The 5 best places to visit on your 1st trip to Asia (if you only speak English)

When the world reopens and it’s safe again, there will likely be a high demand for international travel, particularly for Americans who have more or less been prohibited from traveling to most countries in the world. I believe that a leading driver of international travel will be the switch to full-time remote work, which will give significantly more Americans the opportunity to work from wherever in the world they want.

Whether you’re working remotely or on a vacation, Asia is a dream destination for many — from its sprawling metropolises to its pristine beaches to its famous temples. That said, the prospect of traveling to Asia can feel overwhelming for those who have never been and only speak English.

Below is my list of the 5 places to visit if you’re a 1st time traveler to Asia and only speak English.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a great destination for English speakers in Asia, as its one of the 2 primary language spoken in the city. When you’re in Hong Kong, train announcements are made 1st in Mandarin and then followed in English and signs in both Mandarin and English are common around the city.

Bali, Indonesia

Bali is one of my favorite destinations in Asia for many reasons, including that it’s very easy to visit if you only speak English. Due to a large number of Australian tourists and an economy that’s heavily dependent on foreign tourism, most of the workers you’ll encounter at hotels and restaurants speak English (particularly in tourist areas such as Ubud, Seminyak, and Kuta).

Kyoto, Japan

Although English is not commonly spoken in Japan, Kyoto is a great place to visit for English speakers because 1) it’s not as “intense” as Tokyo (less people, more spread out, and less overwhelming) and 2) tourism is one of the main drivers of the local economy and, as a result, the infrastructure is set up to accommodate English speakers.

The Philippines

The Philippines is one of my favorite countries in Asia to visit, for reasons having nothing to do with the ease of travel as an English speaker. Rather, I love the Philippines because of the friendly people, the gorgeous beaches, and incredible scenery. That said, another benefit of visiting the Philippines as an English speaker is that English is one of the 2 official languages of the country (education is actually in English there), meaning that English is commonly spoken and you’ll have no problems visiting as an English speaker.

Koh Samui, Thailand

Thailand has so many amazing locations, but the 2 locations in the country that are set up best for English-speaking tourists are Phuket and Koh Samui. Although both have the infrastructure in place to make a visit pleasant and relaxing for English speakers, I’ve chosen Koh Samui ahead of Phuket here because Phuket, with dozens of massive resorts, is a bit too touristy; whereas Koh Samui feels a bit more authentic.

Honorable mentions include Singapore, Phuket, Seoul, and Kuala Lumpur.

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