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Recommended Travel Itinerary for 6 Months in Asia

Updated on November 3, 2019
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Matt is an avid traveller and a keen photographer who showcases his work on Flickr & sells his images through Adobe Stock and Shutterstock.

Maya Bay in Thailand as featured in the Leonardo DiCaprio movie, 'The Beach'
Maya Bay in Thailand as featured in the Leonardo DiCaprio movie, 'The Beach' | Source

Top Tips for Putting Together a Travel Itinerary for Asia

Asia is the largest continent on earth and features an incredible array of sights, attractions, and experiences. Asia some of the most varied landscapes on earth and a mix of diverse cities that range from the oldest to the newest to be found anywhere in the world.

For the first time visitor to Asia it can be a daunting challenge to even choose where to start. Be it the world-famous islands and beaches of Thailand; the street food and colonial-era beauty of Vietnam; the Himalayan mountain ranges of Nepal; the temples of Cambodia; or the spiritual mysticism of India. It can be a tough call to know where to begin a trip to the Asian continent. Luckily, I'm here to help with this article. If you've got 6 months to spare then look no further as I pack it full of exciting destinations and give you the low down on what to expect and how to prepare. If you're not fortunate enough to have so long to travel then have a read of the destinations that I suggest and pick the one that works for you.

A few years I was lucky enough to be granted a sabbatical from work to go travelling for a year. During this time I spent 6 months travelling around Asia so this article has been put together for you using first hand experience.

Getting Around in Asia

Generally, after initially flying in to the first country (India) I crossed most borders by land on buses and trains but sometimes it was just more convenient and worth the additional expense to fly. In India I enjoyed the experience of the railways but it’s very slow to cover the huge distances and so I took 2 internal flights in India and also flew from Delhi to Kathmandu and then from Kathmandu to China. From China I travelled through Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore by buses, trains and various other means until I took another flight from Singapore to Bali.

Get the entry Visa for whichever country you decide to visit first from the embassy in your home country before leaving. All visas for countries that you will move on to can be obtained from the embassy in whichever country you are travelling from. Of course it is possible to arrange all of your visas in advance but some only have short entry windows (for example one month) and may come into effect from the day the visa is granted meaning that it may have expired by the time you're actually ready to visit the country.

6-Month Recommended Asia Itinerary

Ok, so in the following sections of this article I will suggest an itinerary for a 6-month stay in Asia. I stayed in all of the countries listed below and visited the suggested places (as well as I can remember- you might need to look some of them up to see exactly where they are):

India

I recommend India as your starting point for this itinerary. It may seem daunting at first but my logic is that if you can handle Delhi you can handle anywhere on earth. Depending where you're from and how much travel you have done previously, arriving for the first time in Delhi can be a major shock to the system. But it'll stand you in good stead and you'll soon learn!

Duration: 4 weeks

Places to Visit: Delhi; Jaipur; Agra (Taj Mahal); Varanasi then South to Madurai; Kodaikanal; Kumily (Western Ghats); Alleppey; Fort Kochi (Kerala state) and Goa.

Main modes of Long Distance Travel: Train and aeroplane

Currency: Indian Rupee

Best time to visit: North: March to November / South: October to March

The world-famous Taj Mahal in India
The world-famous Taj Mahal in India | Source

3 Weeks in Nepal

Nepal

Next up on the list and in geographical terms, the logical next step on your travels, is the Kingdom of Nepal. This is the part of the itinerary where you get to see Mount Everest (you can even climb it if you want) and get to trek in the Himalayan mountains. Often referred to as 'the roof of the world' the mountain landscapes and vistas on show in Nepal rival the best the whole world has to offer. Spend some time visiting the ancient temples and chaotic streets in Kathmandu before getting out to the Annapurna Mountains in the foothills of the Himalayas and go for hiking for a few days. You can go with a guide if you like but the hikes are well sign-posted and easily navigated. Accommodation is provided in guesthouses dotted along the well-worn trails.

Duration: 3 weeks

Places to Visit: Kathmandu; Bhaktapur; Patan;Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park; Nagarkot; Pokhara (for 5 days trekking in Annapurna mountains); Royal Chitwan National Park.

