Travel literature: books about and for Southeast Asia


Whether travel guide or an exciting novel, books are simply part of traveling. Here you will find the best titles to prepare for your trip to Southeast Asia and to browse in the hammock or on the beach.

Books for Southeast Asia / Books about Southeast Asia

In this article you will learn ...

  • a) where you can find the best information about your travel destination. In addition to the classic travel guides, books are also available that provide insights into the culture, history and everyday life of the people of the respective country.
  • b) which novels related to Southeast Asia are particularly recommended.
  • c) Which books are also recommended, from the travel report to the cookbook to interesting biographies.

Southeast Asia Travel Guide

Stefan Loose-series

In my opinion, the best travel guides for Southeast Asia are the orange travel manuals by Stefan Loose . The relaxed approach and the large amount of information make the travel guides a reliable companion on the paths of Southeast Asia and the world. Smaller locations and destinations away from the tourist strongholds are often described. In addition to detailed individual works for each country, there are also international titles such as »Southeast Asia. The Mekong region « or » Southeast Asia. The island world .

Lonely Planet series

Lonely Planet's travel guides have been known as the backpacker Bible for decades. As the best-known travel guide, it can be seen everywhere. Copies can also be purchased in many regions popular with backpackers. On the Khao San Road in Bangkok there are now whole stalls that offer nothing else than the Lonely Planet Travel Guides. You can often find copies in hostels or guesthouses. Sometimes there is talk of the Lonely Planet effect at popular destinations advertised in Lonely Planet. So it can happen that a destination described in the Lonely Planet as calm and authentic quickly changes from an insider tip to an overcrowded tourist stronghold. In addition to the individual country editions, the tome "Southeast Asia for little money" is also very popular .

Rough Guide series

The third recommended series of travel guides. However, the rough guide is only available in English. If that doesn't bother you, then he is a loyal and reliable companion on your trips through Southeast Asia. It is not quite as well known and sometimes not as detailed as Loose and Lonely Planet. However, the information content is similar to them. I also like to use it personally.

Culture shock series

The culture shock series of Reise Know-How is aimed at those who want to dive a little deeper into a country and who want to deal with the history, >India , Indonesia , Thailand , Laos , the Philippines , Vietnam or Cambodia, among others. Check it out, it's worth it. There are also audio books in the series for the lazy readers. The Kulturschock books do not replace the use of a travel guide. Rather, they can be seen as a supplement.

Instructions for Use-series

In the series of "Instructions for Use for ..." there are stories about various countries, including in Southeast Asia. Most of the time, you will learn more about the country you have visited in a literarily unusual way. Knowledgeable authors describe their impressions and stories in pleasant, entertaining and sometimes satirical >Thailand , Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia , Myanmar and India (issues related to Thailand and Myanmar are also available free of charge in the Fascination Southeast Asia shop ) . To get a little insight into life in a foreign country, the series is super suitable. However, the books are not classic travel guides.

Hand luggage books

The series »Books for hand luggage« also provides an insight into the country's culture and everyday life.

There are issues including Vietnam , Cambodia , Myanmar , Thailand , India and Malaysia .


The books in this series take you past the most common pitfalls, mistakes and misunderstandings that you may encounter as a tourist in Southeast Asia. They help you to discover the peculiarities, traditions and customs of the individual countries. There are guidebooks to Vietnam , India and Thailand, among others.

Books / eBooks from travel bloggers:

In recent years, eBooks and books from travel bloggers have creatively expanded the travel guide market and closed some gaps. Of course I would like to recommend my own titles to you here first.

There is a fascination with Thailand and fascination with Vietnam . Both books are primarily aimed at travelers who want to visit these countries for the first time. I answer around 100 questions each and give many useful tips.

Whether you are a newcomer or an old hand, anyone traveling to Bangkok should definitely take a look at my 555 tips for Bangkok . I am sure that your stay in Thailand's capital will be an unforgettable experience.

Other recommended books / eBooks:

Travel reports and experience reports

Another great way to learn more about living and traveling in other countries is through reports from travelers who have summarized their experiences in a book.

You can read these stories well in advance and use them for inspiration, or you can browse through the hammock on the beach or in front of your bungalow during your trip. You will surely discover insider tips and suggestions for your trip again and again.

