22 Perfect One-Week Itineraries for Southeast Asia

22 Perfect One-Week Itineraries for Southeast Asia

From the Land of Smiles to the Pearl of the Orient, our list of 22 one-week itineraries has got you covered for your upcoming Southeast Asia adventures!

Considering a trip across South East Asia but deterred by the amount of homework you need to do before embarking on the trip? Being the awesome people we are, the editorial team at TripZilla has done all the work for you. Aren’t we like… the best?

Taking into consideration food, sceneries, culture, and ease of getting around, among many other factors, we have compiled a list of 22 amazing one-week itineraries for experiencing the best that Southeast Asia has to offer!

Thailand

1. Chiang Mai + Chiang Rai

chiang maiImage credit: John Shedrick

Be schooled in Thailand’s religious heritage by visiting some of the most renowned religious buildings in Chiang Mai like the Wat Chedi Luang and the Doi Suthep. If you are visiting Thailand in November, plan it to coincide with the Yi Peng festival. The festival translate into “to float a basket”, where, in Chiang Mai, floating lanterns made of paper are launched into the sky to bless the locals. Bus three hours to the city of Chiang Rai. Pop into one of the many Buddhist temples in the city to admire at the intricate murals and carvings. Conclude your trip with a saunter through the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar.

2. Krabi + Phuket

krabiImage credit: Eulinky

Take a chill pill at Krabi’s Thung Teao Forest Natural Park. The Crystal Lagoon, also known as the Emerald Pool, is exceptionally beautiful and surreal with its naturally warm and crystal clear water. Speedboat over to the Phi Phi Islands just forty five minutes away from mainland Krabi, where you can indulge in your adventurous side with a wide range of activities like snorkeling, rock climbing, kayaking, and sailing. Continue with the watersports frenzy at nearby Phuket’s most popular tourist spot, Patong Beach. As nightfall, head over to Phuket Old Town where you can find shrines and temples, quaint shophouses and cafes to muse over after a hearty Thai dinner.

3. Bangkok + Ayutthaya

bangkokImage credit: Marcus

Bangkok, the city of Angels has so much more to offer than just coconut ice creams and Thai massages. Consider temple-hopping to visit all the majestic temples within one another’s vicinity, like Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), Wat Pho (Temple of the reclining Buddha), and Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn). There are also a plethora of temples in nearby the nearby city of Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991. A day trip to Ayutthaya lets you see attractions like Phet Fortress, the city’s most important defensive structure built in the 15th century, Bang Pa-in Palace, and the Foreign Quarters.

Cambodia

4. Siem Reap + Angkor Wat 

siem reapImage credit: Christian Junker | Photography

Constructed in the 12th century, Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world, and the must see for visitors to Siem Reap. Apart from that UNESCO World Heritage Site though, spend some time at the Angkor National Museum and the fascinating Cambodian Landmine Museum.

5. Phnom Penh + Sihanoukville + Koh Rong

phnom penh
Image credit: Clay Gilliland

Fly into Phnom Penh and brace yourself for the sensory overload usually expected of an Asian capital. Settle into the noise of commerce on the street, the smell of the markets, and start your day with a visit to the National Museum of Cambodia and the Royal Palace. Check out the Psar Thmei, a landmark building some rank as one of the 10 biggest domes in the world. If you love beaches, plan a trip to a seaside town Sihanoukville where you can fish, kayak, windsurf, jetski, snorkel… Catch a boat to Koh Rong from the Serendipity Pier in Sihanoukville. With its 23 white sand beaches, Koh Rong is excellent for snorkelling and diving. On the dark parts of the beaches, you even get to see phosphorescent plankton every single night because of the minimal light pollution.

