I will be traveling to South East Asia for my winter vacation in January. At the moment I plan on flying into Singapore and traveling to Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam and flying out of Ho Chi Minh City. I realize it'll be quite intense but I'm moving back to the US next fall so I want to get a feel for the countries so I can determine which ones I want to visit for a lengthier amount of time in the (most likely distant) future.
I have $2000 USD for this trip. This does not include airfare to/from Southeast Asia, one or two flights within the region or travel insurance. However, it does include bus tickets, accommodations, etc.
I'm still working on my itinerary but this is what I have so far
- Fly into Singapore, stay a couple of days
- Travel into Malaysia, stay in one town for a few days (probably not Kuala Lampur)
- Enter Thailand and head to Pattani to visit friends for a few days
- Get to Phuket and immediately take a flight to northern Thailand (Chang Mai?)
- Stay in Northern Thailand for a few days, I'd like to do a homestay with one of the smaller Thai ethnic communities in the area
- Enter Laos and stay maybe 5 days
- Travel down to Cambodia (fly?) and stay for a few days (I've been to Cambodia before so I know this isn't a lot of time but I loved it so much I couldn't skip the country)
- Take a bus to Vietnam, get to Hoi An and spend a few days relaxing
- Fly back to Korea from HCM
Here's a bit about me and my travel ways to help you offer advice on whether 2000 USD is sufficient
- Hostels/guesthouses - I don't need aircon but a warm shower every morning helps me wake up and mentally prepare for the day. Also, I'm a woman traveling alone so I try to be careful with where I stay (i.e. no shared dorms, etc).
- Food - I'm a strict vegetarian (no meat including fish and fish sauce and I try to avoid egg). I know I won't be able to eat a lot of the cheap and tasty roadside food so I need to budget a bit more for food. I do love to try different cuisines (within my dietary restrictions) and will probably enjoy at least one nice meal
- Drink - I don't drink much alcohol while traveling but I have a weakness for fresh fruit juice and I went absolutely crazy for bubble tea in Taiwan.
- Sightseeing - I prefer exploring a town on foot via markets and temples. I'm not overly keen on museums and overly touristy set-ups (for example, the tiger sanctuary in Thailand). I also avoid the beaches because I'm really pasty and I burn easily
- I have a weakness for traditional and kitschy art
So, is it possible to do these countries on 2,000USD or would it be a bit tight? I do want to enjoy myself while I travel and not have to constantly worry about money but I find a budget also keeps me from buying a bunch of ridiculous souvenirs that I don't need. From my research it sounds like it should be fine (30 days x $50 a day) with a bit extra but ... I still worry. If it's not feasible I might cut Vietnam out of my plans since I spent 3 weeks there a few years back and the visa for Vietnam for a US citizen residing in South Korea is a bit under 100 USD at the moment.
Also, as I mentioned above I live in S. Korea and therefore I get paid in won. From my experience won isn't really a desirable currency out of Korea - but would this influence traveler's checks? I would hate to have TCs in won and find out no one wants them. I also will use my debit card (attached to my bank back in the US) and a US issued credit card.
Thank you in advance for any and all advice!
#1 wardmj7 has been a member since 29/11/2012. Posts: 3
Please don't do this to yourself, it's too much. Pick one, max. two countries and enjoy yourself.
"I realize it'll be quite intense but I'm moving back to the US next fall so I want to get a feel for the countries so I can determine which ones I want to visit for a lengthier amount of time in the (most likely distant) future."
This is no excuse for what you are planning.
#2 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 738
I realize it's not the travel itinerary for everyone but I am quite comfortable with the situation. I want to be up and moving around in contrast to a dreary and somewhat sedentary life in Korea. I'll have time in the future to enjoy and afford a more leisurely trip.
I should also add I've done very leisurely trips in the past - I want something a bit more fast paced this time.
#3 wardmj7 has been a member since 29/11/2012. Posts: 3
I think skipping Malaysia and flying directly from Singapore to BKK would be a good idead. Malaysia is a little more expensive and the cheapest way to BKK will be a flight from KL, so you'd have to go there anyway. That'll save you few days that may be better spent in Thailand, Laos or Vietnam.
