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I'm Angie, a Malaysian living in Singapore, and I love Southeast Asia so much!
Even if I have only visited 6 of the 11 countries here. Perhaps being a small-town girl transitioned into a big-city woman gave me an opportunity to experience the regional charms from natural forest to concrete jungle, and the easy access to the local food culture put me right at home no matter where I go.
Over the past few years, I had the chance to meet a few long-term travellers from beyond, touring Southeast Asia. Often they would tell me that their favourite part about the region is the less touristy places, where they could put themselves right into the local experiences. I almost get what they mean - when I was researching for a Bali trip, I was so sick of repetitive contents about the same destinations and sights that I decided to forget about it, rented a scooter, and went about with my own exploration and schedule. Best decision ever made.
Bali aside, I began to think: what about everywhere else? I couldn't find enough content about the Philippines. I had gone on a Mount Pinatubo hike and it was one of the most beautiful places I've been. Why aren't there more people on it? What about my very own home state on Borneo? I finally visited Mulu National Park last year, and I was thoroughly amazed by the cave tours. Where are the contents about them?
Since then, it has always been on my mind to start a travel booking website specifically for Southeast Asia. I just feel that websites catered to global destinations don't do enough justice to the region. That's why I have started working on pletoura.com, hoping to bring this dream to reality in the nearest future.
But I have to know if these are merely my own sentiments, or if anyone else shares the same, so I need feedbacks!
What's in Southeast Asia for you? What do you want out of it? What destinations have you been and loved, or would like to explore more? What do you think will make this Southeast Asia-specific travel booking work? What should we be wary about?
Let's talk more about this wonderful tropical region!
Absolutely you are right. The days of mass tourism are over. Post COVID people are looking for more niche/local/real experiences rather than being on the conveyor-belt journey which so many 'packagers' package.It's kind of a mashup between the generations that span Lonely Planet and Instagram. The off-beat and real will be appreciated and sought after by real travellers. Definitely a market there. For me that place has repetitively been Laos.
Agree 💯 on Laos. It's my favourite in SE Asia! For me it's a combination of many things — the see-sawing hills covered in jungle and cliff facades that fade into a sunny haze over rice fields, the never ending windy roads around hill tops, the Mekong and long boats moving along the water, the lazy town streets at night with motorcycles idling down the alleyways, the food markets and stalls with blue plastic chairs serving noodle soup, and the buzz of crickets and insects at night... to name a few! Laos is mesmerising and full of ancient history and culture that is worth going back to explore and learn about, time and time again.
I also lived in Bangkok for a few years, but I think BKK already has a lot of content... and even after being there for years you're only level 2 out of 10 when it comes to knowing every Soi and hidden spot.
As for other SE destinations, I'd love to explore Borneo, Kota Kinabalu, and more of the Philippines.
SEA is one of my favorite regions of the world. It is so rich and dense in terms of opportunities for travelers. I am based in my BKK which is a great base to explore Thailand and the rest of the region. Probably my most favorite is Burma, but love Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Indonesia as well. There is great infrastructure, cost effective, great people. I think there is a ton of competition for OTAs, so I would simply suggest you develop a strong and unique niche and provide solutions for people in the region. Good luck!
We absolutely loved Borneo and can't write about it enough. It's often one of the things I pitch while guest blogging! It's hard to find unique content because most people want to write about things that people are looking for. If you've never been to Asia, a lot of places feel scary but really they are just unknown. On Bali, we went to Amed which was undiscovered at that point, but not so much anymore. We loved the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, and I'm not talking about a day trip, but really getting to the heart of the region. I think South-east Asia has a lot to offer and I would love to read about all these remote and unknow destinations. But I think you need popular places to lure people as well and to rank your website.
Hi Rieneke, do engage with our hosts in Helolokal if you wish to explore Sabah extensively in future :-)
Good luck with what will be quite the journey! It sounds like you’re thinking of something like a regional OTA/profiler for activities and agencies—which isn’t so much my area of expertise, but if you’re more focusing on travel intelligence/travel guide stuff, happy to lend tips/advice etcetera from my experience—I’ve been running Travelfish.org for the last 18 years, so have been around the block a few times lol. That said I’ve never been to the Philippines and our Mulu/Sarawak stuff is ancient! Either way, good luck with the venture.
I've a huge fan of your website and would love to get in touch with you to discuss more if possible!
Hi, sorry for late reply, sure happy to chat, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and can take it from there. Cheers
Agree with you completely that just grabbing that scooter is the way to go. Slow down and take the time to discover the place. Laos is on my radar for a lot of the reasons people are mentioning here.
Right you are and SE Asia could most certainly do with a booking agent that knows the paths less travelled. I lived in the Philippines for a year and being an expat, every local just wanted me to see the package deal spots. We finally bought a bike and every weekend was an adventure. I then went on to do similar in rural farming Thailand.I love Asia, the food the the uniqueness.
I am interested in the problems of the cultural heritage of the southeastern countries and the development of tourism
There is one thing right about Southeast Asia that you've probably realized, the entrepreneurship of every single person in the tourism industry. Any one can be a travel agent, a tour operator, and a tour guide.
It may be a little bit chaotic at first but as the region is so diverse, this can be transformed into plentiful of personalized and customized experiences if approached correctly. Furthermore, relatively low labour cost (as compared to other nearby regions like Northeast Asia or Australia) can make personalized experience more affordable.