Two Months in Southeast Asia Itinerary | Backpacking on a Shoestring Budget

Two Month Itinerary in Southeast Asia - Travelling Asia on a Backpacker's Shoestring Budget

This post is a comprehensive travel guide to all the places I managed to squeeze into my two months in Southeast Asia, travelling solo and backpacking on a cheap shoestring budget – including a detailed itinerary, my travel diary entries and the entire route, broken down by country.

Southeast Asia Travel Guide: Before You Go

Before you set off on your Southeast Asia tour, there are a few things you need to know and get sorted before you go. Naturally, I left my planning to a few weeks before I went off backpacking asia and then had to run around like a headless chicken sorting all of it out. So basically, don’t be an idiot like me.

This post contains affiliate links, which means this blog receives a small commission on purchases at no extra cost to you. Affiliate income helps keep this blog alive and I never link to a service unless I personally use and recommend it.

Two Months in Southeast Asia Itinerary for Backpacking on a Budget

1. Travel Visas for Backpacking around Southeast Asia

Make sure you know the visa requirements for your passport for every country you plan to visit while backpacking through Southeast Asia. Some countries require a visa in advance, for others you can get a visa on the border – but be warned that the rules can change, so double-check before you go.

I hold a British passport and the information on this blog is from my personal experience travelling around Asia, so be mindful that visas may vary for you. The best information for those who hold passports for the UK, the US and Canada (the main readership of this blog) are as follows:

Wat Xieng Thong temples in Luang Prabang, Laos

2. Vaccinations for Southeast Asia Backpacking

This is one that I’m particularly bad at because I can never remember which vaccinations I’ve had (moving countries and doctors all the time will do that to you), and I always leave it until the last minute. You should ideally get your vaccinations four weeks before you leave for your Southeast Asia tour.

For Brits, the NHS website has recommendations, so you should call up your GP more than a month before your backpacking trip starts. The website also has malaria maps for each country, so you can see if you will be visiting zones where malaria is prevalent (or you can just skirt around them, like I did).

Swimming in the Blue Lagoon in Vang Vieng, Laos

3. Travel Insurance for Backpacking Southeast Asia

This is a big one and always make sure you read the small print. If you have an Asia travel itinerary with dates decided (and don’t plan on coming home during that time), then you can shop around. However, things can be more complicated if you’re leaving your trip open-ended.

I personally use World Nomads Travel Insurance, the Explorer Plan and have done for years (and you’ll see many other travellers and travel bloggers do the same), mainly because they are the only company that will cover me once I’m already abroad, which as a serial expat, I mostly am. It’s also easy to extend a policy with them if you change your plans and decide to stay longer.

Once you’ve bought your policy, make a note of the policy number and the insurer’s emergency claims helpline on your phone, write them down in your diary (in case you lose your phone) and also give that information to a parent or reliable friend/family member back home, just in case.

Sunset view from Phu Si Hill of Luang Prabang, Laos

4. What to Pack for a Trip to Southeast Asia

This is going to warrant another blog post in itself, so here are just my top 10 tips for packing for two months in Southeast Asia:

  • Clothes you don’t mind ruining and sweating in.
  • More swimwear than underwear.
  • Lots of high-factor sun cream and aftersun.
  • A good mosquito spray with DEET and tiger balm (toothpaste also helps soothe bites).
  • A scarf and warm jumper (for bus air con).
  • A first aid kit (including something that can disinfect).
  • Two multi-way travel adapters (no, one is not enough).
  • Long trousers and something to cover your shoulders for more conservative countries.
  • A backpack you can lift and doesn’t just open from the top.
  • Padlocks (at least two).

Statues at Buddha Park in Vientiane, Laos

Two Months in Southeast Asia on a Shoestring Budget

Now comes the most important part: how to travel Asia on a budget. And I wish I could give you a straightforward answer as to how much backpacking Asia costs, but I’m afraid it’s not that simple. However, there are some ways to ‘guesstimate’ what you will spend during your two month Southeast Asia itinerary:

1. Work out the cost of your flights to and from Asia, your vaccinations and your insurance first.

I know this sounds obvious, but leaving my vaccinations last minute and having to have them in Hong Kong, rather than via the NHS back in the UK, was a major cost for me. These three things will probably be the biggest expenses of your whole Southeast Asia trip, and may cost more than the rest of your backpacking budget (they did for me).

