Asia Travel Guides

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Planning your next solo trip to Asia? You’re in the right place with my Asia Travel Guides!

I’ve not only done it…but I’ve loved every second of it. Even dealing with a puncture wound for four months on the bottom of my right foot and a surprisingly-pricey Indonesian surgery, the eight months I spent bopping around Southeast Asia were some of the best of my life.

Asia is a solo-traveler’s paradise chock-full of life changing experiences! Hike the 1,275 steps to the Tiger Cave Temple in Krabi, learn how to make deep fried spring rolls from a Vietnamese chef in Hanoi, brunch your face off in Canggu or explore some of Asia’s most beautiful mosques in Kuala Lumpur.

This page is full of resources that will help you plan the perfect trip through Asia – especially as a solo female traveler. Scroll down for a breakdown by country and Asia Travel FAQs!

Happy travels! xx Madison

Asia Travel Guides – QUICK LINKS
Indonesia / Malaysia / Thailand / Vietnam

Thailand Travel Guides

Vietnam Travel Guides

Best Asia Tours

Check out some of my favorite tours below from my affiliate partner Viator!

What Do I Need to Know Before Traveling to Asia?

First and foremost, be prepared for some serious culture shock! Not to say that’s a bad thing. If I arrive in a new destination and don’t experience culture shock…I’m a little bored. Other things to know before visiting Asia…

  • NEVER have your phone out on the back of a scooter – ESPECIALLY in Bali. People have been known to snatch them out of your hands as they ride by.
  • Know the religious customs and political rules in the country you’re visiting. For example: in Thailand it’s illegal to speak disrespectfully about any member of the royal family. In the Gili Islands, wearing a bikini anywhere but the beach is considered disrespectful for religious reasons.
  • Men – be prepared to be asked if you want a “happy ending” in massage establishments around Southeast Asia. Just politely decline and be on your way.
  • Always have cash on you. Many places in Southeast Asia don’t take credit cards and Grab/Gojek/inDriver apps sometimes don’t allow foreign users to connect their credit cards, which means you’ll need to pay for every ride in cash.
  • Don’t drink the tap water anywhere, even if you see locals drinking it. You’ll regret it, I promise.
  • Never look monkeys in the eye and keep an eye on your belongings around them.
  • When crossing the street in high scooter traffic, walk at a normal, consistent pace. You’re more likely to get hit if you run or try to dart back and forth.
  • Be prepared that many countries in Asia eat things that we might perceive as unusual. For example: in Vietnam, it is still common to eat dogs and cats and you’ll sometimes see the meat being prepared at local markets.
  • Keep responsible tourism in mind wherever you go. If visiting an elephant sanctuary, do research to make sure it’s an ethical organization. Absolutely NO elephant rides or tiger cage experiences. Good rule of thumb: if it has to do with animals, there’s a high chance it’s not ethical.

Asia Travel FAQs:

Q: What is the best way to travel around Asia?

A: The best way to travel around Asia is…solo! True, I might be a bit biased, but Southeast Asia is world renowned for being one of the best solo travel budget destinations in the world. Backpackers from every corner of the globe congregate to enjoy the beautiful weather, immerse themselves in the culture and drink their faces off at the Koh Phangan Full Moon Party. Making friends could not be easier, in fact, chances are you’ll make friends all over the world that last a lifetime.

Bodega Party Hostels is a hostel chain throughout Southeast Asia that is known for throwing pub crawls and pool parties filled with solo travelers! If you’re looking to make friends while traveling solo in Asia, this would be a great accommodation for you.

Q: How much money do you need to travel around Asia?

A: The short answer? Not as much as you need almost everywhere else! If you’re strategic with your spending, you could probably eat and sightsee for under 15 USD per day in most Southeast Asian cities. Maybe even $10!

A night in a hostel dorm room will cost you anywhere from 3-15 USD and most hotels run around 20-45 USD per night. Grab/Gojek scooters are usually around $1 per ride, and the cars are anywhere from $3-7 per ride. Shopping in the local markets is very cheap, especially if you’re comfortable bartering. The only time you’ll experience Western prices in Southeast Asia are in really swanky hotels, tourist traps or restaurants/shops in the heart of touristy areas. It’s a budget-traveler’s dream!

Q: Which country in Asia should I visit first?

A: That depends on what you’re looking for! If you’re in search of beautiful beaches and affordable scuba diving – Koh Tao, Thailand (or Gili Trawangan) is the spot for you. If jungle vibes, yoga retreats and sunrise trekking is more your vibe – you might be better suited for Ubud, Indonesia. You’ll find gorgeous skyline views and expertly crafted mosques in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Or if you’re on a strict budget and ready to eat some of the best food in the world…head to Hanoi, Vietnam first!

Q: Which apps should I download before visiting Asia?

A: Grab, Gojek and inDriver are three apps commonly used around Asia that operate like Uber in the U.S. In many cities, at least in Southeast Asia, you can rent scooters/motorbikes on these apps which greatly reduces both your travel time and your cost of transportation. For long distance travel and ferries, 12Go is a great app for booking reliable and affordable transportation across the continent.

If you’re solo traveling your way through Asia, Hostelworld is another great app to have on your phone. Here, you can browse the best hostels in every destination and filter by services and amenities.

For more ideas, check out my guide to must-download apps for solo travelers.

Q: Is it easy to get a local SIM card in Asia?

A: Yes! In all of Asia’s major airports, you’ll find plenty of SIM card kiosks littered around the terminals. Prices vary by country, but in Southeast Asia it’s common to buy two weeks of data for around 15 USD.

Q: What is the currency in Asia? And what is the best way to exchange it?

A: The currency varies in each country around Asia. In the articles linked above, you’ll find reference to the Thai Baht, the Indonesian Rupiah, the Vietnamese Dong and the Malaysian Ringgit. Unlike most countries, one of the easiest ways to obtain local currency is by bringing U.S. dollars (or your home currency) to exchange. In many places, this turns out to be a huge scam, but I’ve found it to be fairly reliable in Southeast Asia.

The easiest and safest way to get cash in Asia is by taking it out of a reputable ATM. Follow some basic practices when taking cash out in a foreign country:

–Make sure your bank knows you’ll be traveling (and where) so your card isn’t declined
–Hide your PIN number when you type it in
–Only use ATM machines attached to a bank or another reputable establishment

Q: What is the best month to visit Asia?

A: Asia is a huge continent and weather/seasons vary drastically by country. When it comes to Southeast Asia, November through February is usually the best time to visit. This is when the cool, dry season falls across Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Q: Is Asia safe for solo female travelers?

A: Absolutely! I was a solo female traveler myself during most of my time in Southeast Asia and I met countless others doing the same thing. Like any other continent, safety does vary by country, city and neighborhood. Wherever you go, make sure you have your wits about you and follow standard solo travel safety procedures as you would anywhere else.

You can greatly increase your safety factor by purchasing a local SIM card and making sure your phone is always charged and in working condition. Staying at hostels and signing up for activities that cater to other solo travelers is a great way to make friends while traveling and increase your safety factor during activities that involve drinking and partying.