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How Long to Spend in Southeast Asia (for First Timers): from 2 Weeks to 2 Months

How Long to Spend in Southeast Asia (for First Timers): from 2 Weeks to 2 Months

By Chris QuanUpdated Sep. 8, 2022

Southeast Asia is a great choice for honeymoons, anniversaries, relaxing holidays, family gatherings, and trips with friends due to its stunning scenery, exotic cultures, amazing food, and affordable prices.

But, how long do you need for your trip to Southeast Asia? From this article, you will get a general idea of the length of the Southeast Asia trip you want and how to plan it.

How Long Should You Spend in Each Country?

Top Destinations in Southeast Asia and How Long to Spend

Thailand requires about 8 days to 3 weeks for most first-time tours. It is popular to visit two cities and an island, which usually takes 8–10 days. If you want something different, like a forest park, you may need about 2 weeks. If you want to explore Thailand from north to central to south, you will need about 3 weeks. 

Vietnam needs about 10 days to 2 weeks. It usually takes about 10 days to travel from Hanoi in the north to Hoi An in the middle and Ho Chi Minh in the south. If you want to enjoy more beach time, 2 weeks is needed. 

Extending reading: Vietnam vs Thailand: Which to Visit (A Helpful Comparison for You) 

Cambodia is not a big country. It usually takes about a week for the main attractions. Siem Reap is the main tourist destination. If you have more time, you can visit its capital Phnom Penh.

Laos is also a small country and needs about 1 week. Luang Prabang is the main tourist city.

For a trip to Myanmar, 1 to 2 weeks is suitable. 7 days is enough to visit three of its best destinations — Mandalay, Bagan, and Yangon. If you add beaches and cruises to that, a tour takes about 2 weeks.

In Indonesia, if you just go Bali only, you may need about 7 to 10 days. If you want to extend to Java or other places, you may need a few more days.

Three days is enough to visit the highlights of Singapore.

Malaysia is good for a one-week trip. You are recommended to spend 2–3 days in Kuala Lumpur and 3–4 days in Penang.

>>>How to Plan a Trip to Southeast Asia: A Beginner’s Guide

Recommended Itinerary

Balancing Your Southeast Asia Itinerary

Southeast Asia is a large region made up of over 10 countries. So, when planning a Southeast Asia trip, you should usually aim for a balanced and varied itinerary, especially if your holiday time is limited: “Variety is the spice of life”.

Balance the choice of destinations. The best choice is usually to combine countries with different features and vibes. Such a combination makes for a richer and more interesting experience.

Thailand, for example, is the top destination in Southeast Asia because of its diversity and outstanding travel facilities and service. After choosing Thailand, which country makes a good combo? It’s best to choose a country with different features to Thailand, but also plenty of variety, like Vietnam. Vietnam features the karst seascape of Halong Bay and the Mekong Delta with its ethnic culture, which differ from Thailand’s temples, beaches, and rainforest.

Balance the types of activities. Big iconic attractions, like the Grand Place in Thailand are a must, but small spots like local markets or a cooking class that reflect local life can also be mixed in.

The most popular travel combination in Southeast Asia is Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. If you have no clear idea about your trip now, here we will give you some inspiration to help you make a plan.  

Southeast Asia Itineraries: 2 Weeks

2 weeks in Southeast Asia offers many choices.

Some people choose to spend 2 weeks to fully explore one destination, like a 2-Week Thailand Getaway Tour for Couples or a 15-Day Vietnam Family Holiday Tour.

But most people want to explore more destinations. So, is 2 weeks enough for a two-country trip in Southeast Asia? Our answer is yes.

Visiting two countries in 2 weeks is suitable at a comfortable pace. There are three most popular combinations of a Southeast Asia trip covering 2 countries:

Visiting three countries in 2 weeks is also possible. The most classic combo is Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. If you look for a time-smart and good value itinrary, you can check out our  12-Day Essential Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam Tour. If you want to travel in a relaxing pace, a 15-day trip is suitable.