For finding the best deals on flights, I recommend Skyscanner, as I find it’s more flexible to use (filter by destination, by month or simply choose ‘everywhere’ to find the cheapest options) and it gets me the cheapest flight for the cheapest price every time.

Patuxai and fountains at sunsets in Vietiane, Laos

2. Research Your Budget By Country and By Average Spend Per Day

OK, what do I mean by this? Well, when I was planning my Asia travel itinerary, I heavily researched exactly what kind of budget was realistic for each individual country I was visiting because I was being super-cheap and trying to do as tight a shoestring budget as I could.

So, I worked out that I needed slightly more budget allocated for Myanmar and slightly less for Cambodia and Vietnam. However, Myanmar was the start of my trip and I was amazed at how under budget I was, so I spent more! Then I got to Cambodia and Vietnam and realised I had underestimated how much I needed and was out of pocket.

Lesson learnt: do your research to work out how much backpacking Asia costs in each country, but also have an ‘average spend per day’ for the whole Southeast Asia tour, to keep the budget in perspective and don’t be afraid to adjust the budget when and where necessary. Plus, always have a ‘rainy day stash’ just in case.

This Backpacking Budget for Southeast Asia by MyFunkyTravel does a great job of suggesting an overall budget as well as a breakdown of daily budgets per country, so you can travel asia cheap. Remember to take this advice with a pinch of salt, as currency conversions change, inflation happens and the more popular a destination becomes, the quicker the prices rise.

Mekong River at sunset in Luang Prabang, Laos

3. How to get the cheapest accommodation deals in Southeast Asia

Accommodation is super-cheap in Southeast Asia by most western standards, with some hostel dorm rooms coming to just a few US dollars per night. I worked out that almost everywhere I stayed on my Southeast Asia travel route was cheaper than any rent I have ever paid in my life.

Here are 4 tips on how to get the best accommodation deals on hostels in Southeast Asia, for those looking to travel Asia on budget that is a serious shoestring budget:

Southeast Asia on Shoestring and a hipster coffee in Siem Reap, Cambodia

a) Use price comparison websites to find the cheapest places

Don’t use your guidebook because by the time your guidebook has been researched, gone to print, been published, been bought and then been read by you, the information is likely out of date. Also, most guidebooks have rules about how long a place must be open before it’s accepted into the guidebook (often two years) and only recommend a handful of options.

I use and thoroughly recommend Booking.com because I always find the best places on there (see the country guides below for specific recommendations), the reviews are up-to-date, plentiful and reliable, and the deals are super cheap (we’ll come back to this on point d).

Juice and frangipani in Amed, Bali, Indonesia

b) Don’t book online, just turn up

This is particularly true of hostels in Southeast Asia vs the rest of the world – many hostels charge a higher price for an online booking than for a walk-in, so you will most likely get the best price by researching beforehand, using a site like Booking.com, then turning up on their doorstep.

However, there are exceptions to this rule. Those exceptions are holidays, festivals and peak season. This has caught me out so many times, so always research, double-check and triple-check whether your destination is likely to be booked out or busy, as this can inflate the price or leave you homeless.

Indonesian food in Amed, Bali, Indonesia

c) Haggle or ask for a discount

Yes, this is cheeky and I personally don’t do it because accommodation is already so cheap by western standards. Be aware that you need to be sensitive if you do choose to do this and that haggling is the art of finding a price both parties are happy with, not getting the cheapest deal.

A traveller I met from China swore by the system of asking for a discount at the point of check-in. He would research places using Booking.com, then if he was staying longer than a few nights or if he was part of a group, he would politely ask for a discount. The hostels almost always said yes.

Cooking class, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

d) Save and earn money through referral links and affiliate schemes

So, the second reason I use Booking.com is because they have two great ways to financially reward their customers:

Referral links: If you have an account with Booking.com, you can save money by booking through a friend’s referral link, and you can actually earn money by sharing your referral link with others. This can be found in the ‘Refer friends and earn’ section on the website when you log in (only available in the UK as far as I know).

