Southeast Asia Travel Guide For Solos

Southeast Asia travel guide

Types of Girls about the Globe (GatG) – Backpacker GatG, Beach GatG, Budget GatG, Cultural GatG, Nature GatG, Ocean GatG, Spiritual GatG

Asia is the largest continent and divided into several regions from the ‘Stans’ in Central Asia to Indonesia in the south. Buddhist temples and culture can be found all over Southeast Asia and this region is by far the cheapest on the continent.

Southeast Asia is made up of: Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Lester, Vietnam, and Christmas Island.

This article includes the top destinations in Southeast Asia for solos, a summary of each country, the must-sees and how to get around. Discover the best tours for solos, how much to budget, and itineraries for Southeast Asia. Just click on the relevant section or scroll down for the whole article.

Contents

Southeast Asia Travel Guide

Southeast Asia Travel Guide

Southeast Asia is a traveller’s dream. It’s welcoming, cheap and very easy to get around. Many travellers follow a certain trail, so it’s easy to meet people and perfect for the first- time traveller. The most popular backpacking countries are Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Malaysia. There are so many places to see that you’ll be spoilt for choice: visit Cambodia for Angkor Wat, Vietnam for Halong Bay, Laos for Vang Vieng, marvel at the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, visit orangutans in Borneo and take a river cruise in Singapore, or enjoy an island beach holiday in the Philippines or Bali.

What countries are in Southeast Asia?

Southeast Asia is known for: Buddhism, culture, temples, martial arts, and diving. See the list below for which country to visit depending on your interests:

Cambodia – Angkor Wat, Pol Pot history, Mekong River, rice paddies.

Christmas Island – Red crabs, beaches, nature, diving.

Indonesia – Diving, Komodo dragons, fossils, volcanoes, surfing, islands, beaches.

Laos – Culture, trekking, mountains, adventure, tribal villages.

Malaysia – Petronas Towers, tea plantations, wildlife, primates, hiking, heritage, islands, tribes, motor racing.

Myanmar – Ancient ruins, temples, culture, hiking, floating villages.

Philippines – Islands, diving, adventure, palm-fringed beaches, festivals, whale sharks, shopping, nature, flora and fauna, spas.

Singapore – Shopping, Raffles Hotel, nightlife, quayside, Sentosa Island.

Thailand – Hill tribes, full-moon parties, beaches, cheap cuisine, Buddhism, temples, monkeys, cooking classes, fishing villages, limestone karsts, diving.

Timor Leste – Untouristy, mountains, reefs and ancient traditions.

Vietnam – War history, motorbiking, landscapes, lakes, Halong Bay, cuisine, Mekong River, hill tribes.

Southeast Asia Travel Guide

Cambodia – 4 stars

Types of Girls about the Globe (GatG) – Cultural GatG, History GatG, Nature GatG

There’s something about Cambodia that draws you in: its soul, its tragic past and its people will leave a mark on your heart. It is a country that still ranks among the world’s poverty hot spots yet the people seem so happy. For women travelling solo, Cambodia is cheap to travel through, has great value guest houses (with an honesty policy for food and drinks) and is miles away from the bustle of other Asian cities.

Cemented roads don’t really exist here and you’ll be travelling along dirt tracks past small villages with chickens and goats roaming around and children running out to wave and shout “hello.”

Cambodia tourism is no stranger to dark tourism and remnants of the rule of the Khmer Rouge three decades before are now tourist sites in the capital, Phnom Penh. The Killing Fields are now a tranquil place with a memorial of the 70,000 people killed here in a glass case of skulls. The S21 Prison, now a museum used to be a school until 1975 when the Khmer Rouge began their grisly regime. Visit the Cu Chi, a network of tunnels used during the Vietnam War.

The highlights of Cambodia are in Siem Reap. A visit to the Khmer temples at Angkor Was is simply magical especially at sunrise. Trek through the Cardamom Mountains, sail along the Mekong River and delve into the Khmer culture watching traditional dancing.

