Southeast Asia Itinerary

Coron, Philippines | Southeast Asia 4 Month Itinerary

Southeast Asia Planning Part 2About a year ago I started planning a four-month trip through Southeast Asia. I reached out to all of you beautiful people and you helped me shape a pretty epic trip (click HERE for my first Southeast Asia post!) While I didn’t see everything I wanted to see, I was able to explore 6 amazing countries and visit over 30 cities!

This is a breakdown of my entire trip, including how much I spent, how I got to each country and a few of the highlights in each place!

My goal was to spend around $1,000 (USD) a month (or around $30 a day!), including accommodation, food, transportation – everything. I tracked my spending each day on an iPhone app (“Expense”), which helped me stay within budget. After a summary of each country, I’ll list the TOTAL expenses of the entire trip.

It’s definitely possible to travel around Southeast Asia on a $1000/month budget – most people we met spent even less! I could’ve saved more if I stayed in more hostels (the boyfriend and I usually got a private room with a bathroom and splurged a few times on some pretty amazing suites) or didn’t go scuba diving (about $300 extra). So many people were asking how I was able to travel so much, but the truth is – it’s SO much cheaper to travel around Southeast Asia than it is to live pretty much anywhere in California. So here it is – a summary of our 4 months in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines!

Southeast Asia Itinerary


Country #1: Thailand

How I Got Here: Flight from Busan, South Korea → Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia → Bangkok, Thailand ($216 via Air Asia)

When: March 19th – April 18th (1 month)

Cities and Landmarks Visited:

•  Bangkok
•  Elephant Nature Park
•  Chiang Mai: Bua Tong Waterfall, Sunday Night Market, Ladyboy Cabaret Show, Doi Suthep National Park, Doi Inthanon National Park, Songkran Festival (click HERE for day trips from Chiang Mai!)
•  Pai: Tham Lod Cave, Pai Canyon

Total Spent$1,107

*NOTE: The Elephant Nature Park cost 12,000 baht or ~$330 of this total (expensive but definitely worth it – 7 [all-inclusive] days of playing with elephants)

Country #2: Vietnam

How I Got Here: Flight from Chiang Mai → Bangkok → Ho Chi Minh ($129 via Air Asia)

When: April 18th – May 9th (3 weeks)

Cities and Landmarks Visited/Our Motorbiking Route:

•  Ho Chi Minh: War Remnants Museum, Notre Dame Basilica
•  Mui Ne: Red Sand Dunes
•  Nha Trang: Scuba diving
•  Hoi An
•  Hue
•  Dong Hoi: Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, Dark Cave
•  Cua Lo
•  Ninh Binh: Tam Coc, Mua Cave
•  Halong: Cat Ba Island, Private boat around Ha Long and Lan Ha Bay
•  Hanoi

*Click HERE for more information on our motorbiking trip through Vietnam!

Total Spent: $872

Country #3: Laos

How I Got Here: Overnight bus from Hanoi, Vietnam → Luang Prabang, Laos (1.1 million Vietnamese Dong or ~$50USD)

When: May 10th – May 19th (10 days)

Cities and Landmarks Visited:

•  Luang Prabang: Mt. Phousi, Kuang Si Waterfalls
•  Vang Vieng: Tubing, Blue Lagoon, Organic Farm
•  Bolaven Plateau: Tad Champi, Tad Gneang, Sinouk Coffee Plantation, Tad Hang, Tad Lo, Tad Phousi

Total Spent: $285

Cambodia FlagCountry #4: Cambodia

How I Got Here: Bus from Pakse, Laos → Phnom Penh, Cambodia (220K Laos Kip or ~$27USD + $35USD for visa + $2USD fee)

When: May 19th – May 26th (1 week)

Cities and Landmarks Visited:

•  Phnom Penh: Killing Fields, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
•  Siem Reap: Angkor temples

