Longing for an exotic couple’s/family vacation? A 10–30-day trip to Southeast Asia will fulfill your dreams for a tropical travel experience with its sunny beaches, verdant jungles, adorable elephants, charming old towns, dynamic metropolises, diverse tasty foods, traditional floating markets, and mysterious temple complexes.
Southeast Asia consists of 11 countries. They're conveniently connected to each other by 1–3-hour flights. More than 95% of couples and families choose to visit 2–3 SE Asian countries in one trip.
The five most popular destinations for the SE Asia first-timer are Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, and Indonesia (mainly Bali). For a deeper cultural exploration and a longer trip, Myanmar and Laos come onto the list most frequently.
Spend 5–10 minutes on the following 6 steps to get an instant overview of how to plan a worry-free trip to Southeast Asia.
1. Choose Where to Go
Among all our couples’ and family clients’ choices, the best-selling itineraries cover the Southeast Asia travel hubs of Thailand (Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket / Koh Samui), Vietnam (Halong Bay, Hanoi, Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh) and Cambodia (Angkor Wat). >>How to Plan a 3-Week Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam Tour
Bali in Indonesia, known locally as 'the Island of the Gods', is one of the best choices if you love the thought of sun-soaked beaches, volcano trekking, and scenic countryside with terraced rice fields.
Singapore, a clean and modern city, is one of the most family-friendly destinations in Southeast Asia. It is favored by families due to its arts, fashion, food, culture, and big-name events.
Luang Prabang in Laos and Bagan in Myanmar are favored choices for couples who love charming romantic old towns, fascinatingly-designed temples, and Buddhist culture.
If you are planning for your summer vacation to Southeast Asia, see our Travel to Southeast Asia in Summer 2023: Places to Go, Costs, Weather
1) Thailand: Vibrant Activities, Lantern Festival, Beaches
Thailand is the travel hub of Southeast Asia. Within its borders are sunny beaches, ornate temples, and lush national parks and jungles. There is so much to do in Thailand, whether you want to explore and have fun with kids, or enjoy romantic moments with your significant other.
Whether traveling as a family or couple, meeting elephants in a jungle, taking a Thai cooking class, and exploring Bangkok’s classic temples, amazing food, and floating markets are all must-dos.
For your choice of islands, Koh Samui is more recommend for couples due to its quiet and romantic vibe. While Phuket is more suitable for families with kids, as it’s known for its abundant water sports and activities.
Yi Peng Festival in Chiang Mai is definitely not to be missed, where you can see the romantic scene of countless flying lanterns released into the sky.
For a special experience, you could spend an amazing evening with your spouse/partner (and kids) in Kanchanaburi’s floating house or a tree house in Khao Sok National Park.
2) Vietnam: Outdoor Adventures, Countryside Relaxation
Hanoi and Hoi An represent traditional Vietnam, Halong Bay represents scenic Vietnam, while Ho Chi Minh epitomizes modern Vietnam with many great museums.
Hanoi is a must because of the incredible, buzzing Old Quarter, displaying history at every turn.
A luxury Halong Bay cruise is recommended for both couples and families. Spend 1–2 nights boating around the numerous islands and admiring the karst formations rising from the sea.
There are many exciting activities in Halong Bay, like kayaking, swimming, and cycling. If your plan to celebrate a big event, we can help arrange a more private cruise only for you as a couple or just your family members.
Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam's most fashionable city, known for its amazing food, skyscrapers, and sleepless bars. It is also a must-visit for everyone with an interest in history due to its many museums!
After 2–3 hours' driving from Ho Chi Minh, you can transit from city's dynamism to the primitive simplicity of the Mekong Delta. Get to see how the local Vietnamese keep their traditional lifestyle: trading in the floating markets, making sugar in a family workshop, living in a boat house, etc.
3) Cambodia: Culture Immersion
Angkor Wat, without a doubt, is the biggest attraction in Cambodia. It is a place where children can experience the culture’s charms as well as adults. It was once the capital of the Khmer kingdom — the most powerful in Southeast Asian history. There, you can walk through the ruins of once-glorious buildings and discover their history.
You can also explore more hidden ruins, appreciate the sunset with your love, and take a Khmer cooking class.
An ox cart ride or a quad adventure through the countryside could be a novel experience for kids.
4) Bali: Luxury Beach Resorts
For those who like all the fun close together, Bali is a one-stop enjoyment island with incredible beach resorts, beautiful beaches, water sports, yoga, a wild nightlife, friendly people, and enough shops to shop until you drop.
It is one of the most popular destinations in SE Asia, and once you get there you will instantly understand why.
There you can embrace your loved one(s) in a cruise under the sunset, relax at a spa surrounded by nature, cycle through the rice terraces, take cooking classes, go on a volcano sunrise trek...
5) Singapore: Convenience, Quality, Universal Studios…
Singapore is extremely family friendly with its convenient amenities, widely-spoken English, various cuisines, Universal Studios, and big events, like the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix.
