10 of the Best Backpacking Southeast Asia Tours

10 of the Best Backpacking Southeast Asia Tours

Backpacking Southeast Asia is really the adventure of a lifetime. Southeast Asia is not a large region, but it’s packed with beauty, diversity and once in a lifetime experiences and each country has its very own charm, history, culutre and character. So its not surprising that backpacking Southeast Asia has been almost a rite of passage and a favourite route for decades, with travellers coming from all over the world to lay on the beautiful beaches, eat the fantastic cuisine, see the wondrous sights and scenery and meet the wonderful local people.

There’s so much to see and do in Southeast Asia that a first time traveller can easily be quite overwhelmed, not only on how to see the most with limited time but also with the logistics of getting around multiple countries, especially if its your first time backpacking or you are going alone. Luckily there are many great  backpacking Southeast Asia tours that allow you to see the best this amazing region has to offer while also ensuring you will have a safe, easy, fun and hassle free trip and make new friends.

There are 11 separate countries in SE Asia, with Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam being the most popular spots for backpacking Southeast Asia tours because they’re very easy to travel between.  I think Thailand is the best country for a first time backpacking Southeast Asia trip. But there’s also Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines, as well as the less travelled Brunei, Myanmar and East Timor. Regardless, all countries in the region are fantastic and make backpacking Southeast Asia something that most travellers will never forget.

There are many great companies that offer amazing Southeast Asia tours but the ones I mention here are special tours run by my favourite companies that are specifically aimed at backpackers and young travellers. My all time favourite tour companies; G Adventures and Intrepid both run award winning, adventurous, fun, socially responsible and affordable small group backpacking Southeast Asia tours. Contiki also are really well known for their fun backpacker tours specially made for 18 – 35’s. You can also compare itineraries, reviews and prices from loads of different tour companies and find great deals on Tour Radar – check out this page where you can get 60 % off Asia tours.  If you’re just visiting Thailand then check out my favourite Thailand tours here.

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If you are thinking of taking a longer Southeast Asia backpacking trip but are feeling a little daunted its a good idea to take a short Southeast Asia tour first so you can relax into your trip, gain confidence and meet new friends. I’ve organised my favourite Southeast Asia tours by length so you just have to decide how much time you have, where you want to go and which tour is right for you …

10 of the Best Backpacking Southeast Asia Tours

Here are my favourite backpacking Southeast Asia tours, separated into 2 categories; less than 1 month and over 1 month. Because there are so many different destinations to visit when backpacking Southeast Asia it’s best to go on Southeast Asia tours that are over 1 month if you have enough time to spare – you won’t regret spending a month in this amazing region!

However if you don’t have a lot of time for backpacking Southeast Asia and want to see as much as you can there are also some amazing Southeast Asia tours that last less than 1 month but beware that this will only be enough time to explore a couple of countries. 

The Best Backpacking Southeast Asia Tours Less Than 1 Month

Intrepid – Cambodia Adventure – 12 Days

This is the best Southeast Asia tour for those in a hurry that want to see the regions top sights. Get a quick taste of Bangkok, visit the amazing temples of Angkor Wat, learn about Khmer history in Phnom Penh and explore the streets of Ho Chi Minh City on this 12 day Southeast Asia backpacking tour. You’ll also visit a small Cambodian village and enjoy a homestay, spend 2 days on the beaches of Sihanoukville and visit the peaceful 11th-century Wat Nokor. Intrepid takes you to some of the best spots in Cambodia, as well as the great cities of Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City, giving you a taster of what SE Asia is all about. Click here for more info, date, prices and to book! 

Contiki – Bangkok to Singapore Adventure – 14 Days

This 14 day backpacking Southeast Asia tour takes you from Bangkok to Singapore, with stops in Thailand and Malaysia along the way. You’ll get a great tour of Bangkok before taking a train south to explore the magnificent Khao Sok National Park, which is known for its stunning rainforest and Cheow Larn Lake. Contiki then takes you to the beaches of Krabi where you can sip cocktails and work on your tan before taking a ferry over to the idyllic island of Langkawi. The streets of Penang are the next stop on this 14 day tour, a city that is known for its fantastic architecture and fabulous food. Afterwards you’ll be sipping tea and visiting farms in the Cameron Highlands, followed by a tour around the vibrant city of Kuala Lumpur. The tour ends in Singapore, but not before making a stop in historical city of Malacca.  Click here for more info, date, prices and to book! 