Main Mode of Long distance Travel: Bus

Currency: Nepali Rupee

Best time to visit: October to April

Himalaya mountain range in Nepal
Himalaya mountain range in Nepal | Source

4 Weeks in China

China

Next up in my suggested sequence is visit to China. There are 2 ways into China from Nepal. One of these ways is easy, and is the way I would recommend, and the other way is the hard way. The easy way is to simply fly from Kathmandu to wherever you want to start you China odyssey (I flew to Kunming where I moved on to Chengdu). China has so much to offer that you could quite easily spend the whole 6 months here. But 4 weeks should give you a good taste of what the country has to offer. I've provided links to other articles I've written giving you further information of certain places.

Duration: 4 weeks

Places to Visit: Chengdu in Sichuan Province; Jiuzhaigou Valley; the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an; Beijing; Shanghai; Yangshuo.

Main Mode of Long Distance Travel: Train and Aeroplane

Currency: Chinese Yuan

Best time to visit: May to October

The Great Wall of China at Mutianyu
The Great Wall of China at Mutianyu | Source

4 Weeks in Vietnam

Vietnam

From China it's a fairly straightforward process to cross the border into Vietnam over land. However, have a look at flight prices as it may be about the same price to fly as it is to go by train. And flying will certainly be much quicker. Don't forget to get you Vietnamese visa from the embassy in Beijing before you set off.

I recommend spending 3-4 weeks in Vietnam and I suggest starting in the north of the country such as in the nation's capital, Hanoi. Don't be afraid to sample the street food. If you're used to eating in restaurants and sitting in chairs that don't look like their made for children don't be put off: the street cuisine in Hanoi is out of this world and incredibly cheap.

Vietnam is a very easy country to get around with a well travelled tourist route linking all of the main population centres along it's narrow width. Overnight buses and trains are your best bet and can be easily arranged from your hotel or tour agencies located pretty much everywhere.

Duration: 3 or 4 weeks

Places to Visit: Hanoi; Sapa; Halong Bay; Hue; Hoi An; Nha Trang; Ho Chi Minh City; Mekong Delta; Phu Quoc

Main Mode of Long Distance Travel: Bus

Currency: Vietnamese Dong

Best time to visit: Spring - February to April and Autumn - August to October

Halong Bay in Vietnam
Halong Bay in Vietnam | Source

10 Days in Cambodia

Cambodia

Cambodia is one of the poorest countries on earth but also has some of most hospitable and friendly people on earth. Everything here is basic and under-developed. But this little country nestled in South East Asia hosts one of the majors wonders of the world: The Temples of Angkor. You destination point for a visit to the temple complex is the charming city of Siem Reap which seduces visitors with it's stunning colonial-era architecture and tree-lined streets.

Duration: 10 days

Places to Visit: Kampot; Battambang; Phnom Penh; Siem Reap (Angkor Wat Temples)

Main Mode of Long Distance Travel: Bus

Currency: Cambodian Riel (officially) but US Dollars are more common and are dispensed from all ATMs.

Best time to visit: May to October

The Temples of Angkor in Cambodia
The Temples of Angkor in Cambodia | Source

3 Weeks in Laos

Laos

Crossing overland from Cambodia you will enter Laos at the Four Thousand Islands in the Mekong River where I suggest you spend a couple of nights at least on Don Ket. Whilst you'll be with many other backpackers you really get a sense of the real Laos here as you see farmers toiling in the fields and bullocks cooling off in deep mud baths.

There still isn't much of a developed tourism infrastructure in Laos so getting off the beaten track is more challenging than in other countries of Asia but it's very rewarding if you can manage it. If you need to go somewhere just ask someone.

Duration: 2 or 3 weeks

Places to Visit: Four Thousand Islands; Pakse; Tha Khek (for Kong Lo Cave); Vientienne; Luang Prabang

Main Mode of Long Distance Travel: Bus

Currency: Laos Kip

Best time to visit: October to April

Laos food market
Laos food market | Source

4 Weeks in Thailand

Thailand

When you think of Thailand you think of exotic beaches, clear blue waters and parties! Thailand has these things in abundance: some of the best beaches to be found anywhere in the world and what's more you don't have to be rich to stay at them. Thailand still has incredibly cheap accommodation options in some of the most spectacular locations on earth. From beach huts in Koh Pha-ngan to treehouses in Koh Samui to comfortable resorts in Koh Phi Phi.

And no trip to Thailand would be complete without a stay in Bangkok. In fact, if you intend to follow this itinerary as I have suggested then you will likely want some comfort by the time you get to Bangkok. If so then I recommend renting an apartment in Bangkok.

