in the Pattaya Beer Garden on New Years Eve with two friends. One of my friends ordered a tom kha gai, I tried it and ordered one for myself, delicious.
Also the array of fresh fruits and herbs in local supermarkets always amazes me. Where else can you get pineapples, mangoes and other exotic fruits so cheap? Of course, they’re not exotic for South East Asian countries, but I will always consider them “exotic” and love eating them!
3. The stunning and spectacular scenery
The scenery in Southeast Asia always amazes me, whether it’s a quiet and idyllic beach or a ruined Khmer style Wat (temple) or lush green mountains or a landscape of rice paddy fields.
I’ve woken up to view of Water Buffalo grazing near a paddy field; or sitting in a taxi driving along the road next to Mekong river in Laos and thinking how red and dusty the road was. Having a paddle in the mighty Mekong river in Vientiane and then walking back to the guesthouse with soggy feet!
The drive to Kanchanaburi in a minivan was stunning, lush green mountains as we got closer to the town. I went on a speed boat trip down the river and the views were spectacular.
I’ve been to Koh Samui and Koh Kood, both had scenery to die for. Koh Kood being the best I’ve seen so far, waking up to the view of a quiet klong (canal) and surrounded by tense green jungle, breathtaking!
I think you get the idea. Raw nature and breathtaking views – this is what you get all around SE Asia!
4. Budget friendly
Where else in the world can you drink a beer that costs 5000 dong (15p)? Or eat a green curry fried rice and a soft drink for 50 baht (£1)? I’m sure there aren’t many places where you can!
I stayed at a guesthouse next to the river Kwai in Kanchanaburi last year. Breakfast overlooking the river and what a view it was too, all for 780 baht per day.
I’ve stayed in a traditional Thai house sleeping on a hard mattress on the floor. Cheap 500 baht per night guesthouses in Thailand, french style guesthouse in Vientiane and a boutique type of hotel in Hanoi…
Southeast Asia provides accommodation for every budget from super cheap to the super expensive. If you stay long term in Bangkok, then an apartment can be rented for as little as 3000 baht per month.
Of course, you shouldn’t expect everything to be cheap especially because you will be always treated like a tourist and most people will try to sell you overpriced everything. But you know what? Even overpriced in South Eastern Asia is cheaper than the US, Australia or Western Europe!
5. The history, the people and the culture
Southeast Asia is rich in history and rich in Buddhist culture. This only applies to Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. From the Khmer dynasty in Cambodia and Thailand, to the old Ayutthaya and Siam kingdoms… did you know that there are 31 UNESCO World Heritage sites in South East Asia?
I am always surprised when in Bangkok that Buddha likes mixed fruit Fanta and bananas, as these offerings are always ones at the shrines.
I always found people in Southeast Asia very friendly and kind. I’ve never been scammed so far, although it does happen a lot to some unfortunate tourists. You can always find like minded people whether these are tourists, backpackers, expats or the locals.
I can walk around the streets of Bangkok or Hanoi without too much fear of being mugged or robbed – unlike what happened to me in Bogota, for example. If I mind my own business then I’m safer than I would be in my home country. The only things to watch out for are dodgy pavements, terrible driving and hardly any pedestrian crossings. You would like by now they would have some, but no one would probably stop anyway!
In the end, my top 5 reasons to travel SE Asia only manage to scratch the surface. There’s a lot of awesomeness here and even though some people start staying away from these countries just because they are so popular… remember that they are popular for a valid reason! They’re all amaaaazing!