Earlier this year we tied the knot and jetted off to Thailand for our honeymoon. We booked a one-way ticket without much of a plan, just a list of things we wanted to see and do whilst we were out there. We ended up staying for 5 weeks before coming back to England with a ton of memories, stories and photos. We didn’t end up seeing quite as much of South East Asia as we anticipated as we ended up running out of steam at week 4 and wanted to just enjoy being newlyweds without the pressure of travelling.
There’s so much to see and do when you’re backpacking in Southeast Asia – as it’s made up of some of the most beautiful countries in the world. The region is also known for its rich culture and friendly people. It is no wonder that many people have several countries here on their bucket lists of must-see places. Travelling around was surprisingly easy and we learnt so much along the way about the easiest ways to get from one country to another or even how to just cross the city without getting scammed.
Whilst we spent our time in Thailand and Cambodia (sadly, we didn’t make it Vietnam but more on that in another blog post). We managed to see a lot of the areas on our bucket-list, but in truth, there are lots of routes we didn’t take – but we met people on our travels that did and it’s really given us food for thought for booking our next SE Asia trip – watch this space!
As they say… “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list” ✨
How to Get Around
Southeast Asia is a great destination to visit for business or on holiday. There are many ways to travel throughout the region including walking if that is your passion. You can choose from a variety of other methods of transportation to some of the most beautiful landscapes you will ever see.
While you can get around via train, you need to know that most of the trains running through the region are not ideally managed. They are slow and often carry more passengers and luggage than they should. This may turn out to be a very cheap means of travel but also uncomfortable. It’s, for this reason, we avoided trains where possible. We did use the trains in Bangkok but only get to around the city and not much further than that.
The Singapore to Bangkok route is quite popular because it connects many countries within Southeast Asia. With a bit of money to spend, you can opt for the more luxurious Eastern & Oriental Express, which runs between Bangkok and Singapore in 42 hours. We did look into this but we felt like it was only worth doing if you could upgrade to the suite, which is way beyond what we wanted to spend (and probably more than what we spent the entire time we were backpacking in Asia). Perhaps another time – a girl can dream!
There is also a north-south train route that uses luxury cars and runs along the coastal part of Vietnam through Hanoi. It makes it possible for you to get to China via Chinese railway networks. This was one of the routes we looked at when we were out there but alas, we didn’t make it. It was a lot of ground to cover and we wanted to spend our time enjoying the country rather than rushing through it.
We did some island hopping via ferry and speedboat whilst we were exploring the south of Thailand. If you want to visit these popular spots, travelling by boat is essential. We avoided the longboats, because even though they’re an Instagrammers dream AND cheaper, they’re so bad for the environment. It’s also a much slower way to get around, which seems silly when you’re trying to pack as much as possible into your trip.
We explored a lot of Phuket and the different areas such as Kata Beach, Karon and Patong before we left the port for the islands. We went to Koh Phi Phi to swim with sharks in crystal clear waters and visit the famous “Beach” movie location. We went on little tours in the area and ended up heading towards Krabi before moving onto our next destination. We wanted to check out Koh Samui but there was a storm hitting the island so we left earlier than we anticipated. Turns out, the weather passed, so we were kicking ourselves a little.
If you’re looking to travel a little further afield you can go on a sailing adventure within the region too. There are luxury riverboats to run you from Mekong in the north of Thailand all the way to Luang Prabang in Laos. You can also enjoy boat trips to take you along Halong Bay, which lies to the east of Hanoi, as well as along the Mekong tributaries from the Mekong Delta to Cambodia’s Phnom Penh.
Buses are dirt cheap and you can cover some real distance without spending much. There are VIP tours available for which you can opt instead of the rundown and uncomfortable buses in some of the states. They cost pretty much the same price as the normal buses and they’re so much better. These VIP buses are run by the government so they’re really safe, too. The same can’t be said for other night buses, which we’ve read a ton of horror stories of people’s bags being nicked/ran sacked.
We got a VIP bus from Koh Sok in the rainforest to Bangkok which took about 14 hours and cost about £10. We also got another bus from Bangkok to Angkor Wat in Cambodia which cost about the same but took a little less time. It sounds like a long time to be on a bus but the seat recline completely, you get given blankets, food and drinks, and there’s usually some pretty epic scenery to look at out the window. They even stopped to let u sort out our visa at the border then picked us up on the other side.
Alternatively, you can go by car. Rentals are affordable in the region, and you can rent one plus a driver to drive you around. If you prefer to drive yourself around, which is ultimately cheaper, be sure to find out what the driving rules are and also to get a good map. Personally, I wouldn’t drive in Asia as it’s a little hectic, even for my liking. Tuk tuks in Cambodia were super cheap but in Thailand it made more sense to get taxis. These journeys never got us more than £1 – £2 and we were usually in there lapping up the air-conditioning for a good 30 minutes or so.
We got a direct flight to Bangkok then made our way to Phuket straight after we got married, leaving from our bridal suite. We wanted to avoid faffing around with changing flights as much as possible, but it wasn’t possible to fly direct to Phuket, and we didn’t want to spend our first couple of nights as newlyweds in Bangkok, instead we opted for a luxury villa near the beach with our own private swimming pool.
The flight to Phuket was about £28. Flights within Southeast Asia are typical, budget-friendly and convenient. Some of the time, it was cheaper to get a flight than it was to get a bus, but you miss out on all the stops along the way if you travel by air, so we only did this when we needed to. If you’re planning to fly though, here are a few of the international carriers that can take you from one place to another within the region: SilkAir, Garuda Indonesia, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways, Cathay Pacific and Vietnam Airlines.
Personally, this isn’t my area of expertise as I’ve only got a handful of flights in South East Asia, from Thailand and Bali. If you have concerns it worth speaking to someone that knows what they’re talking about. One visa is an expert in visas and other services involving your travels. There are also various domestic carriers such as Berjaya Air, Bangkok Airways, AirAsia, and Lao Airlines.
In a nutshell
Travelling through Southeast Asia is not only possible but also affordable. In fact, if you have the time or inclination or both, you can experience different modes of travel and enjoy the region in a variety of ways.
If non of these modes of transport suit you, just jump in a tyre tube and float down the rainforest river…