How To See The Best Of SE Asia Alone: The Ultimate Southeast Asia Itinerary

Before planning the ultimate Southeast Asia itinerary, I watched every single Anthony Bourdain episode I could find on SE Asia because he’s the GOAT. Then I read countless blog posts, travel articles, and Lonely Planet forums, taking pages of notes and pinning obsessively. All the hours of extensive research and personal experiences are what led me to create and curate the ultimate Southeast Asia itinerary.

What makes this itinerary so great is that it not only covers SE Asia, but also Bali, Singapore, and Australia as well. I spent about two months abroad, but you can spend as much or as little time in each place, it all depends on your personal preferences. You might meet some really cool people on your travels who will change your original itinerary which is why I recommend you create a rather flexible plan. Keep an open mind. The great thing about SE Asia is that everything is cheap compared to the US, including transportation. So last minute plans won’t break your bank. You may hate one city and then love the next. That’s the beauty of experiencing the world for yourself – you find out what you like and don’t like. Life is about creating yourself, more than finding yourself.

The way I did it is…

I made a list of highlights in each country, with no set dates but a general idea. Then I booked flights and transportation along the way with many alterations, using Skyscanner to see where I should fly next. The whole point of traveling SE Asia is to learn about the different cultures, create memories, and live in the moment.

I hope this SE Asia itinerary helps you when you’re planning your future trip of a lifetime. Remember to go at your own pace and experience as much as you can. It’s not how much you see, but how you see it, and the memories you make. I promise that this is an unforgettable trip and highly encourage you to embark on this journey. Make sure to read all the way to the end for additional tips. Without further adieu, here is the ultimate Southeast Asia itinerary which consists of the absolute best experiences.

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*This itinerary is for 7 weeks, but you can change the days spent in each country depending on your preferences.*

Bali – Singapore – Thailand – Cambodia – Vietnam – Laos – Australia

1 Week In Bali

I started my trip flying from Miami to Bali. If I had more time, I would have gone back and ended my trip there as well.

Uluwatu, Bali - Indonesia

Where to go / What to do

  • Rent a motorbike and ride through the rice fields on your way to Padang-Padang Beach
  • Padang-Padang Beach
  • Canggu Beach – great for surfing
  • Ubud – I didn’t get the chance to go, but I have heard the rice fields are a must.
  • Single Fin Cliff Beach Bar in Uluwatu
  • Uluwatu Beach
  • Uluwatu Temple
  • Potato Head Beach Club for sunset and cocktails

Potato Head Beach Club - Bali Sunset

Where to stay

  • Awarta Nusa Dua Luxury Villas, W Retreat and Spa, Viceroy in Uluwatu, Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay, Bulgari Hotels and Resort, Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua, The Mulia, The Oberoi Hotel, The Bale and Ayana (make sure to go to The Rock Bar there).

How To See The Best Of Southeast Asia Alone: The Ultimate Itinerary

Other tips

  • Avoid Kuta. It’s very touristy and the least safest area.
  • Weed is illegal in Bali and you can go to jail for buying it so be careful.
  • Try taking a trip out to the Gili Islands for a couple days. I didn’t have enough time to do this, but I’ve only heard great things.
  • A really great tool to use for figuring out different ways of transportation from point A to point B is Rome2Rio.
  • Skyscanner is the best website for finding the cheapest flights. You can just set the destination as “everywhere” to see where there are cheap flights to.

2 Day Stopover In Singapore

You can get a flight going from Bali to Thailand with a long layover in Singapore.

Where to go / What to do

  • Sky on  57 – a rooftop bar you MUST experience. A local Singaporean snuck us up here to see the view and it was truly incredible.
  • Shop at the colonial malls and local markets – I recommend the Clarke Quay shopping mall – there’s a ton of great food places, shopping, bars, and a club.

How To See The Best Of Southeast Asia Alone: The Ultimate Itinerary - Singapore

Where to stay

  •  Raffles Hotel, Marina Bay Sands, Carlton Hotel Singapore, or the Peninsula Excelsior Hotel.

Other tips

  • Singapore is only 26 miles wide and 14 miles long so it doesn’t take long to get around. I only stayed 2 days here, but I recommend staying 4-5 days to really see everything and get to know the culture.
  • Singapore is one of the safest, richest, and cleanest countries in the world. Make sure to respect their country and do not litter. Littering and spitting on the ground is illegal.
  • Other fun things to do are to visit Universal Studios Singapore, the MegaZip zip line at Sentosa, the KF1 Karting circuit at Kranji, casinos at Marina Bay Sands and Resorts, World Sentosa and water parks throughout the city.

