best time to visit southeast asia countries

50 Essential travel tips for first time backpackers visiting Southeast Asia

  • July 27, 2023
  • curious goose

Long tail boats float on the turquoise sea, surrounded by tree covered limestone mountains in Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

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Make sure you read these essential tips for Southeast Asia to help plan your trip.

Southeast Asia is one of the most popular destinations for backpackers. It’s easy to see why – gorgeous sandy beaches, cultural temples, delicious food and bustling cities makes for an attractive mix. It’s also a safe and cheap place to travel, meaning that Southeast Asia is a great place for first time travellers getting to grips with backpacking and those on a budget.

Southeast Asia has been on my bucket list for years and in 2022, I spent 7 months travelling in Thailand , Vietnam , Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia. Based on my experience, I’ve put together 50 essential travel tips to help you plan your trip to Southeast Asia. These tips cover everything from what food and drink to avoid, to how to keep track of your budget while travelling and travel hacks to make life on the road easier.

These travel tips for Southeast Aisa will prepare you for a great trip and hopefully help to prevent you from getting into any tricky situations!

50 Essential travel tips for first-time backpackers visiting Southeast Asia

Practical information for travel in southeast asia, managing your budget and finances when travelling in southeast asia, top tips for getting around in southeast asia, food and drink in southeast asia, local cultures and traditions in southeast asia, travel health, packing tips.

  • Lastly…things to remember when travelling

Travelling takes a lot of organisation and planning. Here’s a few hacks to help you have a smoother travel experience.

1. Get yourself a sim card as soon as you land

Often the best sim card deals can be found in the arrivals hall at the airport, with a ‘tourist sim’. I’d recommend getting a sim card as soon as you arrive in the country, especially if you are taking public transport from the airport / ferry / bus terminal to your accommodation. Most likely, you will be dropped off at a location in the centre of town (or at the side of the road as I experienced several times!) and having the internet to figure out where you are is very helpful.

2. Download an offline version of google maps before you arrive at a new place

Even if you have a sim card with data, you might not always have a signal to access the internet. Make sure that you download an offline version of google maps, covering the area you are travelling to. You might need to download several if the area you are travelling to is vast. Another handy tip is to ‘pin’ key locations onto your map, such as your accommodation, attractions, bus terminals and places to eat! That way, if you can’t access the internet you’ll still be able to find your way to key services and attractions.

Woman on bicycle surrounded by rice fields and limestone mountains in rural Ninh Binh, Vietnam

3. Screenshot or note down your accommodation booking confirmation and address

Don’t rely on being able to access the internet to retrieve the information of your accommodation. You’d be surprised how many travellers get off a bus in a new town and don’t know the address or even the name of the place they are staying at and can’t access their emails as they don’t have internet! Take a quick screenshot of your accommodation and travel bookings, or write the important information down in a notebook or in the notes folder on your phone.

4. Print any important documents you need to enter a country

For entering many of the countries in Southeast Asia, you’ll need a visa (and may need other supporting documents too). It always helps to have a printed copy of any important documents as well as the electronic version on your phone. This way, if your phone gets lost / stolen / runs out of battery, you’ll have a backup copy. If you are travelling between countries, your hostel or hotel might be able to print documents for you, or they can usually point you in the direction of a printing shop.

5. Be aware of scams

Travelling in Southeast Asia is an amazing experience and most of the local people you meet will be welcoming, friendly and helpful. However, you will also encounter locals who will try to take advantage of travellers. The most common scams usually involve taxi or tuk-tuk drivers, or money exchange kiosks. When travelling around in Southeast Asia, always negotiate the price and be clear on what the price covers. Only change money in authorised exchange kiosks – your accommodation should be able to help you with this.

How do you know if something is a scam? Usually you can tell if something doesn’t feel right. If you don’t feel comfortable and are unsure, just say no and move on. It also helps if you do your own research and plan beforehand. For example, if you research how much a specific A to B journey should cost in a tuk-tuk and the price you are being quoted is over double, you know they are trying it on.

6. Don’t put tissue paper down the toilet

As a general rule, putting tissue paper down the toilet is a no-no in Southeast Asia. There are some exceptions to this rule, for example in more modern, and usually more upscale resorts. However, in most places, the pipes cannot cope with the paper and they will block, which is not nice for anyone. Use the bin provided or embrace the water gun!

7. Read reviews

Whilst it’s not a good idea to get hung up on one negative review out of 10’s of positive ones, reading reviews is definitely worth doing. Whether this is for accommodation, attractions or transport. Filter the reviews to ‘Newest first’ and make sure you know what to expect before you part with your money.

8. Check the weather when planning your trip to Southeast Asia

Generally speaking, October – March is the best time to travel in Southeast Asia as this is the dry season and the weather is cooler and more manageable. However, research the individual countries you want to visit to plan which month would be best for you to travel.

9. Plan your route but allow for flexibility

Whether you are visiting one country or several countries in Southeast Asia, plan your itinerary beforehand. Having a rough plan of your route is a good idea so that you have an idea of what you would like to see within your time frame. However, don’t be rigid with your plans. Be flexible and embrace opportunities to visit places you hadn’t included in your original itinerary. Having unexpected experiences is one of the best things about travelling!

Woman standing on a wooden boardwalk in a vast chamber of the incredible Paradise Cave in Phong Nha, Vietnam

Budgeting for your trip is one of the most important things you can do, both before and during your travels. Make sure that you read these top tips to help you manage your budget and keep track of your spending when travelling.

Need help saving for your dream trip? Check out my 12 super simple tips for how to save for full time travel

10. Have a couple of good debit cards

One of the most important things you will need when travelling is a safe way to access your money. Instead of using your normal bank debit card, which may have expensive fees for use overseas, get yourself a new debit card, purely for travelling. I use a Starling Bank debit card, but I’ve also heard good things from travellers about Revolut and Monzo too. Instead of having all your money on your travelling debit card, simply ‘top it up’ when you need and keep just a small amount on the card. That way, if you lose the card, or it gets stolen, you don’t risk losing a lot of money. For this same reason, having two debit cards you can use in this way is also a great idea (just make sure you keep them in different places!).

11. Pay for large items on a credit card

When booking things like accommodation, travel (especially flights) and activities, always use a credit card. Credit cards offer a much higher protection on spending and if something goes wrong with the supplier (for example, if the service provider goes out of business), your credit card company can help you to claim your money back. I have a Halifax Clarity credit card which is great for travelling and using abroad. Shop around and find a credit card with low or zero exchange fees or charges for using it overseas.

12. Always carry some cash

When travelling in Southeast Asia, it’s a good idea to always have a bit of cash on you. If you are travelling to more remote areas, or buying something from a local shop or stall, you will need to pay for it in cash. Just be aware that many of the ATM’s in Southeast Asia charge for withdrawing money and they have a limit for how much you can withdraw, which is annoying!

Girl looking out to the sun setting over the ocean at Windmill Viewpoint in Phuket, Thailand

(Image: Windmill Viewpoint, Phuket, Thailand)

13. Make sure you can access your bank account if you lose your phone

Most of us manage our bank accounts via an app on our phones. However, what happens if your phone is lost or stolen? Make sure that you know how to access your bank account online or over the phone.

14. Set yourself a travel budget and track your daily spend

Possibly THE most important element of travelling is budget management! It doesn’t sound exciting (and it’s not!), but it’s vital if you don’t want your trip to end abruptly because you’ve run out of money.

When planning your trip, do your research and set a daily budget. This should be based on the prices of accommodation, food, transport and activities in your destination and also what kind of experience you want to have (on the scale of budget backpacker – luxury holiday). Read my step by step guide on How to budget for full time travel and create your own Travel Budget (you can also download my FREE Travel Budget Spreadsheet Template).

Make sure you record your daily spend to keep you on track. I use the free version of @travelspendapp . Managing your budget means that if you’re careful in some places, you can splurge on more expensive trips in others, such as an overnight luxury cruise to Halong Bay in Vietnam

15. Take advantage of travel rewards programs

There are plenty of rewards programs available to savvy travellers. One of my favourite reward programs is the genius program. The more qualified bookings you make through your account, the more genius points you can earn, which can get you discounts and upgrades on certain hotels, transport and experiences.

Another great rewards program, if you are from the UK, is Topcashback . Simply login to your Topcashback account and make your booking with one of the travel providers via the Topcashback site to earn cash back on your purchase.

Cruise boats float on the blue water of Halong Bay in Vietnam, surrounded by limestone mountains

Southeast Asia is a large, diverse continent and even the individual countries within Southeast Asia are massive, so you’re going to want to travel around and explore as much of it as possible. Getting around in Southeast Asia is not always the most straightforward, so here’s some tips to help you navigate public transport.

16. Shop around for the best deal on public transport

During the 7 months I spent in Southeast Asia, I booked a lot of my bus and ferry journeys online. One of the best booking platforms for transport in Southeast Asia is 12go . Camboticket in Cambodia is also another good option. (For booking tours, Viator , Get your Guide and Klook are all great platforms). But don’t just rely on websites. Speak to your hotel or hostel and get their advice. Sometimes they can tell you about transport routes or tour companies that don’t appear on the larger comparison websites. Whatever you are booking, shop around and get a couple of prices for the best deal.

If you are travelling a longer distance, or between countries, don’t assume that travelling by plane will always be more expensive. Sometimes a flight can be cheaper, or a similar price to a long distance train, especially if you have carry-on only bags. It’s also worth taking into consideration the journey time. If a flight is only £30 more but takes 14 hours less than the bus, it may be a better option for you.

17. Travelling from A to B is not as easy as it sounds!

Travelling from A to B sounds easy (and it should be!), however travelling from A to B in Southeast Asia usually ends up being a lot more complicated than it needs to be! Don’t be surprised if you are asked to change buses several times throughout your journey as different drivers and companies take over each section of the trip. I took a journey in Thailand from Railay in Krabi to Koh Samui which took 12 hours and consisted of 1 boat, 5 buses, 1 ferry and a taxi (which was 4 more buses than expected!) Try to stay patient and go with it, it won’t make you feel any better getting stressed about it.

18. Give yourself plenty of time for transfers

As I’ve mentioned, travel in Southeast Asia is usually not a simple process. Often journeys depart later than scheduled and will take a lot longer as the drivers make random stops along the way. If you are planning a journey that has transfers with different companies (for example, a bus journey followed by a ferry), make sure that you leave plenty of time between each leg of the journey, as you are most likely going to be late!

19. Prepare for delays or things to go wrong

You can see a theme emerging here! Most journeys in Southeast Asia are late, or delayed, or there’s been a miscommunication with your booking. Try to be patient and polite with the locals. Most local people I encountered in Southeast Asia were incredibly warm and friendly and willing to help. So, be respectful and don’t be rude if things don’t go to plan, it’s all part of the travelling experience!

A long tail boat floats on the lake in Khao Sok National Park, Thailand, surrounded by thick jungle and limestone mountains

20. Don’t expect formal booking confirmations for public transport

If you’re the kind of person who likes to have written confirmation of everything, then prepare to get out of your comfort zone! As someone who is super organised and over-prepared, I had to learn to accept that formal booking confirmations don’t always exist in Southeast Asia when booking transport. Instead, you’ll be given a flimsy paper slip as confirmation, which at some point will be taken off you and replaced with a coloured sticker (which may later be replaced with another sticker!) They do love a sticker, especially in Thailand! Just take photos of your paper slip or sticker in case you lose it and you’ll be fine.

21. ALWAYS negotiate when ordering a tuk-tuk or taxi!

Rule no.1 when travelling in Southeast Asia – always negotiate! In some of the larger cities you can use Grab, Uber or Gojek which is great as it gives you an idea of what the cost should be. Even if you are getting a ride with a local driver, use the price on Grab/Uber/Gojek to help you negotiate. If that is not available, ask your hostel or hotel how much the prices should be so you have an idea of what is a good price and what is a bad price.

22. Get an international driving licence

If you are considering hiring a car or scooter in Southeast Asia, get yourself an International driving licence. If you are from the UK, you can pick these up in the Post Office for £5. Make sure you keep your licence and your international licence with you at all times when driving. Occasionally local police may stop you and ask to see your licence and if you don’t have it (or the correct one), they may fine you.

23. Don’t feel pressured into riding a scooter

Travelling in Southeast Asia and riding a scooter seem to go hand in hand (if you believe everything you see on Instagram, or read in some blogs). However, don’t feel pressured to ride a scooter if you don’t feel comfortable. The roads in Southeast Asia are uneven and windy and the traffic can be crazy, with people cutting you up and zig-zagging down the road. It is absolutely possible to travel in Southeast Asia without riding a scooter if you don’t want to. If you do want to ride a scooter, make sure your travel insurance covers you and always wear a helmet.

24. Have motion sickness tablets with you on travel days

Even if you don’t normally feel travel sick, you may find yourself feeling queasy. Many of the roads in Southeast Asia are quite hilly and windy and the drivers can be fast and erratic. Also, if you are on a small minibus, it is usually hot and cramped, making you feel even worse. (If you are in the north of Thailand, the Chiang Mai – Pai bus is notorious for making people feel ill). Buses aside, you will likely be taking several boats and ferries during your time travelling in Southeast Asia and some of the boat crossings can be bumpy. Make sure that you have some motion sickness tablets with you for your journey. These can be picked up cheaply from 7/11 in Thailand and also most pharmacies or shops.

25. Pack warm clothing in your day bag on travel days

If you are travelling long distances on a coach or sleeper bus, make sure you keep a warm top or hoodie with you. The buses in Southeast Asia are renowned for having the coldest air conditioning!

A couple stands by a red tuk-tuk next to a lake in rural Cambodia

Sampling the food and drink in a new country is all part of the travelling experience and one of the best parts of visiting Southeast Asia is to eat the local food. Here’s a few tips to keep you safe and avoid the dreaded traveller’s belly!

26. Don’t drink the tap water

Unless you want to spend a couple of days being ill, don’t drink the tap water! Bottled water is very cheap to buy, Unfortunately, this does often mean that you will be using a lot of single-use plastic, which is a big problem in Southeast Asia. Some larger cities such as Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai in Thailand have filtered water machines where you can top up your refillable water bottle for a fraction of the cost.

27. Be careful of the fruit!

It can be hard to stay healthy when travelling and the fruit in Southeast Asia is delicious, however, just be careful where you buy it from. There’s plenty of street stalls selling pre-cut fruit. Most of it will be fine, however you don’t know how long it has been sitting there getting warm and also whether it has been washed in clean drinking water. Eating dodgy fruit can make you really sick and wipe you out for several days – believe me! Try to pick places where they cut the fruit fresh in front of you, or buy whole fruit which you can peel/cut yourself.

28. Eat the street food!

The street food scene in Southeast Asia is brilliant (plus its great for your budget too!) The street markets are a lively buzz of noise and smells, creating a great atmosphere. Make sure you go to as many street food markets as you can, it’s all part of the Southeast Asia experience! If you buy meat from a street vendor, make sure that they fry it / cook it in front of you. Eating meat that has been left out for a while is another thing that could leave you chained to the bathroom for a day or two.

People crowd round the street food stalls at Phnom Penh night market in Cambodia

29. Try local dishes

When you visit somewhere new, make sure you know what the local dishes are and try them. Ask the locals you meet what food you should eat whilst you are there. There’s often regional variations of national dishes too.

30. Don’t be put off by the interior (or lack of!) a place

Some of the best food I’ve eaten in Southeast Asia has been whilst sitting outside on a tiny plastic stool at a metal table! In my experience, the small, family-run local restaurants have the best food and even better, they are the most budget-friendly too!

31. Bring a reusable water bottle and bag

As I’ve mentioned, some of the larger cities and towns in Southeast Asia do have places where you can top up your reusable water bottle. There are also some cafes which will allow you to top up for a small charge. Reusable water bottles are also vital for taking on some of the amazing hikes Thailand has to offer. Tip – buy an insulated bottle to keep your water cool!

Take a reusable cotton tote bag too for your shopping, rather than asking for a plastic bag each time you go to the shop. This foldable tote bag is perfect as it has a zip to keep your valuables secure too.

32. Check the spice level!

Spicy food in Southeast Asia is on a different level! A ‘mild’ dish is comparable to a medium in the UK. Don’t be afraid to ask for no chilli or for a dish to not be spicy.

Crowds of people walk through the neon lights of Jonker night market in Melaka, Malaysia

Experiencing a different culture and learning about the history and traditions of a place is one of the best bits about travelling. Read these four things you must do to make sure that you are respectful and get off to a great start with the locals when travelling in Southeast Asia.

33. Learn basic phrases

If you are travelling in another country, even just for a couple of weeks, it’s a great courtesy to know a couple of key phrases, such as Hello and Thank You. Even though English is widely spoken across Southeast Asia, locals love it when you try to speak a little of their own language and will be happy to teach you some new phrases.

34. Be respectful

Southeast Asian culture is very different to western culture and each country in Southeast Asia has their own traditions and cultural differences. Make sure that you know how to behave in certain situations and be respectful. For example, women should not approach, converse with or touch Monks. Women also cannot enter certain shrines or temples whilst menstruating.

Travelling to Bangkok? Make sure you visit these three temples

The golden structure of Wat Phra Kaew (The Temple of the Emerald Buddha) with detailed gold and silver columns and an elaborate pitched roof, in Bangkok,Thailand

35. Dress appropriately

Whilst both men and women should make sure that they are respectfully dressed when entering a temple or government building, this mostly applies to women. Whether you’re exploring Ankor Wat , in Cambodia or the Grand Palace in Bangkok, women must always cover their knees and shoulders when visiting a temple.

When bathing in certain spots, it is respectful to cover up. Wearing a bikini is acceptable at most public beaches and in your hotel or hostel pool, however, if you are visiting a local bathing spot, you will notice that Southeast Asian women wear shorts and a t-shirt to bathe in. It is polite to do the same.

36. Take off your shoes

This is common practice in many places throughout Southeast Asia, but it is mostly associated with Thailand. Shoes should always be removed before entering a temple, but you will also need to remove shoes before entering other places too. If you are staying in a small guesthouse, or homestay, it is polite to leave your shoes outside. This is the same if you enter a small, local shop and even when you travel on certain boats and buses (especially the sleeper buses in Vietnam).

A couple sitting on the steps of Angkor Wat in Cambodia

Prepare for your trip to Southeast Asia by making sure that your health requirements and needs are taken care of before you travel…

37. Check what vaccinations you need before you go

When planning a trip to any new country, it is important to make sure you have received all the relevant vaccinations beforehand. If you are in the UK, you can check the NHS website to see which vaccinations are recommended for the country you are visiting and which vaccinations you can get for free on the NHS.

38. Stock up on sunscreen

Suncream is not widely available in Southeast Asia, especially if you are travelling away from the main tourist holiday destinations. It is also very expensive. You will find lots of ‘sun serums’ or ‘daily lotions with spf’ – be careful with these, whilst they do offer some level of protection, they are not full sun creams and are not recommended for using while sunbathing. If you are only travelling for a short amount of time, take several bottles with you from home, if you have room.

39. Take any medication / feminine products with you

If you are travelling to some of the smaller islands, or more remote places in Southeast Asia, there is not always a large pharmacy available. So, if you need medication, make sure that you bring it with you and restock it before you run out. Feminine products can be expensive too, so if you can, bring these with you.

40. Always carry medication for ‘travellers belly’

It’s not nice to talk about but almost every traveller will experience an upset stomach at some point during their travels in Southeast Asia (no matter how careful you are). Although the best advice is to rest and let the bug ‘pass through’, that is not always possible, especially if you have a bus journey to get through. With that in mind, carrying some tablets for diarrhoea will be a lifesaver!

41. Always have a toilet roll with you on travel days!

This goes hand in hand with the above – most toilets in Southeast Asia don’t have toilet paper and there’s usually a small fee for using them, so carry some small change too.

Soft golden sand of Nai Harn beach in Phuket, Thailand, surrounded by a thick forest of hillside trees

When deciding what to pack, you first need to decide whether you prefer a backpack or a suitcase. Most travellers will opt for a backpack as it is easier to carry across sandy beaches and when you are climbing in and out of boats etc. But it really is down to personal preference. 

You will also want to make sure you have a decent day bag to keep all your valuables and travel essentials with you, and one which fits under your seat on the plane to avoid extra charges. Picking the right underseat personal item backpack is important – it will get a lot of use, so if you can, invest in a good one. 

Depending on how long you are travelling in Southeast Asia for, your packing list will vary. This is also true if you are planning a long trip and are visiting other places outside of Southeast Asia too. So, rather than include a full packing list in this post, here’s a couple of top tips to help you pack better.

42. Take a Scarf or sarong

A scarf or sarong is one of the most versatile items you can pack in your bag. It is great for covering your shoulders in a temple, laying on at the beach, throwing on over a bikini, using it as a pillow on travel days or keeping you warm on the buses! Plus it takes up virtually no space in your bag!

43. Pack layers

You definitely don’t need as many clothes as you think you do, and you will end up wearing the same things over and over! Pack light things that you can layer and roll up small in your bag. In terms of shoes, one pair of trainers, one pair of flip flops and one pair of Birkenstock or chunky walking sandals will be suitable for pretty much everything in Southeast Asia. I lived in my Birkenstocks for pretty much the whole year!

44. Leave room for new clothes!

Don’t go shopping for everything before you leave home. The clothes in Southeast Asia are so cheap and let’s face it, most of the clothes you will buy at home will most likely come from Southeast Asia anyway! If there’s anything you’ve forgotten or wished you had packed, you will more than likely be able to buy it in Southeast Asia.

45. Be savvy with your chargers

There’s nothing worse than having a bag full of cables and charging wires! A lot of devices will accept the same charger cable and this is a great way to reduce the number of wires you take. For example, my laptop wire will fit my phone and my Go pro, meaning I only need one wire for three devices. (I do also have a single USB cable that will plug into an adaptor so I can charge two things at one, but this takes up hardly any room). I’d also recommend putting your wires into a small organiser case , so they are easy to locate in your bag.

46. Embrace the packing cube!

Packing cubes are a lifesaver when it comes to packing for travelling. Even if you are sceptical about it at first, you will soon realise how handy they are. It’s a great way to separate (and easily locate!) your clothes in your bag. They also help to condense things down in your bag!

The three floors of Hanoi's central market, Vietnam are packed full with clothes stalls

Making the decision to go travelling can be scary but it is also super exciting! Have the best time and remember that comparison is the devil!

47. Chat to others

One of the best parts of travelling is meeting other like-minded travellers. There’s a reason that Southeast Asia is one of the best places to travel solo. There’s so many great hostels and Facebook groups, where you can meet up with other people.

48. Everyone has bad days when travelling

You will have THE BEST time travelling, but there will also be some days that don’t quite go to plan and other days where you are tired or may feel homesick. The best advice I can give you is not to dwell on those days, it is completely normal and usually after a good night’s sleep and a comfy bed, you will feel much better.

49. Don’t compare your journey to others

Everyone’s travel experience is different and your trip will be unique to you. Don’t get caught up in comparing your journey to everyone else’s, just enjoy and embrace your own travel experience.

50. Have fun!

Travel is one of the best things you can do (in my totally biased opinion!). Whether you’re travelling in Southeast Asia for a few weeks or a few months, relax, go with the flow and HAVE FUN!

Girl standing with arms in the air looking out across Doi Inthanon National Park, near Chiang Mai, Thailand

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Best Time To Visit Asia

Vietnam For Spring Festival

Asia through the seasons

The best time to visit Southeast Asia depends on which country you are planning to visit. You may wish to explore UNESCO-listed heritage sites such as Angkor Wat or Borobudur Temple, or meander down the Mekong in Vietnam aboard a luxury cruise ship. Relaxing on the golden beaches of Thailand or Bali are undoubtedly some of the best things to do in Asia , as are visits to Japan’s ancient shrines and temples, or China’s Great Wall. To help you make the most of your time in Asia and plan the perfect trip that matches all your interests, our experts provide an overview below on the best time for your Southeast Asia tours.

