Southeast Asia forum

Travelling SE Asia Solo (first time traveler) advice please :)

  • chris9393

    Joined Travelfish
    17th April, 2014
    Posts: 15

    Hi everyone

    I'm going travelling in October till January for the very first time and doing it on my own. As much as I am excited I would like some advice on places to visit and things to do. On my trip I plan to visit Thailand, Vietnam & Cambodia (possibly Australia at the end) but for the time being it's 100% those 3 countries. From what I've read 3.5 months will be enough time to enjoy my trip.

    In Thailand I'm basically looking for party destinations and amazing beaches + will be attending the Full Moon Party for NYE.

    Vietnam I'm extremely interested in all the trenches and all the war history around there.

    Cambodia, I don't really know alot about?

    I plan to spend the first 30 days focusing on either the North or South of Thailand then travel over the Vietnam, spend 3 weeks there. Then travel across to Camodia where I will spend another 3 weeks. From there I will then come back over to Thailand to get ready for the Full Moon Party and focus on the opposite side of Thailand I did in my first month. To finish things off my budget will be around £4000 but I could push it if I had to.

    Is this a realisitic approach to my trip? And if you guys could recommend a few places to visit/stay I would really appreciate it :)

    Many Thanks

    #1 Posted: 17/4/2014 - 16:47

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  • miriam123

    Joined Travelfish
    19th July, 2013
    Posts: 25
    Total reviews: 2
    Places visited:
    At least 48

    Seems like maybe you havn't look at a map yet? To get to Vietnam from Thailand you will need to either 1) Fly or 2) Go via Laos or Cambodia so it makes more sense to travel through Cambodia to Vietnam. You could do the loop in 3.5 months, that's what most people do. Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. Probably the best route is to land in Thailand (Bangkok) then go north, the north is less parties but more chilled, Chiang Mai and Pai then cross through Laos spend a week or two there, then cross into Vietnam and go north to south then cross into Cambodia from HCMC spend 2 weeks in Cambodia (if you think you will like the full moon party then you will probably like Siahoukville). Then cross back into Thailand and go south to the Full moon.
    I personally think Thailand is well overrated, but that's just my opinion.

    When do you land in October because you will need to time it right to get the the full moon party for NYE?

    #2 Posted: 19/4/2014 - 08:55

  • chris9393

    Joined Travelfish
    17th April, 2014
    Posts: 15

    Thanks for the reply! Unfortunately I haven't really had the time to look at a map yet. I have just checked and I see what you mean it does make sense to do Thailand, Loas, Vietnam then Cambodia.

    I land in Thailand from October 1st so I was planning on spending the full 30 days there to see a fair share of it. Travelling north does sound like a very good idea though! Any places up north you would recommend?

    Also, I know little information about Loas of places and
    Things to do so il definitely look it up!

    In regards to my budget and length am I being realistic?

    #3 Posted: 19/4/2014 - 09:15

  • miriam123

    Joined Travelfish
    19th July, 2013
    Posts: 25
    Total reviews: 2
    Places visited:
    At least 48

    If i were you I would stay in Bangkok for a few days, you can also go to Kanchanaburi from there a few hours on a train or bus, its worth seing if your bothered about war history atall. Then go north on the sleeper train to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Pie (I think its not spelt like that). It nice up there and chilled. I dont think you need 30 days to see all of that without rushing, but dont plan to much, things will change and its better that way. You can then cross the border to Laos, Luang Prabang and Vientiane are the most visited places, then cross into Vietnam.
    I would spend 2.5 weeks in Bangkok and north thailand, dont spend to long in bangkok the first time because you will pass through again and can stop again if you have time. Then 2 weeks in Laos, maybe less. 1 month Vietnam (you need to get the visa before hand, probably best to get it at home or research how long it takes to get in bangkok) 3 weeks in Cambodia maybe a month if you want to see most of it. Then back to bangkok and take a bus or train down to south thailand. You will have plenty of time i think. Around christmas time you need to book sleeper trains in thailand and accomodation early if you want cheap rooms.
    is £4000 including flights or after flights. im guessing its after flights. if so i think it should be fine. Thailand is the most expensive place but its alcohol that will screw you over there its not cheap and you can easily spend more that a night out in england on a night in koh phangan (FMP island) or even Bangkok.
    I also found that hostel world etc were more expensive and when i did book in advance i booked on booking.com you don't need to give a deposit and most are free cancelation.
    Also just remember to haggle as thailand in my opinion is more expensive because of too many tourist with too much money and no idea how much things should really be. You have plenty of time, dont be afraid to walk away and buy whatever you want from somewhere else.

