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 Last updated:
July 2020

   © 2005-20 Retire-Asia.com  

Take a quick tour of some popular Southeast Asian expat retirement locations

All things considered, we at Retire-Asia feel that Thailand's Chiang Mai and several islands in the Philippines offer the most attractive options to retirees from the West, followed by Malaysia and Indonesia's Bali a popular expat option.

Laos (the Lao PDR), is another retirement possibility but there are very limited facilities for foreigners, and medical treatment is minimal. Fortunately, Vientiane the capital is within easy reach of Nongkhai and Udonthani in NE Thailand, where much better medical care and shopping facilities are available. Singapore is an option for the more wealthy as there are minimum financial implications for official retirement.

Most of Southeast Asia has a tropical climate, two locations in Thailand and Laos being at almost the same Northern Hemisphere latitude, with similar seasons and annual temperature ranges. Bali, the Indonesian island is a few degrees south of the Equator and Singapore is virtually on it. The weather varies between these places. Bali does have a cooler season, more noticeable 'up country' but is typical of islands and coastal locations in the region.

Due to different cultures and traditions influenced by a dominant religion, as well as political systems and styles of government, all these places have a different 'ambiance'. From a Western perspective, there may appear to be a lot of similarities between Asian cultures and traditions, but this assumption can be misleading, as there can be significant differences in many aspects of life, personal as well as in business, between one South East Asian country and another, and even between different regions of the same country, due to the ethnicity of the inhabitants and their religious beliefs. As a Westerner living in Asia there will be a period of learning to accept differences of culture. It can be a distressing experience for some.

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The location descriptions are very brief, as they serve only to illustrate some of the differences between three places which are all suitable ex-pat destinations, each in its own way. Bali, Indonesia's most popular holiday island destination has beaches (one is shown in the banner heading) and everything related to water activities, and mountains. Chiangmai in the north of Thailand is a medium-sized city located well inland near hilly country, and Vientiane is the relatively sleepy small capital of the Lao PDR, with the Mekong River flowing alongside the city at a pace that reflects life in the Lao PDR generally: swifter in the mainstream than along the banks. Each place has a short season of cool overnight temperatures, around 15-20° Celsius (60-68° Fahrenheit) which makes a pleasant change from the generally warm or hot often humid heat of the tropics. However, it gets warm again quite rapidly once the sun gets up.

Here are the current weather conditions in each, just to give you an idea. Different times of the year will give lesser or greater variations between them.

  Bali Island                         Chiangmai                            Vientiane

     Click for Bali Weather Forecast      Click for Chiangmai Weather Forecast       Click for Vientiane Weather Forecast

Also visit our SE Asia Weather Page for current conditions in other locations.

Apart from the geography, all three places differ in facilities, and will appeal in varying ways to different people. Foreign expat communities are well-established, but they differ in nature too. It is not necessary to become too closely-aligned with any sort of community, although most of us do. You can learn a lot from your fellows. Some will move to another country simply for a change from their own kind! Many people find that they enjoy mixing more with the locals, and many of course end up with a local partner, and become part of a new community altogether. It’s also possible to distance yourself from society more or less altogether, and be left in peace and relative seclusion if that’s what you prefer.

Jump to introductory pages for Bali, Chiangmai or Vientiane and also see our menu for more pages on these and other locations and countries.

Learning another language helps a lot in understanding the ways of the local people and will be an asset in many aspects of living, socialising as well as doing business in these places. Indonesian is quite easy to learn and the Western alphabet is used. The Thai and Lao languages are similar. Visit our language learning and talking dictionaries pages to learn more. 

You can keep up to date with any additions and changes by becoming a free member, and also download useful e-books and other reports.

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