2 Weeks In Thailand

Fly from Singapore to Krabi, Thailand and then take a quick boatride to Railay Beach!railay-beach10

1 Week In Krabi, Railay Beach, and Ko Phi Phi

Where to go / What to do

  • Railay Beach is only accessible by boat from the mainland. From this area you can take tours to other islands which makes it a great home base while in Thailand. I recommend staying here for a week to really allow yourself to relax and explore everything around this area.

railay-beach-sunset28

  • Groups tours are the BEST in Krabi/Railay Beach area.
  • Hike at Railay Beach.
  • Tonsai Beach – they have special mushroom milkshakes there.
  • Phra Nang Beach
  • Ko Phi Phi if you like to party. Okay, so I don’t recommend Ko Phi Phi just because I thought it was too intense, but if you are looking to party with a ton of Australians, then this is for you. I stayed here for 2 nights and then headed back to Railay Beach. You have to take a boat to Ko Phi Phi so try to plan that before the day of.

Where to stay

  • Railay Garden View Resort (~$20 a night) If you are looking for luxury then stay at a hotel on Railay Beach. If you are looking for cheap alternatives – there’s a ton of hostels with English speaking people to help you navigate in Krabi and Ko Phi Phi.

Other tips

  • Only drink bottled water and be prepared for food poisoning.
  • The group tours are the BEST way to meet people. I still keep in contact with a handful of the people I met on the group tours.
  • Hostels are really hit or miss. One hostel I stayed at in Ko Phi Phi was one of the worst experiences on this trip. The only room left was a community room which means you’re in a room with other people who are usually drunk because people travel to Ko Phi Phi to party. So it was about 8 people in this room. I heard a guy jerking off. He didn’t finish. Boys have cooties.

5 Days In Chiang Mai, Thailand

Hop on a quick flight from Krabi to Chiang Mai.

IMG_5164Where to go / What to do

  • Elephant Nature Park – schedule this at least a week in advance!
  • Learn how to harvest rice at the Four Seasons Chiang Mai and feed the ox
  • Get a massage in town (they’re about $5-10)
  • Night markets
  • Visit a few of the many temples

Where to stay

IMG_4268 2 copy

2 Days In Bangkok, Thailand

Hop on a quick flight from Chiang Mai to Bangkok.

Where to go / What to do

  • Skybar – the rooftop bar from the Hangover.
  • Shop at all the malls: EmQuartier for luxury, CentralWorld for everything, Siam Paragon – also for everything and MBK to shop and play video games.
  • Afternoon tea at the Mandarin Oriental.
  • Take a boat ride along the Chao Phraya River.
  • Chinatown – I recommend the fresh juices that the street vendors sell.
  • The Grand Palace

Where to stay

  • Mandarin Oriental or Ritz-Carlton.

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, Thailand

Tips

  • Be prepared for really bad traffic and heavy pollution. The population is over nine million here making it a very condensed city.
  • Bangkok, is one of the most expensive cities in Thailand so I recommend splurging on a hotel here for a shorter amount of time.

1 Week In Cambodia

Fly from Bangkok to Siem Reap.Angkor Wat Cambodia travel blog

2 Days In Siem Reap

Where to go / What to do

  • Angkor Wat Temple. This is the largest religious monument in the entire world.
  • Get a traditional Cambodian massage.

Where to stay

  • Angkor Village Botanical Resort

angkor-v

Tips

  • Always wear bug repellant and sunscreen.
  • I recommend hiring your own driver for the day which your hotel can arrange for you. It’s better than being stranded in the scorching sun.
  • Your driver will most likely try to convince you to stop at the jewelry factory and the carpet store, but you should pass. They really just try to pressure you into buying overpriced jewels. It’s all a tourist trap.
  • Group tours in Cambodia are much different than group tours in Thailand. I don’t recommend a group tour for Angkor Wat.

5 Days In Sihanoukville / Kep

Take a short flight from Siem Reap and fly into Sihanoukville – the coast of Cambodia.

koh-rong-samloemWhere to go / What to do

  • Stray Dog Adventures – top 10 best experiences of my life! You learn how to ride a motorbike through the mountains of Cambodia. I would travel back to Cambodia just to experience this again.
  • Otres II Beach is the best beach in Cambodia on the mainland.
  • Koh Rong Samloem might be the best beach in SE Asia. It is an island off of the mainland so you will have to take a boat ride to get here.

