Southeast Asia vs South Pacific

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When it comes to picking one set of paradise islands over another it can be a bit of a daunting task. Do you want the long white beaches of Boracay, or the turquoise lagoons of the Cook Islands? Whale watching or wild orangutans? Tea plantations or coffee plantations? We’re here to help you answer the hard questions, with a roundup of what’s good, what’s bad, and what’s ugly (spoiler: nothing is ugly) in two of the most beautiful collections of paradise islands in the world. 

Southeast Asia and the South Pacific both have so much to offer to travellers looking for all kinds of holiday experiences. That’s why we’ve broken it down into five different categories, so you can judge each destination by what is most important to you. Whether it is thrilling variety, delectable cuisine, or all important cost, we’ve made it easier for you to pick your perfect destination.

Round 1: Variety

South East asia vs South pacific

Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia has a huge variety of cultures, languages and activities on offer to visitors, with new experiences that will delight even the most seasoned of travellers. From bustling modern cities to jungle-covered islands that see very few tourists, Southeast Asia really does have something for everyone. Along with picture perfect beaches and spectacular wildlife, Southeast Asia also has amazing historical and religious sites to be explored, with the remains of various foreign regimes sitting alongside spectacular temples, and vibrant local culture.

South Pacific

The South Pacific offers less variety than Southeast Asia, although it does offer a greater variety of traditional holiday activities. From horseback riding and water sports at the beach, to hiking up volcanoes and diving to see the world beneath the ocean, there isn’t time to be bored in the south pacific. For travellers who are interested in history, it also has a fascinating array of WWII historical sites, including wrecks that can be explored through snorkelling and diving. If you want a beach holiday with plenty of amazing activities around every corner, the South Pacific is for you.

And the winner is… Southeast Asia.

Round 2: Cuisine

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Southeast Asia

Southeast Asian food hasn’t become popular all over the world for nothing. The region offers spectacular food to wow your taste buds, all recognisably Asian, but with each country having its own unique flavours for you to sample. Try the amazing Pho soups of Malaysia, the famous noodles of Singapore, and even, for the braver travellers, the fertilised duck eggs on sale from the street vendors of Boracay. The street food is amazing, the night markets are better, and you’re likely to come back from Southeast Asia raving about the food, like every traveller before you. 

South Pacific 

If your main ambition on holiday is to make everyone at home green with jealousy via the medium of the “I’m just casually drinking a fresh coconut” selfie, then you’re in luck. Coconut is a main dietary staple in the South Pacific, with nearly all islanders using coconut milk in cooking and as a delicious way to hydrate. The South Pacific also has a wonderful array of seafood, with fish being incredibly popular served raw, poached or grilled to perfection. Tropical fruits and root vegetables are also eaten in high quantities, and sampling these amazing foods in their natural environment is not to be missed. Whilst offering less variety than Southeast Asia, the South Pacific really does give you that Robinson Crusoe feeling of eating proper desert island food.

And the winner is… A tie.

Round 3: Safety

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Southeast Asia

Whilst some petty theft (iPods, wallets etc.) does occur in Southeast Asia, it is generally considered a very safe place to travel. Locals are friendly and welcoming, and most travellers will not experience any crime. 

South Pacific

The South Pacific is also generally safe, although many South Pacific cultures have a relaxed attitude to property, meaning expensive items should be kept out of sight. Generally, assaults and violent crime don’t happen, but still don’t wander off the streets alone. One thing to be careful of is the flora and fauna: malaria exists in some parts of the South Pacific, and some sea creatures can give you a nasty sting.

And the winner is… Southeast Asia.

Round 4: Tourism

south east asia south pacific

Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia tends to be well-set-up for tourists, being a popular destination for loved-up honeymooners and adventurous backpackers alike. Well-established networks of buses and boats make it easy to get from one place to another, with cheap prices on domestic flights meaning that hopping on a plane is often a good option. Each country also has a good selection of tourist-friendly accommodation, tours and guides, making it quite easy to do everything you want to within your own budget.

South Pacific 

On the whole, tourist infrastructure in the South Pacific can be a little patchy. Whilst it offers a range of resorts, from luxury to budget, be prepared to wait an extra half hour for the bus if you’re travelling away from the beach. Many islands have to be accessed by sea, flights being few and far between. This adds to the wild cultural feel of the South Pacific, however, so move onto island time and enjoy a little rest whilst you wait for that bus. Impatience has no home here.

And the winner is… Southeast Asia. 

Round 5: Cost

south east asia south pacific

Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia has long been heralded as backpacker heaven, and the amazingly low prices in many of its countries are a big reason for this. Even in the high season, you can get a private beach bungalow for about $20 a day and meals can cost as little as a few dollars. Haggling is also practised in Southeast Asia, so, depending on your skills, you can also save as much as 20% on the initial price of things. 

South Pacific

The South Pacific islands have a reputation for being the playground of the super-rich, but some good deals can be found if you look in the right places. If you’re spending time on one of the islands, ocean front accommodation can be found for incredibly reasonable prices, and the more local you go the better the deal you will get on souvenirs and food. More touristy areas do tend to be a bit more expensive, so it’s best to factor this into your budget. 

And the winner is… A tie!

Overall, Southeast Asia wins for me on several of these categories – it’s a really spectacular place to visit for a whole host of new experiences. However, if you’re wanting a relaxing beach holiday, I would definitely say that the South Pacific islands are for you. If you want advice on the best way to see either of these destinations, contact Cruise 1st’s dedicated team on 1300 857 345 or visit our homepage.  

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About Author

Alyssa Beit

Alyssa lives in Sydney, NSW. Born on the 14th October and is a Social and Human Service Assistant at Cruise 1st Australia. She is in her early 40’s and loves tranquility on luxury cruises.

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