Corrected a big mistake with a small mistake - it’s Boracay.
Phuket is ok. Not the nicest beach though and it’s extremely touristy. However, it’s fun because there is alot of activity. You can definitely slum it there if you wanted to and have a great time. Rent a motorbike on the main beach and hit the less populated beaches too.
Since you’re not big on beaches, hit Bangkok and take a day trip to Ayutthaya. The temples and ruins are beautiful.
I’ve been to BKK 4 times and I still haven’t done everything I wanted to. The mass transit system in BKK is efficient. Get a hotel within walking distance to a stop and you should be good.
Haven’t been to any beach in Vietnam… but I would stay away from Hanoi. The city closes at 12mn and there isn’t much to see. The lake and pagoda are overrated. But you can buy art of the street. There are galleries everywhere. I struggled a bit as not many people speak English here. There’s no mass public transport so you have to cab it wherever you go.
Nice city, lots of art. Good nightlife as well. Very cosmopolitan. Skip Sentosa. The man-made “sand” hurts your feet. English is widely spoken. Two to three days should do it. Subway is efficient.
HK is a must on my list. They can really put on a show! Lots to do and this city never closes. Lots of shopping (but beware of Nathan Road electronics shops). English is widely spoken. Stay a few days. Mass transit is efficient.
Hong Kong with Portuguese roots. It’s got a lot of Vegas casinos too. It’s an hour ferry from Hong Kong so this can be a day trip or an overnighter. English is not really spoken so much here. If you stay in the city center (this island is tiny), you can walk to most places.
Kuala Lumpur is pretty nice and cosmopolitan as well. It’s predominantly Muslim but I didn’t really notice any overtly Muslim traditions. English is widely spoken. A couple of days should do it. I walked to where I needed to go but it was easy to get taxis anywhere. I didn’t try the mass transit system here but it looks modern.
I’ll be going to Langkawi in a week and can only post about that in January though.
Live here so I don’t have a lot of outside perspective. Hate to bag on my own city but Manila is pretty dull (which is why I’m always travelling to other cities in Asia). Sadly, we don’t have a lot to do here so everyone just hits the many resto-bars for entertainment. Mass transit is not very good or accessible. Take a cab.
Having said all that, there are trains and low cost carriers that can take you from Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Singapore, KL and Langkawi for very cheap. Check Tiger Airways and Air Asia for flights. There are trains and buses to most destinations in the Malay Peninsula.