First-time backpacker’s guide to Southeast Asia!

First-time backpacker’s guide to Southeast Asia!

05/02/2020 Off By Peigi MacVicar

This guide is going to take you all the way through southeast Asia and make you aware of the do’s and don’ts of a first-time backpacker. Southeast Asia is a popular destination for first-time travellers and there’s a reason for that! It’s a pretty safe part of the world filled with some very tasty food and the friendliest locals who make it very easy to navigate. So, here’s the grand tour in all it’s glory…

Skygarden trees in Singapore
Gardens by the Bay ๐Ÿ“Singapore

The tour

We’d recommend starting with a bang and flying straight into Singapore! The skyscrapers shoot up around you and it’s a great place to get a taster of different corners of Asia. With Little India and Chinatown, you’ll be able to travel the continent in a day. But you won’t be satisfied with that, you’ll still want to to see more and that’s when you travel over to Indonesia for some time in the countryside. Indonesia is made up of 17,000 islands so there’s more to it than Bali – look out for Komodo Dragons while you’re there! Stop over in Timor Leste and stay in a traditional mountain village and check out some of the best reefs in the world! Keeping with the island theme it’s time to head up to the Philippines for a bit of diving, look at the colour of the sea!

Philippines sea
๐Ÿ“ The Philippines

Now it’s time for Brunei and Malaysia. Brunei’s Islamic architecture Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Towers will stun you. Outside of the cities don’t miss the Cameron Highlands, Penang Island for foodies and Langkawi for adventure seekers. Thailand and Cambodia are the must-visit countries of southeast Asia and are very easy to navigate. Party barefoot on the beach after trying out some fine Thai cuisine or go wild in Bangkok – there’s no shortage of activities in Thailand. Cambodia is temples and history you won’t forget, a place where you’ll feel truly at peace!

Kuala Lumpur cityscape at sunset
๐Ÿ“ Kuala Lumpur

From quiet fishing villages to vibrant megacities there’s almost too much to see in Vietnam. One of it’s defining features is Ha Long Bay where you’ll see green rocks shooting high out of the water, best seen on a boat trip! Last but not least we’ve got Laos and Myanmar. Laos’ waterfalls will soothe your soul so make sure you bring your swimming costume. Myanmar has age-old tradition, stupas wherever you look and everything’s GOLD! Committed to its faith Myanmar is a special place with lots to learn from.

Vietnamese countryside
๐Ÿ“ Vietnam

Some top-tips to remember;

  • Stay away from Western food – it will cost you and it’s never going to be as tasty as the local cuisines that are made with fresh ingredients. Say no to a burger and yes to some tasty Pad Thai.
  • Don’t feel the need to visit all the big landmarks you’ve seen on social media, instead allow yourself to be swept up by the general atmosphere of where you are and see where it takes you. The place is full of hidden excitement.
  • Remember that this guide includes all countries in Southeast Asia and as a first-time backpacker you might not want to visit them all at once! So, depending on your budget and the time you have, adapt this schedule to suit your own.
Backpacker walking towards mountains of Laos

When considering when to head out to these beautiful countries the best time of year is generally November to April however, Southeast Asia covers a lot of ground so there can be drastic differences from North to South and everywhere has a different rainy season. This could get confusing but the main points are;

  • Avoid Indonesia from December to February.
  • Malaysia and Singapore’s climate is best from January to March and May to September.
  • Vietnam is best from January to May.
  • November to February is the peak season for Thailand, avoid it from July to October.
  • For Cambodia and Laos November to April is the best time to visit!

Happy Backpacking!