    #4 Posted: 20/4/2014 - 05:11

  • chris9393

    Joined Travelfish
    17th April, 2014
    Posts: 15

    Once again thank you for the reply!

    After speaking to a few people who have been to Thailand they have all recommended me to just book a hostel for 3 days or so in Bangkok and then just go where ever. Any hostels you would recommend for single travelers?

    I'd pretty much like to see as much as I can to be honest although amazing views and beaches & watersports are definitely my thing.

    I'll check out those places for Loas as I literally know nothing about the country! So thank you for that bit of information. In regards to my budget ideally it was including my flights. I have already booked my return flight from bangkok which only set me back £580 so I have roughly £3500 left (as said I can easily push for more). How close do you think I should leave it to book my accomodation around Christmas time? I don't really want to book something too soon incase I group up with some people and they all end up staying in X hostel and I'm having to stay in Y hostel if you get what I mean.

    When it comes to haggling i'm pretty good at that ;) I've already been to places like the Caribbean and all over Europe so that will notbe a problem.

    #5 Posted: 20/4/2014 - 15:24

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 2148
    Total reviews: 11

    A large beer costs like 80 or 100 baht. Like 3 dollars. They r only expensive in strip clubs. England is more expensive.

    Why would u stay in a hostel?

    Thailand has hotels for 30 dollars a night.

    U use hostels in europe where its expensive.

    Thailand overrated lol try leaving the tourist ghettos. Thailand is great when u escape the ghettos. If u just follow the sheep from one backpacker ghetto to another then of course its crap. The whole point of going overseas is to experience the local culture not bp ghettos.

    #6 Posted: 20/4/2014 - 16:11

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 2148
    Total reviews: 11

    Haggling is easy. U have the power being the buyer.

    #7 Posted: 20/4/2014 - 16:13

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
    24th July, 2012
    Posts: 2148
    Total reviews: 11

    Kanchanaburi is good for war history. The tunnels in vietnam r lame according to reviews.

    #8 Posted: 20/4/2014 - 16:16

  • miriam123

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 25
    Total reviews: 2
    Places visited:
    At least 48

    You don't need to book to early but things get booked up around NYE on Koh Phangan so just be wary of that and don't turn up on NYE expecting to find somewhere half decent for a decent price.
    I think £3500 should be doable easy, iv done a lot longer on that much but I don't go crazy on alcohol all the time.
    Leonard think about what your saying he has told you a budget of £3500 for 3.5 months and your suggesting staying for $30 a night that's more than half of the budget just on a place to sleep.
    In Bangkok there is a good guesthouse called Phiman Guesthouse it is just north of Khao San Road . Its on Samsen Soi 5 along the river. You can book on booking.com (no I don't work there) and the dorm is 280B per night £5/6 from my experience the places on Khao San Road are holes.
    Drinks are not just expensive in Strip Clubs they are also expensive in high class places in Bangkok and on the islands it adds up easy. To see this you only need to youtube "sun, sex and suspious parents Thailand". Also Leonard I did not just stick to the touristy trail I spent 2 months in Thailand with the view to continue to give it a fair chance, from my opinion I thought it was touristy. My favourite place in Thailand was Bangkok, at least I was expecting it to be like that, but I didn't find it to be "the land of smiles", I found it to be the land of sexpats, rude/money grabbing thais, and tourist. You may also notice I never said don't go there. Each to their own.
    Good luck :)

    #9 Posted: 21/4/2014 - 09:11

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6256
    Total reviews: 10

    "Also Leonard I did not just stick to the touristy trail I spent 2 months in Thailand with the view to continue to give it a fair chance, from my opinion I thought it was touristy."

    Then OBVIOUSLY you did not get off the tourist trail. My last ride after I left Nong Khai and headed East, I did not see a single tourist. Not one. In fact, I didn't see one white face.

