10 Best Tips For Backpacking Southeast Asia
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GAFFL
5th Jul | 7 min read

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    It's easy to see why Southeast Asia is one of the world's most popular backpacking destinations. This group of countries is very easy and inexpensive to travel around, has great warm weather, delicious food, and many beautiful places to visit. If you're planning a trip to Southeast Asia, this video can help you plan the perfect trip, from Visa advice to the ideal itinerary, a suggested budget, and the best places to visit, we have it all covered.


    These are our top ten Southeast Asia travel tips.


    If you're headed to Southeast Asia soon and you're looking for other travelers to meet up with while you're there, you can use GAFFL. You can connect with travelers from over 190 countries on GAFFL, plan trips, meet up, and share costs together in Southeast Asia. 

    Tired of traveling alone? Connect with users from over 190 countries to plan trips and travel together!
    Try GAFFL

    Visa Advice

    Depending on your nationality, you will be able to enter most Southeast Asian countries visa-free or with a visa-on-arrival for stays ranging from 14 to 90 days.


    If you come from USA, Canada, UK, Australia, or New Zealand

    Thailand 

    Philippines 

    Indonesia (Bali)

    Singapore

    Malaysia

    Vietnam  

    Cambodia 

    Laos 

    Visa-free entry for 30 days

    Visa-free entry for 30 days

    Visa-free entry for at least 30 days

    Visa-free entry for at least 30 days

    Visa-free entry for 90 days

    E-visa or Visa on Arrival

    E-visa or Visa on Arrival

    E-Visa or Visa on Arrival


    If you come from EU countries like Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, or Sweden

    Vietnam 

    Thailand 

    Philippines

    Indonesia (Bali)

    Singapore 

    Malaysia 

    Cambodia 

    Laos 

    Visa-free entry for 15 days

    Visa-free entry for 30 days

    Visa-free entry for 30 days

    Visa-free entry for 30 days

    Visa-free entry for 90 days

    Visa-free entry for 90 days

    E-Visa or Visa on Arrival

    E-Visa or Visa on Arrival

    How To Book Cheap Flights

    Flying into Bangkok will be your cheapest option in most, if not all, cases. Bangkok is an excellent central hub for Southeast Asia, with easy access to the rest of the region. Flying in and out of Bangkok is also inexpensive.


    Suvarnabhumi Airport is Bangkok's main airport, with numerous non-stop flights from major cities around the world.


    If you do not want to fly into Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur is a good alternative as a good arrival city with low-cost flights.

    The Best Itinerary

    Southeast Asia in 2 weeks


    If you're only in the region for two weeks or less, we recommend only visiting one country. Two weeks is a good amount of time to spend exploring one country, and if you try to visit more than one, you'll probably be stretched too thin and won't be able to properly explore any of them.

    Thailand is an excellent choice because flights to Bangkok are the most affordable. There is plenty to see and do in this safe and easy-to-navigate country. There are also friendly locals and an abundance of travelers that you can connect with in Thailand.

    Again, exploring one country is what we recommend, but if you do choose to extend it to two countries, spending one week in each, I would recommend Vietnam because, like Thailand, it is very easy to get around, there is amazing food, and there are many great attractions to see.

    Southeast Asia in 1 month


    If you have a month in Southeast Asia, we recommend visiting two of the countries that you want to see the most. Again, you can always extend your trip to see more countries, and if you do, I recommend Cambodia or Laos due to their proximity to Thailand and Vietnam. From Bangkok, you can take a low-cost flight to either country.

    Southeast Asia in 2 months +


    If you have at least two months in Southeast Asia, you can comfortably travel around the region enjoying countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. 

    You can do the Banana Pancake trail which is a well known backpacker route in Southeast Asia, which mainly runs through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, but also extends to Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.

    The route will take you from Thailand > Laos > Vietnam > Cambodia > Back to Thailand > and then you can extend it to Malaysia > Singapore > Indonesia.


    The Philippines is left out from this route, because it takes a flight to get here, whereas all the other destinations along this route can be reached using local transport like buses, trains and occasional boats. No flights are needed unless you are particularly short on time, or want to travel to the Philippines. 

    Best Places To Visit 

    Thailand

    Best places to visit: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, Khao Sok National Park, Krabi, Lanta, Koh Lipe.


    Laos

    Best places to visit: Luang Prabang, Nong Khiaw, Vang Vieng, Vientiane.


