One of the reasons why many travelers (especially backpackers) travel to Southeast Asia is because it’s typically cheaper than most travel destinations in the world. There are so many interesting areas to explore in Southeast Asia. The beaches are not the only ones that are amazingly beautiful. The people, cultures and traditions, jungles, flora and fauna, and the rivers are just as wonderful too.
But what makes it more interesting than anywhere else in the world? Here are 9 top reasons why it beats even some of the best:
1. One doesn’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy good food
Asian cuisines are worth every dime. Delicious food is everywhere — and at every corner of every street. The best thing about them? They’re cheap. You don’t need to walk more than a mile in order to please your grouchy tummy.
In Thailand, delicious spicy food is everywhere. In Malaysia, a wide variety of scrumptious Chinese, Malay and Indian cuisines can be found all around the country.
While most food are wet and soupy in Vietnam, fried rice and dry snacks are also popularly eaten and sold. For those craving for other international cuisines, western and middle-eastern restaurants are also available in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. P.S. Street food is always the best!
2. Budget-friendly transportation
How much do you normally spend on transportation when traveling? Here’s a better question: How much are you willing to spend on transportation?
In many places, traveling cheaply is not a luxury. But in Southeast Asia, particularly in countries like Laos and Vietnam, you can go around with just US$10 – US$15 a day.
Bangkok’s public transports are quite reliable. When I was there early this year, I only took the bus to get around the city. You can also take the train – the fare is slightly more expensive than public buses, but you save time on traffic.
3. Decent WiFi
Whether you are a blogger, an independent contractor, or you just need to keep in touch with your loved ones wherever you go, Southeast Asia is a destination where you can use WiFi cheaply and happily.
While some areas may have slow-paced internet, typically in small towns and less developed regions, it’s not impossible to find spots that are WiFi-friendly.
For example, based on my personal experience, the internet connection in Vietnam is pretty good. I usually hang out at the coffee house to get easy access to WiFi. The speed is decent most of the time.
However, if you’re surfing the net from an island, the speed can be annoyingly slow (like the time when I was at Gili Trawangan, Indonesia).
4. Amazing nightlife and fun parties to attend
So you think you had the best parties in your country? You need to go to Southeast Asia. They know how to party (and throw a party) too!
Many youngsters go to Southeast Asia to backpack and along the way, they party. You’ll definitely see many of them in places like Gili Trawangan, Bali, Vang Vieng, Khaosan Road and touristy islands all over Thailand.
One of the popular destinations is Koh Samui. It’s where the parties are. Don’t forget about the most talked about party island, Koh Phangan. This is where the popular Full Moon Party is held, welcoming more than 10,000 visitors every month. If you want to get loose a little on your travel, this is a party worth checking out.
5. The people are unique and interesting
I’m from Southeast Asia. So I clearly know what I’m talking about. People in Southeast Asia are generally helpful and friendly.
Don’t be surprised if you get an invitation to a local wedding, a dinner invitation at their homes, or even a free ride from a local who has no clue of what hitchhiking is all about. These kind gestures are what I like about the people in Southeast Asia. Be prepared to be spoilt by Southeast Asian hospitality.
One time, I got invited by a group of Laotian men to have a feast with them outside my hotel during the Lunar celebration. Although language barrier existed, it didn’t stop us from having good laughs. You can read more about it at #BackpackerTales: 5 Reasons Why You Need to Visit Laos Today
6. Traditional lifestyles in Southeast Asia are preserved
While many parts of Southeast Asia are slowly developing (with Singapore as the most modern), there are still many untouched areas that are homes to the local people as well as their wildlife.
However, this is slowly changing due to rapid development and other factors like political changes, population explosion and more. Many people think that Southeast Asia will not look like how it is today in 10 years time. You’d never know what could happen. So I suggest you to visit it now.
Despite the modern changes, Southeast Asia is still one of the best places for you to experience traditional, simple life. Southeast Asians hold strongly to their local cultures and beliefs too. Historical buildings and monuments continue to be preserved. And you can still see small communities living the same kind of life as our ancestors did hundreds of years ago.
7. Fascinating rich cultures
As mentioned earlier, the people of Southeast Asia are unique and interesting. Their cultures are as colorful as their personalities. Here, you will meet people from diverse cultural backgrounds and ethnicities, with different languages and dialects.
You can see the colorful traditions from their lifestyles, local practices, fashion and more. Their way of life is mainly shaped by their religious beliefs.
Iconic sites are also a part of their rich cultures. Take a look at the majestic temples of Angkor Wat and Borobudur. They are both representations of the people’s classic architecture and religious beliefs.
8. Amazing array of nature and wildlife
If you’re wondering where some of the world’s rarest animals are hiding, they’re right in Southeast Asia. Here are some of the ones hiding in the wild:
- The Tarsier – They’re rare because they are impossible to breed in captivity.
- The Red Panda is also another one you need to check out. Take note: they’re not related to the Giant Pandas!
- The Saola – In 1992, it is declared as a new species and is considered a mysterious living being, with long horns and white markings on the face.
- The Tapir – A big, herbivorous animal with a pig-like body and a short, prehensile snout. It can also be found in Central America and South America.
Not all of them are hidden from humans though. You can easily see some of the rarest and most unique ones at the national parks and conservation centers in Southeast Asia. The Orangutans, Komodo Dragons and the Proboscis Monkeys are some of the ones you can see up-close.
9. Pristine beaches and lush tropical paradises
Southeast Asia has some of the best beaches in the world. Its vast marine life also attract many tourists each year. Boracay Island in the Philippines, for example, is one of the most popular getaways. People from all around the globe keep coming for its undeniably remarkable beauty.
Thailand is also well-known for its great beaches. Island hopping, diving and snorkeling are some of its special highlights. One can find many wonderful hotels and chalets of all price ranges there. So even when you’re traveling on a tight budget, you can still afford to enjoy the experience.
Luxury resorts are also flourishing in countries like Cambodia and Vietnam. Of course, I have not forgotten about Bali, Indonesia. It is another must-visit travel destination for ocean fanatics.
If you need recommendations on the best diving spots, I definitely recommend Indonesia and the Philippines. And if you’re lucky enough to swim with whale sharks, please don’t forget to get that moment captured on camera!
Whatever your reason is to visit Southeast Asia, I hope you’ll enjoy it. I know I am hooked because it’s a cheap travel destination with delightful richness. It is definitely worth the visit.