Cliff and ocean view at Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia

Affiliate Scheme: If you have a blog or relevant business, you may be eligible to join the Booking.com affiliate scheme, where you can earn commission on bookings made through your personalised affiliate links.

The best thing about the Booking.com affiliate scheme is that you can use your own links to make bookings for yourself! Commission starts at 25% and though it takes a while to process, that’s a potential quarter of all your accommodation costs that you can save.

4. Plot a Southeast Asia Travel Route Over Land

Long bus journeys are not always the most comfortable, but they are often the most cost-effective way to travel from city to city, and country to country. To save money on air fares, choose a Southeast Asia travel route that goes overland. If you’re apprehensive, read How to Survive Long Bus Journeys in Southeast Asia.

My Two Month Southeast Asia Travel Itinerary

The following is a comprehensive Southeast Asia travel guide for my entire two month Southeast Asia travel itinerary, organised chronologically and by country, with details of how I travelled Asia on a budget, where I stayed and what I would recommend seeing.

Note that I did not have a particularly logical Southeast Asia backpacking route, as this was a ‘Farewell Asia’ trip for me, having spent five years living in Hong Kong. Therefore, I did not visit Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines, as I had recently been on separate trips to those countries (see these summarised at the end for more details.

Shwedagon Paya, Yangon, Myanmar

10 Days in Myanmar (Burma) 

I started my two months Southeast Asia itinerary with Myanmar, also known by its old colonial name, Burma (this confused some of the Brits back home, so FYI). I was intrigued by its history and the tragic stories of the governing military regime and the colonial wars.

Update: at the time of my backpacking trip in Asia, I did not realise the extent of the discrimination against Rohingha Muslims in Myanmar, which has been described as a genocide. Due to what I know now, I no longer recommend visiting Myanmar for the foreseeable future and I strongly advise that you do extensive research before you decide whether to spend your tourist dollars here.

Sule Paya at sunset in Yangon, Myanmar

Where to go:

  • – Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar.
  • – Mandalay, the second-largest city and last royal capital of Myanmar.
  • – Bagan, one of the world’s greatest archaeological sites.
  • – Inle Lake, famous for floating villages and gardens.

I personally found Burmese cities to be overwhelming, even for someone like me who had been living and travelling around Asia for half a decade. The traffic, the crowds, the business, the noise! It was chaotic, but beautiful. I really felt like I’d thrown myself into the deep end.

Temples in Bagan, Myanmar

What to see:

  • – The Shwedagon Paya in Yangon
  • – Bagan temples at sunrise and sunset
  • – The Moustache Brothers Show in Mandalay
  • – U Bein Bridge in Amapura (a day trip from Mandalay)
  • – The leg-rowing fishermen at Inle Lake

Mandalay Palace, Myanmar

Where to stay:

These are the hostels I stayed at (and would recommend) along my Southeast Asia backpacking route:

Burmese teashop meal in Yangon, Myanmar

What to eat and drink:

  • – Teashop meal and snacks
  • – Street food
  • – Indian food
  • – Sugar cane juice
  • – Myanmar beer

Entrance to the Shwedagon Paya, Yangon, Myanmar

How much things cost:

  • – Visas: many passports need visas in advance for visiting Myanmar, including British. I got mine at the Myanmar Consulate General in Hong Kong for around US$23.
  • – Accommodation: US$10-15 per night
  • – Transport: buses between destinations cost around US$10-15, taxis around town cost US$1-2 and bike rental for the day is also around US$1-2.
  • – Food: most hostels provide breakfast, street food and teashop meals cost US$1-2, meals in restaurants around $5.
  • – Other expenses: entry to the Bagan Archaeological Zone costs around US$20 and you pay it on the bus to Bagan.

