These are a few books that while traveling become even better.
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
Awesome dystopian novel set in Bangkok after the world hassuffered contraction due to shortages in food and naturalresources. Anyone who has spent any time in bangkok or is planning to will love this book, it captures the essence of the city so well.
Shantaram by David Gregory Roberts
Epic novel based ona true story of an Australian who escapes prison and flees to Bombay,India. Great read that inspires and teaches a lot about the culture andpolitics of India.
The Quiet American by Graham Greene
A story aboutidealistic foreign policy and its brutal consequences. A great readwhile traveling through Vietnam. Provides a glimpse into whatrevolutionary Nam was like in Saigon during French occupation. Crackthis open in a Saigon cafe.
You Shall Know our velocity by Dave Eggers
While itdoesn't take place in Asia this book will inspire you to bounce aroundfrom country to country. About two friends flying around the worldtrying to give away a large sum of money.
Going after Cacciato by Tim O'Brien
Bouncing between reality and fantasy this books shows the horror and confusion of the Vietnam war from the perspective of soldiers. This book sets itself apart from other war novels by avoiding a preachy or patriotic tone.
On the subject of the Vietnam war, I really liked "We were soldiers once, and young." Well written, with some good analysis at the conclusion. "Hell in a very small place" on the battle of Dien Bin Phu is also a good one. Neither of these are novels, they are both non-fiction. There are some analytical problems with "Hell", but it's well written and covers the battle well.
"Ravens" is a good book that discusses the war on Laos, in particular the air war.
I didn't like "Another quiet American" about an American working in Vientiane. I thought it was a touch sanctimonious and I thought the guy had no balls.