Canadian Rockies road trip in 15 days

Let’s travel to the Canadian Rockies. Let’s go find emerald lakes that become mirrors for the Milky Way’s reflection at night, rows of pine trees that resemble watercolor paintings, wild animals that cross your path along the way, and Northern lights that invite you to dance until dawn.

Canadian Rockies road trip in 15 days. things to do in the canadian rockies tours banff national park

You are about to experience the most amazing trip of your life. You will feel deep emptiness when you say goodbye to the snowy peaks. Western Canada will become a part of you, and no new place that you explore will fill the gap quite the same way.

We gathered all necessary information in this post so that your Canadian Rockies road trip can be planned with ease.

This is the first article about our 15-day Canadian Rockies trip. Here you will find:

WHY TRAVEL TO THE Canadian Rockies?

The most beautiful place on Earth is a mountain range in northwestern part of North America, which crosses Canada and the United States. Our 15-day trip focused on the Canadian Rocky Mountains. This area is located between the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta.

It is no wonder why the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984. Its landscape formed by mountain peaks, lakes, waterfalls, glaciers, and canyons is unique to the rest of the world.

This, in turn, brings in thousands of visitors every year, many of them photographers aspiring to boost their portfolios. As a result, Canadian Rockies tours with travel agencies have become very popular.

Other visitors of the Canadian Rockies are tourists with purchasing power who are drawn to the luxury hotels and lodges hidden within the mountains. However, do not worry, the Rockies are for all budgets. It is also an ideal journey for backpackers in search of nature and adventure, with many affordable campsites that can reduce your travel budget.

emerald lake avalanche yoho national park Canadian Rockies road trip in 15 days. things to see in the canadian rockies train

There are four National Parks in the Canadian Rockies: Banff National Park, Yoho National Park, Jasper National Park, and Kootenay National Park.

During our 15-day trip in the Canadian Rockies, we were able to visit the first three.

TOP THINGS TO DO IN THE CANADIAN ROCKIES for 2 weeks

In this section, we will tell you essential things to do and see in the three Canadian Rockies parks that we visited.

These are:

BANFF NATIONAL PARK

Banff National Park was the first national park we visited. This park is closest to a commercial airport, in Calgary, which is only an hour and a half away. The park is located entirely within Alberta.

We spent a total of 6 days in Banff, although not consecutively. We returned to Calgary through the park so that we could do and see a few more things that we missed previously.

Of all the parks, Banff National Park has the most attractions to offer. If you are planning a 2-week longs road trip in the Canadian Rockies, leave approximately one week to explore this park.

Banff

Banff is the ideal place to start your Canadian Rockies road trip. In the two nights we spent in this area, we stayed at Two Jack Lakeside Campground. You will immediately fall in love with the lake views at this campground.

The small Two Jack Lake is linked to the larger Lake Minnewanka through a small channel. I recommend trekking a few routes that start out from this lake. We took the one towards Stewart Canyon.

Another thing you have to do in the Canadian Rockies is enjoying a sunset from Lake Vermilion, which is very close to Banff.

vermilion lakes banff national park. top things to do in the canadian rockies by rail. 15 days road trip

Also, staying in Banff town was a good option to do some of the activities that we found in Bow Valley Parkway.

BOW VALLEY PARKWAY

Bow Valley Parkway is one of the most amazing natural areas we’ve ever seen. Driving through the slender pine trees and tight curves was a special experience. You can find several Canadian Rockies landmarks here, such as Castle Mountain or Morant’s Curve.

One of the most popular excursions in the area is Johnston Canyon, where you can see double-tiered waterfalls.

If you still have energy after reaching the upper waterfalls you can continue ascending to the Ink Pots. This was one of our favorite spots in our 15-day Canadian Rockies road trip.

attraction and sights you cannot miss at the canadian rockies map in 15 days. Inkpots banff national park

LAKE LOUISE

I recommend spending two days in Lake Louise town to discover the area.

Lake Louise by itself is likely the most visited lake within the Canadian Rockies.

If you want to find a less crowded place, I recommend trekking up to Lake Agnes, but first passing through Mirror Lake. We found it very interesting that they were able to build a tea house in such a remote place.

Another thing you must see on this trip to Western Canada is Moraine Lake. This famous lake is surrounded by 10 peaks, and the best time to see it is a dawn.

We personally preferred this to its neighbor, Lake Louise.

Moraine Lake Banff Canada Canadian Rockies banff road trip in 15 days

you should be careful when hiking through the Lake Louise area, as this place is also home to many Grizzly bears.

