Working and Living in South East Asia

I haven’t updated my blog consistently for the past few years and I wanted to give an update on what I’ve been up to. About the time my blog posts have whittled down in consistency is when I made the decision to start traveling (sorry I’ve been busy). It was also right around the time that I was generating the most in passive income on the few plugins and extensions that I created along with really good leads coming in from those products so I felt comfortable in making the decision to travel. It wasn’t much, maybe about a thousand dollars a month, but that combined with all the contract work was more than enough to live well in Asia.


streets of saigon

Traffic just outside my first apartment in District 1 in ĐA KAO. Check out Cà Phê Trầm if you’re in the area.

I first went to Vietnam because I am absolutely in love with the food and the history intrigued me enough to warrant a visit. I was surprised at how many expats were living in Saigon and I made fast friends with mostly Europeans and Viet Kieus (Vietnamese born aborad). I got residency at WORK Saigon which is probably one of the best coworking spaces in terms of coziness and having a familial community vibe (which can also sometimes be bad for productivity). And a lot of other times, I worked in a lot of cafes where the food is cheap and delicious.

Food being one of the main reasons Vietnam is one of my favorite countries, I’ll share some of my favorites. When I want a quick cheap meal, especially after a night of rock climbing, I’d get some Com Siu, Op La, which is broken rice with bbq pork and fried eggs. I frequented a stall in the first alley west of Tran Quan Thao on the south side of Ky Dong in District 3 where I lived (which happened to be my favorite area in all of Saigon).

com siu vietnamese food

Com siu.

You can also go to Quan Bui for more general Vietnamese cuisine, it’s nicer than most places and a little touristy but the location is good and the roof top is nice (when it isn’t raining).
friends in saigon

Dinner with expat friends at Quan Bui

A great place for Bun Cha which is actually more a specialty of the north is at 135 Vo Van Tan I used to go there all the time. Their meatballs and pork strips with iced tea and some Nam Cue Be will set you back three whole dollars!

I could go on all day about food but for the sake of brevity, I’ll leave you with one tip: Ask for Tra Da and say it with a thick sharp accent. Otherwise you’ll be paying for water everywhere you go.

I also ended up hiring some contract workers while in Vietnam because I got so busy. So if you plan on starting a business or need to offload some work, the best place is just meeting people at coworking spaces. I’ve had some luck on IT VIec for software developers and my buddy Kazki runs Career Link where you can find all sorts of workers. I also hired a secretary through a head hunter who also happens to arrange motorbike rentals and an assortment of expat services (reach out to me if you want an introduction). But by all means avoid Vietnam Works like the plague. I had to fight to get my money back from them after not being satisfied with using their site.

And before my post gets too long about Vietnam, rent a motorbike. I rented mine from Chi’s for years (should’ve bought one…) and they have competitive rates with a bunch of sturdy Nuovo 3’s.

phu quoc mango bay

Phu Quoc. Photo outside my bungalo at Mango Bay on Ong Lang Beach

Although there are tons of places to visit in Vietnam, my favorite place so far is Phu Quoc. It’s a 45 minute flight from Saigon and you’re surrounded by turqoise water and fine white sand. I must have visited four times I liked it so much. Sao Beach is secluded and on the other side of the more populated part of the island and worth a visit. My favorite though is Ong Lang beach. It’s far enough away form the bustle and full of vegetation and beach. Check out my buddy Hao’s bungalows. He’s a half Viet Kieu from Munster Germany and he know’s how to party. Also make sure you say hello to my buddy HJ, a Korean Aussie who runs Rory’s, the best place to party on the island.


I had a short stint in South Korea for four months after being in Vietnam for a couple months because I met someone but I won’t touch on Korea since it wasn’t all that interesting for me being ethnically Korean and all. If you want to know about the tech or expat scene in Korea, send me a pm or write a comment and I’d be happy to share.


Making fast friends in taipei

I also visited Taiwan, Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand, Hong Kong and Malaysia while in the region but nothing extensive enough to add value to this post. However a note about Hong Kong – If you’re an American, unlike what you might hear from places like forbes, do not incorporate there, since Obama instituted FATCA (thanks buddy…) it’s extremely difficult for Americans to open bank accounts abroad, or do any business abroad for that matter. It was such an onerous process that I esentially just threw away a couple grand because I realized it was not worth pursuing.


The reason the headline isn’t Indonesia is because I only spent time in Bali (and a bit in Lombok).

Bali is absolutely spectacular. Of all the countries I’ve visited so far, I haven’t met a people that have been able to retain their sense of culture as well as the balinese have and it is just beautiful. The food is amazing, you have most of the conveniences of home, a large expat community, beautiful beaches and breathtaking views from 3k meters + mountains, lush landscapes and it’s cheap!

I think I need to do a proper post on Bali since this one is getting rather long so I’ll just inundate you with photos.

ubud bali villa rental

The secluded villa I rented 15 minutes from Ubud.

ubud bali coworking space hubud

Hubud. Where I worked for a couple months.

bali temple

One of the main temples in Ubud. But there are temples everywhere…

sanur sunrise

Sunrise in Sanur

dreamfileds festival kuta bali

Dreamfields festival with Couchsurfers

bukit kembar lake bali

Lake in the mountains near Bukit Kembar where I dropeed my iphone 6 :(

ubud bali rock climbing, bouldering

Secret bouldering gym with accra yoga.

jimbaran bali sunset

Jimbaran sunset.

secluded black beach in bali

Secluded black sand beach with local boys bathing in the warm tide pools.

gili meno lombok indonesia

Gili Meno.

gili meno sunset lombok indonesia

Gili Meno Sunset with Bali in the background.

If you have any questions or think I should elaborate more on other aspects of living and working in SE Asia, write a comment below.

Next, I’ll write about my experience living and working for three months in Colombia.


David Chun

I'm a full stack developer that builds tools for marketing and managing ecommerce shops. I occasionally consult for startups. If you've got an interesting project, reach out.


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