What are you going to DO when you travel Southeast Asia?

But, what are you going to DO?

This is one of the questions I get asked most often. I definitely experience a brief internal giggle each time and think – what do you mean what am I going to do? Why, TRAVEL, of course! But I realize this question really means, how are you going to spend your time for six months while you travel Southeast Asia without a full-time job?

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

First off, I want to take a vacation. I will be doing some real relaxation. I want to get a cheap Thai massage, enjoy a beer at sunset on the beach, take long hikes, get a sun tan.

For all of you out there thinking it, no, I’m not going to travel Southeast Asia to “find myself”. I’m feeling pretty found right about now as I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing. But during every major transition, I find it’s important to stepback and think about your goals and your future. I’d like to get some more clarity on how I want to spend the next five years and plan to do a lot of writing, thinking and reflecting to help me get there.

Blogging & Freelancing

I started this blog back in January when I was just starting to think about how I would take my next big adventure. It’s been a steep learning curve, between figuring out how to host a website, design a logo, and write quality content to barely scratching the surface of the wide world of social media, I’ve really developed a love for having a creative space. So, I’ll be spending time doing all the things that blogging entails – writing, photographing, editing, networking and social media-ing. I’ve also started to get a little bit of freelance work (!!) which I’m thrilled about.

While I’m excited to keep this blog going, I want to make travel my priority and need to make sure that my experiences come first. I don’t want to be the girl hunting for wifi to upload my next instragram photo, missing out on hostel bonding time with new friends.


I have a business idea in mind that I’ll be doing some research on while I’m traveling. This idea is the foundation for why I’m interested in going to business school when I return, particularly to a school with a strong entrepreneurship program. Part of my research will entail reviewing resources that allow travelers to connect better with locals – organizations like WithLocals, Couchsurfing and Vayable. My hope is that my reviews, experiences and stories will help others access local culture when they travel Southeast Asia a bit easier.

Explore Southeast Asia

Finally, aside from all of this, I’m going to be doing everything that travel entails for me: discovering new cities, eating everything in sight, walking the land, sleeping under the stars, meeting new people, learning new languages, trying new things and asking loads of questions. This is how I plan to journey through this diverse region:

Take  Cooking Classes

I love to cook. Even now, most dishes I make are Asian-inspired. I’d say I make a pretty mean Indian Tandoori Chicken, Vietnamese Pho and Thai Curry. But I realize, my skills are still very much on Midwest white-girl level. I can’t wait to take lots of cooking classes, the kind where you go to the market and actually learn to pick out the freshest ingredients. Mmmmmmmmm.

cooking class - viator

Go Hiking & Camping

The last time I went camping was on a beach for a night in Galveston, Texas. We slept in a tent, cooked our freshly caught bought fish in a sand-made fire pit, and enjoyed the sun. Before that, I did a three-day hike with Lkama Path through the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. It was by no means the camping that I grew up with – I never pitched my own tent, cooked my own food, or carried my own stuff. But alas, I was able to connect with nature, and for me, that’s the whole point.

On this trip, I’m hoping to camp and hike constantly. I want to check out as many national parks as possible and am praying I don’t get eaten alive by leeches. I’m ready to get back to my nature-loving roots.

treekking - footprint-advnetures-co-uk

Play with Elephants

Some of you may know, but riding elephants is extremely controversial in Southeast Asia. In my opinion, it’s not even controversial – you just shouldn’t do it. Baby elephants are beaten into submission so that tourists can ride them. I’m not even that big of an animal lover, but that just breaks my heart. Instead, I plan to play with and learn more about elephants in the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai.

elephants -

Open Water Certification

Recommended highly by one of my favorite bloggers, Alex in Wanderland, I’ve already booked this part of my trip. I’ll be getting my Open Water Ceritifcation through Roctopus Dive in Koh Tao. I’m actually shaking in my knickers a bit. I used to hate snorkeling because I was afraid the fish would touch me. While I think I’m over that fear, I’m still a little nervous about going down so deep! But this trip is all about challenges and I booked it so that I would be less likely to back out.

scuba dive - koh tao - villaseaviewgarden-com

Explore Lots and Lots of Temples

Southeast Asia is obviously well known for its temples. From all the photos I’ve seen, these glorious religious structures seem to be a photographer’s dream. I’m looking forward to learning more about the multiple religions and cultures in the regions while photographing these magnificent works of art.

