My Southeast Asia trip for 20 days with my cousin was one of the best experiences of my life. It was a totally unexpected trip. The idea of being travelmates arose in the typical Christmas dinner where purposes are made that nobody complies at the end. Who would tell us that a few months later we would be traveling to Asia for the first time?
The 20 days we spent touring Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia were unforgettable. So on return of that great adventure, I decided to create this blog.
In this post and the following, we will let you know everything you need if you are planning a 20-day trip to Southeast Asia.
- General tips to organize a trip to Southeast Asia.
- Travel budget for backpackers.
- Specific travel guides so you know what to do and what to see in the places we visited. (We will leave the links during this post).
In short, we will make your backpacker trip to Southeast Asia unforgettable.
WHAT IS CALLED SOUTHEAST ASIA?
All of the following countries are considered into the Southeast Asia: Burma, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, East Timor and Vietnam. All of these are located at the South of China and at the East of India. The number of paradisiacal islands in this area, between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, make Southeast Asia an up-market destination for tourists from all over the world. Especially for those who love the beaches and diving.
Like most, when we decided to travel to this region of Asia, the contrast of wilderness with modern cities was what most attracted our attention. It is a very exotic destination and where you will love its contrasts. It is also quite cheap, making it ideal for backpackers. Although it depends on the economy of the countries of Southeast Asia that are visited.
The cultural differences with Europe are huge, so it is a good choice for those who seek to know other cultures and traditions. In addition, despite some isolated cases, tourism in Southeast Asia is completely safe.
HOW TO ORGANIZE A SOUTHEAST ASIA TRIP in 20 DAYS
A trip to Southeast Asia in 20 days requires a lot of planning. The first thing you should know is that 20 days is not enough to travel this area completely. It is recommended to focus only on two or three countries.
BEST TIME TO TRAVEL SOUTHEAST ASIA TAKING INTO ACCOUNT THE CLIMATE
Are you wondering what is the best time to travel to Southeast Asia? Sorry, dear reader, there is no specific time. It depends on the countries that are visited. My advice is to choose the countries in Southeast Asia that you are going to visit depending on when are you going to travel.
You should know when it is the dry season of each country and avoid the monsoon season because it could ruin your trip.
We used this application. Select the month in which you travel and check out how many days of rain are predicted for that month in different destinations.
If you are able to travel to Southeast Asia at any time of the year and you have a favorite destination, then check which month has the best predictions for that destination.
HOW TO TRAVEL TO SOUTHEAST ASIA
There are no direct flights to any country in Southeast Asia from Spain. Most of the flights make one stopover in the Middle East at least. The airports that have more connections and therefore to where the flights are cheaper are:
- Singapore airport.
- Kuala Lumpur airport. (Capital city of Malaysia).
- Bangkok airport (Capital city of Thailand).
We ruled out Thailand because in June, when we wanted to travel, it was not a good time to visit this country, leaving us with two options.
From what we saw in different travel guides, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur were highly recommended and we could not decide. We finally opted for an option that slightly raised the travel budget, but we did not regret.
We did not buy a return flight but we bought two independent flights. One way to Singapore and another to return from Kuala Lumpur.
TYPE OF TRIP
As i said, 20 days is not enough even if your plan is just to see only 3 countries of Southeast Asia. The first thing to do, you and your Southeast Asia’s travelmates is to agree on the type of trip you want to do.
If the majority prefer to see a single place, rest and take advantage of the holidays to relax, picking a single country (or even a single island). Of course, do not choose just Singapore because you can see it in two days.
If, on the contrary, you are as crazy and hyperactive as we are, and you can not stand the idea of leaving something amazing to see that you are halfway close, you will love our travel itinerary. And besides, I warn you, you will need a new some holidays again at your return.
HOW TO choose THE BEST 20-DAY SOUTHEAST ASIA TRIP ITINERARY
If you have chosen to live to the maximum this great Asian adventure, we will give it shape now. You want to see everything in 20 days. Here we tell you our trick to visit as much as possible at least.
1. Select the countries where the weather is nice at the month in which you are traveling to Southeast Asia. For this, we will use the application we discussed above.
2. Find out what to see and to do in these countries. Write down all the results that Google throws.
3. Open Google MyMaps and create a map. Call it “Southeast Asia trip in 20 days Itinerary ” or whatever you want. The important thing is to be kept.