A Sample 2-Week Southeast Asia Itinerary:

Thailand and Vietnam Tour Map
  • Days 1–7: Vietnam

Spend 2 days in Hanoi, the capital, then cruise overnight in Halong Bay. Plan 2 days in Hoi An to see Hoi An Ancient City with a basket-boat-ride experience. The last two days in Ho Chi Minh City are enough to see its historical attractions like the War Remnants Museum.

  • Day 8–14: Thailand

Fly to Thailand’s biggest city, Bangkok, from Vietnam’s biggest — Ho Chi Minh City.

Spend 2 days exploring Bangkok's highlights like the Grand Place and have a long-tail boat ride. Then fly to Phuket or Koh Samui to enjoy some beach time. Phuket vs Koh Samui: Which is Better to Visit

A 2-Week Vacation including Peaceful Vietnam and Colorful Thailand

A Sample 15-Day SE Asia Itinerary Covering 3 Countries:

If you want to travel in a comfortable pace, you may need to add one or two days. The classic combo is Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia: spend 6 days in Thailand, 6 days in Vietnam, and 3 days in Cambodia.

Thailand,Vietnam,and Cambodia Tour Map
  • Days 1–5: Thailand

Spend two days in Bangkok. Explore the Highlights of Bangkok City like the Grand Palace and China Town.

Chiang Mai takes 3 days to explore its famous temples and mountains with an elephant experience.

  • Days 6–11: Vietnam

Fly from Thailand’s Chiang Mai to Vietnam’s Hanoi.

Have a day tour to explore Hanoi’s city highlights, then an overnight cruise on Halong Bay. Spend two days in Ho Chi Minh City to visit its top attractions like the Cu Chi Tunnels. Finally, take a one-day Mekong Delta trip by motorboat.

  • Days 12–15: Cambodia

Fly from Ho Chi Minh City to Cambodia’s Siem Reap.

Spend 4 days to explore Cambodian spirituality — Angkor Wat and some cultural treasures like Banteay Srei, which is the jewel of Khmer art.

The Best Southeast Asia Tour for First-timers

 

For more itinerary suggestions, you can check out our 2-Week Southeast Asia Itineraries for Honeymoons, Families, and More

However, 2 weeks is a limited time, so if you want to explore more places and have a deeper experience, 3 weeks or more would be better.

Southeast Asia Itineraries of 3 Weeks

Touring three countries in 3 weeks allows a comfortable pace. For most first-time visitors to Southeast Asia, it’s best to choose destinations that are as multi-faceted as possible.

The most popular combination is Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia: 8 days in Vietnam, 3 days in Cambodia, and 8 days in Thailand.

A Sample 3-Week Southeast Asia Itinerary:

Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia 3-week Map
  • Days 1–8: Vietnam

Spend two days to explore Hanoi’s city highlights. Take an overnight cruise on Halong Bay and explore Sung Sot Cave. Take half a day to explore Hoi An Ancient Town. And finally, take three days to explore Ho Chi Minh City with a Mekong Delta trip.

  • Days 9–11: Siem Reap

Fly to Cambodia’s Siem Reap from Ho Chi Minh City.

Spend two days to explore Cambodia’s national treasure — Angkor Wat — and some other attractions, like Tonle Sap Lake.

  • Days 12–19: Thailand

Fly to Thailand’s capital Bangkok from Siem Reap.

Spend a day in Bangkok exploring the highlights of the city, like the Grand Palace.

Spend two days in Chiang Mai to explore its famous temples and mountains with an elephant experience. Spend the remaining 4 days at the beach in Phuket or Koh Samui.

An In-Depth Experience of Southeast Asia at an Easy Pace

 

If you want to explore more places, you could choose a combination of Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia plus Laos or Myanmar. Laos is more popular, because of its famous Luang Prabang cultural jungle and its current relaxed entry policy.  Myanmar requires more entry documents. Check out more about entry policies on our 10+ Asia Countries Open for Tourism without Quarantine in 2022.

