Gut microbiota plays an important role in mammalian host metabolism and physiological functions. The functions are particularly important in young children where rapid mental and physical developments are taking place. Nevertheless, little is known about the gut microbiome and the factors that contribute to microbial variation in the gut of South East Asian children. Here, we compared the gut bacterial richness and composition of pre-adolescence in Northern Malaysia. Our subjects covered three distinct ethnic groups with relatively narrow range of socioeconomic discrepancy. These included the Malays (n = 24), Chinese (n = 17) and the Orang Asli (indigenous) (n = 20). Our results suggested a strong ethnicity and socioeconomic-linked bacterial diversity. Highest bacterial diversity was detected from the economically deprived indigenous children while the lowest diversity was recorded from the relatively wealthy Chinese children. In addition, predicted functional metagenome profiling suggested an over-representation of pathways pertinent to bacterial colonisation and chemotaxis in the former while the latter exhibited enriched gene pathways related to sugar metabolism.