Tour recommendation: 13-Day Private Singapore and Bali Journey of Discovery
6) Laos: Slow-Paced Vibe, Buddhist Heritage
Heading somewhat off the Southeast Asia beaten track, Laos is a beautiful and tranquil nation offering UNESCO World Heritage sites, charming old towns, stunning natural scenery, tribal villages, diverse ethnic arts, adventure, outdoor activities, and amazing food.
Luang Prabang is its most popular destination as a result of the many beautiful historical sites, the unique surrounding scenery, the pure alms-giving ceremony, as well as its elephant sanctuary with well-preserved habitat.
Tour recommendation: 14-Day Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos Tour
7) Myanmar: A Romantic Way to See Temple Relics
There's nothing more romantic in Myanmar than taking a hot air balloon ride in Bagan over 2,000 pagodas and temples to watch the sunrise from the sky.
Bagan is enthusiastically loved by photographers, couples, and people who are sympathetic to Buddhism.
Visit Bagan before it's overwhelmed by tourists!
Tour recommendation: 17-Day Private tour to Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos
- 2-Week Southeast Asia Itineraries for Couples, Families, and More
- How to Plan a Multi-Generational Family Vacation to Southeast Asia
2. Decide How Many Days to Stay
Considering the long flight journey (often 20+ hours) from America or Europe and the masses of things to experience, most visitors spent 13–18 days exploring Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia for their first Southeast Asia trip.
With 10–12 days, you're suggested to focus on one country or a maximum of two countries to avoid the hassle of frequently changing hotels and rushing to airports. Thailand-Cambodia, Thailand-Vietnam, Vietnam-Cambodia, Vietnam-Laos, Singapore-Bali, etc. are all popular choices.
People traveling around Southeast Asia for 20–30 days are also common. Those who have plenty of holiday time usually plan a thorough exploration of the whole peninsula area (Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos).
For more Southeast Asia itinerary suggestions, see our How Long to Spend in Southeast Asia (for First Timers): from 2 Weeks to 2 Months
Here are some itineraries for your inspiration:
- 11-Day Best of Thailand and Cambodia Tour
- 15-Day Best of Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam Tour
- 19-Day In-Depth Tour of Southeast Asia
- 28-Day Grand Indochina Tour
We promise you enjoy 100% refund of any payments made to China Highlights prior to 3 weeks before departure (detail⇒).
What Our Customers Said
Three weeks encompassing Vietnam
A special shoutout to our last guide in Bangkok - Ms. Ka-Noon who spoiled us with her kindness and then got us through check in and security for our flight home in record time at that huge Bangkok airport.More
Deby, Feb 2023
Three weeks encompassing Vietnam
Three weeks encompassing Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos. Albee Ning arranged everything perfectly. Not a flaw in the whole 3 weeks. Guides, flights (7 in total), hotels, private tours…everything was excellent. Travelling on a private tour gave us so much freedom to change our day if we chose to rest or go somewhere else.More
Deby, Feb 2023
Three weeks encompassing Vietnam
Asia Highlights is the way to go without any question. Next overseas trip will be booked with them for sure. Thank you for a wonderful and stress free vacation experience.More
Deby, Feb 2023
Over the last 5 years we've used Asia…
Over the last 5 years we've used Asia highlights twice. And both times we've had fantastic vacations. Would not want to do it any different when we travel to Asia from now on. Sharon was fantastic. She was a wonderful agent who helped us nail down our trip and make everything go as smooth as possible.More
Todd Atwell, Feb 2023
Family Trip to Thailand
Our trip to Thailand comprised three generations of the family , ten people and an age range of 4 to 70 so a potentially difficult brief.Our itinerary over two weeks involved four locations, and a number of different trips and tours.From out arrival at an extremely busy Bangkok airport Asia Highlights were terrific.In each location we were met by a smiling , knowledgeable and professional guide who simply made everything easy and stress free for everyone.Our transportation was clean and comfortable . Transport was always ready for us at the agreed time and the drivers were excellent.There were so many highlights enjoyed by all the age groups. The floating houses , railway market and elephant sanctuary were particular favourites.We had one minor glitch with the accommodation in Phuket which was immediately dealt with by Tip. I think we would have struggled to resolve the problem by ourselves. So, thank you Asia Highlights , Cathy, Tip and tour guides Tanny, Sam and Lisa. It was a memorable holiday and we will be back.More
Roger Pyle, Feb 2023
Family Trip to Thailand
So, thank you Asia Highlights , Cathy, Tip and tour guides Tanny, Sam and Lisa. It was a memorable holiday and we will be back.More
Roger Pyle, Feb 2023
Trip of a lifetime from Asia Highlights!