Check our Guide to survive a bear attack in Canada.

ICEFIELDs PARKWAY

The Icefields Parkway links Banff National Park to Jasper National Park through 232 km of highway.

It is considered one of the most beautiful roads in the world, and we got to drive through it twice.

As you can imagine, there are many points of interest along this road. We stayed for two nights, one in Banff National Park and another in Jasper National Park, and were able to see some of the most interesting natural attractions.

Within Banff, the most beautiful lakes that we saw while crossing this road were Bow Lake and Peyto Lake, where we stopped both on the way there and back.

Peyto lake banff national park 15 days canadian rockies hiking road trip

Another essential thing that you have to do in the Canadian Rocky Mountains is to visit Mistaya Canyon, one of the landmarks inside Icefields Parkway.

Check our full Guide to Banff National Park

YOHO NATIONAL PARK

Before going to Jasper National Park, we spent two days in Yoho National Park. Located within British Columbia, this park is much smaller than the others but no less interesting.

In this park you will find Emerald Lake, one of our favorite places in the Rockies. Its turquoise colored waters, bordered by green pine trees is simply a magical view to see.

We also had the best experience of our Canadian Rockies trip here: seeing Aurora Borealis for the first time.

aurora borealis british columbia yoho national park emerald lake top things to do in the canadian rockies itinerary in two weeks in 15 days. Western Canada trip and Vancouver

Many hiking trails start from this lake. We trekked the one that goes to Yoho Lake.

If you come to Yoho, you cannot miss the Natural Bridge of the Kicking Horse River– the electric blue-dyed waters here is out of this world.

Check our Full Guide to Yoho National Park

JASPER NATIONAL PARK

We then spent five days discovering Jasper National Park. This park is located north of the other two ones, within the province of Alberta.

This national park surprised us with its wildlife scene. If you like wild animals, you should definitely consider a visit to this park in the Canadian Rockies.

You can check a list with all the animals you can spot in the Canadian Rockies here.

ICEFIELDs PARKWAY

We continued along the Icefields Parkway on the way to Jasper from Banff National Park. In this part of Jasper National Park, you should not miss Sunwapta Falls and Athabasca Falls.

sunwapta fall jasper national park top things to do in the canadian rockies in 15 days canadian rockies national parks road trip

It is also highly recommended to stop at the Athabasca Glacier to see this huge block of snow and ice.

From here, you can also quickly stop to check out Abraham Lake. This artificial lake is not inside the park, however, it may interest you to see these mysterious gas bubbles that appear under the ice during winter time.

Check our Guide to the Icefields Parkway

Jasper

We spent 4 days in Jasper. Near this town, you can find the Valley of the Five Lakes, a highly recommended hike.

To the east of Jasper, we visited Patricia Lake and Pyramid Lake.

If you like to see the Canadian Rockies wildlife, take some notes here. At dawn or dusk, drive the road from Medicine Lake to Maligne Lake across Maligne Road, to the west of Jasper. Each day that we did this drive, we saw different species of animals, making it one of the most fun part of our 15-day trip in the Canadian Rockies.

moose maligne road jasper national park 15 day canadian rockies travel guide road trip

Finally, there is nothing like visiting Miette hot spring to relax. Although a little far north, this destination is well worth the trip.

CHECK OUR GUIDE TO JASPER NATIONAL PARK

USEFUL INFORMATION TO ORGANIZE A TRIP TO THE Canadian Rockies

And we did not want to end this post without talking about certain things you must do before taking a trip to the Canadian Rockies.

VISA FOR CANADA

Canada has an agreement with 52 countries for their citizens to enter by air without visa. You can check if your country has a visa exemption from Canada here.

If you are from one of these countries, an electronic travel authorization (eTA)will be sufficient to enter Canada. it can be obtained very conveniently through this link.

Spain is visa exempted from Canada. After a quick online procedure, we received the eTA for 7 CAD (5€ ) within 5 minutes.

You will not need a visa or eTA if you belong to one of those 52 countries and arrive in Canada by land or ship from the United States.

Currency

The official currency of Canada is the Canadian dollar, with an exchange rate of 0.68 € (May 2017).

We did not exchange money before the trip. As always, we used our Evo smart card, with which you can withdraw cash from anywhere in the world at zero commission. Until recently, they did not charge a premium currency exchange rate. However, it seems that the policy may have changed since and exchange rates seem to vary from market value.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

As with all trips, it is essential to buy good travel insurance. Since our experience in Cuba, we now always travel with MONDO, which offers more coverage than other travel insurance at a similar cost. We also have a discount for our readers.

things to do in the canadian rockies. travel insuranceYou can find the coverage of this insurance here.