Laos

6. Luang Prabang + Vientiane 

LUANG PRABANGImage credit: Poswiecie

The old town centre of Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Apart from that, take a trip to the Kuang Si Falls, Pak Ou Caves, and Tat Sae Waterfalls to get close to nature. Head to Mount Phou Si to catch the sun set over the Mekong River. In Vientiene, the Pha That Luang, a Buddhist stupa. For a paranomic view of the city, energetic visitors can climb to the top of the Patuxai war monument, a structure redolent of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Myanmar

7. Yangon + Inle Lake

yangonImage credit: dany13

The former capital of Myanmar (Burma), Yangon is the largest city in the country with a population of over five million. Visit the two iconic pagodas in the city, Shwedagon and Sule. An unconventional way to spend half a day is to take the Yangon Circular Railroad train which takes about three hours to complete. Excite your tastebuds with Myanmarese cuisine like mohinga and laphet thoke. Take the train to Inle Lake to marvel at the rustic way of life. Admire the impressive stupas, pagodas, and monasteries, and be amazed by the art of lotus fabric making and other artisanal appreciations like the Myanmar sarong longhis. Now wouldn’t these make much better souvenirs than postcards and fridge magnets?

8. Bagan + Mandalay 

baganImage credit: KX Studio

No trip to Myanmar would be complete without a visit to the ancient city of Bagan, home to the densest concentration of Buddhist temples, pagodas, stupas, and ruins in the world. Many date as far back as the 11th century. In its heyday between the 11th and 13th century, more than 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas, and monasteries were built in the Bagan plains; over 2,000 still remain today. Two iconic temples to visit are the Ananda Temple and the Dhammayangyi Temple. Over at Mandalay, Myanmar’s second largest city, load up on your religious and cultural appreciation at the Royal Palace and the various religious sites. Wake up early to witness the ceremony of washing the buddha’s face, which occurs every day at Mahamuni Paya at around 4.30am to 5am.

Vietnam

9. Ho Chi Minh City + Mekong Delta

ho chi minh cityImage credit: Jens Aarstein Holm

Also known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam. Gain an understanding of the Vietnam war at the War Remnants Museum. Explore the Cu Chi Tunnels, a complex tunnel used during the war. Wrap up your history lesson of Vietnam’s past with an excursion to the Reunification Palace. Step into the Central Post Office to gawk at the grandeur of the architecture. The building was designed by one Gustave Eiffel, the same guy who Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty. A bird’s eye view of Saigon can be found at the EON 51 Heli Bar. Drink the Saigon Fizz. For a day trip out of Ho Chi Minh, head south to the fertile region of the Mekong Delta where you can, among many other things, eat fresh fruits on the floating markets and experience the unique “fish toilet” for yourself.

10. Da Lat + Mui Ne 

da latImage credit: StockSnap

Perched 1500 metres above sea level is Da Lat, known for its natural beauty and cool climate. Da Lat is all about its waterfall and countryside, and the best way to explore is on two wheels. Rent a motorbike to explore the numerous sights like the Truc Lam Pagoda, the serene Tuyen Lam Lake, the Pongour Waterfall, and the eccentric Crazy House. If you can’t drive, you can choose to take a xe om (motorbike taxi) to get around. A four hour bus ride brings you to the resort town of Mui Ne. Check out the famous doi cat (sand dunes) and the Fairy Stream.

11. Da Nang + Hoi An + Hue 

danangImage credit: Greg Willis

Kick off your visit to Vietnam’s third largest city Da Nang by checking out the Cham Museum and the Marble Mountains. As night falls, look out for the giant metal dragon built into the ferris wheel along the Han River. On Sunday nights it blows fire and water. Consider hopping over to nearby Cham Island for one or two nights to swim, snorkel, and enjoy the fresh seafood. Just south of Da Nang is the city of Hoi An.See the Japanese Covered Bridge’s Pagoda and take your pick from the several museums the city has to offer. Wander around the Hoi An Ancient Town and slowly soak in the beauty of Hoi An through its lanterns and lights. 3 hours away by bus is the city of Hue, which used to be the former imperial capital of Vietnam. In this city oozing with history, do visit the Imperial City and the Tombs of the Emperors. Release your tensions with a blind massage at the Institute of the Blind.

