Backpacking Indochina: 10 experiences to add to your itinerary

Backpacking Indochina - 10 experiences to add to your itinerary

Even though my Asia adventures were cut short, I still managed to visit 5 countries in this year before the pandemic hit. I’m pretty lucky.

During those 6 weeks, I visited some incredible places and experienced a lot of amazing activities. From snorkelling to tubing and temples to beaches. I did it all.

I went on the Indochina Discovery with G Adventures from Bangkok for 30 days. We visited Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. It’s a trip I’ll never forget.

It took me 4 years of travel experience to get the courage to visit Asia. A lot of planning and saving went into it but it was completely worth it in the end and one of the best things I’ve ever done.

 

READ MORE: 4 ANXIOUS STEPS TO PLANNING AND PREPARING FOR BACKPACKING ASIA

 

If you’re planning to visit Southeast Asia in the future, then make sure you put these activities and destinations on your list.

 

Sunrise at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Yes, you’ll have to get up ridiculously early and fight the crowds to get to the front but the view is worth it. I’m not an early bird at all, so I struggled a little with the early morning grumpiness but when I watched the sun peak over the temple that all went away.

 

READ MORE: AN ANXIOUS TRAVELLER’S GUIDE TO CAMBODIA

 

The sunrise colours are great but the silhouettes of the temples made it extra special.

backpacking indochina - angkor wat temple

 

Explore the Vietnam Cu Chi Tunnels

I have to be honest, I didn’t know what the Cu Chi tunnels were till our tour leader asked who wanted to go. Obviously, I knew about the Vietnam War but these tunnels were a mystery to me.

I went purely because some of the group were going and sounded interesting. I was blown away by the tour. It was very informative and we got to try out the tunnels ourselves. Not one for those who are claustrophobic.

 

Kayak around the islands of Halong Bay, Vietnam

This was one of the top things on my list for this trip. I was so excited about it and then the weather was awful but we made the most out of it.

We took a cruise out to into the bay and around the islands. We stopped for a hike too but I couldn’t take part because I hurt my knee the day before so used it as a prime sunbathing opportunity as the clouds departed.

We also had an all you can eat buffet on board and then burnt it off kayaking around the caves. One of my favourite days on the trip.

backpacking indochina - halong bay
backpacking indochina - halong bay
backpacking indochina - halong bay kayaking

 

Take a dip in the Blue Lagoon in Laos

This was another big-ticket item on my list. It’s one of those destinations I kept seeing on Instagram or while I was happily pinning on Pinterest.

The blue lagoon is a super turquoisey, deep blue lagoon which has lots of fishes in it. You can take a dip, swim, float about, swing into or jump off a tree into it. It’s pretty incredible.

 

Have a wild night out in Hanoi

I remember getting ready to go out in Hanoi, I have pictures of me in a super “shit shirt” in Hanoi, I remember having pre-drinks in the hostel, there was dancing…definitely dancing…must have been a good night?

 

Pay your respects at the Killing Fields, Cambodia

This was quite an emotional experience for everyone who went on this tour. Most of us weren’t fully aware of what happened here so it was quite shocking to hear about.

 

Visit the lantern town of Hoi An, Vietnam

I love, love, LOVED Hoi An. I could have spent more time there but we got a lot out of our short stay in this beautiful lantern-lit town.

They have a very cultural theatre show which was quite odd for a westerner but made it fun to watch. We took a bike tour out into the backcountry lanes, rowed a basket boat down a river and came back to Hoi An by a ferry at sunset.

At night, there were tons of great bars with 241 deals, great restaurants, live music, night markets, nightlife and you can even let a lantern go down the river. If you loved the lantern scene in Tangled, this is the real deal!

 

Swim in the waterfalls in Luang Prabang, Laos

It took me a while to get into the water of these waterfalls. The eager lot started screaming about how cold it was and they weren’t wrong. It was freezing.

However, it does get warmer the closer you get to the waterfalls and it was just incredible standing underneath the waterfalls, all by myself because everyone had left the cold waters.

 

Swim with glowing algae on Koh Rong, Cambodia

There’s a boat trip you can take on Koh Rong which is for snorkelling and swimming around the island. We also got free beers which also isn’t a bad selling point.

More importantly, we got to sail at sunset and when the sun went down the captain told us to jump in. Swim at night, are you crazy?! What we didn’t know was that part of the water was covered in glowing algae! Incredible!

 

READ MORE: 8 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD BACKPACK CAMBODIA ON A GROUP TOUR

 

If you’re not sold yet, then there’s also top music and your own MC on board.

 

Visit an ethical elephant rescue park

Lastly, you have to go to an Elephant rescue park. It wouldn’t be a true Asia experience without it. You can’t buy travelling elephant pants without visiting one, it’s the traveller’s law.

These parks rescue “working” elephants from being forced and trained to carry humans. PSA – Don’t ride elephants!

At the rescue centre, your money goes towards helping them recover. Being fed healthy food and vitamins to help them grow. Once they’ve recovered, they go to a bigger protected space where they can live out there days in peace.

You’ll be able to feed them, give the baby elephants milk, give them a mud bath and then wash them down but only if they want to.

Some of the elephants didn’t want a bath when we came, so they weren’t forced which is great. It’s a rescue centre and not an attraction.

 

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WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO THE MOST IN INDOCHINA? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS. 


 

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1 Comment

  1. 21/07/2020 / 10:50 am

    Thanks for sharing, I did a couple of these on my trip last year, the waterfall swimming was one my favourites 🙂

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