Aside from its great deal of affordability – at least in a relative sense – one of Asia’s greatest virtues is its variety. Whether you’re searching for the culture and beauty of a Thai temple or the extreme high-speed living of a Hong Kong business district, this broad and varied continent offers an experience that suits every visitor.
For those looking for city life, the amount of variety on offer is superb and easily accessible. From modern living to old-fashioned ‘old world’ cities, Asia offers a huge amount of variety for any visitor, or any retiree. Check out these top ten retirement cities and plan your Asian retirement today.
1. Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia’s capital city is a global center for finance, entertainment, culture, and high quality living. As one of Southeast Asia’s most modern cities, this travel hub offers a huge range of entertainment and shopping options for retirees.
With good public transport on the city’s Monorail and LRT train network, a higher-than-average amount of English-speaking residents, a fantastic dining and nightlife scene, and a modern and connected business community, this vibrant and modern city is the perfect pick for those looking for an enjoyable experience in Asia.
2. Ho Chi Minh City
Once the center of South Vietnam’s military activity, Ho Chi Minh City – or ‘Saigon’ as it’s occasionally known in historical publications – is now a great city for retirees seeking a mix of the traditional and modern.
A large city with a huge mix of different lifestyle options, Ho Chi Minh City is the center of urban life in Vietnam and a growing international center. With modern buildings and traditional life alongside one-another, this city offers an affordable cultural experience and a comfortable life for retirees.
3. Hong Kong
Asia’s financial center, Hong Kong is a highly developed and ludicrously fast-paced city that’s sure to leave any small-town visitor gasping for breath. Despite its rapid pace of life and breakneck work-play culture, this city is a convenient and rewarding place to live.
Hong Kong is home to one of East Asia’s best public transportation systems, a robust international economy, and some of the best restaurants in the world. For those that want a taste of Asia without giving up the big city lifestyle, Hong Kong is the best place in the world to live.
While it lacks the business credibility of Shanghai or the massive production levels of Shenzhen, Beijing is widely regarded as China’s capital of culture. From gigantic temples to beautiful vistas and scenic parks, Beijing is one of China’s more livable large cities.
While the city is known for its poor air quality, public officials have taken steps to improve its livability in recent years. Gone are the grey skies or yesteryear – now, there’s a little more visibility in this misty, somewhat smoggy city.
Japan’s largest city – and the world’s largest city by some measures – can certainly be intimidating for those that aren’t used to international travel. This gigantic and vibrant destination truly offers something for everyone, or at least for those that are willing to navigate its spaghetti-like transit system to find their way around.
Despite its massive size, Tokyo is a very livable city, home to large parks and public spaces that can make it seem – in some areas – to be a small, local town. With large temples, a mix of throbbing financial and party districts, and some of the best food in the world, this Japanese city is a rewarding retirement destination for those that are willing to invest some time in learning the language.
Thailand’s capital city offers a unique mix of old and new that’s sure to appeal to big city fans and culture buffs alike. From the glistening gold temples of Rattanakosin to the imposing skyscrapers of Silom and Sukhumvit, this large city of over ten million is a surprisingly livable destination for those that enjoy the high-rise lifestyle.
Once known for its unbearable traffic and poor air quality, Bangkok has improved its situation immensely in the last decade. Public transport networks like the BTS Skytrain and MRT Subway make it an easy city to get around, while a huge range of accommodation options make it one of Asia’s best cities for retirees in any price range.
While Tokyo offers big city living and modern conveniences, it’s Kyoto that offers the best mix of culture, history, and natural beauty in Japan. From well-tended park complexes and huge public spaces to beautiful historical temples, Kyoto is Japan’s center of photogenic spaces and beautiful areas.
If you’re seeking a convenient city life that’s not short on natural beauty and the ability to ‘escape’ the noise and bustle at will, Kyoto is a great mid-sized city that offers a fantastic lifestyle. A short train journey from Osaka, this small but robust city is a convenient place to retire to, especially for those that can speak Japanese.
Known somewhat sarcastically as ‘Asia Lite’ amongst expatriates in Southeast Asia, Singapore has a much deserved reputation for accessibility. One of the few areas in East Asia that speaks English as a primary language, Singapore is a vibrant financial center and international city that’s a particularly easy place to retire to.
With a variety of visa incentives for foreigners to visit and one of the world’s most secure financial sectors, Singapore is a great foreign ‘base’ for retirees looking for a mix of convenience and foreign culture. Close to Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and elsewhere, this vibrant and interesting city is a great place to live.
9. Cebu City
The Philippines’ ‘second city,’ Cebu City is a highly livable tropical destination that offers a mix of big-city conveniences and developing world affordability. Despite its relative lack of size compared with Manila, Cebu City is a much more livable place to stay, lacking the rampant poverty and security issues of the nation’s biggest city.
With a large English-speaking population and many of the same businesses that can be found in the United States, Cebu City is an easy place for Westerns to retire to, in sheer convenience terms. International banks such as HSBC and Standard Chartered both operate in the city, making it a fairly convenient financial center for expats.
10. Chiang Mai
While Bangkok is Thailand’s undeniable home of high culture, entertainment, and commerce, it’s the northern city of Chiang Mai that holds the crown of ‘most livable Thai city.’ Quiet and relatively unspoiled, particularly when compared to the capital, this charming mountain city is cooler, quieter, and more livable than Bangkok.
With an affordable cost of living, Chiang Mai is a great place to retire to. The popular mountain towns of Pai, Mae Hong Son, and Chiang Rai are located close by, and the region’s best mountain roads and scenic vistas are within a few hours of the city.