    "but I didn't find it to be "the land of smiles"

    Again, this clearly indicates you didn't get off the beaten path. I've lived in eifght countries and Thai culture is incredibly friendly. If you didn't find it that way, well, I would suspect that reflects on you or you were not getting off the beaten path.

    "I found it to be the land of sexpats, rude/money grabbing thais, and tourist. "

    Just absurd. I've lived here coming up on 8 years, and I've hardly met any money grudding Thais, a handful of "sexpats", and where I live hardly any tourists ever.

    I don't do dorm rooms and I would not travel anywhere without sufficient capital that I could enjoy myself without worrying about costs. But to each his own on that one.

    "In Thailand I'm basically looking for party destinations and amazing beaches + will be attending the Full Moon Party for NYE."

    Chris, just keep in mind this kind of approach costs money. If you're going to party with western tourists at the full moon party, it won't be the cheapest way to go. My son studied here (in Khon Kaen) and if you go to the university quarter there, you will find that you can get four large beers (16 oz) for 280 baht and then enjoy the company of university students. Meeting people here is easy, and easier still if you are young and dress and act decent (I would advise against the fishermans pants, flip flops and rasta look - but up to you. Funky cool isn't a Thai thing.) You'll have a good time in an environment like that and there will be enough english speakers to help you out.

    #10 Posted: 21/4/2014 - 12:37

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  • chris9393

    Joined Travelfish
    17th April, 2014
    Posts: 15

    Thank you again miriam. What I think my best bet is to research on how to get from A to B so when I arrive I will at least have a rough idea of what i'm planning on doing! There's so many activities I will be looking to do I have a feeling I might need to extend my budget.

    Would you be able to recommend any places in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam & Cambodia? Just so I can add it onto my notes to look into a bit more.

    Also, I've been looking at hostels in trip advisor. Is Khao San near the centre of bangkok? I'd preferably be looking for a hostel which is great for solo travellers.

    #11 Posted: 21/4/2014 - 12:53

  • chris9393

    Joined Travelfish
    17th April, 2014
    Posts: 15

    After reading up on a few hostels I've gone for NapPark Hostel if anyone has ever heard of it or stayed there? Seems perfect for me, close to the nightlife and a lot of solo travellers :)

    #12 Posted: 21/4/2014 - 13:30

  • Jimtighe

    Joined Travelfish
    21st April, 2014
    Posts: 3

    Hey Chris, I've just got back from Asia. Personally I agree with Miriam in that Thailand is a dump except for Bangkok. If you want cheap beer go to the philippines. san miguel/ red horse is awesome and £1 for a litre. There is plenty to see in vietnam from the war and Vietnamese people turned out to be some of the nicest people I met. Cambodia is brilliant, Siem reap is something else. Got the three day pass for Angkor wat and a push bike to see the temples (cheap and healthy). If you go to Angkor wat and get hungry the restaurants will ask for about $6-7 for a sandwich, just walk away and they will take a dollar. Phnom Penh is okay, I just saw what I wanted and left (killing fields and s-21). Then I went to kep which is a really quiet little town famous for its crabs. And sihanoukville which Is a party town, easy to meet people with cheap beer. Hope this helps and don't hold out too much hope for Thailand ;)

    #13 Posted: 21/4/2014 - 16:41

  • Jimtighe

    Joined Travelfish
    21st April, 2014
    Posts: 3

    Also Bangkok is huge, khao San is okay but it gets very noisy. I was there for new year and literally couldn't move. There's a French Canadian "restaurant" just round the corner from khao San that does poutines and they are brilliant. Budget wise you should be fine. I only spent £3500 in 6 months with a month in china and a fair few flights. Who wants to spend $30 on a hotel when u can get a hostel guesthouse double room for $12-15 max?!?!?

    #14 Posted: 21/4/2014 - 16:48

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 2148
    Total reviews: 11

    Thailand is touristy in certain.places but there r dozens of towns where foreign numbers are close to zero.

    U obviously didnt leave the banana pancake trail.

    Even on koh chang which is well known the thai tourists outnumber the farangs.