Japan in cherry blossom season

Travel to  Bhutan  during springtime, between March to May, when the rhododendrons and jacarandas in full bloom and many  festivals  are celebrated. Winter is an excellent season for birding enthusiasts and you can also indulge in rafting adventures in Southern Bhutan. With pleasant temperatures and excellent visibility, the autumn months between late September to the end of November, are ideal for traveling to Bhutan.


Best time to visit Asia - Punakha Dzong Monastery, one of the largest monestary in Asia, Punakha, Bhutan

Cambodia experiences similar temperatures throughout the year, although rainfall can very greatly depending on which region you choose to visit. The dry months, between November and April, are the best time for  Cambodia  tours, when the humidity is low and daytime temperatures are below 30 ° C on an average.


Monks at Bayon Temple - Best time to visit Asia

Spread over a vast expanse, the 17,000 islands of  Indonesia  naturally experience varied climates between regions. Indonesia experiences rain throughout the year, although in the dry season between April to October, rainfall occurs in short bursts. The monsoon season lasts from November to March. Therefore, it is best to travel to Indonesia between mid-April and the end of October, especially if you wish to visit Bali, Java,  Lombok  and  Sulawesi .


Gates to one of the Hindu temples in Bali in Indonesia - Indonesia travel guide

Traveling to  Japan  is especially recommended during the springtime months of March to May, when the cherry trees are in full bloom, especially towards the end of April. In autumn, between September and November, the weather is mild and pleasant as well.


Enchanting Travels Japan Tours Traditional and Historical Japanese village Shirakawago in autumn season

The best time to travel to  Laos  is during the dry season between October and April. In the summer months of March and April, temperatures can rise as high as 40 ° C. As the Mekong river dries up considerably in summer, river cruises are not possible.


Best time to visit Asia - Laos

This paradise islands are blessed with amazing tropical weather throughout the year, and usually experience moderate climatic changes owing to their location on the Equator. Monsoon comes to the  Maldives  twice a year although there are no major cyclones as such. Rainfall and humidity levels are relatively low between December and April, making this the ideal time to visit The Maldives.


Best Time to Visit Asia

The dry months from November to March are ideal for your trip to  Myanmar . Although the dry season lasts until May, it can get quite warm and humid from April onward. Although traveling to Myanmar is possible in the rainy months of June to October, this time is not suitable for beach holidays or hiking.


Enchanting Travels Asia Tours Hot air balloon over plain of Bagan at sunrise, Myanmar

The monsoon lasts from late June to mid-September in  Nepal , although the rest of the year is rather dry. Traveling to Nepal in the rainy season is not recommended. The country is beautiful between October and November after the rains, with lush green landscapes, refreshing mountain breeze and mild temperatures.


Pokhara.jpg - Best time to visit Asia

This teardrop shaped island experiences varied climatic conditions, with at least one region in the country dominated by rainfall at any given time of the year. In the west and south of the country, dry season begins in November and lasts until the end of March. Traveling to  Sri Lanka  is not recommended during the monsoon months of April to October.


Best Time to Visit Asia

Thailand tours are best between November and February, when the temperature ranges between 30 to 35 ° C and humidity levels are at their lowest. From March to May, temperatures can rise up to 40 ° C, however, the climate also depends on which region you choose to visit. The months of April to June, September and October are not recommended for traveling in  Thailand .


Best time to visit Asia

Travel to Tibet between the months of April to October. Once the snow begins to melt in April, the country experiences pleasant weather, gentle breezes and the occasional spell of rain. Many parts of  Tibet  that are inaccessible during the winter due to frozen roads, can be visited at this time. The winter months of October to March are not recommended for travel as it is freezing cold and many roads are blocked.


Best time to visit Asia

You can travel to  Vietnam  all year round, although the best time for travel depends on the region you visit. Travel to Northern Vietnam between October and April. Central Vietnam is most pleasant between February and April while Southern Vietnam is ideal for traveling in the months of December to February.


Best time to visit Asia

Best time to visit Asia

There are often drastic differences in climatic conditions between individual regions of Southeast Asia. Deciding on the best time to visit Asia can be challenging, especially if you wish to combine a visit to several countries in your itinerary.

Having traveled extensively in the continent, our Travel Consultants use their vast destination knowledge to advise you on the best time to travel to Asia according to your schedule and preferences. Customize one of our sample Asia vacation packages to match your preferences or contact us today for a tailor-made, obligation-free itinerary.

Best time to visit Asia

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When is the best time to visit Southeast Asia?

  • Month-by-month

The best time to visit Southeast Asia depends on where you want to go and what you want to do. There are some significant climate variations across the region, but rather than limiting possibilities, this makes Southeast Asia a year-round destination with good conditions for exploring throughout the year.

In general, the cool, dry season lasts from November to April across mainland Southeast Asia and the Philippines making this a good time to visit Thailand, Vietnam or Indochina, while Indonesia and Borneo are drier from April to October, and Malaysia offers year-round sun on one coast or the other.

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Month-by-month guide for travelling in Southeast Asia

Khao Lak, Thailand

Visiting Southeast Asia in January

January is a great time to visit Southeast Asia and is one of the driest months across the northern part of the region, with comfortable temperatures for beach going or more intrepid exploration. Thailand and Malaysia’s west coast beaches are bathed in sunshine, river travel in Vietnam is at its peak, and there are a host of festivals in Myanmar and the Philippines.

Events & Festivals

  • Ati-Atihan is the Philippines’ largest festival. It takes place in Kalibo, with street dancing and wild costumes to celebrate an ancient land pact between settlers and indigenous Atis.
  • Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year and Naga New Year are celebrated across the region with traditional festivals, drumming and dancing.
  • Sinulog is Philippine city Cebu City's biggest annual event, featuring a huge street parade, live music and plenty of food and drink.

Mekong River Delta, Vietnam

Visiting Southeast Asia in February

Pleasant weather across Myanmar makes February a good time to explore the plains, foothills and beaches. High water levels in Tonle Sap and the Mekong make it a good time for river travel in Cambodia, while it’s not too hot for exploring the temples of Angkor. For good-value beach breaks, the west coast of Thailand and Malaysia are good bets.

  • Chin National Day (20th February) is a day of celebrating the culture, traditions, history and language of the Chin people in Myanmar. Festivities include traditional bamboo pole dances.
  • Tet is the biggest festival of the year in Vietnam, celebrations for the lunar new year can last a week or more and travel may be busier.
  • Wat Phou Festival sees Laos’ Buddhists attend a three-day festival in Champasak, taking part in processions, recitals, boat races and dances.

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Visiting Southeast Asia in March

It’s shoulder season in Borneo with mostly dry weather, low visitor numbers and promotional rates making it a great time to visit. Thailand and Malaysia are hot and sunny offering the pick of beaches on both coasts, and it’s a great time to visit Halong Bay in Vietnam or Cambodia, but you’ll need to book well in advance.

  • Easter brings holy week celebrations in the Philippines, include large-scale religious processions with floats, costumes, masks, food and music.

Baby Orangutan at the sanctuary

Visiting Southeast Asia in April

It’s reaching the end of the dry season in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines, temperatures are rising and visitor number are high. Book well in advance. It’s a good time to go trekking in Borneo and see orangutans, and Indonesia is beginning to dry out with promotional deals making it a good-value destination at this time of year.

  • Songkran in Thailand, Thingyan in Myanmar and Lao New Year are celebrated with scented water thrown in the streets and onto passers-by as a cleansing ritual and a sign of goodwill.

Menjangan island reef

Visiting Southeast Asia in May

May is a great time to visit Borneo, Bali, Lombok or the east coast beaches of Thailand and Malaysia. With long hours of sunshine, clear seas for snorkelling and diving, good orangutan viewing and shoulder-season prices, it’s one of our preferred times of year to travel here. Heat and humidity are building in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in advance of the rains.

  • Boun Bang Fai, normally held in May or June, is a festival that marks the sixth month of the lunar calendar in Laos with homemade fireworks and rocket competitions.
  • Flores de Mayo is a month-long, countrywide religious festival in the Philippines celebrating the coming of the rains. Processions are sometimes held after dark and lit by candles, creating a wonderful ambience.
  • Gawai Dayak is an annual harvest festival celebrated by the Dayak people in Sarawak, where it's a public holiday. It's marked by the sharing of food, decorated longhouses and traditional dress.

Redang Island

Visiting Southeast Asia in June

Diving season is at its peak in Tioman, Redang and the Perhentians off Malaysia’s east coast, while Indonesia and Borneo are hot and dry with ripe fruit drawing orangutans to lower branches making forest treks particularly rewarding. June is shoulder season in Thailand and Central Vietnam and a good time to find a hotel deal before the European school holidays begin.

  • Chinlone Festival lasts for almost a month. This Mandalay festival sees hundreds of chinlone (cane ball) teams compete in the traditional sport of Myanmar to live music.

Beach on Phu Quoc Island

Visiting Southeast Asia in July

It’s peak season on Malaysia’s east coast and in Indonesia with great visibility for diving but higher prices and busier resorts. Good orangutan sightings and turtles on the beaches makes Borneo a popular destination. Central Vietnam is hot and sunny and cruising along the Chindwin River in Myanmar is at its peak but the rains make road travel difficult.

  • Borneo Cultural Festival is a ten-day annual festival held in Sibu with music performances, contests and plenty of good food.
  • Rainforest Music Festival brings renowned world musicians and indigenous musicians of Borneo gather in Kuching to perform, with lectures and workshops for visitors.

Tarsier in the Danum Valley

Visiting Southeast Asia in August

A great time for wildlife enthusiasts to visit Borneo, the weather is hot and dry in August with turtle hatchlings on the beaches and great trekking but busy hotels. It’s peak season in Indonesia with great weather for temple visits, jungle hikes or relaxing on the beach, and the Malaysian east coast beaches are hot and sunny. Book well in advance.

  • Taungbyone Nat Festival is a major gathering place for spiritual mediums in Mandalay. This festival attracts pilgrims and visitors in their thousands to make offerings and enjoy dances and other celebrations in honour of two famous nats (spirits).
  • Yadana Gu Nat Festival is an eight-day festival in Amarapura in Myanmar, led by spirit mediums said to be possessed by nats (spirits) during the ceremony. Ritual dances and songs are performed and visitors make offerings of food, flowers and money to the nats.

Banjar hot springs in Tembok

Visiting Southeast Asia in September

Borneo is fine and dry throughout, so it's still a very appealing time to visit for relaxing on the beach, snorkelling and wildlife watching on Kinabatangan River. The weather in Indonesia also continues to be hot and dry but the summer crowds have eased and prices have dropped making it a great time to visit.

  • Borneo International Kite Festival sees hundreds gather at Old Bintulu Airport to fly brightly decorated and complex kites.
  • Pchum Ben is an important Buddhist festival marked throughout Cambodia over 15 days, with the main celebrations taking place on the final day as locals pay their respects to deceased relatives.

Kuang Si Waterfall, Luang Prabang

Visiting Southeast Asia in October

Dry weather begins to return to Laos and Cambodia with the landscape looking particularly lush after the rains. There are few visitors and early season offers make it a good value time to visit. Northern Vietnam is dry and sunny making it a good time to trek in Sapa, and it’s prime season for diving in Sipadan off Borneo.

  • Boun Ok Phansa is a boat racing festival celebrated at the end of the rainy season in Laos. Elaborate boats are raced along the Mekong River and various festivities take place on the riverbank in honour of the Naga king.
  • Deepavali/Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, is celebrated throughout Borneo as families gather to pray and give gifts.

Ankor Thom Bayon Temple

Visiting Southeast Asia in November

Temperatures rise and the weather is dry across Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar marking the start of the high season with rising prices and greater numbers of visitors. It’s a particularly good time to get out on Tonle Sap lake in Cambodia or go river cruising in Laos, but book well in advance.

  • Bon Om Touk, the Cambodian water festival and one of the nation's most popular events, is celebrated over three days with concerts and boat races in Phnom Penh.
  • That Luang Festival is a three-day religious festival in Vientiane where tens of thousands of monks and pilgrims gather at the That Luang or Grand Stupa bearing wax candles.

Cambugahay Falls, Siquijor

Visiting Southeast Asia in December

Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar are hot and dry and at the start of their peak season, book early to avoid disappointment and visit earlier in the month to avoid the most popular times around Christmas when prices rise considerably. It’s also the start of the peak season in the Philippines, though there is still a small risk of cyclones.

Our recommendations for when to visit Southeast Asia

  • Not recommended
  • Winter season

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Crossing the border: multi-country trips through Southeast Asia

12 tips for your first trip to Southeast Asia

Lori Zaino

Editor's note: The team at The Points Guy loves to travel, but now is not the time for unnecessary trips. Health officials note that the fastest way to return to normalcy is to stop coming in contact with others. That includes ceasing travel. We are publishing travel deals and destination content because we should all use this time to think about and plan our next adventures. TPG doesn't advise booking trips for travel until summer or fall — and even then be mindful of cancellation policies. This story has been updated with new information.

Southeast Asia is one of the most magical regions on earth. Filled with stunning beaches , historic temples, verdant jungles and bustling cities, there's something for every traveler there. But staying healthy and safe is something to consider when visiting a region so different from your own, especially for the first time. Things like visa requirements , best times to visit, currency exchange and what to bring may be at the top of your mind, as well as the most obvious question -- which country should you visit?

After a number of long-term visits over the years to varying countries in Southeast Asia, I've learned a thing or two. Beginner travelers should check out these travel tips and follow this Southeast Asia travel advice when considering a visit to the region for the first time.

1. Pick your countries wisely

While it's tempting to visit many countries and cities on a single trip to Southeast Asia, it's worth taking it slow and digging into the culture of a single country and/or just a handful of places, rather than exhausting yourself with a travel itinerary that has you hopping all over what amounts to an enormous territory.

For example, Bali , Indonesia and Hanoi, Vietnam , are both set within Southeast Asia, but beware -- they're a seven-hour flight away from each other. Before you commit to flights and accommodation , pull out the map and choose countries/cities that are relatively close together or are easily accessible by nonstop flights or direct trains.

Hanoi city in Vietnam. (Photo by Gonzalo Azumendi/Getty Images)

When deciding on the best country to visit in Southeast Asia, you should also take into account whether you want to explore cities, relax on beaches, see the outdoors or embrace culture, cuisine and history.

The best country to visit for beginner travelers could be Thailand. First-time visitors to the region may also enjoy Bali, Indonesia. Both of these spots are used to an influx of tourists and have plenty of amenities. They're both relatively easy to navigate and have friendly locals that speak English.

More experienced travelers or those wanting an adventure may prefer spots like Myanmar, Malaysia or Laos. While almost all Southeast Asia destinations welcome backpackers with open arms, Cambodia is very backpacker-friendly -- and is extremely affordable, especially outside of tourist destination Angkor Wat. Those wanting to lap a country from top to bottom should head to Vietnam. For unexplored beaches, visit more off-the-beaten-path islands in Indonesia (that aren't Bali) or the Philippines .

Related: 9 of the best sustainable backpacks for travelers

2. Check visa requirements

Several Southeast Asian countries require your passport to have at least six months' worth of validity left or a specific number of empty pages -- and visa requirements seem to be constantly changing. For example, a few years ago, e-visas weren't available online for several entrance points in Myanmar, but now they are. Meanwhile, Vietnam has changed its visa requirements in past years and now citizens from several European countries no longer need a visa to enter.

Check visa requirements ahead of time and apply online if possible. For example, U.K. nationals will find that applying for a visa to enter Laos online is relatively straightforward and can ease hassle upon arrival, especially when you're jet-lagged in a new and unfamiliar country.

(Photo by Yadpiroon Mimala/EyeEm/Getty Images)

If you do end up needing a visa upon arrival at your chosen destination(s), be prepared with the proper currency and passport-size photos of yourself. Many airport visa offices have ATMs/exchange services (albeit with terrible rates) and photo booths, but if you arrive with these items in hand, as well as any forms you might need printed and filled out ahead of time, the visa experience will be quicker and easier.

Also, be sure to grab a couple of extra entrance and exit forms each time you enter a country -- if you end up leaving and reentering that country by bus, boat or train, having the correct forms handy will enable you to save time you'd otherwise spend in a line.

3. Pack light and right

Deciding what to bring to Southeast Asia is a common conundrum. Try to pack as light as possible and do laundry wherever you go rather than trekking around with an overweight backpack or heavy trolley bag. In most Southeast Asian countries, you can get your clothes washed, dried and ironed in under 24 hours for the equivalent of a couple of dollars, and at street markets, you can shop inexpensively for any extra clothes and toiletries you may need.

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

These are the things you should make sure to pack:

  • raincoat/umbrella (especially during rainy season)
  • modest clothing covering knees/shoulders for temple visits
  • first aid kit (including all kinds of stomach medicines)
  • small flashlight
  • earplugs/ sleepmask
  • hand sanitizer
  • travel packs of tissues (note that squat toilets usually aren't equipped with toilet paper)
  • adaptor/multi-port plug that allows you to charge a few of your electronics at once

Related reading: 14 packing hacks for traveling with just a carry-on

4. Best times to visit Southeast Asia: rainy or dry season?

You can organize your trip in one of two ways: picking a destination(s) first and then selecting the best time to go, or picking your destination(s) based on what will have the best weather during the time you're able to visit. Most countries in Southeast Asia have two main seasons: wet and dry.

Even certain regions within countries can have separate rainy seasons . For example, if you want to have a beach holiday in Thailand over Christmas, it's better to choose islands in the Andaman Sea, which are sunny, like Koh Lanta or Koh Yao Yai and skip the Gulf of Thailand islands, such as Koh Samui or Koh Tao, where it's rainy season.

(Photo by Henn Photography/Getty Images)

If you're visiting larger cities, rainy season may not be so bad. You'll experience a downpour or two for sure, but you may get cheaper hotel deals or better value on airfare. But, it may be best to avoid smaller towns or villages during the wet season where lack of infrastructure during floods may complicate your stay.

It's also important to consider additional seasonal situations -- like burning season, where many Southeast Asian regions burn brush and old crops to prepare for planting. Air quality is bad during this time and may affect tourists, especially those with respiratory problems.

5. Safeguard your health

Before you travel to individual countries, check their vaccine requirements and recommendations -- and then actually get those vaccinations. If you're worried about the expense, be aware that you can opt to get your vaccinations upon arrival in Bangkok , where they're often affordable at local health centers. When traveling to any Southeast Asian country, getting tetanus shots and typhoid vaccines are generally a good idea. In addition to any necessary vaccines, seek out strong mosquito repellent, as this can help protect you from dengue fever and malaria.

(Photo by Guido Mieth/Getty Images)

6. Get travel insurance

Plan to get travel insurance when visiting the region, because health risks in Southeast Asia don't entirely diminish even if you've had your vaccines. As Southeast Asia trips often include adventures like indulging in street food, zip-lining, scuba diving , jungle treks and motorcycle rentals, it's wise to have a policy in place.

(Photo by Lori Zaino/The Points Guy)

During a previous trip to Thailand, I developed an ear infection from snorkeling . Thanks to my travel insurance, I was in and out of a doctor's office within an hour, complete with medicine and a special souvenir bag (see above) -- all covered by my policy. Years ago in Malaysia, my husband cut his foot on coral while diving and required antibiotics. Having travel insurance made the situation an easy (and free) fix. Insurance policies can also cover non-health-related problems such as lost luggage or issues with flights and hotels, so look into getting the best travel insurance policy for you.

7. Consider alternate travel methods

While we love a good points and miles deal, using trains, low-cost airlines and ferries is a great way to save money while moving from place to place. Buses are generally the cheapest method of transport in Southeast Asian countries, but be aware of travel scams and know that you might be in for dirt, dust, unpleasant (or simply strange) smells, crowds, bumpy roads and more.

(Photo by Westend61/Getty Images)

Ferries can sometimes be crowded, but are a quick, cheap and a direct form of travel between islands, and though often slow, trains are a fun way to explore and see the lay of the land(s). Low-cost carriers such as AirAsia, Bangkok Airways , Nok Air, Tiger Air and more offer cheap flights to a variety of destinations -- and some even have frequent flyer programs . Though often a splurge in comparison to bare-bones taxi-boat journeys, river cruises are luxurious, scenic adventures and a great mode of transportation.

8. Rent a scooter at your own risk

If I had a dollar for every 20-something I saw with a bandaged knee, chin or foot in Thailand, I would easily be rich. Renting scooters can be a great way to get around, but in some Southeast Asian countries you'll need to drive on a different side of the road you're accustomed to and you may have to battle intense traffic, hills, curves, stray dogs, dirt or sand roads, crazy taxi drivers -- and worst of all, other foreigners driving scooters who are unfamiliar with these conditions. Even though many locals and tourists don't wear helmets, you still should.

(Photo by John W Banagan/Getty Images)

Before you head off with a rental scooter, be sure that your rental agent sees you taking detailed photos and/or videos of the bike, and actively point out any scratches or concerns to them. Though scooter rentals are often just a few dollars per day upfront, scooter scams are common, where a rental agent will insist that you've scratched or otherwise damaged their motorbike, charging you hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars in damages before they'll return your passport to you.

9. Be smart about currency exchange

Airports and banks often charge excessive fees to exchange money, but you'll usually get a decent exchange rate if you wait to change money once you're in Southeast Asia. However, know that Southeast Asian hotels generally offer terrible exchange rates, so stick to banks or other spots that advertise "Money Exchange." Make sure to change plenty of cash, as street market vendors, taxi drivers and smaller restaurants may not take credit/debit cards.

(Photo by Yellow Dog Productions/Getty Images)

Many hotels and larger restaurants will take credit/debit cards though, so make sure to use ones that hold no foreign transaction fees.

10. Avoid "temple burnout"

"Temple burnout" happens when you see so many ornate and beautiful temples that they all begin to look the same -- and you lose interest in seeing any more, ever. To avoid this malady, arrange some non-temple-oriented activities on your Southeast Asia travel itinerary, or simply take a day (or two) off to relax and rest your eyes. After a bit of visual reboot, you'll have a whole new appreciation for a region of the globe that has more amazing temples than you could possibly imagine.

Wat Chaiwatthanaram Ayutthaya Thailand. (Photo by SOMPOP SRINOPHAN/Getty Images)

11. Don't be afraid to bargain

You should absolutely bargain with local street vendors or at markets -- it's a cultural norm to do so. I've had some great times bargaining and laughing with street vendors and even made friends with a few locals along the way, coming home with memorable souvenirs for my efforts. Just make sure to barter reasonably and always with a smile on your face. The point of bargaining is to engage with locals and agree on a fair price, not to cheat them or get scammed yourself.

(Photo by Lori Zaino/The Points Guy)

12. Be a responsible tourist

It's best to avoid orphanage tourism, hill tribe visits or any activity that exploits children, ethnic groups or animals. When participating in elephant tourism, make sure to carefully vet your organization and make sure they're protecting the animals in lieu of harming them.

While begging children may tug at your heartstrings, the more money they earn from tourists, the more their parents see them as a source of monetary gain and the less inclined they are to send them to school -- where they'd have a shot at a better future.

Instead of giving children money, trying chatting with them. (Photo by Lori Zaino/The Points Guy)

When diving/snorkeling or out in nature, make sure to adhere to the no trace policy , not littering or taking anything from delicate natural environments.

If you want to lend real support to locals in Southeast Asia, dine at Tree Alliance restaurants . Located in Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos, these eateries train disadvantaged young adults as chefs and waiters and also donate money to programs that assist low-income locals to get jobs. Offering traditional cuisine, these restaurants provide a delicious way to help.

Related: 5 tourism-supported charities that need your help now more than ever

Or, visit an organization like Big Brother Mouse in Luang Prabang, where tourists can read books, play games or chat with kids and teens eager to practice their English.

