5 travel itineraries around Southeast Asia


You've already backpacked through South America, traveled across the United States and seen much of Europe. If you're foolish, you've even considered traveling to other corners of the world, such as Australia or South Africa. How about now embarking on a trip to the largest of continents? To help you with this, we set up five travel itineraries around Southeast Asia ready to use. And let me warn you: the invitation is also valid for those who have never been to another country, but want to start their travels off right. Asia, my friends, is fantastic and delights even first-timers.

What is Southeast Asia?

It's the entire region of Asia that lies below China and India, the yellow area on the map below. It includes eleven countries: Thailand, the favorite of tourists in the region, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Brunei, Burma, also known as Myanmar, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Philippines and Vietnam. It is an area with great cultural diversity, where almost 600 million people live. In some cases it is easy to travel between these countries, in others not so much.

Southeast Asia travel itinerary map

How to get to Southeast Asia?

Take a flight from Brazil, which costs from R$2800, which is a spectacular price, but not always available. On the other hand, tickets for up to R$3500 (without fees) are also not expensive, especially if they are purchased in advance or during high season. The cheapest tickets are usually to Bangkok, Thailand, and Singapore. To make life easier, the sample itineraries in this post start with Bangkok, precisely because of the price issue.

Did you find tickets to these cities at a good price? Buy. Once in Southeast Asia, you can travel by land, by train or bus, or by plane, with airlines such as Air Asia. And yes, these internal flights will often be necessary, after all the distances are not that short and a large part of Southeast Asia is made up of islands, such as Indonesia and the Philippines.

The tip for finding good prices is to monitor rates at least for the two cities mentioned above: Bangkok and Singapore. And also see our Asian monsoon guide – it's very important not to travel at the wrong time.

Southeast Asia travel itineraries

Thailand + Malaysia + Singapore: itinerary lasting around 20 days

This is a version similar to the script I wrote, with the absence of Indonesia. It's the ideal itinerary for those who want to visit more than one country, but have never been to Asia and are a little afraid to venture across the largest of continents. Why? Well, Singapore is a very developed city-state, a technology island surrounded by Southeast Asia. Malaysia, on the other hand, has problems typical of a developing country, but also looks like a modern place and has a great structure, especially in Kuala Lumpur. Of the three countries, the most challenging is Thailand, but nothing you need to worry about, I assure you.

Did you like this idea? So just look at the places you’ll pass through on this Southeast Asia travel itinerary:

  • Bangkok (three days)
  • Ayutthaya (um dia)
  • Chiang Mai (two days)
  • Phuket, Krabi or Ko Lipe (four days)
  • Langkawi (three days)
  • Kuala Lumpur (two days)
  • Malacca (one day)
  • Singapore (three days)

As said before, you will probably start your trip in Bangkok, as the cheapest tickets are often there. If this is the case, focus on three regions of Thailand: Bangkok (at least three days, plus one day to visit Ayutthaya, which is an hour from the capital), Chiang Mai (two days), in the north, and an island or beach (three days or much more, depending on how much you want to relax), in the south. Here we have some suggestions for travel itineraries in Thailand ready for you to copy.

You can do the Chiang Mai – Bangkok section by train, on a night trip that lasts around 14 hours. To travel between Chiang Mai and Phuket – the island from where you go to Phi Phi – Krabi, or Ko Lipe take a plane.

See too:
Tips for planning a trip to Thailand
How to travel by train in Thailand
How much does a trip to Thailand cost?

Buddha, Ayutthaya, Thailand.

Ayutthaya, Thailand

It's at this point that you change countries: head to Langkawi, which is to Malaysia what Phi Phi is to Thailand. In other words, we are talking about two paradises on Earth. The simplest way to cross is by ferry, as the two islands are on the same coast, in the Andaman Sea. But be careful: the trip, which is daily, takes around eight hours, so going by plane is also an interesting alternative, the only problem is that the flight may have a connection. If you opted for Ko Lipe back then, it's even easier, as the Thai island is just 2 hours away from the Malaysian paradise. You can book the ferry in advance here.

If you're not the type to get seasick and opt for the ferry, you'll arrive in Langkawi, where you can stay for a few more days. From there, take another ferry (this one faster) to mainland Malaysia. On the port side there will be a train station and a bus station, from where you can go to Kuala Lumpur, a journey that takes between six and eight hours, depending on the transport chosen.

Stay at least three nights in Kuala Lumpur and then go by bus to Malacca, a Portuguese colonized city that is well worth a visit. The stretch is covered in just under three hours. You'll be halfway to the final stop, Singapore, which takes at least three more days of travel. This section can also be done by bus. Take a new flight to Bangkok and enjoy a last day in the capital of Thailand.

Southeast Asia travel itineraries: Kuala Lumpur

On travel itineraries throughout Southeast Asia, travelers have the opportunity to navigate the contrasts between modernity and the region's ancient traditions.

Itinerary Thailand + Malaysia + Singapore + Indonesia: 25 days or more

Repeat all steps from the previous script. Did you arrive in Singapore? Excellent! Take a flight between Singapore and Bali, Indonesia. Operated by companies such as Air Asia, Jetstar, Singapore Airlines and even KLM, this flight lasts around 2h30 and has daily departures.

