Southeast Asia forum

good route for first time to SEA

  • redsfanbob

    Joined Travelfish
    26th November, 2012
    Posts: 3

    Hi everyone! I'm glad I stumbled across this site. I was hoping some of you might be willing to provide some suggestions for me. There's just so much to see.

    I thinking of taking my first trip to SEA in February. I'll only have about 3 weeks but I'm up for about anything. I like big cities, beaches, culture, food, nature, or about anything else. The only thing that I have to do is spend a couple of days on a beach but it doesn't have to be the best beach in the region. I'd also prefer to not spend the entire time in super touristy areas but I'm fine with that for part of the trip. Ideally, I'd like to visit 3-4 places.

    A little bit about me.... 32 years old, male, American. I've backpacked a good amount through Europe and Central America. I'll probably have about US $1000 to spend while I'm there. I'm ok with hostels and sharing bathrooms. However, I'm not 20 anymore and can't stay up all night drinking. I'll be traveling alone so I'd like to stick to places where I can meet others. I'll probably be flying in/out of Bangkok or HCMC (or open jaw between the two).

    I'm open to any ideas. What would you do with 3 weeks in SEA?

    #1 Posted: 26/11/2012 - 18:56

  • Advertisement

  • busylizzy

    Joined Travelfish
    31st December, 2007
    Location New Zealand
    Posts: 2087
    Total reviews: 20
    Places visited:
    At least 107

    Hey there - welcome to TF.

    To get you started, I'd suggest having a look around the Suggested Itineraries - there are some great ideas to be found there. http://www.travelfish.org/trip_planner/

    If you're new to SEA, and you're only there for 3 weeks, I'd suggest you plan to spend your time in one country only to ensure you have a 'quality' visit rather than aiming for 'quantity'. Don't underestimate travel time - it can be slow at times!

    I'd say base yourself in Thailand. You'll get a 30-day visa exemption if you arrive by air (15 days if by overland) which will give you plenty of time to see some highlights of Thailand.

    Spend a few days in Bkk before heading north to Chaing Mai (maybe via Kachanburi for a bit of history, Sukuthai for temples). Once in Chaing Mai maybe head even further north to Chaing Dao for some rural life.

    Then fly down to the islands. Lots of options there. http://www.travelfish.org/islands.php
    Sorry - I could go on, but I'm at work and gotta' go!.

    That should at least get you started. There is heaps of info on this site - you just need to start working your way through it. Feel free to come back with more questions.

    #2 Posted: 26/11/2012 - 19:17

  • buland

    Joined Travelfish
    28th November, 2012
    Posts: 10

    i think 3 weeks is long time for visiting one country. if you visit sigapore then it will take 2 days to travel the whole place. if you visit malaysia then a week is enough for tourism spot like lankawye. so now it's your choise.

    #3 Posted: 28/11/2012 - 03:48

  • puneetchauh-
    an

    Joined Travelfish
    28th November, 2012
    Posts: 2

    Hi , I am glad that I found Travelfish , I am from India 25(m) I have travelled almost all of Indian sub-continent including Nepal and Bhutan and now I am planning to roll across to SEA for a month . I am planning to start my travel in mid Jan (15) and would be flying to Bangkok and then further on to Cambodia(Angkor wat) , Vietnam(Halong Bay) and then Laos(vientine) and if possible Malaysia. But I am not sure from where to start , and where to end , and what about the visas , and how much money should I carry for a low budget backpacking trip. and would it be safe to travel on road and crossing land boders without hassle .

    #4 Posted: 28/11/2012 - 04:59

  • caseyprich

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2010
    Location China
    Posts: 1225
    Total reviews: 53
    Places visited:
    At least 48

    I agree with Lizzy that you should stick to one country. I've had the pleasure of living close to SE Asia so I can holiday there often and find that quality time in a single country is far bette than trying to see too much - with 3 months, or at least 2 months I think a circuit is okay, but with as little as 3 weeks there is so much variety in any one country that there is no reason to stretch it. If you enjoy the on country, then plan a return and check out another someday.

    If I may be a contrarian to Lizzy's point (a fine point it is with a good plan and something I've basically done in 3 weeks myself) could I add Vietnam into the mix. Now, in Thailand the weather is uniformly good in February (I went to the Eastern Islands of Ko Chang then) and I'm not sure what to say about Vietnam as there are pretty much three reasons to look into. The North of Vietnam was a bit rainy and chilly in February, but I hear that is a nice time to visit Ha Long Bay. Anyway . . . long story short, 1 week around Hanoi/Halong Bay, 1 week around Hue/DaNang/Hoi'an (or maybe a bit longer as the weather is really nice and the area very untouristy in Danang, a chance to feel out a real Vietnamese city away from Hoi'an (I found a bit touristy but worth a day)). Then a week around HCMC and a dip into the MeKong Delta. You can hit some beach time for a couple days if you cut your time in the north short and fly over to Phu Quoc Island, which is a laid back island for a couple of nights - internal flights HCMC to PQ not too expensive.
    I could go on - like the frame . (did I mention that Lizzy's Thailand trip is also pretty cool and would depend on which country draws you as you start to do some of your own research).

