Asian countries: which is the best?

February 19th, 2013, 10:17 pm PST by Greg

As we have been travelling, one can’t help but compare the places we have been. They were all good and I wouldn’t had dropped any of them from the trip. That being said, some were better in different ways.

Here are my comparisons, broken up by country or city, depending on my feeling about them…

How easy is it to travel there as a unilingual English speaker?

  1. Singapore. It’s basically a no-contest win for Singapore: English and Mandarin are the two effectively-used languages everywhere.
  2. Manila. English is effectively an official language here. Pretty much everybody has basic conversational English, and everybody we’ve come across has at least enough to do their job.
  3. Hong Kong. There is the occasionally place in HK with very rudimentary English, and a few more with none, but not many.
  4. Thailand. I was surprised how much English was spoken: they’re very much set up for tourists. There were maybe a few places we had to fall back to point-and-gesture, but not many.
  5. Malaysia
  6. Hangzhou. I suspect I’ll have a lot more to say about how inward-looking China is, as time goes on.

Where would I want to actually live for an extended period?

  1. Manila
  2. Hong Kong
  3. Hangzhou. It’s hard to give Hangzhou a fair comparison here. My thoughts on moving to Manila are “everybody speaks english and is friendly, wheee!” For Hangzhou, I have much more realistic problems like “where the hell is the laundry?” that aren’t on the radar for other places.
  4. Bangkok
  5. Singapore. I like Singapore, but it’s somehow a little too sterile. It’s like a Disneyland version of Asia for tourists who don’t want to get dirty. I don’t think you could get food poisoning in Singapore if you tried, and where’s the fun in that?
  6. Chiang Mai. The problem with Chiang Mai is that it’s a tourist town. Foreign and Thai, but it there doesn’t seem to be a lot going on except foreigners walking around.

Which would I want to come back to?

  1. Manila, with family involvement weighing heavily on the ranking.
  2. Hong Kong
  3. Hangzhou
  4. Malaysia (but probably not KK)
  5. Bangkok
  6. Singapore, but I’ll probably be back if travelling in Asia, again as a break.
  7. Chiang Mai

How willing would I be to drive there?

  1. Singapore
  2. Hong Kong
  3. Chiang Mai
  4. Kota Kinabalu
  5. Bangkok
  6. Manila
  7. Hangzhou

GDP per capita (PPP) in USD, according to Index Mundi.

  1. Singapore, $60,500
  2. Hong Kong, $49,800
  3. United States, $49,000
  4. Canada, $41,100
  5. Macau, $33,000
  6. Malaysia, $15,800
  7. Thailand, $9,500
  8. China, $8,500
  9. Philippines, $4,100 (but I suspect this doesn’t include remittance which is a significant amount, and a lot of wealth is concentrated in Manila)

Gini coefficient, according to Index Mundi. Higher numbers mean more uneven income distribution.

  1. Canada, 32.1
  2. United States, 45.0
  3. Philippines, 45.8
  4. Malaysia, 46.2
  5. Singapore, 47.3
  6. China, 48.0
  7. Macau, 48
  8. Hong Kong, 53.3
  9. Thailand, 53.6

5 Responses to “Asian countries: which is the best?”

  1. Duncan Says:

    HK is consistently on your list as No.2.
    Why do you like HK?

  2. Greg Says:

    Honestly, what I like about HK is that it’s familiar. It’s basically Richmond, except the buildings are taller.

  3. Curtis Says:

    “I don’t think you could get food poisoning in Singapore if you tried, and where’s the fun in that?”

    Oh, yeah, the looming specter of anus-hemorrhaging horror really spices up a place. >_>

  4. Nico Says:

    Related question: which place would you recommend as an easily accessible destination for relaxing beach stay after visit to HK?

  5. Thelma Tassey Says:

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