* Read more: Solo Travel in Cambodia

Southeast Asia Travel Guide

Christmas Island – 2 stars

Types of Girls about the Globe (GatG) – Nature GatG, Ocean Girl GatG

South-west of Indonesia lies Christmas Island. This island is pretty remote but you can fly to Christmas island from either Fiji or Perth in Australia. Christmas Island is definitely one for the ocean and wildlife Girl about the Globe with plenty of nature and culture mixed in too. Watch the red crabs on their migration, or dive in one of the many dive sites. You can also see whale sharks if you time your visit just right. With walking trails, and a National Park nearly the same size as the island, this far away island is definitely one for the travel wish list (and you may even be one of the first of your friends to visit!)

* Read more: A Guide To Christmas Island

Southeast Asia Travel Guide

Indonesia – 3 stars

Types of Girls about the Globe – Party GatG, Spiritual GatG, Cultural GatG, Coffee GatG, Nature GatG

Think of Indonesia and you’ll probably think of Bali, one of the country’s thousands of islands and the most popular for solo female travellers. Indonesia shares its borders with Papua New Guinea, Malaysia and Timor Leste. The capital is Jakarta, the largest city in Indonesia and a sprawling metropolis. There are shopping malls here, a palace, cathedral and National Museum but the beauty lies in its tropical islands which you can reach from Ancol Bay. Learn about Betawi culture at Setu Babakan, explore the historical heritage in Old Jakarta or just spend a few days soaking up island life in your own beach hut.

Bali attracts all types of solo from party GatG to spiritual and cultural GatGs, and Its popularity has also increased since the book Eat Pray Love, where Elizabeth Gilbert found her spirituality. The island is now a mecca for those seeking meditation and yoga retreats. Its paradise location cultivates creativity and writing retreats draw those wanting to create their storytelling masterpiece.

Kuta Beach is overrun with travellers and Australian party dwellers, and you’ll find spiritual and creative solos in Ubud. The island also attracts couples who tend to stay in the Nusa Dua region. The island is known as the Island of the Gods and the Balinese will greet you with a warm welcome. Their religion is Hindu and they are mostly kind, gentle people. 

Other highlights of Indonesia are the Komodo Islands, just a short haul flight from Bali and home to Komodo Dragons which are a must-see if you are planning a trip to Indonesia. Just a ferry ride away from Bali is Nusa Penida with beautiful cliffs and tree houses to stay in. Then there’s Lombok, which is a larger island and less touristy where you can see the traditions of the Sasak people or swim with turtles.

Central Java is near Jakarta and home to Yogyakarta with UNESCO World Heritage Sites and ancient temples, as well as Mount Bromo, an active volcano that you can trek to (or take a motorcycle taxi to the base). Bandung is also reachable from Jakarta and is perfect for the nature Girl about the Globe with pine forests and beautiful mountains. There is so much more to Indonesia than just Bali.

* Read more: Solo Travel in Bali

Southeast Asia Travel Guide

Laos – 4 stars

Types of Girls about the Globe (GatG) – Nature GatG, Cultural GatG, Party GatG

Laos may not be as popular as its neighbours Thailand or Cambodia but this land-locked country in South East Asia is rich in Asian culture and shouldn’t be overlooked. Still a developing country, solo travel in Laos for a laid back vibe, UNESCO World Heritage and plenty to see and do.

Ventiane is the ultra cosmopolitan capital and largest city of Laos, with its tree shaded streets hiding an abundance of cafes, restaurants and bars. It is little wonder that Vientiane was the haven for many a spy during the Cold War years, with its French influences and steamy tropical heat inducing an almost sleepy utopia.

Sitting on the Nam Song (Song River), Vang Vieng is renowned as a backpackers' and extreme sport hunters' haunt. A mere four-hour bus ride from Vientiane, its limestone karst rock hill formations create a landscape that is breathtaking in its beauty. Known for its river tubing, kayaking, trekking and rock climbing, the backpacker market has held this town firmly in its grasp for years.

Luang Prabang is a gastronomist’s dream with its many bars, restaurants and cafes of differing cuisines such as Laos, Thai, French, Indian and Italian. It is the town of monks and markets and is rich in culture and history. If you’re planning to fly into Bangkok then I recommend travelling in a circle through Cambodia, Vietnam and finishing in Laos, before crossing the border back to Thailand.

