If you’re looking for the best places to live in Asia, you’ve come to the right place. This guide will show you some of the best cities to live in Asia, based on your needs and preferences.
Whether you’re looking for a city with great job opportunities, a thriving nightlife scene, or plenty of cultural experiences to enjoy, we’ve got you covered.
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So read on for some inspiration and discover the perfect city to call home as an expat in Asia!
Quick Overview: Best Places To Live In Asia
Below, you’ll find a quick overview if you just want to get a quick answer.
- Best city in Asia for new digital nomads: Chiang Mai, Thailand
- Best city in Asia for business owners and startups: Singapore
- Best place in Asia for expats, and digital nomads: Bali, Indonesia
- Best cities in Asia for nightlife and city life: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia or Bangkok, Thailand
- Best city in Asia for expats on a budget: Da Nang, Vietnam
Our guide includes more cities to live in Asia as an expat, digital nomad, retiree, or entrepreneur. So keep reading to learn more.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai is often cited as one of the best places to live in Asia for digital nomads and expats. And it’s not hard to see why.
This city has everything you need to enjoy a great quality of life, including fast internet, affordable living costs, and plenty of coworking spaces and cafés to work from.
There are also plenty of things to do in your free time, from exploring the city’s many temples and markets, to taking day trips to nearby jungle waterfalls and mountains.
Plus, Chiang Mai is a great base for exploring the rest of Southeast Asia, with flights to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore all under $100.
Chiang Mai is the perfect destination from October to January-February. It’s excellent for digital nomads or expats on a budget or just starting their business. That said, you’ll find a big SEO community if you work in this field.
If you’re looking for a city with great job opportunities, then Singapore should be at the top of your list.
This tiny country is one of the most prosperous countries in Asia, and is home to some of the world’s biggest businesses and best universities.
It’s also a great place to live, with a low crime rate, excellent public transport, and plenty of green spaces to relax in.
Of course, all of this comes at a price, and Singapore is one of the most expensive cities in Asia to live in. But if you can afford it, it’s definitely worth considering.
Singapore is an excellent destination for expats and startup owners. In fact, it has one of the most significant expat communities I’ve seen.
Most expats live there long-term, which can make a big difference compared to destinations like Chiang Mai or Bali, where you see a lot of short-term stays.
While Bali is not a city, it’s definitely one of the best places to live in Asia for expats and digital nomads.
This Indonesian island has it all, from stunning beaches and lush jungles, to vibrant nightlife and friendly locals.
There are also plenty of coworking spaces and cafés to work from, as well as great gyms, and surfing spots.
Living costs are fairly affordable, especially if you’re willing to share a villa with other people.
Bali is the perfect destination for expats and digital nomads who want to enjoy a tropical lifestyle without spending too much money. It’s also a great base for exploring the rest of Indonesia and Southeast Asia
There are a few hot spots where you’ll find many digital nomads, and expats:
Each spot has its own vibes and attracts different types of expats. You can learn more by reading our guide to the best places to live in Bali.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
If you’re looking for a city with a great nightlife and plenty of things to do, then Kuala Lumpur is an excellent choice!
You’ll find a vibrant nightlife scene, as well as plenty of restaurants, bars, and clubs to keep you entertained. If you like being close to a mall, this city is also a great choice, as plenty of shopping options are available.
Living costs are relatively affordable, and there are plenty of coworking spaces and cafés to work from.
Kuala Lumpur is a great destination for digital nomads and expats who want to enjoy a big city lifestyle without spending too much. For example, it’s more affordable than Singapore, but you still get to enjoy the city life.
Kuala Lumpur is a good option for expats who want to live in Southeast Asia but don’t want to deal with the tourist crowds of Bali. It’s a bit more developed than other parts of Southeast Asia, so you’ll find better infrastructure.
If you want to enjoy a fast-paced city life, you could try Bangkok!
The Thai capital has everything you need, from excellent public transport and coworking spaces, to delicious food and a vibrant nightlife scene.
Although, living costs are not as low as in other places in Thailand. Finding a short-term stay (less than 6 months) can be more challenging but not impossible.
Bangkok is an excellent choice for those who want to live in Southeast Asia, but want to live in a big city with good infrastructure.
Bangkok also has a solid coffee scene with many hipster cafés and specialty coffee shops. If you like to drink coffee, then Bangkok is a great place to be!
Bangkok is popular amongst expats and you’ll find plenty of job opportunities there unless you work online already.
Da Nang, Vietnam
If you want to enjoy a laid-back lifestyle by the beach, Da Nang is an excellent choice!
…And it’s also one of the most affordable places to live in Asia.
There are plenty of activities to keep you busy in Da Nang, whether you want to relax on the beach, explore the city’s many temples, or try some of the local cuisine. And with a low cost of living, it’s easy to make your money go further in Da Nang.