You could select your preferred destinations using our Create My Trip service, and then we will create your choice of itinerary based on your wishes.

>>>How to Plan a 3-Week Southeast Asia Itinerary

Southeast Asia Itineraries: 1 Month

A month gives you some more days to explore and better achieve your SE Asia travel ambitions. 4 weeks is suitable for visiting about 5 countries. You can visit all countries of Indochina: Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand.

Spend 8 days in Myanmar to visit its three best tourist cities — Mandalay, Yangon, and Bagan — with a lake tour, and 9 days in Vietnam to tour from south to north, from Ho Chi Minh City to Hoi An to Hanoi.

Laos and Cambodia are smaller, so you can spend less time on them: 3 days in Laos’ Luang Prabang and 2 days in Cambodia’s Siem Reap. And finally take 7–9 days in Thailand to take in one or two cities and an island.

A Sample 1-Month Southeast Asia Itinerary:

Map of Grand Indochina Tour
  • Days 1–8: Myanmar

Spend two days in Mandalay to explore its top attractions like Kuthodaw Pagoda and the World's Largest Book.

Plan two days in Bagan. Explore local markets, take part in a cooking class and visit Bagan Archaeological Zone.

Leave two days for an Inle Lake trip and two days in Yangon. Highlights include Shwedagon Pagoda and the Colonial District.

  • Days 9–16: Vietnam

Fly to Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City from Yangon. Take two days to explore Ho Chi Minh City with a Mekong Delta trip. Spend one day to explore Hoi An Ancient Town. In the north, spend two days exploring Hanoi city highlights and two days cruising Halong Bay. 

  • Days 17–19 : Laos

Fly to Laos’ Luang Prabang from Hanoi.

Spend the all two days in Luang Prabang with the highlights include Wat Xieng Thong Temple, Royal Palace Museum, and Kuangsi Waterfall.

  • Days 20–21: Cambodia

Fly to Cambodia’s Siem Reap from Luang Prabang. Spend all two days in Siem Reap visiting Angkor Wat.

  • Days 22–28: Thailand

Fly to Bangkok from Siem Reap.

Spend 2 days exploring Bangkok's highlights, like the Grand Place, and have dinner cruise on the Chao Phraya River. Then fly to Phuket or Koh Samui to enjoy some relaxing beach time.

Recommended Itinerary

 

While what we suggest is a more comprehensive option. The choice of destination varies from person to person. If you love the beaches, you could choose to spend a month in Thailand, Bali, Malaysia, and/or the Philippines. That could be the most wonderful option for you.

Just tell us your ideal destinations, how long you have to travel, group size, budget, and other requirements, and we will create a perfectly-fitting itinerary for you together.

For more on 1-month trip planning, see The Ultimate 4-Week Southeast Asia Itinerary for You!

Southeast Asia Itineraries: 2 Months or More

If you are planning a Southeast Asia trip lasting 2 months, 3 months, or more, you could extend your travels to cover countries in Maritime Southeast Asia — Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines… (as well as the Indochina Peninsula).

Indonesia and the Philippines are great for beach fans, Singapore is an awesome city state and a high-class hub for international flights, and Malaysia's beaches and food will not disappoint you.

Or you could enrich your Indochina time with more activities in Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos. There are still many little-known places that are well worth visiting: Mai Chao in Vietnam, home to the White Thai ethnic group, Sukhothai and Ayutthaya, ruins of former kingdoms in Thailand, and so on.

Popular Southeast Asia Tours

All our tours can be adjusted according to your requirements. Just contact us to tell us your initial ideas/needs. Or you can use our Create My Trip service to give us more detail if you already have some clear ideas about what you want.

Here are our top-choice itineraries again, which can be adjusted to suit you:

You could use our shorter vacation plans as a starting point:

For yet more inspiration, see our Best Southeast Asia Tour Packages>>>

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