Southeast Asia for Backpacking Professionals

Backpacking in Malaysia

Southeast Asia is clearly one of the most popular backpacking destinations among travelers. That’s why I have my first recommendation right here: Malaysia has a lot to offer and of course for you backpackers too. The best way to get around in Malaysia is to use buses. The buses there are modern, comfortable and have air conditioning . You can get tickets for the journeys at every train station for little money. In general, Malaysia is a very inexpensive country where you can get by on € 20-40 per day. You can get full for around 5 € and a night usually costs around 10 to 20 €. Since Malaysia used to be a British colony, you shouldn’t have any problems here if you want to communicate in English.

Malaysia – great cities and great beaches

According to, Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur is particularly exciting, colorful and lively, especially in the Golden Triangle district. Here you will find the famous Petronas Towers, countless shops, beautiful restaurants, interesting museums and an exciting nightlife. It’s totally colorful here in Chinatown , a huge flea & street market where you can get lots of bargains. But if you need a break from the hustle and bustle, you can relax in Lake Gardens in Kuala Lumpur and stroll around the lakes. Cities like Georgetown and Melaka are also waiting to be visited. In the past it was even a meeting place for pirates, but today you don’t have to be afraid anymore, you only meet good-humored Malays there. But the wonderful country has a lot more to offer – more Malaysia tips from me can be found here:

Backpacking in Singapore

Singapore is geographically part of Malaysia, but is an independent city-state. But if you are already traveling in Malaysia, you should definitely travel to Singapore . Singapore is a lot more developed than many other countries in Southeast Asia. The country is comparatively expensive not only by Asian standards, but also for Europeans.

My advice:

Although the Marina Bay Sands Hotel is too expensive for backpackers, you shouldn’t miss the view. I therefore recommend the rooftop bar CÉ LA VI . The cocktails are expensive, but on top there is a priceless view of the glowing skyline, a laser show and good electronic music.

Spectacular and diverse

Striking buildings like the world-famous Marina Bay Sands, the Gardens by the Bay and the many Buddhist temples are absolute highlights. On the other hand, Singapore offers an amazing nightlife. In the city that is Clarke Quay an absolute hotspot. Countless young people and party enthusiasts meet at the adjacent bridge to have a drink before moving on to the adjacent clubs and bars. Sentosa Island is a small island that can be reached by train from Singapore within a few minutes.

There is a lot to experience here, adventure parks and legendary parties as well as ingenious beach bars that really get going, especially on weekends. If you’re looking for some relaxation and tranquility while sizzling in the sun and listening to the sound of the sea, I recommend East Coast Park . Only locals get lost here, it is quiet, idyllic and the sight is reminiscent of the empty exotic beaches of Southeast Asian postcards. Just lovely.

Cheaper than expected

As already indicated, Singapore is not a super cheap travel destination , which is why you should plan a little more budget . There are quite affordable hostels that are not in the middle of the city center, and the food is usually very cheap. You should try one of the food courts that are on every corner. If you need more tips on how to explore Singapore cheaply, I can recommend my article.

Backpacking through Vietnam

Backpacking through Vietnam

Vietnam is a challenge, be it positive or negative – opinions differ. Just try it for yourself: the best thing to do is fly to Ho Chi Minh and travel north to Hanoi . Many backpackers rent a motorcycle on site and drive through the country themselves. But there is also the possibility of traveling to different stations with coaches and sleeping buses .

My advice:

Despite the inexpensive, upscale hotels, I recommend a good hostel. It really is the easiest way to get to know travelers and other backpackers – especially if you are traveling alone!

Vietnam is a very inexpensive travel destination – with 15 to 30 € you can get by here a day. Even the hotels are super cheap, so you don’t necessarily have to go to a hostel. You can also get real bargains when it comes to eating: For € 2 you can get a great local meal. Of course there are also western restaurants, which then have comparatively expensive prices. One gets along well with knowledge of English on site. If you are a bit outside of the tourist areas, however, it becomes more difficult to communicate. But what do we have hands, feet and a nice smile for, right?

