Southeast Asia Itinerary

Southeast Asia Itinerary

Southeast Asia Itinerary

If you hadn’t caught the news yet, I’m back to my original plan of going to Southeast Asia in November.  You can read all about the details here.  I’m not normally this flaky, but I’m extremely happy I went back to my original plan and didn’t let my dreams slip through my fingers.  I’ve put together my initial itinerary for Southeast Asia, but am still working on the details of what all I want to see in each country.  I’m really hoping y’all will have some great suggestions for me.

Central and Northern Thailand


I arrive in Bangkok on November 6th.  I plan on spending about 4 days in the city and then will be heading to volunteer at the Surin Project for a week.

Volunteer with Elephants

The Surin Project is an extension of Elephant Nature Park, but has some noticeable differences.  It’s actually government sanctioned land and the elephants are all owned privately by individuals.  ENP doesn’t ultimately have a decision as to how the elephants are treated so I’m likely to witness mistreatment, but the idea is to show the owners that people will pay to come see the elephants in other ways besides those that require mistreatment.  I know this location won’t be as lighthearted as the other centers, but I think it’s something that needs attention so that’s why I chose there.

Southeast Asia Itinerary


After volunteering, I’ll be brought back to Bangkok.  I want to spend a little bit of time in the ancient capital on my way up further north.

Chiang Mai

For the final two weeks or so of November, I plan on taking the overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and making Chiang Mai my base – taking a Thai cooking class, visiting surrounding areas of Pai, Chiang Rai and so on.


I’ll travel the Mekong Delta from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang, Laos.  Along with Luang Prabang, I also plan on visiting Vang Vieng and Vientiene in Northern Laos.

Line of monks moring alms Luang Prabang Laos

In Southern Laos, I definitely want to visit the Bolavean Plateau, Tat Lo, Savannakhet, 4000 islands and Hmong Village.


I plan on definitely seeing Phnom Penh (and the Genocide Museum), Siem Reap (and Angkor Wat), Kampot (and Bokor Hill Station), Kep, the Killing Fields, and Sihanoukville.  Some other places I have in mind include Ko Rong, Battambang, Otres Beach, Koh Tonsay, and Kratie.

Melbourne, Australia & Auckland, New Zealand

After Cambodia, I’ll be grabbing a flight to Kuala Lumpur, but only long enough to catch a flight to Melbourne.  I’ll be here a few days before catching a connecting flight to Auckland, New Zealand.  I’ll be there a few days before catching a flight to the destination that all this flight hopping is for : Samoa.

Melbourne, Australia by night
Langholm Bay, Manukau Harbour, Auckland, New Zealand, 27 June 2006

On the way back from Samoa, I actually be connecting back through Auckland and Melbourne again with almost a week in each place a piece.


I’ll be spending a little over two weeks in Samoa with one of my best friends from Washington.  She moved back there after I left Washington and we haven’t seen each other in about 3 years.  Very excited for this!



After getting back to SEA, I’ll be catching a flight to Hanoi, Vietnam and exploring Sapa and Halong Bay before heading towards Hue and Hoi An and exploring the best beaches in Vietnam.

The Tonkinese Alps (Sapa, Vietnam)

I’ll make my way south before ending in Ho Chi Minh City

Southern Thailand


I’ll fly from Vietnam to Bangkok for the Songkran Festival and then spend the rest of April in Southern Thailand.  Hello,  beaches!  I plan on spending all of April in Southern Thailand getting my scuba diving certification, lounging on the beach and exploring the national parks.

Longboat on the beach / Krabi / Thailand / 27.01.2011


After being in Southern Thailand for a month, I will be headed to the Philippines.  This is probably the country I know the least amount of information about.  If anyone would like to help me out with ideas, I’d love to hear it.

Philippines – Bohol – Chocolate Hills


Borneo actually consists of three countries : Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

One of the things I’m most excited about here is seeing Orangutans in the wild.