Best TIME TO go to the canadian rockies ACCORDING TO CLIMATE

The weather in the Canadian Rockies is a factor to consider when deciding best time of year to visit.

While the summers are mild, the winters are cold and humid with quite a bit of snow precipitation.

Minnewanka Lake banff national park canadian rockies road trip and canadian western 2 weeks canadian rockies

If you plan to take a Canadian Rockies trip in the winter (November – March), you should be aware that many roads will be closed and that you may not be able to go on most of the excursions. However, it is a good option if you like winter sports, snowy landscapes or if you want to see northern lights in the Canadian Rockies.

If you travel to the Canadian Rockies in the summer (June – August), the lakes will be thawed with a beautiful emerald-blue color. However, the most popular points of interest are filled with tourists during these months. If you want to get away from the summer crowds, it is best to do some of the more treacherous Canadian Rockies hikes for several days.

We believe that September is the best month to visit the Canadian Rockies. During this time all roads will still be open with lesser tourist traffic. On the scenery end, there are possibilities to see the Northern Lights reflecting over thawed lakes at night.

May is also a good month depending on the previous winter. We traveled the Canadian Rockies in May of 2017 when a cold winter had just taken place. Although most places of interest were open to public access, some were closed. There were tourists, but not as many as the peak of summer. We also had the great fortune to witness the Northern Lights.

HOW TO GET TO THE canadian rockies

Many travel to the Canadian Rockies by rail. We didn’t consider this option because we knew we wanted to be at specific locations during specific times (early morning, night, etc.) for different types of photo shoots.

By car, here are two most recommended options to reach the Canadian Rockies:

  • Flight to Calgary + 1 hour by car.
  • Flight to Vancouver + 8 hours by car.

Since most flights to Calgary connected via Vancouver, we decided to take a two-day stopover to fulfill a bucket list item:

Killer whale watching tour

orca watching in Vancouver freedom everything you need to know to travel to the canadian rockies by train

It is not guaranteed that you will see an Orca since the whales are in total freedom. Fortunately, most companies allow you to take the same trip as many times as necessary until you meet these giants at no extra cost.

Therefore, we decided to spend two days here instead of one, giving ourselves a second chance in case we have no luck on the first go.

It’s no wonder why you can find many Canadian Rockies tours from Vancouver.

DISCOVERY PASS

If you are visiting several national parks on your trip to Western Canada, we suggest you to buy a Discovery Pass. This pass, valid for one year, allows you access to all national parks and sites managed by Parks Canada – see the complete list here.

One Discovery Pass covers entrance for one vehicle with a maximum of 7 occupants. Upon entrance at the parks, you must display the pass by hanging it from the mirror.

We were lucky that it was the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation in 2017. As a celebration, these passes were made available to the public for free.

You can buy the pass online here. We recommend ordering early because it can take a month to arrive by mail. you can also buy it directly at specific establishments mentioned here. The price is 136 CAD (94€).

The discovery pass is usually included in the Canadian Rockies vacation packages.

places to stay in the canadian rockies

There are many options for accommodation. We opted for camping most nights and stayed in a classical wood cabin lodge for two. It is a highly recommended luxurious alternative, especially after so many days camping in the wild.

Emerald Lake Yoho National park top things to do in the Canadian rockies in 15 days canadian rockies by car

While not exactly a budget choice, having a fluffy bed and sparkling fireplace was much appreciated after many days camping. Luckily, we were able to find discounts for these lodges as May is not a high season month. You can find the places we stayed during our trip in our itinerary section.

TRANSPORTation

The best way to travel the Canadian Rockies is by renting a car. On this road trip, you will see a lot of animals and roads that look as if you were living in a fairy tale.

Remember that you need a credit card (not debit) to rent a car.

Indispensables in your baggage

If you are going to travel to the Canadian Rockies, you should be prepared for all kinds of weather situations. Even in the summer, going from a hot day to a snowstorm can happen in a matter of hours.

In addition to sufficient all-weather clothing and camping equipment, there are other essentials in your backpack that you may not want to miss.

To make it easy, we created a list of essentials to carry in your backpack for this adventure.

canadian Rockies photography

Traveling to the Canadian Rockies is a dream come true for a photographer. Equipment preparation, site planning… the work begins long before you arrive. For such, Dani has written five special posts that you will enjoy if you are a photographer:

Milky way two jack lake banff canada alberta mirror pines sky photography night banff things you cannot miss at the canadian rockies campgrounds

 

our 2-week Canadian Rockies itinerary + ACCOMMODATIONS

Although the possibilities are endless, here we show you our 2-week long travel itinerary to the Canadian Rockies as one example.

