If you don’t have a lot of vacation time and yearn to explore South East Asia then read on to share in my epic adventure. Exploring seven cities in 3 weeks is quite the feat but it is totally doable in South East Asia because of the reasonable cost of flying in the region and travelling there on the whole.
South East Asia is a hit with budget travellers. This is because your money goes a far way and you can enjoy some great quality lodging, food,activities and things of that nature.
First stop, Bangkok
Bangkok is a city teeming with life and it’s the jump off point to many of it’s picturesque islands. The city itself has a range of places to explore. I mean there are everything from temples, to night shows, street food and other adventures.
Soak up the culture and the atmosphere by taking tuk-tuks around the city or the river boats from place to place. you can easily dedicate two full days to visiting the many beautifully adorned temples and check out the Chatuchak Market.
There are a range of budget accommodations in the city. Hostelworld and Booking.com are good places to start searching.
TIPs: Be wary of people(scammers) telling you a temple is closed and trying to lead you to shops to buy a range of products. Be on the alert for taxi drivers who do this too. Also, pay keen attention to what different bills look like and check your change well.
Fly to Hanoi next and on to Ho Chi Minh City to continue the Adventures
Just like that you are in a whole new country courtesy of one of the LCCs flying that route. To save on time fly from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh. This itinerary also has much to do with accessibility that a passport allows you. For Jamaicans, we need a visa for Thailand and Vietnam, which one must apply for at the embassies. For Cambodia we are privileged to have visa on arrival. Malaysia and Singapore are visa free. (This information is accurate as of the time of writing this post).
Back to talking about these two cities in Vietnam. Hanoi is the jumping off point to other areas such as Ha Long Bay. It is also a great city to explore by foot or using taxis – watch the meter and agree on a price before setting off.
Sitting by the Hoan Kiem lake is great for people watching and resting your feet after a day of trekking around.
Accommodations, food, transport and such are budget friendly and satisfying.
Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon is packed with history. The Chu Chi Tunnels and the War Remnants Museum among others are places to experience on a visit. The images are moving and the narratives are heart wrenching but worth learning about.
Spend around 2 – 3 days in each city getting a taste of what each has to offer and enjoy delicious pho and spring rolls followed up with some great coffee.
Take a Bus to Phnom Penh and then another to Siem Reap
There are some bus companies that go from Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh. Even with limited time it is a good option especially for budget travellers. This can be done in the day time so you can see some parts of each country, that you would not have had the chance to otherwise. One pesky thing though, is that immigration may not know that a particular country qualifies for visa on arrival because so few of its natives visit. My bus almost left me because it took a bit of time for the officer to verify this and that. I am always amazed at how limited this knowledge is, for those who should be experts.
Phnom Penh is worth exploring in a day to experience what it has to offer. Be alert to pickpockets as you travel in the region and be on guard. It is a reality of being a traveller in some of these South East Asian countries. Don’t relax even around the cute and friendly kids.
Siem Reap is a pretty special place because of Angkor Wat. It is worth exploring for a half a day or full day. Some people bike there or take a tuk-tuk or taxi for the duration of the trip. I believe going by car is good especially in the heat of summer. Things are really affordable and this is one city where my friend and I enjoyed a 4 start hotel for $40 a night, it was really lovely.
Many people go to Siem Reap to explore Angkor Wat mainly. I also had a blissful massage at Seeing Hands by a blind masseuse. Try it. It is for a great cause so it is worth supporting. I also really learnt much from our visit to the silk farm where we could see how silk is made from start to finish – very educational. It is quite a ways from the town to get there, so it is nice to see some other areas while going there. Siem Reap is on my list of places to visit again and explore in more depth, Cambodia on a whole actually. It is a great budget friendly destination if you are not afraid of a little grit and grime.
Fly to Malaysia and then Bus it to Singapore
Kuala Lumpur is an interesting city with great places for shopping and places such as the bird park that is a nice oasis in the city.
There are so many wonderfully delicious foods to partake of. You can eat your way through the city and be fully satisfied. It is pricier than some other cities in the region but still own’t break the bank. There are some really nice hostels for good prices for those on a small budget. Also the train system helps to get around the city easily as well as going to and form the airport. I plan to go back and explore other areas of the country.
Spend a few days exploring this city or even further a field before heading to Singapore.
Singapore is the pricey one of the bunch but there are hostels that offer decent lodgings. There are also Hawker Centres which offer quite a variety of tasty dishes at reasonable prices.
South East Asia is one of the easiest places to travel because the well established tourism infrastructure across the region. There are many activities for a diverse range of people who can play around with different itineraries.
For those with limited time because of their 9-5 jobs travelling there is quick and easy. In a week you can explore about 3 cities in two or so countries because low cost carriers offer good fares.
Here is a pretty good place to find the carriers in the region and plan your adventures. I am inspired to explore South East Asia anew and rework this itinerary, let’s see how that goes.