4. Add to the map all the sights you searched for in step 2.
5. Discard those far removed from the rest to save time and money.
6. Categorize them by colors to differentiate in which you have a special interest according to your tastes.
7. Once the route has been profiled, check for connections between the different locations.
8. Decide how many days you want to spend at each of the destinations.
9. Make an Excel document trying to adjust places, days to visit each of them and connection flights schedules.
TIME CHANGE AT THE SOUTHEAST ASIA
During the trip, we were in two different time zones, apart from the great gap with Spain. I recommend you take it into account to avoid wasting the first day or the day after the return by fatigue.
The above table, besides helping us to know the time that it was in each place helped us to remember these time changes. The black painted cells range from 12 pm to 8 am in the time zone of each place. Although we did not respect those hours of sleep any single day, it helped us to plan the trip t¡considering the time changes.
It is important to have a travel budget. We spent a lot less than we marked. Taking into account flights, from Spain to Asia, as well as the different domestic flights we took (5 in total), accommodation, daily subsistence, activities, etc. We spent less than € 1,400 per person. And the truth is that we did not give up anything during the trip.
Here you will find the total breakdown of the budget with all the costs of the Southeast Asia trip in 20 days.
THE BEST TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR SOUTHEAST ASIA
As in all trips, but in this one for more reasons, it is imperative that you travel with travel insurance. In addition I recommend that you choose a insurance for Southeast Asia of good quality. You will be far from Spain or your country, it is a long trip and you are traveling to countries where it is easy to suffer any stomach disease or even worse like Dengue or Malaria.
In fact, I recommend that you investigate and contract the best travel insurance. We always travel with MONDO that has more coverage than other travel insurance for a similar cost. We also have a discount for our readers.
The only vaccine required to travel to Southeast Asia country is yellow fever and only for people that were during the previous 15 days in a country where you can get this disease.
This measure is not to prevent you from getting sick, but to prevent you from expanding yellow fever in Southeast Asia, where there is none.
If you want to know what these countries are, click here.
Other recommended but not mandatory vaccines are:
- Hepatitis A and B
- Typhoid fever
- Japanese encephalitis
We did not get any shot to travel to Southeast Asia (other than those we got as children).
Other diseases to consider when traveling to Southeast Asia are Dengue and Malaria. These two diseases are more common in Asia and quite dangerous. But this is not a reason to stop visiting Southeast Asia. The chances of getting them are minimal.
There is a treatment to prevent malaria. This treatment is done before, during and after the trip. In addition, some experts recommend not to undergo this treatment since it can hide the symptoms of previously contracted Malaria aggravating the situation. In any case, following the treatment or not, it is a personal decision that you must take.
We do not follow the malaria prevention treatment. If you make this decision you should be alert to any signs of fever as it could be Dengue or Malaria. As soon as the first symptoms begin, contact your travel insurance.
Both Dengue and Malaria are transmitted by mosquito bites so the best way to avoid them is by using a repellent with a high concentration of DEET.
Even so, mosquitoes will bite you. But don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you have been infected by one of these diseases.
The need for a visa to access Southeast Asia depends on the countries you are visiting.
No visa is required for tourists in Singapore if you have a Spanish passport or from any South American country. Although it is necessary to fulfill certain requirements to enter the country:
- Have a passport that does not expire in the next 6 months.
- A flight leaving the country for the next 90 days.
- Certificate of vaccination of yellow fever in the cases mentioned above.
If you have any doubt or want to verify that they have not changed these requirements you can visit the official website of immigration in Singapore.
The visa in Malaysia is not necessary for Spanish travelers who do not intend to visit the country for more than 90 days.
However, you must meet the same requirements as to enter Singapore.
Travelers have to pay visa fees to enter Indonesia. The price is 10 $ for a stay of up to 7 days and 25 $ for stays of up to 30 days.
However, there is a way to enter Indonesia without a visa. If you travel to a small airport (we travel to Medan) from another small airport (we came from Penang – Malaysia) you will not have to go through immigration.
In case you enter the country from a larger airport like Denpasar (Bali) or Adi Sucipto (Yogyakarta) apart from paying the visa you will have to:
- Carry a ticket out of the country in less than 30 days.
- Have in possession a passport in force that does not expire in less than 6 months.
- Have a credit card with an amount of more than 1000 $.
- Proof of vaccination of yellow fever if you have recently visited countries at risk.