Entrance to Buddha Hill, Mandalay, Myanmar

Things to know:

  • – As mentioned above, the treatment of Rohingha Muslims in Myanmar is a huge issue at the moment. Educate yourself on the subject before you make a decision to visit.
  • – Due to Myanmar’s complicated history, the military still control a lot of the country. There are designated tourist zones and places where tourists can’t visit, so don’t expect to be able to just hire a scooter and drive around the country looking for places off the beaten track.
  • – You can’t get Burmese kyat outside of Burma! Don’t exchange money at the airport, as the exchange rates are highly inflated (taxi drivers will accept US dollars to take you into the city). Instead, use the ‘black market’ and exchange at a hotel or booth. Yangon has the best rates. Notes in higher denominations have better exchange rates. ATMs do not accept foreign cards.
  • – The easiest and cheapest way to get around the country is by bus. I booked buses (some overnight) between cities online through Star Ticket.

My personal highlight

The magic of Bagan really comes to life at sunrise and sunset. The shadows of the temples grow long, the landscape turns to gold and hot air balloons rise out of the haze. It’s spectacular. Give yourself more time here than you think you need – bad weather could limit your sunrise and sunset viewings.

For a detailed itinerary of my time in Myanmar, you can read Burma Budget and My Myanmar Travel Tips. To peruse my personal diary, lifted from the travel journal I wrote during my two months in Southeast Asia, read 10 Days in Myanmar | Travel Diary.

For a ‘Top 10’ roundup of things that I picked up in those 10 days, read Myanmar: 10 Things That Might Surprise You, published on GoNomad.

Haw Pha Kaew temple, Vientiane, Laos

One Week in Laos

From Myanmar, I moved onto Laos, spending a week in this little landlocked country. Competition is fierce, but Laos is definitely one of my favourite places that I visited on my two month Southeast Asia backpacking route, and one week was definitely not enough time to fully explore it!

Colourful Southeast Asian tuk-tuk in Luang Prabang, Laos

Where to go:

  • – Luang Prabang, an ancient town in the north of Laos.
  • – Vang Vieng, a small town surrounded by amazing natural wonders, but also has a reputation due to the ‘tubing’ crowd.
  • – Vientiane, the capital city of Laos.
  • – Huay Xai, a town near the Thai border, known for The Gibbon Experience.

Luang Prabang is Laos’ most prominent city in the north, but it has the atmosphere of a quiet town. Give yourself more time here. If you do venture to Vang Vieng (and the scenery is beautiful), try and stay outside of the city, away from the tubing and ‘happy shake’ crowd.

Gold temple at Wat Xieng Thong in Luang Prabang, Laos

What to see:

  • – Kuang Si waterfalls, Luang Prabang
  • – The Night Market, Luang Prabang
  • – Sunset from Phu Si hill, Luang Prabang
  • – Patuxai, Vientiane
  • – Buddha Park, Vientiane
  • – Caving, lagoons and mountains, Vang Vieng
  • – Jungle, Huay Xai

Mekong River and bamboo bridge building in Luang Prabang, Laos

Where to stay:

These are the hostels I stayed at (and would recommend) along my Southeast Asia backpacking route:

I stayed at Nok et Mika Guesthouse in Vang Vieng and it was a bit of a nightmare, for reasons I go into in the posts linked below. To reiterate, if you do stay in Vang Vieng, spend a little more to get out of town.

French brunch at Le Banneton in Luang Prabang, Laos

What to eat and drink:

  • – French food
  • – Buffet at the night market
  • – Coconut pancakes
  • – Laos coffee
  • – Beerlao

Buddha statue, Phu Si Hill, Luang Prabang, Laos

How much things cost:

  • – Visas: you can get this on arrival and the price depends on your passport. My British passport meant I paid US$35. Also, if you don’t have a passport-sized photo to hand, this costs an additional US$1.
  • – Accommodation: US$5.5-7 per night.
  • – Transport: long bus journeys are around US$6-13, tuk-tuk journeys cost only a few dollars.
  • – Food: street food is a bargain at US$1-2 for a meal and this only rises to around US$5 for restaurants.
  • – Other expenses: activities and day excursions from Vang Vieng cost US$13-19 depending on the activity. Sometimes there’s a discount for a bigger party.

Patuxai building at sunset in Vientiane, Laos

Things to know:

  • – You can’t get Laos kip outside of Laos, but my card worked fine at ATMs in the country.
  • – As you can probably tell from what I’ve said above, be aware that Vang Vieng is a bit seedy. No judgement if you want to try out tubing, but also be mindful that it can be dangerous.
  • – A tourist died at The Gibbon Experience in 2017. Obviously, it was an accident, but it’s something to be aware of.
  • – It’s worth noting that Laos is a more conservative country than others you may encounter on your Asia travel itinerary, so be sure to dress appropriately, especially when sightseeing.

