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Self-Drive Holidays: 10 Road Trips To Take in Southeast Asia

Embark on the road trip of a lifetime with Skyscanner New Zealand‘s top 10 itineraries worth experiencing in Southeast Asia. With routes spanning Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, day trips and long coastal drives, shift your sense of adventure into high gear and hit the road, STAT!

1. Ho Chi Minh Highway, Vietnam

This road goes from the south of Vietnam, starting in the capital of Ho Chi Minh City, and meanders all the way up to Hanoi. Sure the roads are dusty and dirty, but there are some incredible backdrops on this route. Keep your wits about you as driving Vietnam is no walk in the park, although once you’re out of the city you should be able to enjoy the trip comfortably. You’re better off picking a segment of the road trip route (eg. Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh to Nha Trang) than attempting the full 26-hour journey.

Check out: 7 destinations in Vietnam

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2. Hai Van Pass, Vietnam

If driving along Vietnam’s highways sounds too intimidating, the Hai Van Pass is a far more mellow and equally picturesque road trip route. It’s a 21km mountain pass on the border of Da Nang in the middle of the country. In Vietnamese, “Hai Van Pass” literally translates as “ocean cloud pass”, so you can imagine the scenery. In fact, Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson called it “a deserted ribbon of perfection—one of the best coast roads in the world”. So… what are you waiting for? Fly into Da Nang, hire a car and get driving!

Check out the top 10 treks in Southeast Asia

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3. Route 66, Cambodia

The “other” route – Route 66 – is much dustier than the American version, but the rural route will take you well off the beaten tourist track.This itinerary isn’t too kind on cars, so fly into Siem Reap and pick up a scooter first. From there, drive towards Bakan to see temples, ruins and villages that can’t be reached any other way.

Pick up the 10 backpack essentials for travelling through Asia

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4. Koh Samui Highway 4169, Thailand

This is essentially Koh Samui’s “ring road”, a driving route that allows you to travel round the whole island. This is pretty handy in Koh Samui as it allows you to escape the tourist hotspots like Chaweng. Rent a car and hit the road – this day trip will allow you to discover the local communities and hidden pristine beaches.

Read more: 13 secret spots in Koh Samui

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5. The Loop, Laos

This is now a well-known 450km adventure, starting and ending in Tha Kaek, and touring through most of Laos’ spectacular scenery. Numerous caves and lakes make interesting (and refreshing) stop-offs. The roads themselves are a little rough around the edges, so scooters are probably your best bet. From Vientiane, take a bus up to Tha Kaek and begin your journey there. Or if you’re feeling confident – drive the whole way!

See more: Top 10 destinations in Laos

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6. Halsema Highway, Philippines

The road from Baguio to Bontoc is considered to be one of the most challenging drives there is , but it’s also filled with mountainside views of northern Luzon. You can start your trip by exploring the city of Baguio and if you take a detour, you’ll be able to see some of the famous Philippine rice fields.

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7. Mae Hong Son Loop, Thailand

This is meant to be one of the most scenic routes in all of Thailand, with pagoda pitstops, friendly Northern village communities and long stretches of road to fill in the journey throughout Chiang Mai.

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8. Bali Loop, Indonesia

It’s easy to spend all your time on a beach in Bali, but the island is so small that you may as well fill your time with a trip around the coast. The Lombok and Badung Strait lend themselves well to day trips full of hidden beaches but if you go further inland and take the road less traveled, you’ll be able to find coffee houses and pagodas of the beaten track.

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9. Kuala Lumpur to the East Coast, Malaysia

This itinerary is usually the reserve of Singaporeans and Malaysians looking for a weekend away, but this road trip is open to everyone flying in to Kuala Lumpur. Head west through the fun-filled Genting Highlands, before progressing to the stunning beaches of Cherating, Dungun, and Kuala Terengganu on the South China Sea.

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10. Yangon to Mandalay Circuit, Myanmar

Myanmar has 15,000 miles of roads and half of those are paved – great news for roadtrippers! This makes it much easier to drive from Yangon up to Inle Lake and Mandalay, then west to the Bagan ruins and south along the Bay of Bengal. Simply hire a car from Yangon and get cruising on a self-drive holiday for the books!

Car hire from Yangon

Travelling soon? Book cheap flights to destinations in Southeast Asia with Skyscanner and check out the car hires too.