13 Easily Navigated Cities in Southeast Asia

Did you know that 5 April marks “Read A Road Map Day”?! Well, yes… Today is the day, and therefore I've got an idea to compile a collab post about some easily navigated cities in Southeast Asia. The cities whose maps are easy to read and navigate, with some handy transportation options to get around.

When you get used to planning a DIY trip, you tend to excel at using Google Maps especially if you love wandering around a place to pleasantly find the hidden gems in your destinations. Without further ado, here are some cities in Southeast Asia that you can navigate easily using your digital map!

Read A Road Map Day 2019: 13 Easily Navigated Cities in Southeast Asia - The BeauTraveler

How Easily Navigated Are the Places in Southeast Asia?

As I mentioned previously, with most of the countries being developing countries, Southeast Asia might be not the easiest region to explore.

Despite being slightly challenging with some infrastructure and everything, luckily there are some places that are relatively easy to navigate in Southeast Asia. The places that aren't as scary as it sounds it would be. Even for those who kinda suck at reading maps. 😉

The Easily Navigated Cities in Southeast Asia

Let's jump into the main topic on this post… Have you ever been to any of these cities?

1. Singapore, Singapore

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Singapore is a wonderful city to explore with so many things to do, from Marina Bay and the Orchard Road to the green parks and the cultural diversity of Little India and Chinatown, you'll never run out of attractions.

Finding your way through this city is quite easy. With numerous forms of transportation, lots of information, friendly locals who are happy to help and one great app that is going to make your life easier, you'll have no problem navigating your way through Singapore. We usually love walking from place to place, but believe us, with the humidity in Singapore, you'll want to use public transportations at times.

The easiest way to get from one place to another is by using the MRT system. There are many stations all over the city and lots of information online as well as numerous apps that can help you navigate. The various routes are marked by different colors.

If you'd rather see the city while traveling from place to place, then you can use the bus system though it will probably take you longer to get to your destination.

If you are planning on using public transportation a lot, then we recommend buying an EZ-Link Card. You can also buy single tickets at the MRT stations if you prefer. You can pay directly to your bus driver, just mind you to bring the small change.

Our top tip for navigating Singapore is to use Citymapper which details all the options, fares and times for any public transportation.

Some insider's tips:
Install either Grab or Gojek on your phone for the cab-hailing app. 

Recommended by Maya and Sari from Chasing Lenscapes.

2. Penang, Malaysia

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The UNESCO World Heritage city of Georgetown in Malaysia is an incredibly underappreciated destination that happens to also be one of the best cities to navigate in Southeast Asia.

Why is it so easy to get around? Well, for one thing, Georgetown is on Penang, a relatively small island that can be traversed in about an hour by car or bus. The historic city of Georgetown itself is pretty compact and can even be covered by foot, and for any longer travel across the island just download the Grab app and you can get a ride easily and cheaply. And the best part is that there are some many incredible things to do in Penang!

Explore the city's famous street art scene. Walk across the sky-high glass “Rainbow Walk.” Savor one of the world's top street hawker food scenes. And be sure to tour the fascinating Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion.

Hurry and get here fast though, because the secret about Georgetown is definitely getting out!

Some insider's tips:
You can also download a local Penang ride-sharing app called MULA. This app will offer you MYR 6 off for the first 3 rides you have in the city. 😉

Recommended by Nate of Travel Lemming.

3. Chiang Mai, Thailand

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The Northern capital of Thailand, tucked between glorious mountains and dense jungles is the last place on earth you'd expect to be easy to navigate, but surprisingly it is.

A common thing between most of the Asian cities is the chaos. Chiang Mai, however, seems to have escaped that.

If you search for Chiang Mai in GoogleMaps or Maps.me, the bird-eye view will show you this perfect square area in the middle of the city. The square is made of an ancient fortress wall and conveniently marks the old town section the area where the most interesting stuff in town are located!

If you want to go anywhere outside the walls, just get a tuk-tuk or a Songthaew (a red truck shared taxi, very popular in Chiang Mai), and you'll be there in no time.

Do you want to explore more of the Land of Smiles? You can also check out the ultimate Thailand itinerary guide for more information.