    #15 Posted: 21/4/2014 - 18:22

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 2148
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    Thailand is a dump lol

    Then u talk up sihanoukville a sleazy cambodian dump lol

    Trang islands r a dump?

    Ko chang, wai, mak and kood dumps?

    Krabi a dump?

    Prachuap a dump?

    U have obviously seen little

    #16 Posted: 21/4/2014 - 18:25

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 2148
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    10 dollars a night buys a dump room
    30 gets a 3 to 4 star hotel room with pool and breakfast

    Depends whether u want quality or not

    #17 Posted: 21/4/2014 - 18:28

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 2148
    Total reviews: 11

    Drinks on lanta and koh chang r 80 baht for a large bottle.

    (You youtube comment shows u r talking about tourist ghettos like phuket samui etc)

    Nice curry on lanta or chang 60 to 80 baht. Chang has excellent food.

    Krabi town has 40 baht dishes.

    Prachuap has 1kg of freshly caught blue crabs cooked for u for 280 baht sitting on the beach. They have duck dishes for 50 baht.

    I paid 1000 baht for a 4 star bungalow on chang with a.pool and breakfast.

    Thailand is cheap and great if u do a bit of research.

    Ksr is a dump. U guys stay in bp dumps then say its overrated.lol then u go to another bp ghetto and its the same thing.

    Try thinking outside the square.

    #18 Posted: 21/4/2014 - 18:40

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6256
    Total reviews: 10

    Chris
    Don't listen to the anti-Thai crowd babbling here. Thailand has over a 50% return rate for a reason.

    Now I thought this line was very instructive:

    "Seems perfect for me, close to the nightlife and a lot of solo travellers ."

    You're new here, but this has been a repeated theme on Travelfish. Out of curiosity, why do you want to be around "lots of solo travellers"? Why wouldn't you want to be around lots of Thais your age (or Cambodians or Vietnamese or whatever)?

    #19 Posted: 22/4/2014 - 03:51

  • chris9393

    Joined Travelfish
    17th April, 2014
    Posts: 15

    Hi MADMAC, Thank you for your replies. The reason being is because I'm going on my own id also like to meet people in the same situation as me. It would be great to hook up with other travellers from all over the world to share the experience with. I'm a very sociable person and to get the best out of places I know it's best to get in with the locals as they can show the the 'best' places.

    It would also be good to have company travelling from A to B. I've never done anything like the before and doing it on my own first time is quite nerv racking! But yet I can't wait

    #20 Posted: 22/4/2014 - 06:39

  • Kate1989

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2014
    Posts: 1

    Hi Chris, I'm also travelling SE Asia from September, flying into Bangkok and then spending about two months North in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam and then heading South to the Islands, also experiencing a full moon party at some point. I don't have any set plans, I think when you're travelling solo it's best to go with the flow. I am only booking my hostel for when I arrive in Bangkok, my friend has stayed at Nappark and she rated it, so I'm booking for there. I don't know where I'm going to be for Christmas or New year but that's the fun of travelling. I am also heading to Malaysia and Singapore and maybe Indonesia too and then finally onto Oz.
    I am sure you will be fine, there are so many people that travel solo, you just need to do your homework and read a little more about the places you want to visit. There are so many travelling tips out there! Good luck and maybe I'll bump into you on our travels.

    #21 Posted: 22/4/2014 - 11:12

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6256
    Total reviews: 10

    "The reason being is because I'm going on my own id also like to meet people in the same situation as me. It would be great to hook up with other travellers from all over the world to share the experience with."

    You won't. You'll meet up with other westerners. Probably not any asians, south asians, southeast asians, Africans, Latinos... maybe one or two. Almost all lilly white gap year kids. If you want to absorb local culture, local language, local people and how they live and see the world - get away from these people, or all you will do is more of what you've done at home. Might as well save your money and hang out at some pubs within ten miles from your house. Seriously. Think about it. If you come here for a beach, for some cheap sex, then coming here and going to places that cater to that makes sense. But if you are coming here to absorb the local environment, then hitting hte bannana pancake trail makes no sense. Now, to be fair, I have noted that a lot ofkids do this. It's security. They feel more comfortable in their own little habitat away from home. But I can tell you, watching my son who divorced himself from this the day he got off the plane, you'll enjoy it more if you go native. You'll learn more, you'll meet people who become real friends... it will be more interesting.

