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Looking for the best Southeast Asia backpacking route? With so much to see and do in this region of the world, it can be hard figuring out how long to spend here and where to go! To help you get an idea of how much you can see with 3 months in Southeast Asia, take a look at the backpacking route I took across Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

How to Spend 3 Months Backpacking Southeast Asia: The Ultimate Backpacking Itinerary | The Wanderful Me Travel Blog

Psst, this post contains affiliate links. Read our disclosure.

Backpacking Southeast Asia was hands down one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. Building up the courage to jump on a plane by myself and backpack solo around the countries of Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam completely changed who I was and irrevocably impacted the person I am today! (In, like, the best way possible.)

If you’re considering a Southeast Asia backpacking trip and wondering if it’s the right decision, this is your sign.

This is your sign to reserve that plane ticket, pack up your bags, and get your butt over to Southeast Asia for the wild ride that is backpacking this wondrous region of the world! Not to mention, it’s the BEST for those who want to backpack and travel long-term on a small budget.

In the sections below, I’m covering how I spent 3 months backpacking Southeast Asia, including what countries I went to, how much time I spent in each, and the places I visited in each country.

Don’t forget to read my 4-part guide on everything you need to know about backpacking Southeast Asia! Part 1 shares how to prepare for your trip, part 2 dives into what you should expect when there, part 3 explores budgeting and saving money, and part 4 covers all the miscellaneous must-know tips!


You’ll find the countries of Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam on this 3 month Southeast Asia itinerary, as well as some of the top cities to visit, like Bangkok, Siem Reap, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City.

This itinerary could be considered the so-called “Banana Pancake Trail” but with a little twist, as it starts in Bali, which I think is a must-visit in Asia!

Also, don’t miss out on reading to the bottom! I’m including some of my favorite tips on how to best backpack Southeast Asia for a ridiculously awesome trip.

Sophie on a scooter in the region of Sapa in Vietnam. | 3 Month Southeast Asia Backpacking Route

Bali, Indonesia

First things first — where the heck do you fly into?

Well, personally, I bought a one-way flight from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Denpasar in Bali, Indonesia. It costs me around $600 for a one-way flight from Minnesota to Bali.

(Psst, I always use Skyscanner to book my flights! It’s one of the BEST sites I use to score cheap flights.)

As someone who was yearning to visit Bali, I found this was the best place to start my 3 months in Southeast Asia. Not to mention, flying from Bali to the rest of Southeast Asia is pretty simple, too, as it’s become a major destination among travelers.

Waterfall near Ubud in Bali, Indonesia, a must-visit when you're backpacking Southeast Asia for three months.

While in Bali, I spent 3 weeks here and traveled to:

  • Kuta/Seminyak (3 nights) — awesome nightlife and restaurants
  • Canggu (5 nights) — discovered the amazing vegan food here!
  • Ubud (4 nights) — incredible waterfalls and awesome day trips
  • Amed (3 nights) — fantastic for snorkeling and low-key beach days
  • Gili T (5 nights) largest of the 3 Gili Islands; super chill, good food, great nightlife, and even better snorkeling
  • Nusa Penida + Nusa Dua (day trip from Kuta) — exceptional islands off the Bali coast that are perfect for snorkeling, kayaking, and boating around

Some of my favorite places I stayed on the island of Bali include The Hostel Canggu, Green Paddy Hostel & Villa in Ubud (amazing atmosphere and pool!), and Voodoo Gili on Gili Trawangan (fabulous pool and friendly owners).

For more info on traveling Bali, check out these posts — 10 essential things to pack for Bali, where to find the best vegan food in Canggu, and my first 36 hours in Bali, Indonesia.

A particularly beautiful sunset in Canggu, Bali, while I was backpacking Southeast Asia for three months.


After spending 3 weeks traveling around Bali, Indonesia, I flew from Denpasar to Bangkok, Thailand, and spent 2 weeks hopping around its islands.

(On my most recent visit, I spent 3 weeks in northern and southern Thailand — you can check out that itinerary here!)

One of my absolute favorite countries to visit, Thailand boasts beautiful beaches, wondrous temples, gorgeous landscapes, amazing people, awesome vegan cooking classes, and even more delicious food!

One of the many great viewpoints on the island of Koh Phi Phi in Southern Thailand, a must-visit destination when planning your 3 month Southeast Asia route.

When mapping out my route around Thailand, I initially planned on doing the southern region and then heading on up to spend 10 days in northern Thailand… however, fate got in the way and I ended up following a newfound love interest to Laos after just two weeks here!

