1 – Sri Lanka –
- Ideal if you want city, mountains and beach all in one!
- Best time to go is from January to April (check weather by region as it changes with differing monsoons)
- For a beautiful beach, head down to Mirissa in the South
- For Surfing head to Hikkaduwa in the South West
- For nature lovers, head to the central mountains of Kandy and Sigiriya
- Check for visas online
If you love nature and animals, you may want to check out this blog about Seeing Elephants in Sri Lanka (this link will take you to another website)
2 – Goa (South India) –
- ‘India Light’ for beginners!
- Go to the South for the best beaches and more chilled out vibe than the North which is more about partying (if you prefer that, now you know!)
- You’ll have to fly into one of the big cities like Mumbai to transfer and get there, so get ready for a different experience!
- Best time to go is from November to March (it gets too hot from March/April)
- Apply for an e-visa online in advance, or for longer term travel either arrange a visa via an agent or by visiting an embassy in your country! Visas for 6 months cost exactly the same as 12 months, so best apply for the maximum
3 – Kerala (South India) –
- Chilled out, beautiful and bohemian
- If you like yoga this is the best place!
- Go to an ashram for classes or teacher training
- Best time to go is from January to March
- Apply for an e-visa online or go to your local Indian Embassy (same advice as above)
For more about Kerala, check out Our Trip to Kerala, South India
4 – Vietnam –
- Ideal for a mix of Cities, islands to the South and trekking in the North!
- For best times to go, check weather as it changes drastically from South, Central and North, as well as year on year (so you’re not disappointed)
- Southern Vietnam (incl. Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon) – dry season from December to April, creeping into May
- Central Vietnam (incl. Da Nang, Hoi An and Hue) – dry weather in Spring February to May
- Northern Vietnam (incl. Hanoi and Sapa) – usually warm and sunny from October to December, and March to May
- To travel from South to North, best time to enjoy optimum weather throughout is from March to May
- To see the best of Ha Long Bay, check out Indochina Junks Indochina Junks (Cruise company)
- Apply for your visa online
5 – Bali (Indonesia) –
- Enjoy the South and southwest for best areas to stay (Canggu or Uluwatu)
- Dry season starts in April through to October
- For guaranteed optimum weather, best time to go is July to September (busy / high season, but best climate), however April to June will be even cheaper and quieter if crowds aren’t your thing!
- Visa-on-arrival at Denpasar Airport (visa exemption stamp) – free for 30 days
- If you want to extend the visa for longer whilst there, make sure you get the $35 visa at the Airport so you can extend it!
- Then you can either go to the immigration office in Denpasar to extend or arrange via an agent, which is much easier (‘Visa Agent Bali’ in Canggu are great!)
6 – Gili Air (Indonesia) –
- Beautiful paradise island off the coast of Lombok – close to Bali and can be visited whilst on your trip there
- Allow at least 5 days to explore and relax!
- Get there by boat from Bali or with a flight to Lombok from Bali (then grab a Bluebird taxi to Bangsal Harbour)
- Best time to go is April to September
- If you go in August, check accommodation availability on Agoda or booking in advance as can get busy!
- June may be a lot quieter as it’s before the Aussie public holidays!
- Visa advice as above (same for all of Indonesia)
7 – Lombok (Indonesia) –
- Best for an off the beaten track experience!!
- Beaches and small islands reached by fishing boat for beach lovers
- Plenty of nature, including waterfalls and a volcano!
- Best time to go is in July to September for optimum weather
- Although it’s peak season, it doesn’t get that touristy (as they are all in Bali!)
- Use Agoda.com or Booking.com to find value accommodation
- Visa advice is the same as above!
For more about Lombok, with tips on where to stay, check out Lombok: A Road Less Travelled
8 – Kyoto, Japan –
- Best for enjoying both traditional and modern Japanese culture
- Over 2000 beautiful temples and shrines to choose from, so get your walking shoes on!
- Enjoy fantastic food and nightlife, with plenty of ‘sake’ and ‘Japanese whisky’!
- Head to the Yamazaki Distillery for a tour or the bar inside the museum for cheapest whisky (trust us, you don’t want to be paying bar prices!)
- Spot a Geisha in the Gion area, if you are lucky (usually between 17:30 and 18:00, as they walk to work!)
- Use Airbnb for cheaper accommodation
- Public transport is modern and efficient; so easy to get around
- Best time to go to Kyoto is from late spring, March to May and late autumn, September to November. This also goes for the rest of Japan, as there is less rainfall and mild temperatures at those times
- Visas for Japan are exempt on arrival! There are 68 countries around the world, including UK, that are exempt for up to 90 days; so check before you travel if you are on this list
For more about Kyoto, check out The Ultimate 7 Day Travel Guide to Kyoto, Japan
9 – Chiang Mai (North Thailand) –
- Visit the old town, waterfalls, hot springs, temples and the ‘Nimmanhaemin‘ area, which is known as the shorter version ‘Nimman’ (where Digital Nomads tend to hang out) Great for cafes and restaurants!
- Go to ‘Pai’ further north, either by motorbike or minibus, to enjoy a laid back, bohemian vibe
- Check out Airbnb as can be a lot cheaper than a hotel!
- You can get a room or condo / apartment from £20 per night!
- Best time to visit is from November to February (avoid ‘Burning Season’ in March, where fields are burnt for the next harvest – smokey and polluted air)
- Visa-on-Arrival (free) in Thailand for 30 days
- If you want to extend for another 30 days, go to Chiang Mai Immigration Office, located in the ‘Promenada Mall’ (check on Google maps)
- Alternatively, for a longer period apply for a 60 day visa in your country (Thai Embassy) or via an agent before you travel
10 – Phuket & other islands (South Thailand) –
- The southwest island of Phuket is a popular destination for its beaches, but be warned prices are high here due to mass-tourism! It’s not like northern Thailand, where food and transport are still relatively cheap
- Scooter hire is a must for those on a budget, as taxi costs are ridiculously expensive when compared with the rest of Asia!