Day 1: Orca whale watching tour from Richmond. Dinner in downtown Vancouver Airbnb in Vancouver

Day 2: Spend the day in Vancouver Airbnb in Vancouver

Day 3: Arrival in Calgary. Camping at Two Jack Lake and sunset at Vermillion Two Jack Lakeside Campground

Day 4: Johnston Canyon Falls and Ink pots Two Jack Lakeside Campground

Day 5: Stewart Canyon and Bow Valley Parkway Kicking Horse Campground (There was no open campground in the Lake Louise area)

Day 6: Lake Louise and Lake Agnes + Moraine Lake Kicking Horse Campground (There was no open campground in the Lake Louise area)

Day 7: Sunrise at Moraine Lake + Natural Bridge of the Kicking Horse River + Wapta Falls Emerald Lake Lodge

Day 8: Canoeing at Emerald Lake + Trekking to Yoho Lake + Northern Lights – The few hours we slept were in the car. We did not have accommodation booked for this day.

Day 9: Icefield Parkway + Peyto Lake + Bow Lake + Mistaya Canyon – HI-Mosquito Creek

Day 10: Athabasca Glacier + Sunwapta Falls – Sunwapta Falls Rocky Mountain Lodge

Day 11: Valley of the Five Lakes + Annette Lake + Maligne Lake Wapiti Campground

Day 12: Pyramid Lake + Patricia Lake + Maligne Road Wapiti Campground

Day 13: Miette Hot spring + Icefields Parkway + Sunset at Peyto Lake – Lake Louise Campground

Day 14: Sunrise at Moraine Lake. Return to Calgary. Flight to Vancouver Airbnb in Vancouver

Day 15: Return flight

Canadian Rockies map

We leave a map of the Canadian Rockies below with the main landmarks. However, keep in mind that in the individual guides of each national park we left a more complete and downloadable map that will be very useful during your trip.

I See you around the Rockies!

written by Ascenphotography by danzafra

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Cuba in 15 days for backpackers

Who wouldn’t like traveling to Cuba for the next 15 days? Its peculiar political situation, magnificent climate thanks to the Caribbean Sea,  and its rums and paradisiacal beaches, attract the curiosity of millions of tourists every year. The communist regime and the world blockade, which is still in effect today, have preserved the history of the country. A misfortune for the majority, a richness in a very pure culture that attracts the eyes of the whole world.

Cuba is that old woman whose wrinkles are not able to hide her profound beauty that tells us about her years of glory. A beauty that we could discover layer by layer, street by street.

blue car havana things to do in Cuba in 15 days

Cuba was a totally improvised trip. With just one month in advance, we decided to embark on this adventure. Traveling to Cuba is unlike traveling to any other parts of the world. You have to be prepared for a strong culture shock that will take down each of your beliefs.

reasons why should you travel to Cuba right now

The Cuba of today is not the Cuba of yesterday and it will not be tomorrow’s. We hadn’t even unpacked our bags after just arriving Cuba when they announced the death of the revolutionary Fidel Castro.

If there is a turning point in the history of Cuba after colonization, that would be the Cuban Revolution of 1959. Amidst a fully capitalized world, the island established a communist regime that lasts until today despite international pressure against it.

 old taxi car colors havana cuba itinerary for 15 days

There was already an international openness and slight approach to world capitalism during Fidel’s old age, after he transferred his powers to his brother Raúl. Now that Fidel is not here, the changes will be much faster. So if you want to travel to Cuba, do it now. Do not wait another day because Cuba of the future will be another island in the Caribbean, or perhaps theatricalized communism of what it was and will never be, used as a tourist attraction.

15-days North Cuba Trip Itinerary

The island of Cuba has two major cities, Havana and Santiago de Cuba, separated by almost 1000 kilometers. In 15 days, it is impossible to travel the whole island thoroughly, so after buying tickets to Havana we decided to explore the entire upper half, leaving Santiago for a second visit.

Even then, we left a lot of things to see from the north of the country after two weeks. But we believe that our 15-day Cuba itinerary made the most of our days on the island and took us on a route unlike everything else, to learn about the reality of the Cuban people.

people havana cuba bananas stall

Though we had a defined scheme, we had a lot of flexibility during our trip, since we decided where we were going to sleep as we arrived at a new destination. Staying flexible is highly recommended if you travel by backpacking in Cuba, where it is very easy to find private houses offering accommodation.

