Overall we had a wonderful trip to SE Asia! This is our first foray into this part of the world and in many ways it was quite a surprise.
We like Thai food a LOT. We could and did eat Thai food almost every day for two months and still weren’t tired of it. Keller and Kamy both really like the heat and Caden loves pad thai. We were fortunate to try many great restaurants and food carts, but our hands-down favorite restaurant of the entire trip is Yawee in Koh Lanta, Thailand. If we ever end up back on that side of the world, we’ll make a point of stopping there again. 😉
Koh Lanta was a big surprise hit for the adults. We knew the kids would love the private pool and nearby beach, but we were pleasantly surprised how much we enjoyed the down time on the sand. Keller and I don’t typically seek out beach destinations, but this had just the right mix for us. Our villa was amazing, the pool and beach we great, and we had a fabulous time diving. Plus the sunsets were truly breathtaking. Again, we’ll do our best to come back someday.
Chiang Mai was another highlight. It was definitely a bigger city than Koh Lanta, but not nearly the overwhelming size of the big metropolises we visited (Bangkok, Singapore, and Tokyo). We really liked the street food options. Interacting with the elephants and getting to experience Yi Peng were very special.
Tokyo fascinates Keller. While we only had a short time to spend in Tokyo (it’s all relative), Keller definitely wants to return. Plus we all enjoyed the two Disney Parks. It is the most culturally-different city we have traveled to — nearly everything about it felt foreign to us. We’re eyeing 2021 or 2022 at this point, but we’ll see!
Singapore was a truly beautiful city. Everything is impeccable and clean, and it seems on the surface the epitome of what an urban city can be and do when it comes to quality of living, efficient public transportation, and spending money where it counts.
Air pollution, especially in Bangkok, was really bad. I would not intentionally move to many of the large urban centers in SE Asia for this reason alone. We were not even there during burning season, and we were struggling with allergies, coughing, and feeling poorly due to the pollution.
We didn’t really care for Bangkok. It is such a strange city — clearly it’s grown exponentially recently and the dichotomy between the -haves and -havenots is really sobering. We weren’t shoppers before we came and we left feeling unimpressed with the massive shopping malls.
Singapore food is hit or miss for us. Singapore is majority ethnically Chinese, so much of their food court and street food is highly influenced by Chinese cuisine. The kids and I didn’t really connect with most of it and found ourselves missing Thai food very quickly.
We aren’t writing off Malaysia at this point, but we were disappointed in Georgetown. Perhaps we’ll find another area of the country to explore next time around. I’ve heard there’s great diving on the east coast. 😉
All that to say, I think we’ll return to SE Asia in the future, though we may skip the biggest cities and choose smaller urban centers to explore instead of focusing on the capitals. Until next time …
South East Asia — September to November 2019, 10 weeks of travel.
Four countries — Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Japan.
Four currencies — Thai baht, Singapore dollar, Malaysian ringgit, and Japanese Yen.
Six airlines — ANA, Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Air, Thai Smile, and Air Asia.