    "I'm a very sociable person and to get the best out of places I know it's best to get in with the locals as they can show the the 'best' places."

    This addendum that you added at the end is in conflict with the "other travellers" point that I referenced before. So, if you want to get in with the locals, get away from the other travellers. Because they don't socialize with the locals. The Sex tourists socialize a whole lot more with the locals than the "travellers" do - and that's not an exageration.

    "It would also be good to have company travelling from A to B. "

    You don't need it. It becomes a ball and chain, as you try and tie each others movements together. There is no upside. Trust me.

    "I've never done anything like the before and doing it on my own first time is quite nerv racking! But yet I can't wait."

    It's easy. Getting around here is easy. Finding a place to stay is easy. Finding food is easy. You got nothing to worry about. Go to the places no one else goes, you'll have more fun. Trust me on this one. Get away from the other white people. If there are white people there, leave.

    #22 Posted: 22/4/2014 - 11:41

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 2148
    Total reviews: 11

    White people prefer to stick to their own kind and just look at the asians like zoo animals. All they do is go from one zoo to the next.

    Backpackers just use sea as a cheap party with other westerners. They only pretend to be interested in culture.

    Thats how it is for 95% of them.

    #23 Posted: 22/4/2014 - 18:30

  • Maran

    Joined Travelfish
    11th March, 2014
    Posts: 15

    This is an interesting discussion. I'm going to SEA on May 31 for 13 weeks. I'm currently in NZ but have found it unfulfilling at times being surrounded by the same shallow, materialistic people as at home. Going out and feeling like its just like home is not why I went travelling. I want an entirely different experience to life at home (Ireland), yet I do want to meet people with whom I share commonalities and have great times. I don't want to be surrounded by the same old crap of loud mouthed westerners acting like they own the place. I want to experience the culture and do things and go places that are seldom done by western travellers.

    How do I go about this? Where do I go? (Solo male traveller, first-time going to Asia)

    #24 Posted: 23/4/2014 - 06:04

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 2148
    Total reviews: 11

    Look at the map and go places youve never heard of.

    Skip the bali, phuket type.places.

    #25 Posted: 23/4/2014 - 06:19

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6256
    Total reviews: 10

    I have a route I have ridden myself and recommend to those who really want to get off the beaten path starting in Nong Khai and working your way down the river to Phon Phisai, Kung Kan, Ban Paeng,Tha Uthen, NKP, That Phanom, Kaeng Ka Bao, Mukdahan, Don Tan, Khemmerat, Kong Chiam. You'll run into few westerners along this route, but at all the ampurs you'll have access to 7-11s with when you just need a ham and cheese sandwich... I have posted this route recently here with videos and now can't find it. Not sure if it was deleted or what.

    #26 Posted: 23/4/2014 - 06:29

  • Jimtighe

    Joined Travelfish
    21st April, 2014
    Posts: 3

    Maran, Indonesia as Far East as you can go from Bali, western people start thinning out as you get to the east of Flores, west Timor and Papua. Bali isn't bad, there's nice quiet secluded beaches outside of Kuta with amazing views and people. Also Lombok is the same in the south. You can get anywhere really easily, and everybody you meet knows a cousin's cousins mate who has a room in his/her house with breakfast for 150000 rupiah. It's a brilliant place and also very easy to extend your visa. That or go and volunteer in the Philippines, the Filipino people are the nicest and most inviting people I have ever met.

    #27 Posted: 23/4/2014 - 07:30

  • roro1990

    Joined Travelfish
    9th August, 2013
    Posts: 21

    Some of you need to get off your high horses. It's hilarious the superiority complex that some of you have. There is nothing wrong at all with coming to Thailand and socializing with other westerners, don't let anyone tell you any different OP. Once you make an effort to chat to locals aswell then you'll have a great time. Certain people in here seem to get their sad kicks out of critizicing others for coming to Thailand and behaving differently to them.The immaturity is as unbelievable as it is pathetic.

    #28 Posted: 23/4/2014 - 07:36

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 2148
    Total reviews: 11

    Roro,

    You are not reading the recent comments here.

