Me and my mate are looking to travel across SE Asia from September onwards, a long time away I know. Flying into Bangkok as it's the cheapest option from London (I believe, any alternatives welcome).
We have no set plan when we get there, just to make our way through Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam until the funds dictate we leave. We both reckon we'll have around £4-5,000 so hoping to make it last for as long as possible, eating, sleeping and travelling for as little as possible.
My question is, do you guys think it's a good idea to get to Bangkok and wing it, with only the knowledge of which country we want to head to next, or would it be wise (and essential) to make some sort of plan, however vague?
#1 jonny_lewis7 has been a member since 25/1/2011. Posts: 5
I absolutely agree that the best approach is to wing it. But......
I also think you should have an overall plan to follow as a guideline. Visa's will limit your time spent in each country (although you can get extended visa's for longer if required). If you arrive at the airport in Thailand, you will get 30 days. If you arrive overland (eg to come back in via Laos or Cambodia) you will only get 15 days. Something to keep filed in your memory.
So essentially you have up to 30 days in each country. You will want to avoid backtracking as much as possible so have an idea of the key things that you want to see/do and have a rough itinerary route mapped out. On my last 5-month trip, I had a rough plan of '1 week here, 2 weeks there, and then started fine-tuning it as I got closer.
I'm a project manager by day, so the idea of not over-planning was a strange concept to me, but it works. Your plans will change as you learn about places, meet people, etc. Keep it flexible and you'll have a ball!
Many people travel with an overly rigid and constricting schedule because they have a lot of 'must see' places on their list and a short time in which to see them, that's why you'll see a lot of posts where people lay out 2/3 nights here, 1 day there, etc.
However, the best option is as lizzy says, to have a guideline but be loose. That way if you really like a place you can spend more time there and it won't have a terrible domino effect (should I use that phrase when talking about SE Asia?!?) on the rest of your plans.
I wouldn't just come with some idea of what country you want to go to - that's a little too general and sounds ill informed (though I'm assuming that's not what you meant). If you love beaches, make sure to know of a few beaches you want to check out, if you love old temples - the same, the party - look into the tourist party trail so you know what to follow . . . you need to be aware of what you want to see in each country, but if you don't make a tight schedule you'll be able to veer off if you hear about something you never researched.
My method has always been to say - I want to visit here, here, and here . . .and then fill in the time between as I bounce around to each of the milestones.
Wing it! At least mostly. As above the only thing to plan for a bit is visas. For Thailand it's good to have a tourist visa (multiple-entry is possible) in advance from your nearest Thai embassy/consulate. Laos and Cambodia have visa on arrival at pretty much every border or international airport. You can get Vietnam visas easily in Thailand, Laos or Cambodia with wait times of 1-3 days depending on speed money. Pretty much everything else you can decide daily. £4-5,000 will probably last around 8 months or with two of you maybe 6 months, or six weeks if you're alcoholics
I agree. Just roll with it......but keep an eye on your funds. You will start out spending more than you should because you think everything is so cheap. But prices have crept up a lot over the past decade and you won't realize how fast you are spending until you have to re-adjust. So in the beginning, stay cheap but COMFORTABLE. Drink and eat more locally instead of tourist haunts. By the mid-point you may want some comforts more suitable to your western life once in a while and you will appreciate having enough money.