Sunset at Phu Si Hill in Luang Prabang, Laos

My personal highlight

Luang Prabang may be a city, but it has the atmosphere of a town or village. The gorgeous temples with their low-sloping roofs, the colonial Indochinese-style villas and the buzzing scene of the night market has cemented this place in my mind. I will be back one day for sure.

For a full itinerary of my trip to Laos, read Backpacking Around Laos | Budget and Travel Tips. For some context on how I absolutely fell in love with LP, read 24 Hours in Luang Prabang. Finally, for my narrative travel diary entries, read One Week in Laos | Travel Diary.

Temple of Bayon, Angkor, Cambodia

Two Weeks in Cambodia

I have wanted to visit Cambodia ever since I arrived in Asia back in 2011 and the country didn’t disappoint. The ancient history is astounding and incredibly well-preserved. The modern history is heartbreaking and a little uncomfortable to learn about, though still important to visit.

Side note: although I had two full weeks in Cambodia on my two month Southeast Asia itinerary, I managed to mess up my timings pretty bad, so that I was always going back and forth from Phnom Penh. Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, back to Phnom Penh, then Kampot and Sihanoukville and then back to Phnom Penh! Not exactly my best travel planning.

Sunset river cruise in Kampot, Cambodia

Where to go:

  • – Siem Reap, known for nightlife and the gateway to the ancient city of Angkor.
  • – Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia.
  • – Battambang, a colonial riverside city.
  • – Kampot, a sleepy riverside town.
  • – Mondulkiri, home to elephant sanctuaries.
  • – Sihanoukville or Kep, beach destinations.

Royal Palace, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

What to see:

  • – The ancient city of Angkor
  • – Nightlife in Siem Reap
  • – The bamboo train in Battambang
  • – Elephant sanctuaries in Mondulkiri
  • – The heartbreaking Killing Fields and S-21 Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, in Phnom Penh
  • – Sunset over the river in Kampot
  • – Relaxing on the beach in Kep

Memorial, Choeung Ek Killing Fields, outside Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Where to stay:

These are the hostels I stayed at (and would recommend) along my Southeast Asia backpacking route:

I stayed in Sihanoukville, but I did not enjoy it at all. I would advise going on to Kep, which was highly recommended by most travellers I met.

Preah Khan, Angkor, Cambodia

What to eat and drink:

  • – Fish amok
  • – Street food
  • – Khmer curry
  • – Kampot pepper
  • – Angkor beer

Cambodian National Museum, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

How much things cost:

  • – Visas: you can get this on arrival and the price depends on your passport. My British passport meant I paid US$35.
  • – Accommodation: US$6-8 per night.
  • – Transport: long bus journeys are around US$5-19 and can be bought in advance online with Giant Ibis, tuk-tuk journeys cost only a few dollars, but bike rental is often cheaper.
  • – Food: street food is a bargain at US$1-2 for a meal, but start around US$6 for a meal in a restaurant.
  • – Other expenses: your biggest expense will be your ticket to Angkor, which starts at US$37 for one day. Ask at your hostel for more information.

Angkor Wat at sunrise, Cambodia

Things to know:

  • – Cambodia has a really tragic modern history that’s worth reading up on before you visit, to give you some idea of context. The Killings Fields and S-21 Prison Museum are difficult places to visit, but I highly recommend that you do see them.
  • – Confusingly, Cambodia accepts US dollars as well as Cambodian riel. Make sure you have low denominations because it can be difficult to break larger US notes.
  • – Entry to Angkor requires you to go to the ticket office (the other side of town) and get a ticket pass with your photo printed on. I highly advise that you do this the evening before your visit, so that you can go straight to the site for sunrise.
  • – Don’t go to Angkor Wat for sunrise. There are thousands upon thousands of people there every morning. Instead, choose a different temple for a view that is just as stunning, but not such a tourist trap.

