One of the sillier things aspiring young travelers do is lust after places like Amsterdam, where the average beer costs, like, $37. Meanwhile in Southeast Asia, you can spend your days island hopping, your nights drinking on the beach, and your in-betweens eating delicious street food that will cost you $1. This is the part of the world where you’ll find pygmy elephants. One-of-a-kind coffee beans. That tree-covered temple from Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones. Jackfruit, which is disgusting, and I’ll not hear otherwise, but is a cool-ass fruit nonetheless. And you can see it all for a fraction of what you’d spend in northern Europe.
Below you’ll find a complete guide to the region. Many of these are majority-Islam countries, so be mindful of certain dos and dont’s to ensure you act respectfully -- as a baseline, try to keep at least your legs and shoulders covered. If you’re non-Muslim, you can BYOB, but confine any alcohol-drinking to your hotel or restaurant. Southeast Asia is generally considered safe and friendly for women traveling alone; for LGBTQ travelers, it varies -- homosexuality is criminalized in various countries under Sharia law, though many of those still have a gay cultural scene, so we’ll address them individually. There are 11 countries total; let’s find the one that’s right for you.