1 Month Itinerary: South East Asia


Southeast Asia is one of the most popular destinations for backpackers. It's easy to travel through, and the region is generally very cheap and budget-friendly. The food is amazing, the temples are beautiful, and there are so many activities to get involved with. From zip-lining in the jungle, hot air balloon rides, kayaking, caring for elephants or riding scooters through lush paddy fields - the choices are practically limitless. No matter what your interests are, there's something in SE Asia for everyone.

However, with countless places to see and things to do, if you're limited on time (and/or money!) how do you decide where to go?

Last summer my boyfriend and I initially set out to visit three countries: Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. We originally planned to spend several days in Thailand, and then the remainder of the trip split between Laos and Cambodia. Except three weeks into the trip, we felt completely content with the snippets we'd seen of each country, and had no real urge to visit anywhere else on our original itinerary.  Therefore, we decided to spend our final week in Malaysia and it was the best decision we could have possibly made!

That's the beauty of travelling. There's no right or wrong way to travel as everyone has their own ideas and preferences. Some people may choose to spend one month really getting to know a particular country, whereas others may prefer to see the highlights of a few countries instead in the same space of time.

Here's how we spent one month in SE Asia (beginning and ending in Bangkok, Thailand) :

Thailand (4-5 days):
The time I spent in Thailand was short, but very sweet. In all honesty, I never really planned on spending much time in Thailand purely because I was too excited about exploring Laos and Cambodia. However, Northern Thailand pleasantly surprised me, and I'm happy I didn't overlook it completely.

You Might Like: How To Spend 24 Hours In Bangkok, Thailand

We spent one day in Bangkok exploring the Grand Palace and checking out the Reclining Buddha, before hopping on the overnight train to Chiang Mai (which, by the way, is a great way to travel!). We then spent three amazing days in Chiang Mai. We explored temples and night markets, zip-lined through the jungle with Flight of the Gibbon, and spent an incredible day at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. 

To Read More: Three Amazing Days In Chiang Mai, Thailand

Laos (10 days):
Arguably the greenest country I have ever visited! Laos is full of lush paddy fields and gorgeous mountains. We spent the first couple of days in Luang Prabang, where we rode bikes and climbed to the top of Kuang Si Waterfall. Reminiscing now I can say this was one of my favourite days! Even if I did fall flat on the floor whilst climbing back down, covering myself head to toe in mud...

Check Out: 10 Must-Dos In Luang Prabang, Laos

We then spent two days in Vang Vieng, my favourite place of the entire trip. We went tubing down the Nam Song River, and spent hours swimming at the Blue Lagoon. We ate amazing food, and overall just had a great time. Vang Vieng isn't a party town anymore. Instead, it's a small town with a chilled out atmosphere, and I was more than okay with that.

You Might Like: Why I Fell In Love With Vang Vieng, Laos

After Vang Vieng we made a brief stop at Vientiane before heading to Kong Lor Cave. Looking back on this now, exploring the cave was interesting, but perhaps not worth the amount of time it took for us to travel there. After spending one night in the village near Kong Lor, we moved on to the 4000 Islands. We stayed on Don Det Island, where we went kayaking and explored the nearby waterfalls. From the 4000 Islands, it's then really easy to take a bus into Cambodia.

For a more in-depth itinerary check out: 10 Day Itinerary: Laos

Cambodia (9 days):
We started our time in Cambodia exploring Siem Reap, the home of the eighth Wonder of the World, The Temples of Angkor. However, it turns out that Siem Reap has so much more to offer travellers than just a place to sleep to visit Angkor Wat. There are great night markets, bars and restaurants (seriously, check out Pub Street), as well as the option to take a cooking class or get a massage.

Check Out: 6 Things To See And Do In Siem Reap Besides Angkor Wat

That being said, the Temples of Angkor are one of the most visited UNESCO World Heritage Sites for a reason. Hire a tuk-tuk driver for the day to take you from temple to temple and you won't regret it. Some of the most well-known ones are Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm and Bayon, which are all worth checking out. A popular thing to do is watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat, but be sure to arrive early!

You Might Like: Visiting The Temples of Angkor In Cambodia!

After spending a couple of days in Siem Reap, we spent a day or so in Phnom Penh. You can't leave the capital without visiting The Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, where you learn about Cambodia's tragic past under the ruling of Pol Pot. It's heartbreaking to hear about, but if you don't go you will never fully understand how Cambodia reached where it is today. From Phnom Penh, we briefly stopped in Sihanoukville, before spending a few relaxing days on Koh Rong Sanloem Island.

For a more detailed description: 9 Day Itinerary: Cambodia

Malaysia (7 Days):
From Cambodia we then flew to Kuala Lumpur. We spent just over a day in the capital city, visiting the Petronas Twin Towers, the Menara Tower and the well known Batu Caves. We found the public transport in KL really easy to use, but taxis are also a good option.

You Might Enjoy Reading: A Mini-Guide To Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

From Kuala Lumpur, we travelled north to the Cameron Highlands, giving us a refreshing break from the humidity as the temperature rarely creeps above 20 degrees Celsius. The Cameron Highlands are well known for their tea plantations, strawberry fields and hiking trails, and the best way to get a taste of everything is by joining an organised day tour.

Check Out: Visiting The Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

After the Cameron Highlands we went on the hunt for delicious street food in Penang, which certainly didn't disappoint! We didn't spend too long here, but the time we did have was well spent exploring temples, visiting Penang Hill, and eating lots of curries and dumplings. We then got the ferry to Langkawi where we spent a couple of days on the beach and visiting the Langkawi Sky Bridge.

Our full itinerary can be found here.

From Langkawi we then travelled south back to Kuala Lumpur, where we flew back to Bangkok. Thus completing our loop around Southeast Asia! I know that a popular route is to travel through Thailand, into Laos and Cambodia, and then into Vietnam. However, since I visited Vietnam separately in August 2015, adding Malaysia to our trip was the perfect addition!

You Might Like: Vietnam: Our Three Week Backpacking Itinerary


You Might Also Like