This way, we got to adjust the itinerary on the fly, according to tastes and incidentals: like the day we lost because I got sick. We only had a draft of the route drawn on a map and the first two nights of Airbnb in Havana.

sunset beach trinidad ancon beach things to do in Cuba in 15 days

In this section, we tell you about our tour in the north of the island that you can consider if you travel to Cuba for 15 days.

Havana

You will love it and hate it at the same time. Facades of ruins that were luxurious mansions in their past. Chaos and smoke. Authentic and banal life on its Malecon. Afro-Cuban culture. Havana is a museum trapped in time. You cannot and should not leave it out if you visit the northern part of Cuba.

old car lamparilla street havana cuba itinerary

Old Havana

Strolling through Old Havana is to make a trip back in time. The old part of the city is the most tourist area of the capital. Amongst neoclassical jewels and historic squares, you will find the two most famous cocktail bars on the island. La Bodeguita del Medio and El Floridita, both very frequented by the writer Ernest Hemingway who popularized them with his acclaimed phrase: “My Mojito in La Bodeguita. My Daiquiri in El Floridita”.

mojito bodequita del medio havana old cuba in 15 days

Apart from trying these two different concoctions, you will find a lot of good restaurants, like Doña Eutimia. Take into account that this area is more expensive than other areas of Havana.

centro habana

Although in this part of Havana there are some tourist sites, such as the Capitolio or the Revolution Museum, Centro Habana is the engine of the city. Cubans live here and that is why it is the most authentic and original part of Havana.

capitolio havana things to do in cuba in 15 days

Going through the Malecon to get to the other end of the neighborhood, we will discover the “Callejón de Hamel” (“Hamel Alley”), a magical alley where Afro-Cuban art and culture intermingle. Do not miss it!

Vedado

It is the newest district of the city, formed during the era of splendor in Cuba.  The large casinos, cabarets and hotels run by the American mafia were here.

At present, it is a residential neighborhood. Although it is one that lodges fewer places to visit by the tourist, there are some you cannot miss, such as the Revolution Square.

revolution square che guevara things to do in cuba in 15 days

Havana has a thousand places to discover. To organize your days in this city, I recommend you not to miss our Complete Guide to Havana.

Cienfuegos

Cienfuegos can be visited as a day trip to enjoy its neoclassical buildings. These have granted the city recognition as a World Heritage Site.

This small city, known as the Pearl of the South, is a must stop in your trip to Cuba in 15 days if you are interested in Cuban architecture and especially the eclectic architecture that is very present in the mansions located in Punta Gorda.

cienfuegos mansion cuba in 15 days punta gorda

We decided to spend the night to enjoy the sunset from its Malecon. They said it was very different from Havana, and it did not disappoint.

palm tree malecon cienfuegos things to do in Cuba 15 days

If you want to know more about the Pearl of the South, here is the Guide to visit Cienfuegos in one day.

Trinidad

Stoned streets and colorful colonial houses give life to our favorite city of Cuba. Also, there are amazing places surrounding the city that you should not miss.

At least three days is necessary to explore this gem and all it has to offer.

Old Town

Trinidad is a museum city. In its old town, there is a very wide variety of them. Nevertheless, the best of the city are the beautiful colonial houses and streets, as well as the Cuban rhythm that has lived in its Casa de la Música.  Although you will hear it during your entire trip to Cuba in 15 days, here is where you will enjoy it most.

colonial houses cienfuegos cuba things to do in 15 days

Topes de Collantes

More than half of the island’s native species live in these mountains. Walk the path that takes you to Salto del Caburní and enjoy capturing the smallest bird in the world, the Cuban hummingbird with your camera.

waterfall salto del caburni trnidad topes de collantes Cuba in 15 days

Valle de los Ingenios

Learn the dark history of Cuba, the era of African slaves through the sugar mills, and discover the most powerful industry that the island has had in its history in a landscape that will overwhelm you.

the

Playa Ancón

Visiting Ancon Beach is mandatory when you travel to Trinidad. This beach with turquoise waters and white sand is ideal for resting. The access is very easy, so it is also suitable for families.

trnidad ancon beach caribbean cuba

However, what made us fall in love with this beach were its sunsets, where the sky seemed to burn in flames.

ancon beach sunset the best of cuba in 15 days

In the Complete Guide to Trinidad that we have written, you will find all the necessary information to prepare your trip.