Related: How to be a better traveler

Bottom line

Armed with these useful travel tips for Southeast Asia, you'll have a safe, smooth and successful first trip to this beautiful region. Happy travels!

Divergent Travelers

Ultimate SOUTHEAST ASIA Travel Guide

Southeast Asia  is a fascinating part of the world that offers beautiful islands, beaches, lush jungles, unique wildlife, tasty food and intriguing culture. This Southeast Asia travel guide is designed to uncover some of our favorite places and things about this region and help you plan your own trip to this unique part of the world.

Defining Southeast Asia can be referred to as the region that resides between  Asia  and  Oceania . It is made up of eleven countries including Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

These countries are bordered by China to the North,  Australia  to the South, the Andaman Sea to the West and the Pacific Ocean to the East.

We’ve spent more time in Southeast Asia than we care to admit, thinking hard on it we’ve spent no less than 9 months traveling the region over multiple trips at the time of publishing this guide.

We’ve visited across all seasons and while we haven’t been everywhere or to every country (yet!), we’ve done enough leg work to offer you some useful insight on travel to Southeast Asia.


Southeast asia travel: quick tips.

Southeast Asia

Don’t Visit SOUTHEAST ASIA Without:


best time to visit southeast asia countries


best time to visit southeast asia countries


best time to visit southeast asia countries


Philippines Itinerary


Hopping  islands in Coron  is one of the best  things to do in the Philippines  or even Southeast Asia for that matter. You’ll experience white-sand beaches and turquoise waters set against green island interiors. It’s idyllic and one of our favorite places in the world.

Bayon Faces Temple Cambodia


One of the most impressive ruin sites we have ever seen is the  Angkor Temple Complex  in Cambodia. We’ve even been twice! Angkor Wat is the most impressive but we enjoy checking out the temples that have been reclaimed by the jungle too.

Orangutan Sepilok Sabah Borneo


Southeast Asia is the only place in the world where Orangutans still exist in the wild. It is possible to track  orangutans in Sumatra , Indonesia and  Sepilok Borneo . Both are off the beaten track but worth the effort. We’ve seen orangutans in both places!


There is no shortage of great  things to do in Southeast Asia  during your visit and the biggest problem you’ll face is fitting them all into your itinerary.

Each country has its own offering and unique things to check out during a visit, so be sure to look at our country guides once you decide where you’re itinerary will take you.

SPEND SOME TIME IN BANGKOK: (Thailand)    Bangkok  is the first city in Southeast Asia that we ever set foot in and that was back in 2010 when we went on our honeymoon! We’ve been back to the city 7 times since then and always recommend it to people who want to visit the region. It’s a huge, sprawling megacity with as much modern convenience as you’d find in any major western city. Combine that with the amazing food, Thai culture and abundance of temples and you pretty much have the perfect city.

TOUR TEMPLES IN CHIANG MAI: (Thailand) Heading north is a popular part of most people’s Thailand itinerary and Chiang Mai is worth the effort. The heart of the city lies within a wall with a surrounding moat and touts a series of beautiful temples to explore.

GET A BAMBOO TATTOO: (Thailand)  This isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve thought about getting a  bamboo tattoo in Thailand , just do it! Both of us did and have nothing but positive things to say about the whole experience.

VISIT THE PHI PHI ISLANDS: (Thailand)  One of the most beautiful chain of islands in the Andaman Sea, the  Phi Phi Islands  are worth a visit despite the harsh backpacker vibe they portray. Yes, backpackers flock here, but there are also plenty of nice resorts to stay at and other islands to tour during the day that are nearby.

TEMPLE HOP IN BAGAN: (Myanmar)  (England) Alongside the Angkor Temples in Cambodia, Bagan is the most impressive temple complex in Southeast Asia. Covering 40 square miles, this complex offers up impressive temple structures from three distinct time periods. Our biggest piece of advice? Give yourself at least 3 days to see the best it has to offer.

UNWIND IN PENANG: (Malaysia)  The island of Penang, which sits off the western coast of Malaysia, may just be our favorite island in Southeast Asia. It’s a place that blends tropical jungles with white sand beaches and old-world history with Asian culture. It has a little bit of everything and we that is why we love it. From the street art and amazing good in Georgetown to the  Monkey beach trek in Penang National Park , we’d visit a hundred times over and never be bored.

TOUR KUALA LUMPUR: (Malaysia)  We won’t lie, we have a love, hate relationship with  Kuala Lumpur  but that doesn’t stop us from going back. The city has a lot of offer travelers, including a delicious food scene, great architecture and the famed  Batu Caves  just outside the city.

LEVEL WITH HISTORY IN PHNOM PENH: (Cambodia)  Travel is so much more than lying on beaches and touring sites, it’s a valuable window into the past too. If you find yourself in Phnom Penh it is worth your time to learn more about the Khmer Rouge genocide that happened in parallel with the Vietnam War. The  museums and killing field sites  are sobering but a necessary part of learning world history when you travel.

DO THE BUFFALO RUN IN VIETNAM:  Starting in Hanoi, the  Buffalo Run tour  takes you off the beaten track and deeply explores the very best of Vietnam, north of the demarcation line. This is not a well-traveled path, so you’ll feel like you’re the only one there. You’ll stop off in places like Cuc Phong National Park, Trang An, Phong Nha, the DMZ, Vinh Moc Tunnels, Hue and Hoi An.

CRUISE AROUND HALONG BAY: (Vietnam)  One of the best  things to do in Vietnam  is to  cruise Halong Bay  and for good reason, it’s gorgeous! Massive limestone karsts grow out of bright green seas paired with island accommodation and white sand beaches. It’s a great way to unwind, especially if you have jetlag from the flight to Southeast Asia.

WATCH WILDLIFE IN THE AMAZON OF THE EAST: (Borneo)  We are total suckers for a thick rainforest and Borneo delivers. The island is literally known as the Amazon of the East and features some of the most incredible primary rainforests you can find on the planet. With that comes some incredible wildlife viewing, it’s a  birders paradise  with more than 688 resident and migratory species. You can also see the endemic Proboscis Monkey, orangutans and if you’re really lucky some pygmy elephants.

GO SCUBA DIVING AT SIPADAN ISLAND: (Borneo)  If you’re a scuba diver then you likely already know about  Sipadan Island . It is arguably the best place in the world for diving and we do not disagree. Pair it with the incredible muck diving and manta cleaning stations around nearby islands like Siamil and Mabul to make the ultimate dive trip in Southeast Asia.

TRACK KOMODO DRAGONS: (Indonesia)  There is only one place in the entire world where the world’s largest reptile,  the Komodo Dragon , still lives in the wild. This is the Komodo Islands in eastern Indonesia. Not only are these islands absolutely stunning, seeing the dragons is a once in a lifetime experience too. It’s not possible to stay on the islands, so be sure to book yourself a  Sailing Komodo Island tour  when you arrive in-country.

GET OFF THE GRID IN RAJA AMPAT: (Indonesia)  Located off the coast of the remote island of Papua,  Raja Ampat  is part of Indonesia’s West Papua province. This place is a straight-up paradise. It offers insane jungle hiking through untouched forests, island views, rich culture and some of the most pristine coral reefs we have ever seen. It’s hard to get to and expensive but oh so worth the effort.

EXPLORE BALI: (Indonesia)  If you’ve never been to Indonesia before, we’d happily recommend Bali be added to your itinerary. It is one of those Southeast Asia classics that shouldn’t be overlooked. From the beaches in Kuta, the islands of Nusa and the rice terraces that surround  Ubud , there are plenty of  things to do in Bali  during a visit.

CATCH A SUNRISE AT BOROBUDUR TEMPLE: (Indonesia)  Another temple, I know, but this one is spectacular and worth the visit. Catching a  Borobudur sunrise  is almost otherworldly and worth the 3am wakeup call to see buddha silhouettes against volcanos erupting against the sunrise. The temple is located on Java island, not far from Yogyakarta.


Southeast Asia is a foodie’s paradise, and the region is an incredible palace to eat your way around. In fact, a big part of Southeast Asia travel is the food, so don’t be afraid to try the local stuff!

Thai cuisine  needs no introduction, and  Malaysian food  is possibly the most underrated in the world. There are lots of curries and noodle dishes, with a great mix of Malay, Chinese, and Indian cuisine to try.

Burmese food  involves more curry and noodles, while  Vietnam  is famous for  Bahn Mi and Pho . Indonesia has its fried rice and rendang. Singapore is home to some of the world’s only  Michelin-starred street food stalls !


Southeast Asia is packed with events and festivals throughout the year, and every country has unique celebrations to offer visitors.

In Vietnam, the biggest celebration is  Tet , the New Year in February. Chinatowns everywhere celebrate Chinese New Year around the same time.

In Thailand, you can visit the famed  Songkran , a water festival that brings in the Thai New Year in April.

In Bali, you can find processions and parades throughout the year, while in March, the  Day of Silence  is a unique local occasion to be part of.

The Philippines has more local festivals than anywhere else, a throwback to their Spanish ancestry. The major ones are  Sinulog  in January and  Holy Week  before Easter.

Pack like a pro on your trip to SOUTHEAST ASIA!

Popular regions in southeast asia.

Long tail boats Maya Bay Thailand


Thailand  is a Southeast Asia travel destination that needs little introduction. The Land of Smiles is home to beautiful islands in the south, rugged mountains in the north, and of course, the thrilling capital, Bangkok. There’s sun, there’s sand, there’s culture, and there’s great food.  Myanmar  is little visited compared to its Southeast Asian neighbors, but the county recently began to open up to tourism and saw a boom when it did. Myanmar is unlike anywhere else in the region. Explore ancient Buddhist pagodas, visit the cultural climes of Mandalay and see the fading colonial ruins in  Yangon .

Gardens by the Bay Singapore

Malaysia  and  Singapore  are home to the best food you could eat when you travel to Southeast Asia. Visit the foodie stalls and white sand beaches of  Penang , and the modern sights of  Kuala Lumpur  before heading south to  Singapore  – one of the most modern and exciting cities in the world.

David Stock walking in Hanoi, Vietnam


The eastern mainland is made up of  Laos ,  Cambodia , and  Vietnam . Aside from their shared French-colonial history, these countries couldn’t be more different.  Vietnam  is the rising star of the region, offering an epic adventure if you travel between  Hanoi  and Ho Chi Minh City. See the scars of the  Vietnam War  and explore the magnificent nature, scenery, history, and delectable food that this modern nation offers. In  Cambodia , a trip is inseparable from the  harrowing past ; you’ll learn about the Khmer Rouge as soon as you land in the capital. You can visit the ruins of  Angkor Wat  or head to the beaches of Sihanoukville.  Laos  is untouched, but who knows how long it will stay that way. One of the poorest and most rural countries you could visit when you travel to Southeast Asia, Laos is also the most unexpected.

Kinabatangan River Sabah Borneo Keen Footwear

Borneo is one of the world’s largest islands and this unique destination is home to some of the best rainforests on the planet. Borneo offers hiking, mountain climbing, beaches, and  diving . The island is divided between three countries: there’s Malaysian Borneo in the north and tiny Brunei. The south is Kalimantan, an Indonesian province.

Nacpan Beach Palawan Philippines


If you’re looking for island hopping opportunities, snorkeling, diving, and diverse culture, then  Indonesia  or the  Philippines  are the best countries to include in your Southeast Asia travel itinerary.  Indonesia  has  Bali , one of the region’s most popular islands, but there’s also the culture and history of Java, relaxation, and slowness on  Lombok , the wild nature of Sumatra or  Komodo , or the beautiful marine life of  Raja Ampat . The  Philippines  is beautifully diverse, home to the highlands and rice terraces of the Cordilleras, but also the rugged islands of  Palawan , including the stunning and popular  Coron  and  El Nido . We will not lie, Indonesia and the Philippines are our two most beloved countries in Southeast Asia. We’ve been back to visit them both, multiple times, and it’s the first place we head each time we return to the area. 


Setting a budget for travel to Southeast Asia is highly dependent on your travel style. It is possible to visit just about anywhere across the continent on any budget and still have a great trip. That said, you can make your trip as basic or as luxurious as you desire.

To help you set your budget, we’ve included some base range price estimations for Southeast Asia travel. Of course, keep in mind that prices can fluctuate based on seasons, availability and festivals.

If you’re looking to travel on a budget, be sure to check out the  12 Tips on How to Travel Cheap  before you start planning.

ACCOMMODATION:  Accommodation is good value when you travel to Southeast Asia.  Guesthouses, hostels, and homestays  will cost between USD 10 and USD 20 per night (less if you don’t care about the cleanliness).  Private rooms  can be between USD 20 and USD 50. Above this price range, you can find more  luxurious accommodation . Popular resort destinations in Thailand or Bali will charge USD 100 or more per night for fancier hotels.

FOOD:  Food is incredibly inexpensive in Southeast Asia; you can find  local eats  for as little as USD 1 per plate in most countries. Prices go up in touristy destinations (we’re looking at Thailand and Bali again) and western-style restaurants. You still  won’t often pay more than USD 10 per meal , however.

TRANSPORT:  Local transport is affordable across Southeast Asia, and international transport is equally cost-effective.  Buses and trains  vary in standards and prices.  Local transport  will be just a few dollars for day-long journeys, but you pay more for comfort.  Mopeds  can be hired for between USD 5 and USD 10 per day. Budget international  flights  can be as low as USD 30 if booked in advance for a two-hour flight.

ACTIVITIES:  Activities vary in cost from country to country but expect to pay between USD 30 and USD 70 for a day of  diving . You can enjoy a  boat tour  for around USD 30 a day, or hire  trekking  guides for a similar price. For the most part, activities are very cost-effective in comparison to western prices.


Living in hostels, lounging on beaches, and eating local food. If you’re looking to include many destinations in your Southeast Asia travel plans, or want to enjoy lots of day trips and activities, raise that budget to USD 50.

50-100 USD PER DAY

Midrange travelers will be able to enjoy the comforts of private rooms and guesthouses, taxi rides, and tourist buses. You can enjoy street food, restaurants, and plenty of activities. Your money will go far on this budget and you won’t miss much.


Luxury travelers can get a lot for their money when they travel to Southeast Asia. Stay in premium resorts in Bali, Borneo, or the Thai Islands. Enjoy restaurant-quality food, private day tours and drivers, and plenty of spa treatments!


Below you will find some of the places we have stayed during our travels in Southeast Asia. These are individual properties that we enjoyed and would recommend to other travelers.

For more in-depth information, be sure to check out the following articles:

  • Where to Stay in Bangkok: Best Districts & Hotels
  • INAYA Putri Bali Nusa Dua: Resort Review


Southeast Asia is an extremely popular destination for backpacking because you can do a lot throughout the region on a very small budget. We’ve experienced this region on both the high end and budget side, including spending 6 months backpacking during our  2 year RTW trip .

If you’re looking for some breakdowns on how we did this, check out the overviews below.


If you’re traveling around mainland Southeast Asia, you can cross most borders overland. You could travel all the way from Hanoi to Singapore overland using buses and trains. The transport varies from cheap, slow local buses to faster, luxury sleeper buses and trains.

The same applies to the Philippines and Indonesia, although you’ll need to combine buses with boats. In the Philippines and Indonesia, you’re often better off flying, as destinations are spread over large areas. If you have time, you can take inter-island ferries.

If you’re visiting Borneo, you’ll need to fly in. You can travel by bus between major cities and destinations in Malaysian Borneo and Brunei, but Kalimanatan is much less developed and more challenging to travel around.

Most land borders into Myanmar are off-limits, so you need to fly into Yangon. From there, you have bus and train connections across the country.

BUS:  If time is on your side, there are many instances where taking the bus will be the best option for getting between places. There are usually two classes operating the popular routes, this includes tourist buses and local buses. Tourist buses are usually comfortable coaches with AC and WIFI. Local buses will be rough and not have AC. Both will get you where you need to go.

FLIGHTS:  Thanks to budget airlines like Air Asia, Southeast Asia is incredibly well served by low-cost carriers offering regular flights and cheap fares. Major cities, and increasingly, many more regional airports, have connections between one another. In most cases – particularly over longer distances – flying is cheaper than taking the train or bus.


Buddhas Ayutthaya Thailand


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Southeast Asia is a vast area that sprawls over both sides of the equator. For the most part, you can expect countries to be  hot, humid, and tropical  when you travel to Southeast Asia – but this isn’t always the case.

The north of Vietnam is much more temperate and has cold winters, while the same can be said of Myanmar’s northern mountains. However, most areas you will visit during your Southeast Asia travel itinerary will have distinct  wet and dry seasons .

North of the equator, the dry season is usually November to April. Most of Indonesia, however, has its dry season from May through to October. The dry season is the best time to explore Southeast Asia; there’s little chance of rain and thunderstorms, and the visibility if you’re snorkeling or diving is perfect.

Even in Indonesia, peak season is from November through to January, and tourist numbers and prices increase dramatically over the Christmas holidays. Try to travel in the shoulder seasons instead;, you might get a little rain, but you’ll escape the worst of the crowds.

For more in-depth information, check out:

Best Time to Visit Bali: Month by Month Breakdown

Best time to visit the philippines: month by month breakdown, inspiration for your next southeast asia trip, safety in southeast asia.

Southeast Asia travel is generally safe, even for first-time travelers (which is why it’s a popular backpacking destination). In touristy destinations, however, you do need to be super-careful of scams and low-level thievery.

This is especially so in places like Bali and Bangkok. On buses, try to keep your belongings close and safe, and on the party islands in Thailand, be careful! Take our advice and be sure you’re prepared. Check out  25 Essential Safety Tips for Travel

Each county has its own laws and customs, so read up before you cross the border. What goes in Thailand might not be so welcome in Malaysia. Some countries are Muslim, others Buddhist, and some Christian – it’s a diverse region!

For personal experiences, check out:

  • 5 Reasons Why Bali Is Not the Paradise You Think It Is
  • Culture Shock: Our First 24 Hours in Bali


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15 Best Places to Visit in Southeast Asia

Written by Diana Bocco Updated Jul 13, 2022 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

The countries that fall in the Southeast Asia region have so much going for them, it's almost impossible to keep them off anybody's travel bucket list . From white, soft beaches and major cities to the rich history, culture, and the must-try food, this part of the world has something for everybody.

While some destinations, such as Thailand's beaches and islands and the majestic Angkor Wat in Cambodia, are known everywhere, some places in Southeast Asia remain more elusive and off the main tourist radar. This gives visitors a chance to mix things up – to go with the crowds to see the most popular spots, but also make time to discover new and different corners of Southeast Asia.

Whatever your heart is set on, here is a list of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia.

1. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

2. ha long bay, vietnam, 3. koh samui, thailand, 4. boracay, philippines, 5. bagan, myanmar, 6. kuala lumpur, malaysia, 7. bangkok, thailand, 8. singapore, 9. yangon, myanmar, 10. luang prabang, laos, 11. palawan island, philippines, 12. tegalalang rice terraces, bali, 13. komodo island, indonesia, 14. chiang mai, thailand, 15. hanoi, vietnam, map of places to visit in southeast asia.

Buddhist monk in Angkor Wat

Located in northwestern Cambodia, the city is best known for being the gateway to the Angkor region, but Siem Reap has much to offer on its own. A mix of Chinese and colonial architecture gives the city a unique vibe, where countryside residents and old motorbikes blend with a vibrant café culture and a modern club scene.

Siem Reap is home to two important museums: The Cambodia Landmine Museum and Relief Center , which offers a chance to learn more about landmines and their ongoing impact on Cambodia and other Asian countries, and the War Museum , which covers the involvement of Cambodia in several wars.

There are also a number of massive markets in the city, including Psah Chas, which caters to both locals and tourists with a variety of souvenirs, fresh food, and more.

Angkor Wat , the largest religious monument and one of the top World Heritage Sites , lies less than six kilometers north of Siem Reap. The ruins of this 12 th -century temple complex cover a space of over 162 hectares, with hundreds of structures built using sandstone blocks. There are a number of other temples, also built in Khmer style, in the area, including Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm, and Pre Rup.

  • Best Places to Visit in Cambodia
  • Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Siem Reap

Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay consists of a group of islands and limestone karsts that have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site . Many of the islands are actually tall monolithic cliffs that cannot be walked on, covered in green, lush jungle. Some of these are hollow and house beautiful caves. Dau Go Cave (Wooden Stake Cave) is a good example, a massive cave with three main chambers, multicolored stalagmites, and rock paintings. Many of the islands also have their own enclosed lakes.

Of the almost 2,000 islands here, less than 40 have permanent residents, often in the form of small communities that live in floating houses and fishing villages.

Ha Long Bay's largest island, Cat Ba , is the most common overnight stop for tourists coming to Ha Long Bay for cruises and tours. Kayaking the turquoise-green waters of the bay is a popular activity here, as well as cruising the bay in traditional junk boats.

  • Read More: Things to Do in Halong Bay

Ang Thong Marine National Park

While Koh Samui has always been a beloved destination for sun worshippers and snorkelers, the crowd the island attracts has changed over the years.

Once a favorite of backpackers, Koh Samui has undergone a remarkable transformation. It now boasts high-end resorts, posh spas, and some of the whitest palm-fringed beaches in Thailand. Chaweng and Lamai beaches attract the bulk of the travelers and are well developed, clean, and full of activities, including opportunities to sail, scuba dive, and swim.

While most visitors come to Koh Samui for the beach , there's much more to see and do. Take time to explore the mangroves and hidden lakes of Ang Thong Marine National Park ; the 12-meter-tall golden Buddha at the hilltop Big Buddha shrine; and the Na Muang waterfalls, reached after a trek uphill through thick tropical forest.

Read More: Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Koh Samui

Boracay, Philippines

The tiny island of Boracay is just across the water from Panay Island, one of the Philippines' largest islands. Despite being only 10 square kilometers in size, Boracay attracts thousands of visitors a year, who come here for the four-kilometer-long beach and its powdery white sands that wash right into the turquoise waters and the sailboats rocking away on the waves. This is one of the best beaches in the Philippines .

In addition to scuba diving and snorkeling, Boracay is well-known for its parasailing, kiteboarding, and swimming-and, perhaps more unexpectedly, its cliff diving . Diving boards ranging from three to 15 meters high over the water are placed on certain parts of the island, with lifeguards waiting and watching as divers fly up in the air over the mirror-like waters below.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in the Philippines

Temples in Bagan

A UNESCO World Heritage Site , the ancient city of Bagan was once the capital of the first kingdom of Myanmar. Between the 11th and 13th century, over 10,000 pagodas and Buddhist temples were built here. Over 3,500 still stand today in the area known as the Bagan Archaeological Zone, which spreads over 41 square kilometers.

One of the most famous temples in Bagan is the Ananda Temple , a Buddhist temple built in a unique fusion of Mon and Indian styles. Dhammayangyi Temple , the largest religious structure in Bagan, is visible from all corners of the city and is famous for its mysterious bricked up interior.

The Bagan Archaeological Museum , located within the Archaeological Zone, is home to artifacts recovered from the area, such as stucco works, lots of lacquer and metal artifacts, and stone sculptures, including a Rosetta Stone dating back 1,000 years.

Just outside the Bagan Archeological Zone sits the sleepy village of Myinkaba, famous for the ancient art of lacquerware. Visitors can stop by workshops to see items being painted by hand, and then grab some souvenirs at the many shops around.

For the most famous sunset-viewing spot in town, head to the white Shwesandaw Paya pagoda. Here, you can climb part of the building to catch the 360-degree views over the hills and other temples around.

Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia's capital is a city of contrasts: the cultural and financial heart of the nation, with magnificent skyscrapers and three of the world's largest shopping centers-but also a great example of colonial architecture, Malay Islamic details, and old Chinese shophouses. Walking through the city is a great way to appreciate the eclectic look of this relatively new Asian capital and see the different cultures and styles melting into each other.