    People r whinging places r too touristy or crap.

    That is cause they r choosing touristy places.

    People can go whereever i dont care. But they see 0.5% of a country then say its no good. Now that is hilarious rofl

    #29 Posted: 23/4/2014 - 07:45

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6256
    Total reviews: 10

    "There is nothing wrong at all with coming to Thailand and socializing with other westerners, don't let anyone tell you any different"

    Leonard is spot on here. If someone says they want to experience "local culture" - well hell, that means get off the banana pancake trail. This isn't about "high horses". This is about saying one thing and doing another. If you want to come here and socialize with other westerners then please don't talk smack about how it's "too touristy" or "I want to learn about local culture." Because in both cases they don't apply. My first exposure to travelfish started on this very subject, when a couple of know-nothing backpackers started trying to tell an expat in Laos, who was fluent in the lanugage" what's what. So, you want to follow the herd and hang out with other backpackers in Khao San, Chiang Mai, Vang vieng, Luang Prabang, etc. etc. etc - that's all OK. But don't pretend you are "into the local culture" while your doing the standard tour and hanging out the entire time with westerners and you're only interaction with indigenous persons is the wait staff at restaraunts and the check in desk at the guesthouse.

    "But they see 0.5% of a country then say its no good. Now that is hilarious rofl"

    This is absolutely right. If you come here and go to Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Koh Phi Phi and say "wow, Thailand is overrun with tourists" you're just an idiot.

    #30 Posted: 23/4/2014 - 11:26

  • miriam123

    Joined Travelfish
    19th July, 2013
    Posts: 25
    Total reviews: 2
    Places visited:
    At least 48

    BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH,
    get over yourself,
    next time i want advice on moving to Thailand and marrying a Thai lady and BLAH BLAH BLAH all the rest of it, but when people want advice on BUDGET traveling (as thats what the first question was here), seeing things that they have never seen before and having a good time then **** off because your useless!

    #31 Posted: 23/4/2014 - 12:17

  • chris9393

    Joined Travelfish
    17th April, 2014
    Posts: 15

    This thread was never meant to escalate the way it has done so I apologise to all. All of your replies have been very helpful to myself which is exactly what I needed. No need to carry on replying if it's just throwing an argument at one another.

    Once again thank you for everyone who has replied to help me and at the end of the day everyone is entitled to their own opinion :)

    #32 Posted: 23/4/2014 - 13:57

  • Maran

    Joined Travelfish
    11th March, 2014
    Posts: 15

    I guess the apprehension regarding truly getting off the beaten path is due to the fear of being lost in translation. For me anyway. I'd be afraid I wouldn't be able to properly communicate with locals because of not knowing their language.

    Also, if I'm wanting to do activities (diving, trekking, sightseeing) then surely I'll be bumping into other tourists.

    #33 Posted: 23/4/2014 - 22:25

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6256
    Total reviews: 10

    Oh Chris no worries. This kind of thing is normal when people see the world in a different way. Glad you got the info you were seeking - which is of course the most important element here. The rest is less significant banter.

    "I guess the apprehension regarding truly getting off the beaten path is due to the fear of being lost in translation. For me anyway. I'd be afraid I wouldn't be able to properly communicate with locals because of not knowing their language."

    That is a valid fear. You get out where I suggested and English language speakers are rare. But there are solutions. Having key phrases written down in Thai helps. Learning to count is really useful as well. For restaraunts (and there is a link to one posted here on travelfish) having a list of common menu items written in Thai that you can just point to is very useful. Of course, often you won't quite get what you ordered, so you have to be ready to go with he flow.

    "Also, if I'm wanting to do activities (diving, trekking, sightseeing) then surely I'll be bumping into other tourists."

    Well some obvious ones:
    1. Beach = tourists most of the time. There are a few remoter ones, but for the most part you are likely to run into tourists at a beach.
    2. Diving = Absolutely tourists.
    3. Sightseeing = Depends on the sight and how we define tourists. There are indeigneous tourists, which frankly is a different animal than western tourist. Wat That Phanom is one of the oldest and most significant temples in Thailand. Because very few tourists get out to That Phanom (it's not on the "trail") you see very few westerners out there. The last time I went I didn't see any. There are also some Khmer ruins out in Khorat which don't get a lot of western tourists - again, not on the trail and they are dwarfed by the much more famous Angkor Wat. As China has often stated, the reason that a lot of tourists go to these major sights is because they are major sights. Fair enough. It depends on what you want.