Viñales

Viñales is the original rural Cuba. The Cuba of tobacco plantations plowed by oxen, the coffee, the tropics and the Guajiros. Enjoy a unique geography with its peculiar Mogotes forming a unique landscape.

mogote viñales cuba in 15 days itinerary

Explore the Valley of Viñales by bicycle and visit each of its caves to learn how the Maroons lived  and how slaves fled from the sugar mills.

travel to cuba 15 days cove

To complete your visit, make a nocturnal route of ascent to the Aquatics and contemplate the sunrise with the best views of the valley.

sunrise aquatic vinales best views

In our  Guide to Viñales Valley, you will not only find all the useful information for your trip, but also the downloadable offline maps, so you can make the best trekking without the need of a guide.

Cayo Jutías

Cayo Jutías is a lost key far from monstrous hotel complexes and agglomerations. This is one of the Cayos de Cuba that is more frequented by locals than tourists. There, you will find only turquoise water, white sand, starfish and many kilometers of wild beach waiting for you. The Cuban paradise.

cayo jutias best beach of cuba in 15 days

If you walk the hour that separates you from the beach of giant starfish, I assure you it will steal your heart. Do not hesitate to proclaim that Cayo Jutías is one of the best beaches in Cuba.

To enjoy the experience to the fullest, stay to sleep on the beach and live a magical sunset in total solitude.

If you want to discover the best  Cayo of Cuba, do not miss our Guide to Cayo Jutías.

HOW TO BEGIN TO ORGANIZE A 15 DAY TRIP TO CUBA

If you do want to travel to Cuba for 15 days, I advise you not to miss this Guide to Organizing a Trip to Cuba that we have prepared.

cuban child in 15 days

In the guide you will find all the information you need about the best time to travel to Cuba, what visa is necessary, travel insurance and vaccines, best accommodation and transportation options, official currency, Internet access and other essentials that you should not forget in your luggage.

MAP OF CUBA –  CUBA  TRAVEL ITINERARY for 15 DAYS

CUBA - ENGLISH Placeholder
CUBA - ENGLISH

Are you coming with us?

written by Ascenphotography by danzafra

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My first time travelling Southeast Asia

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 travel mates arose at the typical Christmas dinner where plans get made but nobody usually follow through at the end. Who would have guessed 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, upon  my return of this 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.

Prambanan temple last main view. 20 days trip to southeast asia

Our first time in Southeast Asia

That includes:

In short, we will make your backpacker trip to Southeast Asia unforgettable.

Southeast asia itinerary. Sunset on the Ombak Sunset swing in Gili Trawangan

Gili Trawangan – Indonesia

WHere IS SOUTHEAST ASIA?

All of the following countries are considered to be part of Southeast Asia: Burma, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, East Timor and Vietnam. All of them are located South of China and East of India. The number of paradisaical islands, between the Pacific and Indian Ocean, make Southeast Asia a popular destination for tourists from all over the world, especially those who love beaches and diving.

Like most, when we decided to travel to this region of Asia, what attracted our attention most was the contrast between wilderness and modern cities. It was a very exotic destination and you will love the contrasts. Depending on the country, it was also quite cheap, making it ideal for backpackers.

Female stone statues that supply purified pools of Goa Gajah. Southeast asia route

Bali – Indonesia

The cultural differences compared to Europe are substantial, so it is a good choice for those  seeking to know other cultures and traditions. In addition, despite some isolated cases, tourism in Southeast Asia is generally safe.

And of course, if you like Asian cuisine it is a trip you can not miss. Each country has its own subtle differences and you will be eager to try all of them.

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 on only two or three countries.

BEST TIME TO TRAVEL SOUTHEAST ASIA TAKING climate INTO ACCOUNT

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 being visited. My advice is to choose the countries in Southeast Asia that you are going to visit based on the time of year you are going to travel.

You should know when the dry season of each country is and avoid the monsoon season because it could ruin your trip.

Bathing in the Bukit Lawang Jungle Camp River in Sumatra. Southeast asia trip in 20 days

Bukit Lawang – Indonesia

We used this application. Select the month which you will be traveling and check out how many days of rain are forecasted for that month in different destinations.

If you are able to travel to Southeast Asia at any time of the year and have a favorite destination, then check which month has the best forecast 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 at least one stopover in the Middle East. The airports that have more and cheaper flight connections are:

  • Singapore airport.
  • Kuala Lumpur airport. (Capital city of Malaysia).
  • Bangkok airport (Capital city of Thailand).

We ruled out Thailand because it was not a good time to visit this country when we wanted to travel in June, 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 one we did not regret.

We did not buy a return flight and instead we bought two independent flights. One way to Singapore and another to return from Kuala Lumpur.