Borneo Sunset

Indonesia & Timor-Leste

After Borneo, I’ll be heading to Indonesia.  I plan on spending a little bit longer here because I won’t lie, I’m probably most excited about Indonesia.  I’m really excited about volcano trekking, Kelimutu Lakes, and getting as off the beaten path as possible.  I really hope to visit Timor-Leste as well if their is time.  I hear the diving is unreal there and not a highly visited destination.

Sunrise at Kelimutu



After Indonesia, I’ll head straight into Singapore where I’ll only probably spend a few days because let’s face it, I’m cheap and Singapore isn’t.  I’m sure while I’m more an outdoors girl, that the city life will be a welcomed exception though for a few days.


After Singapore, Malaysia is next and more than likely my last stop.  I’m excited to see the Batu Caves, Mt Kinabalu, the Petronas Towers, Penang and much more.

Other possibilities include Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, South Korea.

There’s a large possibility plans will change and I’m open to it.

Which places/things/foods would you recommend in these countries?  Which outdoor & adventure specific places/things would you recommend (i.e. National Parks, wildlife opportunities, adventure activities)?

Ashley Hubbard

This Post Has 36 Comments

  1. Cory Lee

    I’m incredibly jelly of this itinerary. Sounds amazing!! When you’re in Melbourne, please do a day trip to the Twelve Apostles along the Great Ocean Road. It’s amaaazing and there are some pretty cheap tour groups you can find. Have fun!!

    1. Ashley Hubbard

      Thanks Cory!! Making note of that as I haven’t planned anything for Melbourne yet 🙂

  2. Katie

    Sounds amazing!! Visiting elephants in Thailand is something near to my heart, so I’m anxious to hear what you think about the Surin Project.

    1. Ashley Hubbard

      Thanks Katie! Really excited about Surin Project myself and share it with others 🙂

  3. Michele {Malaysian Meanders}

    Excellent plan!! I’m impressed at how much you have planned out already. I’ve only been to Elephant Nature Park, so I am interested in reading your report on Surin. I think it’s a very good idea to demonstrate to elephant owners that they can treat their elephants nicely, and people will still pay money to visit. We visited the Orangutan sanctuary outside Kuching, and it was indeed amazing. There’s an equally good one over by Kota Kinabalu. I’ve visited Manila in the Philippines, but I suspect that you are probably going to one of the beachy islands, so I have no advice for that. I am so excited that you are getting to see Songkran. That’s probably my favorite SE Asia festival.

  4. Marissa

    Jealous! This sounds fantastic! I am beyond excited to hear all about each and every one of these destinations.

  5. Molly S

    Amazing itinerary – very jealous of Samoa! Good for you for deciding to go. It’s hard being away from someone you love (I usually travel without my husband) but if it’s your dream then you just have to go with it. Hope it all works out for you!

  6. Sounds amazing Ashley! It makes me excited about my own Asia adventure although it is still a bit over a year away for me. Can’t wait to hear all about your trip as it happens 🙂

  7. Elena@Elena's Travelgram

    Indonesia has amazing diving spots at Raja Ampat and alound the Togian islands! Ger to Sulawesi, which is far more exciting in terms of nature and culture than Bali.

  8. Phoebe @ lou Messugo

    After all the planning and dreaming I’m so pleased for you that you’ve gone back to your original plan. This sounds like a dream itinerary, especially Samoa, Timor Leste and the Philippines (as I’ve not been there, but know the rest well). Can’t wait to follow along. #SundayTraveler

  9. Emma

    I am so jealous. It will be amazing! I have visited a few of the countries on your list, and had a great time! (:

  10. Dennis Kopp

    It’s great to see that you are back to your original plan Ashley! Southeast Asia is well worth a visit and as it seems you have everything quite planned out already. Why don’t you do Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam together? You can do everything easily by bus and then end up in Southern Thailand. From there you can go overland to Malaysia and Singapore. You basically start in Bangkok and end in Singapore, this way you can see much more of the countries and you save on flights… 🙂

    1. Ashley Hubbard

      Thanks Dennis – the only issue is that I am going to Samoa in February so I can’t do all of those in that order (unless I spent a drastically less amount of time in each place). Otherwise, what you’re suggesting is exactly what I would do 🙂