The price of lightness - a trip through Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam (Andreas Altmann)

The well-known travel book author Andreas Altmann travels through Southeast Asia and lets the reader share his experiences. He dives far below the surface and thus offers deep insights into the foreign culture. Altmann gets to know numerous people and their stories along the way. If you want to get a better understanding of Southeast Asia, this book is a good start. [ View book ]

Altmann writes about his experiences in India in his book “Meet the Buddha, kill him!” .

Banana Pancake Trail (Philipp Mattheis)

The Banana Pancake Trail does not describe a designated path or a specific travel route. Rather, it is synonymous with heavily traveled places in Southeast Asia. Due to the constant visit of mainly western backpack tourists, restaurants, guesthouses and cafes adapted to the needs of those visitors. Philipp Mattheis was on the world's busiest path and tells anecdotes in an entertaining >View book ]

Vientiane - Singapore: With a rickshaw through Southeast Asia (Thomas Bauer)

From Vientiane the journey leads along the Mekong and to Cambodia to the temples of Angkor Wat. We continue through half of Thailand and Malaysia to Singapore. On the one hand, the sleepy capital of Laos, Vientiane, on the other hand, the rising metropolis of Singapore, interspersed with shopping centers. A journey from one world to another. The exciting thing about the story: The entire route is covered by a rickshaw. A journey full of unforeseen and arduous obstacles. But also a trip on which Thomas Bauer met very special people and also found a bit of himself. An exciting book that makes you want more ... and above all you want Southeast Asia. [ View book ]

Tuk tuk sir? And other stories from Asia (Albert Karsai)

Albert Karzai traveled through Southeast Asia for many years, taught at Thai village schools, slid across muddy roads in the rainforests of Cambodia and planted rice himself. Despite everything, Asian behavior regularly drives a big question mark in his face. Even though he was allowed to live in Vietnam for a year and a half. As a reader you will be accompanied very entertaining through the countries of Southeast Asia, especially if you have been there before, you will find yourself in the anecdotes from Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia and South Korea. [ View book ]

A Short Ride in the Jungle: The Ho Chi Minh Trail by Motorcycle (Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent)

At the time of the Vietnam War, the so-called Ho Chi Minh Path was a supply route for the Vietnamese guerrillas who fought for North Vietnam in the south. It was a kind of transport route, where weapons and food were transported south behind enemy lines. It also leads through the dense jungle of neighboring Laos and Cambodia. With her motorcycle, Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent wanted to follow the path again before nature took back what was once taken from her. You can find out what and whom she met and experienced along the way in her travel report "A Short Ride in the Jungle: The Ho Chi Minh Trail by Motorcycle". [ View book ]

My trips into the unknown: Southeast Asia, Thailand, China, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India (Peter Landgraf)

Peter Landgraf travels the vast continent several times. He visits the metropolises and penetrates remote landscapes. The people he meets there are dear to his heart. This also includes a princess, whom he meets at the temple festival in Bali. With the Batak in the heart of Sumatra, he tries to unravel the shaman's secrets. In the highlands of Sulawesi, he witnesses a traditional funeral ceremony for the Dajaks and in northern Thailand he travels in the Golden Triangle to the tribe of the Meos, who live from opium cultivation. Written with a lot of irony and fine observation skills. [ View book ]

Two Minute Noodle: A Backpacker's Tale (Howie Cobb)

Unhappy, disillusioned, broke and divorced. Howie Cobb decides to run away. He just grabs his backpack and heads for Asia. Shortly after his arrival, he realized that he had landed on the backpacker scene. Howie immediately asked the question: can I still fit in there? Will I be accepted, also because of my older age? That was in the late 90's. In his book, he reports on his experiences as a supposedly older backpacker. [ View book ]

World Heart - From someone who set out to seek freedom

At 37, Markus Steiner had enough of his life as a marketing manager in an online start-up. He quits his job and apartment and goes on a trip around the world. He runs to Mount Everest, hitchhikes in Japan and takes the train through Australia. He finds peace on the way in a Thai monastery.

He has already proven that Markus can handle >World Traveler, which is well worth reading. Again and again he succeeds in conveying intense pictures of his travels even without photos. With "Weltherz" he finally published his first book. [ View book ]

Good Bye, Lehmann: In search of the good life

Stefan Fay successfully completed his studies before entering professional life. After a short time he realizes that he is on the way to get into the same hamster wheel in which his work colleagues have been pedaling for a long time. When his colleague Mr. Lehmann is honored for 30 years with the company, Stefan is afraid. Afraid that his life would fly past him in a similar way to what happened to Mr. Lehmann.

