Backpacking as a lifestyle and as a business has significantly grown in many parts of the world. Asia has become a popular destination among Western backpackers for its low costs and varied landscapes and culture. Throughout, backpackers seek to avoid the packaged and arranged tours in search of an idealized ‘authentic'' travel. Through an exploration of backpacking culture in South-East Asia, this work explores the relationships of ‘authenticity'' and the ‘experience economy'' from within the paradigm of the tourism industry. Through discussions of how authenticity is staged and consumed in a tourism context, recommendations and branding strategies for backpacking markets in South East Asia are provided.