wat pho - mir - com - my

Trek Rice Paddies

The Peruvian Andes actually have irrigation systems that look like the rice paddies in Vietnam. I plan to do even more trekking, camping and outdoor adventuring to learn about agriculture in Vietnam. Most of all, I’m just looking forward to that view :).

rice paddies - beautyscenery

Rock Climb in Railay

At overnight camp growing up, I was known for living at the rock climbing wall. It might have been because most of the male staff members worked on the climbing wall, but I adored my time there. I went on every rock climbing camping trip I could sign up for and to this day have the fondest memories of climbing over Lake Superior. Railay is world famous for its rock climbing. That’s going to be up there, come January!

rock climbing - bookthailandnow -com

Visit Lots of Markets

If you’re a regular, you know that I’m a little addicted to markets. From the San Telmo Festival in Buenos Aires, to Chicago Street Fests and the Madison Farmer’s Market, I can spend hours admiring fresh fruits and vegetables, picking out a hand-died scarf and photographing strangers. I am already planning to do some major market time when I first arrive in Bangkok in December.


Go Caving 

We call it “spelunking” in the US and I have a distinct memory of my brother having a panic attack and refusing too go the last time I went. This was probably over 15 years ago, so I plan to learn about the land through some deep cave exploration. I mean, come on, how cool does that look?

cave - explo-laos-com

Halong Bay Cruise

I don’t think the boat I’ll be able to afford will be this nice, but I will surely be spending some time on the sea admiring this UNESCO World Heritage site. From the photos, it looks breathtaking and apparently there are many activities you can do from the boat: caving, swimming, kayaking, and visiting a floating village. It’s one of those must-dos on a trip to Vietnam.

halong bay cruise - cruisesluxuryhalong - comMuay Thai Boxing 

Thailand is known for Muay Thai which is a martial art that utilizes the entire body as the weapon. It looks like a mix of American boxing and kickboxing to me. Anyways, while I do want to see a professional Muay Thai boxing match, I’m more excited to try it out myself. It’s supposed to be a challenging workout – something I’ll definitely need during this trip to burn off all of that mango sticky rice.

muy thai - koh tao - ashleyabroad

Have you been? What were your favorite things to do in Southeast Asia? What did you DO?


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I'm Emily - a twenty-something female travel-enthusiast - here to serve and inspire you. Need help planning your next trip? Email me at emily [at] letsroamwild [dot] com and tag your own travel pics to share with the world @letsroamwild.

7 Responses to What are you going to DO when you travel Southeast Asia?

  1. Rachel of Hippie in Heels November 17, 2014 at 11:17 pm #

    You have done so much planning, especially getting into blogging before you trip and reading into SE Asia so much that you are going to have a killer time, hell I want to come along!!!! you can be my tour guide 😉
    Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted…Backpacking Coorg | Chikli Hole, Bylakuppe & MandalpattiMy Profile

    • Emily Moyer November 18, 2014 at 7:48 am #

      Hey Rach! Haha thanks. You know, for someone who really wants some spontaneous elements to her trip, I really have done a lot of planning. Is there such thing as too much planning (definitely)? And hey girl, you are WELCOME to come! 🙂 Can’t wait to keep reading about your goMowgli trip!

  2. Renuka November 18, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    Although Southeast Asia is not on my radar, your post has intrigued me about it. So many exciting things to do! I’m sure you will have a fabulous time there.
    Renuka recently posted…Top Two Cities Of India – Delhi vs MumbaiMy Profile

    • Emily Moyer November 18, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

      You know what, Renuka, it wasn’t on mine at all until last year! I always picked Spanish-speaking countries (since I’m fluent) and am in love with South America. Sometimes you just need one thing to spark your interest! 🙂 Your blog definitely inspires me to want to go to India!

  3. Roshan November 18, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    What a great adventure you are undertaking! I have been to South East Asia quite a lot (pretty accessible from Australia). If you can- try to get to an island in Malaysia.
    Palau Pangkor is an island near Kuala Lumpur that I’ve been to- not far by cab and nice little island with not much on it (when I went a few years ago anyway!).
    Can also recommend Tioman Island- both past and present- have been twice.
    Roshan recently posted…Is it just me?My Profile

  4. Caroline Gray November 19, 2014 at 10:18 pm #

    I am so excited to read about your trip, Emily! My big recommendation for Cambodia is to see the floating villages, it is an amazing experience.
    Caroline Gray recently posted…NellcôteMy Profile

    • Emily Moyer November 20, 2014 at 7:32 am #

      Thank you!! Will definitely have to check this out!

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