Ever since I got back from my month-long Southeast Asian trip last August 2014, some friends have expressed their interest of doing the same, but don’t know exactly where to start.
The thing is, when people ask me for my itinerary, I’m a bit hesitant to just give them what I used because it is customized according to MY traveling style. I found that it has changed over the years. I no longer feel the need to pack as many attractions as I can in day, and would prefer to pay more for convenience rather than sacrifice comfort for the sake of sticking to my budget.
I also traveled solo, so my expenses were inevitably bigger than usual. And the only tickets I had pre-booked on sale were my Manila to Bangkok, Bangkok to Chiang Mai, and Bali to Manila flights. The rest of the flights, I booked when I was already on the road.
With the fuel surcharge now chucked from airfares, and the AirAsia ASEAN Pass launched, I want to share 5 itineraries to help kickstart your own Southeast Asian adventure. The first 3 I have done personally (except for the ferry to Bintan/Batam), and the last 2 are options you can consider if you have more time to travel.
Philippines – Malaysia – Singapore – Philippines (2 flights)
1. Kuala Lumpur
SIDE TRIP: Putrajaya
WHERE I STAYED: Budget to Mid-range: Classic Inn KL
4. Johor Bahru
WHERE I STAYED: Budget: Footprints Backpackers Hostel
HOW TO GO TO LEGOLAND FROM SINGAPORE: Avail of the coach service from WTS Travel.
Alternatively, there’s a great website for booking bus tickets all over Singapore, and to major cities in Peninsular Malaysia, and even to Thailand and Indonesia. Head over to Easybook to check the routes.
Philippines – Vietnam – Cambodia – Thailand – Philippines (or vice versa) (2 flights)
Banana Pancake Trail
HO CHI MINH CITY
WHERE I STAYED: Budget: Bich Duyen
HOW TO GET TO SIEM REAP FROM HCMC: Moc Bai – Bavet Border Crossing
WHAT TO SEE & DO:
– Angkor Complex Tour
- Sunrise at Angkor Wat
- South Gate (Angkor Thom) – Bayon, Baphuon, Phimeanakas, Terrace of Leper King and Terrace of the Elephants
- Banteay Kdei, Ta Prohm, sunset from Phnom Bakheng
WHERE I STAYED: Budget: Ta Som Guesthouse
WHERE I STAYED: Mid-range: Bangkok City Hotel
My latest trip: Philippines – Thailand – Laos – Malaysia – Indonesia – Philippines (4-6 flights)
2. Chiang Mai
1. LUANG PRABANG
WHAT TO SEE & DO: Observe the alms-giving ceremony (about 5:30-6:00 am), hike to Phousi Mountain, shop at the night market and try the various buffets along the tiny alley beside Indigo House on Sisavangvong Road, visit the numerous temples, book a lunch cruise, visit Pak Ou Caves, Kuang Si Waterfalls (I highly recommend this!)
WHERE I STAYED:
Budget: Sackarinh Guesthouse
Mid-range: Lao Lu Lodge
Splurge: Villa Maydou
2. VANG VIENG
I originally planned on stopping by Vang Vieng since it’s on the way to Vientiane anyway, but because I absentmindedly planned my trip during the monsoon season, I figured I wouldn’t be able to do the things I wanted anyway, and decided to just skip it, and head straight to Vientiane.
Anyway, based from my research, here’s some things you can do in Vang Vieng:
river tubing, ATV ride, go to the Blue Lagoon, hot air balloon ride
I took the VIP bus (different from the sleeper bus) from Luang Prabang to Vientiane. Travel time was about 12-13 hours, with one stopover for dinner. I think I paid around LAK160,000. You can easily book bus tickets at any of the numerous agencies in Luang Prabang along Sakkaline Road.
WHAT TO SEE & DO: Wat Sisaket, Wat Phra Keo, That Luang, Patuxai Monument, Buddha Park
WHERE I STAYED: I was only in Vientiane for a little over 24 hours, so I only stayed at one accommodation – Moonlight Champa
KUALA LUMPUR – For this trip, I just stayed in Kuala Lumpur to catch up with work.
Bedugul and Tanah Lot Tour
– Taman Ayun Temple, Ulun Danu Temple, Jatiluwih Rice Terrace, Tanah Lot Temple
Kintamani – Besakih Tour
– Barong Dance, Tegalalang Rice Terrace, Kintamani Volcano, Besakih Temple
– Uluwatu Temple, Kecak and Fire Dance
– Ubud Monkey Forest, Ubud Palace, Ubud Market, Barong & Kris Dance
Gunung Kawi Village Tour
– Batubulan Village, Gunung Kawi Temple, Tirta Empul Temple, Goa Gajah Temple
– Kuta, Seminyak, Jimabaran, Dreamland, Canggu, Padang Padang, Bingin, Geger
Splurge: Alaya Resort Ubud
Philippines – Malaysia – Myanmar – Thailand – Cambodia – Vietnam – Philippines (4 flights)
WHERE WE STAYED: Mya Thida Hotel Bagan
From Mandalay, you can fly to Bangkok and do the Banana Pancake trail in reverse.
Philippines – Vietnam – Laos – Thailand – Myanmar – Malaysia – Philippines (4-6 flights)
- Determine the number of days you can travel. Check how many vacation leave credits you have, and then build your itinerary around it. Someone told me before she was planning to visit 4 ASEAN countries on a single trip. When I asked her how many days she has, she told me 6. Uhm, no. That’s just not possible.
- In the same vein, choose which countries you really want to visit. Now, I know it’s very tempting to travel to several countries that are next to each other, BUT just because they’re beside each other on the map doesn’t mean it’s easy to cross to the other. Case in point: Laos and Myanmar. You cannot cross by land, and there are no direct flights between the two either. Yes, there’s a connecting flight, but it’s expensive.
- Are you going to be traveling solo, with a partner/friends, or with your family? This can help you in budgeting, and in choosing the types of activities and attractions you will include in the itinerary. Most of the itineraries might not be suitable for the elderly as it involves long bus rides and/or several flights.
- After you’ve drafted your itinerary, you’ll then have an idea how much money you’ll need. Lodging and transportation usually eats up a big chunk of the budget.