He quits his job and goes on a trip to South America. After eight months he returns hoping to be ready for everyday work. But it doesn't work the way he imagines it, because the desire to travel and wanderlust are greater. He makes a plan: around the world on a motorcycle! He saves two years and then the day has finally come. He embarks on an exciting journey through distant countries and cultures.

An inspiring book for those who have been thinking about getting out for a while. [ View book ]

Bangkok Days (Lawrence Osborne)

A book about the adventures that a tourist experiences in Asia's hottest metropolis. Lawrence moves through the city between Buddhism, food stalls, backpackers, alcohol and luxury hotels. A love letter to the capital of Thailand. Anyone planning a longer stay in Bangkok should not ignore this book. [ View book ]

Phi Phi Island: A Report (Josef Haslinger)

Josef Haslinger and his family traveled to the Thai island of Koh Phi Phi in 2004 to spend Christmas and New Year's Eve there. The dream vacation becomes a nightmare when a merciless tsunami hits the Thai west coast. Thousands of people die. A struggle for bare survival also began for the Austrian and his family. Phi Phi Island is an eyewitness account of a tsunami survivor. [ View book ]

Ant Egg Soup: The Adventures Of A Food Tourist In Laos (Natacha Du Pont De Bie)

Natacha Du Pont De Bie is not a normal tourist. She sometimes roams the streets for hours looking for the perfect meal. Instead of lying on the beach, she extends her elbows and struggles over the local markets, haggling, cooking and talking to the local kitchen heroes. Ant Egg Soup is the product of their journey through Laos. As a food tourist, she writes about the places she visits, dishes she has tried, turkey blood cocktails with a mountain people and the Paradise Chicken that she was allowed to cook in a guest house by the Kuang Si waterfall. Another book with a focus on Southeast Asian cuisine. [ View book ]

In a bright, beautiful country: everyday life in Sri Lanka (Minouche Moser)

Minouche emigrated to Sri Lanka with her family. Sri Lanka stands for long, golden sandy beaches, tropical blooming jungle green, tea plantations and a variety of exotic fruits.
In 2004, the author settled in this paradise with her family. Very blue-eyed and (as she soon had to experience) more than insufficiently prepared. Sri Lanka does not adhere to any norm and every day can be a surprise; Minouche Moser is confronted with the island's own traffic rules, cooks through Sri Lankan severity levels, gets help from the inhabitants of Paradise, is either enchanted and ripped off - and is finally caught up in the events of December 26 as a tsunami over the Island rolls, whole parts of the coast devastated and 30,000 people are killed. Interesting insights into everyday life in a distant country. [ View book ]

The gift of the sea nomads: With the water people in Indonesia (Milda Drüke)

In the island kingdom between the Indian and the Pacific Ocean, Milda Drüke searches for the nomadic sea people of the Bajos - and discovers her own nomad soul. A successful woman gives up her career and sails around the world once. When she returns home, she decides to take up another profession. She writes and photographs. One day Milda Drüke hears of sea nomads, the bajos in Southeast Asia who live in small houseboats and roam the sea, and goes on a search. Once in Indonesia, she realizes that nobody knows where they are. But she finds her, lives with Bajo families who welcome her hospitably. She gets to know her culture and finally meets the outsider Om Lahali, who has been living alone on his boat for forty years. She is allowed to accompany him for weeks, and in doing so she has experiences that change her life from the ground up. "The gift of the sea nomads" tells of a woman's encounter with an exotic world and with her own originality. Mega exciting book. [ View book ]

Take care you idiot, I'll move to paradise (Christiane Hagen)

What begins as a romantic vacation flirt in Indonesia is supposed to change Christianes life. A few months later she quits her job in Berlin, leaves friends and family and takes the plunge into paradise. In "Take care, you jerk!" She reported on the adventure of island life with a fisherman as a friend. Now the extended new edition finally appears, in which Christiane reveals the long-awaited outcome of the story: It captivates you with its dark sides, unquenchable homesickness and the return to Germany. But the story doesn't end there - Fischer David fights for her love until Christiane finally realizes that you can't just live your dream under palm trees. [ View book ]

Below are some recommended novels that take place in the countries of Southeast Asia as well as in India and Sri Lanka. These are particularly nice to read if you are perhaps at the place of the action yourself.