Hall of Mirrors - Preah Khan, Angkor, Cambodia

My personal highlight

Exploring Angkor was an other-worldly experience that I will always cherish. The history of the ancient civilisation and its city is mind-boggling, while the timelessness of the ancient temples really puts modern life into perspective.

For more information about my two weeks in Cambodia, read Cambodia Travel Advice: My Backpacker Budget and Travel Tips and for my travel journal entries read Two Weeks in Cambodia | Travel Diary.

I also wrote about exploring Angkor in Real Life Temple Run | How I Saw 10 Temples In Angkor In Just One Day (quite a feat when you see how huge the ancient city is) and I talked about how affecting Cambodia’s modern history is in So That History Does Not Repeat Itself | Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Boats on the Mekong Delta, Vietnam

A Few Days in Vietnam

I first visited Vietnam back in 2013, spending a week in Hanoi and Ha Long Bay. However, I had promised myself I wouldn’t leave Southeast Asia until I had seen Ho Chi Minh City, also known by its previous name, Saigon. That’s right – I wasn’t going to ‘Miss Saigon’ (sorry).

So, although I only spent a few days in the country on my trip backpacking around Southeast Asia, I recommend that you have more time there.

Cold vermicelli noodles with pork and spring rolls, Saigon, Vietnam

Where to go:

  • – Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam.
  • – Ha Long Bay, the limestone islands.
  • – Da Nang, a coastal city with great beaches.
  • – Nha Trang, a coastal resort and known for nightlife.
  • – Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), a colonial city in the south.
  • – Phu Quoc, an island known for amazing beaches.

Notre Dame Cathedral, Saigon, Vietnam

What to see:

  • – A boat trip around Ha Long Bay
  • – Water puppetry in Hanoi
  • – Beaches and nightlife in Da Nang, Nha Trang and Phu Quoc
  • – The War Remnants Museum in Saigon
  • – Cu Chi Tunnels in Saigon
  • – A trip to the boat markets in the Mekong Delta

Notre Dame Cathedral and scooter traffic in Saigon, Vietnam

Where to stay:

These are the hostels I stayed at (and would recommend) along my Southeast Asia backpacking route:

What to eat and drink:

  • – Fresh spring rolls
  • – Pho
  • – Cold vermicelli
  • – Vietnamese iced coffee
  • – Salads
  • – Banh mi
  • – Saigon beer

Street food soup noodles with pork, Saigon, Vietnam

How much things cost:

  • – Visas: for a British passport, there is a 30-day exemption visa on arrival (free). However, be aware that if you leave Vietnam, you can’t re-enter on that visa.
  • – Accommodation: US$4 per night.
  • – Food: street food is a bargain at US$1-2 for a meal and the most expensive meal I had at a restaurant was US$6.

War Remnants Museum, Saigon, Vietnam

Things to know:

  • – The traffic in Vietnam is insane, even by Southeast Asian standards. The pavements are also used by scooters in Saigon, and crossing the road in Hanoi is notoriously stressful. Be super-careful as accidents are known to happen.
  • – I took a tour to the Mekong Delta and it was awful. If you would like to do a tour, make sure that it leaves early in the morning and that you are guaranteed to see the floating markets.

On a boat on the Mekong Delta, Vietnam

My personal highlight

All the food! Vietnamese food is highly underrated by the rest of the world, in my stomach’s opinion. Cold vermicelli and spring rolls are fantastic, and Vietnamese iced coffee (made with condensed milk) is delicious!

A full itinerary for my time in Saigon can be found at Ho Chi Minh City Travel Advice & Budget Planning. My travel diary is, of course, entitled Don’t Miss Saigon! | A Few Days in Ho Chi Minh City | Travel Diary. (Told you that pun was a winner).

Waterfall on a white water rafting trip, Ubud, Bali

Two Weeks in Bali, Indonesia

Before I started plotting out my Southeast Asia travel itinerary, I toyed with the idea of spending the full two months in Indonesia instead. Obviously, I ultimately decided on a multi-country trip so that I could see and experience the corners of Asia I had yet to see.

But, judging by how much I enjoyed my time in Bali, Indonesia would not have been a bad call either; there is so much to see and do just on this one island. Although there are certain areas of Bali that are certainly more touristy than others, it seemed to me that it had not yet been spoiled.