TYPE OF TRIP

Like I said, 20 days is not enough even if your plan is only to see 3 countries of Southeast Asia. The first thing for you and your Southeast Asia travel mates to do, is to agree on the type of trip you want to do.

If the majority prefer to see a single place, pick one country (or even a single island), and take advantage of the holidays to rest and relax. Do not choose just Singapore because you can see it in two days.

Crystal clear water beach paradise island gili trawangan lombok indonesia. Southeast Asia trip

Gili Trawangan – Indonesia

If, on the contrary, you are as crazy and hyperactive as we are, and you cannot stand the idea of not seeing other amazing places that are fairly close, then you will love our travel itinerary. I must warn you though, you will need a new holiday at your return.

20 days Southeast Asia trip. Rickshaw at Blue Mansion georgetown

Penang – Malaysia

HOW TO choose THE BEST 20-DAY SOUTHEAST ASIA TRIP ITINERARY

If you have chosen to live this great Asian adventure to the fullest, and you want to see everything in 20 days, we will help make it fit! Here, we tell you our trick to visit as much as possible.

1. Select the countries where the weather is nice during the month 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 provides.

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 save it.

4. Add to the map all of 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 those you have special interests in according to your taste.

7. Once the route has been profiled, check for connections between the different locations.

During this step, I read about the Asean Pass of AirAsia. This pass is a kind of  like the Eurorail of Asia. In this post, I explain why we did not use it.

8. Decide how many days you want to spend at each of the destinations.

9. Make an Excel document to adjust places and days to visit each of them, as well as connection flights schedules.

After many versions, this was our travel itinerary:

Outline organization trip Singapore Malaysia Indonesia. Southeast asia travel in 20 days

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 to take that into account to avoid wasting the first day or the day after the return all fatigued.

The table above, helped us know the time in each place and helped us with remembering 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 sleep according to those hours for any single day, it helped us to plan the trip considering the time changes.

TRAVEL BUDGET

It is important to have a travel budget. We spent a lot less than we budgeted, taking into account flights, from Spain to Asia, as well as 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, 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 with all trips, for this one more reasons than others, it is especially important that you carry travel insurance. I recommend that you choose a high-quality insurance for Southeast Asia, as you will be far from Spain or your own country on a long trip. You are also traveling to countries where it is easy to suffer gastrointestinal diseases,  or even worse, mosquito-bourne diseases like Dengue or Malaria.

I recommend that you investigate and contract the best travel insurance. We always travel with MONDO who has more coverage than other travel insurance at a similar cost. We also have a discount for our readers.

descuento 5% en seguro de viaje mondo organización viaje. must thing you have to hire to travel southeast asia 20 days

VACCINES

The only vaccine required for traveling to Southeast Asian countries is yellow fever, and only for people who visited at-risk countries within 15 days prior to arrival.

This is not to prevent you from getting sick, but to prevent you from spreading yellow fever to 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
  • Polio
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • Rabies
  • Tetanus

We did not get any shot to travel to Southeast Asia (other than those we got as children).

Monkeys in Monkey Forest in the sacred forest of the monkeys of Ubud

Bali – Indonesia

OTHER DISEASES

Other diseases to consider when traveling to Southeast Asia are Dengue and Malaria. These two are more common in Asia and quite dangerous, but should not be a reason to not visit Southeast Asia as the chances of getting them are minimal.

There is a treatment to prevent Malaria. This treatment is done before, during and after the trip. Some experts recommend not to undergo this treatment since it can hide the symptoms of previously contracted Malaria and aggravate the situation. In any case, it is a personal decision whether to or not follow the treatment.

We did not follow the Malaria prevention treatment. If you make this decision, you should pay attention to any signs of fever as it could be Dengue or Malaria. Contact your travel insurance as soon as first signs of symptoms begin.

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 still bite you. But don’t worry, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have been infected by one of these diseases.

VISAS

The need for a visa to access Southeast Asia depends on the countries you are visiting.

SINGAPORE

No visa is required for tourists in Singapore if you have a Spanish passport or are from any South American country, although there are certain requirements to enter the country:

  • Have a passport that does not expire in the next 6 months.
  • A flight leaving the country for within 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.

Malaysia

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.

INDONESIA

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.

If you enter the country from a larger airport like Denpasar (Bali) or Adi Sucipto (Yogyakarta) apart from paying the visa fee, you will have to:

  • Carry a ticket out of the country within 30 days.
  • Have in possession a passport that does not expire in 6 months or less.
  • Have a credit card with a credit line of 1000 $ or more.
  • Proof of yellow fever vaccination if you have recently visited at risk countries.