Border Run (Simon Lewis)

Jake and Will have had enough of the »mango smoothie trail« and want to experience something adventurous on their backpacking trip through Southeast Asia. They decide to look for it in the jungle on the Chinese-Burmese border. The dream becomes a nightmare when it turns out that your guide is not who he appeared to be. In a hide-and-seek game, the two fight for bare survival. [ View book ]

Deadly Path (Jon Evans)

A thriller that plays in the backpacker scene. After Paul Wood discovers a body on a trail in Nepal, he is shocked. The trekker was murdered and Paul feels transported back in time to backpacking through Africa. His then-girlfriend Laura was killed in the same bestial manner. Is a serial killer hanging around in the backpacker scene? An exciting search for clues leads from Nepal to Bali. Also not to be neglected is the follow-up book “Blood Price.” [View book ]

Backpack (Emily Barr)

Tansy has to get out. She's had enough of her job and her life in London. She has to flee. Escape from her self-centered friend, her dead mother and her job in the media industry. She leaves everything behind and embarks on a journey through Southeast Asia. Initially plagued by homesickness and longing for her boyfriend, she slowly but surely begins to feel comfortable in the new world. But the idyll doesn't last long. When she gets involved in a murder case, the trip begins to get a little more exciting and adventurous than Tansy had hoped for ... [ view book ]

The beach (Alex Garland)

Sure, this classic backpack travel literature should not be missing. Most will know the book. A young Englishman on Khao San Road in Bangkok receives a plan for the apparently perfect beach in southern Thailand. Full of adventure and longing, he sets off to find this mystical place with two friends. Does the beach really exist or is it just a myth? Great book, which has certainly animated millions of people to travel and filmed with Leonardo DiCaprio in The Beach . [ View book ]

Jimm Juree (Colin Cotterill)

Jimm Juree is the name of the protagonist who gives the series its name. She is a crime reporter in Thailand and her career is weakening. But there is more going on in the Thai province than expected and the criminal cases call for Jimm's skills as a resourceful investigator. She keeps slipping into crazy crime cases, which she solves together with her family, who runs a small resort in southern Thailand. The first volume of the Thailand thriller series was published in Germany in 2013 under the title "The Dead Wears a Hat". The second volume "A head does not make a body" followed in April 2014. In 2015, the last part of the funny Thailand thrillers, "With Ax, Charm and Melon", came out. Very entertaining reading. [ View book ]

Wreath of Dead The Last Tiger Black Ships (Nora Luttmer)

Nora Luttmer, born in 1973, lives in Hamburg and works as an author and freelance journalist. She studied Southeast Asian Studies with a focus on Vietnam in Passau, Paris and Hanoi. She has been visiting Hanoi repeatedly since the mid-1990s and speaks the local >View book ]

Shantaram (Gregory David Roberts)

Shantaram tells the story of Roberts' own life in fictional form: When Australian Lindsay stranded in Bombay, he was serving two years in prison and is fleeing Interpol. Luckily, he meets the young Indian Prabaker, who takes him under his wing. The two make a close friendship on their forays through the exotic metropolis. From Prabaker, Lindsay not only learns the national >View book ]

Other recommended novels:

Dust in paradise (Ernst Solér)
Fred Staub, newly appointed commander of the Zurich cantonal police, actually only wanted to visit his daughter Anna in Sri Lanka, who is working on a research project there. However, when one of the Swiss scientists is ambushed in front of Dust's eyes, he begins to investigate the facts with the Sri Lankan police officer Verasinghe. At the same time, Dust's former Zurich colleagues ask for help: Dust should take a look around the family of a Tamil who was murdered in Zurich and was native to Sri Lanka. In his research, Staub meets an influential military, a difficult German and a high-ranking coordinator of Swiss tsunami relief. The three are far from enthusiastic about Dust's efforts to shed light on the darkness ... [ view book ]

Dr. Siri (Colin Cotterill)

Dr. Siri Paiboun, aged over 70, is one of the oldest investigators on the book market. In the crime series by globetrotter Colin Cotterill, the sprightly coroner of Laos encounters one unusual death after another. There are now 9 books in the equally exciting and amusing series of novels. [ View book ]

Julia lives in New York. One day her father disappears. In his documents she finds a love letter to a woman she doesn't know. And the reference to the small village of Kalaw in the mountains of Myanmar, the old home of her father. She makes her way to the little village hoping to find him there. In doing so, she comes across a family secret. A nice book about love. [ View book ]

Non-fiction, illustrated books national history

A little less emotionally, but perhaps with more information are some non-fiction books about the country and its people as well as about the country's history, which I would like to recommend. The illustrated books also provide insights into life in Southeast Asia.

