One of my biggest adventures so far includes travelling around South East Asia and visiting 6 countries in 40 days. Being a bit time limited I had to spend a lot of time planning to ensure everything fit in. It goes without saying the trip was awesome and one of the best experiences of my life! Hopefully it can help you craft the best southeast Asia itinerary.
For this trip I decided to start in Thailand, and went on to visit Vietnam, followed by Cambodia, more of Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Indonesia. Below are some of the various experiences I got from the trip.
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My surprising favorite city in southeast Asia
One of my favourite experiences from this trip was travelling Vietnam. Mainly because it was completely different to what I was expecting and I was incredibly impressed by the people and culture. I was expecting the country to seem very poor and run down, and had previously read on Nomadic Matt’s blog that he’d never go back due to his experience (which he made sound bad). This almost put me off going there, but I’m glad I did go as I loved it. I found the people extremely nice and hard-working, I didn’t feel hassled or ripped off, I absolutely loved the food and generally got a very good vibe from the country.
I would say when travelling Vietnam I was more impressed by Hanoi as I loved the architecture, history and felt it really showed the culture of the people. Sapa was fun and very relaxing, and although extremely picturesque I found Hoi An a bit touristy.
Scary Moments in southeast Asia
A scary moment on the trip was when I was in Sapa and I somehow managed to lose my wallet which had several bank cards, my driving license and also a bit of cash! I was in quite a rural area at the time and could have been in a real pickle, but luckily I had some bank cards for my other accounts at the accommodation, as well as a bit more cash. This experience was a bit of an eye opener to how important it is to have backup ways to get cash or take precautions in the form of backup cards.
Random Traffic Problems in southeast Asia
Another strange experience I had, also in Vietnam, was when I was transferring from Sapa to the train station at Lao Cai. I was getting a night train at 9pm that evening, and left myself over 4 hours to get from Sapa to the train station (it should only take around 1-1.30 hours).
Then during this transfer randomly the minibus I was on stopped in a big queue of traffic and we were then there for around two hours. The driver didn’t speak English and decided to just get out and play card games with other drivers, whilst leaving me and around 10 other people in the minibus not knowing what’s going on! Eventually we got moving but still have no idea what the issue was, as we couldn’t see signs of an accident or anything. I did make it to my train in the end with around 30 minutes to spare, so it all worked out ok. Based on this experience it made me realize you really need a ton of buffer time when travelling around Asia!
Stunning Beaches in southeast Asia
About halfway through my 40 day trip I traveled south to Ko Phi Phi Island in Thailand. I had actually been here before, but with friends on more of a party/young person trip. This time I went more for photography and to capture content for my blog. I’ve been to a few incredible places in the world, but so far the beaches in Thailand, such as Maya Bay, are by far the most stunning I have ever seen.
Bucket List Moments in southeast Asia
I definitely ticked off a few bucket list moments whilst on my trip. One of these experiences included exploring the Ancient Temples of Angkor. As a big fan of Tomb Raider these temples were something I was keen to do. As a keen photographer I also decided to head there for sunrise. This is a popular thing to do and as the sun rose behind the temple it was quite magical!
Amazing food in southeast Asia
One of the most fantastic things I found about travelling around Asia was being able to try so many different cuisines. As someone that loves food, especially trying new dishes this was a wonderful part of the trip! I did however get a little unwell before arriving in Malaysia so I actually had a bit of trouble eating during this part of my trip.
Why this trip so special
I have travelled a lot over the years, and this trip was particularly special as it’s the first time I’ve travelled alone for such long periods. It was also my most complex trip in terms of organisation and making everything fit in. The trip turned out perfect with minimal issues, lots of amazing experiences and memories that will remain with me for the rest of my life.
Mike Clegg is a freelance travel photographer and blogger at Travel and Destinations who loves nothing more than to travel and share his experiences and photographs with others. He is originally from England but has also lived in Canada and Austria. Through his blog and social channels he provides inspiration and travel tips to help others on their journeys. You can also spend more time with Mike on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.