Total Spent: $359

Indonesia FlagCountry #5: Indonesia

How I Got Here: Flight from Siem Reap, Cambodia → Bali, Indonesia ($115 via Air Asia)

When: May 26th – June 24th (one month)

Cities and Landmarks Visited:

•  Ubud: Yoga classes at Yoga Barn and Radiantly Alive, cycling through rice paddies, trekking Campuhan Ridge, hiking Mt. Batur, Tegallalong Rice Terraces
•  Kuta: Sea turtle release
•  Uluwatu
•  Gili Trawangan: Snorkeling with sea turtles
•  Tanah Lot: Melasti Beach
•  Seminyak
•  Canggu
•  Balangan Beach

Total Spent: $1,188

Philippines flagCountry #6: Philippines

How I Got Here: Flight from Bali, Indo → Manila, Philippines ($139 via Air Asia)

When: June 24th – July 21st (1 month)

Cities and Landmarks Visited:

•  Manila
•  El Nido: Boat Tours, Snorkeling, SUP
•  Coron Island: Scuba diving, Boat Tours
•  Puerto Princesa: Underwater River

Total Spent: $1,141

♦Backpacking Southeast Asia Total Expenditures♦

Southeast Asia Total Expenditures

Some Things to Note:

Accommodation:

Most of our accommodation, like I said before, were private rooms in guest houses. We usually booked through Agoda and sometimes, we would just show up somewhere and find a place. Accommodation is plentiful in Southeast Asia and it’s definitely not necessary to book far in advance (unless there’s a big event/festival going on). We usually tried to spend less than $15USD per person on accommodation each night.


Food:

And also drinks, which were more expensive in a lot of these countries (but still about $1 a beer). We ate a lot of street food and would buy food at supermarkets when we were staying in one place for a while.

Travel: 

The things I included under this category were transportation within each country (trains, buses, ferries, motorbike rentals, gas for motorbikes, “jeepneys/songthaews/tuk tuks/trikes” – local forms of transport, and the occasional taxi) and also overland transport from one country to another (overnight buses, usually). One reason Vietnam was pretty cheap was because we bought motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh, rode them up to Hanoi and resold them there. I wouldn’t recommend this terrifying trip however, but I’ll get into that another time.

Activities:

Under this category, is entry to temples/national parks/museums/etc, organized tours (that we tried to stay away from), snorkel/bicycle rentals, yoga classes, etc. I also included scuba diving (around $300) and the Elephant Nature Park ($330) in this category.

Other:

I have a problem with impulse shopping, which I filed under this category. I also included toiletries, laundry, and other random things.

Plane Pic California
Flying over California

Flights:

My initial flight to Thailand was from South Korea, so it was only about $220USD. Air Asia usually had the best deals between countries and we usually bought them within a week before flying. The $1200 also includes my $560 flight from the Philippines to San Francisco!

Visas:

Visa fees varied in each country, but were usually around $35USD (if you cross overland, they might charge an extra $2-$5 for random fees) – I tried to research beforehand how much they would be but different sites give different information. When crossing borders in Southeast Asia, make sure to have at least $50USD with you for visas! Sometimes they will require a passport photo (if you don’t have one, then they’ll charge extra), so bring a bunch, just in case!

Happy Traveling and hope this helped some of you plan your next adventure :)

 


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11 Comment

  1. Anna says: Reply

    Hi!

    This was so helpful – thanks for all the info. I have a few questions, mainly about the climate and the weather.

    I have a flight booked to Bangkok (via Singapore) for March 2017, I am super excited but also very anxious about how hot it is going to be. I am from New Zealand so I’m used to pretty hot weather in summer but not necessarily the humidity.

    I’ve read that March-April is very very hot and I am wondering if I would cope. Did you find Northern Thailand around Chang Mai mangeable? And was Laos really hot too?

    Also, how did you get from Northern Thailand to the Thai Islands? (or did you not? I might have missed that).

