There is hardly a backpacker who was not yet in Southeast Asia. For many backpackers Thailand and Co are the entry-level countries. Why? Because they are easy to travel and cheap, are considered safe and have good infrastructure. In addition, there are many like-minded people on the way, so you can easily connect when you’re traveling alone. But that’s about it, as far as the similarities are concerned, because each country is also unique and totally different from its neighbors. Southeast Asia lies, as the name implies, between South and East Asia. I have looked which countries are now all, namely: Brunei, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, East Timor, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Where is it most beautiful?
When I saw the list, I thought: Yes blatantly, except for Brunei and East Timor I was already in all these countries. Maybe it will be time to draw a small conclusion. Where did I find it the most beautiful? Which region did I like the most? And above all: why? I’ll make a small top 10 stop. Stop, it’s only nine countries, so a top 9. The number does not change, however, that it is incredibly difficult for me to decide. And just because a country has to be at the bottom of my lineup does not mean that I did not like it there. But of course, there were trips that I thought back more often than others. And that’s why I sat down and sorted my experiences a bit and forced myself to create my personal top 9.
Of course, number one for me: Vietnam! I did not have to think about it for long. This is not necessarily the country itself, but rather because my first backpacking trip to Vietnam went. And it all started with her, my desire to travel, my love for backpacking, my recurring wanderlust … It was the first time that I saw cone hats and rice fields, that I had breakfast noodle soup in the morning and met many travelers from all over the world. I think the first trip, you just do not forget it.
My little beloved Laos! I will never forget my three weeks here. At Laos I liked that it is so relaxed and somehow unspectacular. There are no wonders of the world, no beaches and islands, yes, not even a really outstanding or extraordinary kitchen! Besides, it always took forever for the food to arrive. In Laos, I also met the most interesting travelers. The average age was also a bit higher than for example in Thailand (and I was on the trip not 18 more …). I think you do not necessarily make Laos the first country. If you go there, you probably already have some travel experience in your luggage.
Actually, I actually only flew to East Malaysia because I did not know exactly where to go that year, the flight was cheap and the country was just “on the list”. And it has once again shown itself: when expectations are low, it often becomes the best time. I found Malaysia, so the East, just super manageable, perfect to do a lot of different things in four weeks. There is everything: mountains, tropical islands, small towns with lots of culture, etc. In addition, great travelers were on the way and I can only repeat it, interesting encounters make the most of a good trip. I think so.
In Thailand, I’ve probably met as many people in six weeks as I’ve spent the rest of my life together. It was a time when I was so much in the mood for it. I was never alone, did a great job, and slept little. And even if Thailand was very busy, I did not find it overcrowded. The country rightly attracts many people. The islands and beaches are just heavenly, the accommodations cheap and nice. I probably do not have to mention the incredible food. A better price-performance ratio than in Thailand, you will probably find nowhere else.
I think I was lucky on my trip to Myanmar because it was still hype. Some regions were still completely closed to tourists. It was still enough and before I went to a new place, it was absolutely advisable to reserve an accommodation. Of course this took a bit of spontaneity. But going somewhere and looking, could be really expensive and I think that has not changed much. Incidentally, in no other country have people smiled friendlier than here and nowhere else have I seen so many monks. The bus rides in Myanmar were definitely the hardest of my life.
I once traveled across Java and then was on Bali, Lombok and Gili Air. So I still miss many corners of Indonesia! Java was a bit adventurous, because unlike Bali and Lombok, I rarely met other travelers here (except Yogya). Sometimes so few that sometimes I was alone for several days. Maybe that was also because of my travel time, because I was there in March on the way and had noticed only locally that is probably just rainy season. In the run-up to the trip, I was really not well informed. So, for example, I was also surprised that the country has the largest Muslim population in the world. I had rather counted on Buddhists, temples and pagodas, as in many other Southeast Asian countries.
My time in Cambodia was a really funny one. This was not only due to the other backpackers I met there, but also to the locals. I remember that as very sociable and communicative and they mostly spoke really good English. However, the business idea of â€‹â€‹the Cambodians was sometimes a bit too strong. There is a lot to do and see in the country, less so if you need a beautiful beach to be happy, but rather if you are interested in the history and culture.
So far back? Yes. On my four-week trip to the Philippines, everything went well, that was not the point. However, I absolutely did not like Manila. In addition, I was really surprised to find here not the Asian restraint, but extremely communicative inhabitants and a lot of southern temperament (I had in advance just not even informed). Why there are also points deduction: I really only met couples and as a single traveler I found that sometimes a little stupid. For me it was full of Honeymoon Islands.
Singapore was, strictly speaking, my very first Southeast Asian experience, because on the way to Vietnam I stopped here for several days. It’s just a big city and with big cities I just do not have it like that. Singapore did not catch on to me, except for the impressive Chinatown and my first Indian food in the district of Little India, which was extremely hot. Personally, I never had the desire to return to Singapore again.
Every backpacker is different
As I have just noticed, interesting encounters with other Travelers obviously play a big role for me, so that a journey in my eyes is really great. Over the years it has become increasingly important for me that a country has much to offer in terms of landscape and there are opportunities for hiking. In the meantime I stay away from big cities from the beginning, because they mostly only stress me. Of course everyone has different needs and demands and that’s why your Southeast Asia top ten looks totally different. Will I make it to Brunei and East Timor to get an impression of all Southeast Asian countries? Who knows! I would not mind. The nine countries I’ve been to are definitely worth the trip!
Which are your top 3 countries in Southeast Asia?