The world has an incredible number of exciting places to offer. It can almost be difficult to decide where the journey should go. If this is the first time you are going on a long journey, it can be even more difficult to find out which countries are obvious to visit and where the planning should begin.
We have created the article series “Backpacking for beginners” to help you. We give you three articles with three strong suggestions on where to go with your backpacker backpack. Including what you need to be aware of before you travel and what you need to experience at the various destinations. Initially, we travel to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Read below.
When it comes to backpacking, Southeast Asia is the perfect choice. This is where many choose to travel for the first time they are going on a longer trip. It is good to think in safety when traveling, especially if this is the first time you are going away. Here, Southeast Asia is a safe choice as they have a large tourism industry. It is important that you as a beginner in backpacking do not get too far away from civilization. In addition, Thailand in particular is a well-developed country compared to the surrounding Asian countries.
In addition, you get a lot of travel for the money in Asia. You can travel about three times as far in Asia as you can travel for the same money in, say, the United States or Australia. This can be an important point for you, especially if you have worked hard and long to save up for your dream trip.
We start in Thailand. When you travel from Denmark, it is most obvious to fly from Kastrup to Bangkok. If you are lucky enough to find a direct flight, the trip takes just under 12 hours. However, a stop along the way will often be necessary.
There are some things to be aware of before leaving for Thailand . The most important thing is that you need to have a visa if you are going to be in the country for more than 30 days. In addition, you must be vaccinated before entering Thailand – the vaccines apply to all three countries in this composition of trip . Vaccination against diphtheria and hepatitis A is required, regardless of the length of your trip. Other vaccines depend on how long you have to be in the country. You can read all the information at the link above. However, we always recommend that you consult a doctor.
The currency of Thailand is Bath, which is the Thai krone. Bath is abbreviated BTH, and 5 BTH corresponds to 1 Danish krone. The usual form of payment in Thailand is cash. You can advantageously withdraw a little Bath from home, so you do not have to stand in line at an ATM on the first day.
Bangkok – Thailand’s colorful capital
When you land in Bangkok, it is obvious to spend a few days going out to experience the city. There are plenty of sights in the big city, so it’s a good idea to decide in advance what you would like to experience.
There are a number of experiences that are obvious when visiting Bangkok. Here is a small selection of sights, in random order:
- Wat Pho Temple , one of Bangkok’s oldest and largest temples. It is best known for its large, gold Buddha. It is a good idea to arrive as early in the day as possible – many tourists come.
- Floating markets are, as the name suggests, a market on rivers. Here you can be inspired by beautiful colors and the scent of flowers, fruit and traditional Thai food, which spreads as you sail down the river. It can be a good idea to book a trip in advance .
- Rooftop bars . The most popular rooftop bar in Bangkok has to be Sky bar . Here you can have drinks to one of the city’s absolute best views. It pays to think twice about your attire before heading to the bar; they do not let you in if you are not presentable.
Islands of Thailand
Once you have finished experiencing Bangkok, the next stop will typically be to head out to the Gulf of Thailand, which houses some of Thailand’s most popular islands. Here you can either take a big boat or a ferry, which you get to by taking the night train from Bangkok. It will typically be a journey of 14-15 hours.
The island which is known for its full moon parties – a popular point on the trip for many backpackers. The northern part of the island offers beautiful nature, while in the southern part you can satisfy any urge for a good party. The party, however, sticks to the southern tip of the island, and the island also offers jungle and mountains. If you have several days in a row on the island, you can see the whole island. There are plenty of opportunities to go around the island by mountain bike, where you can cycle to the island’s national park and swim in waterfalls. On Koh Phangan there is also ample opportunity to snorkel and see colorful corals.
About 20 kilometers south of Koh Phangan lies Koh Samui, which is Thailand’s second largest island. It is an island with several tourists, due to its size – for the same reason the island also has an airport to which you can choose to fly from Bangkok. Koh Samui is especially known for its white sandy beaches. Chaweng Beach is especially worth a visit. The beach stands as the image of a bounty island with its five kilometers long, white sandy beach, turquoise-blue water and palm trees. You can on right down on the beach in either bamboo huts, bungalows or in luxury hotels. On Koh Samui there is both gourmet food and the opportunity to eat the food of the local fishermen.
If you are looking for one of the best places in the world to dive, then go to Koh Tao. There are plenty of opportunities for both diving and snorkeling on the island, where you can explore corals in the clear water and see lots of life below the water surface. You can take a boat trip out into the bay where the water is shallow, making it obvious to experience the beautiful corals. There is also plenty of life to explore on land, as Koh Tao also offers both cliffs and lively jungle. You get a calm and cozy atmosphere on Koh Tao, which will definitely get you down in gear after Bangkok’s breathtaking atmosphere and full moon party on Koh Phangan.
When you travel from Thailand, we suggest that the next country on your trip is Cambodia. The country holds a lot of cool experiences and it is, like Thailand, an obvious destination for backpackers.
You must have a visa to enter Cambodia. You are covered by the same vaccinations that you have been given to enter Thailand when you come to Cambodia, as long as you do not stay in the country for more than a month. However, we always recommend that you consult a doctor.
