Investing in Asia has become a popular choice for both local and foreign investors in recent years, as the region boasts some of the largest economies, best passports, largest manufacturers, and the largest consumer bases in the world. With over 4.5 billion people, Asia makes up over half the world's population and offers a diverse range of countries, each with its own investment potential and level of development.
If you're considering investing in Asia in 2023, there are many options to choose from. However, based on current trends and economic data, we've prepared a list of the top five Asian countries to invest in for the coming year.
Vietnam is a Southeast Asian country known for its sprawling rivers, beautiful beaches, and bustling cities. The country shares its land and maritime borders with China, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Malaysia. In recent years, many companies have been moving capital out of China and into neighboring countries like Vietnam due to frequent and strict travel restrictions imposed by the Chinese government and rising costs.
Leading companies worldwide, such as Nike and Samsung, are setting up shops in Vietnam, boosting the country's manufacturing sector. With a consumer base of nearly 100 million people, Vietnam is undoubtedly a good investment spot.
However, it's not all rainbows and butterflies – especially if you're interested in real estate investment. As a foreigner, you can't own freehold land in Vietnam. Whether you're a local or a foreigner, you can only leasehold a piece of property or land for up to seventy years. The state owns all Vietnamese land, which isn't ideal for real estate investors since they have to think long-term (at least seventy years of property value) while investing in Vietnam.
You can also invest in Vietnam via stocks; however, it may be trickier than other investment routes. You'll need a brokerage account in a nearby financial hub like Singapore or Hong Kong to access the Vietnamese stock market. You may even need to travel to Vietnam and open one there. Stocks in Vietnam have taken a dip in the past six months, making for an excellent buying opportunity for investors.
Singapore is one of the wealthiest nations in the world, with some of the highest numbers of ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWIs). In fact, Singapore's UHNWI population is predicted to grow by a staggering 270% by 2026.
No list of Asia's best countries would be complete without the mention of Singapore. It has one of the best passports in the world and strives to provide the best for safety, security, health, and infrastructure. The Heritage Foundation ranks it the freest economy in the world – if that doesn't excite foreign investors, we don't know what will.
On average, properties in Singapore cost US$ 20,000 per square meter, which is higher even when compared to real estate prices in famous capitals like New York, London, or Paris. Considering its popularity, Singapore is an excellent spot to invest in real estate. However, you may find the average yield on the lower side.
Singapore's stock market provides an excellent primary spot to access not only Singapore but all of Asia. Having a brokerage account in Singapore allows you to trade stocks in emerging markets all over Asia, like the Philippines, Malaysia, etc.
Malaysia stands out as one of the easiest countries in Asia for foreigners to invest in real estate. Unlike in other Asian countries, foreigners can own freehold property in Malaysia with few restrictions. Landed property is not off-limits to foreign investors in Malaysia, making it an attractive option for those seeking land in the region.
Additionally, investing in property in Malaysia may qualify foreigners for visa programs like Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) visa. This program offers a fast-track visa process and other incentives for property investors.
Malaysia's real estate market also offers a more affordable option than Singapore's, with property prices as low as US$2000-US$3000 per square meter in Kuala Lumpur.
Cambodia is one of the fastest-growing Asian countries, with a consistent economic development of over 7% on average for the past ten years. The country has been compared to Thailand in the 1980s due to its similar development stages.
In addition to its business scene and investment culture, Cambodia offers unique religious architecture and natural beauty, including the world's largest religious monument, Angkor Wat. This UNESCO World Heritage Site attracts millions of tourists annually, contributing significantly to the country's foreign exchange.
Foreigners can also obtain one of Cambodia's cheapest and easiest residencies in the world.
Although the Cambodian stock market is small, with only ten listed stocks, the real estate market has significant potential for appreciation and high rental yields. Foreigners can purchase centrally-located property in the capital city, Phnom Penh, for as low as US$1000 per square meter.
Foreigners looking to invest in the Philippines' real estate market can only buy freehold condos, as landed property ownership is restricted. However, the Philippines offers a primary base for company incorporation in Asia, with foreigners enjoying 100% corporate ownership regardless of the company they're running.
For those who want to avoid travelling to the Philippines and setting up an active business on-site, the Philippines Stock Exchange offers lucrative investment opportunities. Investors can access the stock exchange through a brokerage account in Singapore.
The Philippines also boasts excellent growth prospects for many corporations due to its favourable demographic trends. With a median age of only 25, the country has a young, educated, and skilled population, creating an excellent environment for growth.
In conclusion, each of these countries has unique advantages and challenges, making them attractive investment destinations for different types of investors. As always, it's crucial to do thorough research and consider your individual circumstances and risk profile before making any investment decisions. Nonetheless, with their promising economic growth, strong industries, and innovative business environments, these countries are all top investment destinations to watch in Asia in 2023.
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