Duration: 4 weeks

Places to Visit: Chang Mai; Bangkok; Kanchanaburi (for Bridge Over the River Kwai); Koh Pha-ngan; Koh Phi Phi; Koh Lanta

Main Mode of Long Distance Travel: Bus and Train

Currency: Thai Baht

Best time to visit: November to April

North Beach on Koh Pha-Ngan in Thailand
North Beach on Koh Pha-Ngan in Thailand | Source

2 Weeks in Malaysia

Malaysia

By the time you get down to Malaysia you will start to notice that things are more developed and more modern. Malaysia is a very rich country and it has a sophisticated infrastructure to match While the capital, KL is a must-visit destination in Malaysia the country has some incredible heritage (see George Town and Malaka) and some world-class beaches in Redang and the Perhentian Islands.

Duration: 2 weeks

Places to Visit: Penang/Georgetown; Perhentian Islands; Kuala Lumpur

Main Mode of Long Distance Travel: Bus

Currency: Malaysian Ringgit

Best Time to Travel: March to October

The Petronas Towers in KL
The Petronas Towers in KL | Source

4 Days in Singapore

Singapore

Singapore is a tiny city state nestled at the bottom of Malaysia. It's a fascinating city to visit full of striking architecture and skyscrapers and many sights, attractions and leisure activities - including Universal Studios. However, if you've just come from spending several months in cheap and cheerful South East Asia, the prices of things in Singapore may come as a bit or a shock. For that reason, and to make your funds go further, I only suggest spending 3 to 4 days in Singapore as part of this 6-month itinerary.

Duration: 3 or 4 days

Places to Visit: Raffles Hotel, Sentosa Island, Marina Bay Sands' Skypark

Main Mode of Long Distance Travel: No long distances in Singapore but good public transport system for getting around and to and from airport.

Currency: Singapore Dollar but US Dollars are also common

Best Time to Visit: March to October

The Singapore skyline at night viewed from the Skypark at Marina Bay Sands Hotel
The Singapore skyline at night viewed from the Skypark at Marina Bay Sands Hotel | Source

3 Weeks in Indonesia

Indonesia

The last country to visit on this recommended travel itinerary for Asia is Indonesia, the world's 4th most populous country and the world's most populous Muslim-majority country. Indonesia is a country of islands - more than seventeen thousand of them in fact! Although only a tiny percentage of them are inhabited with people. I suggest you spend time visiting some of these islands - especially those that are home to the Komodo Dragons. The islands that form part of Komodo National Park are the only place in the world where you can see Komodo Dragons in their natural habitat.

Duration: 3 weeks

Places to Visit: Bali; Lombok; Gili Isles; Flores; Rinca (Komodo Dragons)

Main Mode of Long Distance Travel: Aeroplane and Boat

Currency: Indonesian Rupiah

Best time to Visit: May to September

The Komodo Dragons of Rinca
The Komodo Dragons of Rinca | Source

How to Plan your Budget when Travelling for 6 Months

If you want to follow this itinerary and you're happy to eat cheaply and stay in budget accommodation then it can be done with a budget of around $20,000 between 2 people travelling together. You may not always eat out and you probably won't be regularly going out drinking all night (just every now and again) - certainly not in places like KL anyway! On this kind of budget you may sometimes need to economise with certain things but you shouldn't have to sacrifice doing something that you really want to do. Just manage your budget carefully.

As you’d imagine India, Nepal, China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand are all exceptionally cheap. Basic double room price ranges from $10-$20 with India often being cheaper than that. Some rooms can still be found in Cambodia that cost around $3 per night - even in Siem Reap. At Four Thousand Islands in Laos you can stay in wooden huts facing onto the river for about $5 per night. Makes it hard to leave!

You don’t really need to carry a lot of US dollars like everyone says but they can come in handy from time to time so worth keeping about $50 in lower denominations. It may also be worth looking into a pre-pay card such as from a company called Caxton fx that you load online or over the phone and it’s cheaper to withdraw than using your debit card as there are no withdrawal fees at ATMs.

Budget beach accommodation in Thailand
Budget beach accommodation in Thailand | Source

If you have enjoyed reading this article and have found it interesting please leave a comment in the space provided at the bottom of this page.

I have also written articles on many of the places suggested in the countries listed in this article. If you would like to read any of my practical travel guides to any of these places in the Asia then please click on the links below.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Matt Doran

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