Southeast Asia offers some of the best experiences in the world for mindful travelers. From trying authentic and delicious street food, to meeting warm-hearted local people, to exploring beautiful and lush nature — there is something for every free spirited traveler to enjoy here.
We are Lea & Stefan and we both come from Switzerland. We met 6 years ago for a first date and have been inseparable ever since. The first big trip we made together was to India. This was an eye-opening experience for us.
After this trip, we started to change our lives in many ways because we realized that we can be happier with less and that we want to do more for the world. It was also the time when we got bitten by the travel bug.
We fell in love with Southeast Asia and when we decided to travel full time we decided to come back here. The reason for that is that there are, first of all, many beautiful places to discover and second life here is much more affordable when you travel or like us even live on a budget.
Our first impression of Southeast Asia was that the people were lovely and welcoming in most places. That inspired us to keep coming back too.
Our Southeast Asia Experiences So Far
So far we have traveled to Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam in Southeast Asia. Our next stop will be the Philippines and we are very excited about that!
We have to say our favorite country is by far Indonesia. We spent most of our time here and traveled to many places. Yet, there is still so much that we want to see in Indonesia. We keep saying we could easily travel a year just in this beautiful country.
To go to Myanmar was a fantastic experience too. We realized that people weren’t really used to tourists yet. But overall they were friendly and the Burmese kitchen is one of our favorites.
Thailand is, in our opinion, the most touristy country that we visited. It’s more expensive in some regions compared with other countries. However, it’s definitely a beautiful country that has a lot to offer. Our favorite part was the north of Thailand, where the coffee scenes are endless, and the amount of Thai coffee available there is incredible.
Vietnam is a perfect country for travelers because it’s easy and cheap to get around. There is a lot to discover. We loved the people and culture in Vietnam and the coffee culture too.
Why Indonesia is our Favourite Destination
As previously mentioned, Indonesia is our favorite country. We feel like this country has everything for us: beautiful nature, waterfalls, amazing people and delicious food. We love the Indonesian Peanut sauce so much. The people are very welcoming and happy in general.
There is such an incredible underwater world to find in Indonesia. As well as many places that are off the beaten path. But we can not deny that we are also fans of Bali.
We stay in Bali longer if we have to work because we have everything we need here. It feels a bit like a second home for us. But there are still many places in Indonesia that we want to see. So we will be back here often.
Our favorite memory from our time in Southeast Asia was our boat trip to the Komodo Islands. We stayed on a boat for 4 days. It was the most fantastic adventure.
We went swimming at pink beaches. Snorkeling was an activity we did every day and we saw the most beautiful and impressive underwater world.
We drank our morning coffee on the boat watching a dolphin school passing by. We swam with mantas and enjoyed a sunset while the sky was filled with bats.
Our passion for hiking saw us climb to some incredible views. And overall, we spent time with amazing people. This trip was unforgettable.
The Ultimate Southeast Asia Travel Experiences
The food is the ultimate experience in Southeast Asia. We recommend eating street food or just local food.
In Indonesia, for example, it’s at a Warung where you eat the local cuisine. In Thailand, it’s in the night markets. For us, this is always a way to dive deeper into the culture and spend time with local people.
We have to say at this point that we are vegans. So this makes a bit of difference here since not every country has the same choice of local dishes for us. Our favorite local food so far is in Indonesia and Myanmar.
Both countries have a great choice of food without any meat and dairy inside. In Indonesia, you typically eat from a buffet, which is great for us because we can choose what we want. Never miss the peanut sauce is one piece of advice!
For Thailand, we absolutely loved the curries. However, depending on the region we traveled, it wasn’t always easy to find vegan food.
Street food in Thailand is very meat-heavy and we think that is why we liked the north of Thailand the most. The north had some great vegan options. At the night market in Pai, we had the best vegan food of our life.
We love talking and asking local people questions about their culture, which is the second experience that we recommend. Spending time with locals and asking them about their country is always a fascinating experience for us.
Meeting local people on the streets every day is something we enjoy a lot. We think that most people around Southeast Asia are very friendly and open. Most people like to see us and talk with us. For us, this is part of how we want to travel. We feel it’s how we can get the most out of a country.
Lastly, we would recommend going on an adventure in nature. Whether it is a beautiful beach, an underwater world or a jungle trek. These are the most unforgettable experiences for us. Spending too much time in an Asian city can be exhausting. That is why we think balance is the key here.
What you Need to Know Before you Go
We think that getting around is the most challenging aspect about Southeast Asia. For example, in Myanmar, we once booked an overnight train which was really a nightmare. But we think these kinds of experiences are part of traveling and at least make a good story.
One thing we recommend is to check all the visa restrictions if you travel through different countries because they are all very different.
When it comes to the costs, we’d say that you can travel very cheaply for food and accommodation. However, we underrated the transportation costs which turned out to be much higher than we expected.
We also recommend being open with the people. They are often very interested in foreigners and how life is on our side of the world. We often get useful tips or interesting facts from locals when we talk to them. That’s what makes travel great.
In some countries, people don’t speak English particularly well. So you have to be patient and not afraid to talk with your hands and feet. Overall we highly recommend traveling in this region of the world because it is safe and there is a lot to discover.
Thanks for reading our article on the best experiences in Southeast Asia for mindful travelers. We are always here for you if you have any questions.