Breathtaking landscapes

Most of the hotspots can be easily reached by bus or motorcycle. Temples, stretches of coast, rice fields – it’s great here not to have to rely on anyone and to simply steer yourself. In Hoi An I recommend renting a scooter and then driving north towards Da Nang and further along the coast through the mountains. The landscapes are breathtaking , the views from the steep cliffs are amazing . The infrastructure in Vietnam is okay, at least passable. Rules don’t play a big role here though – I’ve met a lot of people who have had accidents on their motorcycles, so you should have motorcycling experience.

Visit the famous Halong Bay

A highlight that you cannot go to yourself is the famous Halong Bay . There you can travel around the bay on a ship with a tour operator for a few days and nights. The view is really enchanting: all around you the stone cliffs jut out of the water, overgrown with green shimmering plants and trees, in between the turquoise blue water and everywhere small pretty boats, just magical. Other recommended sights are the city ​​of Sapa in the far north of Vietnam and Tam Coc that you definitely know from the wonderful pictures that show a river, spectacular mountains around it and lots of flowers and green, glowing grass on the water. The rush is quite large, but it is a really impressive experience. Vietnam is definitely an adventure that you have to try at least once in a backpacker’s life. For more Vietnam inspiration check out my Vietnam Guide.

Cambodia backpacking

Cambodia backpacking

Cambodia is located between Laos, Thailand and Vietnam in Southeast Asia, right on the Gulf of Thailand. Compared to the neighboring countries, the country is very cheap in terms of the cost of living. The food is also very cheap, especially alcoholic beverages: half a liter of beer costs a mere 50 cents . By the way, you can also explore most of the countries of Southeast Asia with a moped, which gives you a real adventure kick.

Cambodia has wonderful sandy beaches on the Gulf of Thailand. Victory Beach attracts many backpackers who would like to experience a legendary beach party . The fairytale island of Koh Rong, on the other hand, scores with an incredible 43 kilometers of beach paradise. Snow-white sand, turquoise sea and green palm trees make the trip here an absolute dream. But above all, I would like to recommend the incredibly beautiful landscapes to you: The Cambodia Wildlife Sanctuary is a nature reserve in which the flora and fauna are lovingly guarded and cared for. Marshes, grasslands and spectacular plant species await you here.

Angkor Wat is a must see

Siem Reap is also a popular travel destination thanks to sights such as the Floating Village and the Angkor Wat temple complex . The facility is the largest and best known in the region and also attracts many backpackers.

With a backpack through Java

With a backpack through Java

With more than 17,000 islands, Indonesia has an incredible variety of nature, culture and lifestyles, as well as living conditions. In addition to Bali , which is well suited for beginners among backpackers, there are also some islands in Indonesia where you definitely need to have good backpacking skills. One of them is the island of Java . Java is not yet as touristy as Bali, although it borders directly on the island and thus directly on a region that is becoming increasingly western.

Nature that takes your breath away

The nature on Java is really fantastic: huge volcanoes, thundering waterfalls, wide dreamy beaches and cute sea turtles – Java is definitely a land of diversity . I would like to recommend the volcano Mount Bromo , Mount Semeru, the Madakaripura waterfall and the Ijen Crater – here you will find the absolute natural hotspots of the island. The sight of the clear turquoise water falling from the bright green cliffs at the Madakaripura waterfall will stay in my memory forever. The nature is simply breathtaking.

If the opportunity arises and you have more time with you, I definitely advise you to drive across the island yourself and discover everything that Java has to offer. Note, however, that the streets were mostly very poorly built and over endless stretches you will sometimes not find any shops or gas stations. The park entrance fee is usually much higher for tourists and broken English is spoken. A good deal of challenges await you in any case on Java. Do you fancy Java? Then it’s best to find out about the best travel time and off you go!