The currency in Cambodia is the Riel, which is abbreviated KHR. You can not change to Riel in advance, you can only do so once you have landed in Cambodia. We recommend that you have some US dollars in large banknotes with you, which you can exchange on entry . It can be nice to have a little local currency, but in the vast majority of cases it will also be possible for you to pay with US dollars.
There are generally an incredible number of sights to experience in Southeast Asia. It can seem overwhelming if you do not prepare a little in advance. Cambodia is a relatively poor country, but you can easily get a lot of cool experiences anyway. You can easily set aside a week or two to experience Cambodia. It will typically depend on how long you stay Angkor Wat.
Siem Reap – Angkor Wat
When you come to Cambodia, you will typically land in Siem Reap, which is a popular place for backpackers. Here lies one of the seven wonders of the world; Angkor Wat. The great temple complex is a huge national pride for Cambodia, and a point on your journey that is a must-see.
There is lots of beautiful scenery in the area around Angkor Wat. There are plenty of opportunities for cool walks and several cultural sights and monuments, which are definitely worth a visit.
Phnom Penh – Cambodia’s capital of millions
We would then recommend that you continue your journey to Phnom Penh – the capital of Cambodia. The city is huge, with two million inhabitants, and offers both culture and history.
When you go to Southeast Asia, it is almost difficult to avoid the “infamous” markets where sellers try to sell you goods of any shade. In Phnom Penh we would recommend you to visit the Russian market. Bring cash and be ready to haggle over the price.
It probably comes as no surprise that the food culture in Southeast Asia is quite special. However, it is not so often that the Cambodian dishes are allowed to step forward because the neighbors in Thailand and Vietnam take the stage. That does not mean that going to Cambodia is not a culinary experience. The country’s primary ingredients are rice and fresh fish. If you are a little unsure where to go to taste local, traditional Cambodian food, you can book a food tour .
Once you are done exploring the big city life, we would recommend that you head out to the water in Sihanoukville. The city is a party place for backpackers. In addition, there are rich opportunities for diving and snorkeling, where you can see beautiful corals and exotic fish. The area offers beautiful, white sandy beaches, delicious seafood and can serve as a base for visits to the surrounding islands .
We can recommend visiting Koh Rong, a beautiful paradise island where everyday life takes place at a quiet pace. Here you can take a few days of relaxation on the beach, and get a beautiful experience if you swim in the dark. There are seaweed and algae that “pop” like shooting stars when you touch them. The island also offers wild nature and bars and restaurants with delicious food.
We have gathered even more knowledge about Cambodia in our blog post about backpacking in Cambodia and top three attractions .
Are you ready to move on? We would recommend that you take from Sihanoukville back to Phnom Penh, from where you hop on a bus towards Vietnam. You can travel by bus from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam’s largest city), which is a five-hour ride.
Five tips for the backpacker beginner in Southeast Asia
- Investigate the practicalities from home – it makes your trip much easier
- It is important to show respect and humility to the locals
- Spread your money over several bags
- Choose the right backpack and pack it right – you have to carry your luggage for large parts of the trip
- Keep track of your travel insurance and your vaccines
When you travel to Vietnam, you must have decided in advance whether to stay in the country for less than 15 days . The number of days is decisive for whether you need a visa. If you are in the country for less than 15 days, you do not need a visa. However, there are other rules that apply; your passport must be valid for a minimum of 6 months from entry, and you must have a return ticket in advance, which has departure before 15 days have passed.
The currency in Vietnam is Dong, abbreviated VND. It is not possible to exchange to Dong at home from Denmark, but you can exchange US dollars to Dong when you come to Vietnam. You can, as in Cambodia, also pay with US dollars in many places in the country.
You are covered by the vaccines you received before leaving Denmark, as long as you do not stay in the country for more than a month. However, we always recommend that you consult a doctor.
Ho Chi Minh City
The city is Vietnam’s largest and it may seem chaotic at first meeting. It is also one of the most popular cities for backpackers, so we would of course recommend you to start your journey in Vietnam here.
You can advantageously visit Chinatown, which is a large conglomeration of temples, restaurants and ornaments. Of course, there is plenty of opportunity to eat delicious, Vietnamese food – the main ingredients here are fish sauce, soy, coconut milk and the spices lemongrass and coriander. As in the other two countries, there is ample opportunity to get delicious, traditional food at various street foods.
Hanoi – The capital of Vietnam
There is plenty to offer in Hanoi and you can easily spend several days here. It is cheap to live and eat in Hanoi and it is especially known for the place where you can eat lots of delicious bowls of national dish pho. Hanoi is a big city but it can be easily forgotten as buildings are low and are in the style of French colony. There is a sense of village in the city, and although Hanoi is the capital, there is a completely different vibe here than in vibrant Ho Chi Minh City.
There are lots of temples, as in the other two countries. Quan Su is one of the most important temples in the country which is well worth a visit when in Hanoi. You can see large parts of the city by taking a bicycle taxi around. You will also find many museums in Hanoi – we can generally recommend that you have your desire for culture and history.
You must treat yourself to a boat trip to Halong Bay, which is a huge tourist attraction. The bay is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site . There are more than 3000 small islands around the greenish water, which you can see and visit from a mini cruise. The bay is huge, and on some boat trips it is possible to take a boat trip into the caves. Halong Bay is beautiful sight that we highly recommend you to see.
There will be many tourists, but it will primarily be felt on and around the quay.