We all know someone that’s taken a big trip backpacking around Southeast Asia, and we’ve no doubt all imagined doing it ourselves. With near limitless amazing things to see and do, coupled with amazing food and incredible affordability, there really is no better place to go to get away from it all and find something different.
While there’s so much to see and do in Southeast Asia, most of us unfortunately don’t have the luxury of unlimited leave and finances. Therefore, we’ve put together this handy guide to a 2-week travel itinerary in Southeast Asia. While it’s a general guide, we hope it can help you realise your perfect 2-week trip, and leave you with the most amazing memories that will last a lifetime.
Ultimately, whatever you choose to do on your 2 weeks around Southeast Asia, don’t get too caught up in trying to see and do it all. There’s so much out there, and you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of what you’re doing. And at the end of the day, you want to save something for your next trip, right?
Table of Contents
- 1 How Much Does it Cost to Travel Southeast Asia for 2 Weeks?
- 2 How Long Do You Need to Travel Southeast Asia?
- 3 Southeast Asia 2 Week Travel Itinerary
- 3.1 Ho Chi Minh City to Bangkok
- 3.2 Rural Laos and Northern Thailand
- 3.3 The Thai Islands
How Much Does it Cost to Travel Southeast Asia for 2 Weeks?
While planning your 2 week adventure around Southeast Asia one of the biggest points you’ll have to consider is your budget, both ahead of time and while you’re out there.
Budgeting is a vital part of any trip, and while Southeast Asia is renowned for being incredibly affordable compared to the western world, some places are going to cost more than others.
What can often be a bit of a sting is when you spend long enough in a place like Vietnam to get used to the super low prices, only to then get to the next spot on the itinerary and be surprised your money now only goes half as far.
Many places will fluctuate over time, too. Malaysia for example has seen itself getting a little cheaper in recent years, while Cambodia’s prices have gone up. It usually all depends on the current state of exchange rates.
Expenses to consider before you go
It’s all well and good talking about how cheap or expensive a place may be, but there’ll be a number of expenses you’ll need to consider before you go off adventuring around Southeast Asia.
Your plane ticket for starters will likely be the most expensive part of your pre-trip expenses, although this is somewhere you could stand to save some money too. Be sure to shop around, and consider flying into international hubs such as Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong or Kuala Lumpur, as these offer some of the best and cheapest international connections.
You’ll also want to consider your travel backpack. This will more than likely be the most important tool you have on your trip, even if you don’t realise it yet. Don’t cheap out, and really think about the backpacks you’re considering.
Vaccinations and travel insurance are important to remember too. Travel insurance especially; never skimp out and think you’ll probably be fine. 2 weeks lounging on the beach at a nice resort is one thing, but you’re going to be out and about hopping from country to country and wandering out into the great unknown. There’s no telling what could happen, so it’s always important to ensure that you’re well covered if something should go wrong.
How expensive is each country?
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Since each country you’ll visit on your trip will be different, the following is a broad breakdown of how much you can aim to budget for each day you’re there. This is assuming you’re backpacking, sticking to cheap accommodation, and avoiding fancy hotels and resorts.
Daily Budget: £15 – £25
You’re going to have a hard time spending your money in Vietnam. Not only does Vietnam have an incredibly favourable exchange rate, it’s also probably the most affordable of all the countries here. For a hostel dorm bed you can expect to pay an average of around £6 a night, and for a basic private room, £16.
You won’t be spending much more than a pound or two to enter any museums, and food and drink prices are even less. With all sorts of amazing street food around for incredibly low prices, you’ll likely be going back to your room each night with a pleasantly full wallet.
The biggest expense you can expect in Vietnam is the entry visa, which is around £37 plus the stamping fee. You’ll need to make sure this is arranged in advance, likely with a trip to the embassy, so make sure you have all of this prepared well ahead of time.
Daily budget: £15 – £25
Cambodia is super accommodating for backpackers, with the average cost for a dorm bed around £5, and £17 for the average cost of a basic private room. Prices in Siem Reap are a bit more expensive, as its close proximity to the Angkor Wat temples which attracts some more upscale tourists too.
The largest expense you’ll likely find in Cambodia will be your ticket to Angkor Wat. For around £30 you can get a 1-day ticket, or you can get a 3-day ticket for £50. You could additionally hire a tuk-tuk to take you around all day for about £12.