(Hint: this love interest is now my British husband, Dan! So I’d say it worked out. 😉 )

Anyways, in the two weeks I spent in Thailand, I visited:

  • Bangkok (4 nights; split between two visits) — exceptional nightlife, food scene, and cultural highlights
  • Krabi (2 nights) — great base for exploring nearby attractions and islands; good nightlife
  • Koh Phi Phi (3 nights) — party central, beautiful views, and good restaurants
  • Koh Tao (3 nights) — awesome snorkeling, beautiful beaches, fun nightlife, and stunning viewpoints
  • Koh Phangan (2 nights) — *for the half moon party, which was incredible (you could also do the full moon party if planned right)

Also, it’s important to know I opted for bus transportation between Bangkok and southern Thailand, which is about a 16-20 hour ride. I was backpacking Southeast Asia on a budget and this was the most cost-effective option!

If you’re wanting to speed things up and you have the monetary means, taking a plane is also an option.

(That said, if you’re aiming to be a more sustainable traveler, bus transportation is the way to go!)

Regarding accommodations, there’s not many places I can recommend. However, here are some places I wish I would have stayed! As they all have raving reviews from fellow Southeast Asia backpackers.

These accommodations include The LOL Elephant Hostel (Bangkok), Pop-In Ao Nang Hostel (Krabi/Ao Nang), JJ Bungalow (Koh Phi Phi), Koh Tao Heritage (Koh Tao), Hideout Hostel (Koh Phangan), Maitria Hotel Sukhumvit 18 Bangkok (Dan and I did personally splurge and stayed here! It was fantastic).

Sophie swimming in the gorgeous green-blue waters near Koh Phi Phi island in southern Thailand. Definitely do a snorkeling trip here when you're traveling Southeast Asia for 3 months!

Not sure what to pack? Check out my packing guides! I have one on 10 odd essentials I never travel without, my favorite zero waste packing essentials, best chemical-free and zero waste sunscreen, and what to wear (and NOT wear) in Thailand.


After backpacking around Thailand for two weeks, I headed to Laos and spent around one and a half weeks there!

This country was a top destination highlight on my 3 month Southeast Asia backpacking trip, as it completely surpassed my expectations!

The incredible Kuang Si Falls in Luang Prabang, Laos. A must-visit when planning your Southeast Asia travel route.

With 1.5 weeks in Laos, I traveled to:

  • Luang Prabang (3 nights) — Kuang Si waterfall, Mekong Delta boat rides, temples and palaces, and incredible cultural activities and attractions
  • Vang Vieng (5 nights) — incredible landscapes, caves, blue lagoons, temples, and river tubing
  • Vientiane (2 nights) — stunning temples, incredible markets, Buddha statue park, and amazing museums

To find out more about what I did with my time in Laos, read these similar posts on two weeks in Laos, the best things to do in Vang Vieng, and top things to do in Vientiane!

You’ll find some good Southeast Asia backpacking inspiration and tips reading that content.

Some great places to stay throughout Laos include La Casa Hostel (Luang Prabang), Vang Vieng Backpackers Hostel (Vang Vieng), Sailomyen Hostel (Vientiane).

Doing the infamous tubing down the


Following my jaunt in Laos exploring its major destinations of Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, and Vientiane, I went to Cambodia and spent around one and a half weeks there as well!

While in this magical country, I visited:

  • Siem Reap (4 nights) — Angkor Wat, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and cool cultural attractions
  • Phnom Penh (3 nights) — amazing temples, bumping nightlife, pristine palaces, awesome markets, and lots of great food stops
  • Sihanoukville (3 nights) — day trip to the pristine island of Koh Rong, great nightlife, fun boat trips, and a relaxing beach atmosphere

Sounds pretty amazing, eh?

If you’re backpacking Southeast Asia and plan on visiting Cambodia, I highly recommend adding Angkor Wat at sunrise to your bucket list! As well as Sihanoukville or the island of Koh Rong for a relaxing beach getaway.

And don’t forget to read my blog post on the things you must know before traveling to Cambodia!

For places to stay, I recommend Lub d Cambodia Siem Reap, Onederz Hostel (Phnom Penh), and the Villa Blue Lagoon (Sihanoukville).

Sunset on the coastal town of Sihanoukville in Cambodia!

Plan on staying in a lot of hostels? Don’t forget to read my post on must-have hostel essentials every traveler needs to have on their packing list!


Vietnam is the country I spent the most time in when backpacking Southeast Asia for 3 months. Considering this country is so long, it can take a while to get from destination to destination! Especially if using buses as the main mode of transportation, which I did.

The gorgeous Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, a bucket list destination for many backpackers when traveling Southeast Asia for 3 months.