Rice terraces in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Where to go:

Note that this Southeast Asia travel guide focuses on Bali and the nearby Gili Islands, rather than Indonesia as a whole. Of course, there is more to see further afield, but as I didn’t visit anywhere else in the country, I haven’t included additional Indonesian destinations here.

  • – Seminyak, upmarket beach resort.
  • – Canggu, a surfer’s paradise.
  • – Amed, known for snorkeling.
  • – Lovina, known for dolphins.
  • – Gili Islands (not on Bali), known for coral reefs and sandy beaches.
  • – Ubud, inland and known for rice terraces, yoga and clean living.

Ganesh statue at a Hindu temple in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

What to see and do:

  • – Surfing in Canggu
  • – Snorkelling in Amed
  • – Yoga, rice terraces and village living in Ubud
  • – Dolphin watching in Lovina
  • – Chilling on the beach in Seminyak
  • – Uluwatu temple
  • – Relaxing on the Gili Islands

Coconut pancakes at a cooking class in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Where to stay:

*I stayed in Legian for the first few days of my time in Bali. Although the hostel was great, the location wasn’t and the whole Legian/Kuta/Denpasar area is a bit dirty and very touristy. Instead, you want to get out of the city and go as far north as you can.

Hindu flower offering, Bali, Indonesia

What to eat and drink:

  • – Nasi Goreng
  • – Health foods, smoothies and salads (especially in Ubud)
  • – Bintang beer

I also highly recommend taking cooking classes. I took one in Ubud, where we bought fresh ingredients in the markets and cooked with them out on a farm in the countryside, which also brought in more income for the farmers there.

Kelapa Cottage in Amed, Bali, Indonesia

Things to know:

  • – I found the cheapest way to get around the island was using Uber (they had just started up on the island and had discounts for users), but there is a lot of contention between Uber drivers and local taxi drivers, so be aware of that.
  • – Nearly everyone hires a scooter to get around, but I met countless people who had the typical scooter burn on their leg from swinging their leg over the side, including myself. Be careful just being around those bloody things and if you’ve never used one before, then ask how to safely get on to save yourself losing a chunk of skin off your leg.
  • – I heard of bag snatching and theft happening on the beaches around Kuta, so be careful not to fall asleep in the sun!

Treetop hotel room in Lovina, Bali, Indonesia

How much things cost:

  • – Visas: with my British passport, I entered Indonesia for up to 30 days ‘visa free’.
  • – Accommodation: US$5-12 per night, depending on the area and quality.
  • – Food: similar to above, street food is a bargain at US$1-2 for a meal, but start around US$6 for a meal in a restaurant. Again, this depends on the area you’re staying in, as prices vary all over the island.
  • – Other expenses: a yoga class in Ubud costs around $10 for one class, but there are packages for more classes if you’re staying longer.

White water rafting, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

My personal highlight

My whole time in Ubud was a highlight. Cooking classes, museums, rice terraces, white water rafting trips, incredible food and some of the best yoga classes I have ever experienced.

For more information about the different areas of Bali I visited, read Guide to Bali: Planning and Travel Tips. My woeful travel diary entries lamenting my string of bad luck on the island can be found at Two Weeks in Bali, A Series of Unfortunate Events | Travel Diary.

Other Countries in Southeast Asia

As mentioned above, I couldn’t fit every single country into my two month Southeast Asia trip itinerary, and I don’t recommend that you do either. But still, here are a few other suggestions of places you may want to swap in/out of your backpacking trip, depending on your travel route and schedule:

Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

Malaysia

I visited a friend in Kuala Lumpur a few years ago, but have always meant to return to Malaysia to see more of this special country, especially a trip to beautiful Borneo.

  • Where to go: capital city Kuala Lumpur, the island of Penang and lush Borneo.
  • What to see and do: plenty of water sports and opportunities to see marine life, meeting orangutans in Borneo, climbing or admiring Mount Kinabalu, eating street food in Kuala Lumpur and gazing up at the iconic Petronas Towers.