* Read more: Solo Travel in Laos

Southeast Asia Travel Guide

Malaysia – 4 stars

Types of Girls about the Globe – Cultural GatG, Cuisine GatG, Wildlife GatG

Malaysia is a land of sweeping coastlines and coral-fringed islands where mountains meet dense rainforests and unspoiled wilderness. It may not have the exhilarating nightlife of Thailand or be as cheap but it is more laid back and less crowded and is bursting with heritage, culture, islands, beaches and Highlands.

Kuala Lumpur is a top Malaysia holiday destination. It is a beautiful city with a mix of architecture from the Victorian old train station to a mini Opera House. Spending time in the capital is a must if not just for the sparkling Petronas Towers, which were once the tallest towers in the world at 452 metres high.

From Kuala Lumpur you can take various day trips to places such as the Batu Caves, an important place of worship for Hindus. The limestone cave temples and tallest statue of a Hindu god in Malaysia is only a short train ride away. 

Other highlights of Malaysia are: the Temple of the Goddess of Heaven found in Kuala Lumpur, the city of Putrajaya with its 20th century architecture and mosque, and the Cameron Highlands where you can cool off from the Malaysian heat amongst tea plantations and bee farms.

For the adventurous Girl about the Globe you can climb Mount Kinabalu, the highest point in Southeast Asia, or get cultural at a colourful performance in Kuching. Borneo is one for the wildlife solo with orang-utans and proboscis monkeys. From UNESCO World Heritage Sites to highlands and wildlife, Malaysia is a good destination for solos.

* Read more: Solo Travel in Malaysia

Southeast Asia Travel Guide

Myanmar – 3 stars

Types of Girls about the Globe – Cultural GatG, Nature GatG, Spiritual GatG

Only recently opened to tourism, Myanmar is one of the world’s best-kept secrets; a relatively undiscovered country drenched in rich Buddhist culture that forms part of the Golden Triangle and borders the Northern tribes of Thailand.

No trip to Myanmar is complete without a visit to Bagan. This sacred plain is beautifully filled with 2,200 pagodas and temples which poke out from lush local plantations and palm forests. Apart from the Buddhist sites, Bagan is also a cultural destination with the fascinating Nyang Oo market, incredible mural arts and famous lacquer traditional workshops.

Inle Lake is a destination that should definitely be on your bucket list. While Bagan is full of Buddhist wonders, Inle showcases its unique lake through a captivating floating garden, and eye catching stilt villages.

Situated on a small hill in the heart of Yangon, the iconic Shwedagon represents the magnificence of Buddhist architecture. Reflecting through its giant, yellow dome, spacious praying houses.

Mandalay isn't just a charming place to visit. For those who like adventure, you will quickly fall in love with unpaved roads seemingly designed for mountain bike rides. When you need more inspiration, take a train journey over Goteik, once the highest viaduct in the world or trek to Anisakan Falls instead.

Other highlights in Myanmar include Ngapali Beach, a long strip of sand by the Andaman Sea, with hotels and resorts and plenty of rural tranquility.

Once, one of the most important ports on the legendary Silk Road, Mrauk U now is one of the third largest archaeological sites in Asia along with Angkor Wat and Bagan. Then there’s the core charm of Mandalay with its Royal relics and imperial sites. But you can’t go all the way to Myanmar without exploring the Mergui Archipelago and its hundreds of islands. Myanmar is definitely an interesting country to visit but make sure you see it soon before it becomes overrun with tourists.

* Read more: Places To Go in Myanmar

Southeast Asia Travel Guide

Philippines – 4 stars

Types of Girls about the Globe (GatG) – Beach GatG, Diving GatG

If you love a beach and an island vibe then the Philippines definitely has to be on your list. Don’t spend too much time in the capital, Manila. Instead, leave the hustle and bustle behind and head straight to one of the islands.

If you stay for a few days in the city, there are plenty of shopping opportunities and museums to keep you busy. Visit Luneta Park and the historic walled city of Intramuros, also located in the vicinity. A little bit further out, but well worth a visit, is the Pinto Art Museum at Antipolo, which features exhibits from a wide range of Filipino artists. The museum is spread out through a number of inter-connected mission-style buildings set in well maintained tropical gardens.

