The Ultimate Post-Graduation Southeast Asia Trip

For those of you who have read a few of my posts on Twenty-Something Travel (or, better yet, on my own blog Jetfarer), you know that I prided myself on being the college adventure traveler. Throughout college, I traveled during basically every school break, and even on weekends in between school days.

Well, folks, the time has come – I’ve finally finished my degree and graduated, and am ready to tackle the scary yet exciting “real world.”

To get myself started off on the right foot, I’ve planned, saved, and solidified the college student’s dream trip throughout Southeast Asia for the next three months. Though three months sounds like a long while to some, I found that I couldn’t cram nearly all of the things I wanted to see and do while in this region into this short time. During my trip, I will travel primarily by bus or plane from place to place. My main focuses will be cultural immersion and cuisine, though ultimately I just want to learn all I can about each destination. Here are some of the main highlights of my upcoming three months:

Thailand

CC Project 1080

What’s not to love about Thailand? This country boasts beautiful temples, dazzling beaches, rare wildlife, fragrant cuisine, and hospitable people, all for a fraction of the cost of living in the United States. I’ll be starting my trip off with a landing in Bangkok, a quick side trip over to Myanmar (which I’ll discuss next), and then a few whirlwind weeks exploring Thailand. My plan is, after retuning from Myanmar, to hang out in Bangkok for a few days, head south to Krabi in the Andaman coast, and finally up north to the likes of Chiang Mai, Pai, and Chiang Rai.

Myanmar

CC KX Studio

Originally, I wasn’t going to go to Myanmar. News of political turmoil and warnings from close friends took this country completely off my radar. But, as I was planning my trip, I realized that I’d be missing a whole lot of fascinating history and a country famed for its hospitality and beauty. So, in the first leg of my trip, I’ll be spending about 10 days in Myanmar, stopping through Yangon, Bagan, Inle Lake, and Mandalay throughout my sojourn.

Laos

CC Ahron de Leeuw

Laos was another country that was not on my radar as much as some other countries in the region, but after seeing photos of giant buddhas, shimmering temples, and bustling street markets, I knew that I wanted to really get to know this country and its mystique. My plan here is to station myself in Luang Prabang for a week or so to check out some of the nearby attractions, then to spend another week traveling around the country.

Cambodia

CC Archer10

When in Cambodia, I plan on doing some temple-hopping and tasting some of the strange and interesting foods that the country has to offer. I only have about a week in Cambodia, so I’m hoping to tackle Siem Reap and explore the rich culture of the country before heading out. Cambodia is also famous for its odd delicacies, including bugs and weird fruits. I’m not so sure a tarantula is on my list of things to try just yet…but we’ll see if that changes.

Vietnam

CC Lawrence Murray

I’m planning on spending the longest amount of time, over 3 weeks, in Vietnam. This country is full of natural beauty, such as Halong Bay and Bian Goc Falls, as well as the busy cities like Hanoi, with their oriental architecture and regal pasts.

While here, I also hope to sample some of the finest street food in the world (or so I’ve heard). Pho in the United States is absolutely amazing, and I can only imagine how much better it is at its very source.

Indonesia

CC Luke,Ma

Indonesia is the Philippines’ next-door neighbor and fellow archipelago, but yet I’ve never actually had the opportunity to visit. Though it is similar in geography and language to the Philippines, Indonesia is much more heavily Muslim-influenced, so I am interested to see how that differentiates its culture from that which I know so well.

Because it is an archipelago, Indonesia has a ton of beautiful beaches, so my plan is to choose an island (probably one a little more remote than Bali, but I’m open to suggestions!) and stay there for two weeks to lay low and live like a local.

The Philippines

As some of you know, I am by heritage a Filipino-American. I have had many opportunities to see this gorgeous country in my life, and will be returning to spend one week in beautiful Palawan (which I haven’t yet visited) and one week on Camiguin Island with my dear grandmother at her more before we both return to the US and I (officially) graduate from college.

