Travel Guide To Backpacking IndoChina (Southeast Asia)

by - Sunday, April 01, 2018

Traveling to one country for some is workload already so when someone hears backpacking southeast asia they will give you this look already. I know. Because when people learned about my backpacking in Mindanao last year (2017) most of them were shocked given the situation the media portrays about the place. But I strongly believe that there is more to what the media is always giving us. That somehow part of it are exaggerating and you will never know unless you set foot yourself. And that backpacking defies all my boundaries. But again, part of me feels it is still small time, I mean I belong in this country, the Philippines, and what can truly defy all my boundaries and limits if I set foot on foreign land, thus this South east asia backpacking came.

During my Mindanao planning, I can't help but think, "what now, after this?" So since April of last year (2017) I was on look out on plane tickets on different south east asian countries, on probable country that will serve as my entry point. Part of it is reading a lot of blogs and travel guides especially the crossing of the boarder from one country to another. The plan was backpacking it alone. But when I came to this blog that talks about how dangerous it is to cross boarder on some countries I hesitated at once and asked my older sister if she can accompany me to do this crazy stuff with me and she said right away.

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For this post, I will discuss about Accommodations, Transportation, Food, Possible Activities, Destinations, and Visas. This post can't guarantee completeness but rest assured that all that will be mentioned here are based from our experience.


For some, I know accommodations will be a tough job to look for and can be pricey if you don't know how to search enough. Luckily, I tend to choose cheaper and opt to check-in to hostels, after all you will be staying here lesser time for you will be out there exploring the place. Trust me, it will save you up if you choose staying in a hostels rather than a fancy hotels out there. You're doing backpacking so it is most likely to spend money on activities. Southeast Asian countries accommodations can range from really cheap to expensive depending on your preferences. Price ranges from $2 to to $10 a night.

There are a lot of booking sites online that offers cheap accommodations but since I started backpacking I am always using (If you use my link I'll receive a $15 and you as well one you confirmed the booking!) Bookingdotcom is a very friendly online booking site because of it enormous list of filters giving way to your preferences.

Personal preferences on booking my hotels on that you can filter on their website

- Cheapest hotels first
- Location of the hotel from the attractions (it is most likely to book a hotel that lets you walk to the attractions you are visiting, it will save you much on transportation, if none, you can always choose a hotel near train stations or bus/van terminals)
- Credit Card not required (I don't own any credit card, but good thing about is that half of their affiliates allowed user to booked beforehand without using any credit cards and you can cancel anytime, just make sure to read thoroughly all the information about the hotels so you will not have a problem in the future, booking on hotels without credit card let's you change hotels if you prefer on staying from one place to the other. Most of the time I chose this hotels.)
- Backpackers hostels (this is everywhere and much much cheaper, we booked at this hostel in Cambodia that costs us $4 a night, really research is a lot and vital on any backpacking trip)


Food is another thing to consider while traveling, but if you are like me who are not adventurous on food because I always get upset stomach on foreign food then you need to prepare yourself for the enormous food selection in Southeast Asia. But if you are all into trying asian foods then this trip is for you. Food is really cheap. And you can binge all you want with all their wide spices and herbs on their food.

One way to really try their food is to eat at street foods not just its way cheaper but you get to blend in with the locals and how they really do it. There are always fancy restaurants out there but as what our tour guide from Vietnam says, the taste is already commercialize, meaning it's not the traditional tastes like since most likely it adjusted to people's taste already. You can easily enjoy a meal by spending just $1 on one food.

Beer on the other hand is a lot different story. There are some whose rates are so high but there will always be some who offers cheaper one.


The cheapest way to travel Southeast Asia is through bus. It can get you to anywhere, though it will take time it will save you up just right. If you have enough time traveling and no particular day to come home then this transportation is for you. For this trip we only use two online bus booking site: and Time and dates are already posted and its so easy. You just have to know your exact date of travel and choose the terminal where you are heading and pay it online. Glad they accept paypal as payment! You can booked ahead but just make sure your schedule is fixed for I', not quite sure if they offer a reschedule or refund.

If you are exploring the city I suggest to use grab rather than taxi's and tuktuk. Tuktuk required a lot of haggling skills and we had a bad experience during our stay in Bangkok which charged us a lot on few kilometers but anyway as they always say charged to experience. Grab of course is safer.

You can always use trains but be sure you know your stop. Its a bit confusing at first but if you get the hang of it its one of the best way to roam around esp in Singapore and Malaysia.

If you want to transfer from one country to the other faster then there's always flights to consider. Airasia has been our bestfriend for this trip. Since our schedule is tight because of my sister's work. We shrink everything to 10days trip and every schedule is fixed. Because of that, we manage to booked flights ahead on cheaper price. Cheapest flights we got was $38.

Activities / Destinations

This will vary on your personal choice of destinations. We all have our own bucket list and from there you can search on how to go there and all other information. There are tourist spots that will not charge you anything to cheaper and to ofcourse expensive rates. Again, list down what you want to visit.

In Singapore, you can always go to their parks by trains, and do a lot of walking to save up, you can also asked assistance on how their bus works. Taxi's are not cheap in here. There are parks like some parts of gardens by the bay that is open to public and you can roam around freely. Universal studios are another different story. But we never go there. Its not really on my bucket list.

In Malaysia, train is also one of the best way to get to most parts of their tourist spots. If you plan on visiting just the Petronas Tower make sure to stay just around the area like we did. Going to Batu Cave is cheaper using trains. There are also some bus that are free to everyone.