Daily Budget: £20 – £30
Laos is another one of the cheaper countries in Southeast Asia. Hostel accommodation starts as low as around £4, and the average basic room will cost about £20. Things will be slightly more expensive though if you’re in Luang Prabang. This UNESCO heritage city sees large numbers of tourists from China, which pushes costs up higher than in the rest of Laos.
You likely won’t find any entrance fees for museums, parks or temples higher than the single-digits, and every hour spent on a bus should cost just shy of a pound.
Daily budget: £25 – £35
Compared to everything else in Myanmar, accommodation costs can be relatively high, with the average hostel dorm bed costing you around £12 and the average basic private room around £30. Prior to 2012 there were next to no visitors to the country, and therefore very few hotels. The combination of a lack of options and therefore relatively high demand from locals lead to fairly high prices, which has stuck as new hotels and hostels have been built in recent years to meet the demands of tourism.
The rest of the prices throughout the country are a pleasant surprise by comparison. For around £15 you can get a 5-day pass to the Bagan temples, and the 15-hour sleeper train ride from Mandalay to Yangon costs only £12. On top of that, for only about £4 a day you can hire a motorbike or bicycle to ride around Lake Inle or Bagan.
Daily Budget: £30 – £40
People often think of Malaysia as a more expensive country than it really is. Comparing Malaysian ringgit to GBP, the exchange rate is very much in our favour. You’ll find plenty of modern hostels for as little as £8 a night, and the average basic private room costs around £15.
When it comes to adventuring in Malaysia however you can expect to pay a lot more. A 2-day jungle river expedition in Kinabatangan will set you back around £75, or conversely you could easily spend a few hundred pounds on a 2 or 3 day guided trek of Borneo’s Mount Kinabalu.
Daily budget: £30 – £40
There are a number of things to consider when travelling to the Philippines. For a start, some of the highest costs for accommodation in Southeast Asia can be found here, with averages for a hostel dorm bed coming in around £10 and a basic private room £21. Also, due to the Philippines being such a large collection of islands, travelling overland isn’t always so cheap, and often requires air travel.
When it comes to tourist attractions though you can typically expect to pay only a couple of pounds, and at most around £8 to £12 for daylong guided tours. Palawan is slightly more expensive than the rest of the country, where you can expect an island hopping trip around El Nido to cost around £25, and a 2-hour Puerto Princessa Underground River tour to cost about the same.
Daily budget: £30 – £65
Singapore can be quite a contrast to the rest of Southeast Asia, and as a super fancy and modern city-state its prices can be quite high. The average cost of a hostel dorm is around £20, and it’s about £50 for a basic private room.
When it comes to getting around, the metro is a fast, efficient, and affordable mode of transport, never costing more than a couple of pounds to get from A to B. Food is affordable too, especially from Hawker Centres (big food courts).
Ultimately, your daily budget in Singapore could vary significantly depending on what it is you’re looking to do. If you’re planning on a lot of sightseeing and eating at lots of restaurants, be prepared to spend upwards of £75 a day. Alternatively, if you’re just passing through you shouldn’t need to spend much more than £30 – £40 a day.
Daily budget: central/north: £20 – £30, southern beaches: £40 – £50
Thailand is known over the world as the go-to place for backpackers, and while it can be as cheap as anywhere else in Southeast Asia, it can also be one of the most expensive spots depending on where you are.
Generally speaking though, you can expect to spend around £1 – £5 for a meal in any local restaurant or from a street vendor, and the majority of activities will set you back around £8 – £15. The Grand Palace in Bangkok for example costs around £10 to visit, or conversely you could spend around £15 for a day trekking or visiting caves with a guide.
Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand
The north of Thailand is typically the cheapest area, with hostel beds averaging at £6 and basic rooms around £13. The more affordable places may expect you to book some tours through them too though, so keep this in mind.
There’s still some deals to be found in Bangkok for as little as £4, but on average you’ll be looking at around £10 for a dorm bed and £27 for a basic room. You shouldn’t expect to budget too much for Bangkok though, as their metro system, tuk-tuks and street foods are all nice and cheap.
Beaches and islands
The Beaches and islands of Thailand are the most expensive spots, with dorm beds averaging £11 and basic rooms £32. This somewhat masks the range that can be found from island to island, with Koh Phi Phi for example costing typically £16 a night for a dorm and £40 – £65 for a basic room. Also, if you want to go to Koh Phangan for one of their famous Full Moon parties, expect prices to triple.
