With beers for under $1, food that your taste buds thank you for and something new to marvel at around every corner – South East Asia is the destination travellers dreams are made of.
After our travels around Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand last year I fell head over heels with the region. Someone told me before I left “you’ll love it, it gets under your skin” – that’s on point.
It may be third world, it may be hot and it may be manic but South East Asia is endearing. It’s my destination of choice and we will definitely be going back.
So on that note for the next month or two I’m dedicating Pilgrim with a Plan to South East Asia, and below is a bit of an overview as to why it should be on your list!
Why plan your South East Asia pilgrimage:
The people are welcoming
(Kids in Cambodia – I know I’ve used this photo before, but I can’t help but use it again, so cute)
After travelling through Europe, S.E.A was a whole new kettle of fish, particularly in regards to the welcoming nature of the people.
In our experience the people are genuinely willing to help you, feed you, serve you or just have a yarn. Yes their economy is largely reliant on the tourist dollar and yes that helps, but there’s an unrivalled willingness to open their doors to you in a very genuine way. They want you there, they want to find out more about you AND let you understand more about them.
Getting off the beaten track is easy (and affordable)
(Remote floating village in Siem Reap – we didn’t go in rainy season… hence not floating)
One of the biggest catch phrases in the travel world is “getting off the beaten track”. Problem is it usually costs you two days travel and a whole lot of your budget to get off said track… not in South East Asia. Never have I visited countries where it’s so easy to get away from the tourist hot spots and into the eye opening every day lives of the people.
Take the above pic for example, this was taken at a floating village in Siem Reap. I think the locals could count on one hand how many times they’d seen a white person. The beauty of it all? It took us one hour and perhaps $20 to get out there. It was hands down the best part of my trip and I will write more about it in an upcoming blog post.
(The man with a bottomless pit for a stomach is beaten)
Everything is dirt cheap in South East Asia, buying a beer for 20c is normal and paying $20 each for a room for a night will get you luxury, like free massage and cocktail on arrival type luxury.
A great example is the meal you can see in the pic above. This meal broke Eamon, just look at his face. It was a smorgasbord of epic proportions… the cost? Under $10.
The food is unbelievable
(One of our best meals in Cambodia)
On that note, the food may be cheap, but it’s next level incredible. I’m salivating just looking at the above picture.
The thing with food in South East Asia is not just the taste – it’s the colours, the textures and the scents that make it what it is. They have the most incredible way of pulling together a meal that excites so many of your senses and whether you pay $1 on the side of the road or $10 in a restaurant your taste buds will thank you for it.
It suprises you
(Truck tipped over in Cambodia while people ravage through the contents strewn on the roadside)
Just when you think you can’t see anything stranger you turn a new corner and something more bizarre smacks you in the face (hopefully not literally, but don’t rule it out).
South East Asia is wild, wierd and wonderful. It will shock, suprise and amaze you. Go with it. It makes for a great story back home.
The service is amazing
(Standard welcome in any hotel in Nam)
You know when you go home and see your parents after a really long time and they’re super glad to see you and will do anything to make you feel comfortable? That’s the feeling you get every time you arrive at a hotel in South East Asia.
They’re welcoming, they make animals out of your towels and they’ll help you in any way they can, whether that’s booking a trip, making you a drink or just telling you about life in their world.
If that hasn’t convinced you to put South East Asia on your ‘must-do’ list, well you’re a tough crowd, but as promised the next few months will be dedicated to my South East Asia experience.
Prepare for wanderlust travellers!