The area on the Asian continent, also known as Southeast Asia, begins east of India and south of China. It is made up of eleven countries, including numerous island states.
According to countryaah, the following countries now belong to Southeast Asia: Brunei, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, East Java and Vietnam. Over 594 million people live in these countries, with 240 million Indonesia being the most populous country in Southeast Asia. The least inhabitants – although not the smallest country – have Brunei with 400,000 people.
With an area of just over 710 square kilometers, which is slightly smaller than Hamburg, Singapore is the smallest state in Southeast Asia, but the country with the highest population density, no wonder, since this is a city-state. Almost five million people live here, which means that there are over 7,000 people per square kilometer.
Geographical characteristics of Southeast Asia
Except for Laos, all countries in Southeast Asia have access to the sea. The Indian Ocean is to the west and the Pacific to the east. These two oceans are also the natural borders in the west, east and south. The two oceans are separated from the Malacca Strait, which is one of the most important maritime trade routes. Other seas belonging to Southeast Asia are the South China Sea, the Gulf of Thailand, the Java Sea, the Timor Sea, the Banda Sea and the Arafura Sea.
In the north, the mountain ranges of the Garo Mountains and the Khasi Mountains in India, and the Chinese mountain ranges in the provinces of Yunnan, Hengduan Shan and Guangxi form natural boundaries with Southeast Asia.
The countries and their peculiarities
The largest island nation in the world is Indonesia. On more than 17,500 islands you can find the country that ranks fourth in the world in terms of population density. Just over 6,000 of these islands are inhabited, the main islands are Java, Sumatra, Borneo, New Guinea and Sulawesi.
The Philippines count over 7,100 islands. The eleven largest islands take up more than 90% of the total land area. There are a particularly large number of active volcanoes in the Philippines, including the Pinatubo. In addition to the numerous mountain ranges – the highest mountain is the Apo at 2,956 meters – the Philippines is mainly covered by tropical rainforest.
Vietnam, which is roughly the size of Germany, has a long coastline that is more than 3,400 kilometers. In addition to a narrow coastal fringe, in which the south and the center of the country are densely populated, there are mainly large mountain ranges in the highlands and in the hinterland, such as the Annamite Mountains.
Singapore is the smallest city in Southeast Asia and is a so-called island or city-state. The majority of the island consists of urban areas, so there are no large and important areas.
Southeast Asia and its religions
There are many religious beliefs in the countries of Southeast Asia. The majority is Buddhism with around 240 million people. Christianity, especially Catholicism, predominates in East Timor and the Philippines. Hinduism is mainly found in Bali (Indonesia). Islam is also common in Southeast Asia, especially in Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia. Last but not least, there are also followers of Confucianism, especially in Singapore and Malaysia.
Backpacking in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia has become one of the most popular backpacking destinations. There’s something for everyone here. Whether culture, water sports, trekking, hiking, climbing, diving, shopping, city trips – everyone gets their money’s worth here, and often at a much cheaper price than in other places. There is also a good infrastructure for traveling with a backpack in Southeast Asia, which makes this part of Asia the ideal destination, especially for “beginners”. Nevertheless, we advise you to take some precautions before going on the plane.
Preparations for your backpacker tour through Southeast Asia
First of all, you should make a rough selection of countries. If it’s your first trip to Asia, it’s a good place to start from countries like Thailand and Malaysia.
Afterwards, it is advisable to research the entry requirements. Europeans are required to have a visa in many countries in Southeast Asia. Apart from Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, where there is a “ Visa on arrival ”, a visa has to be applied for almost every country in Southeast Asia. It is best to find out here on the website of the respective embassy to make sure that you have the latest information. In any case, your passport must be valid for at least 6 months.
While Southeast Asia is considered an extremely safe travel destination, it doesn’t hurt to find out about the current situation in the country. In general, however, it can be said for all of Southeast Asia that with common sense, an open eye for your valuables, some adaptability, respect and openness to other cultures and customs, there is absolutely nothing to fear here!
Next, get a picture of the climate diagrams of your travel destinations in Southeast Asia. So it is really annoying when you realize too late that you are traveling in the monsoon, while you could have traveled the route from end to start, always after the sun. Roughly speaking, Singapore, Myanmar and western Indonesia are in the rainy season between May and September. The best travel time for Southeast Asia is from October to February / March.
It is also worth taking a look at the recommended vaccinations for the countries of your choice. Often no further vaccinations are necessary. Nevertheless, you can ensure that you are prepared for the respective hygiene standards and that your first aid kit is appropriately equipped. So everyone has wished they had packed the bug spray.
Apart from these preparations, backpacking through Southeast Asia does not of course have to be planned in minute detail. The travel connections and infrastructure for mobility between A and B give you the opportunity to make spontaneous decisions – to extend a stay in a dream location, to choose an alternative route to the next location and and and. So your backpacking through Southeast Asia can be a unique adventure that you will look back on for a long time with a smile.