I grew up in Germany and have lived in the beautiful city of Munich for the last 11 years. In May 2018, I quit my corporate job at Amazon to fulfill my dream of traveling the world.
Initially, I was planning a world trip but it turned out to be a journey through Southeast Asia. I fell in love with the cultural heritage, geographical diversity, bucket list experiences and things to do in Southeast Asia. Moreover, I enjoy the warm climate here.
I’ve explored an abandoned cave in the outback of Vang Vieng, climbed an ancient pagoda in Bagan and fought with waves in Langkawi. Southeast Asia has no shortage of memorable experiences and you would need more than a lifetime to see everything.
Places to Visit and Things To Do in Southeast Asia
I have to give Myanmar the edge here as the best country to visit in Southeast Asia. This country oozes cultural history and the landscape is unmatched in its display of natural beauty.
To be honest, I was reluctant to visit Myanmar at first because of the violent military crackdown by the army on Rohingya Muslims. It’s a sensitive topic, but in the end, I decided to travel to this country anyway. Burmese people were amongst the friendliest I met in Southeast Asia.
When I was in Ngapali, I stayed at a cozy, family-owned guesthouse. I can still vividly remember the night when the owner invited all of the long-stay guests (greetings to Marion, Brian, Anastasia and Vitali) to have dinner together with his whole family. The hospitality of the Burmese people deeply touched me.
When it comes to experiences I would have to say the city of Bangkok was number one in Southeast Asia. This might not come as a surprise, but when in Southeast Asia, you have to visit Bangkok for at least a few days.
The city has a rough charm, and it might not be love at first sight, but once you immerse yourself in this urban jungle, you’re going to appreciate what this metropolis has to offer.
My second recommendation would be the UNESCO World Heritage site in Bagan. With over 2000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries, exploring this archaeological zone will make you feel like Indiana Jones. The best way is to discover the area with an e-bike at your own pace. You will hardly see any tourists if you ride your bike off the main roads!
Finally, Gardens by the Bay and the Cloud Forest in Singapore. This urban landscape project consists of tall supertrees made of steel, coated with tropical plants and flowers.
If you have ever seen the movie “Avatar”, you’ll feel like walking through the gardens of Pandora. The Cloud Forest is an enormous plant conservatorium and the most spectacular man-made attractions I have ever seen. Stunning!
More Highlights: Food and Accommodation
Whether it’s southern-style dishes like “Massaman Curry” or traditional food from the Isan region like “Som Tam Pla Ra” (which is papaya salad with fermented fish sauce), the variety of Thai food is unmatched. The spices, seasonings and herbs will catapult your taste buds to a whole new level!
In regards to accommodation, Airbnb and Bangkok is a match made in heaven. There is an abundance of outstanding condos to choose from, and if you dig around a little, you’ll find something extraordinary that meets your budget. I’ll specifically recommend the area around Banglamphu which is close to the gorgeous Chao Phraya river.
Banglamphu is the perfect location if you want to experience the local life, as this district is rich in history and also the old town of Bangkok. Another cool district is Ratchadaphisek for its variety of street food, night life and local markets. Just make sure you pick your accommodation with easy access to public transportation which is crucial for getting around.
Travel Tips for your Visit to Southeast Asia
Be smart with your means of transportation. Southeast Asia can be super affordable if you’re willing to travel like a local. For example, I purchased a train ticket from Bangkok to Ayutthaya for just 15 baht (50 cents).
This was an undoubtedly good deal, considering the distance is around 90km! It was a bit of an adventure to find the actual train station which was located under an abandoned bridge in downtown Bangkok but that’s also part of the fun.
I also recommend “slow travel” in Southeast Asia, especially if you’re planning a longer trip. When I started my journey, I tried to schedule every hour of my day with activities and sightseeing spots to shoot, to the point where it actually felt like work.
I enjoyed my trip way more when I stepped back a little and spent more time at a place. You must grant yourself enough time to digest all of the impressions a new location has to offer.
Thanks for reading about my travels in the endlessly fascinating Southeast Asia! I hope it has inspired you to visit this beautiful region of the world.