Top Colder Climate Places to Retire to in South East Asia: They May Be Hot, But Retirement Can Be Cool

walking street market chiang mai

Walking Street Market in Chiang Mai is fabulous

Even Though SE Asia is Hot, There Are Cooler Places You Can Retire to – These Are the Best

As more and more American and European retirees retire in south east Asia, the one thing they seem surprised about is how hot much of it is. Countries like Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines are wonderful places to retire too but, boy, are they hot.

As people get older, they often find hotter temperatures even more uncomfortable than when they were younger. But, take heart, there are places in south east Asia that are wonderful to retire too, and they have a colder climate, too.



Retire to Chiang Mai – Of course, Chiang Mai is on the top of my list for a fabulous place to retire too. It’s cheap, it’s beautiful, there are tons of American expats already living there and it’s one of the best places in south east Asia for a cooler climate.

Chiang Mai is in northern Thailand, but just an hour’s plane ride from Bangkok. It’s also a large enough city that there’s plenty of things to see and do.

With more than 170,000 people living in Chiang Mai, and at least 10,000 of them expats and retirees, you’ll meet many other retirees who chose Chiang Mai as the ideal place for retirement.

Chiang Mai has awesome markets, excellent restaurants (both Thai and international), a lot of British and Irish pubs, art galleries, cafes and coffee shops, English bookstores, several large and excellent shopping malls, and, did I mention it’s beautiful?

Related: What would your average monthly living expenses be in Chiang Mai?

With a much more relaxed lifestyle than Bangkok, it’s also a less hectic place to live and the Thais in Chiang Mai are known to be even more friendly than Bangkok.

With an average temperature of 83-85 degrees in October thru February, and mid to high 90s the rest of the year, of course, it may sound hot. It is however quite a bit cooler than Bangkok or Thai coastal areas, and it also gets much cooler in the evenings (58-75 degrees Fahrenheit), something Bangkok rarely does.

Just a few of the reasons why Chiang Mai is a wonderful place to retire too, not only for the colder temperatures, but also for the great lifestyle you’ll find there.

sibu sawarak

The wharf at Sibu, Sawarak, Malaysia — creative commons license by spot_ON

Retire to Sibu, Sarawak, Malaysia – Another colder place to retire to in south east Asia is Sibu. Sibu is in the Sarawak region of Malaysia, and is the capital city of Sarawak. It’s also located where two major rivers, the Rajang and Igan rivers, merge.

With a lovely waterfront area, gorgeous city parks, excellent shopping, restaurants and cafes, Sibu is a wonderful place for a western retiree to retire to. There are around 260,000 people living in Sibu and it’s even a center for business and culture.

There’s an excellent night market, the biggest indoor market in Malaysia, Chinese temples, several large malls, and department stores. With average temperatures during the day of between 88-90 degrees fahrenheit during the day and only 73-75 degrees in the evenings, the temperature is much cooler than many other cities in Malaysia.

Retire to Baguio City, the Philippines – About 250 kilometers north of Manila, Baguio City in the Philippines is an average of eight degrees cooler than most other places in the Philippines.

With its mountains, lovely breezes, and gorgeous parks, it’s a popular place for expats and tourists, especially in the southern months when much of the rest of the Philippines is so hot. Known as the “Summer Capital of the Philippines”, there’s so much to do in Baguio City for any western retiree.

With numerous parks, cafes and independent coffee shops, shopping malls, eight universities, botanical gardens, beautiful beaches nearby and even “Mummy Caves”, there’s loads to do for anyone with the time to do it.


Plua, because it’s located more than 4,000 feet above sea level, temperatures in Baguio City average between 60-75 degrees fahrenheit, a comfortable and cool climate for any retiree.

These three cities in Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines are wonderful colder climate places for any western retiree.

With plenty of things to do, relaxing environments and a good standard of living, not to mention the cooler temperatures, there’s no wonder so many western expats live here.

Learn More About Thailand