12. Hanoi + Halong Bay

hanoiImage credit: Simon Morris

Like any capital city, you’ll be spoilt for choices in Hanoi. Two of the best attractions are the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the tranquil Hoan Kiem Lake within walking distance of each other. The Temple of Literature, built in 1070, which was later established as Vietnam’s first university, is another must-see.If you have more time, visit the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, the Perfume Pagoda, the Ba Vi National Park, and the Hanoi Old Quarter, where you can find Hanoi’s largest indoor market, Dong Xuan Market. Take a day trip (or a few days if you have the time) to visit one of the most beautiful bays in the world, Halong Bay.

13. Sapa + Moc Chau 

sapaImage credit: Aurimas

Continuing on your Vietnam adventure, head Northwest to Sapa, a picturesque town located 1,500 metres above sea level. Conquer Mount Fansipan, the highest peak in Indochina. The hike is of relative difficulty tough, so to reward yourself afterwards, pop in for a Vietnamese massage at the numerous massage parlour over Sapa town. Spend a night at a local village homestay for an authentic experience of local life. Carry on to Moc Chau for its poetic nature, where you get to marvel at the stunning tea-hills landscapes and the picture perfect Dai Yem waterfall. Conclude with a night’s stay at a traditional stilt house in Ang Village.

Malaysia

14. Malacca + Ipoh + Penang 

malaccaImage credit: Martin Pilát

Malacca, a charming city which also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stroll down Jonker Street Night Market on a Friday or Saturday and try the delicious fried egg ice cream. Don’t miss the iconic Christ Church, the oldest Protestant Church in Malaysia, within walking distance from Jonker Street. Not far away, Malaysia’s fourth largest city, Ipoh, beckons the more adventurous. Try white water rafting at the Kampar River in Gopeng. Visit the Kek Lok Tong Cave Temple for a leisure walk and you’ll be rewarded with a picturesque view of a beautiful garden. About 2 hours away is another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Georgetown – the capital of Penang. Feast your eyes on the many attractive 19th century churches, mosques, temples, and colonial buildings. The Penang Butterfly Farm which invokes a feeling of being in an enchanted forest is also worth checking out.

15. Kota Kinabalu + Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park 

kota kinabaluImage credit: Stéphane Enten

Start your trip in Kota Kinabalu by admiring the gorgeous architecture of the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque and the tranquillity of the City Park. A little more than an hour away from the city centre is the majestic Mount Kinabalu and the Kinabalu National Park, a mecca for mountain climbing, leisure walks, and nature photography. Hop onto a 30-minute speedboat ride that will bring you to a group of five islands, collectively known as the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. There are beach activities like diving, snorkelling, or swimming for you to get your water sports fix as well. Some islands also have facilities like barbecue pits and hiking trails if you are more a land person. Island-hopping is also a popular option among travellers!

Indonesia

16. Mount Merapi + Yogyakarta + Borobudur 

merapiImage credit: Justine Hong

Take a tour to the Merapi Volanco located on the border between Yogyakarta and Central Java, the most active one in Indonesia which has erupted regularly since 1548. The Water Castle (Taman Sari) is also a wondrous place worth exploring. Both places have lots of stories to tell. Think Tomb Raider, or Temple Run. Also, just an hour’s drive away from Yogyakarta is Borobudur. The iconic UNESCO World Heritage Site also happens to be the world’s largest Buddhist archaeological site.

17. Surabaya + Mount Bromo + Ijen Volcano 

surabayaImage credit: Nick Botter

There are many attractions to check out upon arriving in Surabaya. Visit the Sampoerna Museum, a cigarette museum which allows you to learn about the cigarette industry in Indonesia, and Tugu Pahlawan, a monument dedicated to the fallen heroes during the war of 1945-49. About 3 hours south is Mount Bromo, which offers an amazing view of the stars at night and a spectacular sunrise. Lastly, hike up the Ijen Volcano for a breathtaking view of the sunrise and the surrounding landscape.