Like in any great long-term trip, I’m leaving myself a couple of “banked” days in case I absolutely fall in love with one place and want to stay longer, or I get sick or something and need to take a few down days to recuperate. These extra days will hopefully help me be more flexible during my time there so that I can truly see as much as possible. I am still ironing out the final details of my trip, but you can be fairly certain that my plans can, and probably will, change.

Some of you might be wondering why I chose to come to Southeast Asia. The answer is a multitude of reasons, but the main ones are that a) I wanted to learn more about the region in which my parents and ancestors were born, b) I wanted to stretch my savings as far as they would go, and c) because I’ve never seen these places before, and I would love to learn as much as I can about these countries and their people. Stay tuned over the next few months for updates on my trip, misadventures and all!

Kay Rodriguez

Kay Rodriguez is the editor-in-chief of The Kay Days, a travel blog focusing on immersive travel for young people. She is also a full-time university student at Rice University in Houston, Texas. During school breaks, she travels and writes to inspire other students and recent graduates to do the same.

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15 thoughts on “The Ultimate Post-Graduation Southeast Asia Trip”

  1. Congrats on graduation – can’t wait to read about your trip! Three months is a good amount of time to explore, but you’re right, that’s loads to see, especially with Indonesia included. And I’m so glad you’re going to Myanmar, as one of my 2015 travel predictions was that more bloggers would visit!

  2. That’s a good trip! I’m planning my own 3 month trip right now but i’m fousing a bit more on East/Central asia. It is so hard because 3 months is areally actually quite a short time. I hope to make it to Thailand/Cambodia as well. Good luck and happy planning!

  3. very nice! I think this is a lot of young peoples plan- being on the cusp of graduation as well I am planning to do SEA, but Australia is coming first! 🙂 and yes Myanmar is growing QUICKLY in popularity as a travel destination. Very excited to go.

  4. I’m so excited for your trip. Southeast Asia is one of my favorite parts of the world and you’re going to have the time of your life. I’ve been to every country on your list except Myanmar and I honestly loved them all. I think leaving three weeks in Vietnam is a good call. There is SO much to see there and you are going to love the food! The Philippines is probably my favorite country in SE Asia and I loved Camiguin so much. I can’t wait to follow along on your journey. Happy travels 🙂

  5. Congratulations on graduating! I live in Thailand now and have been here for almost two months. You’re going to love it! If you have time, check out Koh Samet and/or Koh Chang. Amazing islands that don’t have an overwhelming tourist feel! Can’t wait to see how your trip goes 🙂 Good luck!

  6. This sounds like a wonderful trip! Congratulations on finishing college! I think you might find the magazine sampsoniaway.org very interesting – there’s a very good columnist Myanmar there, among many other interesting articles.

  7. This sounds like a brilliant trip! This is all on my doorstep (I’m in Western Australia) but I haven’t seen much of it – when I was travelling the most I was based in the northern hemisphere and I have always thought it’ll be easier to see SE Asia when I’m living back in Perth (but now I have a son and can’t travel quite as often) – getting there though, off to Indonesia soon and was in Malaysia last summer. Have a great trip!

  8. Your trip will be amazing. I have done them all except the Philippines and Myanmar, which i am doing in the next few month. Aghhh you will have such an amazing time and experience some epic things !

  9. I too did a graduation trip to Southeast Asia! I was there for 4 weeks (not close to enough time to see everything) so I am jealous of your long trip! I saw Vietnam and Thailand and could have stayed longer. In Vietnam, definitely go to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park (accessible by car ride from Dong Hoi). Its a beautiful, remote area that has some of the largest caves in the world to explore. By far one of my favorite destinations! Have such a fun trip, I look forward to reading about your adventures.

  10. Sounds awesome Kay! I will be spending 3 1/2 months in SE Asia myself later this year. I will be visiting Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Philippines and Hong Kong with maybe a short amount of time in Cambodia and Laos as well depending how I go 🙂

  11. Glad to see you stop by the Philippines (my country) I hope you enjoyed it. I love traveling to Asia because of the surroundings and the people. You can easily make some friends in these countries.

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