3 months backpacking Asia: my experience

 Well hello to you my reader chums! It seems very strange typing away on this blog after three months away. This has to be the longest time I've not written on here in nearly a decade which honestly I still can't believe. As many of you know I've been dreaming of going backpacking again after my last trip in 2019, however, the pandemic meant the next trip happened a lot later.

3 months backpacking Asia: my experience

However, it happened in the best possible way, sharing the experience with someone I love. Travelling around Asia to put it simply was a whirlwind and dream all in one. I'm still in awe of the incredible sights, worldly experiences, endless delicious dishes and insta-worthy sunsets I had the pleasure to experience, plus the opportunity to learn about seven different countries and their cultures.

I visited Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia, spending on average two weeks in each place. I spent the longest time in Indonesia (three weeks) and the shortest time in Singapore (three days). Although the timeframes varied, I felt my partner and I had a good chunk of time in each location to see everything we planned to visit and immerse ourselves in the culture.

I've had many questions about 'What was your favourite place?' and 'What was your favourite experience?' and it's hard to pinpoint, however, there are places and moments that stood out. 

3 months backpacking Asia: my experience

My favourite countries were Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. A few of my favourite experiences included the elephant safari in Sri Lanka, visiting Mount Bromo and Komodo Island in Indonesia, snorkelling in Thailand (lots of marine life) and Indonesia (manta rays, turtles and marine life) and cycling around the rice fields in Vietnam and seeing the lanterns in Hoi An (Vietnam). I also adored sunset dreaming on the beaches across every country, hiking in the Cameron Highlands (Malaysia), kayaking in multiple locations, climbing Pidurangla Rock (Sri Lanka) and seeing the iconic lakes in Coron (Philippines). Eating endless street food, roaming around new cities and towns and meeting locals all rank highly with why the trip helped me grow, learn more and fall in love with the freedom of travelling all over again. 

I thought the best way to talk about my experience was to break down my perspective on each country and what I loved as well as found challenging. 

Sri Lanka

3 months backpacking Asia: my experience

I've been dreaming about Sri Lanka for a long time as I've heard many incredible things and honestly didn't know what to expect until we arrived. The country exceeded my expectations in many ways considering its gorgeous nature scene, the kindness of the people, the non-touristy feel it had, and the amazing temples we had the pleasure to see. I think back to Sri Lanka with fond memories especially as it was our first place, making the culture shock real. For most of the trip, there weren't many tourists, providing us with the opportunity to travel authentically, live like the locals and learn more about their way of life. It wasn't until just over halfway through Sri Lanka that destinations became more touristy and we experienced a different side of the country. 

Sri Lank elephant safari

I loved it all; I loved how we experienced watching elephants in the wild, visiting tea plantations, hiking through the countryside, experiencing scenic train rides, sampling the cuisine, visiting some of the best temples and enjoying the chill side of the south coast, swimming with turtles. My favourite places had to be Ella, Anuradhapura and Dambulla for the general vibe and experiences. 


Singapore light show

Singapore was a short visit compared to the rest of the countries as we were only there for three days. However, we had the opportunity to soak up the city life (even if it rained for a good chunk of it) and experience the complete opposite of Sri Lanka with its luxury vibe and pristine surroundings. To me, Singapore was a combination of London and Dubai with its quirky cafes and tall skyscrapers. The destination had a very clean appeal with a lot of 'perfect' sights to see plus the price tag for everything was very expensive. I loved experiencing the highs of this city, watching the famous light shows and mooching around as it gave me that London feeling.


Kuala Lumpur twin towers

I had no initial expectations of Malaysia apart from I assumed it would be similar to Thailand as they're right next to each other. However, I was pleasantly surprised with my experience travelling around this country because it was incredibly diverse in everything we did, what we ate and the culture as well. From temple hopping, city living in the capital, hiking up mountains and through tea plantations to discovering its cool, hipster towns, wandering through night markets and riding the world's longest cable car. Malaysia had a unique appeal and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the different religions and experiencing their way of life. It was definitely a lot more modern and built up across all areas of the country we visited which surprised me also.

Cameron Highlands hiking

My favourite places in Malaysia had to be Penang (especially Georgetown), the Cameron Highlands and Kuala Lumpur. The capital was busy and crazy but I fell in love with the city appeal, whilst the Highlands was peaceful and the perfect spot to push me into the hiking way of life and Georgetown had a hipster vibe that I could have soaked up for days.


Koh Lipe snorkelling

It's not a backpacking trip without visiting Thailand and as my second time in the country, I didn't plan to stay there for too long because, on my previous trip, I was there for five weeks and on this occasion, spent 8 days there. Thailand is a place that instantly feels like a dream with its friendly locals, delicious food and paradise-style beaches. This trip to Thailand consisted of two beach locations and one of its cities and I loved every part of it. 

