Im planning to go to cambodia to do some volunteer work with an NGO for around 6 months (Oct 08-March 09) and then travel throught SE Asia for around 2-3months. I am looking at going on organised tours through STA travel or intrepid, partly because I am travelling on my own so thought this would be a good way of meeting people and safer than travelling alone. I am looking at paying around about £400 (+food) for 20 or so days travel on a "basic" tour. I wonder if anyone has any advice on this - is this money well spent, has anyone done any before that they would recommend or do you think I am better just to go it alone?
I did something similar in America with the Green Tortoise last year, and thought it was great not to be constantly planning where to go next and booking places all the time, it does take the flexiblity out of travelling yourself though...
#1 abs197 has been a member since 19/7/2008. Posts: 3
Sorry for the late reply -- I missed your question.
Cambodia is a very straightforward country to travel in and there's loads of people travelling independently in it. Chances are, if you decide to go it solo, you'll have no trouble meeting other travellers.
That said, some do go for organised tours -- primarily because, as you say, they take the need for planning etc out of it.
However, the downside of having the planning taken away, is that you have no real control over your trip anymore. If you find somewhere you'd like to stay longer, you won't really be able to, you'll also generally not be able to change your guesthouse or hotel should it not meet your liking -- tour groups rarely use guesthouses that I'd recommend to independent travellers -- primarily because they feel like a tourist hotel and lack the "family-run" atmosphere you may get in smaller places.
The other thing with organised tours is while you will meet people on your tour, they'll mostly be the other people on your tour -- tour groups tend to travel in a bit of a bubble (with respect to individual travellers) primarily because the last thing they want you to do is meet a backpacker who scoffs at the idea of taking a tour and explains to you just how easy (and cheap) it is to do solo.
In the end it's a personal decision. If you enjoyed how the Golden Tortoise worked then, a tour could be for you, but I'd say don't pick a tour just because you're concerned about Cambodia being tricky to travel in -- it's not.
Hope that helps.