SE Asia Travel Advice

Now that we’ve been traveling for 3 months, I wanted to write up some general advice/insight.


  • our favorite site for finding a wide range of lodging, and best search filter options
  • Best way to find a condo with a full kitchen, which is really nice once in a while
  • Great offline maps app
  • Kayak: My favorite app for finding cheap flights
  • Google maps: Learn to use the ‘save for offline use’ and ‘starred locations’ features.
  • Uber/Grab: often cheaper than regular taxi’s, and you dont have to haggle. I prefer the Uber interface, as Grab sometimes got the locations wrong.
  • Google Translate
  •  Several of our favorite tours/classes were booked thru this web site. They specialize in ‘unusual’ activities. has some good tours too. Some cities also have good AirBNB ‘experiences’.

Depending on exactly where you plan to go, you don’t need warm clothes. The most important thing is a good pair of shoes that can get wet and dry quickly. I LOVE my Keen Newport sandals, which are perfect in SE Asia. Pharmacies are everywhere and seem to carry every thing, so don’t worry about stocking up on meds. Bring a spoon and a small food storage box for leftovers. Help cut down on plastic bottle use and bring a water filter! A small roller bag is all you need. Laundry is cheap and easy everywhere. Usually about $1 per kilo. A good day pack is very helpful, as well as a small shoulder bag. A small Bluetooth speaker is nice if you want to listen to music in your room from your phone.

Here is really all you need in terms of clothing: 4 shirts, 2 pair shorts, 1 long pants, 4 underwear, 2 pair socks (in general you wont be wearing socks), 1 light jacket, Sun hat.

How to not burn out on a long trip

  1. Spend at least 1 day / week doing as little as possible. Just read, research your next destination, watch TV, etc.
  2. Try to spend at least 5 days in each city. Travel days are the most tiring, so try not to have too many of those.
  3. Try to get a place with a kitchen at least 1 week/month. Eating in restaurants all the time gets old. AirBNB is a good source for places with a kitchen.


In general here is what we have been spending in South East Asia:

  • Lodging: $20-30/night, mostly a room with AC in a small guesthouses, often includes breakfast
  • Local food: $1-$2 per meal
  • budget tourist food: $2-$4 per meal (places with English menu, and western options)
  • Taxi: $2 for 1-2 miles
  • Beer: $1-$2, cocktails: $3-5. (More in Malaysia, as taxes are higher. Less in Cambodia, where taxes are lower)
  • full day guided tours/trips: $20-$100, depending on on the tour
  • Flights: $50-$130 to get around within SE Asia. Anything over a 6 hour bus ride we flew instead.

Its also easy to spend $100 night for fancy 4-star lodging and $30-$50 for overpriced international cuisine if thats what you prefer, but why?

Mobile Data Options

  • Get a local SIM card: you can get a local SIM card with a reasonable data limit for $5-$10 everywhere, but then you have a new phone number in each country
  • Project Fi: works in 170 countries, $10/GB for data, unlimited text messages, $.20/min for voice calls
    • Advantages: It ‘just works’ almost everywhere in theory. In Vietnam it did not work, and while it was supposed to work in Laos, it didn’t. We could send text messages, but no internet. They added Myanmar just before we arrived.
    • Disadvantages: Must use one of 2 fairly expensive Android phones, and I really prefer IOS to Android.

We went with Project Fi, as we where going so many places and transiting thru Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur a couple times. It was really nice to not have to worry about getting/changing the SIM card all the time. Our monthly total cost for 2 people averaged around $70. But local SIMS are a lot cheaper. If you are just going to couple countries, I’d go with that option.

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