KL is home to the tallest twin buildings in the world , the Petronas Towers – architectural marvels of steel and glass that stand 452 meters tall. The towers are surrounded by a large urban park and are home to a massive shopping center with over 350 stores, a theater housing the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, and even an underwater aquarium.

KL is a very green city, with many parks, gardens, and open spaces everywhere you go. The 92-hectare Lake Gardens is a major urban park that contains a butterfly park, the world's largest aviary bird park , and an orchid garden. You'll also find three forest reserves within the city, perfect for trekking and catching sight of rare fauna.

The limestone Batu Caves (which contain several Hindu shrines); the Cameron Highlands with its tea plantations ; and the colorful town of Malacca, established by Portuguese settlers, are all great day-trip destinations from Kuala Lumpur.

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  • Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Malaysia


Thailand's capital has lots going for it. Not only is this the main gateway for all major destinations within the country, but this cosmopolitan city also has much to offer on its own. With over 24 million visitors arriving here every year, this is also one of the top cities in the world to visit .

Sitting right on the Chao Phraya River and full of stunning skyscrapers that share the sidewalk with major Buddhist temples and popular cafés and hangouts, Bangkok's multi-faceted sights will please a wide range of visitors, from those looking for excitement and shopping opportunities, as well as those wanting to dive into cultural and historical landmarks.

Even tourists who are only here briefly on their way to the islands should make time to visit the Grand Palace , a former royal residence converted into a museum. For those with more time in the capital city, the royal Vimanmek Mansion (the largest teak building in the world) and the Jim Thompson House, a museum dedicated to the American businessman who revolutionized the local silk industry, are also worth a visit.

For a completely different view of the city, get on a classic tuk-tuk taxi or jump on a water bus.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Bangkok

Singapore skyline at dusk

Singapore is a unique spot in Southeast Asia. This island city-state is modern and cosmopolitan , a place where multi-story shopping centers mix with stunning and unexpected natural attractions.

The Marina Bay Sands , an integrated resort, is a good example of that-it offers not only a hotel, but also a museum, art-science exhibits, and the best terraced views over the city and bay from the infinity pool set on their roof.

Sentosa Island is another example, an entertainment complex that includes everything from a two-kilometer-long beach and a restored coastal fort to Southeast Asia's first 4D theater, a Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom, and even a Universal Studios Singapore theme park.

Singapore's airport has been named the best in the world, and it's an attraction all in itself, home to the world's tallest indoor waterfall, a five-story tall indoor garden, a mirror and haze maze, and a massive butterfly garden with over 1,000 species flying free in tropical greenery.

  • Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Singapore
  • Best Beaches in Singapore

Shwedagon Pagoda

Up until 2011, Myanmar offered only limited access to tourists because of the five-decade-long military dictatorship that commanded the country-so now that it's finally possible to visit, and before it becomes crazy busy with tourists, you definitely should see this fascinating destination.

Yangon was the capital of Myanmar (or Burma) until 2006, when the military government moved it somewhere else. Since the country was under military dictatorship for so long, the city suffered a lot of issues and still boasts a lot of buildings in decay and with inadequate infrastructure.

Still, Yangon is full of beautiful architecture in the form of colonial-era buildings centered around the 2,600-year-old Sule Pagoda . It is the gilded Shwedagon Pagoda (also known as the Golden Pagoda) that dominates the skyline of the city, however-the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in the country, believed to contain relics of the last four Buddhas.

Visitors should make time to visit the Bogyoke Aung San Market , where stalls sell everything from antiques and local handicrafts to Burmese jade, local delicacies, and even natural medicine products. Another great must-do is the Yangon Circular Train , which runs on a 46-kilometer-long loop around Yangon, offering a unique insight into the real daily life of Burmese people.

Wat Xieng Thong in Luang Prabang

This northern city in Laos is surrounded by a number of villages that together form the UNESCO Town Of Luang Prabang World Heritage Site . Recognized for its mix of rural, French colonial, and religious architecture and heritage, the city is one of Laos' most visited and certainly most beautiful.

Luang Prabang sits at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers and is home to many temples-including Wat Chom Si shrine, located at the top of Mount Phou Si and overlooking the town. Alms ceremonies (where monks take to the streets to ask for food) are so common here that in the early morning, the entire town is covered in streams of orange as the monks make their way through the streets.

Just outside the city, the Bear Rescue Centre (which specializes in helping sun bears rescued from poachers) and the multi-tiered Kuang Si Falls are both worth a visit. If you're up for some trekking, head out to the Pak Ou Caves , famous for their hundreds of miniature Buddha sculptures.

Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Laos

Aerial view of Palawan Island

Palawan has been named one of the most beautiful islands in the world so many times, it's hard to ignore its beauty. Technically speaking, Palawan remains under-developed, which means fewer high-end hotels but also slow, sustainable growth to protect the virgin forests, green jungle mountains, and wonderful wildlife.

Palawan is surrounded by quiet turquoise waters that are ideal for snorkeling, swimming, and kayaking. Lots of smaller islands dot the ocean around Palawan, and you can spend an entire day island-hopping and still not see all the amazing beauty the area has to offer.

Miniloc Island , a rustic escape northwest of Palawan, is home to a number of lagoons and soft sandy beaches you can reach on your own or via a motorized water taxi.

For those who prefer underwater adventures, the waters around Palawan hold six shipwrecks of coral-encrusted Japanese ships sunk during WWII. Divers can slip in and out of the engine rooms, bomb holes, and portholes, swimming with fish and turtles-some of the wrecks are as deep as 42 meters.

  • Read More: Best Places to Visit in the Philippines

Tegalalang Rice Terraces

Say "Bali" and people think soft white beaches, corals, and snorkeling-and while it's true that Bali has plenty of beautiful destinations on the sand (including the Nusa Penida beach, with cliffs that resemble the head of the T-Rex), that's not all you can see here. In fact, the lush, green, terraced rice fields in the province of Ubud are just as stunning.

Bali's farmers have been setting rice paddies on terraces for centuries to deal with the hilly terrain of the area-and these areas make for stunning landscapes.

For a donation entry fee that equals pennies, visitors can walk the terraces here for hours, as the green fields extend far beyond what the eye can see. Those who arrive early in the morning will have the place almost to themselves, the soft sound of the rice fields swishing in the wind.

Visitors to Ubud can also check out the Ubud Monkey Forest ; a macaque sanctuary; the traditional royal palace Puri Saren Agung; and the gardens of Pura Taman Saraswati, a water temple famous for its lotus pond and volcanic tuff sculptures of deities.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Bali

Pantai Merah (Pink Beach) on Komodo Island

Komodo Island is more than "just one" of the over 17,000 islands that make up Indonesia. This rugged island of just under 400 square kilometers is home to the world's largest lizard , the Komodo dragon. In fact, the population of Komodo dragons here is double the population of permanent human inhabitants, making for a unique sight as you walk through the island's volcanic hills and forests.

Komodo Island is also home to a wide variety of wet ecosystems, including mangrove forests and coral reefs, both of which attract lots of travelers looking to explore, dive, or kayak around the island.

The main sightseeing attraction here, however, is Pantai Merah , one of only seven pink-sand beaches in the world. The cotton-candy sands are the result of an interesting natural phenomenon-when microorganisms, called foraminifera, that live in the coral die, their bright red shells are washed out on the beach and mix in with the white sand, creating the beautiful hue that attracts so many visitors.

Floating lanterns during the Yi Peng Festival at Wat Phra Singh Temple, Chiang Mai

Thailand's northern city of Chiang Mai is often referred to as the cultural capital of the country. Once the seat of the former Lanna Kingdom, Chiang Mai is teeming with centuries-old temples, jungle-shrouded sanctuaries, and mountains in every direction.

A smaller and less chaotic city than Bangkok, Chiang Mai still attracts travelers from all over the world who come for the low-key lifestyle, nature, history, culture, restaurants, and budget-friendly hotels.

Backpackers often make Chiang Mai a main stop on their Thailand travels, as prices are much more attractive than down south on the beaches, and Chiang Mai is a jumping-off point from which to explore the various smaller hill communities that dot the mountains.

One of the must-see temples in Chiang Mai is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a golden hilltop shrine that overlooks the entire city below. One of the most sacred spots in Thailand, this temple complex is simply stunning. Visit just before sunset when the monks begin to chant. It is the most magical time to be at the temple.

From Chiang Mai, travelers often set out to explore Mae Hong Son province to the northwest, one of Thailand's most historic provinces, known for its smaller villages and ancient tribal communities.

Read More: Top-Rated Attractions & Things To Do in Chiang Mai

Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Returned Sword) and the Turtle Tower in Hanoi

Vietnam's capital sits at an unusual precipice between historic and modern. The thriving city only opened to tourism as recently as the 1990s. Today, Hanoi is a buzzing, chaotic, energetic, beautiful amalgamation of ancient history, a war-torn past, and a modern future. It's one of the best places to visit in Vietnam to really learn about what makes the country tick.

Start in the old quarter, where you will find a heady mix of street vendors, cafés, restaurants, and more motorbikes than you can possibly count. But in between the zipping, zooming, pulsing chaos are pockets of tranquility and peace. Take Hoan Kiem Lake, for example, a 12-hectare lake in the heart of the historic city center. Around the lake are beautiful pagoda gateways, one of which is How Phong Pagoda, one of Hanoi's must-see sites .

The Temple of Literature is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city, too. It is a Confucian temple that was built as a university that dates back to the 11th century. Hanoi is also the city where visitors will find the tomb of Ho Chi Minh, the Hoa Lo Prison Museum, and the Military History Museum.

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More Great Destinations in Southeast Asia: When it comes to choosing the best places to visit in SE Asia, the list is long and the decision can be tough. If you are traveling through Thailand , consider heading up to Chiang Mai or head over to the Andaman Sea to explore places like the Phi Phi Islands or Phuket , and the beautiful beaches in Krabi .

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10 Days in Southeast Asia: Top 5 Itineraries (with Maps & Prices)

Southeast Asia is a fascinating and diverse region that offers a wealth of travel experiences. 10 days are enough to get a good general view of a single country or sample the top highlights of two countries.

In this article, we have carefully selected 5 itineraries for a 10-day trip in Southeast Asia for your inspiration.

  • Which Southeast Asia Countries to See in 10 Days
  • Itinerary 1: Thailand and Cambodia Itinerary (Most Chosen)
  • Itinerary 2: Vietnam and Cambodia Itinerary (More Rustic)
  • Itinerary 3: Singapore and Bali Itinerary (Most Relaxing)
  • Itinerary 4: Thailand Itinerary for Couples
  • Itinerary 5: Vietnam Itinerary for Families

Costs for a 10-Day Southeast Asia Tour

Which countries to visit in southeast asia in 10 days.

For a 10-day trip to Southeast Asia, you're suggested to focus on one country or two neighboring countries to have an in-depth experience instead of rushing through multiple destinations. In addition, you would reduce travel fatigue and save money on transportation costs.

Thailand and Vietnam themselves are rich in various experiences, whether you're interested in beaches, mountains, historical sites, or cultural attractions. It is worth spending ten days or even longer in either country.

For more varied experiences, you could also combine Thailand and Vietnam in one tour .

While, if you are looking for a leisurely island tour or a romantic celebration, Singapore and Indonesia (mainly Bali) or tranquil Koh Samui are the best places to go for 10 days.

Discover real reviews of Highlights Travel Family 's best-rated service across trusted platforms.

1. A Classic 10-Day Thailand and Cambodia Itinerary: Most Chosen

Thailand and Cambodia are the most popular showcases of Southeast Asia a wide variety of experiences: beautiful islands, majestic relics, diverse cultures, food adventures...

For a quick taste of SE Asia, you could stay 7 days in Thailand and 3 days in Cambodia. See the suggested itinerary below:

  • Days 1–2: Bangkok
  • Days 3–5: Siem Reap
  • Days 6–7: Chiang Mai
  • Days 8–10: Phuket

During your 10 days, your travel pace will transition from energetic to relaxed, from engaging Siem Reap and Bangkok to relaxing Chiang Mai and Phuket.

In Thailand, you're suggested to spend a week on its iconic highlights. Get close to the local city life in Bangkok. An elephant sanctuary, Thai cuisine cooking class, and a flower market would feature in your trip to Chiang Mai. Some free days on the beaches of Phuket are saved until last to refresh you before your journey home.

In Cambodia, Siem Reap, home to Angkor Wat, is the key attraction that most people come to visit in Cambodia. You could explore it well in 3 days, as well as go to see life on Tonle Sap Lake.

If you're traveling as a family, our exclusive experiences , including a longtail boat ride, food hunting, and an ox cart ride through the countryside, would keep kids engaged.

If you're traveling as a couple , to create romantic moments, don't miss a sunset cocktail on Tonle Sap Lake and a sunset balloon ride over Angkor Wat. If your time allows, join in the mass lantern festivals in Chiang Mai (usually in November).

2. A 10-Day Vietnam and Cambodia Itinerary: More Rustic

Compared with Thailand, Vietnam is more rustic and affordable. If you prefer countryside scenery and the laid-back vibe of SE Asia, 5 days in each country is advisable. Here is a well-planned itinerary for inspiration:

  • Days 1–2: Phnom Penh
  • Days 6–7: Hoi An
  • Days 8–10: Hanoi and Ha Long Bay

During your 5 days in Cambodia, you'll discover its capital Phnom Penh and Cambodia's most famous attraction — Angkor Wat. You would get an in-depth experience with a scholar guide during our special walking tour of Angkor Wat .

For the other 5 days in Vietnam, relax in ancient Hoi An, the capital Hanoi, and breathtaking Ha Long Bay.

Apart from history-filled buildings, you could bike on picturesque country roads , paddle basket boats at a fishing village , and make your own lanterns in Hoi An.

In Hanoi, a foodie tour in the Old Quarter and a traditional water puppet show are highlights, especially for families with kids.

For a couple's trip, a 2-day Ha Long Bay cruise is a must. Travel with us for a private cruise to explore the unspoiled areas of Ha Long Bay in a more private and intimate setting.

Want a personalized itinerary? Simply contact us to see what we can do for you .

3. A 10-Day Singapore and Bali Itinerary: Most Relaxing

Singapore and Bali are excellent destinations for couples and families seeking a leisurely vacation in Southeast Asia.

Since Singapore is smaller than Bali, more travel time is suggested in Bali: 3 days in Singapore and 7 days in Bali. The following itinerary schedule is suggested: fast paced city to relaxed vibe island.

  • Days 1–3: Singapore
  • Days 4–6: Ubud, Bali
  • Days 7–10: Beach time, Bali

In Singapore, food, culture, and cityscape views stand out as attractions. Its Night Safari is a unique and unforgettable night-time experience, especially suited for families with kids.

In Bali, we recommend dedicating three days to exploring Ubud and its cultural-town activities, jungle adventures, and rice terraces.

Thereafter, you could allocate four or more days to unwind and relax on Bali's beautiful beaches. Nusa Dua is a more family-friendly beach area with abundant water activities, while Uluwatu has a more serene and romantic atmosphere, which is ideal for couples .

If you have more time, you could extend your itinerary to nearby Indonesian islands, like Lembongan Island (an extra 2+ days) or Java (5+ days suggested), discovering more undisturbed tropical views and enjoying more peaceful island hours.

4. A 10-Day Thailand Itinerary for Couples

For a milestone romantic celebration, Thailand is the best choice with its fine resorts on tropical islands, abundant adult-only hotels, and exotic cultural celebrations.

Get some inspiration from the itinerary below:

  • Days 3–7: Chiang Mai
  • Days 8–10: Koh Samui

After exploring the city highlights in Bangkok, you would have the chance to experience the chaotic local life at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and Maeklong Railway Market.

In this 10-day itinerary, a highlight at Chiang Mai could be walking with elephants , which would bring you closer to this endearing species.

If you travel around November, the mass sky lantern release during the Yi Peng Festival would be an excellent opportunity for a romantic memory-maker for couples, in particular. Travel with us to have a premium experience: release your own lanterns into the sky, and capture enchanting moments with thousands of floating lanterns.

This itinerary also includes the island of Koh Samui. It offers tranquil private hours, luxury resorts, and fine dining that are ideal for a couple's big celebration. Contact us for swim-up pool rooms or hotels with infinity pools. Read more about planning a couple's trip to Southeast Asia >>>

If you're traveling with your family, you can also discover the family-friendly activities we offer in our well-organized Thailand family tour >>>

5. A Classic 10-Day Vietnam Itinerary for Families with Teenagers

Vietnam offers diverse experiences for families with teenagers, particularly if you want some interesting outdoor adventures.

The itinerary includes a mix of city tours, cultural experiences, and outdoor activities, making it a great way to keep teenagers engaged and interested throughout the trip.

Check the following hand-picked itinerary:

  • Days 1–2: Arrival, Hanoi city tour
  • Day 3: Ninh Binh day tour
  • Days 4–5: Ha Long Bay cruise
  • Day 6: Hoi An
  • Days 7–8: Ho Chi Minh City
  • Days 9–10: The Mekong Delta

A representative Vietnam trip would not be complete without charismatic capital Hanoi, picturesque Ha Long Bay, relaxing Hoi An, bustling Ho Chi Minh City, and vibrant floating markets in the Mekong Delta.

Besides these landmarks, you could explore off-the-beaten-path Ninh Binh . Your kids could get something thrilling to do when rowing a boat through a tunnel-like karst cave.

Our special farming experience and fishing tour would allow your children to see authentic local life. The Cu Chi Tunnels could be educational as well.

A water puppet show, the A O culture and art show, and an evening food tour would add more fun into your family trip.

Southeast Asia offers great value for money. A private tour in Southeast Asia is actually an affordable luxury, which would add exclusivity and convenience to your trip.

A 10-day Southeast Asia tour costs around US$200–250 per day per person, when offering quality 4/5-star hotels, nice meals, and private tailored touring. Kids below 10 would get around 30% to 50% discounts.

So, beyond the international flights from/to your country, you would need to spend around US$6,500–8,500 on a 10-day private trip for a family with 2 adults and 2 kids. For a couple, the cost would be around US$4,000–5,000.

Plan Your Trip to Southeast Asia

You are warmly welcomed to have us customize your trip based on your group size, interests, and other needs.

Read more 10-day itineraries in Southeast Asia:

  • 5 Top Thailand Itineraries for 10 Days
  • 10 Days in Vietnam: 5 Best Itineraries for First-Timers
  • 5 Top Bali Itineraries for 10 Days

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When's the Best Time to Visit Southeast Asia?

best time to visit southeast asia countries

Although relatively compact, Southeast Asia has a seemingly infinite amount of climates to match its varied mountains, beaches, religions and cuisines. Weather patterns vary wildly even within the same country -- in Thailand, for instance, when it’s the sunny dry season in Phuket, it’s time for monsoons less than 200 miles away on the island of Koh Samui.

Whether planning a weeklong beach holiday or a three-month trek around the region, it’s useful to know what weather to expect. Here’s a handy guide to high and low seasons in some of Southeast Asia’s most popular spots.

Bali, Indonesia

When to go: April to October. Temperatures average 75-86 F, and the weather is mostly dry. July to September is peak holiday season and when you can expect to pay the highest rates.

Rainy season: December to February. These months average 12 inches of rain, though it’s more akin to short, intense showers than daylong deluges, meaning you can still enjoy an excellent (and cheap) holiday.

When to go: January to March and June to September. Malaysia straddles the equator, so it’s hot and humid year-round but these months have the lowest average rainfall.

Rainy season: October to December, though monsoons continue through to February in Borneo.

best time to visit southeast asia countries

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When Is The Best Time To Visit Southeast Asia?

best time to visit southeast asia countries

The best time to visit Southeast Asia is an important consideration in vacation planning for such a vast region, with its diverse countries, colorful festivals, weather patterns and micro-climates, especially with activities like diving, trekking, swimming, cruising and volcano scaling to partake in. So when should you go? Here we take a brief look at the main things you should consider when thinking about when to travel to Southeast Asia .

drop and Monsoon Weather in myanmar

Broadly speaking, with the exception of regional high altitudes, most of Southeast Asia is toasty warm, with temperatures ranging between 77 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit (25 to 35 degrees Celsius) while humidity is high all year round, with a few exceptions.

Many consider the cooler and drier weather between November and February the best time to visit mainland Southeast Asia . The hottest time of the year falls between March and May and can be a little too hot for some. There are exceptions though as large parts of Indonesia experience their dry season from April to October.

Travelers should remember that Southeast Asia ‘suffers’ from a monsoon climate, so during the wet (monsoon) season – which typically falls between June and October in most countries – there are invariably rain downpours in short bursts, rather than all-day drizzles, and this can make sunbathing, diving, surfing and hiking a little less enjoyable, if not treacherous in some instances.

Traffic jam and crowded streets in Myanmar

As you might expect, November to February is the most popular time for American and European vacationers, with some 55 million travelers descending on the region eager to escape their respective winters and take advantage of the optimal weather conditions. If you wish to avoid the crowds of tourists, it is better to steer clear of these months.

If you can stand the heat, why not wait a little longer until the crowds subside during the hotter months between March and May. Crowds of a different kind take to the streets in early April, as Buddhist locals let their hair down across Myanmar, Thailand and Laos with their New Year celebrations. Depending on your travel aspirations this may be a reason to aim for this month rather than avoid it.

Vientiane is the country’s most important Buddhist festival

Public holidays can mean unexpected disruptions to services, transportation, and attraction opening times, but if you are prepared, Southeast Asia’s vivid festivals can prove to be one of the highlights of your trip.

Between January and mid-February, Vietnam’s seven-day Tet (Tet Nguyen Dan) festival marks the advent of spring and the start of the Lunar New Year and gives you the chance to experience traditional and colorful customs across the country, from lantern and flower festivals to Buddhist pagoda rituals. The Buddhist New Year celebrations that take place across many parts of Southeast Asia during April are deeply rooted in tradition and revolve around the cleansing of sins, but Thailand’s Songkran festival has taken this to a new level, evolving into a world-famous water fight, with no one out of bounds for soaking during three days of watery mayhem.

Head to Sanur’s sandy beaches in Bali during July for a spectacular kite festival, where stunning kites of all different shapes, colors, and sizes take to the skies in the hope of persuading the Balinese Hindu Gods to grant a plentiful harvest for the coming year.

During September and November respectively, little Laos is home to larger than life festivals, firstly with the colorful costumes and aquatic parades of its dragon boat races along the riverbanks of the Mekong, and secondly with the glittering Boun That Luang Festival in Vientiane, the country’s most important Buddhist festival and a spectacular sight to behold.

economic and cultural opportunities around tourism

Southeast Asia is renowned to be easy on a traveler’s pocket (backpackers can get by on about $35/day), the countries of Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Indonesia, especially. Despite the relative affordability of the region, there are certain times of year to travel that may stretch your dollar even further. If you can bear the heat of the hottest summer months between March and May, you will find flight and hotel costs tend to fall, especially to Vietnam and Thailand. The cheapest flights are likely found for travel between the less sought-after months between September and October, before the start of the dry (and most busy) travel season.

swinging bibbos at Southern Thailand’s Khao Sok National Park

If you are heading to West Papua in search of birds of paradise performing their elaborate courting rituals, go in the dry season between September and October, when the lowlands are more accessible and birds most active. March through October is the ideal time to see Borneo’s endangered orangutans. Southern Thailand’s Khao Sok National Park is a great place to see leopards, sun bear, gibbons, tigers and elephants, with recommended tours taking place in October, November and May.

If you are a keen diver and want to spot Whale Sharks, it is important to know that these animals are migratory. For your best chances of spotting them, head to Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago between late January through April, Thailand’s Koh Tao between March and May or September and October, or West Papua’s Cenderawasih Bay where they can be seen year-round but best observed between August and October.