Jumping on the beach on Koh Phangan, in Thailand

Thailand

I travelled to Thailand a few years ago, spending a (terrible) day in Bangkok, before heading down south, island hopping and drinking at the Full Moon Party on Ko Phangan (to be fair, I was 22). I have to admit, Thailand wasn’t quite the paradise I imagined, but I was impressed by the New Year festival of Songkran.

  • Where to go: capital city Bangkok, city of culture Chiang Mai, Phuket and the islands off the east and west coasts.
  • What to see and do: eating all the Thai food, partying in Bangkok or on Ko Phangan, relaxing on beautiful beach islands such as Ko Phi-Phi, learning to dive off Ko Tao, or soaking up Thai culture in Chiang Mai.

Beautiful sunset at White Beach on the island of Boracay, in the Philippines

Philippines

I’ve been to the Philippines three times and I have still only scratched the surface! Definitely the most underrated Southeast Asian country in my opinion, it has everything from hikes along rice terraces to swimming with whale sharks.

  • Where to go: Northern Luzon (especially the village of Sagada), then choose your islands; Palawan, Cebu and Boracay are just some of the favourites.
  • What to see and do: hike rice terraces, explore caves, relax on pristine beaches, swim with whale sharks, island-hop, and anything else you can think of!

The Merlion and Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore, lit up at night

Singapore

I have not been quiet about my love for Singapore and how I hope to live there one day. Even just a layover in Changi Airport on this trip (FYI, the best airport in the world) made me extremely happy.

  • What to see and do: the Singapore Zoo or Night Safari, Little India, street food, treetop rainforest walks, the Merlion, the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel and the Gardens by the Bay.

Brunei Darussalam

I’ve been intrigued by the tiny sultanate of Brunei since a colleague of mine told me it was the most amazing place she’s ever lived. However, I’ve yet to make it there. Here’s what I know:

  • What to see and do: explore beautiful rainforests and mangroves, water villages, mosques, wild monkeys, museums and markets.

Timor-Leste

Similarly, I was tempted to hop over from Bali to nearby Timor-Leste on this trip, but didn’t quite make it in the end. Timor-Leste is Southeast Asia’s newest country and this is the little that I know about it:

  • What to see and do: reef diving, snorkeling, coffee plantations and really good trivia nights!

Two Months in Southeast Asia Itinerary for Travelling on a Shoestring Budget

Two Months in Southeast Asia: Final Thoughts

I packed so much into my two months in Southeast Asia that it was difficult to keep up with the pace! For anyone else travelling around Asia in a similar time frame, I would definitely advise that less is more; a pick a few countries and explore them well.

With five years in Asia behind me as well as backpacking through Asia for two months solo, I’ve managed to see a lot… but it’s never enough! I would love to do it all again and fill in all the gaps I missed on my Asia trip itinerary.

However, next time I’ll plan for a bit more time and try to save for more than a cheap shoestring budget!

10 thoughts on “Two Months in Southeast Asia Itinerary | Backpacking on a Shoestring Budget

    1. Oh wow, thank you! It was pretty cool, I have to admit. Let me know if and when you go and I’d love to give you some tips!

    1. Haha! I know, right? I really packed it in! South Africa is definitely on my radar for my next adventure, though!

  1. Hi your holiday sounds amazing I am going in October planning on Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar don’t knw if I would be able to do Cambodia as well seeing that it will be 28 days and doing it solo any tips will be appreciated….

    1. Oh man, it was and so does yours! That’s a lot to fit into 28 days too! I have stuff about Bali (only place I went to in Indonesia), Cambodia and Myanmar, as per the links above if you need info. I’ve been to Thailand, Malaysia (well, Kuala Lumpur) and Singapore (hope to live there at some point) before, though nothing on this blog on them as of yet.

      The best advice I can give is to say that sometimes less is more (see a place in detail rather than hop from one place to the next). Remember, you can always come back. For solo stuff, I advise that you go with an open mind to be flexible; things change last-minute and don’t go to plan, but in those challenging moments remind yourself that the most difficult of times make for the best travel stories! Oh, and as a solo female traveller, I always padlock my bag with a big padlock to deter thieves, then stash the key in my bra! Happy travels! Let me know if you want any more advise, info or recommendations – I would love to help!

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