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Why These 3 Countries Are The Most Visited In Southeast Asia

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Southeast Asia has long been a treasure trove of goodies when it comes to endless destinations to explore on a budget.

While surely every type of traveler would love this part of the world, solo travelers and backpackers have long been stuffing their bags for an extended adventure across multiple neighboring countries and islands for a sense of new cultures and thrills.

blue waters along coast of sabah malaysia

Not every country in the region is welcoming to travelers; however, most countries welcome tourists with open arms.

According to the latest report from theSun, these are the 3 most visited countries in Southeast Asia:

Singapore

Singapore is a lavish island set between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, offering beautiful views, ritzy stays, and phenomenal cuisine in the highly sought-after street food hawkers.

One of the safest destinations in Asia, the island often leaves travelers speechless with its impeccably clean streets and crime-free conditions.

tourist boats in singapore

By the same token, some tourists also feel uneasy about the island nation's very strict laws, which can result in lengthy prison sentences for offenses that may seem minor in other countries.

That being said, the numbers are the numbers – Singapore brought in an impressive 13.6 million tourists in 2023.

So why the surge for a far-flung country?

Well, the numbers aren't solely representative of the Western world, but that's not to say Singapore isn't easy to reach from the U.S. if you're willing to spend over half a day in the clouds on nonstop flights.

Singapore Airlines has long been voted one of the top airlines in the world, so you're in good hands.

jewel changi airport

And upon landing, you may never want to leave the Singapore Changi Airport as it's one of the most entertaining, eye-popping airports you could imagine.

Malaysia

Malaysia may not be the trendiest destination in Southeast Asia compared to, say, Vietnam, but it's the only country in the region to surpass pre-pandemic visitor numbers by bringing in 20 million tourists in 2023.

Yet, somehow, Malaysia still seems underrated, doesn't it? Even as affordable, stunningly beautiful, and up-and-coming as a digital nomad hub, Malaysia doesn't get the credit it deserves as a top destination.

kuala lumpur skyline

Of course, the elephant in the room may be the fate of 2 fatal Malaysia Airlines accidents in 2014, one of which has yet to be solved.

Perhaps travelers are recognizing these unfortunate circumstances were nearly a decade ago and willing to give this spectacular country another chance.

While you will need to connect, as there are no direct flights to Kuala Lumpur or any other Malaysian city from the U.S., it's definitely worth the trip.

The vast cultural capital city of Kuala Lumpur is a gem in itself, but one of the country's 878 islands, such as Sabah, rivals any other tropical Asian island you can imagine with stunning blue waters and pristine beaches.

batu caves statue near kuala lumpur malaysia

Thailand

It is no surprise that Thailand is the most visited country in Southeast Asia, with 28 million international tourists visiting last year.

The capital city of Bangkok alone seems like another world entirely and one of endless reasons why it's the most visited city in the most visited Southeast Asian country.

Beyond the bustling cultural concrete jungle of Bangkok are other multi-faceted experiences ranging from elephant sanctuaries, floating markets, to famous Thai massages that transform you into a human pretzel, yet somehow revitalize you.

nang yuan island in thailand

Thailand is world-renowned for its unique culture, affordability, stunning nature, and welcoming locals, which is why you really can't go wrong anywhere you go.

Following Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya are the most commonly visited, while Chiang Mai is more popular than ever.

No matter which side of the country you visit, you are destined to come across stunning beaches or insanely beautiful sites, as some tourists love to go temple-hopping.

It wouldn't be a trip to Thailand without partaking in the nightlife scene, but it's certainly not for the faint of heart.

floating market near bangkok

Newbies to Thailand may experience ‘culture shock' with the shenanigans they witness after the sun goes down, as this country definitely leans toward the open-minded side of the spectrum.

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