Free & Easy Traveler – Experience It All – 20 Days

Indonesia is not so touristy as the rest of Southeast Asia even though it has so many sights and backpacking here is more of an adventure than places like Thailand. Enjoy island hoping through Indonesia on this amazing 20 day Southeast Asia tour. Free & Easy Traveler ensures that you’ll not only get in loads of beach time, but you’ll also be able to enjoy the cultural aspect of Indonesia. In fact, each of the islands has a culture all of its own, making this an incredible journey. The tour starts in Jakarta on the island of Java and then takes you to the beach town of Pangandaran, followed by the Javanese cultural city of Yogyakarta, which is famous for its Buddhist and Hindu temples. Bali is the next island on the tour, where you’ll spend your days in its cultural hub of Ubud. You’ll then take a boat to Lombak to hike up Mount Rinjani and then to the Gili Islands to see the stunning reefs. Kuta on Bali is the final stop on this incredible tour, where you can go surfing, work on your tan or do some shopping. Click here for more info, date, prices and to book! 

Free & Easy Traveler – Traveling on Cloud 9 – 20 Days

This is another 20 day Southeast Asia tour offered by Free & Easy Traveler, but this one explores the Philippines – another country that is not so well visited. If you’ve ever wanted to explore the amazing beaches of this country and its world famous Cloud 9 surf break, this is the tour for you! Hike through the ancient rice terraces of Banaue, live on the beach of Siargao for a week and travel to a mountain oasis. You’ll also walk around the charming city of Manila, enjoy the surf break on Pururan Beach and swim with whale sharks in Donsol. The 20 day tour ends in the fascinating city of Cebu. Click here for more info, date, prices and to book! 

Geckos – Vietnam & Cambodia Odyssey – 22 Days

This 22 day tour backpacking Southeast Asia tour takes you on a boat journey around Halong Bay, to the beaches of Nha Trang, the markets of Ho Chi Minh City,  the ancient temples of Ankhor Wat and the streets of Bangkok. You’ll get to wander around the Old Quarter of Hanoi, see historic houses in Hoi An, stay with a local Cambodian family in Chambok and visit important sites in Phnom Penh. If you want to see Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand all in one go, then this is one of the best value Southeast Asia tours around. Click here for more info, date, prices and to book! 

Contiki – Big Indochina Adventure – 27 Days

This backpacking Southeast Asia tour by fun tour company Contiki starts in Bangkok and takes you north to Chiang Mai, followed by a river boat into Laos where you’ll visit Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng and Vientiane. From there you’ll fly to Cambodia’s capital city of Phnom Penh to go on a city tour and enjoy traditional Cambodian cuisine. The next stop on this 27 day adventure is Siem Reap and its famous ancient temples of Ankhor Wat.  Vietnam in the next country on this SE Asian tour, starting in Ho Chi Minh City, followed by a traditional boat cruise through the Mekong Delta. You’ll even get to stay with a local family and enjoy a home cooked meal! This will fill you up for your journey in the morning to the fascinating Cu Chi Tunnels, which Contiki makes a stop at on the way back to the city. Let’s not forget your beach time at Nha Trang, followed by a beautiful coastal drive to Hoi An and Hue. Hanoi and the incredible Halong Bay are the last stops on this Indochina adventure. Click here for more info, date, prices and to book! 

The Best Backpacking Southeast Asia Tours Over 1 Month

If you have more time to spare it’s well worth backpacking Southeast Asia for over 1 month. Not only will this give you the time to explore more of the region, but it will also result in an experience of a life time. Here are my favourite backpacking Southeast Asia tours over 1 month

G Adventures – Indochina Discovery – 30 Days

Travel through Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand on this incredible 30 day Southeast Asia tour. G Adventures ensures that you will have an adventure you will never forget as their guide takes you through the Angkor Wat temple complex, the sites in Phnom Penh and to Sihanoukville beach. Your journey will then continue to Vietnam and the Cu Chi Tunnels, Ho Chi Minh City,  the beaches of Nha Trang and Hoi An. Let’s not forget about your tour of Hanoi and your cruise to Halong Bay. You’ll then fly to the capital city of Laos for the next part of your journey, which takes you to the beautiful Vang Vieng and the UNESCO listed city of Luang Prabang. Enjoy a cruise along the Mekong River into Northern Thailand, followed by an overnight train to Bangkok, where your journey comes to an end. Click here for more info, date, prices and to book! 

