31 responses

  1. Lillie – @WorldLillie
    April 5, 2014

    What a fun, useful post! I have the feeling this will be widely circulated.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      April 6, 2014

      Glad you liked it!

      Reply

  2. Aleah | SolitaryWanderer.com
    April 4, 2014

    Great summary! I highly suggest people visit the Philippines. We have so much to offer!

    Reply

    • Terry at Overnight New York
      April 4, 2014

      Great tips — and I like that you list the downside of each place in addition to its glories. Well balanced.

      Reply

      • Talon Windwalker
        April 4, 2014

        Gotta recognize both sides, right? 😉

        Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      April 4, 2014

      Such a great country with such wonderful people!

      Reply

  3. Elle
    April 2, 2014

    A great list… and includes some of my Bucket List. Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam for sure – but only the rural areas.

    Love the way you had to point out at the start that your list didn’t include ALL countries in the area 😉

    Elle x

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      April 2, 2014

      I knew if I didn’t I’d get some people asking why I didn’t include Brunei or something. 😀

      Reply

  4. grasya
    April 2, 2014

    You are making me miss my home Talon.. but its good because I’m going back to the Philippines again <3

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      April 2, 2014

      At least you’re enjoying yourself in Nepal!

      Reply

  5. Mary @Green Global Travel
    April 1, 2014

    Great comparative list! As someone who hasn’t traveled to SE Asia yet, this is a great guide to get my inner travel gears working.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      April 2, 2014

      Such a great region to explore. Can be challenging, but a great place to visit.

      Reply

  6. Franca
    April 1, 2014

    Great info here, Talon! A part from the Philippines, I’ve been to the Top 3 Countries for Inexperienced/Less-Experienced Travelers. Unfortunately I have’t been to any of the ones you categorized as “Countries to not miss”, need to go back to Asia at some point!

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      April 1, 2014

      Now they’ll be a piece of cake for you. 😉

      Reply

  7. Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
    April 1, 2014

    An interesting look at SEA and one that I actually agree with, quite a lot (for me, my top countries in the region are Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Thailand… in that order, though I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them in the same way that I’d rank them!).

    I am genuinely curious, however, why you would express opinions/make recommendations about Laos & Cambodia when you haven’t visited them yourself. One thing I’ve found about this region is that it’s very diverse and so it’s not easy to extrapolate from one country to the next. Moreover, it’s a pretty divisive topic since we’ve yet to find a single place that was universally loved (or loathed), so I’m wondering what you were basing your impressions of these places on. We’re currently in Laos, and I kid you not, for every person who told us they LOVED it and it was their favorite place in SEA, we met someone who was disenchanted and said they would never go back!

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      April 1, 2014

      I encountered the same about Vietnam and still do. I think that alone makes me want to recommend those places. I didn’t say much about Cambodia or Laos, though. Mostly I think people need to realize they are less developed and not as easy to visit as Thailand and Malaysia. And I think people need to be aware of the well-documented border scams for Cambodia. Other than that I haven’t really made any recommendations or opinions about those places.

      Reply

    • Renz
      April 28, 2016

      Taiwan is not a part of the southeast asia

      Reply

  8. Val-This Way To Paradise
    March 31, 2014

    This is a great guide, Talon. I will soon be basing myself out of Thailand so I can see more of Asia. I didn’t know you have to have a letter of approval to enter Vietnam. That is definitely good to know!

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      March 31, 2014

      That’s only if you’re flying into Vietnam and want to do the visa on arrival rather than getting the advance visa through the consulate.

      Reply

  9. Wandering Educators
    March 31, 2014

    What a handy guide – especially the visa information. That’s the problem, though – so many great choices!!! 🙂

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      March 31, 2014

      Especially if you have a limited time!

      Reply

  10. Tracey – Life Changing Year
    March 31, 2014

    Awesome roundup and spot on in every way. Cambodia is the last place in Asia that an inexperienced traveller should go. Pretty great feat to write an Asian roundup and not mention the exciting toilet situations either….!!

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      March 31, 2014

      We don’t want to completely scare them off, right? 😉

      Reply

  11. Manfred @ Renegade Travels
    March 31, 2014

    Perfect analysis. We visited all those countries last year, with the exception of Philippines, which we’ll visit sometime soon. We particularly like Thailand, which is why we live here, but would also consider living in Phnom Penh and Penang. A great region to visit and to live in. I’ve been here almost four years now. Love it.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      March 31, 2014

      I can see why so many people choose to live in Thailand. We considered Malaysia as a base because it felt more like home to us. If I could just get used to the constant heat!

      Reply

  12. Tom @ Waegook Tom
    March 31, 2014

    Malaysia! It’s so underrated, and I can’t wait to get back and explore some more. Penang is calling my stomach…

    As for Cambodia, I’ve read a few posts lately saying that it’s starting to get dodgy and that the locals are starting up scams and stealing from tourists (and this is from bloggers who’ve spent a lot of time there). Cambodia and Vietnam are both firmly off my list for now, but Thailand, Laos, the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia are firmly on it.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      March 31, 2014

      Malaysia IS underrated! So true! I was actually surprised when I saw their tourism statistics because it seems like hardly anyone ever discusses going there unless they had a layover in KL or something.

      I have heard that Cambodia is getting a bit rougher which is quite sad. Not sure why Vietnam is off your list, though!

      Reply

  13. Dyanne@TravelnLass
    March 31, 2014

    Excellent, Talon. Indeed, having just spent nearly 3 years roaming around SEA, I agree with every word. Especially…

    “When visiting Saigon, try to get lodging outside the backpacker zone…”

    Oh my yes – steer VERY clear of Bùi Viện (the main drag of HCMC’s backpacker district). Every time I came near it, it made me literally gag. Seriously. But the good news is – just a couple few blocks away – you will experience authentic Vietnam (leastwise the urban version).

    And while (bewildering to me) many backpackers complain that the Vietnamese people are “cold” and/or “grumpy” and/or “out to rip you off” – in my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. Fully two years (one in Saigon, and another in the coool, greeeen mountains of Dalat), of living, eating, shopping, whizzing on “xe oms” (motorbike taxis) verily all over Vietnam. and never once was I ripped off, nor not treated with friendly smiles at every turn.

    Reply

    • Talon Windwalker
      March 31, 2014

      In Hanoi they are rather grumpy and cold. I even heard that from locals in Nha Trang and Saigon. It was also the only place in Vietnam that I felt more on edge in terms of personal safety. It felt like there was more scamming going on there as well. But the rest of Vietnam was not at all like that for me.

      Reply

      • Bong Bong gonzales
        June 4, 2016

        Just remmber if ur going to the phillippines do not go to thevless develop areas/poor areas, yes its true phillippines might be one of the most friendly country in the world. But if u go to the wrong neighborhood it will make the phillippines one of the most UNfriendly country in the world. Other from that i would suggest to go to,Alabang,tagaytay,Davao and Makati if ur a more western type of guy go to makati its like the singapore of the phillippines. If ur a more carefull guy go to Davao but be warned if u go to davao u have to becarefull of what u do cause it is the stricist city in the phillippines. And its well prottected its organize clean and the most safest city in the country. U can Leave ur phone on the street and almost no one will pick it up, but i would not advise that. And if Davao is the safest city its also a dangerous city,not because of criminals but because of insurgents. So always becarefull.

        Reply

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