With so many islands, Southeast Asia is an incredible destination for backpackers. There are so many different cultures here, a vibrant mixture of desert island beaches to vast metropolises.
It is more than an adventure, it is an opportunity to discover new things and take yourself out of your comfort zone.
Begin in Singapore
There are some amazing hotels in Singapore and if you can afford to stay at Marina Bay Sands, it could well be worth it for the unbelievable infinity pool right up there at the very top of the building. However, finding a house for rent in Singapore is quite simple and could be a cheaper option, depending on the length of your stay.
As lots of people treat Singapore as a gateway to the East, creating a base here and then hopping backward and forwards to other destinations via plane, train or ferry is a good plan.
Singapore is a destination in its own right, too. It has 4 national parks, a wide range of museums and plenty of bars and restaurants to keep you happy. The culture here is fabulous with uncompromising diversity that celebrates every culture and religion with equal enthusiasm. Have a look at this more comprehensive destination guide to plan your trip to the full!
One of the fastest growing regions in Southeast Asia, Kuala Lumpur is certainly rivalling Singapore when it comes to magnificent architecture. This is the home of the Petronas Twin Towers which stand at 451.9m tall and offer fantastic views from the Skybridge, the link between the two towers which is itself 170m above ground.
From rooftop bars to Petaling Street in Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur offers a huge range of nighttime entertainment to suit everybody. The markets are where most of the crowds are, though, enjoying some fantastic street food as well as late night shopping opportunities.
After the excitement of two incredible cities, the Perhentian Islands will come as a relief. All you have to do here, and in fact all you can do here, is lie back on a picture-perfect beach, top up your sun tan and snorkel in some of the clearest waters in the world.
This location is very popular with backpackers and SCUBA divers as it is a perfect getaway from the perils of modern day to day life. With the aptly named Turtle Point, Shark Point and Fish Point, you know exactly what to expect as you roll off your boat!
Langkawi is an archipelago made up of 99 islands on Malaysia’s west coast but the main island is where most of the action is. If you have a head for heights and are seeking a little exhilaration, the skybridge at the end of the cable car ride above Mount Mat Cinchang is for you. It is around 410’ long and 2,300’ above sea level. Apart from the obvious thrill of being so high up, this is an amazing moment to take some truly awesome photos.
There is also plenty to be seen on the surrounding islands, though, such as the Pulau Payar Marine Park, which is popular with divers and snorkellers alike as the coral is so well cared for. There is also Pulau Singa Besar, a nature reserve that hosts eagles, monkeys and monitor lizards to name just a few.
So while you are likely to stay on the main island, don’t be afraid to explore a little further while you are here.
After the excitement in Langkawi, Koh Samui is the ideal location for unwinding with a herbal steam treatment and a few days of yoga to realign. This island is favored by those in search of endless relaxation and leisure as well as people on specific yoga or tai chi holidays coming to practice together in the warmth of the sun.
The food on Koh Samui is unabashedly fabulous and even the simplest dishes are cooked to perfection. This means that while you might be tempted to avoid anonymous looking places, these little eateries could just be the best choice you have while you stay. Though you can find all kinds of Thai food here, Koh Samui is the best place in Thailand for coconuts and it seems that leaving without trying coconut jam would be a tragedy too great to consider.
In fact, you might find a jar or two making its way back in your suitcase.
The final stop and Bangkok is possibly the most exciting way to end your trip, in the capital of Thailand. This city is an incredibly popular tourist destination but the prices are still reasonable, the nightlife is fantastic and if you thought that the food was sounding pretty good so far, Bangkok will continue to exceed expectations with everything from street food to Michelin stars.
While you are here, you should definitely take your time in soaking up the culture.
Like any bustling city, Bangkok can feel quite overwhelming at first – especially when you’ve been lying on your towel on a deserted island for a few days! However, the amount that is on offer here means that you will have to be a little more selective about what you do. Thai boxing is a great sport to watch and you can see it in Lumpinee Stadium, next to Lumpinee park in the center of the city.
By the end of your backpacking trip, even if you have only stayed in each place a few days, you should have plenty of memories and experiences to take home with you and share with your family.
Backpacking might seem like it is only for students, but there are so many reasons that everyone can do it at some point in their life – for a start, you don’t have to catch lifts, you can just book your next flight!
This peninsula is truly stunning and it seems a shame that having traveled so far you would only see one of these locations. If you want to get to know the real Malaysia and experience true Thailand, you need to see more than your hotel complex.
Get out there and start exploring!