    From my perspective (and I will admit my years living here have given me a language edge) I would much rather get way off the beaten path. I love tooling around on my motorcycle, stopping at the little mom and pop places to eat while reading a book and seeing small sights in out of the way places. As I said, my son did this the day he got off the plane. He never hit the tourist places and he didn't speak the language and he managed just fine. Now he lives here. So it's possible to do and enjoy. It's not for everyone, just those who really want that non-tourist, dare I say "authentic" experience (I don't like the word authentic, but it kind of applies in this case).

    "but when people want advice on BUDGET traveling (as thats what the first question was here), seeing things that they have never seen before and having a good time then **** off because your useless!"

    The question BUDGET was answered as were the OPs other points. Which the OP pointed out. Again, it was you who started down the road of calling Thailand "touristy" and then going on to defend going to tourist spots. Well no kidding, if you go to tourist spots, it will be touristy. Angkor Wat is super touristy too. Luang Prabang probably has more tourists than inhabitants. So it's rather disingenious to hit all the tourist highlights and then claim a place is touristy don't you think. Once you went down that road, of course people like Leonard and I who don't spend time in tourist spots are going to point out the fallacy of your statement.

    Again, this isn't about "high horses" this is about pointing out several obvious facts:

    1. If you stay on the tourist trail, you are obviously not going to see the non-tourist side of a country.
    2. People who work day in and day out with western tourists are going to have more of an edge and become more jaded in dealing them. How else can it be? Vietnamese touts are notorious.
    3. If you are serious about exposure to local culture, then you can't spend your socializing time with westerners. Culture is about people, and if you don't expose yourself to the people, then you can't really develop an appreciation for the culture.

    The gap year kids moving from tourist spot to tourist spot, looking around, hanging out with other backpackers at night have created their own kind of social environment that is comfortable for them (which Maran obliquely references). That's all OK, but it is, in my view, a wasted opportunity. They could do this just as easily in their home countries. I think getting to know indigenous people, making friends with them (friendships you can maintain via email or Facebook) gives you much more insight to the culture. You won't see as much, but you will have the chance to develop an appreciation for the people and culture. It's not for everyone, but it deserves consideration especially for those who say they want to learn about "local culture" which is posted so often here.

    #34 Posted: 24/4/2014 - 00:33

  • Grubert

    Click here to learn more about Grubert
    Joined Travelfish
    21st February, 2014
    Posts: 57

    I've only returned from vacation, but really can't refrain from wading into the discussion, so you'll have to forgive me for this belated (and utterly unnecessary) post.

    Your point is well made, Maran. The language barrier can truly be an obstacle, and to be honest I'd rather strike up a friendship with a well-read westerner than attempt to engage a Vietnamese bus driver in a patchy conversation about the English premier league... I'm sure you'll agree that the latter's hardly an enlightening cross-cultural exchange. That being said, it has become increasingly de rigueur for middle class Thais and Malaysians (and increasingly Indonesians) to posses at least one foreign degree, so it's not entirely impossible.

    Miriam, if the map on your profile page is anything to go by, you really haven't gotten off the beaten path at all. As such, I'd agree that the Thailand you saw (i.e. the tourist trail) is super touristy.

    you can easily spend more that a night out in england on a night in koh phangan (FMP island) or even Bangkok.

    Having lived as a student in both countries I take issue with much of the above - unless you hit a tourist trap, rooftop bar, Belgian beer café or an artisan microbrewery, there's absolutely no way you're going to spend more in a regular Bangkok bar than at a typical English pub.

    I didn't find it to be "the land of smiles", I found it to be the land of sexpats, rude/money grabbing thais, and tourist.

    Sadly it's a given that you're bound to be swindled in the areas most budget travellers will head to; areas Leonard aptly terms "backpacker ghettos", which are magnets for lowlifes and scumbags, who, having muscled their way in, are here to stay until the day the police force actually gets reformed. Though to be honest I found the touts in Vietnam and Cambodia to be much, much worse.

