Open Door Travelers
[Skip to Content]

The Travel Blog

Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia


The Southeast Asian peninsula conjures visions of rice paddies, motor scooters, and street vendors. The heat and humidity are oppressive, the chaos of the streets and the markets is terrifying, and the generosity of the people is humbling. Traveling through Southeast Asia was way out of our comfort zone with essentially no communication skills. This was coupled with utter ignorance on basic cultural customs like how to que for lunch (you don’t, its a mad rush of pushing and shoving) or tipping for exceptional service (we still don’t really understand, so we defaulted to generosity) or even how to cross a street (you have to fully commit).


Since this was our first exploration into this part of the world, we elected to do two back-to-back, English-speaking cruises with pre-planned, guided excursions. This was good because we now know some of the basics of these countries but it was bad because we were somewhat shielded, following the lollipop tour guides.


Over the course of five weeks, this was our broad itinerary:


  • Seoul, South Korea
  • Angkor Wat, Cambodia
  • River Cruise on the Mekong River through Cambodia and Vietnam with AmaWaterways
  • Hong Kong Ocean Cruise on the coasts of Vietnam and Thailand with Azamara Singapore
  • Side Trip to Bejing to see the Great Wall of China


Highlights of our trip included too many temples and shrines to count; sobering political history about Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge; first hand war history about the Vietnam War; amazing natural scenery; fabulous rooftop bars in every major city; and an introduction to a whole new array of tastes and smells in the Asian food scene. If you are traveling to this part of the world, we would suggest these must-do experiences:


Angkor Wat, Buddhist Temple, Cambodia:



Ha Long Bay, Vietnam:



Saigon/Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam:



Ko Samui Island, Thailand:



Singapore, Singapore:




While we were, “in the neighborhood,” we also made a quick dash to Beijing, China to visit the wall and explore that unique country.




It’s hot. Bing an umbrella for shade.

Do eat local food but not off the street.

Don’t drink the water.


As a first exploration, all-in-all we were very pleased with the cruise options and guided excursions that we took to understand more about these Southeast Asia countries.


After this visit, we will be much more confident on our next trip to anywhere in Asia.







Phil & Diane


[Note: We received no goods or services for publication of this article.]