Chiang Mai temples

Koh Lipe and Koh Lanta were heaven on earth. Koh Lanta is my favourite island and as my second time there, it didn't fail to disappoint with some of the best sunsets. Koh Lipe was honestly paradise with its crystal clear waters, perfect for snorkelling, kayaking and soaking up the sunshine. Whilst, Chiang Mai is temple heaven with a cool hipster appeal to it and my favourite night market for clothing, food and everything in between. My time in Thailand warmed my heart and I forever want to revisit it as its charm is a unique one, even if the tourism levels are rising.


Train street hanoi

I've been dreaming about returning to Vietnam since 2019 and I fell in love with it as soon as I arrived. But, there were many places I had missed off my list including seeing the rice terraces and visiting the iconic Hoi An. This time around, two weeks of exploring and immersing myself back into the Vietnamese way of life was everything I thought it would be and more. The food was out of this world, the people were so kind, and the culture was super authentic. It had to be on par with the non-touristy appeal of Sri Lanka, despite it being such a popular destination. We still found many restaurants would only have Vietnamese menus and many local people didn't speak a word of English. And although that made things more challenging, it added to the authentic appeal and taught us about the culture more.

Mai Chau cycling

Thinking back to Vietnam and my heart is so happy. I remember how sad I was to leave the country and move on to the next ones as we did many highlight-worthy things there. My favourite places were Hoi An ( I could have stayed there for weeks), Mai Chau (the quaintest village for rice fields), Hanoi (the bustle is unique) and Halong Bay (my second time there and I'm still in awe). Also, some of my favourite experiences included cycling around the rice fields in Mai Chau, being in the midst of Hanoi, kayaking in Halong Bay, wandering around Hoi An and doing a cooking class and many more.

Halong bay kayaking


Philippines sunset

The Philippines was the one location that I wasn't the biggest fan of for many reasons but I still enjoyed my time there overall due to some incredible snorkelling experiences, lakes and beach views. It's a destination that is definitely suited more to a holiday budget rather than a backpacker one as I found things to be a lot pricier than in other locations in Asia, as well as transport, costs too. One of the reasons I think I wasn't the greatest fan of the Philippines was the food and how western it seemed. When we arrived in Cebu City, fast food chains were on every corner and it didn't have the same feel as other Asian cities. Also, the food is very meat-based and quite unusual, and I struggled with that as for me, food is one of the biggest draws to a country.

3 months backpacking Asia: my experience

Despite the negatives and not necessarily being thrilled with our first destinations in the Philippines, I enjoyed the second week in the Philippines as El Nido and Coron featured two of my favourite water tours we did on the trip. The beaches in these destinations were dreamy, the water was super clear and the snorkelling in Coron had to be the best we saw in the country! The Chocolate Hills tour in Bohol is also worth a mention because it gave us the opportunity to experience the countryside. With this in mind, it definitely meant leaving the Philippines on a high and experiencing some paradise-worthy islands. I think if we had only visited these two locations, my view of the Philippines would be completely different. Plus, the local people here are some of the happiest we've seen.


Dream beach Bali

Indonesia was where we spent the longest and I'm thrilled we did as it exceeded everything I initially thought about the country. I was a little apprehensive because of everything I read online about how strict the country was with rules, but I found the overall experience here to be liberating, and eye-opening and offered our favourite experiences of the trip.

Ubud Bali

We got to experience the dreamy beach life on Bali, the Gili Islands (although I have to admit these were pretty overrated), and especially on Komodo Island with the best snorkelling of the entire 3 months (we saw manta rays and many colourful fish/corals). We also experienced climbing up a volcano (and seeing the sunrise over it), visiting incredible temples in Bali and Yogyakarta, seeing monkeys everywhere and eating the best food. Indonesian people were also wonderfully kind and typically wanted to talk to you, which was lovely. We met many sweet locals across our time here who really helped us see the best of Indonesia and love it as much as they do. 

Komodo Island

There you have it - an insight into my trip. Sitting here writing this, I feel incredibly emotional about the whole experience. I feel very grateful, blessed and in awe of all the phenomenal things I was able to do. I can't wait to write about each place in more detail and share my tips and advice overall.

And - a shoutout to all the incredible food we ate along the way. I'm missing Nasi Goreng, Pad Thai, Kottu, Pho, Vegetarian spring rolls, Banh Mi, fresh juices and many more dishes.

3 months backpacking Asia: my experience

I hope you enjoyed this post. Where is next on your bucket list to visit?

Thank you for reading <3

1 comment

  1. Thank you for sharing your 3 month trip, it looks amazing all the places that you have visited, some of these I have been to and want to re-vist esp. Singapore and Thailand :)

    Nic | Nic's Adventures


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