11 Suggested Itinerary and Backpacking Route in South East Asia

By Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor August 23rd, 2021 Posted in Asia Travel Blog, Destination, DIY Travel, Travel Blog, Travel Guides No comments

If you have the time, there are several different ways to explore countries, and each traveler likes to take various approaches – some like to arrive in one place and gather their bearings before they decide on which parts to explore, while other like to have their places to visit outlined before they arrive.

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If you have little or no idea of where to travel in Southeast Asia, the following section will give you suggestions on routes and activities to get the most out of your travel.  This section is separated into short term trips of less than two weeks and longer-term journeys.  Suggested travel time is provided at the beginning of each itinerary.

Short Term Journeys

1. Indonesia

(7 days) Your journey begins in the capital, Jakarta, where you can immerse yourself in the history and culture of Indonesia, with visits to the National Museum and Kota Tua or Old Town of Jakarta.  You may also be interested in visiting the Monas Observatory Tower to get a great view of the whole city.  It’s then onto Surabaya where you can witness locals involved in the hand-making of cigarettes at the House of Sampoerna or climb to the peak of the majestic Mt Bromo.

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From here, it’s a hop East to the lively island of Bali.  There are two main areas to visit.   The south of the island is where you can enjoy the bustling nightlife or sample some fine cuisine at many of the restaurants in the area.  Once you feel that you’re all partied out, head to the centre of the island for a more relaxed atmosphere.  Here, you can visit the Sacred Monkey Forest of Ubud or the rice terraces.

2. Borneo and Brunei

(8 days) This itinerary starts on the Eastern side of Borneo in Kota Kinabalu, where you can explore the beautiful peak of Mount Kinabalu, or explore the waters that surround the bay.  From here it’s onto Brunei Darussalam and the capital of Bandar Seri Begawan or Bandar for short.  Here, you can visit the local mosques with their breath-taking architecture or the Brunei Arts and Handicraft Centre for some gifts.  Finally, head west towards Kuching and enjoy the local culture in the Sarawak Cultural Centre and Museum.

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3. Malaysia and Singapore

(9 days) Begin your journey by venturing into the Cameron Highlands and visiting the tea plantations or viewing the mossy forest from Mount Brinchang.  Its then time to explore the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, and the iconic Petronas towers or try the delicious Nasi Lemak, the national dish.

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The next destination to visit is the city-state of Singapore.  There are many places to be explored here, such as the culturally significant Chinatown and Sentosa Island for a lot of fun-filled activities.  You can also explore the Hawker’s Markets for some tasty dishes at an affordable price.

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Finally, its back into Malaysian territory to enjoy Kota Kinabalu and the mystical Mount Kinabalu or waterfront activities along Jesselton Point.

4. Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos

(12 days) Start your journey in Hanoi, where you can get your cultural fix at the Museum of Ethnology or view the Golden Bell Show with its various dances and performances from all over Vietnam.  From here, head down the coast to Hue and view the impressive Imperial Citadel and its pavilions, temples, and galleries.  The last destination in Vietnam is the iconic Ho Chi Minh City, with attractions such as the War Remnants Museum and Mekong Delta Cruise for you to enjoy.

From here, the next destination in Cambodia is Phnom Penh and the chilling Choeung Ek Killing Fields, to get your history fix and to help you appreciate the life that little bit extra.  The final place to visit in the country is the iconic Siam Reap for the Angkor Wat temples.

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Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Vientiane is the capital of Laos and the best place to conclude your journey through these three wonderful countries.  Here, you should visit Xieng Khuan Buddha Park with its countless number of Buddha statues and get involved in some sunset aerobics along the boulevard next to the Mekong.

5. Thailand and Malaysia Peninsula

(12 days)  Start your journey through Thailand and Malaysia in Chiang Mai, where you can explore the Elephant Nature Park for rescued elephants or take a cooking class and become familiar with famous Thai cuisine as you put it together yourself.  Next, move onto the hustle of the capital of Bangkok and Khlong Lat Mayom floating markets for an unforgettable experience, or hop on a boat along Chao Phraya River for many interesting views of local life.  From here, Phuket is a great beach destination to break up the hustle of Bangkok, as well as for the chance to play with baby tigers in the Kathu Tiger Kingdom.

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From here, head towards Malaysia and the Cameron Highlands to visit the tea plantations or to view the wonderful landscapes in the area.  Finally, it’s onto the capital Kuala Lumpur to visit the iconic Petronas towers or to visit the nearby Batu Caves.

6. Thailand and Myanmar

(12 days) Begin your journey in a relaxed way by visiting the tropical paradise of Phuket and do a day trip out to the beautiful Phi Phi Island.  Your next destination will take up a more upbeat change with a visit to Bangkok – here, you should take a boat along the Chao Phraya River for views of temples, luxurious buildings, and also wooden shacks and colonial buildings in various states.  Finally, head towards Chiang Mai and take a cooking class to sample some beautiful Thai cuisine that you put together yourself, or visit the perspective-bending 3D art museum.

The first stop to visit in Myanmar is the capital Yangon, and the National Museum with its many artifacts from across the country.  Finally, it’s onto Mandalay and the regal Mandalay Palace that consists of several grand pavilions and chambers.

Long Term Journeys

7. Indonesia and Timor Leste

(19 days) Start your journey of the archipelago in the capital, Jakarta, and immerse yourself in the history and culture of Indonesia, with visits to the National Museum and Kota Tua or Old Town of Jakarta.  You may also be interested in visiting the Monas Observatory Tower to get a great view of the whole city.  From here, head towards Yogyakarta and experience a more traditional cultural experience by visiting the Batik Museum or the Borobudur Temple.  It’s then onto Surabaya where you can witness locals involved in the hand-making of cigarettes at the House of Sampoerna or climb to the peak of the truly awesome Mt Bromo.