    Chris, Miriam's original itinerary is an excellent blueprint to base your own plans on, though I'd personally spend less time in Cambodia and more in Vietnam. Needless to say, the motorcycle loops in Laos - or any of the countries, really - are a must.

    #35 Posted: 24/4/2014 - 03:33

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
    24th July, 2012
    Posts: 2148
    Total reviews: 11

    Miriam has a bad attitude. Gets proven wrong then spits the dummy like a little child.

    #36 Posted: 24/4/2014 - 06:45

  • miriam123

    Joined Travelfish
    19th July, 2013
    Posts: 25
    Total reviews: 2
    Places visited:
    At least 48

    I have a right to my own opinion, which is that I didn't like Thailand and I thought it was touristy. I think that yourself Leonard and MADMAC were being negative and unhelpful that's my point. I always said "in my opinion" I never said that iv seen the whole of Thailand I only spent 2 months there so obviously not but from what I saw that was my opinion.

    #37 Posted: 24/4/2014 - 07:30

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
    24th July, 2012
    Posts: 2148
    Total reviews: 11

    Opinions arent facts. You can dislike any country but 99% of the country is untouristy so factually you were wrong.

    #38 Posted: 24/4/2014 - 08:22

  • miriam123

    Joined Travelfish
    19th July, 2013
    Posts: 25
    Total reviews: 2
    Places visited:
    At least 48

    never said it was fact I said it was my opinion so don't know what your point is. lets just leave it there.

    #39 Posted: 24/4/2014 - 08:25

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
    24th July, 2012
    Posts: 2148
    Total reviews: 11

    Which places did u visit?

    #40 Posted: 24/4/2014 - 08:50

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
    24th July, 2012
    Posts: 2148
    Total reviews: 11

    Chiang Mai is super touristy yet you can hire a car and drive 45 mins in any direction and be away from all that. Pai is a backpacker ghetto yet 1 hr north is Lot Cave which is a great cave. I spent nearly 3 hours there and saw about 5 foreigners which I found amazing given there were a thousand of them walking around Pai.
    You can travel to Krabi (moderately touristy) ride 2 km around a bend and over a hill and visit a food market for locals. How many foreigners will you see? About 5 or 6. Everytime Ive been to Krabi I see a few hundred tourists in the area near the Ao Nang beach but only a few at the local markets not far away.
    If you visit Kanchanaburi and walk around you will see hundreds of tourists maybe more. Drive up the road to Sai Yok and you will hardly see any. I stayed a resort on the river and there was a great restaurant in Sai Yok with few foreigners. Next day I drove to a hotspring bath with private rooms. How many foreigners were there? ZERO.
    The moral of the story is it's oh so easy to escape the tourist masses and have a good time without making a huge effort. Most tourists are lazy and hang out in small zones. It's like they have collars on them like prisoners on bail and are too scared to travel an extra few kms to see something interesting.

    #41 Posted: 24/4/2014 - 09:39

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6256
    Total reviews: 10

    "The moral of the story is it's oh so easy to escape the tourist masses and have a good time without making a huge effort. Most tourists are lazy and hang out in small zones. It's like they have collars on them like prisoners on bail and are too scared to travel an extra few kms to see something interesting."

    Miriam, you have to admit Leonard has a point here. There are certain places well known for tourists and they are touristy by nature. But if you leave those areas, then Thailand is not touristy at all. The reason people dont' leave them is first of of, with limited time they often want to see specific famous sights. And those specific famous sights are places lots of people want to see - touristy. The second reason is security. People feel safer in terms of finding social outletts and orering food and so forth along the tourist trail. They know when they leave it, communications becomes an issue. But in my opinion culture is about people and language and if you want to really develop an appreciation for Thai culture (or any other) you have to get out of your comfort zone and hit those spots that tourists don't. As Leonard correctly points out, it's not hard to do. I would take it a touch further than he would and say just cut the apron strings and go for days or weeks at a time. But that means sacrificing seeing the big name sights, something a lot of people are loathe to do, which I understand.

    #42 Posted: 25/4/2014 - 22:50

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