We are two young (and also new) travelers, hoping to make our way to South East Asia over the summer.
We were thinking of doing 6 week 'tour', one week in Thailand, one week in Laos, one week in Vietnam, one week in Cambodia (not necessarily in that order), then the fifth week in Malaysia, doing less touring and more relaxing on the 4000 islands and any other beaches, which gives us a final week to maybe do anything we've missed and make our way back to Bangkok for our flight home.
We were thinking of a budget of around £1500 not including flights
Any advice or information would be appreciated, nothing is set in stone and we are new to this! Also anyone that has any advice on any places that are 'must sees' would a great help.
First things first, the 4000 Islands (Si Phan Don) are in Southern Laos, not Malaysia!
Six weeks in SE Asia is a nice length to get a feel for the place - however, one week in each country may mean you find yourself constantly on the move and never really able to appreciate the places you visit. Tempting as it might to collect those passport stamps, think carefully about how you'll feel spending a lot of your time on the move rather than enjoying yourself! I spent 4 months in SE Asia with my wife in 2006 and we still didn't see everything we wanted to.
If you confined yourself to the central area of Thailand, you could explore Bangkok for a few days (definitely worth it, Bangkok is vibrant and amazing, and the food is world-class) before moving eastwards (perhaps taking a few days on Ko Chang, which is on the way) to the border with Cambodia. From there you could spend some time in Angkor (for me, probably THE unmissable place in SE Asia) before continuing roughly in the same direction towards the Mekong Delta area of Viet Nam, which is fascinating. With your time constraints you might want to leave the north of Viet Nam for another time. You could then hop on a flight (look at AirAsia, a superb budget airline in SE Asia with cheap tickets and a very extensive network) from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) back to Bangkok. An overnight train could take you in comfort from there to the Malaysian border. This gets you in just the right place to visit the Perhentian Islands, two beautiful little islands with some fabulous diving (I can personally recommend Bubbles Dive Resort on Pulau Perhentian Besar). In your remaining time in Malaysia you could visit Kuala Lumpur and Melaka. In a week you won't have time to visit Malaysian Borneo, I think. From KL it's a piece of cake to get back to Bangkok. You could even fit in a few days in Singapore if you have the energy!
All these leaves out Laos, which is gorgeous! So, where could you fit in Laos? You could go there from Bangkok (say, flying from Bangkok to Luang Prabang) and then travel southwards through the country towards Si Phan Don. However, I don't know how easy it would be to cross into Cambodia from Southern Laos, you'd have to look into that.
Either way you will find you have to be very selective with what you see - "one week in this country, one week in that country" can become very tiring. Don't forget you'll also lose several days in travelling between each country. Distances are large and travel times can be long. You can fly, of course, but this might eat into your budget!
If you're interested in more information I can give you the link to my travel blog with info on most of the main attractions in SE Asia. Just send me a private message.
All the best in planning for your trip!
I would suggest you undertake some serious research on the internet to plan out an itinerary.
One week each in Laos and Cambodia I can understand knowing you would probably visit 2-3 places max.
One week each in Thailand & Vietnam well that's a different story altogether. Again you will probably only visit 2-3 places as you will have to allow travel time between each place. You could well spend the best part of a day travelling from one place to the next.
Seems to me you need to read travel guides etc, look at a map then research transport options/travel times between places. Then you will get a feel for what is feasible and what is not.
I reiterate, the information is all on the internet. Seek and you shall find. Good luck.