Recommended by Slavi of Global Castaway.


4. Nha Trang, Vietnam

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Nha Trang, Vietnam is a walkable seaside city with a center that is easy to navigate for even the most directionally-challenged traveler, myself included.

My boyfriend and I spent a month based in this relaxed beach destination, renting a studio apartment in Lộc Thọ, right near the tourist night market.

We walked almost everywhere using Google Maps to guide us, only needing to rent a scooter for day trips. The streets along the beach run parallel with the main roads cutting across diagonal. To reach the main train station or the must-see Long Sơn Pagoda, you can just follow the main road “Le Thanh Ton” from the beach.

It doesn't take long to find and learn the route to your new favorite coffee shops and bars.

Recommended by Chantell from Budget Travel Babes.

5. Vientiane, Laos

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Vientiane retains a bunch of French cultures (and cuisine) from the country's days as a French protectorate. Look for Quai Fa Ngun and an unnamed road to run roughly parallel to the mighty Mekong, though natural organic growth away from the river has led to a system a long way from a grid system.

Much of the touristy area is in a walkable area, with main roads like Rue Samsenthai and Rue Setthathilath being good anchors.

Vientiane is best explored on foot with Google Maps at your side. Day trips (like a tour of the BeerLao factory or the Xiengkuane Buddha Park) can be done by renting a scooter at any number of places. In either case, Google Maps gets you around.

Prefer to get around via taxi app? LOCA is the most similar to those found elsewhere.

Recommended by Chris from Worthy Go.

6. Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam

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Prior to visiting Brunei, I always thought that this country would resemblance Singapore quite a bit. Just more Islamic one, with the whole news about them applying sharia law in international media.

Now that I've been there, I could tell you that while some may find Brunei ‘boring', it definitely offers a different kind of attractions with their fellow ASEAN country members. And that is what makes them unique in their own way.

To put it in a way, while Singapore is only a little red dot on the map, Brunei's size is actually ten times bigger than that. However, almost all tourist attractions in Brunei are centralized in Bandar Seri Begawan. And the area is so easy to explore if you just want to visit all the museums to learn about the country's royal history or just to pose in front of the luxurious mosques.

While public transportation is not common to use throughout Brunei, you can download the local Uber-like taxi app called Dart Rider to get you around. And if you think you could take the heat around the Equator in Brunei, get yourself Google Maps to navigate, and enjoy Brunei Darussalam!

Recommended by The BeauTraveler.

7. Ubud, Indonesia

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Ubud, the picturesque jungle town in the heart of Bali is not only the cultural center of the island for the locals, but also a beloved favorite among the millions of visitors coming to visit annually.

The town is famous for its numerous unique temples, craftsmanship, spirituality and open-air bamboo yoga studios.

Two main streets – the Monkey Forest Road and Jalan Raya Ubud run perpendicularly and connect all cardinal points, making it extremely easy for the newcomers to orientate themselves around the town. Ubud market is in the center of the town and is a good meeting point for any endeavors in the neighborhood.

If you don’t have data, the easiest way to navigate around Ubud is by downloading an offline version of Google Maps or maps.me. Unlike many other Southeast Asian towns, the maps are accurate and even give directions using the smallest possible pathways.

Recommended by Darija from DeeGee Life.

8. Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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During my trip to Cambodia with a group tour, I got some alone time. During that time, I explored some places in the city. I bought a local SIM card by the time I reached Cambodia, because the data plan is cheap there.

This helped me to use a Google map in real time to locate different places in Phnomh Penh, and later returning back to my hostel.

The tuk-tuk drivers understand basic English in Phnom Penh, but the pronunciation was an issue. During my travel in Phnom Penh, I fed the name of destination on Google map and it showed me how far my destination is from the current location.

I showed these maps to the tuk-tuk driver and this simple exercise made my life easier to explore the city. The written and marked destination was much better than verbal communication.

I also downloaded the Google offline maps and that helped me when the internet connection was patchy in some areas. Now I use Google map most of the time as it is so convenient and easier.

Recommended by Sapna from My Simple Sojourn.