Where to stay

  • White Boutique Hotel

cambodia-hotel-otres

Tips

  • Skip Otres Beach I (not II) and go straight to Koh Rong Samloem. Koh Rong Samloem is the most beautiful beach in Cambodia by far. You have to take a boat from Otres Beach which takes 2 hours so be prepared for that.
  • They don’t sell tampons in Cambodia…
  • You will have to get a visa to get into Vietnam from Cambodia. The process takes a few days so make sure to plan ahead of time. There’s an office in town that you have to go to, but you can research that online beforehand.

5 Days In Vietnam

Fly from Sihanoukville to Hanoi.

How To See The Best Of Southeast Asia Alone: The Ultimate Itinerary3 Days In Hanoi 

Where to go / What to do

  • Ha Long Bay – it’s almost an 4 hour drive from Hanoi, so I recommend going on the earliest tour which leaves at 8 A.M.
  • Hanoi city – the capital of Vietnam.
  • Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre

Water Puppet Theater Hanoi, Vietnam

Where to stay

  • Hanoi Pearl Hotel or Somerset West Lake Hanoi

Tips

  • Don’t text and walk, you’re just as likely to be mauled by a motorcycle as if you were texting and driving on one.
  • If you have time, go to the green rice terraces outside the city in Sa Pa.

2 Days In Saigon (Ho Chi Minh)

Fly from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh.

Where to go / What to do

  • Admire the colonial architecture
  • Cho Ben Thanh Market
  • Ho Chi Minh Square
  • EON 51 Heli Bar

Where to stay

  • Millenium Boutique Hotel or Hotel Majestic

Tips

  • Ho Chi Minh was previously known as Saigon.

5 Days In Laos

Fly from Ho Chi Minh to Luang Prabang.
water-fall-laoss

3 Days In Luang Prabang, Laos

Where to go / What to do

  • Kuang Si Waterfall
  • Mekong River boat ride up to the Pak Ou caves with over 4,000 buddhas nestled in the limestone cave, but skip Whiskey Village on the way back.
  • Night markets
  • Utopia Lounge

Where to stay

  • Le Sen Hotel

Other tips

  • I got food poisoning from the street food here, so maybe avoid that in Luang Prabang.

2 Days In Vientiane, Laos

Fly from Luang Prabang to Vientiane.

temple-in-laosWhere to go / What to do

  • Patuxai Monument (you can skip this tbh, but I did it).
  • The Golden Stuppa

Where to stay

  • Ansara Hotel

Other tips

  • Vientiane was my least favorite. Also the power went out so all the AC stopped working which was unbearable.
  • Skip Vang Vieng

5 Days In Australia

Fly from Vientiane to Melbourne. aus4

2 Days In Melbourne

Where to go / What to do

  • Federation Square
  • Chapel Street
  • Queen Victoria Market

Where to stay

  • The Como, The Cullen, or Sofitel Melbourne

3 Days In Sydney

Fly from Melbourne to Sydney.

How To See The Best Of Southeast Asia Alone: The Ultimate Itinerary

Where to go / What to do

  • Bondi Beach
  • Royal Botanic Garden
  • Westfield Bondi Junction
  • The State Theater
  • Sydney Harbor Bridge
  • Sydney Opera House

Where to stay

  • The Old Clare or Four Seasons

cambodia-1 Ultimate Southeast Asia Itinerary Final Thoughts

Traveling Southeast Asia alone changed my life. Not only was this journey transformative, but the experience of traveling alone in such a foreign part of the world is beyond eye-opening and revitalizing. You truly learn how to fend for yourself when you don’t have the option of relying on others to navigate for you. After this trip, I realized that I can do anything and everything if I set my mind to it. I made friends with strangers, learned to trust my instincts, and quickly learnt what I want in life.

Extra tips for traveling SE Asia

*Make sure to always get the countries currency at the airport. Having cash on you at all times is necessary in these countries because many places don’t take credit cards.

*If I had to cut out some stops, I would cut Ko Phi Phi in Thailand, and Vientiane in Laos.

*If I would have had more time, I would have added the Philippines, Malaysia, and Myanmar.

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Ultimate Southeast Asia Itinerary

How To See The Best Of Southeast Asia Alone: The Ultimate Itinerary

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