Travelling around South East Asia
Countries to visit. Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Malaysia.
My goal was to take in as much of each country as I could in the time allocated but without rushing.
Planning and research
Location is South East Asia, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator.
Laos is landlocked and Cambodia is mostly landlocked. With A mountainous range dividing Vietnam and Laos, I decided to start in northern Vietnam, head along the eastern coast down to Ho Chi Minh, north into Cambodia via the Mekong, east within Cambodia, then north up the length of Laos, west to northern Thailand and then all the way south to Malaysia.
I had 3 months to take in as much as possible and chose to go Mid August to mid November, this is also out of peak season making for a more affordable time and best weather conditions for the route I took.
My goal was to see if I could achieve a modicum of comfort on a tight budget. This time of year made it easy to find comfortable affordable accommodation for the price of backpacking.
Flights into Vietnam via KL was a scoop and everything from there on in was even better.
Night sleeper buses and night trains, saved on transport and accommodation as you save on accommodation with overnight travel.
Food is so cheap in Asia and make sure you eat where the locals eat.
Take a 60 litre backpack with detachable day pack, anything else won't be as effective.
You really won't need any heavy clothing, jumpers and the like but take plenty of mix and match clothes and a good quality light weight rain mac.
A good pair of hiking shoes/boots, think about taking some old "T" shirts pants and socks that you can throw away as you go. Clothing is so cheap over there and you can buy new for next to nothing.
Make sure you have a good camera and a back up one too. Good vanity pack and first aid equipment. Micro towel and that's about it.
A Full list of what to take will be within the "Lists, inventories and Itineraries" section of this website.
Do's and don'ts
Do take a pocket guide book, this will orientate you on the go.
Do eat with the locals. Find eateries where the locals eat and try out the street markets. Have an open mind in your diet.
Do be flexible. Allow time in your itinerary to stray a little, this is where your surprises happen.
Do take your time. Take time to savour the moment.
Do ask advice from the staff at your accommodation, they want you to have a good time and either come back or recommend others.
Don't be afraid to ask
Don't impose yourself, wait to be invited.
Don't leave your purse on top of your carry bag.
Don't get too drunk. You will get into trouble either by getting ripped off or worse.
Hanoi. Walk the city, parks, dodge the traffic and immerse yourselves.
Sa Pa. Mountain valley trek with at least one home stay is a must do.
Ha Long bay. At least one night onboard ship and go for a morning swim.
Any of the East coast of Vietnam is beautiful. Hue, Hoi An, Nha Trang and all the way down to Ho Chi Minh. Make sure you visit the Chu Chi Tunnels and mind your head.
Places to see and this is just a quick snapshot
Siem Reap. Angkor Wat. Go for the morning sunrise. Get a two day pass, this is sufficient to see all you want.
Occheuteal Beach, when in season is beautiful.
Phnom Penh. The city, S-21 Genocide Museum (a real eye opener), Killing Fields at Choeung Ek, not for the faint hearted.
Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri to the far east of Cambodia, little visited but well worth the trip for a trek in the jungle. The waterfalls here are the best and is a great diversion into the base of Laos.
4000 islands. In the very south of Laos is an archipelago like no other. Definitely try and get here.
Pakse. In the south of Laos such a pretty place to visit.
Vientiane. The national capitol with Buddhist temples like no other.
Vang Vieng. Yes you've heard about this place. Tubing but be careful, (great fun though). Let the local kids steal your tube at the last bar, for its deposit and float down to town in the river after dusk.
Luang Prabang. My pick of the country but then I am biased from my work here.
Chiang Mai. Closest main town to northern Laos a great base to explore the north.
Pai. Further up from Chiang Mai, so many people miss this little gem.
Si Ayutthaya. Nearing Bangkok, this is the Mecca of temples.
Kanchanaburi. Tiger temple if you feel the need but also where you will get to the famous bridge over the River Kwai.
Bangkok. You either love it or loath it, personally it's a must do and certainly step away from the city and you are in the real Thailand.
Pattaya. Seems to be on most people's list but if you are here make sure you get to our next place Koh Chang!
Koh Chang. This still fairly unspoilt island, is high on my list. Stay on White beach. Not to be confused with (Ko Chang) on the Andaman side of Thailand where personally I think the diving is far better.
Phuket. Another favourite for many but this is also a great stepping stone for many other nicer places and islands.
Koh Pi Pi. Another favourite of mine, try and stay here for more than a day. Get over to the other side of the island.
Koh Samui. There are three beautiful islands all close together on the gulf of Thailand try and get to Koh Tao. A divers island but very pretty too and a walk up to the top of the island is a must do. Get down the other side also, for some great free diving spots.
Krabi. There are so many islands and each one has its own charm. They also have the vegetarian festival with bizarre body piercings, not to be missed.
Langkawi. Another great place to stop and full of duty free goods but be careful.
Penang. More protected by Sumatra The sea is somewhat calmer.
Kuala Lumpur. Petronas Towers and gardens at night. Wander around the city and shops.
This interactive section takes you South East Asia. Click on the pictures below to take you to the specific country of your choice, or read under all about our travelling experiences, tips and advice on our travels. We highlight our "7 main areas" which cover the following:- Areas/countries visited. Planning and research. Timings. Budget. Luggage. dos and don'ts. Places to see.