South-East Asia – Comparison Test!

In the spirit of that old car show on DW here is a comparison test of all the countries I have been to so far:

Singapore

Must visit:
Night Safari/Zoo
Fort Canning Park and Battle Box
Singapore Museum
Bugis St night market

Transport:
Rail is ridiculously efficient and cheap
Bus is ok, but some of the drivers don’t speak English and it’s hard to know where you are.  The timetables don’t have maps

English spoken:
90%

Can I drink the water?
Yes

Did anyone try to pick my pocket?
No

Touts/Scams/Annoyances:
ILLEGAL!

Pro:
Clean!

Con:
Expensive!

Driving:
Regimental

Fitness:
Public facility in Fort Canning Park

Costs:
Dorm bed SGD20-28 with breakfast
Meal SGD3-5

Rating: Air-conditioned/10

Malaysia

Must visit:
Penang
Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum, Malacca
KL Chinatown night market
Langkawi Island

Pro:
Food very varied, cheap and good
Cheaper than Singapore
Buns!

Con:
Have to pay for toilets
No paper in those toilets

English spoken:
85%

Can I drink the water?
In some places – check

Did anyone try to pick my pocket?
No

Transport:
Inter-city buses are very cheap and comfortable
Intra-city buses usually ok, but varying standards
Train to Thailand is good

Fitness:
Usually a fitness trail around somewhere
Road running ok if you are out of a main centre.  Impossible in KL except in the park

Touts/Scams/Annoyances:
Taxis and rickshaws will try to get your attention, but aren’t too pushy
Be careful in the markets

Driving:
Follow the ‘make way’ rule
Noone indicates
Cars wait until last minute to turn

Costs:
Dorm RM15, single room RM25
Meal RM4-8
Bus from Malacca to KL RM10
Laundry RM6/kg

Comment:
All the museums have a section on wedding ceremonies.  It’s random.

Rating: Morbid obesity/10

Thailand

Must visit:
A cooking school
Chiang Mai

English spoken:
50% (70% in touristy areas)

Scams/Touts/Annoyances:
Tuk-tuk drivers can be pushy
Fake TAT offices
Fake railway officials
People will tell you somewhere is closed in the hope that you will go on a tour with them

Can I drink the water?
No

Did anyone try to pick my pocket?
No

Pro:
The King of Thailand!
Cheap

Con:
Tuk-tuks!
Scams

Transport:
The sitting trains are diabolical
Inter-city buses are cheap

Driving:
‘Make way’ rule
Drivers will usually indicate but approach intersections at maximum warp speed

Fitness:
Gym at Central Mall, Chiang Mai 50B/day
Road running ok around Chiang Mai city walls, impossible on other streets
Lumpini Park in Bangkok is god for running and has a small fitness trail.  Gyms do not do day entry

Costs:
Single room 150B
Meal 30-50B
Bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai 350B
Laundry 35B/kg

Rating: Awesome King/10

Vietnam

Must visit:
War Remnants Museum
Hoi An
A beach (Nha trang for the resort option, Hoi An for the cheap option)

Transport:
Open tour buses are variable in quality but are reliable
Intra-city buses are cheap but don’t try unless you are sure you know where you are going or speak Vietnamese
Rail is slow

Can I drink the water?
No (especially not in Khe Sanh)

Did anyone try to pick my pocket?
No

English spoken:
30%

Scams/Touts/Annoyances:
Everyone is trying to scam you all the time
Fake hotels
Scooter drivers will try to direct you to a hotel so they get a commission
Motorcycle taxis constantly tout for business and will follow you around if it’s not busy

Fitness:
Weights room at the Workers’ Club, Saigon (ask for a one-day entry, 20 000D)
Fitness trails are around but usually dilapidated, except the one next to the Workers’ Club
Road running ok at beaches, impossible in towns

Pro:
Bullet holes in some places
Hotels cheap and of a good standard

Con:
SCAMS
Little to see of Vietnam War battle sites

Driving:
MAD – wrong side of the road, no indicating, no road rules, running through red lights, never give way

Costs:
Single Room USD8-15
Meal 20 000-40 000D
Laundry 20 000D/kg

Rating: SCAM/10

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