Here you can find a brief summary of each backpacking destination which will tell you a little about what to expect once you reach that destination.
The original backpacking destination in Southeast Asia. Thailand has it all; tropical islands for days, the massive metropolis that is Bangkok, and the jungles of the north. A rich culture dating back thousands of years the Buddhist nation are friendly and welcoming as tourism is a major part of the economy. Don’t let the recent political turmoil and the 2015 bombing in Bangkok scare you off, Thailand is very safe if you’re careful and exercise your normal level of discretion when traveling abroad. But whatever you do; don’t talk ill about the king or royalty lest you wish to end up in prison!!
Often described as the ‘Wild West of Asia’ Cambodia is certainly an opener. The pride of the nation and rightfully so is Angkor Wat, simply a MUST SEE in Cambodia. Such is the Cambodian pride of Angkor Wat that you will find Angkor everything; Angkor beer, Angkor Air, Angkor Happy Pizza, etc. Cambodia is a little rough around the edges but this is to be expected from a country that has experienced such huge pain and anguish at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. Even if those dark chapters of Cambodian history do not interest you, I still thoroughly recommend a visit to the Killing Fields and Suol Teng so that you can have the faintest idea of the unspeakable horrors inflicted on the Khmer people.
The nation that defeated a superpower. Vietnam is slowly putting behind the bloody history of the 20th century behind it and becoming a powerful player in Asian politics. It is also a wonderful backpacking destination to rival Thailand in terms of the diversity of the country and the overall low cost of living which makes Thailand look expensive in comparison! Don’t let the past history lead you to think there are grudges against Americans or other foreigners, the people are very young and industrious and have largely put aside their differences in the interest of earning those sweet tourist greenbacks. The tranquility of Sapa in the north, the natural wonder of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Ha Long bay, the charm of Hoi An, party and beach city Nha Trang, booming Ho Chi Minh City, and the great Mekong delta make Vietnam a truly fantastic backpacking destination.
A sleepy landlocked nation bordered by regional powerhouses, Laos still has much to offer. Still a Communist one-party state with close political ties to its socialist comrade Vietnam, Laos is often seen as having not much to offer to the untrained eye. Arguably the two most famous places in Laos that backpackers congregate to are Luang Prabang, if only to stop for a few days on their way to Vietnam, and Vang Vieng the little town with a big reputation for debauchery. Closer inspection, and one time, would show you that there are gems like Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands the location of the illusive and endangered Irrawaddy dolphin and the sleepy capital Vientiane with its French colonial architecture and riverfront border with Thailand. Surprisingly expensive compared to the other countries it borders due to it being landlocked among other reasons. Still, don’t be so quick to dismiss Laos as just a stepping stone to Vietnam or Thailand; there’s certainly more than meets the eye in Laos.