The Brutal Truth: What’s It’s Really Like Living in Asia As A Solo Female

Deciding to move to another country can be overwhelming for many, especially being a solo female. Moving in general is one of the most stressful things a human being can ever do in their life, let alone moving to a country on the other side of the world with a polar opposite culture to the one you were raised in. I have to admit, my decision to pack up and move my whole life to Vietnam in two suitcases to teach English for several months was a bit impulsive, but at the time I had a lot going on and a lot of overwhelming stressors and had the desire to run from them, which lit the fire for me to make a rash decision.

I also moved there with absolutely no plan, other than to use my TEFL certificate and teach English. The experience was one of a lifetime that I’ll never forget, and I am definitely grateful for having had the option to try something like this out. But if I could go back and do it all over again, I probably wouldn’t have stayed out there as long as I did. It can seriously royally suck living in Asia as a solo female, and as much as I try to not have any regrets in life, it was probably one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, so kudos to all you brave ladies out there willing to rough it and hope for the best! So without further hesitation, let’s take a look at the downsides to living in Asia a solo girl..



The Isolation


It can be scary as hell traveling by yourself as a solo woman anywhere in the world, let alone all the way to the opposite side of the world! It takes a lot of bravery and self determination for a girl to just pick up and decide to go teach English in Asia for 8 months. Now, I will say the majority of women who venture out to places like Vietnam and Thailand to teach English usually travel there with a male partner, either a boyfriend or some kind of other male companion, just to feel safe and protected. Now generally this is actually a pretty good idea, since as a solo female out in Vietnam you will be ridiculed, pounced on and attacked from all angles.


Posing with a monk in Siem Riep, Cambodia


The unfairness and unjustice solo females suffer living in Asia is incredible! First of all, everyone automatically thinks something is wrong with us for just wanting to explore another culture on our own. I was especially ridiculed by local Vietnamese people for going out to Vietnam on my own, and was usually ignored most of the time and treated like crap by the female Vietnamese teaching assistants I worked with in the public schools, whereas my Western male counterparts were treated with the upmost respect and admiration.  To make matters even worse, the guys would never stand up for me, even being out there all on my lone.

Most of the accomodations I was put in as a teacher were all male, and sometimes I ended up being the only female teacher living there, which always made things super uncomfortable and awkward. Not to mention the shared showers with the dudes..sorry guys but some of ya’ll are just seriously NAST when you share a bathroom.


The ratio of men to women in India is horrifying and very uncomfortable – If I ever lived here I’d need a damn protective Indian husband


My Western male colleagues would often be totally unsupportive of me whenever I would be dealing with horrendous situations with the Vietnamese management at our English center, and would never come together with each other to unite. Most of them were pretty much deplorable, bottom feeders who came out to Vietnam because they were running away from something back home. What’s the point of going all the way to a foreign country on the other side of the world, if you’re not even going to come together with and stand by each other? There was no sense of cohesion or comradery, instead everyone was out to compete with each other and stab each other in the back. Disgusting.


Male Dominance


It’s true that a lot of Asia is very much patriarchal and male dominated, and Vietnam is no exception to this. Compared to countries like India, however Vietnam doesn’t seem so conservative. On the darker side of things, if you can see past the girls walking around in shorts and wearing swimsuits at the beach, let’s look at the working environment in Vietnam.




Having worked as an English teacher there for several months, I learned first hand that it’s never acceptable to challenge a male in any capacity, especially a manager. If I ever questioned any of my male supervisors, I was always shot down. Not only that, I was demonized and attacked on a PERSONAL level. It felt like whenever I tried voicing my opinion, I was treated like a painting on the wall. It was as if nothing I ever said ever mattered, even if I was just standing up for myself. The same people in my situation, had they been male, would have been treated with the utmost respect. Not only was this devaluing, but it was humiliating on just about every level imaginable.

To make matters worse, a lot of Western guys who are living and working in Vietnam I met were also deplorable in their behavior and attitude towards women. A lot of them most likely hadn’t had any success with women in their home country, so lots of them were out on tirades to demonize Western women and soley were going after Vietnamese women, only to learn to their disappointment that Vietnamese parents certainly don’t like the idea of their daughters perusing around with a shady Western guy at odd hours of the night who tells her he just wants her to come over for a “cuddle.” Women in Vietnam just don’t date like women do in the West, and this often leads to disappointment for the sex mongering Western sexpats who come to Vietnam to work as an English teacher for the sole purpose of thinking they can somehow score with Vietnamese women, only to end up sorely disappointed with the cultural differences and expectation of real commitment by the Vietnamese woman.


Age 30 +


Expect to always be asked these three questions every day when living in Asia:


*How old are you?

*Are you married?

*Do you have a boyfriend?



It’s as if you can’t just be a whole human on your own, hell no. You need to have a male counterpart to complete you. And if you happen to be 30 and over, and still single, forget about finding a hubby in Asia! ‘Nuff said.




The Shoe Just Doesn’t Fit


Actually, for that matter, none of the clothes seem to ever fit in Asia. For myself and many other Western girls, I could never fit into the clothes over there, as they seemed specifically designed for petite Asian women, especially the damn shoes. When I was living in Vietnam, I was always struggling to find clothes that fit me, and shopping became next to impossible.



I didn’t have this problem as much in India


I would often get called things like “Elephant feet” (Yes, I have big feet, but still) and snickered at by the women working in the shops. The Vietnamese are definitely not keen to hold anything back ever, and if they thought anyone was fat – Well, they just call you fat to your face. It felt like most of the clothes I tried on were designed for little girls, and even the biggest bras couldn’t fit my bust. I’m pretty curvy, and about the only pants that fit around my hips were the stretchy pants.



