COMMENT | Pope Francis will be in Thailand on Nov 20-23, after which he will visit Japan until Nov 26.
It has been nearly four decades since a pontiff visited Thailand and Japan.
The late Pope St John Paul II went to Japan - where Shinto and Buddhism are the main religions - in 1981, and he travelled to Thailand three years later, where he met with the late King Rama IX and the Queen Mother.
Within Southeast Asia, John Paul also visited Singapore in 1986 and the Philippines in 1995. Pope Francis was also in the Philippines in 2015.
In 1989, John Paul brought a message of Roman Catholic kinship and loyalty to Indonesia as he paid a diplomatically delicate visit to the world's most populous Muslim country.