"- Enter Laos and stay maybe 5 days
- Travel down to Cambodia (fly?) and stay for a few days (I've been to Cambodia before so I know this isn't a lot of time but I loved it so much I couldn't skip the country)"
From Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang would be done in 3 days (2 if very rushed?) on the slow boat and then you'd probably want to relax in LP for a couple nights and that would take most of your 5 days in Laos. You still need the long haul down to Si Phon Don (4,000 Islands) which takes you through Vang Vieng , Vientiane , Savannakhet , Pakse , Champasak on the way there. As you've said you might want to explore Laos more later, you could skip Vang Vieng and Savannakhet and Champasak . . . but you'd still be traveling a lot from LP-V-Pakse-4,000 islands before even entering Cambodia. This is the main reason I'd recommend cutting out Malaysia. You can save time by skipping Siem Reap as it sounds like you've been there . . . if you were willing to skip Camobida . . . with a pre-arranged visa you could pass from Pakse overland to Hoi'an area via that land border and see the Hoi'an/DaNang/Hue area before heading up to Hanoi, save souther Vietnam for a possible return.
If you fly from Vientiane to Cambodia you could save a chunk of time though. You say your January holiday, so I read 3 weeks and must agree that with travel time you would want to cut something out.
Thank you for your advice! I was going to skip Malaysia but 1) I want to visit Singapore due to the strong Indian influence and 2) I have friends who live in southern Thailand and want to visit them so it seems natural to at least stop for a day or 2. But I'll take it into consideration. If I didn't have friends in Thailand I probably would skip that country as well.
#5 wardmj7 has been a member since 29/11/2012. Posts: 3
Skip Thailand? Probably the most interesting nation in SEA. The only one with no colonial background. Why would you want to skip Thailand?
This itinerary is bizaare. It's like a marathon. You aren't going to see or experience a thing - except airports, bus stations and buses. Insane. But hey, it's your money.
I agree with everyone else! dont do this to yourself. youre going to spend half your trip in transit and wont have time to ever settle into one place to truly relax. In 2011 i did 4.5 weeks in bangkok, phuket, samui, tao, phangan and then 3 days around siem reap. it was too much traveling. if i were you id focus less on filing your passport and maybe consider visiting your friends in thailand, then going north maybe checking out an island or two near surat thani/chumpon and then heading east once you hit bangkok, do cambodia, laos and vietnam. but even that seems incredibly busy, but at least you can take sleeper trains. my fav mode of transportation. go to bed, wake up somewhere new!
#7 Drew84 has been a member since 6/7/2011. Posts: 36
As much as I agree with most comments about the itinerary I believe the original question was related to the budget of $2000
Yes, you can do a trip like that with $2000 but it won't be very comfortable. And here comes the itinerary back again. You will travel huge distances in a short period of time and this will affect costs and of your daily budget you will spend relatively a lot on travel because you will be on the move almost every day. People travelling for 3-4 months may spend the same amount of money on travel but spread out over a longer period and thus the daily spend on travel will be far less and a budget of $50 will be very comfortable for them but it won't be for you.
So, if the previous comments haven't convinced you perhaps your wallet will. Cut distances by cutting countries and your budget will be fine
I would like to point out that while Singapore has a "Little India" and a significant Indian minority (about 10% of the population), it is predominantly Chinese. So if you are hoping for a strong "India" vibe, you might be disappointed. Considering the cost of Singapore, I think a case can be made for skipping it this time around.
So here's my two cents.
I think visiting either Georgetown or Malacca in Malaysia would be a good idea as it is the only predominantly Islamic country in your list. You would fly into KL from Korea. Spend a night to rest and do a little sight seeing and than make your way to either one. Though Georgetown's proximity to Southern Thailand makes it the more logical choice. So you would spend around 4 days in Malaysia. From there, you can make your way to Thailand.
That will leave you about 26 days to split among Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. I suggest you skip Vietnam as you've already seen it.
In a nutshell - 6 countries - 4 weeks - BAD IDEA! Each country deserves a month - Do Thailand and Angkor - End of story [img]smileys/smile.gif[/img] I spend about $1100 a month - Doing Thailand & Cambodia in 3 months.