- Boats to the nearby Islands of ‘Koh Yao Yai’ and ‘Koh Yao Noi’ are cheap from ‘Bang Rong Harbour’ (northwest) costing 200 THB (£4.55 / $6.24) for a speedboat that takes 30 mins each way. Regular boat timetable is available to enjoy a full day out!
- Weather changes from year to year, with November & December being notoriously wet for the past couple of years
- Best time to go is from January/February to April/May, but be warned the climate changes in the South from west to east, so check in advance!!
- Get a Visa-on-Arrival at the airport and extend in Phuket
Other Islands to the East:
- You can reach other islands to the East near Krabi, such as ‘Koh Phi Phi’ and ‘Koh Lanta‘, from ‘Rassada Pier’ in Phuket, for approx. 1-2000 THB (£23 – £45)
- If your intention is to visit ‘Koh Phi Phi’ or ‘Koh Lanta’, go from Krabi for cheaper journeys – check this link for ideas on where to go!
- Other popular islands like ‘Koh Samui’, ‘Koh Tao’ and ‘Koh Phangan’ are also great to visit, especially for Diving, but expect a lot of tourism and hyped prices!
- For a less visited island, when compared to the rest, visit ‘Koh Chang’ (go from Bangkok via Pattaya, or for other specific routes check this link)
- Best time to go for driest beach weather is February, March and April
Blog post about Phuket also coming soon!
– Budget –
- Budget will vary, but you can plan to minimise costs by eating local food
- Try street food, but make sure the food looks fresh!
- Go to local restaurants where locals eat rather than just tourists
- Buy beer or other drinks from supermarkets rather than bars / restaurants
- Get an apartment or room with a kitchenette so you can at least have breakfast
- Or make sure your hotel / type of accommodation includes breakfast!
- Hire a scooter if you feel confident, as this will cut transport costs (always wear a helmet just so you don’t experience any unwanted issues)
- In Thailand you will need an International Driver’s Licence to avoid regular stop-check fines!
– Accommodation –
- Try Airbnb.com or Agoda.com
- In Bali get a shared or private villa with pool (some from £16 or £20 per night – negotiate direct for longer term stay / extend whilst there)
- In Thailand some places have ‘dcondo’ apartments (small, but perfect for 2 people)
- In Vietnam try Agoda.com or Airbnb for best deals
- Check out Guesthouses & Homestays as well, as many aren’t just a room living with a family, but separate buildings/rooms that have been purposely built for guests – usually a lot cheaper!
- You don’t need to book all your nights before you go, as it can be cheaper to book the first few and extend / book direct – especially if exploring various places in one country
– Scooters & Motorbikes –
- Hire a scooter or motorbike to minimise transport costs and get the freedom to explore
- Get your International Driver’s Licence from your country before you travel, which lasts for 12 months, to avoid check-point fines, especially in Thailand
- Wear a helmet at all times to avoid fines and unwanted issues
Check out our post about Riding a Scooter in Asia for Beginners
– Best Airlines for In-Country Travel –
- In country flights are usually cheap (not cheaper, but more convenient than trains or bus journeys sometimes)
- Vietnam –VietJet Air or AirAsia (but VietJet is the best)
- Indonesia –Malindo Air or AirAsia (Malindo gives better / comfier seats, free meal, cushion and blanket, whereas with AirAsia you pay for all extras)
- Thailand –AirAsia (they dominate the market but are cheap / make sure you check that they don’t charge for any extras you haven’t ticked!)
- India –Jet Airways or SpiceJet; best to fly from one state to the next as train journeys can take a long 16-19 hours or more!!
- Japan –Nippon Airways or Air Asia (transport in general isn’t that cheap in Japan)
– Trains –
- Check out this website for trains – Man in seat 61
- Make sure you check seat / carriage prices for 1st class (not like Western 1st class), as they usually offer Aircon and soft seats, or you’ll end up in wooden hard seats and a hot sweaty carriage!
- For sleepers in India get AC2 if you can, as they have bunkbeds with curtains for more privacy (terminology for carriages may vary from state to state)
– Buses –
- Lots of countries have Tourist coaches – check online or go to a bus stop and ask
- In Thailand try Green Line company (Bangkok – Chiang Mai and viceversa) – cheap and only 10 hours (13 by train)
– Luggage and what you really need –
- You really don’t need that much in these destinations, unless you are hiking!
- Hand Luggage is plenty, as you only really need a few items, even if going for longer term
- Recommended for ladies: 2-3 dresses, 2-3 pairs of trousers, 5-6 tops with one long sleeve, 2-3 pairs of shorts and 2-3 pairs of shoes, including FlipFops! This all fits as hand luggage when you use the magic ingredient – Packing Cubes!
- Recommended for men: 4-5 tops incl. singlet vests & t-shirts, 2-3 shirts, 2-3 pairs of trousers, 2-3 pairs of shorts and 2 pairs of shoes, including FlipFlops!
- We can guarantee that you will wear the same things and wash them as you go.
- Bring trainers or Converse type shoes if you want to walk a lot or go to the Gym where you are staying!
- Best tip is to wear any heavy clothing to the Airport so your luggage weighs less – maximum hand luggage weight should be 7 Kilos (you are also allowed another bag, such as handbag or laptop-bag)
We have been travelling for 14 months so far and we only have a 40 Litre Carry-On Backpack each – so take it from us, it can be done!!
We hope we have inspired you to go and explore Asia one day soon! If you have any questions, please feel free to comment and we will try to point you in the right direction!
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