South East Asia for beginners

The ultimate beginners travel guide

Dom Simmons

Travelling South East Asia… The ultimate travel guide for Beginners


From my experiences, South East Asia (SEA) is possibly one of the easiest places in the world to travel. I personally ventured through Asia after having done a fair bit of travelling before but if you’re a beginner and thinking of starting some travel adventures of your own, then hopefully I’m here to help! Here is a guide to why Asia is the perfect place to start for the more inexperienced traveller!


You lead the way:


Let me first say; there is no right or wrong route to take around SEA. That’s the beauty and simplicity of it. If you take a look below, it shows the route I took….


Thailand: Bangkok > Koh Samui > Koh Phangan > Koh Tao > Krabi > Koh Phi Phi > Koh Lanta > Bangkok 


From Bangkok I went onto Cambodia


Cambodia: Siem Reap > Battambang > Phnom Penh > Sihanoukville > Koh Rong > Phnom Penh


From Phnom Penh I went onto Vietnam


Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh > Mui Ne > Da Lat > Hoi An > Hue > Nimh Binh > Hanoi > Ha Long Bay > Hanoi > Sapa > Hanoi.


From Vietnam I went onto Sri Lanka but that’s for another post.


This took a total time of about 3 months and like me, many of you will be restricted on time. Due to each country having its own rich and unique culture, I would highly recommend quality over quantity. I certainly wouldn’t rush a particular country in order to squeeze another in. I was meant to include northern Thailand and Laos during my trip but I loved Vietnam so much that I just stayed there longer. At the end of the day, you can always go back, which is what I’ll be doing at some point in the future! Due to everywhere being so accessible, it means you can be really spontaneous with your plans too!





One thing that makes Asia so great for the first time traveller is the fact that getting from one place to another is so simple! These countries are now so well developed for tourism and travel, it’s never been easier. You can venture into one of the many travel agents to organise transport by yourself (be careful you don’t get ripped off). Or if you’re slightly lacking on the confidence front, most, if not all the hostels you stay at will happily arrange travel to your next destination. Whether it is by Tuk Tuk from A to B in the cities, a bus across the border between countries, or a boat to take you from island to island. The best thing about it is that it isn’t just so simple, it’s also super cheap, and that brings me onto my next point…





Cheap as chips:


SEA is super cheap and it can be done on pretty much any budget. Obviously, your personal spending habits come into play here but there were many days I was very happily getting by on £5-10 a day, and that included food, drink, accommodation and more! Being so cheap it’s a great place to start your travel adventures, because in the very unlikely event that you don’t catch that travelling bug; then ultimately you haven’t spent a small fortune in finding out if the travel life is for you.



Safety first:


This is sometimes a big worry of many first time travellers and unfortunately for some reason, there is a stigma over SEA being ‘unsafe’. Of course, it can depend on the individual but I never once felt unsafe or in any sort of danger no matter the time of day or night. As long as you’re street smart and keep your wits about you, you’ll be totally fine. In my opinion, anywhere in the world can be dangerous one-way or another, so you’ve just got to be careful wherever you are.



Speaking the lingo:


Now, I’m rubbish with new languages… and when I say rubbish I am absolutely useless! As mentioned previously though, the great thing about Asia is that they are so used to tourists and travellers alike that the vast majority of them speak English. As you can imagine this makes everything so much easier. So unless you go to a very remote areas that aren’t used to tourists then chances are you’ll be able to have a clear conversation with the locals! 





I could go on and on but from my experiences; the above are definitely my top reasons as to why South East Asia is a great place to start if you are a newbie traveller. Find below my top 3 tips to remember whilst being away and also my top 3 places!


My Top Tips:


Budget – Although Asia is cheap, I would still recommend budgeting. Sometimes as places are so cheap, you feel as though you can literally splash out on anything and everything and at the end of the day they all add up!


Learn the basics – Although, as mentioned, the majority of people you come across will speak good English. This doesn’t stop you from learning the basic pleases and thank you’s. I found the locals really appreciate the effort and also if you know just a bit of the lingo then you’ve got less chance of being ripped off at the markets or for Tuk Tuks! 


Go off the beaten track – There are many set places that everyone visits when in Asia, however, if you get the opportunity, go off the beaten track a little bit. In most cases, it may be a bit more daunting but you will really get to experience the real side of the country your visiting.






My Top Recommendations: 


Thailand – From the places I visited, not many beat Koh Tao. It is a very small island but had it all from beaches and viewpoints to clear blue waters and thick jungle. I personally didn’t partake but Koh Toa is also known for its awesome diving, whether you’re a beginner or looking for your PADI! It’s certainly a more chilled island than the likes of Koh Phangnan (home of the full moon party) but what it somewhat lacks in the party it makes up for in everything else.


Cambodia – Without a doubt, it would have to be Koh Rong. I loved it so much I ended up staying there for 6 days instead of 3! Again a very chilled island with some good walks and beaches. Just check the time of year as in peak season the parties are amazing but are supposedly a little dead in the off-season.


Vietnam – Sapa would probably top my list. Vietnam is such an awesome country with so many cool things to see and do. Sapa is in the mountainous region north of Hanoi and you can really get to see the Vietnamese peoples way of life by walking through the villages and the surrounding rice paddies.


Thanks, Dom. 




To keep up to date with Dom's travels check out his blog at Doms Discoveries and follow his Instagram doms_discoveries


For more information on how to keep safe whilst travelling please check out our health and advice section. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced traveller it's always good to be well prepared, check out our ultimate travel checklist and esentials before you go. These will put your mind at rest and make travelling preparation a lot less stressful! We hope this blog has inspired you to travel South East Asia, feel free to ask any questions or tell us about your experience in the comments below. 


Safe and happy travels! 


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