River Water Levels and Sea Conditions

local people walking along the mekong river

Weather-wise, the best time to cruise the Mekong in Vietnam and Cambodia falls anywhere between November and March, November being quite cool with not too much rain and temperatures rising to reach their peak around April-May. The rains will start in late May or June, and most ships will suspend operation for yearly maintenance around June and July.

When planning the Lower Mekong cruise , it isn’t only the weather that you should think of. If you hope to cruise across Tonle Sap lake, choose the months right after the rainy season (high water season) between August and mid-November, when the waters are high and ships can enter Tonle River and Tonle Sap lake. In the low water season, the river is too shallow and the boats take a different route – to Kampong Chhnang and Kampong Cham.

Traveling on the Upper Mekong in L aos is best between November and January when the weather is good and the water levels high after the rainy season, which starts around May and subsides around October.

Great weather all year round

Generally, Indonesia has great weather year-round, but it does experience heavier rains from October through April. The monsoon is not even throughout the archipelago, therefore cruises are operated accordingly to the best conditions in the region.

Bali and Komodo areas are great to visit from May to September, with dry and warm weather (and Bali festivals in place). Borneo is always hot and humid but will see less rainfall in the same months as Bali.

Raja Ampat is great for divers in September to April, due to the high number of manta rays, but the calmest waters and best visibility is in November-March, and this is when many cruise lines decide to reposition to that area.

Best time to cruise Irrawaddy is from November to April

Myanmar, being a tropical country, is either hot or super hot, with dry and rainy seasons, but the weather across the country is not consistent and varies between regions (Inle Lake or Yangon might have different weather than Mandalay at the same time).

When it comes to cruising on the Irrawaddy , the best time for it is between November and April. In May the rains start in Yangon, but Bagan is still dry and extremely hot. Starting in June the rains will increase across the country and August-September will be the wettest.

Lower Mekong

Weather-wise, the best time to cruise the Mekong in Vietnam and Cambodia falls anywhere between November and March, November being quite cool with not too much rain and temperatures rising to reach the peak around April-May. The rains will start in late May or June, and most ships will suspend operation for yearly maintenance around June and July.

When planning the Lower Mekong cruise, it isn’t only the weather that you should think of. If you hope to cruise across the Tonle Sap Lake, choose the months right after the rainy season, when the waters are high and ships can enter Tonle River and Tonle Sap lake. In the low water season, the river is too shallow and the boats take a different route – to Kampong Chnang and Kampong Cham. High water season starts in August and lasts approximately until mid-November.

Sunset at Tonle Sap lake

Upper Mekong

Traveling on the Upper Mekong is the best between November and January when the weather is good and the waters are high. The rains start around May and subside around October. The temperatures will be at the lowest in August-November and will spike in May-June.

Most Breathtaking Waterfalls in Laos

Landlocked Laos is rarely affected by coastal storms. The dry season has two sub-sections: a cool dry season from November to February and a hot dry season, March to late April. The wet (monsoon) season runs from around May to October, with August and September generally the wettest months. March and April can be blisteringly hot, while November to February are the cooler months.

Best to visit: Laos’ cool dry season – and peak season – has relatively low temperatures, cleaner air, and ideal river travel conditions. However, during the wet season, rivers are high and rapids submerged, meaning slow boats can make better paces and there are also lower temperatures but fewer crowds. Choosing the best time to visit Laos , consider the activities you plan.

To consider: during the hot dry season, inevitable smoke haze covers most of Laos, caused by farmer’s slash and burn traditional agricultural practices.

Kid playing with a Buffalo during the hottest time of the year in Cambodia

Cambodia’s dry season runs from late October to April, with November to January bringing cooler, more comfortable temperatures. March to June is Cambodia’s hottest time of the year, peaking in April and May. The wet season runs from May to October, around three-quarters of Cambodia’s annual rainfall, with rains generally heaviest from July to September.

Best time to visit: the dry season, especially November to January, is Cambodia’s peak travel time , due to the relative lack of rain and cool temperatures and southern islands brilliant sunshine with clear, calm waters – ideal for snorkeling and diving.

To consider: some might find the hottest months, April and May, uncomfortable for sightseeing. During the peak wet months, July to September, it can rain every day, with flooding and rough seas. On the upside, there are fewer crowds, less dust and lush greenery abound – sights like Angkor Wat look magnificent post-tropical downpour.

Sunset and carriage in Myanmar

Myanmar’s dry season runs from October to late April and the wet (monsoon) season, from May to early October, with the hottest months, late February to June

Best time to visit: late November to February are probably the most comfortable months to travel in Myanmar , with the least rainfall, clearer skies and lower temperatures, and post-monsoon, the country is at its most lush green – why this is peak tourist time.

To consider: From June to September, southern islands are in the throes of monsoons and many shut down their services and transportation.

Sunset Adaman Sea

Although with regional variations, Thailand is tropically hot and humid for the majority of the country through most of the year. The wet, monsoon season runs from July to October, bringing most of Thailand’s annual rainfall and flooding is not uncommon in many parts. April is the hottest month. The best time to visit Thailand in a way is anytime, but when planning your holiday, do consider the region and activities you’re planning on.

Central and Northern Thailand has two seasons. The dry season is from November to May-June; cooler temperatures are generally felt from October to January and the main dry season runs from March to May. The wet season is June to October- November with Bangkok experiencing its wettest month in September.

Southern Thailand

The south has two wet and dry seasons, but with east-west variations. The southern west coast (Andaman Sea) has a wet season and most rainfall from April to October. The southeast coast (Koh Phangan, Koh Samui, etc) is wet from September to December, rains can get torrential from October to November, making diving and beach life a no-no. Overall Thailand’s southern parts receive the country’s biggest rainfall, but other times of the year is dry, hot and sunny, with peak seasons, December and January.

Sunny Valley in Vietnam

Vietnam’s diverse weather patterns vary depending on the time of year and geographic location, with several microclimates to consider. Generally, the wet season runs from April to October, and the dry season from November to March. When planning your Vietnam holiday and considering the best time to travel , do consider the activities and regions of interest.

Northern Vietnam: has a cool to cold season, from November to March and a warm to hot, wet season (from April to October). December and January can get quite frosty in the far north mountains and heavy mists around this time can reduce visibility in tourist favorites, Sapa and Halong Bay. The wettest months are July and August, the driest, December and January.

Central Vietnam: while the coastal areas see rainfall between April and September, it’s less than other parts of Vietnam, but from August to early January, northern-central Vietnam (Hoi An, Danang and Hue), can receive considerable rain; Hoi An’s Ancient Town invariably floods ctober and November. This region can also be greatly affected by typhoon season, August to November, with severe storms lashing the coasts. The southern-central coastal strip, from Nha Trang to Mui Ne, is less affected with a longer dry, sunny season, albeit Nha Trang undergoes a wet, windy micro-climate November to January when beaches and diving are greatly impacted.

Southern Vietnam: sees much of its rain in the wet, monsoon season, roughly June to November. Best time to visit: Northern destinations, such as Hanoi and Sapa are best in the spring and autumn months, with little rain, clear skies, temperate conditions, and beautiful flowers. The coastal stretch from Hue/ Hoi An down to Nha Trang is best from January to June, while southern Vietnam’s HCMC, Mekong Delta and Phuc Quoc are ideal, November to April.

To consider: Typhoons from July to September-November can sometimes wreak havoc across Vietnam, especially the north and central regions, affecting boat journeys. Winds and rough seas from June to September curtail beach and diving activities on Phu Quoc Island.

Boat near the coast in Raja Ampat

A volcanic archipelago of 17,500-plus islands across the equator, Indonesia is hot throughout the year and with minor regional exceptions, has two distinct weather seasons . The dry season runs from April-May to September and the wet, monsoon season, late October to late March, with the heaviest rains in January and February. By March to April, Indonesia’s most popular tourist regions, including Bali and Lombok, are finishing-up their rainy seasons.

Best time to visit:  The dry season months, around May to October should guarantee sunny, dry conditions with few exceptions, perfect for surfing, diving, and trekking. Bali’s second peak season July and August coincides with the European vacationers, with cooler evening temperatures than earlier in the year.

To consider: During the wet season, Indonesia experiences heavy rains especially January and February and Bali suffers serious ocean plastic pollution; however it’s still the peak season for Christmas and New Year vacations. Conversely, Raja Ampat (Papua) experiences rough seas and windy conditions from June to September-October, making dive sites limited or inaccessible. As the world’s largest Muslim nation (with exceptions, such as Hindu Bali) expect some service and travel disruptions during Ramadan (fasting month) between April and July.

While Rainforest Cruises aim to provide accurate and up-to-date information, we make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information herein or found by following any link on this site. Rainforest Cruises cannot and will not accept responsibility for any omissions or inaccuracies, or for any consequences arising therefrom, including any losses, injuries, or damages resulting from the display or use of this information.

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The best countries to travel to in Southeast Asia

From indonesia to malaysia, the must-visit destinations on this corner of the continent, article bookmarked.

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Bangkok is one of Asia’s foremost cities

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Southeast Asia is a blend of fascinating traditions and cultures, with some of the most incredible temples, palaces and natural sites on the planet.

This region is home to famed attractions, from Angkor Wat to Ha Long Bay, as well as a selection of sprawling cities – including Bangkok , Kuala Lumpur and Singapore – and miles of pristine coastlines around Indonesia and the Philippines.

And though places such as Bangkok and Singapore have seen high numbers of British tourists for decades, other destinations are starting to attract more people, from lesser-known Laos to the neighbouring backpacker favourite of Cambodia .

Whether you’re looking to throw yourself into exploring a city or hop around a handful of serene tropical islands, your options are pentiful in this corner of the world.

Below are Independent Travel’s  picks for the region’s best countries to visit on holiday; read on to start planning your next long-haul getaway.

Railey beach is one of the most famous in Thailand

Thailand has long been a tourist favourite for Brits, whether for travelling youngsters or business people. Its capital, Bangkok (known locally as Krung Thep) was the most visited city in the world for several years in a row before Covid and is just a short journey away from the ancient city of Ayutthaya .

With dozens of famous white-sand beaches around the country (such as Railay and Ko Phi Phi ), as well as several areas of natural beauty (one of the most unique being Khao Sok National Park) and dozens of temples and palaces, Thailand offers anyone visiting the country a diverse mix of sightseeing, city experiences and relaxation – not to mention the nation’s delicious cuisine.

Best time to visit Thailand

With a rainy season falling between July and October, the best time to visit is between November and April, when temperatures are higher (with average highs in the early 30s). May is usually a quieter time to visit, but the sunshine may be interrupted by short rain periods.

Ha Long Bay lies in northeastern Vietnam

Vietnam’s various areas of natural beauty are among the most notable in the region. Ha Long Bay is the country’s most famous natural area, while the beaches of Phu Quoc and the Cham Islands offer equal beauty in different settings. Other natural attractions include the caves of Phong Nha and Hang Son Doong, the Marble Mountains and the sand dunes at Mui Ne.

As for cities, Ho Chi Minh City , Hanoi and Da Nang are the best destinations for those who want to experience Vietnamese ‘hustle and bustle’ (Da Nang also has beach areas), while Hoi An is sometimes referred to as the ‘Venice of Vietnam’ due to its canals and the well-preserved Ancient Town comprised of wooden Chinese shophouses and French colonial buildings.

Best time to visit Vietnam

April and September fall just before and after the high season in Vietnam and also offer less humidity and lower temperatures than at the peak of summer. With weather that can vary quite drastically across the country in different months, these should give the best weather across the board too.

Read more on Asia travel :

  • Why you should visit Koh Samui now
  • Can Cambodia become Southeast Asia’s sustainable travel capital?
  • Celebrating Thailand’s Songkran festival in Chiang Mai

Singapore’s Central Business District

Singapore is a popular destination for British expats, with an estimated 50,000 living there. It’s a country that is almost unlike any other; its urban planning strategy has created a metropolis and enabled almost six million people to live in an area roughly half the size of London.

Despite its diminutive size, the country offers numerous attractions , from its Botanic Gardens (a Unesco world heritage site) and historical and art museums to the Gardens by the Bay , a nature park spanning 101 hectares, and a Universal Studios theme park. It also hosts a Formula 1 race, which takes place in September on the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

Best time to visit Singapore

Singapore has significant rainfall all year, although the country’s dry season falls between February and April, when humidity levels are also at their lowest. Specifically, February and September offer the lowest rainfall and humidity, with average highs of around 31C. September also falls in low season.

The island of Bali is among Indonesia’s most popular tourist destinations

By far the largest country in Southeast Asia, Indonesia lies at the southern end of the region and consists of roughly 17,500 islands, including Sumatra and Bali. With so many islands, it’s no surprise that the archipelago contains some of the region’s most attractive areas. Bali in particular is a tourism hotspot, while many of the islands offer tropical rainforests, rugged terrain and even volcanoes (the country sits within the Pacific Ring of Fire and is prone to both eruptions and earthquakes).

Jakarta is the capital and largest city in the country and is located – along with the popular tourist town of Yogyakarta– on the island of Java. Idyllic locations include Lombok and the Raja Ampat islands; Bromo Tengger Semeru and Komodo National Parks offer unreal nature and wildlife-spotting opportunities.

Best time to visit Indonesia

The dry season usually runs from April to October, which is also when the country welcomes the most tourists. If you want to avoid crowds, May and June offer average highs of roughly 31C and over eight hours of sunshine per day.

A view of Kuala Lumpur and the Petronas Towers, formerly the tallest buildings in the world

Malaysia’s culture is an eclectic mix of European, Chinese, Indian and Malay influences, while the country itself is famous for its rainforest, beaches and the capital city of Kuala Lumpur , with the iconic Petronas Twin Towers being one of the country’s most iconic symbols.

Away from the capital, many tourists decide to visit the Malaysian part of Borneo – in the north of the island – where rainforest treks, wildlife viewing and relaxing on the beach are all possible. The Perhentian Islands and Sipadan are two other popular destinations, while nature-lovers flock to the Batu Caves, Mount Kinabalu and the Cameron Highlands.

Best time to visit Malaysia

You can expect fewer crowds from March to June; these months have average temperatures of around 28C, while June is the driest month of the year (though bear in mind you can still expect showers every month).


The Philippines is named after a Spanish King, Felipe II

Another archipelago, the Philippines consists of more than 7,000 islands. Under Spanish rule for over 300 years, it is one of the only predominantly Roman Catholic countries in the whole continent and has been widely influenced by Western culture and traditions. For those keen to see its cities, Manila is the capital while Quezon is the largest.

Tropical white-sand beaches are plentiful on the nation’s thousands of isles, while the volcanoes of Mayon and Tail offer dramatic scenery overlooking the water. Other sites include Sigma Lagoon, Pagsanjan Falls and the Batad rice terraces.

Best time to visit the Philippines

The Philippines dry season falls right in the middle of the low season for tourism. The driest months are between January and March, where there is little rainfall and humidity falls to much more tolerable levels. Expect temperatures of up to 24C – and lows of 15C – every day.

Cambodia only ended its dictatorial regime as recently as 1979

Cambodia welcomes visitors eager to learn about its complicated history and experience its mix of Asian and French culture. A largely rural country, only three of its cities are home to over 100,000 people despite the country’s 16 million-strong population. Phnom Penh is the capital and largest city, while Siem Reap is another metropolitan centre that also acts as the gate to Angkor Wat, an ancient temple which today is the largest religious structure in the world.

The country’s islands, such as Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem, contain pristine white beaches, sandy coves and coral reefs , and are popular spots for partying too. The Cardamom mountain range stretches over 4.4 million hectares of rainforest through the Southeast and into eastern Thailand, and is home to a vast range of wildlife, including sun bears, elephants and Siamese crocodiles. Tonle Sap lake is the largest in Southeast Asia, with its waters and floodplain home to over three million people and hundreds of different animal species.

Best time to visit Cambodia

Temperatures are at their lowest in the dry season between November and February, but you’ll still see average highs of 30C.

Luang Prabang is a city in Laos consisting of 58 adjacent villages sat along the Mekong River

Laos is one of the continent’s smaller countries, and its shared borders – with Vietnam to the east, Thailand to the west and Cambodia to the south – give you an indication of the geography that you’ll find here. Whether you want to go through dense jungle on a cruise along the winding Mekong River, trek through the jagged karst around Vang Vieng or simply relax in the laid-back capital of Vientiane, there’s something to appeal.

Laos’ most important landmark is the Pha That Luang, a golden Buddhist stupa in Vientiane, while the capital’s other highlights include temples like Wat Si Saket and the old quarter. If you have time, visit the peaceful Song River and the town of Vang Vieng, before exploring the Unesco city of Luang Prabang and surrounding nature, including waterfalls, plunge pools and the banks of the Mekong.

Best time to visit Laos

The weather is Laos is best between October and April, when conditions are dry and not too warm. For river cruises, November through to January is best for high water levels, while August is both the wettest and most humid month.

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The best times to visit Bali based on your travel goals

Oct 30, 2023 • 4 min read

Silhouette of a woman relaxing in a hammock on a beach during sunset. 

In Bali, the weather is warm and the hammocks are comfortable year-round © anyaberkut / Getty Images

With awe-inspiring scenery, dense layers of culture, plenty of sun, surf and sand, and balmy temperatures year-round, Bali calls out like a beacon to adventurers, sun-seekers and travelers who like to truly immerse themselves in the countries they visit. Whatever your travel tastes, you'll find rewarding things to see and do in Bali at any time of year.

The dry season, from April to September, is the most enjoyable time of the year for outdoor activities, including basking on beaches, hiking, surfing, sailing, diving and canyoning. Visit during the wet season (November to March), and you'll experience frequent downpours, but there's good surf on the east coast, and you can still enjoy the outdoors, especially in drier areas in the east and north of the island. Temperatures in Bali don’t vary much from season to season, hovering between 28°C and 32°C (82°F to 90°F) year-round, though it's often cooler in mountain areas. Whatever you're looking for in Bali, here are the best times to come.

Yoga teacher guiding an outdoor Yoga class and leading students into a tree pose in Bali.

The high season (July–August and December) is the best time for festivals and partying

The high season in Bali coincides with the traditional summer vacation season in Europe, America, and Australia in July and August. It's the height of the dry season and the peak time for surfing on the west coast at the breaks around Canggu and Seminyak . Bali's original beach hub, Kuta , can be mobbed at this time of year, as many travelers come here specifically for the party season. 

Most parts of Bali are inundated with visitors in summer, as tourists come to sample the island’s many delights and enjoy some of its most colorful festivals. Indonesia celebrates its independence from colonial powers on August 17 with plenty of pomp and fanfare. Expect entertaining parades and street parties in the bigger towns. 

The period around Christmas and New Year also sees a large influx of travelers seeking a reprieve from cold northern winters. Many hotels, restaurants and other venues organize special dinners and entertainment to mark the festive season. New Year’s Eve is particularly memorable, with spectacular fireworks at midnight to help you rock in the new year in style. Key events to look out for are the Pemuteran Bay Festival, Penglipuran Village Festival and, of course, New Year’s Eve celebrations. 

High season means high prices and pressing hordes in tightly-packed tourist areas; for a quieter experience, seek out more remote spots such as Nusa Penida and Pemuteran .

Indonesia, Bali, Canggu, two female surfers in the water watching the sun

The shoulder season (April–June and September–October) is best for adventurous travelers

The shoulder season in Bali falls at either end of the dry season, when the weather is either improving after the rains or getting slowly wetter after the dry months. Things are quieter without the summertime crowds, and the weather is normally still dry enough for outdoor activities. However, the two-week Easter spring break can get very busy in tourist areas such as Kuta and Legian .

May marks the surfing season in full swing on the west and south coasts, and rafting, trekking and spelunking beckon adventure sports fans.

As rain showers in October are more frequent than in the dry summer months, plan to spend some time indoors visiting temples, museums and cultural institutions in Ubud , Denpasar , and other centers for Balinese culture. Top international events in October include the  Ubud Village Jazz Festival  and the  Ubud Writers and Readers Festival . 

A farmer tends rice paddies near Ubud, Bali

The low season (January–March and November) is best for budget travelers

Bali’s low season coincides with the rainiest months of the year, and this can be an unpredictable time for outdoor activities. The crowds have decamped back home, and the island is returning to a more relaxed vibe, but there's still decent surf on the east coast at such legendary locations as Padang Padang, and the weather is still warm. Accommodation prices fall considerably, which is great news for budget travelers.

At the end of January or the start of February, Chinese New Year celebrations feature typical Balinese elements such as traditional percussion bands and dancers dressed as the mythological lion-like creature Barong. 

The festival of Nyepi, the Balinese New Year, moves with the lunar calendar but frequently falls in March. This is a culturally fascinating time to visit Bali, but after the colorful parades of ogoh-ogoh puppets the night before the festival, the Day of Silence itself can be a tricky time for visitors as everything closes, transport ceases, and nobody is allowed out on the streets.

Understanding the Balinese calendar

Note that religious festivals such as Galungan and Kuningan are scheduled according to the Balinese 210-day pawukon calendar. This means they happen roughly every seven months, according to the Western calendar. Dates for village festivals are not always set in stone either, and the timing of the Nyepi festival is dictated by the lunar saka calendar, meaning the date changes every year. If you’re planning a trip around a festival or event, check the precise dates before you book your flights.

This article was first published Dec 3, 2021 and updated Oct 30, 2023.

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  • Southeast Asian Countries

Southeast Asian countries.

  • Southeast Asia contains 11 different countries.
  • Approximately 674 million people live in Southeast Asia.
  • Indonesia is the largest and most populous country in Southeast Asia.
  • Brunei Darussalam is the least populous country in Southeast Asia, and the region's only absolute monarchy.
  • Timor-Leste (East Timor) is the newest and poorest country in Southeast Asia.

Southeast Asia is a region comprised of 11 different countries, all with their own languages and cultures. In fact, some countries of the region are home to many cultures and languages. Southeast Asia is also home to some of the world’s most vibrant economies. Approximately 674 million people live in the region.


Myanmar (burma), timor-leste (east timor), brunei darussalam.

Flag of Indonesia

Indonesia is the largest and most populous country in Southeast Asia. It is located between Australia and the Philippines, and stretches from the western border of Papua New Guinea , to the island of Sumatra in the Indian Ocean. More than 275 million people call Indonesia home. The country is made up of 17,508 islands and has a total land area of 1,811,570 km 2 .

Indonesia also has the distinction of being the most populous Muslim country in the world. It is a multicultural and multilingual country. In fact, more than 300 languages are spoken in Indonesia. In addition to their local languages, most Indonesians also speak Bahasa Indonesia, which is a national language of sorts and is used as a Lingua franca . Formerly a Dutch colony, Indonesia has been independent since 1945. Between the 1960s and 1990s, the country enjoyed steady, sometimes rapid, economic growth. In 1999, Indonesia held its first democratic elections in more than 40 years, and has managed to maintain its democratic credentials since then.

best time to visit southeast asia countries

The Philippines lies in the Pacific Ocean, north of Indonesia and south of the island of Taiwan . Like Indonesia, the Philippines is country comprised of many islands; 7,640 islands, to be exact. The Philippines has a population of more than 110 million people, nearly a quarter of whom live in the greater metropolitan area of Manila, the country’s capital, located on Luzon, the country’s largest island.

There are many different ethnicities in the Philippines, the largest of which are the Tagalog, Cebuano, and Ilocano. There are also many languages spoken in the country, though Tagalog is used as the national dialect. English is also widely spoken. Most of the people of the Philippines practice Roman Catholicism, though there is also a sizeable Muslim population on the southernmost island of Mindanao. The Philippines has seen steady economic growth in the last ten years. Between 2010 and 2019, the country’s economy grew at an average of 6.4% per year.

best time to visit southeast asia countries

Vietnam is a country on the Indochinese Peninsula. It is bordered to the north by China , to the east and south by the South China Sea, and to the west by Laos and Cambodia. Vietnam is a country of approximately 98 million people. After declaring independence from France in 1945, Vietnam was divided into two states, North Vietnam and South Vietnam, in 1954. North Vietnam was a communist state, while South Vietnam was capitalist. For the next two decades, the two countries would be at war with each other.

