Family-friendly, cosmopolitan good life

ASEAN hosts some of the world’s most interesting, safe and global cities, which are a big draw for expats.

The ASEAN region has some of the world’s most liveable cities as voted through several global rankings. From Singapore to Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Bandar Seri Begawan and Manila, cities in the region are safe, interesting and play host to thousands of expats. Phnom Penh, Yangon, and Vientiane too are emerging global cities.

From sprawling resplendent malls to a vibrant nightlife, Singapore offers something for everyone. A shoppers’ paradise, the tiny island nation has the largest number of malls per capita in Asia including a huge variety of shopping experiences to choose from (The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, ION Orchard, The Paragon, Ngee Ann City, Mandarin Gallery and others). Singapore also offers a huge diversity of cuisine for foodies from Michelin-starred creations to exotic flavours from local chefs and an array of street food. Ritzy pubs, nightclubs and bars and highly talented mixologists add to the stunning nightlife experiences.

Kuala Lumpur, too, offers vibrant shopping experiences with upmarket malls such as Pavilion KL, Suria KLCC shopping centres like Low Yat Plaza and Berjaya Times Square and high street markets such as Petaling Street. There’s also the popular Kuala Lumpur Downtown local Malay night market and a vibrant street food scene.

Manila, the capital of Philippines, is also known for an abundance of shopping malls, with one in almost every block. Indonesia’s capital Jakarta also has lots on offer for shopaholics with malls such as Grand Indonesia; Plaza Indonesia and Mangga Dua Mall. And golf galore!

Last but not least Bangkok is a wallet-friendly shopping destination with AC malls, floating markets and outdoor markets. Experiences range from Platinum Fashion Mall to Chatuchak Weekend Market.

Who doesn’t know about Bali, the world’s favourite beach resort in Indonesia? ASEAN is dotted with several other exotic beach and dive destinations including Boracay, Palawan & Cebu, Philippines; Sipadan, Malaysia; Komodo National Park, Indonesia; Mui Ne Beach, Vietnam; Koh Rong, Cambodia; Phuket & Krabi, Thailand. Universal Studios and Disney Wonderland in Singapore and Genting Highlands theme park in Malaysia are also tourist hotspots in the region.

It’s not just about food, shopping, nightlife and beaches. World-class international schools offer primary and secondary education (at a price) to foreign and local schoolchildren in all these cities, usually in English language and aimed at western curricula, enabling entrance to top universities back home. Western, “expat” housing, too, has improved immeasurably over the years, catering to all tastes (and wallets). And most of these cities, especially their expat residential areas and CBDs, are very, very safe. No wonder that hundreds of thousands of expats have made ASEAN cities their homes for the whole family.

About the Author

Jun De Dios
EVP for Growth & Strategy | Profile

Jun De Dios is our EVP for Growth & Strategy and he is also our Country Manager for Philippines. Jun was the CEO for AkzoNobel in Vietnam from 2008-13, and then CEO in Indonesia, before being appointed Cluster Director for Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands over the period 2013-2019.