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5 Great Places to Retire in Asia

By Betsy Burlingame

Summary: We asked expats and searched our forums for recommendations about where to retire in Asia. We pinpointed countries with affordable costs of living and have five great retirement locations. Please add your recommendations in the comments section!

Retiring Abroad - 5 Great Places to Retire in Asia

Leyte Island, Philippines

"Leyte Island is an inner island and is somewhat protected from the weather systems. Most of the storms from the east here have to cross another island and then the mountains here before getting to Ormoc City, so they have usually have weakened out before they hit. The Ormoc area on the island of Leyte is set on the eastern edge of a large cove type island area. The island is protected from most things and has Cebu Island to the west to protect it and no active volcanic areas are present. As for buying land here, unless one of you in the family is Philippine citizen then you can not own land here, you can however own a condominium on top of the land here. If you go outside of the town area you can find land at a reasonable price. A friend here just bought a home in a subdivision here for $1,000,000.00php pesos," advised one expat.

Related Links:

Trip Advisor 59 Attractions in Leyte Island, Philippines
Island Properties

Davao City, Philippines

"I have lived for 25 years in Davao City and I must say it is the best place to retire. The place is accessible to domestic and international routes, with a state of the art international airport. Beaches are less than an hour away. The medical facilities and expertise of doctors are at par with that of Manila. All specialities of health are available, as well as good areas of interventions. Cost is definitely much lower than that of Manila. My recent travel made me aware of high end facilities now present, Malls in Manila are in Davao City, stores in Manila are also there, restaurants are both high end and affordable. With a good local governance, peace and order and cleanliness has been maintained in the place. Although Davao is not necessarily spared of crime, it is definitely a safer place than a lot of urban places in the Philippines, thanks to good leadership. Since Mindanao is a connected place being one island, Davao City is accessible via land transfer to neighboring places, where tourism is high, nature is awesome, cost is a surprise. Retiring in Davao City, Philippines is surely a thing I most recommend," said one expat in Davao City, Philippines.

Related Links:
Allea Real Estate in Davao

Chiang Mai, Thailand

"Chiang Mai is a beautiful place but we have seen many people get caught up in the dream without really thinking things through. Come here for awhile, get to know the people and not just the people hanging out in the bars and get to know the culture," advised one expat in Chiang Mai. Another expat living in Chiang Mai said, "There are over 5000 expat families living in this city. Because of this, there are literally hundreds of programs and clubs to join. From "Little League" to ballet classes to chess clubs to golf schools, this city is a great place for families. Our family was lucky enough to be transferred here for work."

Related Links:

Lonely Planet Introducing Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai Directory on Chiang Mai News

Hua Hin, Thailand

"Hua Hin is a nice location. The king has a summer palace there and spends quite some time there. I am not familiar with the expat community there but I do know that there is a fairly large brit contingent," said one expat. Another expat in Thailand said, "as a retiree [in Thailand] I have minimal obligations:

  • To file my home country taxes. (about an hour per year)
  • To renew my drivers license every 5 years. (Time to complete: about 3 hours.
  • To report my address to Immigration every 90 days, which can be done by mail. Time to complete: about 2 hours.
  • To renew my visa once a year. Time to complete: about 3 hours depending on the queue.
  • To renew my car registration annually: Time to complete: About 5 minutes, because I have a company do it for me.
  • To pay my monthly bills: About an hour online a month.
That comes to a total of about 17 hours per year. The rest of th time is mine to use as I see fit. How can it be better than that?"

Related Links:

2nd Home Hua Hin Properties
The Ideal Retirement Haven You’ve Never Heard Of


"Nha Trang, Vung Tau, Phu Quoc (island) or Con Dao (island) are seaside cities. You may spend your leisure / retiree time here. Cost of living in Vietnam is low enough to budget of people (total 1000$/person/month including 2-3 stars accommodation + food and drink + leisure time and travel 1 times / month to other place). At your at 56, you may teach some language classes in Vietnam," suggested one expat. Another said, "this is my 61 country to visit or live in. Plan on staying here for quite sometime. Indeed I'm visiting w/ landlords now trying to land permanent digs. Had really intended on settling in Thailand. But came here first and fell in love w/ Nha Trang. and the people here. First spent some time in HCMC, but far to big and crowded for me."

