Notes on backpacking South East Asia

Posting some quick notes on South East Asia that I’ve emailed out to friends over the last few years.

  • Thailand
    • Koh Tao – Get Scuba certified on this island for ~$300 USD. I was hesitant at first but really enjoyed it. Stay at Carabao resort, you’ll have to rent a motorbike, but they own the ships and have a great place to relax after a long day.
    • Ko Pha Ngan – Known for their full moon party, but great discounts when it’s not! Got some cozy beach cabanas for ~$20USD/night. 
    • Bangkok – Large city, you’ll find plenty of things to do here. Make sure you get a Thai massage.
    • Ko Samui – Larger of the islands in the Gulf of Thailand, I spent an afternoon at an elephant sanctuary! Highly recommended on a stop over.
    • Krabi – Heard many good things about this place but ran out of time. 
    • Chiang Mai (North) – Beautiful to visit, huge contrast to Bangkok, if you have time do the “Mae Hong Song” motorbike loop. You’ll get a chance to drive through a national park, villages, and take your time. (
    • – Ride share for South East Asia, link your credit card and you won’t have to haggle with the taxi drivers.
  • Laos
    • Countryside – I spent some time traveling North to South and found some amazing places along the way. I really wanted to be outside of the big cities
    • Laung Prabang  – Great place to start the trip, cozy city near the important Mekong River. Lots of accommodation overlooking the river, and nearby farms/rice patties.
    • Vientiane – Capital of Laos
    • Pakse – Tiny city but had significance because my grandma was born here. Nothing that really stands out but enjoyed how laid back it is.
    • Don Det / 10,000 Islands – VERY cool spot, even though Laos is landlocked, I spent a few nights in this island. Very great place to escape the city.
  • Myanmar (my favorite place in SE Asia)
    • I have a huge love for this country and the people, and hope that the military government situation comes to rest. Unfortunately, I do not think you can visit at the moment.
  • Vietnam
    • Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon – Super big city, but a must to check out. My mom was born here! Try the famous “egg coffee”
    • Nah Trang – Beach resort along the coast, known as a Russian vacation spot. 
    • Hoi An – Very special place to visit with the old city, known for tailored clothing. (Get a suit / clothing made)
    • Hanoi – If you visit the south, the North is a great contrast. 
    • Hash House Harriers – Hanoi, Vietnam – WONDERFUL group, they even hire a bus to take you out into the countryside to run. Highly recommended. 
    • Ha Giang – If you’re in the North – Similar to Laos there’s a great motorbike tour. I would recommend this one over the Laos one. Beautiful limestone mountains, and great guest homes to stay at.
    • Bong Hostel – There are a few places that will rent you motorbikes and a guide for the Ha Giang loop, but this one was great

Elephant Jungle Sanctuary Samui