Southeast Asia Countries

Brunei

The Sultanate of Brunei is a small but due to natural gas and petroleum, it is a very rich country in Southeast Asia. It is surrounded by Malaysia and has two parts physically separated by Malaysia, almost being an enclave. The same family has ruled Brunei for over six centuries.

Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque

We visited Bandar Seri Begawan and Ulu Temburong National Park in 2011 as part of our 3-week Borneo and Philippines trip.

Cambodia

Cambodia is a small country with much history.  It was once the seat of one of Asia’s most magnificent early civilizations, the mighty Khmer empire of Angkor, whose temples are legendary.  The country is essentially rural and compared to its neighbors Thailand and Vietnam, Cambodia is bit of a backwater, but is changing rapidly.

The Royal Palace

We visited Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Tonle Sap Lake in 2008 as part of our 2-week Southeast Asia trip.

Indonesia

Indonesia is an archipelago in Southeast Asia consisting of 17,000 islands (6,000 inhabited) and straddling the equator. The largest islands are Sumatra, Java (the most populous), Bali, Kalimantan (Indonesia’s part of Borneo), Sulawesi (Celebes), the Nusa Tenggara islands, the Moluccas Islands, and Irian Jaya (also called West Papua), the western part of New Guinea. It is currently the fourth most populous country in the world and by far the largest country in Southeast Asia.

Tanah Lot temple – one of Bali’s most visited temples

We visited Yogyakarta, Borobudur, Mount BromoSurabaya and Bali in 2012 as part of our 4 week China and Southeast Asia trip.

Laos

Laos is one of the poorest nations in Southeast Asia. It is the only landlocked country in Southeasia Asia and the most sparsely populated. Lifestyle remains mostly rural and true large cities are absent. It has 49 ethnic groups with some tribes numbering only a few hundred members.  Laos is officially Buddhist.

Elephant sanctuary. They have strict controls that there is a maximum of 2 persons on each elephant, and a maximum of 2 trips per day per elephant.

We visited Luang Prabang in 2016 as part of a 4-week Southeast Asia trip.

Malaysia

Malaysia is composed of two non-contiguous regions, West Malaysia, which is on the Malay Peninsula and East Malaysia, which is on the island of Borneo.  Malaysia is a mix of the modern world and a developing nation. With its investment in the high technology industries and moderate oil wealth, it has become a rich nation in Southeast Asia.

Exploring old Penang by bikes

We visited Kuala Lumpur and Penang in 2012 as part of our 4 week China and Southeast Asia trip.

Myanmar

Myanmar is the second largest country in Southeast Asia with a population of more than 50 million people. Myanmar emerged from British colonial rule in 1948, and remained under military control for another half a century. Starting in 2010, Myanmar’s military began to adopt gradual reforms that moved the country closer to a liberal democratic system, eventually releasing thousands of political prisoners, including dissident leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.   In November, 2015, Myanmar held  its first open elections.

Karawik Palace, Yangon

We visited Yangon, Bagan, Inle Lake, and Mandalay in 2012 as part of our 4 week China and Southeast Asia trip.

Philippines

The Philippines is an archipelago that consists of 7,641 islands with a total land area of 301,780 square kilometers. The Philippine archipelago is divided into three island groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Since Spanish colonial times, the country has been Asia’s largest Catholic country.  The country has over a hundred ethic groups, a mixture of foreign influences has its people evolved as a unique blend of East and West in both appearance and culture.  People in the cities of Luzon and the Visayas have Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Spanish and American mixtures, whereas those living in the provinces tend to be “native” to the country.

Chocolate Hills in Bohol

We visited Manila, Puerto Princesa, BanaueCebu, Bohol, Kota Kinabalu, and Sandakan in 2011 as part of our 3-week Borneo and Philippines trip.

Singapore

Singapore is a small island country. With a population size of over 5.5 million people it is a very crowded city, third only to Monaco and Hong Kong as the world’s most densely populated country.  In spite of its dense population, over half of its land are green areas with parks and nature reserves.   Founded as a British trading colony in 1819, and since independence, it has become one of the world’s most prosperous, tax-friendly countries and has the world’s busiest port.

A stunning backdrop of its infinity pool atop the Marina Bay Sands hotel

We visited Singapore in 2012 as part of our 4 week China and Southeast Asia trip, and again in 2016 when we had a 6-hour layover and took a 3-hour free city tour as part of the Changi Airport tourist service.

Thailand

Thailand is the country in Southeast Asia most visited by tourists.  Siam, as Thailand was officially called until 1939, was never brought under European colonial domination. Independent Siam was ruled by an absolute monarchy until a revolution there in 1932. Since that time, Thailand has been a constitutional monarchy (political authority in various degree held by the military).  Thailand is now a prosperous country and its economy is growing steadily.

Wat Phra Singh complex, Chiang Mai

We visited Bangkok, Ayutthaya  and Pattaya in 2008 as part of our 2-week Southeast Asia trip, and Chiang Mai in 2016 as part of a 4-week Southeast Asia trip.

Vietnam

Vietnam’s history is one of war, colonization and rebellion. Vietnamese culture is heavily influenced by that of Southern China. Nevertheless, Vietnamese culture remains distinct from Chinese culture as it has also absorbed cultural elements from neighboring Hindu civilizations such as the Champa and the Khmer empires. The French colonization has also left a lasting impact on Vietnamese society, with baguettes and coffee remaining popular among locals.

A farmer sitting on a water buffalo, near Hoi An

We visited Ho Chi Minh City, Danang, Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi and Halong Bay in 2016 as part of a 4-week Southeast Asia trip.

See next – East Asia Countries 

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