I recommend highly Asia Highlights as a travel company. Our travel consultant Albee took the time to connect with us during the planning process to make sure we were comfortable with our itinerary. When we arrived, we were met by our guide and all the details were attended to. They picked great hotels and tours. I often describe our trip as the trip of a lifetime! Would definitely use them again when we come back to AsiaMore
Nancy Parker, Feb 2023
Asia Highlights and Albee - highly recommended
Asia Highlights is very reliable agency and Albee is an amazing representative of the company. From the moment when we contacted her until our departure, the whole support we received was 6* level. She prepared our trip offer within few hours and afterwards she was extremely flexible to adjust as per our needs. In the period between the offer and the trip, Albee was always available for all our questions and supported us on the best possible way. During the trip she was again flexible to add new activities/transfers and this went on the smoothest possible way. Thank you, Albee and Asia Highlights. Definitely we will approach you again for our next Asian tripMore
AZ, Feb 2023
3. Consider the Best Times to Travel
Lying within the tropics with southern areas very close to the equator, most of Southeast Asia is warm all year round.
- Generally speaking, the best time to visit most places in Southeast Asia is from November to February when the weather is dry (driest) and warm (on average). One of the busiest times is around Christmas and New Year. Hotels in popular cities/islands and flights between popular destinations are likely to be sold out in advance. Be sure to plan ahead and make reservations in advance. See the Ultimate Guide to Spending Christmas / New Year Holidays in Southeast Asia for more info.
- Wet-season monsoon rains fall from June to October in most SE Asian countries (Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar).
- April to May are the hottest months with daytime temperature reaching 37–40°C (99–104°F).
However, Indonesia (Bali) and Singapore are exceptions.
- The dry seasons in these two countries are from April to September.
- The rainy season (usually downpours in the afternoon) falls from October to March.
- The wettest months are December to February.
The rainy season and the hottest months usually reward you with less crowding and the best deals for flights and hotels. Take your outdoor activities mainly in the morning time during the rainy season.
Want to attend the romantic Loy Krathong festival in Thailand? Come to Chiang Mai on November.
Read more about Best Times to Visit Southeast Asia.
4. Plan Your Budget
The biggest chunk of the budget for an overseas travel goes firstly to transportation and secondly to accommodation: this is rigid and unlikely to be pruned away. This leaves the sightseeing part to your control when budgeting. How much you want to see, and therefore the number of days you stay, will determine the eventual cost of the trip.
With different travel times come different costs. During the peak season, the cost for a private guided tour plus 4-star level hotels and flight connections within Southeast Asia normally ranges from US$200–250 per person per day. Kids under 10 get 30 to 50 percent off.
For a private family trip with 2 adults and 2 kids, the cost for a 2-week trip in Southeast Asia covering 2–3 countries would be about 10,000 to 12,000 USD. International airfares are not included. Traveling in bigger group or during shoulder season usually means less cost.
Dining is pretty inexpensive: around 10 bucks for lunch per person and 20 to 50 USD for a nice dinner.
Book early (at least 3 months before departure) for better prices.
5. Transportation to/within Southeast Asia
Flights from major U.S. cities to Southeast Asia require transfers. It takes less time to transfer via Taipei, Hong Kong, Singapore, or Seoul.
As popular tourist destinations and large cities in Southeast Asia, Thailand’s Bangkok and Vietnam’s Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh are usually visited as a first point of entry.
Air travel is the best way to travel between countries in Southeast Asia. Almost all capitals and popular tourist destinations have direct regional flights.
Booking a private tour with us, we will arrange your transportation within Southeast Asia. Our travel consultant will search the flight schedules, arrange the best connections, and book the air tickets.
6. Check Visa Requirements
Getting visas is generally an easy thing when touring Southeast Asia. Most countries offer visa-free entry, e-visas, or visas-on-arrival.
If you come from the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, or Switzerland, the following are available:
|Thailand||Visa-free entry for 30 days|
|Indonesia (Bali)||Visa-free entry for at least 30 days|
|Singapore||Visa-free entry for at least 30 days|
|Laos||Visa On Arrival (Visa-free entry for Swiss)|
For more visa information, see Asia/Southeast Visas: Exemptions, Requirements, How to Apply
Tailor-Make Your Southeast Asia Tour with Us
Our private tours are the hassle-free solution to making family/couple trip arrangements. You would have a one-to-one travel consultant that you can always contact to communicate your tour ideas whenever it is convenient for you.
We would design your itinerary based on your interests, hotel preferences, dietary considerations, and other requirements.
Why Travel with Asia Highlights During the Pandemic
- Tailor-made experience: All of your ideas/needs will be carefully considered to create your ideal trip.
- Worry-free planning: Your 1:1 travel consultant in Asia will take all the uncertainty out of your planning, helping you navigate any travel restrictions.
- No-risk booking: 100% refund policy! (prior to 3 weeks before departure, more details)
Get Inspired with Our Sample Itineraries
At Asia Highlights, we create your kind of journey — your dates, your destinations, at your pace. You can have any trip tailor made for your travel.