I love South East Asia: The 10 countries making up ASEAN have so much to offer – from getaways to white beaches to exciting cities; from untouched nature and wildlife to stunning historical sights there is so much to see. And the different countries are as different as European ones, making it worth spending time in each of them! I utilized the ASEAN air pass from AirAsia for a bargain trip, criss-crossing ASEAN! Read on to find out about all the destinations I visited!
You can find the outline of my trip below – just click on the links to read more about each of the destinations, the things to see & do and the hotels I stayed at!
Manila: I currently live in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, making it the start of my trip. Manila is the gateway to over 7,000 islands, with beautiful beaches like Coron or Boracay! You can see the interesting, Spanish colonial architecture at Fort Santiago or San Agustin or indulge in shopping at the many malls, like Greenbelt or BCG High Street and in eating some of the best food in Asia! And all of that at bargain prices, making it accessible for anyone!
Kota Kinabalu is the capital of Sabah province in Malaysia. It’s the jumping off point to exploring the tropical rainforest in the Danum Valley conservation area, Mount Kinabalu, the Sepilok Orang Utan rehabilitation centre as well as beaches. This was my second trip to KK with a chance to see some favorite and some new sights!
Kuching is the capital of Sarawak. It used to run a tourism campaign as the home of the head hunters, but that didn’t work so well with tourists. With Bako National Park, the Kuching Wetlands and the Semenggoh Orang Utan center there is a lot to see in easy reach of the city!
Kuala Lumpur is the bustling capital of Malaysia and I have been a few times. It will be a short stop-over on this first leg – because it is Air Asia’s largest hub and some of my destinations require connections. It will give me a chance to try out a few more hotels and to report on those!
Surat Thani is the capital of one of the Southern provinces (of the same name) in Thailand and sits on the Gulf of Thailand. Most tourists come here to visit Ko Samui and the surrounding islands for the beautiful beaches, scuba diving – or full moon parties!.
Bangkok, the City of Angels,is one of my favorite cities in Asia and I have visited many times. There is a lot to see for the first time visitor, like the Grand Palace, the many temples or a trip on the Chao Phraya River! Many return over and over, to enjoy the food and endless malls! It’s a fun city and these days, I enjoy just “living” in Bangkok, if only for a few days! Bangkok is also a hub for AirAsia, with many flights to domestic and international destinations!
Penang is an island in the North-West of Malaysia with the very charming colonial Georgetown as well as some nice beaches. It’s known as a food mecca – making it worth going back and enjoying the laid-back vibe and good food!
Medan is the capital of North Sumatra and the largest Indonesian city outside Java. Sumatra has a special ring to me since I was a kid and has a long history. I expect to see few other foreign visitors and while that makes travel a little more difficult, it will also make for a very different experience than visiting Jakarta or Bali.
Lombok is a beautiful beach destination that has been on my list ever since my first visit to Indonesia in 2000! At the end of this long trip, some relaxing beach time is well deserved. And the onward travel by ferry to Bali is a nice change of pace from all the AirAsia flights!
Bali is one of the best known beach destinations in Asia and I have been a few times. What makes it special though is that it has so much more to offer: from the amazing historic sights to relaxing among the rice paddies of tranquil Ubud! Throw in some great food, entertainment and nice hikes – and you have a great vacation for different interests!
This whirlwind trip across the region highlighted a lot of the diversity you can find across ASEAN – the people, food, nature and history – so much in common, yet so different! From buzzing cities to relaxed places, easy to get stuck in! And all of that is available at bargain prices, even for luxurious hotels and meals! Check out the links above for more information or read my posts ASEAN Explorer by the numbers to see just how cheap it can be! I managed to spend only $30/night even though I stayed at some luxury hotels (read how in hotel cost) and less than $30 per flight (read how in airfare cost). If you want to go yourself, you can still make use of the AirAsia ASEAN pass – check out my Top 10 Tips to make the pass work for you.