Deplorable Treatment


Not only was I treated with a general lack of respect when living Vietnam, but I was deemed not even worthy any of the companies I worked for letting me know what was going on. For example, my manager would randomly cut my hours, and not even tell me they were planning on doing that. Instead, they would just give my hours to one of my male colleagues, and ignore the situation entirely. It’s a very Hush Don’t Tell culture, especially for women. If I ever protested or brought anything up, I was always met with pervasive gaslighting, and told that what I brought up simply wasn’t happening, and nothing I ever did or said changed anything. There was no truth or justice in the workplace there, and every day it was driving me crazy.



I also found out that not only myself, but other female teachers were constantly being hit hard with unreal criticisms about their teaching style, whereas the male teachers were always favored (Worshipped, almost). I felt a deep all pervasive disrespect from not only the students, but the management, and even my Western male colleagues.

Most of the times, my male colleagues would side with the corrupt actions of the Vietnamese management, and go along with it all, especially if they could make some money out of it. All to the most selfish and inconsiderate degree. Rather than actually learning about the idea of sharing and thinking more about others, my Western colleagues acted like money mongering sleazeballs rather than being fair with each other and coming together, even when we were all experiencing being ripped off out of our salaries and treated poorly by the management and schools.


Creepy sexpats in Thailand


As far as the way local women were treated in Vietnam, it seemed like they were always the ones doing the brunt of all the hard labor, carrying around heavy loads and doing all the back breaking work, while the men sat around in the background drinking beer at the local Bia Hoi.

The Vietnamese women seemed to be the ones out on the forefront, while the men stole all the credit for their hard work. Now, this isn’t the way it is across all of Asia. For example, I noticed in India it seems mostly men do the hard labor, and it varies across the region.



The Sad Expat Scene


I met some of the most low life, shitty people when I was living in Vietnam. The lowest of the low, who would have been considered pitiful losers back in their home country, but were somehow magically transformed into a White God and placed on a pedestal for being a white and living in Asia.


‘Nuff said


Most of the expats I met living in Vietnam were male, running away from something or someone, were terrible and insecure with women in general, and seemed to even have a general hatred towards women, were liars, cheats, criminals, backpackers just passing through, or were alcoholics who would do nothing but binge on cheap booze every single night then run around the streets being loud, saying disrespectful things about country and pissing off the locals.



Some of the creepy looks you’ll get wandering around alone in Asia as a female – This entire group of dudes followed me up and down Digha beach in Kolkata – Solid evidence that no, I am NOT batshit crazy, this stuff happens all the time and shit is real


I met a lot of shady sexpats who were just there to try and score with Vietnamese women, and always took advantage of their status of being a male in Asia, trying to exert that false sense of power over both Vietnamese and Western women alike.

It was absolutely pathetic. Typical work day scenario: I walk into the English center ready to hop on my motorbike and go to school to teach, and there sits one of my loud mouth, arrogant male colleagues, strutting into the office at the same time, and saying in an almost announcement like way, “So who wants to marry me?” Which followed with all the Vietnamese women working in the office giggling like 10 year old girls. *Puke*

The arrogance and entitlement of your typical male expat living in Asia is deplorable and sets a bad rep for expats living over there in general.




The Harrassment


It’s bad enough you already look different from everyone else when living in an Asian city, but it’s even worse when you’re a female on your own. This more than triples your chance for harassment of all kinds. I would often find myself just trying to take a quiet peaceful stroll down the beach, only to be met with words such as “Hey Bitch, you want Fuck?!?”


I had to bitch slap some guys who stared at me the wrong way on the beach in India


Unfortunately in lots of Asia (I found this especially in India), one of the only conceptions your average male has of white, Western women is from the *dirty* movies. So yeah, when they actually see you in real life, somehow they think by flashing a porn video at you from their phone, that will make you want to come up and talk to them. Sad, I know. But it’s a very ugly reality you have to deal with if you live in Asia. Not to mention white women in general are deemed “easy” by Asians, and guys think you will hop into bed with them on the spot simply because you’re white and blonde. *Puke* I couldn’t have possibly been out there just to experience a whole different culture, hell no. I was out there whore mongering and chasing penis, in the eyes of many Asian males. There were times the whole porn flashing thing happened to me when I was driving alone on my motorbike, to which I threw my hot chai tea at the guy, often a middle aged balding pedophile, to which I would then promptly lift both middle fingers, tell him to go f*ck himself, then drive off into the crazy traffic. When this deplorable stuff happened, I didn’t just make a scene like some Indian girls do – I got ANGRY.

There were times when I would step out of the bus after a long and tiresome journey, only to be pounced on by taxi and Grab motorbike drivers, yelling in my face in Vietnamese. They would even grab at my me, to which they received a prompt slap in the face.


Nothin better than riding around in sandals


And unfortunately, even though many of us would like to think that women and men are equals and that we live in a fair world, we simply do not. Hence going back to what I mentioned earlier about how it is definitely best to move to Asia with a significant other or companion. Females moving to Asia have a lot more to worry about than their male counterparts. We have to worry about the very real possibility of being raped, abducted, sexually harassed, and the list goes on.

You can also expect many critical, suspicious stares wherever you go, when you’re just trying to go about your daily business, like shopping at the supermarket, or jogging around the block, or going to the bank.



For all the reasons listed above, and many, many more which I can’t fit in just one article, I left Vietnam and decided I would never live there again. Would I be open to living in Asia again in the future? Absolutely! But only if I were with a good partner in crime! Keep a look out for my upcoming article on the pros of living Asia as a solo female. Your thoughts? I’d love to hear what your experiences were like living solo in Asia in the comments! Don’t forget to you can like and share my article with the social media links. I’d love to keep giving you travel tips and advice, so feel free to Subscribe by clicking the Subscribe Box on the right. And don’t forget you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

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