The main phases of plant dispersal into, and out of the South-East Asian region are discussed in relation to plate tectonics and changing climates. The South-East Asian area was a backwater of angiosperm evolution until the collision of the Indian Plate with Asia during the early Cenozoic. The Late Cretaceous remains poorly understood, but the Paleocene topography was mountainous, and the climate was probably seasonally dry, with the result that frost-tolerant conifers were common in upland areas and a low-diversity East Asian aspect flora occurred at low altitudes. India's drift into the perhumid low latitudes during the Eocene brought opportunities for the dispersal into South-East Asia of diverse groups of megathermal angiosperms which originated in West Gondwana. They successfully dispersed and became established across the South-East Asian region, initially carried by wind or birds, beginning at about 49 Ma, and with a terrestrial connection after about 41 Ma. Many Paleocene lineages probably went extinct, but a few dispersed in the opposite direction into India. The Oligocene was a time of seasonally dry climates except along the eastern and southern seaboard of Sundaland, but with the collision of the Australian Plate with Sunda at the end of the Oligocene widespread perhumid conditions became established across the region. The uplift of the Himalaya, coinciding with the middle Miocene thermal maximum, created opportunities for South-East Asian evergreen taxa to disperse into north India, and then with the late Miocene strengthening of the Indian monsoon, seasonally dry conditions expanded across India and Indochina, resulting eventually in the disappearance of closed forest over much of the Indian peninsula. This drying affected Sunda, but it is thought unlikely that a ‘savanna’ corridor was present across Sunda during the Pleistocene. Some dispersals from Australasia occurred following its collision with Sunda and following the uplift of New Guinea and the islands of Wallacea, Gondwanan montane taxa also found their way into the region. Phases of uplift across the Sunda region created opportunities for allopatric speciation and further dispersal opportunities. There is abundant evidence to suggest that the Pleistocene refuge theory applies to the South-East Asian region.