Death in the paddy field: 30 years war in Indochina (Peter Scholl-Latour)

Peter Scholl-Latour knew Indochina like no other. He was familiar with all countries between the Bay of Bengal and the Gulf of Tonking: Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar and Singapore. He also knew the powerful neighbor China. Since he first traveled there on board a French troop carrier in 1945 and became an eyewitness to the Indochinese tragedy, he has condensed his experiences into a series of impressive images. A reportage of the highest rank with sharply defined, tremendously lively figures, moved by the turbulence of events. Very informative and written by one of the greatest experts on Southeast Asia. [ View book ]

Southeast Asia in the crosshairs: Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Burma, Naples and Bhutan from the inside (Peter Willers)

Peter Willers led a mine clearance project in Cambodia for six years. He used this time to explore neighboring countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia or Nepal. He was interested in the people, history and culture of these countries, but also questioned the current political situation.
With a lot of empathy and humor, the author manages to give a comprehensive insight into the soul of Southeast Asia. The animal world also receives special attention. He has seen elephants, rhinos, tigers and species as rare as the Taksin in the Kingdom of Bhutan. Peter Willers does not close his eyes to the environmental problems caused by profit addiction and corruption in this emerging region. “Southeast Asia in the Crosshairs” is the continuation of the successful non-fiction book “Cambodia in the Crosshairs”, which Peter Willers published in 2015. A look behind the scenes and highly recommended for those interested in culture. [ View book ]

Southeast Asia: geography, history, economy, politics. Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei, Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, East Java (Karl Vorlaufer)

Anyone who wants to take a holistic view of Southeast Asia should take this work to heart. Karl Vorlaufer gives a well-founded overview of Southeast Asia, richly illustrated and provided with current maps, graphics and tables. It describes a region that is undergoing rapid change in the course of globalization. A space of extremes, in which planned economy meets market economy, rural population meets urban population, poor on rich, and in which different ethnic groups and followers of all world religions live side by side. The author analyzes the population and their social structure. He pays particular attention to migration flows, demographic development and ethnolinguistic diversity. In addition to the natural potential, Karl Vorlaufer describes the current development of resource and environmental protection in the Southeast Asian region and analyzes the economic development from the agricultural, mining and energy industries to services and tourism. Goes a bit deeper and is not an experience report, but very interesting for lovers of facts. [ View book ]

Forays through mysterious Southeast Asia (Annett Mario Weigt)

Annett Mario Weigt has been touring the Mekong countries of Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam for over twenty years. During this time, the people living there have repeatedly approached with a notepad and camera. They met animal rights activists who are waging an almost hopeless fight for the conservation of Asian elephants and gibbons. They accompanied riding monks in the "Golden Triangle" in their fight against drug trafficking. They met Apsara dancers, coffee farmers, cyclist and gold seekers. This created gripping stories of people, nature and animals. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad or with an unexpected ending, the two who have previously published many high-quality books, reports and calendars on Southeast Asia have compiled the best stories in one book. [ View book ]

The silence of innocence: my way out of child prostitution and the fight against the sex mafia in Asia (Somaly Mam)

A very poignant work on a topic that most people often don't want to know about: sex tourism. Somaly tells the story of how she grew up in poor poverty after her birth in eastern Cambodia and was sold to a stranger at the age of 6. There she runs the household until, at the age of 15, she is finally passed on to a brothel, where she has to get to know the abysses of human existence. When she finally meets Pierre, the nightmare comes to an end. After her liberation from the prostitution swamp, she fights a bitter fight against the sex mafia in Southeast Asia and is committed to disenfranchised children. Not for the faint-hearted! [ View book ]

Myanmar / Burma - Travel in the Land of the Pagodas (Klaus R. Schröder)

Myanmar has only been open to tourism again for a few years. Much is still in its infancy there, but experience has shown that it doesn't take long for more and more tourist infrastructure to develop. Schröder has been traveling the country for years. He is fascinated by the culture and people of the former Burma. [ View book ]

The children of the Killing Fields - Cambodia's path from a terror country to a tourist paradise (Erich Follath)

Many backpackers now travel to beautiful Cambodia. Some of the most popular sights, such as Killing Fields or Tuol Sleng Prison, date from the terrible reign of the Khmer Rouge. If you are interested in background and in-depth analysis, this book is the right place for you. [ View book ]

Survival in the Killing Fields (Haing Ngor)