18. Bali + Lombok

lombokImage credit: Iulian Ursu

Also known as the Island of Gods, Bali is an island and province of Indonesia. Visit the Tanah Lot temple located on an offshore rock formation which is only accessible during low tide. Bali also offers many beautiful rice terraces and waterfalls to escape from the hectic pace of the city. Stand under the waters of the Yeh Mampeh waterfall and the Tegenungan waterfall to rejuvenate your senses. Carefully navigate the Tegalalang rice terrace and try to avoid the mud puddles. Just four hours away by ferries (or an hour by flight) are the white soft sand and clear blue skies of Lombok. Sip on kalapa muda (young coconut) while people-watching on the many beaches in Lombok, and be sure to try the local traditional massage in both Bali and Lombok.

Philippines

19. Palawan + Puerto Princesa 

palawanImage credit: Andy Enero

Begin your adventure of island province Palawan at the provincial capital Puerto Princesa. Make a trip down to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park and meander down the longest underground river in the world. On Palawan itself, go diving with history: the aquatic views from the sunken Japanese warships off Coron Island are some of the best in the world.

20. Iloilo + Guimaras 

iloiloImage credit: George Parrila

Iloilo city in the Philippines is a wondrous city deep in heritage and absolutely remarkable in architecture. Learn about the historical and religious backstory with a visit to the iconic landmarks like Jaro Cathedral, Our Lady of the Candles, Lizares Mansion, and Casa Mariquit. Traipse through Calle Real, a beautiful stretch of heritage street.On Sundays 3pm – 9pm, the street is closed to vehicular traffic. Less than an hour away is the perfect day-trip island Guimaras, which is famous for its pristine white beaches, island coves. Guimaras’ pride lies in their magnificent mangoes which they make into jams, dried mangoes, and interestingly… mango ketchup. Try! 

21. Cebu + Bohol

cebuImage credit: Lemuel Leogene Reyes

Affectionately called the Queen City of the South, Cebu is the oldest and largest city in the Philippines. A particular noteworthy monument is the Cebu Cathedral, reportedly the birthplace of Catholicism in Asia. Also see Fort San Pedro, Cebu Tops, and the Basilica Minore Del Santo Nino. Eat halo-halo (a popular Filipino dessert that is both pleasing to the eyes and to the mouth). Boat to nearby Bohol for an absolutely amazing firefly kayaking experience. Overcome your fear of bats at the Hinagdanan Cave, renowned for its many large stalactites and stalagmites with its alluring beautiful natural lighting. Bohol is also known for its bee farms. Buy some sweet treats back home. Also, here’s a more detailed Cebu to Bohol 3-Day Itinerary for you to check out.

22. Cagayan De Oro + Davao 

cagayan de oroImage credit: jojo nicdao

With a nickname like the “City of Golden Friendship”, it is no wonder that Cagayan De Oro is a highly popular tourist hub. Try whitewater rafting, horseback riding, or enjoy a cockfighting show at the arena along National Highway in Gusa. A slower pace would be to check out the gothic inspired San Agustin Cathedral and the many parks and museums. Fly, bus, ferry, or drive to Davao. See the modern open-air San Pedro Cathedral, People’s Park, and the Davao City Hall. Go sky-cycling at Eden Nature Park for an unforgettable experience. Last but not least, bring your adventure to a delicious close with a durian feast! Davao happens to be the top developer of durians in the Philippines, so take advantage of the cheap durians (and the durian ice cream, durian cakes…) before heading home with a satisfied stomach and a happy heart.

This brings us to the end of our non-exhaustive list of perfect one-week itineraries you could pick and choose for your next adventure around this underrated corner of the world – Southeast Asia.

About Author

Ivan Lim
Ivan Lim

Ivan loves anything vaguely related to the stars, the sun, and the universe. He’s rather proud of the fact that he has amassed more than 5000 Instagram photos, on which he has numerous legit (to himself) hashtags series, with two dedicated to eating and drinking. He’s partial to shower concerts and sometimes thinks in song lyrics and movie quotes.

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