The Dragon Trip – Backpacking Southeast Asia Tour – 31 Days 

This fab new tour by The Dragon Trip is a specially designed 31-day adventure tour of Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia for 16 – 30 year olds. It’s an action packed adventure around the region’s major highlights as well as some hidden gems. The tour starts in Thailand’s buzzing capital Bangkok before exploring the city sights and the countryside around Chiang Mai. You’ll also go to the less visited area of Chiang Dao where you’ll hike through the jungle to a hidden waterfall and stay overnight in a local settlement of tree top houses. Then enjoy a cruise along the Mekong river to Laos to visit UNESCO world heritage listed Luang Prabnag, swim in the beautiful waterfalls and help local children with their English before stopping at popular backpacker hang out Vang Vieng and then traveling down through Vietnam visiting highlights including Hanoi, Halong Bay, as well as trekking and meeting tribes at a homestay in Sapa. Then you’ll get off the beaten track again cycling through Bong Lai Valley and have an action packed day in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, a UNESCO site that is famed for its high biodiversity and natural beauty. Then you’ll visit charming Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh City before relaxing on the rustic paradise island of Koh Rong in Cambodia and finishing off this amazing Southeast Asia tour by visiting Phomn Penh, Siem Reap and Angkor Wat.  Click here for more details, dates and prices and if you want to book use the code GG/TDT18 to get a special 20% discount! 

G Adventures – Bangkok to Bali Adventure – 32 Days

If you’d rather see Southern Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, then G Adventures Bangkok to Bali Adventure is perfect tour for you. This 32 day Southeast Asia tour  takes you from Bangkok south to the beautiful Khao Sok National Park and then on to the island of Koh Samui. You’ll then continue south into Malaysia to the incredible city of Georgetown, which is Malaysia’s cultural and food hub. This is followed by sipping tea in the Cameron Highlands and enjoying the views from Kuala Lumpur’s famous Petronas Towers. You’ll then visit the historic port city of Melaka before crossing over into Singapore. You won’t stay here long because you’ll be jumping on a flight to Jakarta to explore Javanese culture in Indonesia, which includes a homestay in the scenic village of Ngada, a trek to Mt Bromo and surfing lessons at Red Island. The beautiful island of Bali is the next stop on this adventure, where you’ll get to work on your tan, enjoy Balinese cuisine and go surfing. You’ll even get to see monkeys, rice paddies and temples before continuing to Gili Trawangan. This chilled out island is the last stop on this incredible Southeast Asia tours. Click here for more info, date, prices and to book! 

Geckos – Epic South East Asia – 34 Days

If you have time and want to fit Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia into one trip, then this is a great backpacking Southeast Asia tour. You’ll explore Northern Thailand, Laos, the coast of Vietnam, the Mekong Delta and the best of Cambodia, and will love every minute of it. Geckos gives you the opportunity to visit quiet Thai towns, see magnificent waterfalls around Luang Prabang, cruise around Halong Bay, jump on board a ‘Dragon Boat’ in Hue and explore the temples of Angkor Wat. You’ll also get to tour around big cities like Bangkok, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Plus, you’ll get to relax on a couple of sandy beaches. Click here for more info, date, prices and to book! 

Stray – Hop-on Hop-off Lot Travel Pass – 40+ Days

If you have a lot of time to play with and want the freedom to spend as much time in each spot as you’d like, then this is the ultimate backpacking Southeast Asia tour. Travel through Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia in as little as 40 days or as long as 12 months! It’s completely up to you, which is the beauty of this tour. You’re free to get off at any designated stop for as long as you’d like, and then continue on your journey to the next destination. Accommodations are not included, which gives you even more freedom, but all travelling is, as are all attractions that Stray goes to along the way. You’ll get to visit remote villages along the Mekong River, stay in a rural Cambodian village, visit hidden waterfalls and discover some magnificent caves. The journey starts in Bangkok and ends in Hanoi, but however long it takes is completely up to you. This is the best of the backpacking Southeast Asia tours for independent travelers.  Click here for more info, date, prices and to book! 

Have you been on an incredible Southeast Asia tour that I haven’t mentioned? I’d love to hear your experiences so leave a comment below.



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