Never been backpacking before or looking to step outside of your comfort zone?
If you have never wandered around with nothing but a backpack or never traveled outside of any Western countries, I would almost always recommend starting your journey in Thailand, and looping through any number of Southeast Asian countries.
When we started planning our first big adventure, we had very little clue what we were doing and where to begin. We originally bought round trip plane tickets to New Delhi on a whim and after some research (as well as realizing we booked much earlier than we were actually able to begin our travels - total rookie move), we rebooked our flights to start in Bangkok.
Note: This isn't to say that India isn't an incredible country in its own right, and that you can't start your trip there - in fact, we plan on spending extensive time in India very soon. I just know that we made the right move beginning in Bangkok, because it allowed us to slowly transition out of Western culture and into the very different, uniquely vibrant pace of the East.
If you're going to Southeast Asia, Thailand is your springboard - especially for first timers.
This is because Bangkok is an accessible international hub that's modernized enough to put Westerners at ease when they first arrive.
We recommend that most first-time backpackers start in Bangkok because it will give you a taste of both Thai culture and the backpacking culture. Case in point, Khao San Road, the notorious backpacking area in Bangkok overflowing with hostels, souvenir vendors, street food, and rowdy bars, and in-your-face EVERYTHING. Even if being surrounded by nonstop partying and loud Westerners aren't what you seek, it's a great way to start meeting new faces and getting travel tips. You'll learn about places that weren't necessarily on your list from more seasoned travelers.
Pro-tip? Keep your itinerary open, because you never know what incredible places you'll discover that aren't in all those travel books you read.
You will see the same people throughout your journey.
When we went on our 6-week trek through Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, we were amazed at how many familiar faces we continually saw, even as we crossed borders. It was so great to catch up with people that we crossed paths with along the way. You'll meet many people in Bangkok that will inevitably end up taking the same route as you - and they might even become lifelong friends!
Have you done the Southeast Asia loop? If you started somewhere besides Bangkok, we'd love to hear about it!