Some of the more affordable and laid back Thai islands include Koh Lipe, Koh Tao, Koh Lanta and Koh Chang.
How Long Do You Need to Travel Southeast Asia?
While the real answer to this question is ultimately as much time as you have, in reality many recommend 2 months is required to take it all in.
Don’t worry though! There’s still more than plenty you can pack into a 2 week trip to Southeaast Asia, and the following are some suggestions of some itineraries to consider, or to use to help you come up with your own.
Southeast Asia 2 Week Travel Itinerary
Before we get started, it’s often not a bad idea to pick one country and dedicate the whole two weeks to it. There’s always plenty to cram in, especially in countries like Thailand or Vietnam. In addition to having so many amazing attractions to visit, they both have great transportation and amazing food, making them perfect for any beginner backpackers.
Ho Chi Minh City to Bangkok
3 days in Ho Chi Minh City
Start in Ho Chi Minh City with all of the amazing street food and Vietnam War history. Visit the Chu Chi Tunnels and the Vietnam War Museum, before then taking a trip to the Mekong Delta. Be sure to take a cruise through the mangroves for the best way to see the region.
2 days in Phnom Penh
Travel east through Cambodia to Phnom Penh and take a trip to the Killing Fields, along with the Mekong River promenade for a relaxing evening with all of its bars and restaurants.
2 days in Siam Reap
Spend a day at Angkor Wat, one of the oldest temples in Southeast Asia. The next day, head further out of town to visit the floating villages on Tonle Sap lake, which are unlike anything else you’ll see on your trip.
3 days in Koh Chang
Likely the first stop as you reach Thailand from Cambodia is Trat Province, which features a number of amazing islands. Consider perhaps exploring some of the smaller ones with a snorkel trip, and be sure to check out the amazing beaches of “the elephant island” Koh Chang.
3 days in Bangkok
Bangkok is one of the biggest cities in Southeast Asia, and you’ll find plenty to keep you busy. In addition to the temples, you’ll find great nightlife and some amazing street food.
Rural Laos and Northern Thailand
2 days in Vientiane
Enjoy the French Colonial feel of the quiet city, taking in the French architecture and cuisine. Make sure to check out the sunset over Thailand from the river promenade.
2 days in Vang Vieng
Travel north to the small town of Vang Vieng in the middle of the jungle, famed for its river tubing. Spend the days tubing, swimming in the lagoons and checking out the waterfalls.
3 days in Luang Prabang
Also known as the city of temples, Lang Prabang has more than 30 ancient Buddhist temples to visit. See the monk procession walking the streets in the morning, and take a trip to the Kuang Si Falls.
3 days in Chiang Rai
Here in Thailand’s northernmost province, take the time to visit the iconic Blue Temple, White Temple and Black House. Chiang Rai also has the most amazing hot springs to the west, and also take a hike up the mountains at Phu Chi Fa.
3 days in Chiang Mai
For the last part of your trip, head over to the former 15th Century Thai Lanna Kingdom capital Chiang Mai. There’s plenty of the ancient city to find, including several Buddhist temples. You’ll also find plenty of markets, mountains and waterfalls to keep you busy.
The Thai Islands
3 days in Koh Phangan
Pay a visit to the infamous Full Moon Party and dance the night away on the beach, before then taking a relaxing day exploring some of the island’s more remote beaches. Koh Phangan is highly renowned for its yoga, so maybe take in a class.
3 days in Koh Tao
Take the ferry over to Koh Tao and give some scuba diving a go. You’ll need to get a licence ahead of time, but it’s well worth it. Also, consider hiring a motorbike and exploring the island’s beaches.
4 days in Koh Lanta
Head across the Andaman Sea to Koh Lanta for more scuba diving at Koh Haa. Alternatively, Bamboo Bay and Ao Nui Beach offer some of the best sunsets, and once the sun’s gone down check out the phosphorescent algae in the waters.
4 days in Koh Lipe
Koh Lipe is one of Thailand’s smaller islands, and boasts some amazing sunrises and sunsets. There are some incredibly vibrant coral reefs to check out on a snorkelling trip, or simply relax on what are some of Thailand’s best beaches.
Whatever your 2 weeks in Southeast Asia turns out to be, you can be sure that it will be the perfect, most amazing getaway that you’ll cherish forever.
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