May 18, 2021 • 5M

Couchfish: The Southeast Asia Tube

Things to make by the seaside

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The Couchfish podcast. Following a day by day itinerary through Southeast Asia—for all those people stranded on their couch.
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As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, my health took a bad turn that had me taking a couple of weeks off, well, everything. I spent the first week at home, sleeping, and much of the second week at Bingin, a beach I love in South Bali. At Bingin I also spent much of my time sleeping, but as matters began to improve my fingers started itching. The result? A Southeast Asia Tube Map.

To see a large version of the above, click here for interactive, click here for the PNG, or here for the PDF.

The London Metro Map is the most famous mass transit map in the world and I thought I’d turn the layout to Southeast Asia. Travellers tend to follow routes depending on their interest, so it seemed simple.

It wasn’t.

As I started to plan it out, the sheer variety of attractions in the region became all too clear. I wanted to try to group destinations by country, so it got complicated fast. Then I decided I’d only list each place once—doubly complicated. Does Hanoi belong on the Food, Colonial Vestiges or Family Travel line? You can only get so far with interchanges I tell you!

Sunset strolling at Bingin, thinking about tube maps. Photo: Stuart McDonald.

The Colonial Vestiges Line? I bet you don’t remember riding that one in London! That is what I renamed the Victoria Line as. From top to bottom, here is what I did.

Northern Line

The Northern Line became the Nature And Outdoors Line. The two northern spurs contain volcanoes to the left and parks and outdoors to the right. As it runs through downtown there is some surfing to the left, with the right being diving and more diving.

Piccadilly Line

It felt about right to rename this to the Banana Pancake Line. Starting at Bangkok’s Khao San Road it stops at many of the backpacker favourites in the region. Once it reaches Kuala Lumpur, either pivot north for Burma (Myanmar) or south to Indonesia.

Victoria Line

Of course this needed to be the Colonial Vestiges Line. From right to left, it commences in Yangon and terminates in Armenian Singapore. Along the way you’ll see the colonial relics left behind by all from colonialists to Sino trading houses.

Metropolitan Line

Yes, religion is far from a metropolitan concept. That said, the many stations lent itself to the many faiths and monuments you’ll find in the region. To the left, the two spurs are Thailand (with a couple of Singaporean spurs) and Burma. It then runs through Malaysia, Laos and Indonesia.

Central Line

The region’s antiquities tie it all together, and are central to what you see today. Ancient Times starts in Indonesia to the left, till it hits a Burma spur, then Thailand, Laos and a load of Cambodia.

Hammersmith & City and Circle Lines

Because these two lines link up with so many other lines, I called them both “A Bit Of Everything”. Handy for those who like to travel in circles. The one bit towards the left where it was just these two lines, I listed a few spots I happen to like.

District Line

The district line became the Food Line. To the right extreme we have Thai fare, then Khmer followed by Lao and Vietnamese. At Earl’s Court, take an upper spur for Singapore or Burma, down for Indonesia or left for Malaysia.

Bakerloo Line

This became the Family Travel Line. A glad bag of attractions and destinations across the region ideal for families. Singapore and Sabah in Malaysia are well represented here, but I pick up a few from elsewhere also.

Jubilee Line

I could make an entire map like this dedicated solely to islands, so this is a limited selection. At the top we start with Indonesia, then Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia.

Outliers

This is a fun project, not to be taken too seriously, and there are some clangers. I know there are no Khmer ruins on Ko Jum, and Batu Karas has no colonial vestiges—though some probably surf there. Likewise Bia Hoi is not a colonial vestige, but drink at the right stall and you can probably see some!

Further reading

Each place name is linked to elsewhere for further reading. These are mostly to pages on Travelfish, though not all.

If you’d like to make a map like this, I suggest you start with the excellent tutorial Stéphanie Krus wrote here. It was a huge time saver.

If you’d like to republish this on your own site, by all means do so, but please link back to Travelfish.org. If you’d like a version for printing, use either of the following links. In the PDF the links are clickable, in the PNG they’re not.

Southeast Asia tube map (PDF)

Southeast Asia tube map (PNG)

There’s also an interactive version on Travelfish here.

Looking for the original London Tube Map? Here you go.

Sorry no Philippines—I’ve never been there!