Short gaps via South East Asia
South East Asia is a completely different world. Once you visit, you’ll never want to leave. South East Asia is vying with Australia as the world’s most popular backpacker destination. Give it five years, and it will be the most popular.
Young travellers are realising that South East Asia is just as easy to travel as Australia and New Zealand for half the cost. It’s easier and cheaper to get to than Australia, which is one of the reasons it’s so popular for students to go out in their summer holidays.
On top of that, South East Asia offers some of the world’s best sites, the world’s best cuisines and the world’s best parties. It really is the place to be on your stop gap.
Everyone gets caught up with Thailand and Malaysia but there's more to South East Asia than these two countries. Nicely nestled close by are some other absolute gems; Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam have loads to offer backpackers.
From the hectic hustle bustle of Bangkok, Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City to the laid back beaches of the southern islands in Thailand and Cambodia, to the ancient splendour of Angkor Wat and the traditional tranquillity of Laos, there's an insane amount to explore.
All you need to do is book your flight to Bangkok, hail a tuk-tuk to the Khao San Road, order a Pad Thai and get started. It’ll be a decision you won’t regret…
Key stops in South East Asia
The key stops in South East Asia are Bangkok in Thailand, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and Singapore.
You can travel from Singapore up to Bangkok or the preferred route from Bangkok down to Singapore.
Other key stops include Bali, Kota Kinabalu, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Vientiane.
Travelling around the area is extremely easy by any mode of transport. The budget airline Air Asia flies to a number of airports making international air travel not only extremely cheap, but extremely easy. For example, you can pick up a flight from Bangkok in Thailand to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam for as low as £30.
Popular routes that include South East Asia
London >> Bangkok >> Phnom Penh >> Ho Chi Minh City >> Hanoi >> Vientiane >> Bangkok >> London
London >> Singapore >> Kuala Lumpur >> Bangkok >> London
London >> Bali >> Kota Kinabalu >> Kuala Lumpur >> London
Thailand is the most popular country in South East Asia.
You can travel around and see most of the country in a month. Two weeks in the north; two weeks in the south.
The north has ancient ruins, beautiful mountains, caves, hot water springs, jungle trekking, elephant trekking, and small villages. It’s very different from the south and much more peaceful.
The south has idyllic beaches and paradise islands in Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan and Koh Phi Phi. And parties. The south might be famous for a beach party or two…
Thailand is easy to travel around, cheap, and most importantly, tonnes of fun. All you have to do is get there.
What we recommend...
The ‘banana pancake trail’ is a specific route around South East Asia, starting in Thailand. It takes in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. The trail has expanded somewhat to include Malaysia and Singapore.
We recommend flying into Bangkok and doing a little loop like this:
Thailand – Cambodia – Vietnam – Laos – Thailand – Malaysia – Singapore – Indonesia
This is a very well-trodden route that takes in all the major sites, which means it's easy to get around, everything is on tap when you want it (accommodation, transport, backpacker tours etc) and loads of backpackers are on hand to point you in the right direction.
You get a bit of everything – ancient cities, jungles, hill tribes, golden temples, vibrant markets, paradise islands, parties and beautiful beaches.
People have been known to squeeze all of that in a month, but we would recommend two to three months, which would give you enough time to do that at a fairly leisurely pace, but you can pick and choose your favourite parts if you're pressed for time. Budget internal flights are readily available and an affordable timesaver in South East Asia, but they're not as much fun as travelling overland!
South East Asia is a truly amazing part of an already pretty cool (and massive) continent. It's got everything you could ask for - lush green rice paddies, vibrant cities with insane night life, lovely people, golden temples and golden palaces, paradise islands, rural areas almost untouched by the 20th century (let alone the 21st), beaches like you see in, well, in The Beach and water buffalo on bits of string. Oh yes, lots of them.
What others say...
ThaIntro - An Amazing first week in Thailand!
An awesome week of tours and trips, starting in Bangkok and finishing on the beautiful island of Koh Phangan.
You'll visit ancient temples, stunning beaches, swim under waterfalls, ride elephants through the jungle, sleep on floating bungalows and party on the beach!
Bangkok to Beaches
Duration: from 10 Days to 10 Days
Kick-start your backpacking experience by joining our exciting 10 day tour introducing you to the wonders of Thailand. From bustling markets, to secluded tropical islands to ancient temples, you'll get a real taste for this fascinating country.