In Thailand, if you wish to see the famous temples in Bangkok make sure to just stay around the area for you can just go on walking all day from one temple to the other. There are temples that are free of entrance but most of them will charge you from $2 to $4. But all are definitely worth it. You can also visit near cities like Ayutthaya which offers different temple adventures too. If you prefer checking out their beach there is always Phuket which has loads of great beaches.

In Cambodia, the famous destination will always be Ankor Wat and don't hesitate for once because it is definitely worth it.

In Myanmar, you can tour their Yangon for a day and experience their culture and it won't cost you much.

In Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh can be explored in a day too but its always nice to stay for a bit to experience more of this beautiful country.

Suggested budget per day is $20-$30 depending on what destination you will choose. You can always haggle, with our experience in Ayutthaya which is for us is really expensive we were able to haggle from $35 to $25. One charged us for $40 for the two us. For cheap backpacker like us it will cost us much, not to mention the transportation to get there and the entrances on each of the temples.


All the countries in Southeast Asia are free visa for Philippine passport holder and are all upon arrival. Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, and Myanmar have the arrival and departure card you need to fill up and submit during your entry and exit regardless if its through airport or land transfers. In Vietnam, there is no need. The bus operators are the one handling our passport visas during our stay and we just have to pass the boarder with all of our bags.

What to visit in Southeast Asia if you have limited time



Gardens By The Bay - legit and common to tourists. Open as early as 7 am but best viewed at night.
Merlion - another tourist spots and this spots are most likely be filled by tourist every minute.
Little India - there are temples here that you can always explore (Rochor is the bus or train stop if you wish to visit this place. There are also hostels here that are so cheap.)
Masjid Sultan or Masjid Mosque in Kampong Glam - to get here you can always ride a bus going here. On the street going here are a lot of different cuisine you can try.



Batu Caves - home of different caves temple. The prominent is the huge golden Buddha situated outside. Most of the cave are free but certain rule on what to wear is applied.
Petronas Tower - the famous Petronas Tower is best viewed at night with its lights on and can be full of people in the morning.




Phi Phi Islands in Phuket - you can book ahead online and find cheaper rates for this day tour. Just be ready for a lot of tourists on the beach.
Old Phuket Town - if you want to experience the night market in old Phuket town make sure you are staying in Phuket during Sundays for it is open only during Sundays. Food, Music, Culture, Dancing, and a lot of locals items can be seen here.
Bangkok - home of a lot of destinations in Thailand especially if you want to binge Temple hopping then its the place for you. Honestly one day is not enough to explore all. Wat Pho will eat much half of your day for inside has a lot of mini temples. Aside from the temples, there are always the busy markets where you can buy cheap items and souvenirs.
Ayutthaya - this used to be the country's capital so definitely another place to consider to visit. You can tour the place for four hours and that's enough time already for exploring and taking photos.




Yangon has a lot of spots you can visit for a day. We were able to meet a taxi driver that tours us the different spots in Yangon for only $40 with transfers to airport. But if anything just make sure to visit Shwedagon Pagoda and its worth your penny. The entrance fee is $8 with bottled water and wet wipes. Make sure to go there at 5 in the afternoon for the lights during night is spectacular. Plus it will be tiring during mid-day, not to mention shoes and socks are not allowed inside. It is always good to experience their temples too because you will distinguish temples from different countries in Southeast Asia.



Ankor Wat is best viewed during sunrise. But sometimes it will fail you to have one. They are open as early as 4 in the morning. There are some tuktuk that will offer you a transfer on the temples on cheaper and acceptable price. I can say that of all the countries we've visited, Cambodia has the most nicest people and doesn't take advantage of your money.



Mekong Delta - we booked on klook and it was one of the best tour we had. With lunch included and English speaking guide your daytour is definitely worth it.
Bui Vien Walking street in Ho Chi Minh is the place to go at night. Loud music and foods on street is just so hype.


- book your flights before hand if you have planned the exact dates of your stay, it will save much of your money
- bus transfer to cross boarder is much cheaper and if you have a lot of days to consume on your trip. Some trips may take up to 12 hours or more
- haggle if you can and be reasonable, some are willing to give or agree on your price
- pay respect and follow their rules especially when entering their temples
- eat on streets for it is much cheaper
- control your beer intake, its cheap but if too much, uh oh
- book on hostels and dorms, it is a lot cheaper and you can always meet new people of different race
- download an app where you can use offline esp if you do not plan on using the countries sim cards. We used and only rely on wifi on the airports, buses, trains, or hostels. So we make sure that we have everything we need at hand.
- Thoroughly plan your trip from where to stay, what to visit, the terminals, it will help you save time.
- do ask locals. But you have to do it the right way. Make sure to asked officials, for sure there will be loads of them out there or asked store keeper or the one's on the market for most likely they can speak English. I remember asking someone on the road and they don't want to speak with us because they can't speak nor understand English.
- Used grab. It is most advisable to use it than metered taxi or tuktuk. Though there are some metered taxi that are legit and will not take advantage of your money. But some of them don't really know exactly the place. So what we did, we booked while we are at the hostels where there is a wifi connections.
- Souvenirs in Phuket is costly. If you want to binge buying souvenirs, Bangkok and Siem Reap and Yangon, and Ho Chi Minh is a lot cheaper.

I will make a detailed itinerary for each of the countries on the following posts. Stay tuned!

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Thanks for the wonderful message!