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pura ulun danu bratan temple in Bali indonesia.

Tips for planning your first luxury trip to South East Asia

By LLM Reporters on 22nd September 2019

When it comes to adventure and luxury combined, it doesn’t get much better than South East Asia. Made up of eleven different countries, all easily reachable from each other, it has long been the destination of choice for backpackers and travelers – but these days, it’s the perfect stop for anyone in search of a lavish getaway, offering up some of the best five-star hotel accommodation in the world.

Made up of a variety of mainland and island destinations, popular luxury island hotspots include wealthy Singapore, scenic Bali and the beautiful tropical islands of the Philippines. Add to that the likes of Malaysia and Borneo, and you have something for everyone – whether you’re looking for adrenaline-fuelled adventure, rich culture, spectacular nature, or those picture-perfect beaches. And, with some of the most vibrant cities in the world serving as stopovers for many destinations, you can easily plan a well-rounded trip that ticks all of the right boxes in one go.

Back on the mainland, the likes of Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia have been enjoying a tourism boom for years – and though they tend to be busier with tourists than the islands, they are still well worth a visit. You can still find some amazing secluded destinations if you dig a little deeper when researching – and once you get to them, you’ll be delighted you made the effort.

Aerial view of Ho Chi Minh City skyline and skyscrapers in center of heart business at Ho Chi Minh City downtown. Panorama of cityscape on Saigon river in Ho Chi Minh City at Vietnam at sunrise scene
Ho Chi Minh City is a popular destination in Vietnam

Tips to plan your first Southeast Asia journey

Pick a few cities or countries

It can be tempting to try to tick off all the countries on your South East Asia bucketlist in one go, but with each place having so much to offer, you run the risk of missing out on some amazing sights and experiences if you only stop at each place for a flying visit. Not only that, but travelling across such a vast territory in a short space of time can be exhausting, sapping some of the enjoyment from your trip.

Instead, pick just one or two places of interest, and take the time to immerse yourself in the culture and scenery they have to offer. You’ll leave having had a much more enriching experience and with a real feel for the places you’ve been.

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA - MARCH 24, 2018: The Silver Pagoda or Wat Preah Keo Morakot is located near the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh in Cambodia
The Silver Pagoda is located near the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Image credit: saiko3p/Bigstock.com

Before you choose the destinations you’d like to visit, be sure to check out the options for domestic travelling. Many countries offer a great network of domestic flights, but others do not – and you won’t want to spend your luxury getaway stuck on an uncomfortable overnight bus.

Bookaway is a great place to start when it comes to organizing land and sea travel in advance, offering tickets for thousands of domestic routes in the region. Arrangements can be made online, leaving you free to relax and enjoy the ride once you arrive in South East Asia.

Book accommodation in advance

To ensure you get the very best pick of accommodation, be sure to book in advance. Destinations such as Bali and Thailand offer a broad range of beautiful five-star resorts and hotels where you’ll want for nothing, providing you with the perfect base for your stay.

The best eachfront hotels and rainforest villas can fill up fast, so book as early as you can. Many come with private infinity pools and your own personal butler – so shop around to ensyre you are getting the very best.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Bali. Hindu temple surrounded by flowers on Bratan lake Bali. Major Shivaite water temple in Bali Indonesia. Water temple in Bali Indonesia. Hindu temple of Bali Indonesia
Bali is the most popular island holiday destination in the Indonesian archipelago

Check visa requirements

Some countries require you to have a passport that is valid for a minimum of six months more before you enter, so be sure to update your documents if necessary before you leave for your trip.

In some countries, such as Vietnam, travellers from specific European countries don’t require an advanced visa, so you can fill in documentation at the airport – but for others, you’ll need to apply online beforehand and present your visa on arrival at your destination.

Health protection

Before traveling to your chosen countries, check their requirements and recommendations for vaccinations, and be sure to get any that you need prior to setting off on your luxury holiday. Getting rabies and tetanus shots before travelling is usually advised – and be sure to carry a strong mosquito repellant to protect yourself from malaria and dengue fever. 

View on top of Bohey Dulang island near Sipadan Island,Sabah,Borneo.Tropical paradise island with bright smooth mirror sand & crystal clear water with rocky shore in the island of Semporna,Borneo
Bohey Dulang is the second-largest island among the Tun Sakaran Marine Park archipelago

Change money as soon as you arrive

Avoid exchanging money at the airport or in your home country, because the exchange rates can be high. You’ll get decent exchange rates in your chosen South East Asian country once you arrive at your destination – but be sure to always look for reputable currency exchanges and double-check the rates you are offered to ensure you are getting a good deal.

Get travel insurance

As your luxury Southeast Asian tour may well include adventures such as scuba diving, zip-lining, street food eating, motorcycle rental, and jungle trekking, it is wise to have insurance coverage. A good insurance policy even covers issues with hotels and flights as well as lost luggage, so it will give you peace of mind should anything go wrong.

The region of South East Asia has a lot to offer, and for luxury travelers, there is a lot to love. With spectacular five-star accommodation choices, mouthwatering cuisine and some of the most picturesque beaches and natural scenery you will have ever seen, it’s already an appealing choice – but add to that the vibrant culture of this buzzing region, and you’re guaranteed to find yourself heading back for more.