CURRENCY

Each Southeast Asian country has a different currency. We used Singapore Dollar, Malaysian Ringgit and Indonesian Rupiah.

The good thing about Asia is that even though there are many poor and economically underdeveloped areas, technology is available everywhere. Even in the most remote places, there are credit card readers and ATMs, so you do not have to worry.

If you travel to Southeast Asia for 20 days, I recommend that you carry around 200 € cash. If you have any problems, they will not refuse to charge you in euros.

My advice would be to not exchange money from Spain, and instead create an Evo smart account card which allows you to withdraw from anywhere in the world. We also suggest to not withdraw so much money. The prices here are much cheaper than Europe, so even with less in quantity, you will still feel that you have more money.

Finally, to not make a mess with so many changes of currency, let me tell you a trick that we used during the first few days in each country.

Make a table with amounts that go from 0.50 € to 100 € (1 €, 10 €, 50 €, etc.). Then, in the following columns, indicate the correspondence in the currencies of the countries in Southeast Asia that you will visit. That way, you have a quick way to know if something is cheap or expensive.

ACCOMMODATION

Where you will really save money in Southeast Asia is with accommodation. For a very low price, you can even stay in villas with a SPA. This is why Southeast Asia is not only popular for backpackers but also for couples, with many of them spending their honeymoon in Asia.

In my case, I was traveling with my cousin, and we preferred to stay in hostels for backpackers so 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 with a lot of things we have yet to see. Nevertheless, we made the most out of every single day of our trip. We slept for few hours and came back with broken bodies and absolute need for more vacation. This feeling can only mean that you have just returned from the journey of your life.

The places visited in those 20 days were the following:

SINGAPORE

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.

Southeast Asia trip. Singapore Marina Bay sky line skyscrapers. itinerary

Singapore

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.

PENANG

George Town, the most important city on the small island of Penang, made us fell in love  even before we visited it. There were street art, the best gastronomy of Malaysia, jungle and paradisaical beaches.

This combination could not be out of our Southeast Asia itinerary.

Pentai Kerachut from its pier (Penang National Park) Malaysia

Penang – Malaysia

If you want to know what to do in George Town and surroundings, do not miss the guide we have prepared. I recommend that you visit this destination for at least 3 days and not miss the Penang National Park.

SUMATRA

If you travel to Southeast Asia, you can not miss seeing orangutans in freedom. Although there are others elsewhere, the best place to see orangutans is in Indonesia, in the jungle of Bukit Lawang 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.

Male Orangutan released in the jungle of Bukit Lawang. Southeast asia trip

Bukit Lawang Jungle – Indonesia

We tell you about the two-day trekking we did in the Bukit Lawang jungle to see orangutans at this post.

YOGYAKARTA

Visiting the largest Buddhist temple in the world (Borobudur Temple) and one of the largest Hindu temples in the world (Prambanan Temple) in one day is only possible in Yogyakarta.

Southeast Asia Trip. Buddhist temple borobudur nirvana java

Borobudur Temple – Indonesia

This city on the island of Java, Indonesia, will make you quiver with excitement. 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.

BALI

While organizing our Asian trip I was reading the popular book “Eat, pray, love”. Ever since, I began planning the travel itinerary, and could not help but think of the rice paddies I visualized while indulging in this book.

Southeast Asia Trip. Rice fields, terraces, rice fields to the west of Ubud Bali island

Bali – Indonesia

There is no doubt that if we were to go to Indonesia, we would have to go to Bali. That is why this was the first place we chose as a must our route. And of course, we couldn’t miss Ubud, the cultural capital of the island.

Here is the specific guide of Bali in seven days and the guide of Ubud and surroundings.

GILI ISLANDS

This destination was squeezed onto 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.

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.

Do yoga at sunset on the island paradise gili trawangan. My frist time in Southeast asia

Gili Islands – Indonesia

KUALA LUMPUR

Kuala Lumpur was our last destination in Southeast Asia. The capital city of Malaysia will surpass your expectations, as 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 feeling indifferent.

Southeast Asia Trip. Petronas Towers by day in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia

We have prepared this post to tell you what to do in Kuala Lumpur in two days.

Here you can see the outline of our trip to Southeast Asia once more.

20-days SOUTHEAST ASIA trip MAP

RUTA SUDESTE ASIÁTICO - ENGLISH Placeholder
RUTA SUDESTE ASIÁTICO - ENGLISH

As we have said, there are infinite possibilities. How will be your Southeast Asia trip?

tell us about your itinerary at the comments

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