I’m a huge fan of Asia, especially when it comes to the tasty and exotic food consumed there and the beautiful scenery that you’ll find pretty much wherever you visit, so it comes as no surprise that Asian countries tend to top the list when it comes to backpackers most favorite destinations.
If you fancy letting your Indiana Jones side out then you’ll find plenty of temples and ruins to explore, and if you just fancy lazing away the day on a beautiful tropical beach with white sand and crystal clear water, you’ll find plenty of excellent opportunities to do this as well.
For those on a tight budget, Southeast Asia makes the perfect destination with low cost of living and plenty of choice of where to go and stay. You’ll also find that the locals are usually very friendly and there are plenty of exciting adventures always just around the corner.
Let’s take a look at my top 4 recommended destinations in Southeast Asia:
This country is a personal favorite of mine and it definitely deserves its place on this top 4 list. You’ll find that Thailand has so much to offer that you’ll find it hard to leave. The food here is a beautiful mix of Asian cuisine with influences from each of the countries Thailand shares its borders with. Everything is cooked from fresh ingredients and you’ll find plenty of fresh herbs and spices (and usually quite a lot if chili) in most of the dishes you get to sample (make sure you try my favorite dish, the hot and sour chicken soup, ‘Tom Yum Gai’).
With Buddhism being the dominant religion in this country, you’ll find that the locals are very friendly – as with most of Southeast Asia – and there’s lots to see and do, ranging from visiting the spectacularly decorated temples, to shopping in Chang Mai & Bangkok, right through to scuba diving and snorkeling at one of many excellent diving spots the country has to offer (although do check your holiday travel insurance to make sure you are covered for this).
An even cheaper destination if you’re on a shoestring budget, but one that hasn’t always been as popular due to the country’s somewhat turbulent past. It’s definitely worth adding to your list though, as security has improved vastly over the last 10 years or so and the horrors of the civil war are now more of a bad memory (although I’m sure that the people who lost their lives in this bloody period will always be remembered by those who were close to them).
If you do decide to visit Cambodia you’ll be more than rewarded with the beautiful scenery (lots of amazing photo opportunities). Cambodia offers it all, from beautiful beaches and untouched islands, lively cities with good night life and very cheap food and accommodation and of course the stunning ‘Angkor Wat’ temples. You’ll also find the jungles of the Mondulkiri Province and the Bokor National Park which are both well worth visiting. Do bear in mind that with all this untouched beauty comes a certain amount of remoteness, if your traveling with your family then be sure to get comprehensive family travel insurance in place before you leave home.
Another surprisingly cheap destination with low cost accommodation and tasty but affordable food. You’ll find that Vietnam is most certainly a country of contrasts, with a climate that spans several different zones and ranges from tropical to subtropical (meaning there’s always somewhere with just the right weather whatever time of year you visit) and scenery which changes from watery green rice fields to mountainous backdrops, through to bustling cityscapes and those all important white sandy beaches.
The Mekong Delta is especially worth a visit (it’s also where the country produces most of its rice crop) and you’ll find many rare species of animal and plant life in this beautiful area and some amazing floating markets too (don’t forget, Thailand also has its fair share of these). If you fancy hitting a beach or two then head to Quoc Island which has some particularly beautiful ones.
You’ll have your work cut out exploring Indonesia as the country consist of over 17,000 islands (the world’s largest archipelago), but it’s well worth the extra effort. You’ll need to have some patience and a bit of perseverance as the transportation system isn’t always amazing, but what awaits you is well worth the effort.
Indonesia is located in the feisty Pacific Ring of Fire and has some of the most active volcanoes in the area (there are in fact over 70 of them), including Mount Bromo which is a popular tourist attraction. You’ll also find the island of Bali which has more of those excellent beaches I’ve been talking about and a party atmosphere, perfect for relaxing after months of hectic traveling.