Backpacking Southeast Asia vs. Backpacking Central America

It’s an ongoing debate whether Central America is better for backpackers or South Asia. It’s all about the game of preference and one’s attitude towards different cultures and societies of the world thus consequently one may assume that the things liked by one person in any one of these areas might be worst for others. Nevertheless, it’s all about giving opinions about one’s journey and presenting some factual data to those new travelers who know nothing about the place. Southeast Asia and Central America are two different places with as much difference one cannot possibly imagine. The fact that both the places are compared even in the first place is because both places offer a cheap journey and accommodation. There is also a climate difference like few countries in South Asia are full of rainy seasons especially in amonsoon while most of the places in Central America are haunted by hurricanes. It is always about the nature of choices which ranks these places in priorities either first or second; let’s have a look at different places and factors and then the reader is free to decide for oneself whether the first place or the second is liked.


Money is the determining factor in all the journeys and travels, which is why most of the planning about which places should be visited is done accordingly. Visit and accommodation in most countries of South Asia are much cheaper as compared to those countries in Central America. Even during high days of tourism in Thailand you can get a bungalow in price as low as twenty dollars and you can also get filling meal at very low prices but that is not the case in Central America. It is also worth mentioning that the prices in Southeast Asia vary from place to place. For example, you can have a cheap day in Pai with 20 dollars only but a cheap day in Phi Phi would cost you 50 dollars. The prices of accommodation and meal vary in different parts of Southeast Asia as well as in Central America. Flights – the distance your cover in moving from one place to another and the money you spend on it – are also the factors in determining which place visitors choose. If you are looking for a discount on travel or accommodation services then try Groupon. Those living near Southeast Asia choose Asian places while those living near Central America choose American places.

Tourism Infrastructure

Most of the travelers in their choice about which places should be visited keep in mind the infrastructure and different landscapes of that area. In recent years it has been noted that most people visit those places which have some sea and a beach. In Southeast Asia, although the infrastructure and the maintenance of the buildings are not as good as that in Central America but you can get a good accommodation. There are not lots of recognized management companies in Southeast Asia with the organized hotel reservations and tour vehicles but most of the visiting spots and accommodation places are managed by local people. For travel and other tours within the countries you have to consult locals for different rental cars or buses and in short, it can be said that you have to manage many things on your own in Southeast Asia, but that doesn’t make the journey boring or dull instead it is a good experience. The travel across different places in Central America is organized and managed and you just have to call your agent and everything will be arranged. There is also a well-organized setup of air conditioned bus lines and it is highly recommended to use these buses for along journey, instead of those chicken-creep buses which you will have to change three or four times before you reach your destination. The accommodation is more like hostels in Central America as contrasted by those private bungalows in Southeast Asia. The beds in Southeast Asia are notoriously hard while pillows in Central America are most often described by tourists as terrible.

Phi Phi
Phi Phi, Southeast Asia

Food and Cuisine

It cannot be denied that the sea areas are home to many of the best foods in the world. If you are a food lover especially sea food you must visit, if once in your life, places like Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore. Southeast Asia offers a variety of foods and if you are staying there you can have a different food daily for months. Southeast Asia also has a street food culture which makes it even more interesting because you are able to eat avariety of foods at very low prices. Most of the food in Central America is a variation of different meat products, rice, and beans. There is this food in Central America which is called “Gift sent by heaven” known as Salvadorian pupusas which you can try at an affordable price.

The Backpackers

Most of the backpackers attracted towards Southeast Asia are teens and sometimes it feels really awkward to go on backpacking and find out one of your companions is nineteen years old. That is why most of the parties and crowds near the areas of Phi Phi and KohPhangan are filled with young crowds who drink excessively and their behavior is immature towards many situations. That is not to say that no older backpackers visit Southeast Asia, they do visit these places and are most likely to be found in quieter rural areas. Most people in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries are Australian and European; there are also plenty of French people. Contrary to this Central America is more likely to draw much more experienced and older crowd. Most of the surf towns in Central America attract Canadian crowd and there is particularly a Canadian bar there known as loose moose.

Outdoor Adventure

Both Southeast Asia and Central America are good choices for outdoor adventures but because of different landscapes both offer different sort of trips. Outdoor adventures in Southeast Asia include rock climbing, jungle trekking, motorbikes trips, and diving. Thailand is famous for rock climbing. Most backpackers hire a bike in Southeast Asia and explore the beauty of different places on their own that makes the trip even more exciting. Koh Tao is known as the cheapest place for diving and also one of the best places for diving. Central America is full of surf towns and is known for many unique adventures like volcano boarding and exploring ATM caves which are notorious for human sacrifices.

ATM caves
ATM Caves Central America


Most of the travelers interested in this debate, whether Central America is better or South Asia, are European or North Americans; South Asia is a completely different place for them and offers exclusively different experience, which is why South Asia is always admired more. But it is not altogether deniable that Central America also has plenty of places which provide as good experience as any other culturally beautiful place can offer. After describing all the similarities and differences between these two places it is best that anyone reading this article should decide for oneself which place will be visited. Rather than silent inculcation and insinuation, this article is an open ended guide for backpackers.

Guest post from: Frank Lee

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2 respuestas a “Backpacking Southeast Asia vs. Backpacking Central America

  1. Me and my friend are planning to visit Central and South America this year, during my 20’s I went for backpacking in Southeast Asia, aside from its near to my country, I like those times the endless parties and excessive drinking, But his time we prefer to see Central And America. Its a long way from home so we are really looking forward to see different landscapes.

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