Tap into Thailand
Duration: from 8 Days
Ramble through Bangkok in a tuk-tuk, Explore the ancient and modern faces of Thailand, See Chiang Mai's sunset atop Doi Suthep, Meet locals on a hilltribe trek, Enjoy northern hospitality at a rural homestay, Trek lush highlands, Experience ancient and modern Thai culture...
Cambodia or Wat
Countries: Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam
If your time is short but you are determined to see the best of South East Asia, this little gem of a tour is a perfect introduction to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Visit the Grand Palace, home to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, shop up a storm at Bangkok’s Khao San Road, wander through the mysterious Angkor Wat temple complex and discover the true essence of Vietnam’s culture in the markets and museums of vibrant Ho Chi Minh City.Adventure For Less! - Book now and get 15% Off this tour.
North India Unplugged
Duration: from 22 Days
Bargain for souvenirs in Delhi, Experience Rajasthani nomad life in Jaisalmer, Sip a tasty lassi in Jodhpur, Fall in love with beautiful Udaipur, Catch a sunrise from the Savitri Temple, Spot feathered friends in the Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary, Visit the legendary Taj Mahal, Experience the holy city of Varanasi, Discover the City of Joy...
Mini World Experience - 4 city flight from £879pp
Countries: Australia, Singapore, United States of America
Round the world flight fare only
Call: 0845 344 7667
Turkey & Greek Island Odyssey
Duration: from 10 Days to 10 Days
Discover Istanbul with an expert local guide to the Blue Mosque, Galata Bridge, Spice Markets + more. Spend 3 nights on board a cruise ship in the Aegean. See Ephesus - one of the ancient 7 wonders.
Best of Vietnam & Cambodia
Countries: Cambodia, Vietnam
Join us as we journey into the heart and soul of Indochina. Combining the best of both countries, this trip will open your eyes to the delights of Indochina and leave you mystified by these magic locations.
The Reunification Express
Duration: from 15 Days
Explore the evocative Old Quarter of Hanoi, Sail Halong Bay, Ride the famed Reunification Express, Visit imperial Hue, Embark on a shopping spree in Hoi An, Swim in the South China Sea, Explore Saigon by cyclo, Take a row-boat along the Mekong...
Best of South East Asia
Prepare for the ultimate South East Asian adventure tour! Experience it all from the sun drenched beaches of Vietnam to the grand palaces of Thailand, the legendary temples of Cambodia’s Angkor, the urban shopping delights of Singapore, the lush jungle trails of Malaysia to the welcoming communities of Laos. Ride on an elephant, opt for a cooking class, enjoy a bamboo river trip and strike a bargain in local markets, you’ll love the diversity of this extensive tour.
Teaching & Community Project Cambodia
Duration: from 8 Weeks to 52 Weeks
Cambodia is one of the world's best kept secrets. This program is set to the backdrop of a beautiful landscape, and enables you to provide the gift of education to a community that prides itself on it's family values. Teaching the local children will enable you to immerse yourself in the Cambodian culture, and share your own cultural values whilst gaining an insight into theirs. You will be providing a support network that can improve the lives of future generations whilst fully enriching your own.
Xtreme Thailand Experience
Duration: from 4 Weeks to 4 Weeks
Awesome travel experiences from Xtreme Gap Year. Take on the Xtreme Thailand experience and travel in a group all over Thailand. Ending with an action packed week on the tropical paradise of Koh Tao.
Wonders of India and Nepal
Duration: from 29 Days to 29 Days
Experience the vastness and variety of India and Nepal as we take you to bustling cities, sacred lakeside towns, authentic villages and everything in between. We visit wonders, both natural and man-made. Look out for tigers and trek into the Annapurna Foothills.Adventure For Less! - Book now and get up to 25% off this tour.
Walkabout to Australia - 5 city flight from £1,249pp
Countries: Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, United Arab Emirates
Round the world flight fare only
Call: 0845 344 7667
3 Weeks of Bali Beauty with Life Before Work!
Duration: from 3 Weeks
Want to see beaches that look like they have never been walked on? Our Bali tour takes you to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. From Kuta, to Lombok to Ubud, you will see the many faces of Bali. This is a perfect tour for anyone wanting to have their pick between pure relaxation and activities to get your blood pumping! Volcano treks, visiting the Monkey Forest, taking in the beautiful waterfalls & snorkeling are just a few of the many included activities on this postcard perfect tour.