One expat offered a tremendous overview of various destinations in Vietnam. She described Nha Trang by saying, "It [Nha Trang] is a big town with nice beaches. A great place to relax – although I prefer Mui Ne. If you are into scuba diving, stay here five or more days. If not, a couple of days should be enough. If traveling North your next stop should be Hoi An. If traveling South, you can go straight to Saigon, or stop in Mui Ne. You can get there on a bus." She went on to talk about Mui Ne by saying, "It [Muine] is another beach destination. Tourism is developing fast in the area. I enjoyed it much more than Nha Trang. Stay two or three days, relax on the beach, do an excursion, and keep traveling. From here you should go to Saigon, if traveling south." Another place she recommended was Phu Quoc Island. She said, "this island south of Cambodia is like paradise on earth. Although tourism is developing fast, it is still unspoiled. Crystal clear waters, long beaches, hassle free, … a great place to chill out. Stay here around four days (longer if you can). If you come here at the end of your travel you will appreciate it more. My favorite destination in Vietnam (and in the world probably)."

Related Links:

One Retiree’s New Life in Nha Trang, Vietnam
Live in Mui Ne
Lonely Planet's Guide to Phu Quoc Island
Vung Tao Real Estate

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Some of Betsy's more popular articles include 6 Best Places to Live in Costa Rica, 12 Things to Know Before Moving to The Dominican Republic and 7 Tips for Obtaining Residence in Italy. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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Comments about this Article

Apr 23, 2013 02:21

Why you should visit Yangshuo, Guangxi, China & maybe stay awhile 1. One destination: No changing hotels, unpack only once, no early morning rush. 2. Many attractions which will provide you with memorable experiences everyday. 3. Spectacular scenery which will keep you spell bound at every corner. Amazing Karst Hills, the famous Li River and Ulong River, many caves and small villages. 4. A small town where you can walk safely or use local buses. Bikes are available for hire. 5. Relaxing environment with an abundance of coffee shops, restaurants and bars. You never need to eat at the same place twice. Eat when you want to, where you want to. Menus written in English which often offer good quality western food. 6. Safe environment: At no time, day or night will you feel threatened. Of course keeping an eye on erratic traffic and keeping your personal belongings away from pick pockets is necessary. 7. Environmentally clean. You will not endure the air pollution of big cities. 8. Plenty of local buses to take you to visit interesting nearby villages. 9. A high percentage of English speakers in public places; Banks, Post Office, Police etc. 10. A photographer’s paradise. 11. Plenty of opportunities to pamper yourself. Great evening activities: Foot massages, full body massage, manicures, pedicures or visit the hairdressers for a head massage and hair wash. 12. Free internet or Wifi available at hostels, hotels and restaurants. 13. Fluent English speaking guides will make sure all your needs are catered to. 14. Special interests can be catered for. Rock climbing, trekking, bike riding, photography. Cooking classes, Tai Chi, calligraphy and mandarin lessons can all be included. 15. Shopping, shopping, shopping. A wide selection of goods available and all sizes catered to. 16. A wide range of accommodation available to suit every budget. Outside holiday times there is no need to make bookings. 17. A visit to Yangshuo will give you the best of both worlds. Both western and Chinese. 18. Guilin airport just over an hour away. It connects with some international flights. With all these pluses why would you want to go anywhere else? This is the perfect place for a stress free relaxing holiday.

Apr 23, 2013 08:22

Something to consider when factoring in all the varies pros and cons of these cities/countries, Vietnam is the only one that pegs its currency to the dollar. The Thai baht has lost over 25% of its value in the past few years. So if your on a fixed income or tight budget.. ouch!