There are more than 7,000 islands here so white-sand beaches go without saying and some of these like the ones in Palawan or Siargao are nothing short of beautiful but there are so many more to island hop to. You can even find pink beaches at Zamboanga, Northern Samar, two in Sorsogon, Davao Oriental, Camarines Norte, and Palawan.

It’s not all about the beaches though as for the active Girl about the Globe there are plenty of mountain trails to hike and climb. There’s even a Treasure Mountain with views of the Sierra Madre ranges from the top.

If you love adventure, take an ATV off road in the Rizal province or along sandy dunes in Paoay, or see one of the country’s many volcanoes such as Mount Pinatubo in Tarlac or Mount Mayon in Albay, in all their geothermal glory.

If you prefer exploring caves, you can kayak from the Underground River to Palawan, or stay on land and see prehistoric drawings at the Angono-Binangonan Petroglyphs Site. There’s a reason that the Philippines has 3 of the world’s top beaches: they’re amazing!

* Read more: Where To Go in The Philippines

Southeast Asia Travel Guide

Singapore – 5 stars

Types of Girls about the Globe – City and Sightseeing GatG, Shopping GatG

If you are thinking of solo travel in Singapore, you can’t pick a safer country to travel to. That's why we've given it 5 out of 5 stars. Laws are very strict and you can get fined for just throwing chewing gum on the floor. People are friendly so you’ll have no problems if you get lost and need to ask for directions. 

Sentosa Island in Singapore is the place to be. It is an island on the peninsula with a megazip adventure park and lots of other things to do, or choose to take the night safari at the Singapore zoo to see rhinos up close and personal.

One of the nicest buildings here is the gorgeous Thian Hock Keng Temple, an architectural masterpiece and national monument which is dedicated to the Taoist goddess of the sea. It is Singapore's most important Hokkien temple and dates back to 1839.

Sri Mariammam Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in the city. It is built in a Dravidian style, and located in Chinatown. Don’t forget to take photos of the Merlion, a mythical creature with the body of a fish and a head of a lion which you’ll find dotted all over the city.

If the city gets too much, there are plenty of spaces to escape to in Singapore. MacRitchie Reservoir Park has a suspended bridge through the tree tops as well as plenty of nature trails to hike. If you love flowers the Singapore Botanic Gardens has the most stunning orchid garden. This is Singapore’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a 80-hectare space of tropical paradise with waterfalls and a rainforest to lose yourself in.

Then there are the quays with international restaurants and bars where you can meet others and enjoy a picturesque walk along the river or on a river cruise. Don’t forget to pop into Raffles Hotel for a classic Singapore Sling or visit the Marina Bay Sands hotel for a spectacular view of the city.

* Read more: Solo Travel in Singapore

Southeast Asia Travel Guide

Thailand – 4 stars

Types of Girls about the Globe (GatG) – Beach GatG, Cultural GatG, Diving GatG, Party GatG, Spiritual GatG, Tribal GatG 

Thailand’s hospitality is known as one of the friendliest in the world. If you choose to travel solo here you are guaranteed royal treatment and service fit for a queen. Completely geared up for the tourist industry, Thailand is incredibly easy to visit, with great transport links, stunning accommodation and the guarantee of meeting many other like-minded solos.

However, Thailand has more to offer than hill-tribe treks and rice paddies. Surrounded by limestone karsts, the islands have a party atmosphere that will satisfy the hardest clubber or, if it’s tranquillity that you need, head to the lesser-known islands, south of Bangkok. Thais are especially friendly, but you need to be careful at night, as there have been cases of drink spiking, so don’t accept any drinks bought for you from strangers.

Unfortunately Thailand is now very touristy and the culture of Thailand is slowly vanishing as they tailor themselves too much for tourists in my view but if you travel north to the Golden Triangle to Chiang Rai and even Chiang Mai, you can visit hill tribes that live here. This is where the Karon tribe live and you may have seen the iconic pictures of the Long Neck Karon with gold rings around their necks. Taking part in a hill tribe trek helps the tribes sustain their way of life and goes towards schools and agriculture. Staying overnight in a wooden house on stilts with buffalos and chickens roaming below is such an experience and an insight into their humble lives.

