Dating Culture in Southeast Asia

Though frequently grouped together, the many countries of Southeast Asia have different approaches to dating. Generally speaking, Southeast Asian cultures tend to place a strong emphasis on family and traditional values, which can impact the dating process.

In many Southeast Asian countries, dating is often viewed as a way to find a suitable partner for marriage rather than just for casual relationships. This means that there may be more pressure to find a partner quickly, and dating may be viewed as a more serious endeavor.

In some countries, such as Thailand, dating may involve a more formal process where individuals are introduced to potential partners by friends or family members. In other countries, such as Vietnam, dating may involve more informal settings such as hanging out with friends and meeting new people through social events.

There may also be cultural and religious considerations when it comes to dating in Southeast Asia. For example, in Muslim-majority countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia, dating may be more conservative and follow certain guidelines to adhere to Islamic beliefs.

In essence, dating culture in Southeast Asia can be complex and varied, but the common thread is that it is deeply rooted in traditional values and may involve a more serious approach to finding a partner for marriage.

Is Southeast Asia gay friendly?

The degree of acceptance towards the LGBTQ+ community varies across Southeast Asia. Some countries such as Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam have relatively more accepting attitudes towards homosexuality, with a visible and vibrant LGBTQ+ scene in major cities. This includes the famous and notably beautiful lady boys of Thailand.

On the other hand, countries like Malaysia and Indonesia have more conservative attitudes towards homosexuality, and LGBTQ+ individuals may face discrimination or even legal penalties. It’s important to note that even in countries with more accepting attitudes, LGBTQ+ individuals may still face social stigmatization or discrimination in certain contexts. Overall, it’s important to exercise discretion and respect local customs and attitudes when traveling to Southeast Asia as an LGBTQ+ individual.

Top dating apps in Southeast Asia

Much like the rest of the world, there are common trends where international dating apps are popular and well known by locals and foreigners. On the other hand, there are regionally significant apps which may be widely known and used by locals but are unfamiliar to foreigners.

Some regionally significant apps in SEA are:

  1. Paktor: Paktor is a dating app that is popular in Southeast Asia, particularly in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. It allows users to set their preferences and swipe through potential matches, as well as participate in group chats.
  2. Omi: Omi is a dating app that offers users the opportunity to find romantic dates, casual hangouts, or just friends to share daily experiences with. With a big data algorithm of LBS, MBTI romance compatibility, and common interests, the app ensures the highest success rate to match. Omi also offers various ways to discover like-minded people beyond swiping, such as its Blind Date feature, Love Style Test, Telepath, and Clic. Additionally, the app prioritizes safety and provides fast and precise photo verification, 24/7 community safety team on-call, and a zero-tolerance policy towards fake profiles. Omi Premium and Omi Supreme subscriptions offer additional features at ultra-low prices.
  3. Coffee Meets Bagel (CMB): Coffee Meets Bagel is a dating app that focuses on quality over quantity. Each day, users receive a “bagel” (or potential match) at noon, and they have 24 hours to either like or pass on the bagel. If both parties like each other, they can start chatting. CMB is apparently quite popular in Singapore.
  4. Tantan: Tantan is a Chinese dating app that has gained popularity in Southeast Asia. It is similar to Tinder in that users can swipe through potential matches, but it also includes features such as “Moments” (where users can post photos) and “Play” (where users can play games with their matches).
  5. Skout: Skout is a social networking app that allows users to meet and chat with people from all over the world. It has features like broadcasting yourself, seeing who’s nearby, and saving your favorite users. The app is free to use, but there is an optional premium subscription service with different packages.
  6. Mat & Minah: a dating app that caters to Muslim singles in Southeast Asia and offers features like halal dating and matchmaking services.
  7. ThaiFriendly: a popular dating app in Thailand that offers features like photo sharing and instant messaging.

Widely used international apps are:

  1. Tinder: One of the most well-known dating apps in the world, Tinder is popular in Southeast Asia as well. It allows users to create a profile, swipe through potential matches, and chat with mutual matches.
  2. Bumble: Bumble is another popular app that allows users to swipe through potential matches. However, it has a unique feature where women must message first within 24 hours of a match being made.

Top SEA destinations for singles

Southeast Asia is a commonly trodden backpacking route. Filled with tourists, locals, and expats there’s a plethora of locations which are prime for single travelers. Here are a few top recommendations:

  1. Bangkok, Thailand: The vibrant city of Bangkok offers a mix of culture, nightlife, and food, making it an ideal destination for singles. It has plenty of nightclubs, bars, and restaurants, and the famous Khao San Road is a hub for backpackers and solo travelers.
  2. Bali, Indonesia: Bali is a paradise for singles, with its beautiful beaches, lush forests, and unique culture. It offers plenty of opportunities for adventure, such as surfing, hiking, and exploring the local markets.
  3. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is a bustling metropolis that offers a mix of culture, history, and nightlife. It has plenty of bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, and the city’s street food scene is not to be missed.
  4. Phuket, Thailand: Phuket is one of Thailand’s most popular destinations, with its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant nightlife. It has plenty of bars, clubs, and restaurants, and it’s also an excellent destination for adventure activities such as kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving.
  5. Singapore: Though more for affluent travelers, Singapore offers the best of SEA but with a western twist. It’s less edgy than Kuala Lumpur or Bali but more sophisticated for dating.
  6. Chiang Mai, Thailand: Chiang Mai is a laid-back city that offers a mix of culture, nature, and adventure. It’s surrounded by lush forests and mountains, and it has plenty of temples, night markets, and cafes where solo travelers can relax and socialize.

Dating culture by country in Southeast Asia

BruneiCambodiaHong Kong*
ThailandEast TimorVietnam

*Hong Kong is in an interesting cultural location. It is partly SEA and partly East Asian.