My first day in Southeast Asia, I remember seeing more tourists in one day (Luang Prabang, Laos) than I had in the previous two weeks (the cities of Guangdong and Guangxi, China). You can definitely find a cheap hostel or a five-star hotel in either area, naturally, and it’s relatively easy to live or travel on a budget or enjoy the high-end side in either area. The babirusa, a four-tusked pig, can be found in Indonesia as well. They spread eastwards to Micronesia and Polynesia, as well as westwards to Madagascar, becoming the ancestors of modern-day Malagasy people, Micronesians, Melanesians, and Polynesians. The main mode of transport tends to be country-specific, but the main methods are train, mashrutka (shared minibus) and shared taxi. the Mae Hong Son loop in Thailand, Hanoi to Sapa in Vietnam, or a circumnavigation of Mount Rinjani on Lombok. Overall, both Southeast Asia and South America are incredible destinations with a great deal to offer backpackers, so ultimately it depends on what you’re looking to gain from your gap year. [5] Southeast Asia is bordered to the north by East Asia, to the west by South Asia and the Bay of Bengal, to the east by Oceania and the Pacific Ocean, and to the south by Australia and the Indian Ocean. Given that tourism is not quite as developed in Central Asia, some of the more remote places can be more difficult to get to, compared with Southeast Asia. *ap® and advanced placement® are registered trademarks of the college board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product. Countries in Southeast Asia practice many different religions. [90][91], Islam began to make contacts with Southeast Asia in the 8th-century CE, when the Umayyads established trade with the region via sea routes. Pair that with the image and reality of Southeast Asia and you have a great contrast. The Hague Tribunal's South China Sea Ruling: Empty Provocation or Slow-Burning Influence? Majapahit would soon grew into a regional power. Because of this, if you are trying to hitchhike for free, you need to make it clear as payment is normally expected. Despite it’s popularity, it’s still quite cheap. For the majority of the populations in each country, there was comparatively little interaction with Europeans and traditional social routines and relationships continued.

The islands between Java/Borneo and Papua form a mixed zone, where both types occur, known as Wallacea. This tumultuous history, both human and political, gives Southeast Asia a turmoil that it only now appears to be overcoming, as economies are growing and political stability is being sought.

This excellent article over at artofadventuring.com has some more insightful observations on these cultural differences.

The region consists of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. [7], Southeast Asia covers about 4.5 million km2 (1.7 million mi2), which is 10.5% of Asia or 3% of earth's total land area. With the recent economic rise of China, the continuing growth of South Korea and Taiwan and the established prosperity of Japan and Hong Kong, North Asia is one of the world’s most prosperous regions and also one of its most urbane and dynamic. Soon, Malacca became the center of Islamic study and maritime trade, and other rulers followed suit. The hornbill was prized for its beak and used in trade with China. The Philippines was, for a long time, perhaps second only to Japan in its development and, in 1965, The Beatles played Tokyo and Manila on their only tour of Asia. This region has developed within a mountainous and jungle environment, making a large empire impossible. These countries are more established and set in their ways and offer an experience navigating an impenetrable cultural wall like no other. Balinese Hinduism is somewhat different from Hinduism practised elsewhere, as Animism and local culture is incorporated into it. The Srivijaya Empire was a Indonesian Hindu empire based on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, which influenced much of Southeast Asia. If the price seems to high, it probably is.