    #5 Posted: 28/11/2012 - 05:26

  • caseyprich

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2010
    Location China
    Posts: 1225
    Total reviews: 53
    Places visited:
    At least 48

    #puneetchauh-an - first off - border aren't a problem, and second, there is a chance to do budget travel everywhere, so if you watch your budget you should be okay.


    If you are flying into BKK, your locations are very spread out and it may not be easy to accomplish in a month without a couple flights. Vientiane isn't often a number one destination in Laos . . . maybe skip Laos and then do BKK - Siem Reap to HCMC (there you'll need to arrange visa in advance). From HCMC you can fly up to Hanoi , or if you speed along take a train to Hoi'an/Hue zone and then a couple days there before Hanoi. From Hanoi you could fly to KL.

    From my experience Malaysia was more expensive than other places in SE Asia, but part of that is my desire to relax with brew at the end of the night, which is pricey there.

    #6 Posted: 28/11/2012 - 05:42

  • busylizzy

    Joined Travelfish
    31st December, 2007
    Location New Zealand
    Posts: 2087
    Total reviews: 20
    Places visited:
    At least 107

    Hey Casey - no problem with your alternative suggestion :-). I was just throwing one idea out there to get the ball rolling. That's what I love about this forum - there's always so many options that people come up with . There is never one right answer - just lots of great ideas to be considered!

    #7 Posted: 28/11/2012 - 13:15

  • redsfanbob

    Joined Travelfish
    26th November, 2012
    Posts: 3

    Thanks so much for your replies everyone. Much appreciated!

    Just to clarify....I'm not trying to cover a lot of ground in 3 weeks. When I said I'd like to visit 3-4 places I wasn't referring to countries. I just meant that I didn't want to spend my entire time in one spot.

    So far I've considered the Thailand trip suggested by busylizzy, Vietnam north to south (or vice versa), and Bankok to HCMC overland through Cambodia (this one seems like it might be too much ground to cover though).

    Anyways, I was just hoping to get as many suggestions as possible from people that have traveled the region. There's no right or wrong or perfect answer here. I'm just looking for ideas. Thanks again! Any other suggestions are welcome!

    #8 Posted: 28/11/2012 - 13:56

  • caseyprich

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2010
    Location China
    Posts: 1225
    Total reviews: 53
    Places visited:
    At least 48

    If you're looking for some variety of cultures and languages then your BKK-HCMC in 3 weeks can be done, but you'll end up with three big cities on that trip (BKK-PP-HCMC) so that is something to consider. Your only experience of Thailand then would probably be BKK and the bus to Cambodia as you'd spend the majroity of your time in Cambodia and probably working around the Mekong delta to HCMC, maybe that flight to Phu Quoc to end with some beach time.

    The best reason to go with the Thailand trip is that your return international flight can be booked in-and-out of the same city, which I always find saves a lot of cost.

    #9 Posted: 28/11/2012 - 19:29

  • puneetchauh-
    an

    Joined Travelfish
    28th November, 2012
    Posts: 2

    Thanks for the suggestions Casey !it was worth asking you guyz (hope you dont mind if i feel to ask few more)
    (1.) wanted to know if my Indian driving license is valid in case if i hire a vehicle there in Thailand or Vietnam
    (2.) Are travelers cheque good to cash in SEA as they charge it around 35bht, whereas atm charges 150bht every time we make transts .
    (3.)While entering Cambodia,Laos or vietnam do i need to have a return ticket or ticket to next destination in advance without which i won't be stamped a visa ?
    (4.)Planning to buy a lonely planet SEA guide. is it worth ?

    #10 Posted: 1/12/2012 - 09:15

  • Advertisement

  • caseyprich

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2010
    Location China
    Posts: 1225
    Total reviews: 53
    Places visited:
    At least 48

    1) Don't know
    2) Hate using travelers cheques . . . find cashing them (at least in China) a pain so I just suck it up and use an ATM
    3) I've never had my return ticket looked at when entering any SE Asian country, and that seems to be the consensus on this site.
    4) It'd be better if you had a kindle so you wouldn't have the extra bulk to carry around with you. As your route is pretty straight forward and already decided upon I'd think you could make do without it. Doing research here and on Agoda for accommodation so you you have a few places in mind when you arrive in the city is all you really need so as not to be wandering around the wrong place. I do like some of the LP maps, but again, you can find just as good online and print them off before you depart. Lastly, many places keep 'store' copies for you to browse through while eating, so you'll probably have access to the info anyway.

    #11 Posted: 1/12/2012 - 18:35

  • busylizzy

    Joined Travelfish
    31st December, 2007
    Location New Zealand
    Posts: 2087
    Total reviews: 20
    Places visited:
    At least 107

    Rather than lug a LP book around, print out some of the Travelfish eGuides from this site - then you get rid of pages as you go (donate them to guesthouses or other travellers). I also copy of couple of maps out of Lonely Planet.

    (To get the free eGuides, log into the Members Centre and it's one off the menu options.)

    #12 Posted: 2/12/2012 - 03:18

Have questions? Jump to our menu of forum quicklinks

Add your reply

Your reply

Check this box if you want to be notified of replies.

Please be familiar with our user guidelines before you post. Thanks!

Businesses planning on plugging their guesthouse / hotel / karaoke bar should read our "Addition guidelines" very carefully.

You need to be logged in to answer an existing post on the Travelfish forums. Please login via the prompts just above and refresh this screen -- before writing your post -- and you'll be in business.