By chance I stumbled across the biography of Haing Ngor at a bookstore in Chiang Mai 6 years ago. Since I was on my way to Cambodia, I struck immediately. Haing Ngor is a survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime, a survivor of the Killing Fields. He was forced to work in the fields, tortured, starved, escaped and kept his life. The way there was painful and terrible. A very moving story, which is also told in the film "The Killing Fields" . If you are interested in Cambodian history or the Pol-Pot regime, this book is highly recommended, as a biography, of course, written very subjectively. [ View book ]

First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers (Loung Ung)

Another biography of a survivor of the Cambodian war. Little Loung Ung was five years old when the Khmer Rouge came to power in Cambodia in 1975. During their four-year reign of terror, almost two million Cambodians fell victim to the atrocities. After Loung's family has been evicted from her parents' home in Phnom Penh, the girl is separated from her relatives and trained as a child soldier in an orphan camp, while her six siblings are interned in a labor camp. Loung Ung survived and published her moving biography under the title "First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers". When you read, you regularly catch your breath when you consider what people were actually able to do. Incidentally, the book will soon be made into a film. [ View book ]

Cambodia. A political reading book

Cambodia is a country with an impressive history and culture. The former Khmer kingdoms face the economic, political and social problems of modern times. Colonial occupation, the Indochina war and not least the civil war and the tyranny of the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot still lie like a dark shadow over the country.

"Cambodia. A Political Reading Book "looks behind the scenes of the war-torn people who want nothing more than to live in peace. Bretthauer, Lenz and Werdes shed light on the present and recent history of the country without forgetting the past. And their traces, which, however, are not to be viewed exclusively negatively. They also go into French colonial rule in Indochina and what emerged from the growing together of two cultures.

Cambodia is on the move. Therefore, economy, environment and sociopolitical developments find their place in this work as well as considerations on tourism and art. If you are looking for something other than a classic travel guide, you should definitely take this book on hand. You will get well-founded background information here, which may explain one or the other - astonishing - behavior and make you listen. An exciting read! [ View book ]

Indonesia - A Country Portrait (Christina Schott)

Indonesia is a country with countless facets, in which around 300 different peoples are spread over more than 17,500 islands. Christina Schott gives an exciting insight into the worlds of Indonesia, the fascinating as well as the worrying. In addition to the historical and political facts, it above all makes it possible to understand the social and cultural sensitivities that play an important role in the everyday life of Indonesians. [ View book ]

Indonesia 1965 ff. The presence of a mass murder.

Indonesia is more than Bali, Borobodur and the Gilis. In addition to its dreamlike beauty, the land of a thousand islands also has a dark past. In the mid-1960s, approximately 500,000 people fell victim to one of the greatest mass murders in history. However, estimates suggest that significantly more people died and countless numbers were held in internment camps for decades.

What happened? The then President Suharto and his military ruthlessly hunted down communists and leftists in the country. But why hardly anyone knows anything about this dark period in Indonesian history? What role did the country's wealth of raw materials play and what influence did Western companies have in this cruel war?

Anett Keller sheds some light on the dark and lets contemporary witnesses and local authors have their say. From their point of view, these represent the events of yore. Keller writes about monstrous crimes and international arrogance, Eurocentrism and media instrumentalization in the Cold War. This book takes you on a journey into the past of Indonesia and offers a view of the country away from the temples, mountains and dream beaches. [ View book ]

Vietnam - A Country Portrait (Heike Baldauf)

Heike Baldauf takes you into the everyday life of the Vietnamese. It reports on the hunger for education, environmental problems and corruption. She travels through the big cities and through agricultural villages. This creates an impressive portrait of this coastal state in Southeast Asia. The country portrait series is characterized by thorough historical research, a wealth of information and a critical political awareness. [ View book ]

When Heaven and Earth Changed Places: A Vietnamese Woman's Journey from War to Peace (Le Ly Hayslip)

Le Ly Hayslip tells her version of the Vietnam War. When she was 12 years old, US helicopters landed in her small home village in central Vietnam for the first time. The fighters of the Viet Cong and the Vietnamese military fought numerous battles for the small village. In the course of this, the local children were used by both sides as saboteurs and spies. So also Le Ly. Before she was 16, she had to deal with hunger, torture, rape, arrest and the death of countless friends and family members. In the book "When heaven and earth changed places: A Vietnamese Womans journey from war to peace" she tells her incredible story. [ View book ]

Traveling with a child

Four Around the World (Alexandra Frank)

Pack your backpack and go around the world - this is no longer as exotic as it used to be. But does that also work with babies and toddlers? Journalist Alexandra Frank did just that and wrote down her experiences. The result is a book that awakens travel fever and relieves fear. [ View book / read review ]

Other recommended books:


To cook the great dishes you got to know on vacation, you need a good cookbook. Little by little I present some here.