9. Langkawi, Malaysia

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Langkawi is an island northwest of Malaysia, just by the border to Thailand. It is definitely one of my favorite Southeast Asian cities and it surely should be on your Southeast Asia travel route.

The island is pretty massive, however, getting around is not a problem. If you are brave enough, I highly recommend you to rent a motorbike, which is only around $5 to $10 a day to rent. The gasoline is pretty affordable too. There are not really any police around, therefore getting a ticket is not much a problem.

If this is not something you are up for, Grab is just a click away. Grab works like Uber, but only in Southeast Asian countries so far, you can see the fare before hitting book.

If you don't have any data on your phone, make sure to download Maps.me and get the Langkawi offline map to navigate around the island easier.

Recommended by Mary from A Mary Road.

10. Hoi An, Vietnam

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Navigating in Hoi An is so easy.

We all know that getting around Vietnam, especially in a massive city like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City can be chaotic and scary. But not in Hoi An, where bicycles and motorbikes are the most common mode of transportation, you can easily find a push bike for rent around the main town or any hostel or travel agency.

The cost is around $5 to $15 USD per day. If the rain is too crazy or the heat is too much to bear, you can also use Grab, which is just like Uber, the difference is you can book a motorbike which is the fastest and cheapest way to travel around.

The driver may not speak English, but they can take you to your destination without a problem. If you are coming to Hoi An from Da Nang airport or city, you can even book a Grab bike or car easily.

Recommended by Mary from Move to Vietnam.

11. Kuching, Malaysia

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Kuching in Malaysia is one of the easiest cities I've found to navigate. Located on the island of Borneo, it's warm tropical weather is perfect for sightseeing.

The city spreads out from East to West along the South side of the Sarawak River, so it is very simple to explore by walking. It only takes 20 minutes to walk from one side to the other, and downloading the Maps.me app will help you tremendously as you can use it while offline too.

The West side includes the majestic pink Kuching City Mosque, the Orangutan Murals, Chinatown and the Islamic and Sarawak Museums. The East side is where the famous central cat statue, the Grand Margherita Hotel and the upside-down house.

Kuching is one of the easiest cities to explore by foot and experience their local culture.

Recommended by Nat from Nat Wanderlust.

12. Da Lat, Vietnam

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Not only was Da Lat one of my favorite places to visit anywhere in Southeast Asia, it's also very easy to navigate!

As you can see from this itinerary I designed, getting around all of the Da Lat sites and attractions is quite straightforward. The route is essentially a massive loop which takes you out of town, around the mountains and then back again.

On the way, you get to discover waterfalls, cable cars, forest walks and even a park of love!

To get to all of these great things, I recommend hiring a moped for the day and heading out early. To help find your way, you should download maps.me. We used the sandy mapping app all around Southeast Asia, and it never let us down!

Offline Google Maps should also work just as well, just be sure to bookmark all of the attractions ahead of time.

Recommended by Bradley from Dream Big, Travel Far.

13. Singkawang, Indonesia

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As an Indonesian myself, I have to admit that it's quite challenging to find a city or a place that is easy to navigate. Growing up in a big city in Java, I always thought that the cities in Indonesia would be too crowded and absolutely difficult to navigate. As if it wasn't enough, almost none of them that I've been were pedestrian-friendly either.

My mindset was changed totally as I arrived in Singkawang, a small town in West Kalimantan. Situated only around 4 hours by car from Kuching, the Indonesian city in Borneo is popular with their cultural diversity.

Not only is the town pedestrian-friendly, but it is the typical small town where you could just stroll around by walking. Just get yourself a Google map, and you should have no problem to get around. 

The main attractions are located in the city center, and all could be reached through a nice walk. And if you want to explore the city even further, you can always hail a Grab bike or a Grab car.

Recommended by The BeauTraveler.

Have You Got Any Other City in Southeast Asia That is Easy to Navigate?

So, those are the cities that you'll find easy to explore in the region. Or, do you have another city in Southeast Asia that doesn't make it on the list? Drop your comment with your recommendation below, safe travel and cheerio! 😀

Read A Road Map Day 2019: 13 Easily Navigated Cities in Southeast Asia - The BeauTraveler


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