7/8 week itinerary for the highlights of South East Asia

South East Asia has to be the premier world traveling region.  A big call?  For sure, but consider what genuinely world class offerings it can provide:


  • World class beaches and coastal areas – think of THAT beach in Ko Phi Phi and HaLong Bay, one of the Natural Wonders of the World
  • World class food – think Thai, Vietnamese, Malay and the genuine fusion into the mix with the large established Indian and Chinese communities
  • World class ancient sites and history – think of the temples of the “8th Wonder of the World” of Angkor Wat, and the breathtaking site of the pagodas stretching across the plain in Bagan
  • World class cities and party locations – think of Singapore as the city of the future and the Full Moon Parties on Ko Pha-Ngan


And all this in a place that is super safe, outrageously friendly, easy and cheap to travel in.  A must for any keen traveler and the below itinerary will give you the highlights – enjoy!

Day trip to the Plain of Jars

Thousands of giant jars with little known about their origin scatter the plain and hills around the town of Phonsavan.  Its interesting to have a look into them and have a general wander around, but considering just how bone rattling and long the bus journeys are to get anywhere in Laos I’d say that unless you are specifically passing through on your way to Vietnam, give them a miss

Waterfalls and mountain views in Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang feels about as close to “Authentic Asia” as you get.  The Old Town is a timeless UNESCO World Heritage site, with monks still walking all around you on their daily business between the various gold temples and sacred sites.  Its location is one surrounded on all sides by the confluence of the Mekong and Kham rivers and the lush mountainous jungle all around. And the nearby waterfalls of Tat Kuang Si look like something from a fairy tale
The highlight of Laos

Tubing down the Mekong in Vang Vien

Jumping into a rubber ring and drifting the 4km / 2.5 miles through lush jungle, emerald green paddy fields and looking up at the serene karst hills is hard to beat and, whilst the vibe may have changed over the years from tractor-style tires and booming bars to tubes / kayaks and more regulation, its still super fun and a must if anyone is travelling through this picture-perfect part of Laos

A few basic tips:

  • The vibe pre 2012 was a very different one where the Vang Vien town itself was a full blown party town that seemed to revolve around all night raves and day time with people stoned AF watching episodes of Friends on beanbags.  What came with that was an experience where you drifted down the river on old tractor tires off your face as you swang from ropes in the jungle canopy headfirst into the rushing water below.  Now, whilst this was indeed great fun, it also came with accidents (which for anyone who did experiencing the old school tubing, this would have came as no surprise) and wasn’t exactly sustainable for what is a very conservative country.  The changes now have closed the rave bars and made the drifting down the river more safe
  • The town of Vang Vien itself is not worth spending much time in.  Get yourself to the tubing or hikes in the nearby stunning countryside
  • For the tubing itself, it’s hard to get wrong.  You’ve got two main companies offering it – they’ll pick you up and drop you off / take you back depending on which one you go with