Travel Tips

Best cities to live in Asia


What are the best cities to live in Asia? Asia is the largest and most populous continent, which makes up 8.7 percent of the world’s surface area and 29.5 percent of its total land area. Both the highest point on land, Mount Everest (over 8,848 meters above sea level), and the lowest point on land, the Dead Sea (-395meters), are found in Asia. It is continent of varied landscape. Most expats choose to move to Asia, as most realize how affordable and comfortable the standard of living is. Almost all of Asia is a travel bargain once you get there, but which city is the best to live in? 15 amazing travel bloggers shared their thoughts:

Best cities to live in Asia:


“Singapore is one of the cleanest, most organized and modern cities in the world. You won’t find crazy traffic, streets full of vendors and busy market streets like in other Southeast Asian cities. Many people would describe Singapore as sterile and you don’t need to fear a big cultural shock if you move there from Europe or America – therefore, it’s one of the most convenient places to live. But there’s also more – Singapore is still a cultural melting pot with different ethnical influences from India, China, Malaysia and the Arabic world. In Singapore, you’ll find temples next to mosques and churches, food from every part of the wold and a striving community of expats. Additionally, it’s the perfect base for trips to any other part of Southeast Asia.” – Patrick of German Backpaker Travel Blog

Osaka, Japan

Best cities to live in Asia

“Osaka is the second biggest city in Japan, and one of the biggest cities in the world. From a living perspective, you get more value here than let’s say Tokyo, and the expat community is larger as well. Osaka is an international city and has connecting flights worldwide, which means you can also travel to a lot of places from here. There’s no shortage of activities within the city, but within the city’s proximity, one can also enjoy Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe just to mention a few places. Those are all easy and quick to get to via train. On top of a modern city with everything one can possibly wish for, one can also experience the old parts with temples, and the Osaka Castle.” – Alex of Swedish Nomad

Hong Kong, ChinaBest cities to live in Asia

“Hong Kong is anything but China. This colourful metropolis is not only crowded with people of hundreds of different nationalities, but also full of spices, flavours and sounds you probably have neither tasted, heard or eaten. Given the fact that bustling Hong Kong used to be British, all signs are and most people actually speak English. Hence, it’s quite easy to get around, to communicate and to get hold of what living in Hong Kong means. Hong Kong is built in a way that it forces you to look up as it is full of skyscrapers in which locals and expats alike squeeze into quite small apartments. But, never mind, the view you’ll have from high up above will pay off the actual size of your apartment. What’s more is that Hong Kong is divided into two parts – Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Both opposing sides are so different and contrasting that it’s hard to decide where to live. Whereas Kowloon is a little more traditional and the hub of the famous markets, Hong Kong Island with its harbour, its old tram Ding Ding and the many different districts that range from hip to down-to-earth, from super business to super creative is the rather mature and developed alternative. All in all Hong Kong is a great city to live in and one that will definitely never really bore you as it is full of opportunities and full of things to do – from shopping, raving to hiking, swimming and even surfing.” – Clemens of Travellers Archive

Bangkok, Thailand

“Bangkok is the ultimate city to live in Asia. The city has so much to offer from all points of view, and while it does get crowded with tourists, there’s also ways to get a bit more into the local action. There are many things to do in Bangkok, that even living there one never feels quite done. Among the things to do in the city, there’s visiting all the beautiful buddhist temples. Keep in mind that in order to be allowed to enter, you have to be dressed appropriately (cover your arms and shoulders, no short skirts or shorts). The food and bar scene is incredible. On any given day, Chinatown and its surroundings are thriving with action and people: there’s a lot of delicious street food to try, and a lot of clubs to have a bit of fun!” by Claudia of My Adventures Across the World

Angeles City, Philippines

Best cities to live in Asia“Nestled in the province of Pampanga in the Philippines is Angeles City, a vibrant place not far from Manila that offers some of the best food the country has to offer. It is the ideal place for digital nomads because there are coffee shops in the city that are open 24 hours a day. It’s easy to go around the many bars and restaurants in Angeles City. There’s even an international airport where you can just fly out without traveling to a different city just to catch your plane. The cost of living and even the monthly rent is low and very affordable, even when compared to other Philippine and Asian cities. Beyond all that, we love Angeles City because it is an authentic Filipino location. It’s modern enough to provide the conveniences of city life but hasn’t lost its provincial elegance and charm. It is the perfect place to come home to after weeks of discovering and exploring.” – Ruben Arribas & Rachel Pregunta of Gamin Traveler

Beijing, China

Best cities to live in Asia

“In Beijing, you can find the perfect balance between an old traditional Chinese town and modern city vibe. On the one hand, you can find gorgeous traditional architecture in and around the city such as in the Forbidden City or the temple of heaven. (Don’t let me get started with the Big Wall of China. Some parts of this stunning sight are located near to Beijing) On the other hand, you can find modern skyscrapers, bars, shops, transportation and events all around Beijing and people from all over the world living here.” – Vicki of