Asia Street Food (Stefan Heike Leistner)

Asian cuisine lives from its street kitchens. Exotic fruits arouse curiosity, the wok hisses seductively and the aromas of roasted spices rise in the nose. There are stalls to try on every corner. The multi-award-winning Asian cookbook was inspired by the authentic dishes of the street kitchens. Do you love the cuisine of Thailand, the freshly prepared dishes at Vietnam's food stalls and the delicious dishes in Laos? Then you are absolutely right with »asia street food«. There you will find more than 70 authentic recipes and lots of tips. [View book on / read review / free shipping in the Fascination Southeast Asia Shop ]

Asia Street Bowls (Stefan Heike Leistner)

Southeast Asia = street food = food stalls = soups. Heike and Stefan Leistner went in search of traces and brought 60 soup recipes from the big cities of Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, Taiwan and Myanmar with them from their travels: genuine and authentic recipes from Asia's trendy street food scene for the real taste of the Far East. There are also basic recipes for broths from chicken, beef, pork, fish and for vegetables, step-by-step instructions for kimchi and wonton and exciting current reports from Bangkok, Hanoi, Seoul, Taipei and Yangon. Before reading in, afterwards for cooking! [View book on / free shipping in the Fascination Southeast Asia Shop ]

Thai Street Food (David Thompson)

Admittedly, that is quite a tome. But more Thai street food is almost impossible. I've cooked countless dishes myself and I'm thrilled! Nice with many pictures and vividly described recipes. [ View book ]

Indian vegetarian (Sushila Issar, Mrinal Kopecky)

A really great recipe book for Indian cuisine. Mainly because the dishes are very well seasoned. I have already given Indian Vegetarian twice to friends. For me one of the best cookbooks ever. My favorite dishes in the book: Palak Paneer (with homemade cheese), Moong Ki Dal, Aloo Masala and the tomato and peanut salad. [ View book ]

Travel books in general

No worries: backpacking for beginners (Patrick Hundt)

The book answers almost all questions that arise before your first backpacking trip. This includes issues such as housing, finance, security, health and equipment.
A really recommendable book that takes away any worries before your first backpack trip. [ View book / read review ]

Strolling around the world - vagabonding. The ultimate guide to long-term travel around the world (Rolf Potts)

Who doesn't dream of leaving everything behind and taking a break from the daily routine? Rolf Potts has fulfilled this dream for years and travels the world. On his forays he explores other cultures and countries in order to continuously broaden his horizons. In the book Vagabonding he gives tips on how you can fulfill the dream of long-term travel even with little money. You get a lot of travel inspiration and maybe get rid of one or the other fear that keeps you from just going. But Potts also has lots of useful tips and advice for coming back and finding yourself back in everyday life. [ View book ]

The Travel Episodes (Johannes Klaus)

Hitchhiking through Pakistan or naked in the Moroccan hammam, two in a truck through Asia or freshly separated on an odyssey in the Philippine island world, sailing in a nutshell across the Atlantic or looking for happiness on an expedition to the Antarctic: The authors of The Travel Episodes are on the road where traveling has often ended for others. They tell of their adventures and fears, love and one or the other miraculous knowledge. Great reports for everyone who has to satisfy their wanderlust again and again, for whom travel and life are one. [ View book ]

Journeyman (Fabian Sixtus Körner)

How do you get around the world with only 255 euros in your account? Fabian Sixtus Körner grabs his backpack and sets off into the unknown. His plan: travel all continents of the world - and work everywhere for food and lodging. Without an itinerary and permanent jobs, only with the urge for freedom and limitless optimism in your luggage. In his thrilling travelogue, Körner tells of cockfights in Santo Domingo, permanent goodbyes, model competitions in Malaysia, culture shocks and hospitality. He travels thousands of kilometers in planes, trains, buses, holey boats and rickshaws, sometimes working as a graphic designer, sometimes as an architect or photographer. Two years and two months, over 60 locations, across the world. Pure travel inspiration! [ View book ]

Making Moves: Unusual ways to get from A to B (Marco Buch)