    Vietnam

    Best places to visit: Hanoi, Sapa, Halong Bay, Nha Trang Ho Chi Minh City, Dalat, Phu Quoc Island.


    Cambodia

    Best places to visit: Phnom Penh, Kampot, Koh Rong, Siem Reap.


    Peninsular Malaysia

    Best places to visit: Langkawi islands:, Penang, Taman Negara, Cameron Highlands, Kuala Lumpur.


    Singapore

    Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay, Sentosa.


    Indonesia

    Bali (Canggu, Kuta, Seminyak, Ubud), Sumatra, Java.


    Philippines

    Boracay, Cebu, Manila, Davao City.


    How To Meet People

    Southeast Asia is a very popular backpacking destination where you can find a lot of travelers to connect and share costs with. 

    Sharing costs with travel mates is the most cost-effective way of traveling around Southeast Asia. Splitting costs for accommodations, transportation, fuel, food, and even sometimes attractions with a group will cut down your costs by 50% or more.


    If you’re a solo traveler, you can find other travelers in Southeast Asia on GAFFL. You can use GAFFl to find other travelers to meet up, plan trips, and share costs with. 

    How To Keep Your Cost Low

    Other ways to save money include using cheap transportation, booking cheap accommodations, and finding free or low-cost activities.

    As previously stated, you don't need a plane ticket for cross-border travel in Southeast Asia  Most destinations can be reached by bus, train, or boat.


    If you are traveling within a city, you can easily get around by renting your own scooter rather than taking a taxi or Uber.

    Instead of staying in a hotel, consider staying in a backpacker hostel.


    A hostel bed costs between $3.50 and $18 USD per night.

    A private room costs between $10 and $80 USD per night.

    South East Asia has an abundance of street food, so you can get around by eating for cheap. Vietnam and Thailand are renowned for their street food.


    Street food in Southeast Asia costs between 80 cents and $4 USD per meal.

    Finally, instead of going on an expensive organized tour, plan your own outing with friends you meet at hostels or online on GAFFL. Most major sites in Southeast Asia are free to visit, and you can save a lot of money by simply making friends and splitting costs.

    Suggested Budget 

    If you stay in hostels, use affordable transportation options, eat cheap meals, and find free activities to do, you can do Southeast Asia on a budget of around $500 per month. I’d however recommend budgeting for around $1000 per month, because you never know when unexpected expenses might occur. 


    Best Time To Go

    Visiting Southeast Asia from November through February is generally the best time to visit because the weather is drier and cooler. Rainy season hits most of the region from June to August and it’s also very humid during this time of year.


    Safety Tips


    • Always let a friend or a family member know where you are & share your location with them via your mobile device.

    • Download an offline map and mark all the places you want to go ahead of time so you can navigate effectively.

    • Learn essential phrases in the local language so you can react quickly in an emergency.

    • It is always a good idea to purchase travel insurance when traveling alone. You never know what is going to happen. This typically includes medical and transportation insurance, as well as trip cancellation and hotel burglary insurance.

    • Just because you're traveling alone doesn't mean you can't take great pictures. Bring a tripod and take some amazing self-portraits.

    • Go out and meet locals and make new friends! You can also meet travelers and locals in Toronto on GAFFL.

    • Finally, just be mindful of your surroundings. If you’re drinking, always have your drink close to ensure nobody puts anything in it. If it’s dark out, instead of walking, take a cab or an uber. Keep your most important belongings close to you in pockets or front pouches instead of a backpack where it’ll be easier to pickpocket. 


    Essential Packing Items


    Knowing what to pack is a crucial part of any long-term backpacking trip. Here are some essentials that you should be packing for your backpacking trip in Southeast Asia.

    • Clothes for hiking and bad weather like trail-running shoes, protective sun hats, swimming gear, waterproof rain jackets, etc.
    • Navigation equipment like a map or having maps downloaded on your phone is always helpful in case you don't have internet connection. 


    • Essentials like bug repellent, sunscreen, and sunglasses, are all necessary if you’re planning outdoor adventures in Southeast Asia.
    • Toiletries cannot be forgotten like hand sanitizer, wipes, menstrual products, toothbrush and paste. 
    • First Aid Kit with a thermometer, bandages, antihistamines, otc medication, personal medication is definitely worth having. 


    • Without your Personal Documents like flight tickets, passport, credit/debit cards, and ID, this trip can’t happen, so don’t forget to pack them.
    Tired of traveling alone? Connect with users from over 190 countries to plan trips and travel together!
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