Shopping in Thailand is very cheap and you'll find department stores in the capital and markets and outdoor street sellers in the smaller towns selling clothes, bags and accessories. The Thais do seem to be on the more petite side so the clothes seem smaller than European sizes. Be careful not to buy any fake goods from market sellers though. They may seem like a great bargain but you don’t know what your money may be funding and you may even get fined. If you're looking to relax, where better than on the amazing beaches of Thailand. You don't have to go far to get pampered either as the Thai ladies find you on the beach and offer you massages, manicures and hair braiding whilst you sunbathe.

* Read more: Solo Travel in Thailand

Southeast Asia Travel Guide

Timor Leste – 2 stars

Types of Girls about the Globe (GatG) – Diving GatG, History GatG

Timor Leste isn’t usually a destination visited by many solo females. It is very untouristy and off the beaten track but if you do come here expect plenty of nature of underwater life such as the dugong. The reefs here are ideal for the diving Girl about the Globe. History solos can delve into the country’s dark history in the capital’s museums, and see the Cristo Rei de Dili statue standing tall above the city. It is recommended to take a tour here rather than travel independently.

* Read more: Welcome To Timor-Leste

Southeast Asia Travel Guide

Vietnam – 4 stars

Types of Girl about the Globes (GatGs) – Cuisine GatG, History GatG, Sailing GatG, Nature GatG, Dark Tourism GatG, Cultural GatG, Tribes GatG.

If you are planning a trip to Southeast Asia, look no further than Vietnam. Although it’s often overshadowed by Thailand and Cambodia, its Asian neighbours, Vietnam is a surprising country with some areas still relatively untouched.

With a natural beauty, and a diverse terrain, you can spend time sailing on beautiful bays, trekking in the mountains, floating down the Delta, or exploring old French Colonial towns. Enough people speak English here to get by and you’ll have no problem being understood in Ho Chi Minh, the capital.

Ho Chi Minh is a city wired for action with a growing art and music scene. See the beautiful architecture by day and experience the nightlife when the sun goes down.

Spend time visiting old war relics, museums, the red-brick Notre Dame Cathedral, or just relax in one of the guesthouses along the riverfront. You’ll find company in the backpacker area of Le Loi and plenty of rooftops to mingle on.

For great views of the city head to the Panorama Saigon Trade Centre (which was once the highest building) or the Bitexco Financial Tower which is the highest. Close to the palace you can pick up cheap goods at Ben Thanh market.

Highlights of Vietnam include: staying with a hill tribe in Sapa, and the Cu Chi tunnels used by the Vietnamese during the Vietnam War as a way to transport supplies and as living quarters. Take a boat cruise in Halong Bay, sail along the Mekong River, or head to the beach in Nha Trang. With Central Highlands, lakes and old French towns to explore, Vietnam is a popular destination with solo female travellers.

* Read more: Solo travel in Vietnam

Best Time To Visit Southeast Asia

If you are planning a trip to Southeast Asia, there is a rainy season which is generally between June to October. Although seeing a country during its wet season is often cheaper and more spectacular with lush greenery and cooler evenings. Just because a country is listed as having a rainy season doesn’t necessarily mean it is monsoonal or that it rains constantly throughout the day. It may only rain for a few hours at night before the sun comes out, so you can still get on the beach during the morning or afternoons.

Here are the months when you can expect rain for each country. Bear in mind that this can differ though so check the forecast on Weatther2Travel before you book. 

  • Cambodia – November to April
  • Indonesia – April to October
  • Laos – November to March
  • Malaysia – May to September
  • Myanmar – November to February
  • Philippines – December to March
  • Singapore – April to August
  • Thailand – November to March
  • Timor Leste – November to April
  • Vietnam – January to March

Southeast Asia Travel Guide

Southeast Asia Tours

There are so many tours you can choose from in Southeast Asia. Sustainable tour companies such as G Adventures and Intrepid Travel both offer multiple trips to the region depending on which countries you want to travel to. The tours can differ according to activities and depending on who you have in your group, so check the daily itineraries to see which one is the perfect fit for your trip.