In 1975, the Vietnam War officially ended when the South Vietnamese surrendered and North Vietnamese troops captured the South Vietnamese capital, Saigon, which was subsequently renamed Ho Chi Minh City, after the founder of the Vietnamese communist movement. As a result, Vietnam was reunited. In the 1980s, Vietnam’s communist government instituted economic reforms, which moved the country away from communism and towards a more capitalist economic model. The result was rapid growth over the next 30 years. Between 2002 and 2018, for example, Vietnam’s GDP per capita increased by 2.7 times, reaching a level of US$ 2,700 by 2019.

best time to visit southeast asia countries

The Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam, is located on the Indochinese Peninsula. Its neighbors are Myanmar (Burma) to the west, Laos to the east, Cambodia to the southeast, and Malaysia, on the Malay Peninsula, to the south. Thailand’s coastal area borders the Gulf of Thailand. The population of Thailand is over 69 million. The people of Thailand practice a unique form of Buddhism known as Theravada Buddhism. The family is paramount in Thailand, as is being polite and respectful.

The history of modern Thailand begins in 1782, with the founding of the Chakri Dynasty, which rules Thailand to this day. Thailand adopted its first constitution in 1932, eventually emerging as a parliamentary democracy, though there have also been periods of military rule in the country. In the last 20 years, Thailand has had to deal with much political and economic uncertainty. The most recent political development has been growing dissatisfaction with the monarchy, which has always been regarded as a sacred institution in Thailand.

best time to visit southeast asia countries

Myanmar , also known as Burma, is the northernmost country in Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north and northeast by China, to the south by the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, to the east by Laos and Thailand, and to the west by India and Bangladesh . Over 54 million people call Myanmar home. Most of them live in the Ayeyarwady Delta region.

The people of Myanmar are very diverse. The Bamar (called Burmans when the country was a British colony) account for about two-thirds of the country’s population, but there are 135 ethnic groups recognized by the government and many more that do not have official status. Myanmar’s most recent history has been defined by the Burmese people’s struggle for democracy against military rule. Myanmar has also been beset by ethnic conflict. In the last few years, the plight of the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar has gained international attention as Burmese military forces have been accused of committing war crimes and other atrocities against them.

best time to visit southeast asia countries

Malaysia consists of the southern part of the Malay Peninsula and the northern part of the island of Borneo , which the country shares with Indonesia and Brunei. The population of the country is approximately 32 million. Malaysia is a federal constitutional monarchy, consisting of 13 states and three federal territories.

The Malays and other closely related ethnic groups comprise the majority of the country’s population, but there are also large Chinese and Indian communities. Islam is the country’s official religion. Malaysia is one of Southeast Asia’s economic success stories. It has a strong manufacturing sector and exports a significant amount of electrical appliances, parts, and components. The World Bank estimates that by 2024, the country will achieve high-income economic status.

best time to visit southeast asia countries

Cambodia is located on the Indochinese Peninsula. Vietnam borders the country to the east, Laos to the north, Thailand to the northwest, and the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest. Cambodia’s population is an estimated 17 million. In ancient times, Cambodia was inhabited by people of several cultures. These people built many cities, including the famous Angkor Wat .

Modern Cambodia has unfortunately been the scene of violence and unspeakable atrocities. In 1975, a communist movement known as the Khmer Rouge took power in a coup. They forced city-dwellers to locate to the countryside and become agricultural laborers. They also tortured and killed hundreds of thousands of Cambodia’s educated, middle-class citizens. When the Khmer Rouge was finally overthrown by Vietnamese forces in 1979, at least 1.7 million Cambodians had been killed . 

best time to visit southeast asia countries

Laos is the only country in Southeast Asia that is landlocked. Vietnam borders it to the east, China to the north, Cambodia to the south, and Thailand to the west and southwest. The country has a population of about 7.3 million. Culturally and linguistically, Laos is closely related to Thailand, as they share similar languages. The country has historically been dominated by its bigger, more powerful neighbors. In the late 19th century, Laos became a colony of France. After gaining independence in 1949, Laos was plagued with internal power struggles and involvement in the Vietnam War. A communist regime took power in 1975, and has ruled the country since.

National flag of Singapore

Singapore is an island city-state of approximately 5.8 million people who are from a wide variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds. It is separated from Malaysia by the Johor Straits. Arguably, no other country signifies the rapid economic growth of Southeast Asia more than Singapore. Formerly a constituent state of Malaysia, Singapore became an independent state in 1965. At that time, it was very much a low-income country. In a matter of decades, however, the country became an economic powerhouse. It has managed an annual growth rate of 7.7% since independence. Today, Singapore is ranked the best country on the World Bank’s Human Capital Index, and is also rated as one of the world’s most competitive economies.

best time to visit southeast asia countries

Timor-Leste is a small country of about 1.3 million people based on part of the island of Timor. The other part of the island is controlled by Indonesia. Timor-Leste is the newest and poorest country of Southeast Asia. The country officially gained independence in 2002, after a long, often violent struggle against Indonesian rule. This struggle left much of the country’s infrastructure ruined. Thus, the East Timorese have been in a kind of rebuilding mode ever since. According to the World Bank, some progress has been made in reducing poverty. Timor-Leste also remains a largely peaceful democracy.

best time to visit southeast asia countries

Brunei Darussalam is the least populous country in Southeast Asia. It is based on the island of Borneo, and is surrounded by territory belonging to Malaysia, except for its northern coast, off of which is part of the South China Sea. The population of Brunei is an estimated 440,750. Two-thirds of the country’s population is both Muslim and of ethnic Malay descent. Brunei is home to Southeast Asia’s last absolute monarchy . The second part of its name, Darussalam, literally means Abode of Peace.

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best time to visit southeast asia countries

These Are The 14 Most Beautiful Southeast Asia Destinations

The many famous tourist destinations in Southeast Asia reflect the region's beauty which offers everything from exploring ancient forests to relaxing on unspoiled beaches with rainbow lakes and breathtaking panoramas. In addition, some parts of Southeast Asia are less accessible to the general public, allowing travelers the freedom to experience both the well-trodden paths and the less-traveled backroads of Southeast Asia. It can take time to narrow down the best options for sights to see to make the most of one's stay in this region. We've done the hard (but enjoyable) work for travelers and prepared a list of Southeast Asia's ten best destinations .


Now, discover 14 of the most beautiful southeast asia destinations.

Choosing the best places to visit in Southeast Asia is no easy feat. This list has been updated and expanded to accommodate every type of traveler's dream itinerary. Anthropological nuts who long to immerse themselves inhospitable cultures located in far-flung locations, beach babes who thrive in hidden coves, and night owls who love nothing more than a non-stop party will all be satisfied after perusing this list.

Related: Stay At These 10 Eco-Friendly Philippines Resorts For A Sustainable Southeast Asia Vacation

Siargao Island, The Philippines

A tear-shaped island in the Philippine Sea, Siargao is located 196 kilometers southeast of Tacloban and is widely regarded as the country's surfing epicenter. Jacking Horse and Daku are stunning locations popular with surfers due to their large waves. There are many other different activities for individuals who aren't particularly surfing-savvy. Travelers can relax at the many resorts on the island , cool down in the pools of Magpupungko or head to Tayangban Cave Pool, a half-submerged grotto surrounded by mangroves, to swim, climb, and cliff jump.

  • Where to stay: Retreat Siargao Resort
  • Address: Malinao Rd, General Luna, Mindanao 8419 Philippines
  • Amenities: Free parking, Free Internet, Pool, Free Breakfast, Beach

Koh Yao Yai, Thailand

Tucked away between the tourist havens of Phuket and Krabi lies Ko Yao Yai Island, a tiny, undiscovered sanctuary that exemplifies the pristine natural beauty for which the Thai islands are known. Ko Yao Yai has sandy beaches, beautiful resorts and spas, mangroves, rubber plantations, and fishing settlements. Dive destinations, such as the King Cruiser Wreck near Anemone Reef and the pinnacles of Shark Point, dot the coral-rich seas nearby. The island's native Muslim population has built booming industries by growing rubber trees and fishing.

  • Where to stay: Santhiya Koh Yao Yai Resort & Spa
  • Address: 88 Moo 7 Prunai Subdistrict, Ko Yao Yai 83000 Thailand
  • Amenities: Free Internet, Hot tub, Fitness Center, Free Breakfast, Beach, Canoeing, Babysitting

Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, served as the capital of Myanmar's first monarchy. Over ten thousand Buddhist pagodas and temples were constructed here between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. The Bagan Archaeological Zone, covering an area of 41 km2, is home to nearly 3,500 surviving monuments. The Dhammayangyi Temple, Bagan's largest and most well-known temple, is notable for its enigmatic bricked-up interior and can be seen anywhere in the city. The white Shwesandaw Paya pagoda offers stunning views of the city's hills and temples, and it also serves as the ideal vantage point for watching the sun go down.

  • Where to stay: Heritage Bagan Hotel
  • Address: Bagan-Nyaung Oo Airport Road, Nyaung U, Bagan 11101 Myanmar
  • Amenities: Free Parking, Free Internet, Fitness Center, Free Breakfast, Pool, Bicycle Rental, Karaoke

Penang Island, Malaysia

Just off the Malay Peninsula in the Strait of Malacca sits the Malaysian island of Penang. Guests to Penang will find a surprising juxtaposition in the city's mingling of many Asian cultures. George Town, the state capital of Penang, features several buildings with distinct foreign styles, including the British Fort Cornwallis, the Chinese clan temple Khoo Kongsi, and the Indian-style Kapitan Keling Mosque. The Goddess of Mercy Temple in China, the Kek Lok Si Buddhist Temple, and the Sri Mahamariamman Hindu Temple are also important places of worship.

  • Where to stay: PARKROYAL Penang Resort
  • Address: Batu Ferringhi Beach, Batu Ferringhi, Penang Island 11100 Malaysia
  • Amenities: Free Parking, Free Internet, Fitness Center, Free Breakfast, Pool, Beach

Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, started welcoming tourists in the 1990s and is now one of the best spots to visit for those who want a deep understanding of Vietnamese culture. Guests can find many hotels, shops, eateries, and bikes in the historic district. It's no secret that the Temple of Literature is also among the city's most stunning structures. It was initially constructed as a university in the 11th century and is now a Confucian temple. Ho Chi Minh's tomb is also in Hanoi.

  • Where to stay: La Siesta Premium Hang Be
  • Address: No 27 Hang Be Street Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi 100000 Vietnam
  • Amenities: Parking, Free Internet, Fitness Center, Free Breakfast, Babysitting,

Bolaven Plateau, Laos

The Bolaven Plateau (in Lao, Phu Phieng Bolaven) is a lush region that spans sections of all four southern provinces and is well-known for its mild climate, stunning waterfalls, and excellent coffee. The historic village mansions and the coffee plantations are must-sees, but the region's spectacular waterfalls are the icing on the cake. Reserve a room in a luxurious resort on the Mekong River's scenic banks and enjoy a motorcycle ride over the 500-kilometer fresh, wild road the nation offers, starting from Paske.

  • Where to stay: The River Resort
  • Address: Ban Phaphinnoy, Champasak Town 1601 Laos
  • Amenities: Free Parking, Free Internet, Free Breakfast, Pool, Bicycle Rental, Spa

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Take a trip to Cambodia and spend some time in Siem Reap, a resort town in the country's northwest and the entry point to the Angkor temple complex, which served as the capital of the Khmer Empire between the 9th and 15th centuries. Among the many historical sites in Southeast Asia, Angkor is among the most significant. Covering an area of over 400 km2, much of it forested, Angkor Archaeological Park is home to the impressive ruins of several ancient Khmer capital cities. Another highlight is the Bayon Temple in Angkor Thom, with its myriad sculptural decorations.

  • Where to stay: Viroth's Hotel
  • Address: Street 24 Wat Bo Village, Siem Reap 17254 Cambodia
  • Amenities: Free Parking, Free Internet, Free Breakfast, Pool, Bicycle Tours

Related: 10 Dreamiest Southeast Asia Resorts For A Luxurious Vacation

Nusa Islands, Indonesia

Nusa Islands are a famous group of three islands located off Bali's southern coast in Indonesia. The three islands, Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningan, are all great places to go on an exciting trip. The Nusa Islands have recently become increasingly popular among tourists. Still, some parts feature tranquil white sand beaches bordered by turquoise waters, while others feature dramatic cliff faces and surf breaks, naturally formed infinity pools, and enchanting hidden lagoons. Guests on the islands can swim, snorkel, or scuba dive with the gentle giants of the sea, the manta rays, that call this part of Indonesia home.

  • Where to stay: Hai Tide Beach Resort
  • Address: Mushroom Bay, 80001, Indonesia
  • Amenities: Free Internet, Free Breakfast, Pool, Beach, Bicycle Rental

Singapore is unlike any other Southeast Asian country. This city-state on an island is cutting edge and global in outlook, with high-rise hotels and malls coexisting with breathtakingly beautiful natural landmarks. For instance, Sentosa Island is home to various attractions, including a two-kilometer beach, a renovated coastal fort, Southeast Asia's first 4D theater, a butterfly park, an insect kingdom, and even a Universal Studios Singapore theme park. The world's largest indoor waterfall is in Singapore's airport, which also features a five-story indoor garden, a mirror and haze maze, and a huge butterfly garden with over a thousand species flying freely among tropical vegetation.

  • Where to stay: Marina Bay Sands
  • Address: 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956 Singapore
  • Amenities: Valet Parking, Free Internet, Pool, Fitness Center, Bar/Lounge, Casino, and Gambling

Tegalalang Rice Terraces, Bali, Indonesia

Located about 20 minutes north of Ubud, the Tegalalang Rice Terrace is one of Bali's most picturesque and famous spots. The rice paddies at the UNESCO World Heritage Site are expansive and undulating because of a complex irrigation system and the dedication of farmers who have been tending the terraces for centuries, if not millennia. Here, visitors can spend hours strolling the decks for the gift of a few cents, taking in the panoramic views of verdant fields that stretch as far as the eye can see. People who get there early in the morning will have the place to themselves, enjoying the gentle swishing of the rice fields in the breeze.

  • Where to stay: Aksari Resort Ubud
  • Address: Jl. Raya Desa Kenderan No.88x, Kenderan, Tegalalang 80571 Indonesia
  • Amenities: Free parking, Free Internet, Hot tub, Fitness Center, Free Breakfast, Hiking, Bicycle Tours

Orchid Island, Taiwan

Orchid Island or Lanyu off the coast of Eastern Taiwan is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places in Southeast Asia. Home of the Yami people who have populated the island for over 1,000 years this volcanic island is a technicolor kaleidoscope of blues and greens that is well worth the (occasionally rough) ferry trip to get there. Visitors should rent a scooter to experience every inch of this unique wonderland and make their way through craggy rock formations where the local goat population loves to catch a snooze. Scuba diving off the coast with the Blue Ocean Dive Center is an awesome activity where visitors can enjoy the epic coral reefs surrounding the island. After a day of exploring travelers must sample some flying fish, a local delicacy at the center of many Yami rituals.

  • Where to stay: 蘭嶼町Ah度背包客棧 - Lanyu DAD's Backpacker
  • Address: 95242, Taiwan, Taitung County, Lanyu Township, 東清村3鄰東清59號 2•+886 915 270 812
  • Amenities: Wifi, A/C, Guitar, Scuba Storage, Stand Up Paddleboard Experiences, Memory Foam Mattresses

Travelers to Orchid Island must be respectful of the Yami culture and not take photos of locals without permission. It is considered to be extremely rude.

Ninh Bình, Vietnam

Ninh Bình is considered to be the Ha Long Bay of the land and it's one of the best-kept secrets in Southeast Asia for those who long for unrivaled nature and off-the-charts hospitality. A visit to nearby Tràng An Scenic Landscape Complex includes a once-in-a-lifetime boat ride/cave tour where travelers will experience Vietnam's ancient capital city of Hoa Lu. A row through the 100-meter-long Hang Bong or Shadow Cave is another thrilling aspect of the 2-3 hour tour on a bamboo rowboat. Travelers will lie on their backs as they glide through the epic cave back out into the turquoise lagoon. Visitors must rent a scooter to explore the rest of Ninh Bình and dart through verdant rice paddies that surround the glorious karsts in the area.

  • Where to stay: Tam Coc Sunshine Homestay
  • Address: 6WCQ+G4G, Ninh Hải, Hoa Lư, Ninh Bình, Vietnam
  • Amenities: Outdoor Pool, Free WiFi, Spa, Airport Shuttle, Breakfast, Bar

Siquijor Island, Philippines

Siquijor Island has a magical past, and it is certain to enchant every traveler with its untouched jungle that echoes with the soothing sounds of cascading waterfalls. Siquijor is close to bustling Cebu, but it feels worlds away. Tranquil crystal waters gently roll onto white sand beaches making for a relaxing and rejuvenating respite during a Philippines adventure. Cambugahay Falls is a super popular tourist destination on the island and its three-tiered waterfall and swimming area are perfect for those who want to see and be seen. For those who want to live like the locals a five-minute jungle hike leads to the peaceful Lugnason Falls where one can float on its sky-blue waters below the falls and truly feel like they're having an otherworldly experience.

  • Where to stay: TAGBALAYON Lodging House
  • Address: Tubod, San Juan, Siquijor, 6227 Siquijor, Philippines
  • Amenities: Complimentary Welcome Drinks, Scooter Rental, Outdoor Activities, Local Food, Free WiFi

Siquijor is also known as 'The Island of Witches'. Healers abound on the island and visitors can have a spiritual experience through rituals performed with natural elements found around Siquijor. Every Holy Week in April there is a 'Healing Festival' that is not to be missed.

Ko Lipe, Thailand

This southern Thai island near Malaysia is a tropical paradise full of natural wonders that make it a must on any list of top Southeast Asia destinations. Snorkeling, kayaking, voracious reading on white sand beaches, there is something for everyone on Ko Lipe. Travelers can head to Walking Street in the evening after sunset on Pattaya Beach for outstanding local delicacies, live music, and amazing bars. The reefs here are much healthier than those on other Thai islands and 25% of the world's tropical fish species can be found around Ko Lipe. Travelers can book a variety of underwater excursions with Lipe Dive Station.

  • Where to stay: Akira Lipe Resort
  • Address: 370 Moo 7, Koh Sarai Sub-district, Muang, Satun, 91000 Ko Lipe, Thailand
  • Amenities: Swimming Pool, Beachfront, Free WiFi, Airport Shuttle, Fitness Center, Bar

These Are The 14 Most Beautiful Southeast Asia Destinations

25 Best Countries to Travel Alone for the First Time

05/26/2024 by Kristin Addis 23 Comments

Twelve years ago, I made the difficult decision to travel alone for the first time. I was so scared to do it, but looking back, taking that leap of faith changed my life.

Traveling alone is a gift. You will be presented with daily opportunities to learn and grow, and you will become closer to yourself as a result.

Since it can be overwhelming to decide where to go first, I’ve compiled a list of 25 destinations that I loved over 65 countries and 12 solid years of firsthand solo traveling experience, and I know you will love them too:

Table of Contents

Best Places to Travel Alone for the First Time Quick List:

  • Best in North America: Hawai’i
  • Best in South America: Peru
  • Best in Europe: Ireland
  • Best in Asia: Thailand
  • Best in Africa: Botswana

North America

1. california.

convict lake california winter

To my non-American readers, if you are looking at the States for your first solo trip abroad, allow me to suggest to you the home I grew up in — California! While each state has something to offer, and  many places in the US  are suitable for solo travelers, I truly believe that California is the ideal destination for first-time solo travelers (even Americans too).

Some of the best destinations in California are San Francisco,  Humboldt County , Orange County, and everything along the  Pacific Coast Highway . I suggest beginning in San Francisco, as it’s a tourist favorite, with ample public transport, high walkability (although it’s hilly), and a vibrant cultural scene. There’s truly nowhere else like the Bay Area.

If you want to head off the beaten path,  Humboldt and the Lost Coast  are beautiful and laid-back. There are also a bunch of road-trip routes to choose from. My favorites are the  Southwest  (California and beyond) as well as  Highway 395 , one of the most scenic stretches of highway in the US.

Finally, if you want to see “the last free place in America,” head down to  Slab City (a community using what’s been left behind by others to create a free society that operates nearly independently). You can also enjoy dozens of amazing state and national parks, like  Anza Borrego  and  Death Valley .

There are just endless ways to  enjoy California as a solo traveler !

READ NEXT: A Local’s Guide to California

2.  Hawai’i

where to travel alone for the first time

Hawai’i isn’t typically what comes to mind when most people think of a solo trip. But I was so pleasantly surprised there that I genuinely think it’s perfect for first-time solo travelers!

Thanks to its rich culture and tropical climate, Hawai’i feels more like a country of its own, with so many things to do that are totally solo friendly. You could drive along the  Road to Hana , explore  Lanai , or join the  Maui Surfer Girls  camp, designed specifically for solo female travelers who are looking for a supportive group of women to take up a new sport with. It’s both empowering and fun!

The Big Island  is especially suited for  solo female travelers in Hawai’i  because of the number of  spiritual experiences  there are, plus the rugged adventure you’ll find.

READ NEXT: A Complete Guide to Hawai’i

3.  Canada

where to travel alone for the first time

Canada is world-renowned for having some of the friendliest people, so this comes as no surprise. Finding where to travel alone for the first time also often boils down to a nice balance of adventure and safety, and Canada is right at that intersection. I love  Montréal for a winter weekend escape  or  Québec for a fall road trip . If you want to experience the Canadian wilderness, head to Banff, where I found some of the most  breathtaking hikes.

Since Canada as a whole is such a stellar pick for solo travelers, it might be tough to choose where to go. I put together  this list of the absolute must-visit spots  to help narrow down your search.

READ NEXT: A Guide to Canada

4.  Mexico

where to travel alone for the first time

Some travelers are too quick to write off Mexico as unsuitable for female travelers, but I disagree. Mexico is an incredible place to travel solo for the first time, because it’s bursting with cultural richness, amazing food, and an astounding variety of landscapes. Its people are generally very warm and hospitable, making it a great place to meet locals and get to know the culture.

In Mexico, you’ll find  pristine beaches , beautiful mountain landscapes, crystal-clear  cenotes  (swimming holes), and fantastic cities to explore, like  Oaxaca ,  San Miguel de Allende ,  San Cristóbal de las Casas , and many more.

If you’re concerned about  staying safe as a solo female traveler in Mexico , I get it. With alarming stories on the news about violence there, it can be daunting to think about going alone. However, most of these stories come out of specific regions of the country that are far off the tourist track. This isn’t to say that popular areas don’t have risks, but there are plenty of ways to stay safe in Mexico as a solo female traveler.

READ NEXT: A Complete Guide to Mexico

5.  Costa Rica

where to travel alone for the first time

There are few places on earth with as much biodiversity and an overall abundance of outdoorsy things to do as Costa Rica. It’s also one of the best places in Latin America to  travel as a solo female traveler  because of how easy it is to meet others and  how safe it is .

From the thick  green jungles  of Costa Rica’s interior to the  golden beaches on both coasts , this is one of the places I will return to over and over again. Imagine going from a  remote beach with rock arches  one day to hiking to a gushing waterfall in the jungle the next. Plus, the national parks here are next-level. My favorites are  Manuel Antonio National Park  and  Tortuguero National Park .

Costa Rica is paradise on earth, and as a solo female traveler, it’s absolutely ideal.