    Many thanks for your help! Anna

    1. Kirsten Joelle says: Reply

      Hi Anna,

      Yeah, it was pretty hot when I went there from March – May. I remember it being manageable, however, and it’s definitely not something I remember hindering my experiences! They also have the Songkran festival during the hottest time of year and it’s seriously the best time ever! Laos was also really hot but again, not unbearable! I didn’t actually go to the Thai islands on this trip, but the time I went before, I believe I flew into Phuket from Bali and then from Phuket – Bangkok.

  2. Great article!
    It is always great to see how other people travel and how much it costs.

  3. Camille says: Reply

    Do you have a packing list for this trip?

  4. Kirsten says: Reply

    Hello,
    It’s been so interesting to read about your travels in Southeast Asia! I’m hoping to plan a very quick trip in October/November of 2016 and your post has great information to help narrow down all the options. If you don’t mind I have a couple of quick questions. First, although I know 2 weeks is not nearly enough time do you think it’s feasible to visit Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia in that time frame? Also, since it would only be for two weeks could you make a suggestion as to what a highlight or two of each country is? I know that’s hard as there is so much to see and do. It’s a little overwhelming! Thank you in advance!

    1. Kirsten Joelle says: Reply

      Like you said, it would be difficult to really see each of these countries in only two weeks. It’s definitely doable, but it will end up costing more, being more rushed and stressful, and you overall won’t get as much out of your travels. I can’t stress enough how much easier and better traveling slowly is! It’s hard, I know, because you want to go to so many places, but you can always take another trip!

      My personal favorites of each country: Thailand – the islands down south are BEAUTIFUL. But very touristy. I had a great time down there but I had such an amazing time at the Elephant Nature Park near Chiang Mai, which is probably my #1 favorite thing in Thailand. But if you’re going in November, that’s when the lantern festival is – Loi Krathong, which definitely shouldn’t be missed!

      Laos – Vang Vieng was incredibly beautiful and picturesque. The “tubing scene” is kind of dying but there are still fun things to do like go rock climbing, float the river, trekking, etc. One of my favorite places in Laos was the Kuang si waterfalls, near Luang Prabang. So beautiful!

      Cambodia – if you’re only here a short time, I’d say you have to check out the temples in Siem Reap! They’re amazing and make sure to see more than just Angkor Wat. My personal favorites were Ta Prohm and Bayon!

      Vietnam – this one is really hard, as I was able to spend 4 weeks in Vietnam and loooved every part of it. My favorite place was Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, hands down. But as this is far from both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh (the 2 biggest cities), it might be hard to venture here during your trip. I also preferred HCM over Hanoi. I liked the overall atmosphere and vibes of the city more. Not a lot of big tourist attractions, but it’s very cultural, busy and has a lot of great food!

      Hope this helped a bit, I know it’s overwhelming planning for trips like these!

  5. Ceri says: Reply

    I will definitely be heading to these places for some adventures in the next year or two. I’m moving to Singapore next month and the flights from there to these countries are insanely cheap. There’s no way I’ll be able to resist. (And will definitely be checking back here through your posts for recommendations 😉 )

  6. Niamh says: Reply

    Hey I’m planning to do a similar trip and around the exact same dates just for 2016!So I’m particularly interested how you found the weather did you find any of the rainy season bad and what average temperatures were during the day in each country and by night if you remember! !Thanks so much for the great post!!

    1. Kirsten Joelle says: Reply

      Thailand was suuuuper hot in March/April! I was in the Philippines in June/July (rainy season) and there were 3 typhoons when we were in Palawan/El Nido. It definitely affected our trip but we were lucky that we had a lot of time and were able to wait out the rain. But yeah, typhoons are no joke haha.

  7. This was a very interesting post to read. It’s crazy how cheap these places ended up (I’m quite shocked actually)

    1. Kirsten Joelle says: Reply

      Yeah it’s pretty crazy how far money can stretch in Southeast Asia, especially when you have the luxury of time to take slower methods of transport and get better deals on guesthouses!

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