One of the perks of living in Thailand is all the other south east Asian countries that are so close by. Many expats who live in Thailand, and Thais, spend their weekends on trips to neighboring countries, as they’re easy to get to with flying times of less than a couple of hours. With so many south east Asian countries to choose from for weekend trips away from Thailand, which countries are the most popular with expats and Thais and why?
Malaysia – One of the most popular countries to visit for weekend trips for expats living in Thailand is Malaysia. Whether it’s a weekend trip to Kuala Lumpur or a couple of days on the beach in Penang, Malaysia is so close it would be difficult not to love it. With flights to Kuala Lumpur of around two hours from Bangkok, and with round-trip airfares on Air Asia often being less than $80, very few westerners pass up weekend trips to Malaysia. If you love Indian food, like awesome shopping, enjoy good restaurants, nice beaches, national parks, tea plantations and even jungle trekking, a weekend away in Malaysia might be just the quick break from Thailand that you need.
Laos – Being one of the countries next to Thailand, Laos is easy to get to. You can take a short flight on several airlines from Bangkok or Chiang Mai, or even take a bus. One of the favorite Laos cities to spend a weekend away from Thailand is Luang Prabang. Full of art galleries, trendy stores, cool coffee shops and fun nightlife, Luang Prabang also has national parks, caves and even elephant rides. Popular with western travelers (backpackers) and young Thais, Luang Prabang in Laos is the new ‘cool’ place to visit from Thailand. Ventiene, the capital city, is of historical interest to many western travelers too, with beautiful temples, interesting museums as well as many four and five star hotels for a relaxing and luxurious weekend trip away from Thailand.
Hong Kong – If you love bustle and rush, want to visit a true Chinese city and love shopping, then Hong Kong is the perfect place for you. Many expats and westerners living in Thailand travel to Hong Kong for a quick vacation as, with so many excellent sales all year round, and low low prices, it can sometimes rival Bangkok for designer fashion. With an incredible mix of East and West, Hong Kong’s tourist attractions compare with anything in the world and come out favorably – more than 20 museums, hiking and swimming, temples, world-famous restaurants, outlying islands to visit, and an amazing light show over Hong Kong every evening, many Thailand residents go back again and again.
Singapore – Honestly, I’ve never understood the attraction of Singapore as I’ve always thought it was the most boring place in the world. I used to go because of the amazing bookstores but, since those bookstores are also now in Bangkok, there’s really no reason for me. For many other expats, westerners and especially Thais though, Singapore is a shopping mecca. They think the shopping is incredible, the food is excellent, nightlife is fun, and with world-class restaurants and hotels, Singapore will probably remain a popular choice for a weekend away from Thailand for many Thais and expats.
Thailand is perfectly situated for a weekend away to many different countries. Don’t forget too Vietnam, Cambodia and even Burma if you want something that’s a bit more surreal (although, unless you really want to be supporting the military junta, I’d give this one a miss).