Penang, Malaysia

Best cities to live in Asia“Penang, a place we called home for a year with our kids. is a modern place where it’s very easy to set up a good life. It’s also very affordable and I would say one of the best value destinations in the world. It’s easy to find a lovely home and the food available in Penang is perhaps the best in the world – and for such a great price. Another big plus is that Malaysia is home to Air Asia which means there are many cheap flights to many places. It’s in the tropics so you have to like hot, humid weather. However, only one day during our year did it rain enough to affect our plans. If you want to live somewhere easy and affordable with fabulous food where it’s cheap to travel, Penang is a great choice!” – Dive into Malaysia

Saigon, Vietnam

Best cities to live in Asia

“Saigon, known as Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC for short) but officially still going by its ‘old’ name. There are so many things to do in Saigon that I think you need at least one week to really enjoy the city. Naturally, you can’t miss the main sights like the War Remnants Museum, illustrating the history of the Vietnam War, and the Notre Dame Cathedral to see the French influence on the architecture of the city. You also can’t miss spending one day trying street food all over the city – pho bo (Vietnamese noodle soup) and banh mi (pork baguette) are the best known specialties but there’s so much to try! And with street food you have to try street beer – Bia Hoi, a light homebrewed beer found on every street corner. Just pull up a small plastic stool and join the locals!” – Margherita of The Crowded Planet

Chiang Mai, Thailand

“I have travelled and lived all over Thailand in the past seven years, from a big city life in Bangkok’s CBD, to the remote rice fields of rural Isaan. But to weight up the benefits, and choose a happy medium, I would have to go with the northern city of Chiang Mai to be one of the best cities to live in Asia. As it brings a mix of the western comforts in big city living, along with laid-back local lifestyles which is known locally as “Ta Ton Yon” which means “chilled” or “slow-moving”. At the same time, the cost of living is not so different to than that of rural life. So it’s very cheap. It is also a city surrounded by mountains and rainforests to explore, as well as a local airport with fantastic flight connections for Asia and beyond. My favourite part of the city would then have to be the Nimman area, which has a diverse mix of Asian and western expats, as well as great cafes, eating, and nightlife.” Allan of Live Less Ordinary

Shanghai, China

Best cities to live in Asia

“With 24 million people (1 million of whom are expats from cultures all around the globe!) it’s not hard to find what you are looking for if you live in Shanghai, China. And that’s not even the best bit; once you find what you are looking for you can have it delivered to your apartment door anytime of the day, in any weather, often without a delivery fee! Shanghai is a city that has really embraced technology, everything you could ever need can be booked, bought and paid for on your smartphone. There’s an app for everything so you can use your brainpower for more important things like deciding which of Shanghai’s many weekend brunches is next on your hit list! Oh and the city skyline isn’t half bad looking either.” – Erin and Ryan

Taipei, Taiwan

Best cities to live in Asia“You’ll have an endless supply of options of the things to do and see when you go to a city as vibrant as Taipei. A very calm place in the morning turns a lively city during the night. Taipei is mostly known for its night markets, surely you won’t get hungry and stay put. With so many tourist attractions as well as traditional and contemporary cultural experiences, it’s definitely one of the best cities to live in Asia. Not to mention that Taipei is also very affordable when it comes to food only averaging 5USD per meal. I visited this place only once but I am already amazed with the progress on its means of transportation and communication, two things I will consider given the chance to migrate to a specific country.” – Kevin of The Outcast Journey

Tokyo, Japan

“It has an incredible public transportation system with a vast network of interconnecting trains, subways, buses and monorails that can get you pretty much anywhere. It’s also a very safe city, and I love that I can walk around alone at night and not feel like I have to be on constant high alert. There is just so much to experience in Tokyo that you’ll never run out of things to do in this ever-changing metropolis. Plus it doesn’t hurt that the food is excellent and varied too, covering everything from vending machine counter eateries to Michelin-star restaurants.” – Jessica of Travel Solo Anyway

Almaty, Kazakhstan

Best cities to live in Asia

“Almaty, Kazakhstan is a highly underrated city in Central Asia that is actually a pretty good place to live in.  I have lived there in the past and also moved back to the region a year and a half later as I missed it a lot.  The city is no longer the capital of Kazakhstan, but it has remained its cultural capital.  The people are friendly, the nature is otherworldly, and the food is just sensational.  The city is situated right north of the Tian Shan mountain range which is extremely high and offers activities such as skiing, hiking, and zip lining all accessible by public transportation.  Because of the city’s diversity, there is an array of different restaurants to choose from there- you can find everything from Uzbek to Korean to American without much of a hassle and it is all delicious.  Almaty is a city with a mixture of architecture that reflects its history.  I definitely recommend Almaty to those looking to move to Asia for a while as it will be a completely different experience to other cities you could pick instead!” – Megan of Megan Starr

Suggested Reading: A guide for moving to Ireland 

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