Why you shouldn't miss out on Southeast Asia
Updated: May 16, 2019
Everywhere and anywhere. That’s our motto when it comes to traveling. Traveling isn’t about seeing a tourist attraction, it’s about experiencing a whole new culture. This trip wasn’t planned months in advance by any means. Originally, we expected our first long overseas trip to be a tour of Western Europe, but boy were we wrong (still haven’t made it there). We were gonna backpack Europe in the Summer of 2018 because we both needed to escape. You know how it goes post graduation... Everyone asking you the same question, “So now that you graduated, what’s your plan?” We couldn’t answer that question, which led to anxiety, which then led us to planning a trip in two months, halfway across the world to avoid everyone’s pestering. Traveling was something we both wanted to do and it seemed like the perfect time to get away. If you didn’t know Southeast Asia is a big backpacking destination because you can stay a month with a pretty small budget. I had been watching the show Jack Whitehall Travels with my father (which if you haven’t seen it, what are you doing?). And I thought “yup that’s where we are going” and that same week Madison was having a conversation with someone at work who told her about his travels and how amazing it was. It was a very serendipitous moment. So it was decided that we’d visit Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. Here is how we planned and budgeted our trip.
When to go
Not everyone is going to be able to take off for five weeks, nor will they be able to go during the best season since the weather varies by country. We left for our trip in the beginning of January and returned mid February. This worked perfectly for us but do what works best for you. If you do have more flexibility here is what we recommend.
Vietnam- January through May
Now in January you’ll be experiencing some cooler weather in Hanoi, the rainy season in Hue and it’ll be pretty warm in Ho Chi Minh city. Past May you’ll experience the rainy season and you’ll be limited in what you can do and see.
Thailand- December through March
To experience the mountains, cities and beaches in one go December through March is your safest bet. Beyond those months you’ll run into problems in of the three whether it’s monsoon season on the islands or the intense heat of Bangkok.
Cambodia- November through March
For the best weather, it’s recommended you visit during the dry season. The temperature in Siem Reap rarely drops below 68°F (20°C) starting in November and rising to a max temp of 95°F (35°C) in March. You’ll experience warmer weather during these month in the countries capital, Phnom penh and it’s southern coast.
Although we only visited these countries, it’s important to remember that this region is subject to a rainy season (Bali- December to February, Malaysia- October to December). Keep this in mind when booking your trip because nothing ruins a vacation like unanticipated rain.
What to Wear
It’s 85 degrees, the sun is blazing, and we’re wearing long pants and a t-shirt covering our shoulders. Why you may ask? Temples are a major draw of many cities in Southeast Asia. Angkor Wat for example is a tremendous tourist attraction in Siem Reap, Cambodia. But they want their visitors to dress modestly because it is a religious site. Angkor Wat isn’t the only temple like this. This was the case at the temples in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. So be smart and dress respectfully (shoulders covered and skirts/dresses/pants longer than your knees) because you will be denied access.
If you plan on doing a true backpacking trip and are limited in the clothes you are bringing, below I’ve linked a comprehensive list of what to bring and how many. You will find laundry services for very cheap so don’t worry too much about running out of clothes. And research each locations weather precisely. We made the mistake of thinking it would be warm throughout Vietnam, but when we arrived in Hanoi it was 56°F.
Traveling Necessities for Southeast Asia: https://2peasinatravelpod.wordpress.com/2018/12/28/traveling-necessities-for-southeast-asia/
We are very detailed when it comes to budgeting, because running out of money is stressful especially when you’re in another country. There are many amazing resources to help you determine an accurate daily budget. You also need to keep in mind excursions and extra costs that will inevitably come up. For example we missed our flight (I know, stupid us!) and had to cover the difference which thankfully was around $40 but still. Have contingency money because you never no what’s gonna happen on a five week trip.
Southeast Asia is a region with delicious food and very cheap hostel accommodation. I mean where else can you get an amazing meal for less than $2 and stay the night for $8? It may be cheap but we stayed at nice and clean hostels. Hostelworld.com has an extensive list of hostels so check it out and be sure to read reviews. In Vietnam we were able to survive off of $30 (698,640 dong) a day. In Cambodia we could pay in USD for everything and managed to only spend around $20-$25 a day. We spent the most in Thailand mainly because we stayed in some nicer hotels on the islands and the daily budget was closer to $40 (1,313.78 baht).
Moral of the story is go to Southeast Asia, you won’t regret it. But what you will regret is not doing your research and missing out on experiences and destinations because of it.