READ NEXT: A Complete guide to Costa Rica

South America

6.  peru.

where to travel alone for the first time

If your heart is set on South America for your first solo trip, I recommend Peru. This incredibly diverse country will expose you to a variety of experiences, cultures, and especially climates. Iconic spots, such as  Rainbow Mountain ,  Huacachina , the  Peruvian Amazon , and  the Inca Trail  (and  many other hiking trails ), are absolutely gorgeous. I mean, they are all bucket-list worthy!

As most people visiting Peru end up at these sites, you will hardly be alone, so most tours are more than happy to welcome single supplements. Peru also has a vibrant backpacker scene, so it’s really easy to meet others at hostels and on tours.

Note: My biggest piece of advice for you is that you learn a little Spanish. Don’t expect locals to know English.

Also, Peru’s safety reputation isn’t as great as the other countries on this list, but really, all you need to do is to exercise the same precautions as you do back home. Here are  safety tips from 31 solo female travelers  to get you started.

READ NEXT: A Complete Guide to Peru

A woman in a straw hat sitting on a stone wall.

Croatia is a country that is still somewhat on the rise among solo travelers, but I’m about to let you in on a little secret: it’s one of the most beautiful and underrated destinations in Europe. With its spectacular coastline, countless islands, and charming old towns, Croatia is a Mediterranean paradise. Oh, and did I mention that it’s one of the safest countries in Europe? The locals in Croatia are friendly, speak English well, and are beyond excited to share their culture with you. It’s a great place to meet travelers backpacking through the Balkans , or as a base to explore the rest of Europe.

While the entire country is beautiful and worth visiting, there are a few key places that I’d recommend if you’re solo traveling through Croatia and wanting to make new friends. These are the cities of Zagreb, where you’ll find the most expats and digital nomads, and Split, which has the most solo travelers.

Croatia is a seasonal destination, so the best time to visit is from March to October.

READ NEXT: The 30 Cheapest Places to Travel in 2024

A view of a cobblestone street in Stockholm at sunset between two buildings with a view of the sea in the distance.

I’ll admit that I really didn’t have high expectations of Sweden before I visited, but let me tell you, I was blown away! This stunning Scandinavian country has everything from picturesque landscapes to colorful cities to some surprisingly delicious food. Best of all, it is impeccably clean and very safe for solo travelers.

One of my favorite places to visit in Sweden is the capital city, Stockholm. Spread out over 14 islands connected by bridges, it is the epitome of charming. The historic center, Gamla Stan (Old Town), is the most vibrant area, with its multicolored buildings and narrow, cobblestone streets lined with quaint cafés and restaurants. If you visit Stockholm in August , you’ll get to experience the amazing summer street festivals!

A huge bonus for Stockholm is its impressive public transportation system, including buses, trains, and ferries, which make it super easy to get around.

READ NEXT: 7 Reasons to Visit Swedish Lapland

9. Slovenia

A view of the wooden trail leading through Vintgar Gorge in Slovenia, hovering over the turquoise river flowing through the stone passage.

Slovenia is a cozy little country in Central Europe that is safe and packed with an unbelievable amount of beauty. Not to mention it’s one of the cheapest countries in Europe . Plus, the locals are some of the most friendly and welcoming people I’ve ever met! If there’s one thing you should know about Slovenia is that it’s a nature lover’s paradise. So if that’s you, Slovenia should definitely be on your radar. The country boasts the stunning Julian Alps, turquoise lakes, and lush green forests with endless hiking trails — ideal for making friends on the road!

One of my favorite sights in Slovenia is Lake Bled, a pretty lake surrounded by picturesque mountains with a charming church on an island in the center of it. Nearby is Vintgar Gorge, a narrow canyon with crystal-clear water and a wooden walkway that winds through the gorge. Finally, the capital of Ljubljana is a darling city with a river running through it, lined with bars, restaurants, and cafés.

READ NEXT: Best Places to Visit in Europe in the Summer

10. The Netherlands

Narrow houses crowded onto the waterfront in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is a fantastic first-time solo travel destination, because it is just so dang easy to navigate. Given its small size and well-connected public transportation system, getting from point A to point B couldn’t be easier. But beyond convenience, the city has so much to offer for solo travelers. The first thing you’ll notice in Amsterdam is the friendly and welcoming atmosphere. The locals are known for being open-minded and easygoing, making it easy to strike up conversations with strangers or even make new friends along the way. The city is incredibly bicycle-friendly, with designated lanes and rental options available on nearly every corner, which makes it one of the best ways to explore Amsterdam as a solo traveler, allowing you to see more of the city and explore its charming streets and canals. It can be a bit intimidating to bike in Amsterdam, though, if you’ve never done it before, so a guided bike tour will help you get comfortable with the city’s cycling culture.

READ NEXT: How to See the Tulips in Amsterdam

11.  Iceland

landmannalaugar iceland

Gorgeous Iceland is an outdoorsy person’s dream. Plus, it’s been ranked as  the safest country in the world  several years running. This means that you ( and your parents ) can put your security worries aside.

Another thing you wouldn’t have to worry about is getting lost. Most travelers in Iceland drive  the Golden Circle  or  Ring Road , and while I think that’s just right for  a road trip with a buddy , it’s just as good solo too. If you don’t feel like driving, the public transportation system is great as well.

Additionally, Iceland is delightfully intimate. With such a small population, it feels more like a big neighborhood where everybody knows everybody and there’s so much trust that people don’t even lock their cars when they grocery-shop. Almost everyone speaks English quite well too, so there’s no language barrier either.

The only drawback is that  Iceland is pretty expensive . You can cut your costs by staying in hostels and buying your own groceries. But I’d say that Iceland is absolutely worth it if you can afford it!

READ NEXT: A Complete Guide to Iceland

12.  Germany

where to travel alone for the first time

Germany is my favorite country in Europe. I liked it so much that  I moved to Berlin for five years . I think that the capital city in particular is ideal for first-time solo female travelers: there are  so many things  one can do alone, such as visiting galleries, joining an alternative street art tour, and shopping at flea markets. When you’ve had enough of the artistic scene there, you can hop on a train to  Spreewald  or  Stuttgart , or visit the castles in the rest of  Baden-Wüttemberg  and enjoy the beautiful nature Germany has to offer.

The country is safe, navigation is a breeze, English is widely spoken, the locals are generally helpful — Germany just checks all of the boxes for first-time solo travelers! I also really appreciate its cultural diversity, and for some reason, I feel like I can be 100% my true self there without being judged — and perhaps that’s exactly what you are looking for for your trip.

READ NEXT: A Complete Guide to Germany

13.  Switzerland

Zermatt switzerland

The mountains help make Switzerland ideal for solo female travelers (not to mention that the country is considered safe too). Outdoorsy gals will love staying in little huts in the Alps owned by local families. While many places in Switzerland are pricey, hiking is free. If you don’t want to  hike in Switzerland  alone, there are hostels where you can join a day trip. You absolutely must trek on the Edelweiss Trail, which gives you an awesome view of the Matterhorn.

READ NEXT: A Guide to Switzerland

14.  Ireland

fall packing

Some people may be surprised that  Northern Ireland  would be a good choice for solo female travelers, but it’s super safe now — “The Troubles” are in the past. Hospitality is one of Ireland’s strong suits. Irish people are so friendly and welcoming: you walk into a pub, and you’ve made a roomful of friends.

Belfast is a lot more manageable than Dublin for solo female travelers. It’s just calmer and less overwhelming. When you’re by yourself, you don’t need all the constant stimulation, and in Belfast, you’ll feel more at ease.

Don’t miss the Titanic Museum there. I don’t have much interest in the  Titanic , but the museum was so well done and interesting and interactive!

If you can make it to  western Ireland  to see some natural beauty, definitely work that into your itinerary as well.

READ NEXT: A Guide to Ireland

where to travel alone for the first time

The beautiful architecture is the star of the show in Spain, especially in Granada. You don’t need to be with anyone else to enjoy its cool mix of Eastern and Christian influences. You especially can’t miss the Alhambra, a famous fortress originally constructed between 1238 and 1358.

Also, Granada is safer than Madrid and Barcelona, where you have to be constantly watching your back for pickpocketers.

Other smaller cities are definitely worth checking out, like seaside Málaga, because they’re just the right size for solo female travelers. You’ll be able to see more of those places without the greater safety risks of bigger cities.

16.  Finland

where to travel alone for the first time

Finland is a fantastic destination for first-time solo travelers, not only because of its beautiful scenery but also because it’s one of the safest places on earth to travel alone in. Crime rates in Finland are astonishingly low, the people are super friendly, and you don’t have to know any Finnish, because most people speak great English.

From idyllic cities like Helsinki to small coastal villages and wintry Nordic scenes, Finland is perfect for travelers who love the outdoors and don’t mind chilly temps.  Finnish Lapland  is one of the best places to visit in Europe in the wintertime too, because of the unique celebrations in the region and the possibility of catching the northern lights.

17. Portugal

where to travel alone for the first time

Gorgeous cobblestone streets,  astounding seaside views , and warm hospitality all keep solo travelers coming back to Portugal over and over again. As one of Europe’s most affordable countries, it’s become an excellent place for budget-conscious travelers as well. Pair that with delicious food and wine, and stunning landscapes, and you’ve got yourself a world-class travel destination fit for adventurous women.

Like most of Europe, pickpockets are common in bigger cities like Lisbon and Porto, but overall, crime is still quite low here. Plus, Portuguese people tend to be friendly and willing to help visitors, so even if you’re alone, you don’t have to  feel  alone.

18.  Thailand

thailand packing list

It should not come as a surprise that the Land of Smiles has earned a place on this list — it’s the perfect spot to “test the water.” Thailand is friendly, affordable, easy to travel through, and full of other travelers and delicious food. There are multiple daily flights from all over the world arriving in Bangkok, the country’s capital, sending new and seasoned backpackers, budget and luxury travelers, fresh grads, retirees, solo travelers (like you!), and tour groups on an epic journey around the country.

I recommend beginning in Bangkok and learning how to  fall in love with the city , or starting off in Chiang Mai up north, where there are so many things to do, like  cooking courses and temples , and  playing with elephants ethically .

Next, head south and go scuba diving off one of the  many gorgeous islands , some of which are well known and some of which are  lesser known , or even participate in a  10-day silent meditation retreat .

If you end up loving your experience in Thailand, it is so easy to extend your journey and explore nearby countries by plane, train, or bus.

READ NEXT: A Complete Guide to Thailand

19.  Malaysia

Malaysia Beach

Malaysia is often overlooked as a travel destination in favor of its neighbors — and to me, that’s mind-boggling! As a multicultural country, the locals generally speak at least two languages, and English is usually one of them. I personally never had a problem with communication when traveling there. In fact, having a common language helped me have more interaction with locals in Malaysia, including  participating in events  and being invited to family celebrations.

Like in Thailand, you can have all kinds of travel experiences in Malaysia, from cities and small towns to beaches and mountains. I also think, when it comes to islands, diving, and off-the-beaten-path experiences, it’s hard to beat Malaysia, both the peninsular part and Borneo.

So if you are hoping for an interesting cultural experience minus the language barrier on your first solo trip abroad, Malaysia could be the ideal choice.

READ NEXT: A Complete Guide to Malaysia

niijima japan onsen

Japan is one of the cleanest, safest, most polite, and most organized countries I’ve ever visited. It was also one of the most unique in terms of culture,  food , and the delightful mastery of technology in everything from  art museums  to bathrooms. Plus, cities like  Tokyo  and Kyoto are some of the most interesting in the world and are great to visit any time of year,  even in the dead of winter .

I should warn you that language  will  be a problem at some point. I got pretty confused at the train stations, as some signs are only in Japanese. And since English isn’t commonly spoken, it was challenging at times to communicate with some hotel staff and restaurant waiters. However, you can always rely on apps to navigate and use the classic “point and nod” method to order your food. All that said, people are so kind and friendly, the language barrier wasn’t as stressful as it can be elsewhere.

If you are traveling solo for the first time, the idea of sleeping in a hostel room can be daunting. In Japan, you can opt for a capsule hotel, which is very similar to a hostel, except that your bed space is much more confined, and your personal space is respected. Eating alone is not only acceptable but a norm in Japan, so it’s an awesome place to do that, especially if that’s usually intimidating to you.

READ NEXT: A Solo Female Travel Guide to Japan

21.  Singapore

singapore from level 33

You’ve never been to anywhere cleaner than Singapore, I guarantee it! There are so many rules — no littering, spitting, or chewing gum — and they enforce them. It does, however, make it nice to walk around. Also, English is one of the main languages there, so you can communicate just fine, making this a great pick for solo female travelers.

You absolutely must see Supertree Grove. It has giant trees that light up at night, synched to music. Plus, it’s open all the time. I had no reservations about going there at 4 a.m. — Singapore is that safe.

Singapore gets a reputation for being ungodly expensive, but some careful planning focused on  free activities in Singapore  will help you save money. You can also find more info on  traveling in Singapore like a local here.

READ NEXT: A Guide to Singapore

22. Bali, Indonesia

A woman sitting on the edge of a cliff wearing a white straw hat overlooking the famous Broken Beach on Nusa Penida island in Bali

Bali is heaven for first-time solo travelers . Not only is it a super safe destination, it is also cheap and incredibly beautiful. I absolutely fell in love with it the first time I visited — I mean, how could you not? The postcard-worthy rice terraces, intricate temples, epic café scene, and breathtaking sunsets are just a few reasons why I adore Bali, not to mention the friendly residents.

The best place to stay in Bali for first time travelers, especially those who are also digital nomads , is in Canggu. Located on the southwest coast, this area is packed with opportunities for socializing. You’ll find countless beach clubs, gyms, cafés, co-working spaces, and restaurants catering to every tastebud. To be right in the heart of the action, make sure to book accommodation in the Batu Balong neighborhood.

Other great places to visit in Bali as a solo traveler include Ubud, Uluwatu, Sanur, and the Gili Islands.

READ NEXT: The Best Vegan Eats in Bali

23.  New Zealand

where to travel alone for the first time

If you are under the age of 30 and planning a working holiday, New Zealand may end up being the destination of your first solo trip abroad! Many people use this opportunity to explore the country on their days off or after finishing up work contracts, and as New Zealand makes for an awesome road trip, I highly recommend gathering 3-4 people and renting a camper van for a drive around both islands.

Even if you are not considering the working-holiday opportunity, New Zealand is still terrific for first-time solo travelers, especially if you are comfortable driving long distances. You could take buses and trains, which are generally convenient and inexpensive, but to  get to off-beat places , a car is much more ideal. It’s also the best way to  find all these amazing views . Navigation is fairly easy, and Kiwis (New Zealanders) are incredibly friendly and helpful. Find more info on  road-tripping New Zealand here.

Perhaps the best thing to do is to stay in a social hostel for your first couple of days and look for a road-trip buddy — just because you set off on this trip alone, it doesn’t mean that you need to be by yourself the entire time!

READ NEXT: A Complete Guide to New Zealand

24.  Botswana

where to travel alone for the first time

Want your first solo trip memories to be filled with wild elephants? Botswana’s the answer, as it has more than anywhere else in Africa. In fact, it’s my favorite country for  wildlife viewing  out of all of the African nations I’ve traveled to so far. It is slightly more expensive than other countries on the continent, but it’s also one of the safest, and has decent roads and a great safari lodge system as well. It is also quite the perfect place to try out glamping, especially since the cost of private accommodations may not differ much from that of basic dorms.

READ NEXT: A Guide to Botswana

25.  Namibia

sossusvlei namibia

Namibia has a special warmth — both temperature-wise and people-wise. In the summertime, it’s in the 80s or 90s, and there’s so much to do. The place is an adventure junkie’s dream!

Go  sandboarding  if you visit Namibia. It’s like snowboarding, but down a sand dune. I’d only gone snowboarding once in my life and told the guy how terrified I was — but I was fine. The sand is really soft, and it doesn’t hurt to fall.

The country is surprisingly a wonderful place for a road trip — you can read all about mine  here . You’ll also see plenty of wildlife in Namibia, along with some amazing  astrophotography  opportunities.

READ NEXT: A Guide to Namibia

I hope this guide has inspired you to finally take that first step into solo travel and visit one of the many incredible places on this list!

Which destination will you travel to first?

About Kristin Addis

Kristin Addis is the founder and CEO of Be My Travel Muse, a resource for female travelers all around the world since 2012. She's traveled solo to over 65 countries and has brought over 150 women on her all-female adventure tours from Botswana to the Alaskan tundra.

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Jerry James says

12/03/2018 at 3:50 am

Wow… awesome list there. From Asia to Europe, Europe to America and Africa, hard to pick destinations as there are many other places just like this, nevertheless you have crafted marvelous content, loved it. Hope to visit all those places. Firstly, I wanna got to Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal from Ammonite Adventures and then I will try to go through this list. Thanks !!!

Anil Kumar says

08/28/2019 at 2:38 am

I am a beginner solo traveler.I am going to start my first trip to Bhutan on this 1 st September.and want to see the world.need good suggestions and recommendations. I am 50 year old.

Vijay Patel says

03/28/2019 at 3:47 am

Wow! Amazing list about the destinations across the globe. One of my favorite place to visit is Thailand and my dream destination is California. These 2 are one of my favorite places. So, thank you for sharing just great and very helpful list of some of these travel destinations.

JoAnne says

04/11/2019 at 5:46 am

We’re you actually traveling solo? I was just wondering who took the pics.

This is great information.

Kristin says

04/11/2019 at 9:34 am

I took them, ye of little faith:

Whitney says

05/24/2019 at 9:09 am

Im new to global travel and I realize that my friends are not about this life?. I want to see the world and I am so down to do it as a solo traveler. Thanks for the post it has givien me lots of insight?

05/25/2019 at 11:28 am

Yay get it!

Mylene says

06/25/2019 at 10:02 pm

Sooner or later, I’ll start my fist solo travel! I hope so hahahaha

Frances says

07/15/2019 at 10:37 am

I have Christmas Holiday OFF (all 2 weeks)… any recommended places specifics to traveling alone for the Holidays? Thanks1

09/26/2019 at 7:15 am

Taiwan should be on this list!

09/26/2019 at 8:30 am

Agreed. I haven’t been back in over 10 years but it’s such a lovely place with friendly people.

Simon Payne says

12/30/2019 at 12:31 pm

Wow! Great stuff, thanks Kristen. I backpacked in 1992 as a young 20 year old and did many of the places you mention. I’ve just had my 50th and I am going to do it all over again. No distractions, just nature and me. Where are you now then? Simon.

12/30/2019 at 12:39 pm

Wow that’s amazing! I’m still traveling! Not done yet.

D. Styne says

03/07/2020 at 3:11 am

I am making some life memories fantasy about heading out to the entire world and investigating each culture that presents on the planet. In the wake of perusing your accommodating article, I think my 50 to 70% dream is finished and I now just set up the bank balance for it. This is an extremely helpful article for travelers and tourists who want to travel to the best places all around the world. In any case, it’s extremely supportive and you’re the best for imparting it to us. Keep this work ongoing.

Tina K. says

07/07/2020 at 7:16 pm

What a lovely and inspiring writer you are, not to mention an intrepid solo traveller. I found the content organized, informative and uplifting.

Thank-you. I am ready for my next journey

07/08/2020 at 11:07 am

Thanks Tina!

suzanjack says

09/24/2020 at 4:04 am

It’s a wonderful place to visit with friends thankyou for sharing with us , I am planning to visit Iceland with my friends but unfortunately, just because of COVID we cancel the plan. But definitely, we will visit there. Once again thank you for sharing beautiful places. says

02/23/2021 at 9:51 pm

I started traveling alone at a very young age. I agree Thailand and Malaysia are great countries to start with. I cant wait to explore more of this earth as a solo female traveler

Camilla Centerwall says

03/22/2022 at 1:17 am

I love the list of travel destinations! I also think that the Nordic countries of Sweden,Norway, Denmark and Finland could/should be on it! 🤗 So please come and visit! You are most welcome!

Fatima Ahmed says

03/28/2022 at 2:41 am

Hi Kristin,

Great blog! Kudos to your solo travels all around the world, very inspiring too.

I would like to suggest a few more to the list. I would add Albania, Czechia, Canary Islands, Austria and Poland where one can easily travel solo, saying from personal experience 😉

Good luck on future travels.

Kind regards

03/30/2022 at 9:20 am

Thanks for the additions!

04/18/2022 at 2:59 am

South Korea is also a great country for first time travellers. Safe, convenient and there are more English signs compared to Japan. It’s also a small country, so you can cover most key places just within 2-3 weeks. I would also like to add Hong Kong (& Macau), Taiwan, Vietnam, the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands and New York.

04/18/2022 at 2:42 pm

Great suggestions!

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Overview and key findings

Tracking cop28 progress.

  • United States
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
  • European Union
  • Middle East
  • Japan and Korea
  • Southeast Asia

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IEA (2024), World Energy Investment 2024 , IEA, Paris, Licence: CC BY 4.0

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The world now invests almost twice as much in clean energy as it does in fossil fuels…, global investment in clean energy and fossil fuels, 2015-2024, …but there are major imbalances in investment, and emerging market and developing economies (emde) outside china account for only around 15% of global clean energy spending, annual investment in clean energy by selected country and region, 2019 and 2024, investment in solar pv now surpasses all other generation technologies combined, global annual investment in solar pv and other generation technologies, 2021-2024, the integration of renewables and upgrades to existing infrastructure have sparked a recovery in spending on grids and storage, investment in power grids and storage by region 2017-2024, rising investments in clean energy push overall energy investment above usd 3 trillion for the first time.

Global energy investment is set to exceed USD 3 trillion for the first time in 2024, with USD 2 trillion going to clean energy technologies and infrastructure. Investment in clean energy has accelerated since 2020, and spending on renewable power, grids and storage is now higher than total spending on oil, gas, and coal.

As the era of cheap borrowing comes to an end, certain kinds of investment are being held back by higher financing costs. However, the impact on project economics has been partially offset by easing supply chain pressures and falling prices. Solar panel costs have decreased by 30% over the last two years, and prices for minerals and metals crucial for energy transitions have also sharply dropped, especially the metals required for batteries.

The annual World Energy Investment report has consistently warned of energy investment flow imbalances, particularly insufficient clean energy investments in EMDE outside China. There are tentative signs of a pick-up in these investments: in our assessment, clean energy investments are set to approach USD 320 billion in 2024, up by more 50% since 2020. This is similar to the growth seen in advanced economies (+50%), although trailing China (+75%). The gains primarily come from higher investments in renewable power, now representing half of all power sector investments in these economies. Progress in India, Brazil, parts of Southeast Asia and Africa reflects new policy initiatives, well-managed public tenders, and improved grid infrastructure. Africa’s clean energy investments in 2024, at over USD 40 billion, are nearly double those in 2020.

Yet much more needs to be done. In most cases, this growth comes from a very low base and many of the least-developed economies are being left behind (several face acute problems servicing high levels of debt). In 2024, the share of global clean energy investment in EMDE outside China is expected to remain around 15% of the total. Both in terms of volume and share, this is far below the amounts that are required to ensure full access to modern energy and to meet rising energy demand in a sustainable way.

Power sector investment in solar photovoltaic (PV) technology is projected to exceed USD 500 billion in 2024, surpassing all other generation sources combined. Though growth may moderate slightly in 2024 due to falling PV module prices, solar remains central to the power sector’s transformation. In 2023, each dollar invested in wind and solar PV yielded 2.5 times more energy output than a dollar spent on the same technologies a decade prior.

In 2015, the ratio of clean power to unabated fossil fuel power investments was roughly 2:1. In 2024, this ratio is set to reach 10:1. The rise in solar and wind deployment has driven wholesale prices down in some countries, occasionally below zero, particularly during peak periods of wind and solar generation. This lowers the potential for spot market earnings for producers and highlights the need for complementary investments in flexibility and storage capacity.