Each Southeast Asian country has a different currency. Dollar in Singapore, Ringgit in Malaysia and Rupiah in Indonesia were the ones we used.
The good thing about Asia is that even though there are many poor and economically underdeveloped areas, technology spreads everywhere. Even in the most remote places there are credit card readers, ATMs, etc. So you do not have to worry.
If you travel to Southeast Asia 20 days I recommend that you carry around 200 € cash. If you have any problem they will not refuse to charge you in euros.
My advice is not to change money from Spain, but to create an Evo smart account card which allows you to withdraw from anywhere in the world. Besides, we suggest not drawing so much money. The prices are much cheaper than Europe and with less quantity, you will feel that you have more money.
Finally and not to make a mess with so many changes of currency I tell you a trick that we use the first few days in each country.
Make a table with economic amounts that go from 0.50 € to 100 € (1 €, 10 €, 50 €, etc.). Indicate, at the following columns, the correspondence in the currencies of the countries in Southeast Asia that you will visit. So you have a quick way to know if something is cheap or expensive.
Where you will really save money in Southeast Asia is in accommodation. For a very low price, you can even stay in villas with SPA. That is why Southeast Asia is not only popular for backpackers but also for couples, many of them spending their honeymoon in Asia.
In my case, as I was traveling with my cousin, we preferred to stay in hostels for backpackers so in this way we could meet more people. The platforms we used to find the accommodation were:
In the specific guides of each place we will indicate our hotels.
OUR 20-days SOUTHEAST ASIA TRIP ITINERARY
We decided to visit Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia because we did our 20-days Southeast Asia trip in June.
To be honest. 20 days were not enough and we left a lot of things to see. However, we made the most of every single day of our trip. We slept a few hours and came back with a broken body and absolute need for vacation. This feeling can only mean that you just returned from the journey of your life.
The places visited in those 20 days were the following:
Singapore is the smallest country in Southeast Asia. The city of Singapore lavishes wealth everywhere. In just 50 years it managed to become the 9th strongest economic power in the world.
If you want to know what to do in Singapore in two days and how to eat for free at a Hindu temple do not miss this guide.
George Town, the most important city on the small island of Penang, made us falling in love even before we visited it. Street art, the best gastronomy of Malaysia, jungle and paradisiac beaches.
This combination could not be out of our Southeast Asia itinerary.
If you travel to Southeast Asia you can not miss seeing orangutans in freedom. Although there are elsewhere, the best place to see orangutans is in Indonesia, in the jungle of Bukit Lawang which is located on the island of Sumatra. Getting to the jungle is hard as the nearest airport, Medan, is 4 hours away. But definitely worth it.
We told you about the two-day trekking we did in the Bukit Lawang jungle to see orangutans at this post.
Visiting in one day the largest Buddhist temple in the world (Borobudur Temple) and one of the largest Hindu temples in the world (Prambanan Temple) is only possible in Yogyakarta.
This city on the island of Java, Indonesia, manages to make you vibrate. A mystical experience not to be missed on your trip to Southeast Asia.
If you want to know everything about Prambanan temple and Borobudur temple do not miss this post.
While organizing our Asian trip I was reading the popular book “Eat, pray, love.” Ever since I began planning the travel itinerary, I could not help but think of the rice paddies I visualized while devouring this book.
No doubt, if we were to go to Indonesia we would have to go to Bali. That is why this was the first place that we considered essential in our route. And of course, we couldn’t miss Ubud, cultural capital of the island.
This destination was squeezed on our route at the last moment.
The idea of spending days diving in paradisiacal beaches while enjoying the best nightlife of all Southeast Asia captivated us.
Besides, they say that there are no sunsets like those of the Gili Islands and I will not be the one to say otherwise. If you want to check it out visit our guide of Gili Trawangan.
Kuala Lumpur was our last destination in Southeast Asia. The capital city of Malaysia will surpass your expectations. There are a lot of things you have to see. It is quite similar to Singapore in terms of the rapid economic growth that has occurred. We assure you that the Petronas Towers will not leave you indifferent.
We have prepared this post to tell you what to do in Kuala Lumpur in two days.
Here you can see again the outline of our trip to Southeast Asia.
20-days SOUTHEAST ASIA trip MAP
RUTA SUDESTE ASIÁTICO - ENGLISH
As we have said, there are infinite possibilities. How will be your Southeast Asia trip?