It is worth remembering that Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, is very far from Bali – the only practical way to travel this route is to buy a direct flight from Singapore to Bali. Otherwise you will have to take an insane sequence of buses, trains and boats. Therefore, the best thing to do is to buy round-trip flights between Bali and Singapore.

On this itinerary, you will visit:

  • All places on the previous itinerary (17 days)
  • Singapore (three days)
  • Bali (five days)

See too:
What to do in Bali
How to get around Indonesia
What to do in Singapore

Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam itinerary: 25-day itinerary through Southeast Asia

On this Southeast Asia travel itinerary you will visit:

  • Bangkok (three days)
  • Ayutthaya (um dia)
  • Beaches in Thailand (four days)
  • Siem Reap (five or six days)
  • Ho Chi Minh City (four days)
  • Hanoi (four days)
  • Bangkok (um him)

Get off in Bangkok and enjoy the city for a few days. Don't forget to also go to Ayutthaya. Do you have time to spare? Take a round-trip flight to a beach in Thailand, to escape the crowds of tourists, we suggest leaving aside the most famous islands and venturing to Ko Chang National Park, Trang or the paradisiacal islands in the Gulf of Thailand.

Did you go back to Bangkok? Excellent! Now it's time to leave for Cambodia. The easiest way to do this is to take a flight to Siem Reap. Air Asia, Bangkok Airways and Cambodia Angkor Air operate this route, with the flight lasting just over an hour. You can also go by land. To do this you need to go to Aranyaprathet, a city in Thailand that is on the border with Cambodia. This stretch can be done by bus or train, but most tourists opt for the bus, which is more practical. It's time to cross the border, which has a reputation for being full of tourist traps.

Go through immigration and enter Poipet, a city in Cambodia – it probably won't be as simple as writing this, but, well, a lot of people have already faced the journey. From there you can take a taxi to Siem Reap, which is about 150 kilometers away. Many travelers decide to split the taxi, avoiding major problems. Others go by bus. Details about this entire procedure at Travel Fish (in English). Do you know what's nearby? The Agkor Temple! The Vou Contigo blog tells you everything you need to know to visit Cambodia's biggest attraction.

cheap places to travel

Oi, Cambodia (Photo: Dennis Jarvis, Wikimedia Commons)

From Cambodia you can take a flight to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Cambodia Angkor Air and Vietnam Air have daily flights, which last less than an hour. Another alternative is to go overland, by bus, taking the opportunity to pass through Phnom Penh, the country's capital, on a journey of around six hours. The blogs Preciso Viajar and Viaggiando have posts about what to do in Phnom Penh.

Another 300 kilometers and, look, welcome to Vietnam. You can pass through other cities in the country, such as Hanoi, and then return to Bangkok. The blog Esse Mundo é Nosso has an interesting itinerary in the country.

Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos itinerary: itineraries of 30 or more days through Southeast Asia

Have you arrived in Vietnam and do you have time? So let's continue, Laos is right there. On this itinerary, you will visit:

  • All places on the previous itinerary (25 days)
  • Luang Prabang (five days)

Take advantage of crossing the border when you are in Hanoi – flights to Luang Prabang last two hours and are operated by Vietnam Airlines and Lao Airlines. As usual, Travel Fish is great at pointing out ways to do this stretch overland, but also at warning you that this could be a trap, Bino. Blogger Victoria Brewood took 38 hours to cover the stretch, along with other backpackers. Ultimately, it's at your own risk.

What to do in Laos? The Mochilão Trips and Escapismo Genuíno blogs help you with this. It's also worth reading the Quero Viajar Mais post, which has a different itinerary through Laos.

Backpacking through Southeast Asia: from 15 days to the rest of your life

Just like in the case of travel itineraries in South America, it is easy to see that you can mix these itineraries into a giant backpack, with the potential to last months. For example, you can do the entire route through Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, returning back to Thailand. If you don't want to repeat your trip to Bangkok, take a flight to Chiang Mai, the second largest city in the country, which is in the north and relatively close to Laos. Lao Airlines has a direct flight, lasting one hour and leaving daily (except Tuesdays).

From there you can catch a flight to islands that have direct connections with Malaysia, Singapore or even Bali. In other words, you can combine itinerary 4 with 2, for example, creating your super backpack.

Read too:
What to do in Chiang Mai

Where to stay in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Temples (Photo: Panupong Roopyai, Wikimedia Commons)

Other travel itinerary options in Southeast Asia

You can still go to the Philippines. You can go to East Timor. You can go from Southeast Asia to Asian giants, such as China or India (go by plane). But the most important tip is something else: unless you have time to spare, avoid running between countries. When I say that Bangkok lasts at least four days, that's at least real – you could spend much longer there, as well as in Bali, Langkawi, Kuala Lumpur, in short, anywhere.

Southeast Asia travel itineraries

Travel itineraries around Southeast Asia usually have Thailand as one of the main bases because of the flight options to the country.

If your time is short, choose a few destinations and make the most of them, even though the ticket to Asia is expensive and getting back there is far from easy. It is also worth remembering that all of these countries make for an isolated trip. It is possible to spend 30 days in Thailand alone and also 30 in Indonesia, for example. Just include cities other than those listed here, which are part of the most basic itinerary for these countries.

And you have more Southeast Asia travel itinerary tips to share? Leave it in the comments!

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