Backpacking Southeast Asia is easy but if you prefer some company for all or part of your trip here are our recommended tours from our solo female community.

G Adventures Southeast Asia

G Adventures is a responsible tour company which mainly caters towards budget travellers. Most tours have a maximum of 15 people and are 18-30 tours in Asia with an age limit to thirty somethings. Once you book your trip you pay extra for any excursions you want to do when you’re there.

G Adventures Asia tours range from an 8 day Southern Thailand Sojourn exploring the nightlife and national parks, a 14 day highlights of Sumatra full of beachside bliss and hot springs, to a 40 day Epic Bangkok to Kuta adventure seeing beaches, forests and volcanoes. I have personally used G Adventures and you can read my review here.

* Click here for all Southeast Asia tours, itineraries and prices: G Adventures

G Adventures Myanmar – 11 Days

If you love snorkelling join the Myanmar Islands: snorkelling and village hikes beginning and ending in Bangkok. Spend time in Thailand’s capital city before hopping on a short flight to Ranong in Myanmar for a trek to hilltop pagodas within this colourful port city. Take a river cruise on a traditional boat, kayak through canals, and mingle with the local villagers on your lunch stop.

The Mergui Archipelago is where you can island hop. You’ll get to experience waterfalls, and jungle before seeing the indigenous Moken community. The tour includes all accommodation in simple hotels, hostels or guesthouses and daily breakfasts plus some additional meals.

* Click here for tour information, prices and the full itinerary 

G Adventures Indonesia – 14 Days

See the best of Indonesia on their Indonesia: Hammocks & Hikes tour starting in the bustling city of Jakarta and ending in Kuta, Bali. See the floating villages at Cianjur, hike to Mount Bromo on the Ancestor Trail then party on the island of Bali.

You’ll be taking the scenic train to Yogyakarta to see Javanese temples, and spend the evening at a G Adventures-supported homestay. Accommodation is in simple and clean hostels and hotels with plenty of optional activities such as village walks and surfing lessons to keep you busy. This trip is an 18 to thirty something tour.

* Click here for tour information, prices and the full itinerary

Vietnam and Cambodia Tours – 17 Days

Join the Essential Vietnam & Cambodia tour for 17 days which begins in Hanoi and ends in Bangkok. Experience staying overnight on a sailing boat in Halong Bay, cruising the Mekong River, and witnessing the stunning temples of Angkor Wat.

Learn how to cook Vietnamese-style, visit the My Son ruins and visit a G Adventures-supported project in Hoi An. The tour is a mix of public and private transport including an overnight train in Vietnam and includes all breakfasts and some dinners too.

* Click here for tour information, prices and the full itinerary

G Adventures Southeast Asia Reviews

“In 2016 I did the Best of Eastern Europe tour & in 2018 I did Classic Vietnam Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. Both were amazing trips with some wonderful people. In about a month and a half I will be doing the Best of Egypt tour with my parents and brother. I recommend this company to anyone that asks me about group tours or says they are nervous to travel totally solo. I really enjoyed both trips and wouldn’t hesitate to travel with them again. Loved my tour with G Adventures! It was a great way to head out “solo” for the first time and I met some amazing people along the way!” – Laura Hampton

“I have done India, Nepal, Thailand and Peru with G and I would recommend them to anyone who is a bit worried about travelling on their own or want a group tour. I was so worried about going on my own the first time, but G Adventures made it so easy and started my love of solo travel. I’ve met some amazing people who I still see and some who have become travel buddies! They operate sustainable tourism and always give back to local charities that you usually get to meet as well.” – Zoe, solo female traveller from the UK

“I've travelled with G Adventures multiple times. I can't recommend them enough! Everything is handled and you get what you pay for and so much more. They are amazing.  I’ve now travelled with them five times across the world” – Simone Starholm

Southeast Asia Travel Guide For Solos

Intrepid Tours

Intrepid Travel is similar to G Adventures with an average of 12 people on each tour. Over 50% of people who book their trips are solo travellers. They tend to use hotels instead of hostels and have a more comfortable style of accommodation hence the trips can appear a bit more than G Adventures. 