"Making Moves" is a book that increases your travel fever with immediate effect. It is not about special travel destinations, but rather about unusual means of transportation. Anyone who has been to Southeast Asia knows that there are a few. Marco Buch deals with the places that are necessarily between two goals. Very funny and a little foretaste of what to expect on the upcoming trips through countries like Thailand, Myanmar or Vietnam. [ View book ]

Slow Travel: The Art of Travel (Dan Kieran)

The book is a tribute to slow travel. It is a crusade against the speed of today's tourist flow. Dan Kieran has developed his own philosophy. He does not want to travel thousands of kilometers to lie down on the beach with thousands of other tourists and tick off one sight after the other at high speed. He has tried a wide variety of modes of transportation: walking, walking on slow trains, floating on a raft. He has given himself up to chance, the chaos of nature, and has come to realize that the slow way of traveling changes the whole view of the world. Above all, it's about the inner attitude. The Slow Traveler follows the maxims: don't take photos, don't buy a travel guide, leave out all sights, avoid good hotels, welcome hot disasters. The adventure then comes all by itself. An enlightening book that everyone should read before booking their next trip. Perhaps you recognize yourself in some of the aspects addressed. [ View book ]

An island just for us (Nina Adrian Hoffmann)

The classic: caught in the hamster wheel of work, Nina and Adrian suddenly feel unhappy and want to break out of their daily routine. You are looking for the perfect place to experience adventure and authenticity. You will find your part of happiness on a small South Sea island. The jobs are canceled and faster than expected, the two lie in the hammock and eat exotic fruits. But soon reality collapses and the first doubts arise ... [ view book ]

In the middle instead of over it (Peer Bergholter Jochen Müller)

Peer and Jochen are in their mid-thirties when they decide to break out of everyday life. They quit their jobs and embark on a journey that will change their lives forever. Airplanes are taboo; instead, buses, trains and container ships travel across the planet. In 15 months full of adventure, conflict and bizarre encounters, they become real travelers. [ View book ]

Heimatroulette: Through 160 countries to myself (Sarah Fischer)

Sarah is adopted as a baby by German parents. For her, the question suddenly arises, where are my roots? She decides to travel the world and get to the bottom of the question. She travels 160 countries from Alaska to Tibet until she finally finds what she is looking for. [ View book ]


Some people in Southeast Asia have fulfilled their dream and turned their passion into a profession. Here are some biographies worth reading, in which people tell their stories:

Backpackers Business (Nikki Scott)

One of my favorite personal books is Nikki Scott's biography. Nikki is the founder of Southeastasia Backpackers magazine, which travelers to Asia find in various hostels or guest houses. In the book Backpacker Business, the author tells how she moved out to travel and never came back. From a backpacker to a young entrepreneur. With a lot of effort and courage, she managed to build up a network in Southeast Asia until she finally published the first edition of the backpacking magazine Southeastasia Backpacker. In the meantime, there have been almost 40 issues. A great story and very inspiring. Absolutely worth reading. [ View book ]

Unlikely Destinations: The Lonely Planet Story (Tony Maureen Wheeler)

This is the story of how Tony and Maureen moved out as backpackers to reach Australia by land via Asia and they ultimately revolutionized the art of travel. They vividly describe their trip and the background of how the idea arose to design a travel guide for backpackers and individual travelers. In a mixture of autobiography, business history and travel guide, you can accompany the two founders of today's backpacker Bible Lonely Planet on their way. An inspiring life story! [ View book ]

Wherever you go - The story of an almost impossible love (Benjamin Prüfer)

When Benjamin traveled through Cambodia with a backpack in 2003, he met prostitute Sreykeo in a disco. They fall in love and fight for a common future. A great story, which was filmed in the film “Same Same, but different”. Absolutely worth reading. Where love just falls ... [ view book ]

Thailand: Mai Pen Rai, does almost nothing: How do you start a business as a foreigner in Thailand? (Christine Losso)

There are many holidaymakers who sometimes think of opening a bar, a restaurant or a hotel in a country like Thailand. Christine and her husband made this dream come true and took over a resort on the island of Koh Chang as a manager. What is the balance sheet after one year? A look back at the difficult beginnings, misunderstandings and differences between Thais and Farangs as well as curiosities of everyday life. Those with similar plans should not miss this wealth of experience. [ View book ]

So now it's your turn! Which books are still on the list? I am looking forward to your tips and recommendations.

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