It’s difficult to look at the whole of Asia and pick just three places we love–and mind you, this isn’t a list of wonderful travel locations, because that list is much, much longer. But rather, consider these three cities as wonderful bases for expats; each city boasts a large and active expat community, there is a good mix of culture, food, and Western comforts, and they make great bases to live and work.
Expat Yourself in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Thailand is popular with expats for good reason–the food is delicious, the standard of living is high (that includes great internet throughout the country) and the locals are welcoming and friendly. Couple that with a good deal of English spoken throughout because of Thailand’s strong tourism industry, and a reasonable visa situation, and Thailand is a first consideration for many. That being said, where you live in Thailand depends strongly on your preferences. Bangkok is huge, bustling, and has an explosion of people and food. The islands down south are the exact antithesis–laid back, slow, and beautiful. Chiang Mai, up in the north of Thailand is a happy middle ground. The city is small enough to navigate, there are many great day trips (and nearby border runs) and the food and culture are top-notch.
Consider the Expats in Bali, Indonesia
Bali was a tough one to put on the list–the internet situation, which is important for many expats, can be tricky. That being said, if you’re living in Bali long-term then it’s cost effect to set up your own internet situation. The country is stunningly pretty, small, and the expats there are actually woe to talk about their spiritual Hindu oasis in the middle of a majority Muslim country. The local culture is strong throughout the island, so where you live in Bali once again largely depends on what you’re looking for…if beaches are your thing, consider Seminyak. Ubud is a busy but small center of tourism, but a house in the nearby rice paddies and a scooter could sold the tourist issue but still keep you close to the Western comforts Bali provides.
Experience the Hustle of Hanoi, Vietnam
Though I’ve never lived as an expat in Hanoi myself, reports from many, many friends rank life in this city very high. Because it’s a big city you’ll find a large expat community, one made even bigger by the number of English language teachers also calling Hanoi their home. Delicious street eats abound, the cost of living falls solidly in the middle of the spectrum (not too high but not the cheapest option), and you are perfectly poised to explore some of the other beautiful spots around Vietnam. It’s also easy for an Aussie or foreigner to find a hotel in Hanoi using Expedia since the site often accommodates travelers and could be a great place to start the hunt.
What’s your take? Where is your favorite city for Asian expats?