South East Asia region includes 11 countries - Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, East Timor, Laos, Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Myanmar and Thailand.
We traveled all of them except East Timor, Brunei and Philippines. These three we will keep in mind for our future South East Asia travels.
South East Asia. This part of the world is one of my favorites, I always come back here. And not just me. Millions of tourists from all over the world travel to this region every year, not without a reason!
20 reasons why I love South-East Asia.
#1. The climate. The sun is shining and it is always warm. Here I what to feel cold. Even if I catch a rainy season somewhere, that's not so bad. The tropical rain has its special charm for me.
#2. South East Asia is so diverse, every traveler will find what he or she is looking for - from exclusive luxury resorts to the simplest accommodations for backpackers - everyone will find a roof over their heads, that corresponds to their travel style.
#3. South-East Asia is one of the safest regions in the world. Especially for women traveling alone. And for single women who travel with children (our case). Sure, things happen sometimes here too, but not more (and rather less) than in the other parts of the world.
#4. I can swim in the sea at any time of the year!
#5. I can live my minimalist lifestyle here! I do not need a permanent home, what binds me with long term contracts, I don't need a car - I rent a motorbike for 2-3 Euros per day. I have no contracts and contractors, who bother me with mails and other bureaucracy. Everything is reduced to the essentials! All we own here - two backpacks! Both are small enough to travel as a hand luggage! It's amazing how little we need to be happy! Each of us has 3 dresses and 2 pairs of shoes. I have my laptop and cameras with me and carry some Anna's school books. Anna has her paints, brushes (for working on her art gallery) and a few small toys. Less is more in this case! Anna become really creative, inventive and appreciative while playing with very limited number of toys.
#6. Good life for less. It is really inexpensive here compared to the rest of the world. For 8-10 Euros / night you will get a nice double room with a private bath and sometimes even with a breakfast included! An unbeatable price-performance ratio! The exception are Singapore and Brunei, both are pretty expensive.
#7. Diversity of nature and incredible beaches! All I could wish - white sandy beaches, black volcanic beaches, with palm trees and without, wide and quiet or rugged and rocky, popular or lonely, with calm waters or heavy waves, comfortable with beach chairs and coconut - delivery service or quite remote where we can spend a day absolutely alone.
#8. My favorite fruits grow here! Mangoes, Dragon Fruit, Mangosteen, Jackfruit, Salak, Sirsak
#9. So much to learn and so many new things to try! Diving, kite-boarding, surfing, drawing, cooking, yoga, new crafts, exciting and sometimes strange rituals ... one can jump in the mud and delight the gods this way (a clear win-win activity)! We flew in a hot air balloon over a jungle in the north of Thailand. We learned a new and exotic style of painting - Keliki! We learned how to cook Thai food, climbed an active volcano, joined local rituals, slept under stars in an old temple and made a lot of new friends! I cannot wait to share our experiences in our travel documentary films I am producing now!
#10. Many different cultures and religions exist peacefully together in this part of the world!
#11. The people are relaxed and friendly! And reserved! We have experienced so much hospitality from the locals! As a rule, tourists are treated correct and respectful.
#12. I do not need to worry about visa for the most countries in South-East Asia! I travel with a Russian passport and I can go:
- visa-free for max. 30 days to Malaysia;
- visa-free for max. 30 days to Indonesia (if arrive in the airports of Jakarta, Medan, Surabaya, Batam and Bali, as well as in the ferry ports of Batam and Bintan. When entering country in other places, visa will be issued at the border/airport, costs 35 USD).
- visa-free for 2 weeks to Vietnam;- visa-free for 30 days to Thailand;
- visa-free for 30 days to Laos;
- visa-free for 30 days to Philippines;
- can have a visa-free stopover in Singapore for 4 days (follow transit rules). 4 days are enough for us, because 1) Singapore is quite small and 2) very expensive.
I can spend months travelling through these countries without having to worry about any visa.I need a visa for Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia and East Timor only. With a German or another Western European passport the situation is probably even better.
#13. The mentality. Public disputes are extremely rare. Conflicts are resolved very calmly and usually with a nice smile. Oh, how I admire that! There is so much to learn!
#14. I feel very well in the perfectly organized Asian chaos! The traffic, which works almost without rules, signs and traffic lights, is the most considerate I have ever experienced.
#15. English is enough. Vietnam and Myanmar were a little harder in terms of communication, but it worked with hands and feet pretty well. The most important thing is - people want to understand and want to help. And do not just pass by if they do not understand the question.
#16. In South-East Asia I can dress really colorful, without attracting (negative) attention! A colorful dress, red sandals, a colorful shawl over the head, brown sunglasses, purple helmet on top, a backpack in the color what currently available and let's go with our mix colored motorbike! A Villa Villekulla on wheels! I would not dare to go outside in these dress in Germany or in Russia... but here it fits great and I even feel pretty!
#17. The infrastructure for traveling is good! Backpacking in South East Asia is easy, every beginner will be able to manage it. Myanmar and some Indonesian islands (Pulau We and Flores) were a bit more difficult to travel around, I had to hitchhike there sometimes, but on the most tourist routes the infrastructure is surprisingly good!
#18. Massages and other great SPA treatments. Where else in the world I can get a professional massage for 6 Euros/hour? No-no, not on a dirty mattress on the beach, but in a salon with relaxing music and cucumber slices on my eyes ... Even India (in my experience) cannot beat this offer!
#19. My beloved island of Bali is here! With all its temples, gods and spirits.
And the best for last!
#20. There are no smart alecks/ all knowing mentors here who will teach you what to eat, how to drive, how to raise your kids and how to live! Great place to live your own life!