I visited peninsular Asia during January and February 2009. I spent a week in Singapore, four weeks in Thailand and three weeks in Malaysia. The weather was uniformly hot (35C/95F). I alternated between touring cities and visiting island beaches.
Route: I flew into Singapore (US to Tokyo to Singapore) and spent a week recuperating from the flight, eating good food and visiting museums. Singapore is neat, clean, easy to get around and very organized.
From there, I flew to Bangkok and visited a friend from college days. He was kind enough to show me around Bangkok and provide a tour of western Thailand near Burma. I then went south by train and visited several islands (Ko Samui and Ko Taratao).
I crossed into Malaysia by sea, traveling by speed boat from Ko Lipe to Pulau Langkawi. I then alternated between cities and islands in Malaysia, visiting Penang, Kuala Lampur, Pangkor, Melaka and Tioman.
I returned to Singapore and from there flew home completing two months travel.
Overall, peninsular Asia is easy to travel with a well-developed tourist infrastructure and many European tourists. Travel English is widely spoken. Most tourists are on holiday, typically for five weeks and act more as vacationers than travelers. By the end of the trip, I, too, succumbed to this approach and checked myself into a resort in a wonderful South China Sea location with snorkeling just off the beach.
Southeast Asia is far bigger than I imagined. Originally I thought I could also visit northern Thailand, Laos, and southern Vietnam, as well as northern Sumatra. This would only be possible with air travel or a very hectic, quick schedule in major cities.
The cost of food and accommodations in Thailand and Malaysia was very reasonable with private rooms from $20 to $30 US. Singapore is more expensive but generally offers a higher standard.
During my travels I met people from the following countries:
Europe: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Austria, Britain, France and Italy
Asia: Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, and China.
Africa: Liberia and South Africa.
Americas: Canada, Chile and USA.
As I traveled, I kept a blog; you can read my posts for each country.