  11. Angelica @BkChickTravels

    You have a major itinerary girl! I hope you have the best time – I specifically want to go to Indonesia one day even though all of Asia calls for me. Some day…

    1. Ashley Hubbard

      I’ll definitely fill you in on Indonesia as I feel like it’s calling me the most too 🙂

  12. Anna | slightly astray

    I’m glad to hear that you’re not giving up on your dream!! I’m going to Southeast Asia this fall as well (mid Oct!). It looks like that we may be in Chiang Mai at about the same time!! Your itinerary sounds amazing! I haven’t heard about the Surin Project, and I applaud your decision to give your time to the elephants there. I hope they will be treated well :(. I’ll have to look into it!

  13. Sammi Wanderlustin'

    Yarg, how amazing!!!

  14. Ashley and Alex

    Sounds like an amazing adventure! I wish we had had that much time in Southeast Asia, 18 days just wasn’t enough! If you are going to head to Phuket I would suggest Rawaii. It was my favorite town we visited in Thailand. It was super laid back, very little tourists and all we did was lay on the beach, eat the best Thai food I have ever had and take longtail boat trips to nearby islands. It was perfection.

  15. Kolbie

    The Philippines! My god, such an amazing country. If you get the time, check out Tao Philippines in Palawan. It’s an incredible trip and worth every penny. Also, while Bohol is an incredibly popular stop, it’s tiny neighbour Siquijor is an amazing little island with old witchcraft practices, gorgeous beaches, waterfalls and a small, quiet vibe. If you get a chance to go diving, Donsol is some of the best in the country, and for some trekking, the hike from Banaue to Batad is fabulous (stay overnight in Batad and hire a guide to trek to some nearby, lesser visited villages). I’ve not been all the way to Sagada but there’s some great hiking there as well. I cannot more highly recommend the Philippines! Dig in, it’s incredible.

  16. Manasi Kumar

    Singapore won’t be super cheap but there are some great foodie spots – these are my favourites.

  17. Mandie @ RamblingMandie

    Holy cow, your itinerary sounds incredible! I’m so jealous about volunteering with elephants. That is a lifelong dream of mine! It will happen, though. 🙂 I’m so impressed at your planning abilities. Will you organize my road trip for me? Haha jk.

  18. Adelina // Pack Me To

    Looks like you’re going to have one fabulous adventure! I’m super excited (and jealous!) for you.

  19. stefanie langley

    I used to work with ENP for a few years back in early 2000. They’re a great project, and the extension at Surin is a worthy cause. Enjoy Chiang Mai! Make sure you spend one night enjoying the restaurants for ‘high society’ at Nimmenhamin Road, and a night of great improv jazz at the North Gate bar.

    If you are planning a visit to the south, head over to Krabi and go rock climbing with us. The world’s mecca for climbing over some of the most beautiful sea cliffs, THAT should definitely be on your itinerary. 🙂

  20. This sounds like such an amazing trip! I have never visited Southeast Asia. I look forward to seeing your updates as you go.

  21. WendyKate

    This looks amazing! You’ll document this all, right? Because I can’t wait to follow along.

  22. becca

    Good for you not giving up and what a beautiful place to travel.

  23. Jenn

    Awesome itinerary! Im so jealous you get to travel for 9 months! I lived in Melbourne for about a year and a half and it is probably one of my favorite cities in the world! and then I just backpacked through SEASIA but flying to China–>HK–>philippines–> Vietnam–>Cambodia–>Laos–>Thailand–> Indo… I loved the Philippines so if you have any questions with any of these places, email me! Id be happy to help!!

  24. Nancie

    Great itinerary. I love the sound of the Surin Project. I have visited ENP and the elephants there are amazing. Chiang Mai has been my winter base for the 8 years or so. Enjoy your stay there!

  25. Todd @ Visit50

    Your SEA trip sounds awesome – did you end up doing this trip already?
    I traveled for a half year on my ATW trip, primarily SE Asia with a random quick stop in the middle east (and some of northern Asia). It’s been a highlight and somehow I’m still writing about the stories and sharing the photography (most recently: Angkor Wat and Petra)

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