So to make sure I had enough time to see the best of what Vietnam had to offer, I spent 30 days here and explored the following destinations:

  • Hanoi (3 nights) — discover the best things to do in Hanoi here
  • Sapa (3 nights) — amazing hiking, motorbiking opportunities, and lovely locals (read this post on my top Sapa tips before heading there)
  • Halong Bay (2 nights) — wondrous landscapes filled with karst limestone mountains and beautiful blue bays
  • Ninh Binh (2 nights) — known as the “Halong Bay of Inland Vietnam”; gorgeous scenery, temples and boat rides
  • Phong Nha (3 nights) — incredible caves to visit, mountains, hiking opportunities and backpacker nightlife
  • Hue (2 nights) — known as “Vietnam’s Imperial City” with museums, temples, and more; also has an abandoned waterpark that is so cool to visit
  • Hoi An (3 nights) — magical town known for its lanterns and beautiful architecture; also has lovely beaches
  • Da Lat (3 nights) — great for unique temples, waterfalls, motorbike adventures, coffee plantations, and incredible canyoning experiences
  • Mui Ne (3 nights) — sand dunes, lovely beaches, a magical fairy stream, and unique landscapes
  • Ho Chi Minh City (4 nights) — incredible nightlife and sky bars, bustling markets, fantastic museums, historic sites and attractions, and some really cool architecture
One of the many little streets in Hanoi, Vietnam. This city was a favorite of mine while backpacking Southeast Asia for 3 months!

For more information on a Vietnam itinerary and backpacking trip, read my post on how to spend one month in Vietnam! Near the bottom of the post, you can find my top Vietnam travel tips, how much it costs to backpack Vietnam, and more.

Additionally, check out my other posts on Vietnam…

Wondering where to stay in Vietnam?

Here are some of the top places I bunked at — Vietnam Backpackers Hostel – Downtown (Hanoi), The Little Hmong House Homestay (Sapa), Trang An Eco Homestay (Ninh Binh), Central Backpackers Hostel (Phong Nha), Azumi Villa (Hoi An), Mui Ne Hills Backpackers, and The Hangout Hostel Saigon (HCMC).

Viewpoint in Ninh Binh, Vietnam, a destination that's growing in popularity among backpackers on a 3-month Southeast Asia trip.

After traveling throughout Vietnam, I then caught a flight out of Ho Chi Minh City to my next destination, which was the UK and then back home to Minnesota!

Ho Chi Minh City is a nice destination to end your 3 month Southeast Asia backpacking trip because it’s quite a big hub that’s easy to fly out of.

Furthermore, I want to mention that this Southeast Asia backpacking route is simply an outline you can use for inspiration on how to plan your own amazing trip!

If you end up liking one destination more, stay there a bit longer! Don’t like a place as much or not feeling the vibe? Get outta there and go to your next stop!

One great thing about booking your accommodations through or Agoda (which are my favorite booking sites) is that you often get free cancellation. This means you can have a more flexible plan!

The amazing destination of Sapa, Vietnam, a favorite of mine on this 3-month backpacking route!

Anyways, I’m a big fan of Southeast Asia and as someone who typically travels on a budget, this region of the world is incredibly affordable for many backpackers! So that’s always a win in my book.

To help you plan for your trip even more, check out these posts:

Curious to know what camera I use to take my photos while backpacking? I always travel with a Sony A7 Mirrorless camera and GoPro camera! They’re both lightweight and compact, and fit great in my carry-on travel bags.

My Top Tips for Backpacking Southeast Asia

Last but not least, it’s important to follow a few of my top Southeast Asia backpacking tips.

#1 — ALWAYS Get Travel Insurance

Southeast Asia can be an unpredictable and sometimes dangerous place. You never know what can happen when backpacking so it’s important to cover your ass by getting comprehensive travel insurance.

I recommend either World Nomads (I used them for my 3 month Southeast Asia backpacking trip) or SafetyWing (I use them now for shorter trips).

#2 — Check if You Need a Visa

Many countries in Southeast Asia require visitors to have a certain visa.

This depends on what country you’re from but from what I can remember, all countries on this 3 month Southeast Asia backpacking itinerary require visitors who hold a passport from the USA, Canada, or the UK to have a visa that you must pay for.

I recommend using iVisa for both checking if you need a certain visa and actually getting the right visa through them. They’re online visa process is super simple and completely affordable! Not to mention, it takes off the stress of getting it at the border or in the airport.

Check out iVisa here. Or use the widget below to put in your specific information!

#3 — Use Common Sense

If you’re a young backpacker in Southeast Asia, it can be tempting to slip into the Southeast Asia oblivion and get caught up in the partying, wild rides, and oftentimes, the drugs.

However, I recommend using your common sense and doing only what you know you can handle!

This doesn’t mean skipping out on all the fun — I would never do that myself! I just want to stress that you should not simply do what everyone else is doing. Only do what feels comfortable to you and make sure to stay safe!

For example, I went too far in Vang Vieng, Laos, and did some very sketchy drugs. It was NOT fun and I would not recommend it to anyone. I failed to listen to my intuition or common sense and it could have ended really badly. Thankfully, nothing went wrong but that experience still haunts me!

Alright, with those top tips and my 3 month Southeast Asia backpacking route above, you can start planning your own backpacking trip here ASAP!

Tell me, are you wanting to backpack Southeast Asia for 3 months, or are you wanting to spend a shorter/longer amount of time there? Do you have any other questions for me? Stick your thoughts and Qs in the comment section below!

Sophie xx

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