So if you’re looking for an affordable, laid-back place to call home, Da Nang should definitely be on your list!
Many expats, digital nomads, and English teachers love Da Nang because of its slower pace of life and beautiful beaches. It’s also a great base for exploring the rest of Vietnam and Southeast Asia.
Koh Lanta, Thailand
If you’re looking for a quiet island lifestyle, Koh Lanta is a great choice!
This small island off the coast of Krabi has a laid-back vibe, with plenty of beaches to relax on and jungle to explore.
There are also some good restaurants and bars, although the nightlife scene is not as lively as on some of the other Thai islands. Think of smaller pubs, and beach bars – and you’re there!
Koh Lanta is a good choice for those who want to escape the crowds and enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle. It’s also one of the more affordable places to live in Thailand.
Many digital nomads and expats love Koh Lanta because it’s a great place to work from, with good internet and plenty of cafes and coworking spaces. It’s also a great base for exploring the nearby islands.
That said, you’ll find that most digital nomads are just passing by for 1-2 months. The community of retirees, and families tend to stay there longer.
If you want to enjoy a tropical island lifestyle, Phuket is the place to be!
This large island in southern Thailand has something for everyone, from beautiful beaches and clear blue waters, to jungle-covered hills and bustling nightlife.
Living costs are relatively high, but it still is cheaper than Bangkok.
Phuket is a great choice for those who want to live in Southeast Asia but still have access to all the amenities of a big city.
Many digital nomads and expats love Phuket because of its stunning beaches, friendly locals, and affordable cost of living. This paradise island has something for everyone, including world-class diving spots, luxury resorts, and a vibrant nightlife scene.
If you want to enjoy a tropical island lifestyle on a budget, Langkawi is the place for you!
This small island off the coast of Malaysia is famous for its duty-free status, which means that prices for alcohol and cigarettes are very low.
Langkawi also has some beautiful beaches and clear blue waters, making it a great place to relax and enjoy the island life.
However, Langkawi is not as developed as some of the other islands in Southeast Asia, so you’ll find that there are fewer restaurants and bars, and less nightlife.
But if you’re looking for a quiet place to call home, with stunning beaches and an affordable cost of living, Langkawi is definitely worth considering!
Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
If you want to experience the hustle and bustle of Southeast Asian city life, Ho Chi Minh is the place to be!
This bustling metropolis is Vietnam’s largest city, and it has a lot to offer, from delicious food and busy markets, to historic temples and lively nightlife.
Living costs are relatively low, and there are plenty of affordable places to live.
However, Ho Chi Minh can be a bit overwhelming for some people, so it’s not the best choice if you’re looking for a quiet, relaxing place to call home.
But if you want to experience the energy and excitement of Southeast Asian city life, Ho Chi Minh is definitely a good option.
You’ll find many English teachers there because of the high demand for English and plenty of other expats and digital nomads.
Hanoi is a popular place to live in Asia for expats, digital nomads, and English teachers. It’s a great city to live in if you’re looking for an affordable place with a vibrant culture.
There are plenty of things to do in Hanoi, from exploring the old quarter to visiting temples and museums.
The food is also amazing, and you can find everything from street food to international cuisine.
If you’re searching for a fascinating city to call home, Hanoi should definitely be at the top of your list!
Taipei is a great choice for those who want to live in Asia but still have access to all the amenities of a developed city.
This vibrant metropolis is the capital of Taiwan, and it offers everything from delicious food and busy night markets, to beautiful temples and lively nightlife.
Living costs are relatively high, but Taipei is still cheaper than cities like Tokyo and Hong Kong.
However, Taipei can be a bit overwhelming for some people, so it’s not the best choice if you’re looking for a quiet, relaxing place to call home.
But if you want to experience the energy and excitement of an Asian city, Taipei is definitely worth considering! You’ll find many expats, including many English teachers in Taipei.
Seoul, South Korea
Seoul is a great choice for those who want to live in Asia. The city has a population of over 10 million people and is the capital of South Korea.
It is a modern and cosmopolitan city, with a lively nightlife and plenty of things to do.
Although, it’s important to note that the cost of living in Seoul is relatively high.
Expats will find that they can easily make friends and feel at home in Seoul. The city is very international, and there is a strong expat community.
Seoul is a great choice for those looking for an exciting and modern place to live.
Final Thoughts On The Best Cities To Live In Asia
There are many great cities to live in Asia, and it really depends on your own personal preferences as to which one is the best for you.
Personally, I love Thailand, which has become my favorite country to live in Asia. I lived nearly two years in Bali, spent several months in Kuala Lumpur, and visited most places on this list.
…Thailand always wins.
But everyone is different and has different interests and budgets. So pick an Asian city that suits your needs.
Thinking of moving to Asia? Read one of our expat guides: