Southeast Asia forum

How long should I spend travelling SEA?

  • maabee

    Joined Travelfish
    14th October, 2012
    Posts: 1

    Hi All!
    I've saved up enough to travel SEA for a year (on a budget!) but was wondering if I should instead cut my time down to maybe around 6 months or less? I could then travel Eastern Europe or Central/South America as well for a few months instead.

    I'm just wondering if after a few months in SEA I'll be starting to wish I had took the chance to visit some where else. I'm happy to go at a slow pace as time isn't an issue, hopefully I should visit the whole of SEA except maybe the Philippines and Myanmar depending how open it is when I fly over. The start of this whole trip will be in a month or 2.

    Another option is after spending a few months in SEA, I could head to India or China which should be fairly straight forward travel wise?

    I'd love to hear any advice or similar experiences!

    #1 Posted: 14/10/2012 - 06:51

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  • caseyprich

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2010
    Location China
    Posts: 1249
    Total reviews: 53
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    I'm not sure where you're starting out from, so not sure how easy it'll be to get to SA or EE . . . but I do think you could fit in India or China into a year long trip to Asia. That seems the better option than a complete change of scenery, otherwise just book an around the world ticket and do that for a year if you want to see EE and SA.

    I guess you could consider that for each country give it a month (Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam) . . . and honestly I've done 3 weeks in just Java/Bali, or 3 weeks Northern Laos, 3 weeks Southern Laos . . . so you could easily do 2 monts per country and really meld into the scenery more.

    #2 Posted: 14/10/2012 - 08:42

  • daawgon

    Joined Travelfish
    17th April, 2007
    Posts: 955
    Total reviews: 2

    A question that's almost impossible to answer intelligently, in my opinion. Who but you knows YOU? It sounds to me like this will be your first time in SEA? You will discover that each county has it's own unique culture, and that there's a great deal more to see than just the "sights". How interested are you in these cultures, or is this just a trip to see the sights?

    #3 Posted: 14/10/2012 - 12:04

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 2410
    Total reviews: 47
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    Good for you! A year travelling should be awesome. Like the others say, it is difficult to guess for you how much you'll like southeast Asia until you get there. It is true that each country is different and there is quite a bit of variety even within different regions of each country.

    Based on my experience, if I had the time and budget you've described, I'd likely try to split the time between SEA and somewhere else. Nepal might be a nice addition to the China and India option you mentioned.

    Even with the start of your trip so soon, you'll still have time to adjust once you arrive. You might decide you like Indonesia so much, for example, that you spend the whole time there. People do it. Or you might find that drifting along from place to place will still leave you plenty of time for something else. The Yucatan peninsula in Mexico is fantastic too.

    No matter what you decide, pay attention to the required visas you'll need for each country and work out those details ahead of time so you don't have surprises along the way. Cheers.

    #4 Posted: 14/10/2012 - 12:39

  • snrail

    Joined Travelfish
    14th October, 2012
    Location Canada
    Posts: 3

    Go where your heart tells you based on what you've heard, read, seen etc.
    When I started traveling I don't regret doing a mad rush overview of all the places I thought I might be interested in. However I could have accomplished so much more if I had heeded advice given to me: go slow, take the time to wander up the country lane you might be interested in, sit down with locals when invited, put away the itinerary... be free.
    S.E. Asian is fine and well; a pleasure to travel with lots of good experiences despite a growing tourist trail that is changing local character. India is, as its tourism dep't slogan read in the year I went: "An assault on all senses". (1994) It was engrossing, like a drug. I loved the experience. Although I haven't been back since, I want to. And I expect with years up economic upswing it would be very different. But be open to the possiblility that by visiting a place such as India you will become a diffferent person! (And travel should do just that)
    6 months? A year? When you wander into the right kind of place for you, 6 months will slide by before you know it; a year will be horrifically short.
    Just a sidenote: there is a world recession on, and I've had the distinct displeasure of talking to returning long term travelers who have had a challenge re-establishing themselves back home here. What used to be done in a week takes months. Promised jobs and businesses vanish. Potential, though unenlightened, employers may look at boastful travelers as undesirable "hippies". Another traveler had parents who instead of putting up their young lad for a few weeks decide to use "tough love!" In short, being optimistic helps as always, but planning for eventualities in the part of travel that involves returning and "opening up the tomb" seems to be part of the overall picture now too.
    Hope there is something here that helps! Cheers.

    #5 Posted: 14/10/2012 - 13:23

  • busylizzy

    Joined Travelfish
    31st December, 2007
    Location New Zealand
    Posts: 2091
    Total reviews: 20
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    At least 107

    Good on you for taking a year off!

    In my view you could quite happily spend the entire year in SEA and never get tired of it. But, it's also an opportunity to squeeze in another continent or two - it just depends on how much you want to keep moving around, and your budget. Keep in mind that SEA provides the cheaper travelling option.

    I would suggest that once you decide, you have a general itinerary mapped out - month by month, what country you expect to be in. Plan your first month in a bit more detail before you go, and then just let the rest happen. Don't book anything beyond those first few days - esp flights, etc that could be costly if you want to change them, or abandon them altogether. When you're on the road for a month, your plans will change. You'll meet up with people and decide to hook up with them for awhile, or you'll hear of places that you now want to visit. Keep it as flexible as you can.

    Good advice from exacto regarding visas. You do need to have that worked out ahead of time - by that I mean understand what visas you will require (for both overland and air arrivals), and know how you will organise them while on the road.

    Enjoy - I'm envious!

    #6 Posted: 14/10/2012 - 13:45

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