Intrepid Tours Asia range from a 7 day Phuket sailing adventure in Thailand, a 9 day Cambodia: hike, bike and kayak, to an epic 30 day South East Asia loop travelling through Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos exploring the heart and soul of the region.

With both G Adventures and Intrepid Travel you share a room with someone of the same gender. There is also the option to pay extra for your own room.

* Click here for all Southeast Asia tours, itineraries and prices: Intrepid Travel Asia

Intrepid Travel Myanmar – 9 Days

If you’re short on time, the Myanmar Highlights tour takes you to all the main sites in the country and ensures that you don’t miss out. This 9 day journey begins in Bagan and ends in Yangon. See the amazing Bagan temples on bicycle, witness the Shwedagon Pagoda at sunset, and canoe along Inle Lake past its floating islands and village industries.

You also have the opportunity to learn how to cook like a local and support a community library initiative at the same time. This tour is a great starting point to Myanmar but they also have a Best of Myanmar trip for 15 days if you have longer.

* Click here for tour information, prices and the full itinerary

Intrepid Bangkok to Singapore – 15 Days

Fly into Thailand and out of Singapore on this 15 day trip, starting in Bangkok and travelling through Malaysia. This trip is perfect for foodie Girl about the Globes as you’ll be cooking authentic Thai dishes, and discovering a different side of Kuala Lumpur amongst the street food and the city’s cuisine. For nature lovers you can hike through Khao Sok National Park and take a traditional long tail boat through along its lake.

Kayak through mangrove forests at Ao Thalane, and wander past colonial buildings and street art in Penang. You’ll be travelling overland on this trip so there are some far distances to cover including on an overnight train but it’s a great way to see the best of this region in a two week trip.

* Click here for tour information, prices and the full itinerary

Intrepid Best of Vietnam Cambodia Tour – 18 Days

If you have longer than two weeks, explore the best of Vietnam and Cambodia on their 18 day tour. Beginning in Hanoi in Vietnam this comprehensive tour takes you past the limestone karsts of Halong Bay on a boat tour before losing yourself in the charm of Hoi An, and learning more about this country’s history in Hue.

You get to travel on the back of a motorbike past historical pagodas and rural farms to meet local producers, and see the wonder that is Angkor Wat on a guided tour before ending in Bangkok. The tour includes all hotels, an overnight boat and sleeper train and daily breakfasts as well as some other meals. It’s a great way to see the best of these two countries.

* Click here for tour information, prices and the full itinerary

Intrepid Asia Reviews

“I’ve been on a number of Intrepid trips including Burma which was good with Intrepid. My daughter has also used G Adventures in India and Sri Lanka and said it was good. The tour ended up being only females.” – Debi Slinger

“I’ve traveled with intrepid through turkey and Southeast Asia on 3 separate trips. I loved the small groups; they’re a great way to meet people without being overwhelming! Everything was always well organised with great leaders but without feeling too rushed. We always had plenty of free time, so you were never being herded around like a typical tour group. The company also has some great values in terms of the environment, animal welfare, and supporting the communities they travel to. I can’t recommend them enough!” – Rhiannon Hayhurst

“I just did an Intrepid Bali tour and it was great. I’m going to do Thailand in December!” – Laura McCo

Southeast Asia Travel Guide

Travelling Around Southeast Asia

Getting around Southeast Asia is easy. Air Asia regularly have cheap internal flights, which is perfect if you are restricted by time. As an example, you can fly internally to Kuala Lumpur from Jakarta for just $20 one way.

Throughout most of Southeast Asia there are good bus systems which take you across the border from Thailand to Malaysia. There is also a railway line here to Taman Negara National park and the Perhentian Islands. From Malaysia you can take the train to Singapore, which also has a reliable bus system. Local buses operate in Indonesia, along with tourist buses and boats to the islands. If you’re looking for a lift, climbing aboard a pick-up truck is common in Thailand.

Taking the overnight train ride from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is an adventure, but perfectly safe if noisy. Day seats transform into beds with plenty of air and the view of rice paddies as you ride north through the country. The train also heads to Surat Than and Trang in the south and Ubon Ratchathani in the east.