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From here, it’s a hop East to the lively island of Bali, where you can easily spend a few days in each section of the island.  Begin your stay in the South of the island, where you can enjoy the bustling nightlife or sample some fine cuisine at many of the restaurants in the area.  Head to the centre of the island to visit the Sacred Monkey Forest of Ubud or the rice terraces, and finally head east for the summit of Mt Agung and a more laidback coastal life.

It’s then another island-hop east towards Flores to visit an iconic animal, the Komodo Dragon, in Komodo National Park.  When you’re close to the animal, make sure you exercise a degree of caution!

Finally, end your time in Dili, the capital of one of the newest nations in the world East Timor, and relax on the beach or get involved in some diving.

8. Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei

(17 days)  A good exploration of this region begins in Georgetown and here you can gather a view of the whole city from the funicular or a particularly great attraction to view up close is the Pinang Peranakan Mansion, with its rich architecture.  From here, venture into the Cameron Highlands and visit the tea plantations or view the mossy forest from Mount Brinchang.  Its then time to explore the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, and the iconic Petronas towers or try the delicious Nasi Lemak, the national dish.  The last place to visit on the Peninsula is Melaka.  The best way to take in the attractions that surround the town is by taking a river cruise.

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The next destination to visit is the city-state of Singapore.  There are many places to be explored here, such as the culturally significant Chinatown and Sentosa Island for a lot of fun-filled activities.  You can also explore the Hawker’s Markets for some tasty dishes at an affordable price.

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After exploring Singapore, its time to island hope once more and visit Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of Brunei Darussalam.  Here you will be amazed by the rich architecture on display at the mosques and view the Arts and Handicraft Market for some gifts.  Finally, it’s back into Malaysian territory to enjoy Kota Kinabalu and the mystical Mount Kinabalu or the beautiful waterfront along Jesselton Point.

9. Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos

(21 days)  Your journey through this part of the world begins in the north of Vietnam, in a wonderful town called Sapa.  Here, you can visit the beautiful Muong Hoa Valley or spend some time trekking through the valley.  It’s then onto Hanoi, where you can get your cultural fix at the Museum of Ethnology or viewing the Golden Bell Show with its various dances and performances from all over Vietnam.  From here, you can head south to Hue and view the impressive Imperial Citadel and its pavilions, temples, and galleries.  Nha Trang is the next place you should visit, with the beach and Vinpearl Amusement Park some great places to visit.  The last destination in Vietnam is the iconic Ho Chi Minh City, with attractions such as the War Remnants Museum and Mekong Delta Cruise for you to enjoy.

The first place worth visiting when you arrive in Cambodia is Kampot and the Phnom Bokor National Park.  From here, the next destination to visit in Phnom Penh and the chilling Choeung Ek Killing Fields to help you appreciate the life that little bit extra.  At this point, it’s then onto Kratie to view the peaceful Mekong River dolphins.  The final place to visit in the country is the iconic Siam Reap for the Angkor Wat temples.

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Vientiane is the capital of Laos and the most convenient place to visit when arriving from Cambodia.  Here, you should visit Xieng Khuan Buddha Park with its countless number of Buddha statues and get involved in some sunset aerobics along the boulevard next to the Mekong.  The last place to visit on your epic journey in Luang Prabang to view the alms giving ceremony between monks and locals – a truly humbling experience.

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10. Thailand and Malaysian Peninsula

(17 days)  Start your journey through Thailand and Malaysia in Chiang Mai, where you can explore the Elephant Nature Park for rescued elephants or take a cooking class and become familiar with Thai cuisine as you put it together yourself.  From here, move to Ayuthaya for the many temples and buildings in the Historical Park.  Next, move onto the hustle of the capital of Bangkok and Khlong Lat Mayom floating markets for an unforgettable experience, or hop on a boat along Chao Phraya River for many unforgettable views of local life.  It’s then onto the tropical paradise of Koh Samui, where you can also visit the Big Buddha Temple.  Phuket is also a great beach destination, as well as for the chance to play with baby tigers in the Kathu Tiger Kingdom.

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Malaysia awaits and the first destination is Georgetown, where you can visit Pinang Peranakan Mansion, with its rich architecture, or gather a greater view of the whole area by catching the funicular.  From here, head towards the Cameron Highlands to visit the tea plantations or to view the wonderful landscapes in the area.  Finally, it’s onto the capital Kuala Lumpur to visit the iconic Petronas towers or to visit the nearby Batu Caves.

11. Thailand and Myanmar

(17 days)  Begin your journey in a relaxed way by visiting the tropical paradise of Phuket and do a day trip out to the amazing Phi Phi Island.  From here, move onto another wonderful beach destination in Koh Samui, or visit the wonderful Big Buddha Temple.  Your next destination will take up a more upbeat change with a visit to Bangkok.  Here, you should take a boat along the Chao Phraya River for views of temples, luxurious buildings, and also wooden shacks and colonial buildings in various states.  Move onto Ayuthaya, and the chance to have a homestay with a difference – help out at an elephant orphanage.  Finally, head towards Chiang Mai and take a cooking class to sample some beautiful Thai cuisine that you put together yourself, or visit the perspective-bending 3D art museum.

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The first stop to visit in Myanmar is the capital Yangon, and the National Museum with its many artifacts from across the country.  From here, move onto the beautiful Inle Lake and a tour of the lake is a must-do, for the floating garden alone.  It’s then onto Mandalay and the regal Mandalay Palace that consists of several grand pavilions and chambers.  Finish your journey of mysterious Myanmar in Bagan.  Here, some must-see attractions include the many temples and Mount Popa.

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Written by Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor

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