Investments in nuclear power are expected to pick up in 2024, with its share (9%) in clean power investments rising after two consecutive years of decline. Total investment in nuclear is projected to reach USD 80 billion in 2024, nearly double the 2018 level, which was the lowest point in a decade.

Grids have become a bottleneck for energy transitions, but investment is rising. After stagnating around USD 300 billion per year since 2015, spending is expected to hit USD 400 billion in 2024, driven by new policies and funding in Europe, the United States, China, and parts of Latin America. Advanced economies and China account for 80% of global grid spending. Investment in Latin America has almost doubled since 2021, notably in Colombia, Chile, and Brazil, where spending doubled in 2023 alone. However, investment remains worryingly low elsewhere.

Investments in battery storage are ramping up and are set to exceed USD 50 billion in 2024. But spending is highly concentrated. In 2023, for every dollar invested in battery storage in advanced economies and China, only one cent was invested in other EMDE.

Investment in energy efficiency and electrification in buildings and industry has been quite resilient, despite the economic headwinds. But most of the dynamism in the end-use sectors is coming from transport, where investment is set to reach new highs in 2024 (+8% compared to 2023), driven by strong electric vehicle (EV) sales.

The rise in clean energy spending is underpinned by emissions reduction goals, technological gains, energy security imperatives (particularly in the European Union), and an additional strategic element: major economies are deploying new industrial strategies to spur clean energy manufacturing and establish stronger market positions. Such policies can bring local benefits, although gaining a cost-competitive foothold in sectors with ample global capacity like solar PV can be challenging. Policy makers need to balance the costs and benefits of these programmes so that they increase the resilience of clean energy supply chains while maintaining gains from trade.

In the United States, investment in clean energy increases to an estimated more than USD 300 billion in 2024, 1.6 times the 2020 level and well ahead of the amount invested in fossil fuels. The European Union spends USD 370 billion on clean energy today, while China is set to spend almost USD 680 billion in 2024, supported by its large domestic market and rapid growth in the so-called “new three” industries: solar cells, lithium battery production and EV manufacturing.

Overall upstream oil and gas investment in 2024 is set to return to 2017 levels, but companies in the Middle East and Asia now account for a much larger share of the total

Change in upstream oil and gas investment by company type, 2017-2024, newly approved lng projects, led by the united states and qatar, bring a new wave of investment that could boost global lng export capacity by 50%, investment and cumulative capacity in lng liquefaction, 2015-2028, investment in fuel supply remains largely dominated by fossil fuels, although interest in low-emissions fuels is growing fast from a low base.

Upstream oil and gas investment is expected to increase by 7% in 2024 to reach USD 570 billion, following a 9% rise in 2023. This is being led by Middle East and Asian NOCs, which have increased their investments in oil and gas by over 50% since 2017, and which account for almost the entire rise in spending for 2023-2024.

Lower cost inflation means that the headline rise in spending results in an even larger rise in activity, by approximately 25% compared with 2022. Existing fields account for around 40% total oil and gas upstream investment, while another 33% goes to new fields and exploration. The remainder goes to tight oil and shale gas.

Most of the huge influx of cashflows to the oil and gas industry in 2022-2023 was either returned to shareholders, used to buy back shares or to pay down debt; these uses exceeded capital expenditure again in 2023. A surge in profits has also spurred a wave of mergers and acquisitions (M&A), especially among US shale companies, which represented 75% of M&A activity in 2023. Clean energy spending by oil and gas companies grew to around USD 30 billion in 2023 (of which just USD 1.5 billion was by NOCs), but this represents less than 4% of global capital investment on clean energy.

A significant wave of new investment is expected in LNG in the coming years as new liquefaction plants are built, primarily in the United States and Qatar. The concentration of projects looking to start operation in the second half of this decade could increase competition and raise costs for the limited number of specialised contractors in this area. For the moment, the prospect of ample gas supplies has not triggered a major reaction further down the value chain. The amount of new gas-fired power capacity being approved and coming online remains stable at around 50-60 GW per year.

Investment in coal has been rising steadily in recent years, and more than 50 GW of unabated coal-fired power generation was approved in 2023, the most since 2015, and almost all of this was in China.

Investment in low-emissions fuels is only 1.4% of the amount spent on fossil fuels (compared to about 0.5% a decade ago). There are some fast-growing areas. Investments in hydrogen electrolysers have risen to around USD 3 billion per year, although they remain constrained by uncertainty about demand and a lack of reliable offtakers. Investments in sustainable aviation fuels have reached USD 1 billion, while USD 800 million is going to direct air capture projects (a 140% increase from 2023). Some 20 commercial-scale carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) projects in seven countries reached final investment decision (FID) in 2023; according to company announcements, another 110 capture facilities, transport and storage projects could do the same in 2024.

Energy investment decisions are primarily driven and financed by the private sector, but governments have essential direct and indirect roles in shaping capital flows

Sources of investment in the energy sector, average 2018-2023, sources of finance in the energy sector, average 2018-2023, households are emerging as important actors for consumer-facing clean energy investments, highlighting the importance of affordability and access to capital, change in energy investment volume by region and fuel category, 2016 versus 2023, market sentiment around sustainable finance is down from the high point in 2021, with lower levels of sustainable debt issuances and inflows into sustainable funds, sustainable debt issuances, 2020-2023, sustainable fund launches, 2020-2023, energy transitions are reshaping how energy investment decisions are made, and by whom.

This year’s World Energy Investment report contains new analysis on sources of investments and sources of finance, making a clear distinction between those making investment decisions (governments, often via state-owned enterprises (SOEs), private firms and households) and the institutions providing the capital (the public sector, commercial lenders, and development finance institutions) to finance these investments.

Overall, most investments in the energy sector are made by corporates, with firms accounting for the largest share of investments in both the fossil fuel and clean energy sectors. However, there are significant country-by-country variations: half of all energy investments in EMDE are made by governments or SOEs, compared with just 15% in advanced economies. Investments by state-owned enterprises come mainly from national oil companies, notably in the Middle East and Asia where they have risen substantially in recent years, and among some state-owned utilities. The financial sustainability, investment strategies and the ability for SOEs to attract private capital therefore become a central issue for secure and affordable transitions.

The share of total energy investments made or decided by private households (if not necessarily financed by them directly) has doubled from 9% in 2015 to 18% today, thanks to the combined growth in rooftop solar installations, investments in buildings efficiency and electric vehicle purchases. For the moment, these investments are mainly made by wealthier households – and well-designed policies are essential to making clean energy technologies more accessible to all . A comparison shows that households have contributed to more than 40% of the increase in investment in clean energy spending since 2016 – by far the largest share. It was particularly pronounced in advanced economies, where, because of strong policy support, households accounted for nearly 60% of the growth in energy investments.

Three quarters of global energy investments today are funded from private and commercial sources, and around 25% from public finance, and just 1% from national and international development finance institutions (DFIs).

Other financing options for energy transition have faced challenges and are focused on advanced economies. In 2023, sustainable debt issuances exceeded USD 1 trillion for the third consecutive year, but were still 25% below their 2021 peak, as rising coupon rates dampened issuers’ borrowing appetite. Market sentiment for sustainable finance is wavering, with flows to ESG funds decreasing in 2023, due to potential higher returns elsewhere and credibility concerns. Transition finance is emerging to mobilise capital for high-emitting sectors, but greater harmonisation and credible standards are required for these instruments to reach scale.

A secure and affordable transitioning away from fossil fuels requires a major rebalancing of investments

Investment change in 2023-2024, and additional average annual change in investment in the net zero scenario, 2023-2030, a doubling of investments to triple renewables capacity and a tripling of spending to double efficiency: a steep hill needs climbing to keep 1.5°c within reach, investments in renewables, grids and battery storage in the net zero emissions by 2050 scenario, historical versus 2030, investments in end-use sectors in the net zero emissions by 2050 scenario, historical versus 2030, meeting cop28 goals requires a doubling of clean energy investment by 2030 worldwide, and a quadrupling in emde outside china, investments in renewables, grids, batteries and end use in the net zero emissions by 2050 scenario, 2024 and 2030, mobilising additional, affordable financing is the key to a safer and more sustainable future, breakdown of dfi financing by instrument, currency, technology and region, average 2019-2022, much greater efforts are needed to get on track to meet energy & climate goals, including those agreed at cop28.

Today’s investment trends are not aligned with the levels necessary for the world to have a chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and to achieve the interim goals agreed at COP28. The current momentum behind renewable power is impressive, and if the current spending trend continues, it would cover approximately two-thirds of the total investment needed to triple renewable capacity by 2030. But an extra USD 500 billion per year is required in the IEA’s Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario (NZE Scenario) to fill the gap completely (including spending for grids and battery storage). This equates to a doubling of current annual spending on renewable power generation, grids, and storage in 2030, in order to triple renewable capacity.

The goal of doubling the pace of energy efficiency improvement requires an even greater additional effort. While investment in the electrification of transport is relatively strong and brings important efficiency gains, investment in other efficiency measures – notably building retrofits – is well below where it needs to be: efficiency investments in buildings fell in 2023 and are expected to decline further in 2024. A tripling in the current annual rate of spending on efficiency and electrification – to about USD 1.9 trillion in 2030 – is needed to double the rate of energy efficiency improvements.

Anticipated oil and gas investment in 2024 is broadly in line with the level of investment required in 2030 in the Stated Policies Scenario, a scenario which sees oil and natural gas demand levelling off before 2030. However, global spare oil production capacity is already close to 6 million barrels per day (excluding Iran and Russia) and there is a shift expected in the coming years towards a buyers’ market for LNG. Against this backdrop, the risk of over-investment would be strong if the world moves swiftly to meet the net zero pledges and climate goals in the Announced Pledges Scenario (APS) and the NZE Scenario.

The NZE Scenario sees a major rebalancing of investments in fuel supply, away from fossil fuels and towards low-emissions fuels, such as bioenergy and low-emissions hydrogen, as well as CCUS. Achieving net zero emissions globally by 2050 would mean annual investment in oil, gas, and coal falls by more than half, from just over USD 1 trillion in 2024 to below USD 450 billion per year in 2030, while spending on low-emissions fuels increases tenfold, to about USD 200 billion in 2030 from just under USD 20 billion today.

The required increase in clean energy investments in the NZE Scenario is particularly steep in many emerging and developing economies. The cost of capital remains one of the largest barriers to investment in clean energy projects and infrastructure in many EMDE, with financing costs at least twice as high as in advanced economies as well as China. Macroeconomic and country-specific factors are the major contributors to the high cost of capital for clean energy projects, but so, too, are risks specific to the energy sector. Alongside actions by national policy makers, enhanced support from DFIs can play a major role in lowering financing costs and bringing in much larger volumes of private capital.

Targeted concessional support is particularly important for the least-developed countries that will otherwise struggle to access adequate capital. Our analysis shows cumulative financing for energy projects by DFIs was USD 470 billion between 2013 and 2021, with China-based DFIs accounting for slightly over half of the total. There was a significant reduction in financing for fossil fuel projects over this period, largely because of reduced Chinese support. However, this was not accompanied by a surge in support for clean energy projects. DFI support was provided almost exclusively (more than 90%) as debt (not all concessional) with only about 3% reported as equity financing and about 6% as grants. This debt was provided in hard currency or in the currency of donors, with almost no local-currency financing being reported.

The lack of local-currency lending pushes up borrowing costs and in many cases is the primary reason behind the much higher cost of capital in EMDE compared to advanced economies. High hedging costs often make this financing unaffordable to many of the least-developed countries and raises questions of debt sustainability. More attention is needed from DFIs to focus interventions on project de-risking that can mobilise much higher multiples of private capital.

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Ukraine war latest: Russian officials 'thrown out of meeting' for breaking custom; new photos emerge of Putin and Kim's day out

Vladimir Putin has arrived in Vietnam for a state visit after he spent the day in North Korea yesterday, where he signed a defence pact with Kim Jong Un. Got a question on the Ukraine war? Submit it below for our specialists to answer.

Thursday 20 June 2024 19:16, UK

  • Vladimir Putin arrives in Vietnam for state visit
  • Russia and North Korea sign new defence deal
  • Russian officials 'thrown out of meeting' for breaking custom
  • South Korea condemns pact and says it will reconsider weapons for Ukraine
  • New photos emerge of Putin and Kim's day out
  • Analysis: Putin wants to prove he still has friends
  • Listen to the Daily above and tap here to follow wherever you get your podcasts

Ask a question or make a comment

That's all of our live coverage on the conflict for now. 

We'll bring you any major developments overnight, and we'll be back with our regular updates in the morning. 

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said he is "deeply grateful" for Joe Biden's decision to prioritise air defence deliveries for Ukraine. 

The Ukrainian president said his country was in critical need of the capabilities to protect its cities and civilians from Russian attacks. 

"The partnership between Ukraine and the United States is strong and unwavering. Together, we are protecting life against terror and aggression," he added. 

It comes after the US said a recent defence pact signed by Russia and North Korea was a "cause for concern". 

The recently signed defence pact between Russia and North Korea is a cause of concern but is no surprise, the White House has said.

Speaking to reporters, White House spokesman John Kirby said the agreement between the two countries was a sign of Russia's desperation for foreign assistance in the Ukraine war.

The deal has seen both countries vow to help each other if they faced armed aggression, and replaces previous treaties between the countries. 

Russia said the pact was needed because of "the deep evolution of the geopolitical situation in the world and the region".

Mr Kirby also said the US would reprioritise planned deliveries of foreign military equipment to go to Ukraine, which is in "desperate need" of more air defence capabilities.

Vladimir Putin has warned that South Korea would be making a "big mistake" if it decides to supply weapons to Ukraine. 

The Russian president's comments come after South Korea said a new defence agreement between North Korea and Moscow was "absurd" and it would reconsider sending arms to Kyiv as a result. 

Mr Putin said Seoul had nothing to worry about when it came to the mutual defence pact. 

Russian state media quoted him as saying that Moscow expected its cooperation with North Korea to serve as a deterrent to the West. 

He also refused to rule out supplying high-precision weapons to the country. 

Russia is considering making changes to its nuclear weapons doctrine, Vladimir Putin has said. 

The Russian president made the comments while speaking to reporters at the end of his Vietnam trip. 

The existing doctrine states that Russia may use such weapons in response to a nuclear strike or in the event of a conventional attack that poses an existential threat to the country. 

Ukrainian troops have been launching mid-range reconnaissance drones in Kharkiv.

Russian forces crossed into parts of the northeastern region last month, and officials claim they have seized at least a dozen villages.

But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said Kyiv's forces are gradually pushing Russian troops out of the contested area.

A police search is under way for a woman who allegedly desecrated the graves of Ukrainian soldiers.

Kyiv city's prosecutor's office said the unknown woman vandalised the graves this morning. 

Commemorative plaques and lamps were torn off and broken, it said.

The Ukrainian flag was also "mutilated", it added.

"Operational investigations and searches are being carried out to establish the woman's identity," the office said in post on Telegram. 

If caught and found guilty, the woman could face up to five years in prison. 

We have been reporting today on Vladimir Putin's visit to Vietnam.

Here is a recap of what the Russian president has been up to: 

  • Mr Putin signed a series of deals with his Vietnamese counterpart To Lam during his state visit;
  • The two leaders signed agreements to further co-operation on education, science and technology, oil and gas exploration and health;
  • They also agreed to work on a road map for a nuclear science and technology centre in Vietnam;
  • Following the talks, Mr Putin said that the two countries share an interest in "developing a reliable security architecture" in the Asia-Pacific region based on not using force and peacefully settling disputes with no room for "closed military-political blocs";
  • The Russian leader also met Vietnam's Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and is scheduled to meet Communist Party general secretary Nguyen Phu Trong - Vietnam's most powerful politician;
  • The trip has resulted in a sharp rebuke from the US embassy in the country.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said Romania's decision to provide his country with two Patriot air defence systems will strengthen security in Ukraine and throughout Europe.

"This crucial contribution will bolster our air shield and help us better protect our people and critical infrastructure from Russian air terror," the Ukrainian president said on X.

The Patriot, which stands for Phased Array Tracking Radar for Intercept on Target, is a surface-to-air missile defence system.

For months now, Ukraine has been calling for countries to provide more air defence systems to help protect it from Russian attacks. 

The next NATO leader is now all but certain after Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's last rival dropped out of the race.

He's now the only person running to be Jens Stoltenberg's successor when he steps down from the secretary-general role in October. 

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis dropped out of the race earlier today and Hungary lifted its veto on Mr Rutte's candidacy, paving the way for NATO to put on a show of unity over support for Ukraine.

Mr Rutte's appointment could be sealed by a meeting of NATO ambassadors in the coming days, or by the leaders when they meet in Washington in July for the alliance's 75th birthday.

NATO secretaries-general are responsible for chairing meetings and guiding consultations among the 32 member countries to ensure that the organisation, which operates on consensus, can continue to function.

Mr Rutte has already had to assure Hungary that he will not force it to take part in NATO plans to provide support to Ukraine.

Turkey, which had voiced opposition to Mr Rutte's bid earlier this year, has also lifted its objections. 

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best time to visit southeast asia countries


  1. When's the Best Time to Visit Southeast Asia?

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  2. Time to Get Away! 9 of the Best Countries to Visit in Southeast Asia

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  4. 21 Best Places In Southeast Asia

    best time to visit southeast asia countries

  5. 10 Best Places To Visit In Southeast Asia

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  6. 20 Best Places To Visit In Southeast Asia For 2020/2021

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  1. Best & Worst Times to Visit Southeast Asia 2024/2025

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    November to February: Dry season in Cambodia is the most comfortable time for tourists. It's the driest and least humid time of year with temperatures rarely exceeding 30°C. Visit early in the season to see Tonlé Sap — the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia — at its fullest. March to May: Temperatures rise across the country ...

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    The best time to visit Southeast Asia, including Thailand and Vietnam, is from November to February, offering cool and dry weather. For South Asia, like India and Sri Lanka, October to March is ideal with milder temperatures and less humidity. East Asia, including Japan and China, is best in spring and autumn for cherry blossoms and colorful ...

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  5. Southeast Asia Itineraries & Travel Routes (Ultimate Guide)

    2 months is the perfect minimum time to enjoy all four countries in mainland Southeast Asia and travel through them overland without having to rush. With at least 6 to 8 weeks you can follow the complete so-called Banana Pancake Trail , a famed Southeast Asia backpacker route that mainly runs through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam ...

  6. Best Time to Visit Asia by Month

    Asia through the seasons. The best time to visit Southeast Asia depends on which country you are planning to visit. You may wish to explore UNESCO-listed heritage sites such as Angkor Wat or Borobudur Temple, or meander down the Mekong in Vietnam aboard a luxury cruise ship.

  7. When is the best time to visit Southeast Asia?

    The best time to visit Southeast Asia depends on where you want to go and what you want to do. There are some significant climate variations across the region, but rather than limiting possibilities, this makes Southeast Asia a year-round destination with good conditions for exploring throughout the year.

  8. 3 Month Southeast Asia Itinerary & Travel Planning Guide

    Best Time to Go to Southeast Asia. The best time to visit southeast Asia is November through March. Temperatures are relatively cool and for the most part, it's the dry season during this period of time. Peak season is the end of December into early January, when people take their winter vacations. At the end of March it really starts to heat up.

  9. How to Plan a Trip to Southeast Asia 2024 (First-Timers' Guide)

    Among all our couples' and family clients' choices, the best-selling itineraries cover the Southeast Asia travel hubs of Thailand (Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket / Koh Samui), Vietnam (Halong Bay, Hanoi, Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh) and Cambodia (Angkor Wat). >>How to Plan a 3-Week Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam Tour Bali in Indonesia, known locally as 'the Island of the Gods', is one of the best ...

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    Beginner travelers should check out these travel tips and follow this Southeast Asia travel advice when considering a visit to the region for the first time. 1. Pick your countries wisely. While it's tempting to visit many countries and cities on a single trip to Southeast Asia, it's worth taking it slow and digging into the culture of a single ...

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    14. Chiang Mai, Thailand. 15. Hanoi, Vietnam. Map of Places to Visit in Southeast Asia. 1. Angkor Wat, Cambodia. Buddhist monk in Angkor Wat. Located in northwestern Cambodia, the city is best known for being the gateway to the Angkor region, but Siem Reap has much to offer on its own.

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    When is the best time of year to visit? Much of Southeast Asia has two seasons: Dry and wet. Go further north to Japan, Korea, and China, and you'll find much cooler winter temperatures. But for many countries in Southeast Asia, it's hot and humid year-round. So the question isn't how to make sure you find the warm temperatures you're after. It ...

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    Which Countries to Visit in Southeast Asia in 10 Days. For a 10-day trip to Southeast Asia, you're suggested to focus on one country or two neighboring countries to have an in-depth experience instead of rushing through multiple destinations. In addition, you would reduce travel fatigue and save money on transportation costs.

  16. When's the Best Time to Visit Southeast Asia?

    Although relatively compact, Southeast Asia has a seemingly infinite amount of climates to match its varied mountains, beaches, religions and cuisines. Weather patterns vary wildly even within the same country -- in Thailand, for instance, when it's the sunny dry season in Phuket, it's time for monsoons less than 200 miles away on the ...

  17. When Is The Best Time To Visit Southeast Asia?

    The best time to visit Southeast Asia is an important consideration in vacation planning for such a vast region, with its diverse countries, colorful festivals, weather patterns and micro-climates, especially with activities like diving, trekking, swimming, cruising and volcano scaling to partake in.

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    Best time to visit Singapore. Singapore has significant rainfall all year, although the country's dry season falls between February and April, when humidity levels are also at their lowest ...

  19. Best time to visit Southeast Asia

    The best time to visit Southeast Asia is generally between November and February, when most countries are dry and pleasantly warm. However, as our guide to the best time to visit Southeast Asia explains, other factors to consider include monsoons, festivals and full moons. Our month by month guide to the weather in Southeast Asia has more details.

  20. The best times to visit Bali

    With awe-inspiring scenery, dense layers of culture, plenty of sun, surf and sand, and balmy temperatures year-round, Bali calls out like a beacon to adventurers, sun-seekers and travelers who like to truly immerse themselves in the countries they visit. Whatever your travel tastes, you'll find rewarding things to see and do in Bali at any time of year.

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    Laos is the perfect destination for adventurers. Thanks to its many pristine jungles and karst mountain landscapes, it may well be the best country in mainland Southeast Asia for hiking and trekking. It's also an excellent place for other outdoor activities like kayaking, zip-lining, caving, and rock climbing.

  22. Best Time to Travel to Southeast Asia

    The ideal time to travel to Southeast Asia varies by which country you want to visit. Here is a summary of the best time to visit some of the most popular countries in Southeast Asia: Thailand: November to February. Vietnam: November to April. Cambodia: November to February.

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    Southeast Asia is a region comprised of 11 different countries, all with their own languages and cultures. In fact, some countries of the region are home to many cultures and languages. Southeast Asia is also home to some of the world's most vibrant economies. Approximately 674 million people live in the region. Contents: Indonesia ...

  24. Best time to visit Southeast Asia

    The best time to visit Southeast Asia is between November and February. There's drier, less humid and slightly cooler weather in most of the region, with average temperatures around 30°C. Bring a warm jacket for evenings, though. The rainy season in Southeast Asia is between June and October, meaning flooding in the Mekong Delta and lush ...

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    There are few places on earth with as much biodiversity and an overall abundance of outdoorsy things to do as Costa Rica. It's also one of the best places in Latin America to travel as a solo female traveler because of how easy it is to meet others and how safe it is.. From the thick green jungles of Costa Rica's interior to the golden beaches on both coasts, this is one of the places I ...

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  28. Ask a question or make a comment

    Mr Putin's visit comes after a two-day trip to North Korea, where he signed a deal with the country's leader Kim Jong Un that pledges mutual aid in the event of war. 09:53:53