When to travel to Southeast Asia and what tips to keep in mind

Are you going to travel to Southeast Asia? Discovering the tropical paradise of the Philippines, Indonesia with its hundreds of islands, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and other countries is a practice accessible to all. And let’s face it, the travel bloggers and digital nomads who live in Bali have given us a lot of envy. However, the tropical climate makes it an area susceptible to tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions and of course monsoons. Here we give you the tips to know better when to travel to Southeast Asia and which countries are better at each time of the year. Do not miss our advices traveler.

Which countries form Southeast Asia

To begin with, these 11 countries are considered Southeast Asia: Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Timor-Leste and Brunei.

Although we all know that Asia is a huge continent, we tend to believe that Southeast Asia is a small part accessible to see in a single trip. But in reality, it has a larger dimension than Europe. Therefore we recommend that if you want to travel to Southeast Asia, be realistic. If you only go two or three weeks it is better to focus on two countries and enjoy them well than trying to cover everything. Above all, beware, because each country has a different climate so keep these tips in mind.

Let’s go with some basic information for the traveler:

Visit Thailand

Best time to travel to Thailand: Winter, January, February, November and December

Capital: Bangkok

Population: 65 million

Currency: Thai Baht

Political system: Constitutional monarchy under military dictatorship

Religion: Buddhist 

Safety: medium

Typical food: Pad Thai

Visit Indonesia

Best time to travel to Indonesia: center of the year, April, May, June, July, August and September

Capital: Jakarta

Population: 259 million

Currency: Indonesian Rupiah

Political system: Presidential Republic

Religion: Islam mostly

Safety: medium

Typical food: Nasi goreng

Visit Cambodia

Best time to travel to Cambodia: winter, January, February, March, November and December

Capital: Nom Pen

Population: 16 million

Currency: Cambodian Riel

Political system: Constitutional monarchy

Religion: Buddhist and Hindu

Safety: High

Typical food: Lort cha

Visit Philippines

Best time to travel to the Philippines: beginning of the year: January, February, March and April

Capital: Manila

Population: 102 million

Currency: Philippine Peso

Political system: Presidential Republic

Religion: Catholic Christian

Safety: medium

Typical food: meat in adobo

Visit Vietnam

Best time to travel to Vietnam: beginning of the year: January, February, March and April

Capital: Hanoi

Population: 91 million

Currency: Đồng Vietnamese

Political system: Socialist Republic with liberal economy

Religion: Buddhist 

Safety: High

Typical food: Pho and Banh Xeo

Visit Laos

Best time to travel to Laos: winter, January, February, March, November and December

Capital: Vientiane

Population: 6 million

Currency: Kip

Political system: Socialist state with liberal economy

Buddhist religion

Safety: Very low

Typical food: Laap

Visit Malaysia

Best time to travel to Malaysia: center of the year, April, May, June, July, August and September

Capital: Kuala Lumpur

Population: 29 million

Currency: Ringgit

Political system: Federal parliamentary monarchy

Religion: Islam

Safety: High

Typical food: Nasi lemak

Visit Singapore

Best time to travel to Singapore: center of the year, April, May, June, July, August and September

Capital: Singapore

Population: 5 million

Currency: Singapore Dollar

Political system: Parliamentary Republic

Buddhist religion

Safety: Very high

Typical food: Hainanese chicken

Visit Myanmar

Best time to travel to Myanmar: winter, January, February, March, November and December.

Capital: Naypyidaw

Population: 51 million

Currency: Kyat

Political system: Parliamentary Republic

Religion: Buddhist 

Safety: Very low

Typical food: Nangyi tokhe

Visit Timor-Lester

Best time to travel to Timor-Lester: April, May, June and July

Capital: Dili

Population: 1 million

Currency: US Dollar

Political system: semi-presidential Republic

Religion: Catholic Christian

Safety: medium

Typical food: Feijoada

Visit Brunei

Best time to travel to Brunei: Beginning of the year, January, February, March, April and June

Capital: Bandar Seri Begawan

Population: 417 thousand

Currency: Brunei Dollar

Political system: absolutist sultanate

Religion: Islam

Security: very low

Typical food: Beef rendang

Tips for traveling to Southeast Asia


All travelers agree that traveling to Southeast Asia is very safe. However, we are foreigners in a very different culture, so we should take some considerations before traveling.

Always carry a safety app if you travel to Southeast Asia. Remember that we are in a foreign and many times also chaotic country, and that getting lost is super easy. Many streets have no name and they all seem alike. Use Wave in your Southeast Asian adventure to share your location in real time with your friends. Besides being able to find you if the tide of people disperses you, it enables you to set a meeting point on the shared map. 

This is especially important if you happen to be when an earthquake or a flood arrives so you can find your friends and be found by them in real time. To get there or to reach any of our friends, we can use Wave’s GPS navigator or call an Uber. Wave also has a chat and it is possible that your friends already have the app, because it has more than 11 million users around the world.

In addition to Wave, download currency conversion apps, transport apps like Uber, language translation and weather forecasts.

Traffic in Southeast Asia

Another interesting point to comment before traveling to Southeast Asia is traffic. In big cities like Bangkok or Hanoi the motorcycle is the main way of transport. Literally, we can say that there are thousands of them on the streets. Crossing the streets is not always easy because there are almost no pedestrian paths. What tourists do is wait in the street until a group of people gathers to cross and then move forward together with determination. The bikes will dodge us without problem and we can cross safely, although at the beginning we may be afraid.

Southeast Asia transportation

As we have seen, motorcycles are a very easy way to get around the city. It is important to always have an international driver’s license and carry insurance. Before renting a vehicle, we must check the status with the owner to avoid problems later. We have also seen the occasion of having to pay some fines to the police because of the lack of a document that we did not know. Or that does not exist, anyway. That is why we recommend carrying cash always.

Another way to get around is by collective buses, which work very well and also stop where we ask the driver. We believe that to take advantage of the trip to Southeast Asia it is essential to take a boat. For example, by the Mekong River in Laos. It is a unique experience to see the sunrise over the river while going through rural towns.

Check the information with more than one person

Another recommendation is to ask for several opinions regarding monuments. It is possible that some sellers tell us that a monument is closed when it is not. That way, we may choose another tourist activity of the company in question. Unfortunately, this happens in every country in the world and Southeast Asia is no exception.

Bargaining in Southeast Asia

Bargaining is a way of life when trading in Southeast Asia. The sooner we learn the arts of bargaining, the better. It is important not to go over it because it is a very fun ritual if it is done with grace. Also, for being tourists, sellers will always give us a very high price taking for granted that we will bargain.

Talk to the local people

According to our experience and that of thousands of travelers, locals are very kind and gentle with tourists. If we spend some time talking to them we will discover more secrets of the country than ever will do with a tourist guide. If they like us, they will share with us a meal or they will invite us to their houses to show us their appreciation. 

Well, you already have a fairly extensive guide to travel to Southeast Asia. Now you only need the ticket… If you have any questions or comments, write us.