Jul 29, 2013 21:43

We've just launched a state of the art, UK standard nursing home in Sri Lanka, specialising in dementia care. Owned and managed by a British healthcare professional with over 30 years UK nursing home management experience. It's the first and only one of its kind in Sri Lanka and aimed at Western expats looking to retire to sunnier climes. With the end of the civil war, a booming economy, stable government and significant investment in infrastructure and amenities, Sri Lankan was voted the number one destination by British Airways for 2013. It truly is the gem in the Indian Ocean with miles of golden beaches and a comfortable inland climate, it’s quickly becoming a destination of choice for those looking to retire to a tropical paradise. Please see our web site for more info and do let me know if you'd be interested in visiting us/publishing an article to raise awareness of lower cost UK standard retirement options available to the British public. or Please contact me on - Minusha Wicks

Dec 29, 2013 01:09

Vietnam, this article says only of visiting Vietnam, there is a huge difference between visiting VN and actually living here.

Aug 21, 2014 18:07

Viet Nam

Dec 8, 2014 10:14

I do not recommend Phu Quoc. The island is undergoing a serious facelift ( see ) and it is too expensive to buy property there. I would suggest Danang Vietnam. It has a beautiful beach, modern city, and it is very clean!

Jan 13, 2015 00:02

Regarding Vietnam: while it is nice to go to visit Mui Ne or other beach communities, one must be real about long term needs if planning a move; most of the areas have miserable or next to zero health care. Both Da Nang and Nha Trang have improving situations, with choice. Should you need to get care in Singapore, Thailand, Hanoi or Saigon (at the French Hospital), airports are nearby. I live in Nha Trang most of the year and have been here a long time, and have needed health care. You very well might, as well. Da Nang has the advantage of having a great mayor who has changed the city greatly, cleaning up both the environment and flushing out the endemic corruption that is so common within most of Vietnam and other nearby countries. As one poster here pointed out, the question concerns retiring, not merely visiting. Those two things are quite different. I am in love with Ethiopia but it is not a retirement spot as yet, for example. Though it is rapidly changing, Vietnam remains a bargain, attracting a more interesting and more educated expat population. The skirt chasing alcoholic is not the average expat....more couples are here. More younger men and women choose to work and live here each year. . The

Jan 19, 2016 16:22

Da Lat Vietnam

Apr 21, 2016 05:09

Hi I recommend Davao city I can certainly back up the other writers claim of it being very safe Here I have been here almost one year and live on a sub division with Mt Apo overlooking the Development also because of the location Davao does not suffer like the Visayas from Typhoons ,apart from heavy rain during the Monsoon season also there is very little air pollution in the area There are a few new Housing developments springing up in Davao with quality housing some developments have swimming pools ,Basketball courts ,One has its own Wakeboard park which to the uninformed is like water skiing and also they have their own Security Guards who patrol the Development during the night and also there is plenty of choice of public transport like Tricycles , Mini buses, Jeepney type vehicles and Taxis also there are good Hospitals with western style service if not better I can reccomend Davao Doctors Hospital in the city and has all modern equipment and specialist Doctors

Jul 22, 2019 15:28

We been in the Philippines since 2015. We first purchased a condo in Paranaque. But we decided to lived in SanJuan Batangas. And we love it.. There are several of us Expat enjoying our lives here in San Juan Batangas.

Jul 22, 2019 15:33

I Just post a comments. But wanted to add more. My Husband and I build a log house {type} in San Juan Batangas. I can send you the photo of our log house.. It will be great in this page. Let me know how?

Sep 23, 2019 09:20

I am a businessman from Belgium. I visit Davao City Philippines 2-3 times a year for a business trip. I fell in love with this place, peaceful and people are nice. The place is really good for business, rich workforce and less corruption in the government. When I retire, I am sure I will live on this place and never to leave again. Currently, I am building up a real estate agency. because the development of the city is very rapid, 10 years from now, Davao City will be the Dubai of South-Eastern Asia.

May 8, 2020 13:49

Subic Bay, Philippines. The best of both worlds. High speed fiber optic internet, four duty free shopping centers with groceries and beer, wine, liqueur from most all countries. US, UK, RU, Japan, Thailand, Korea, China, Australia, India, France, Canada it's a melting pot here and everyone is friendly and most are retired. And everyone speaks broken English.

First Published: Apr 18, 2013

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