There are overnight boats that operate across the Andaman Sea from island to island. Prepare to be sleeping on a mattress on the floor close to other travellers. Long-tail boats take you across shorter distances, but they do get overcrowded. Don’t expect health and safety to be top of their agenda here.

The best way to get around the Philippines is by air and ferry. There are local jeepneys for short rides. Myanmar can be a bit of a bumpy ride, so you’ll find trucks and bumpy buses here as well as internal airlines.

In Vietnam you’ll find cyclos: three-wheeled bicycle taxis to take you on short distances. You can also hire a motorbike and a driver for a few days or a few hours to take you around the country. Vietnam can be time-consuming, so consider an overnight train journey if you’re travelling up to Hanoi.

In Cambodia, you can hire a motorbike driver to take you around. They are a great way of reaching the temples of Angkor Wat for sunrise or sunset. Tour companies operate buses around the country. Just walk into any tourist office and they can book one for you. Be prepared for bumpy roads.

In Myanmar, travelling by bus is the best way to travel economically to see the country. To some major tourist destinations, such as Bagan, Mandalay, Taunggyi (Inle), Naypyidaw and Yangon, the coaches have quite comfortable seats. You wouldn’t want to hire a car here as the road infrastructure isn’t ideal.

Travelling in Southeast Asia is definitely for the adventurous solo, but it is also the perfect continent to cycle around, especially in the rural areas of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia where you can cycle past rice paddies and small villages where locals live in wooden stilt houses.

Southeast Asia Travel Guide

Budget For Southeast Asia

If you are planning Southeast Asia travel it helps to know how much to budget. Backpacking Southeast Asia is cheap with the cheapest country being Laos. Thailand, and Indonesia are also good destinations for those on a budget. The most expensive is Singapore.

The costs below are for the most popular destination and are based on staying in hostels and more basic accommodation, eating 3 meals a day including some street food and travelling by bus. This doesn’t add into account any activities that you may want to do too. You can search day activities here.

  • Cambodia – $25 / £20
  • Indonesia – $25 / £20
  • Laos – $20 / £15
  • Malaysia – Average $40 / £30
  • Philippines – Average $30 / £23
  • Thailand – $25 / £20
  • Singapore – $50 / £38

Southeast Asia Travel Guide

Southeast Asia Travel Itinerary

To help you to plan your Southeast trip, here are some sample itineraries from one week to a month.

Southeast Asia Itinerary 1 week

Thailand – Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi, Bangkok, Ko Samet, Bangkok.

Cambodia – Siem Reap, Angkor Wat, Battambang, Phnom Penh. Indonesia – Bali, Kuta, Ubud, Lombok Island.

Southeast Asia Itinerary 2 Weeks

Thailand – Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pai, Mae Hong Son (via Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Surat Thani), Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Tao (Chumphon) via Bangkok.

Laos – Huay Xai, Pakbeng, Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Vientiane (side trip from Luang Prabang to Nong Kiau).

Cambodia – Siem Reap, Battambang, Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Kep, Phnom Penh, Kampong Cham, Kratie.

Southeast Asia Itinerary 3 weeks

Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi, Bangkok, Ko Samet, Bangkok. Cambodia – Siem Reap, Battambang, Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Kep, Phnom Penh, Kampong Cham, Kratie.

Southeast Asia Itinerary 1 month

SE Asia: Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Sukhothai, Chiang Mai, Chiang Khong, Huay Xai, Pakbeng, Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Vientiane, Tha Khaek, Savannakhet, Pakse, Champasak, Don Khong, Don Dhet, Don Khon, Kratie, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambang, Phnom Penh, Saigon, Mui Ne, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Sapa.

Travel Insurance For Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is a fascinating region to explore but travel insurance is always recommended to cover you for any travel delays, medical assistance and accidents.

I recommend True Traveller for UK and European residents, and World Nomads for U.S. and worldwide citizens. Both companies allow you to buy insurance when you are already on the road, and offer different plans depending on your needs including additional adventure cover.

* Check insurance cover and prices for True Traveller

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