5 TOP SOUTH EAST ASIA INTROVERT DESTINATIONS
I really do feel that some destinations are better suited for introverts than other destinations. And some countries in general (massive generalisations coming) are more introverted, while others are more extroverted.
I find the United States to be an extroverted country… I feel like every time I’m there the majority of people are so ‘out there’. Everyone wants to start a conversation. It can take half an hour to pay for your gas because the checkout operator feels the need to have a heart to heart with you. I know not everyone is like this, but I always relate the US to be an extroverted country.
Asia on the other hand is a little different… Asian cultures are more conservative than Western cultures so I consider these places to have more introverted qualities. But as an introvert traveling to these places, there are things to take into account other than the locals themselves.
One thing is the population. The culture itself may be conservative and introverted by nature, but remember the population over on this side of the world is pretty big. So if you’re an introvert wanting to immerse yourself into a peaceful culture, you’ll get the peaceful culture in Asia… But you’ll also find your personal space drops dramatically. If being sardined on a train doesn’t appeal to you, then you’ll want to rethink a few things.
Then there’s the types of tourists who travel to these destinations as well. Tourists can completely transform a place turning an introvert paradise into a nightmare. The first time I went to Canggu in Bali, we lived there for 3 months and it was lovely! It wasn’t too busy, there was a good expat scene and great restaurants. Now when I recently went back, it felt like there were twice the travellers all looking for a good party time. It was crawling with loud backpackers downing cheap Bintangs. Canggu is still amazing, don’t get me wrong. And maybe I just happened to return in peak season. But now I wouldn’t consider it an introvert haven for myself.
Instead, here are my ‘Introvert Approved’ South East Asia top picks:
TOP SOUTH EAST ASIA INTROVERT DESTINATIONS
#5 Koh Samui, Thailand
Thailand has a lot of party destinations… And I mean A LOT. Phuket, Bangkok, Koh Phanghan (full moon party hotspot) just to name a few. And Koh Samui will definitely provide you with a party if you go looking for it. But it also provides you with the opportunity to relax and have that quality ‘me’ time. I stayed in both Lamai (southern region) and Bo Phut (Northern Region) and neither of these spots had the usual Thai and tourist madness. With markets nearby to shop, beaches to relax on, and restaurants to make the most of all those delish curries, Koh Samui is one of my favourite memories of Thailand and I would go back in a heartbeat. You can see more of my Thailand posts here.
Singapore is a small country with a lot to offer. I’ve never been one to enjoy cities that much but Singapore has something unique about it… Maybe it’s just the unrivalled extravagance? Either way, as an introvert I felt good here! While there are a lot of people in Singapore for the small size of the country, I never got overwhelmed by crowds… Okay except maybe in the crowd of tourists taking selfies with the Merlion… That was intense. But other than that everyone is considerate and gives you your own space. It’s a bustling city, so people are too busy out doing their own thing, and worrying about their own lives to pay you any attention… Making it perfect to fly under the radar! Oh and Singapore is very culturally diverse, so you won’t get any long stares here for looking ‘different’. You can see more of my Singapore travels here.
#3 Sapa, Vietnam
The main cities of Vietnam such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) are friggin’ hectic! But if you make your way up to the far north and into the mountains, you’ll come across Sapa. The home of Vietnam’s amazing rice fields. Nestled in the mountains are countless villages where you can trek with a guide from one of the local villages. You’ll never forget learning about their way of life while taking in the most epic scenery you’ll find in Vietnam.
#2 Hoi An, Vietnam
Vietnam is so amazing it gets two spots on my list! This place does get pretty busy, but it’s beyond beautiful and easy to find a little safe haven for yourself when you look hard enough. Hoi An is known as the town of lanterns as there are colourful lanterns hanging all around this quaint town. With a strong European influence in it’s architecture, Hoi An definitely strings people in and keeps them captive for a little longer than planned. You’ll want to give yourself a few extra days here than you think is necessary… Read up a little more on traveling Vietnam here.
#1 Penang, Malaysia
Penang is officially my top destination in South East Asia. I would happily come and live here for a while… What can I say? Great food, lovely people, not too crazy with tourists. This place is actually relatively untouched by Western tourists. I didn’t find there was a huge party scene here. Actually the cost of consuming alcohol in Malaysia isn’t cheap like the rest of SEA. I guess it’s like Singapore in that regard. So I suppose that’s why a lot of the rowdy partiers tend to miss this part of SEA… And that’s fine by me! Penang has a lot to offer; a beautiful UNESCO old town, fabulous beaches, and all at a great price. You can check out more of my Malaysia adventures here.
Now obviously I haven’t been everywhere in South East Asia, so I would have excluded some fabulous introvert destinations from this list. But please let me know of any places you love, especially if you’re an introvert too… I would love to check them out!