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Southeast Asia forum

too young?!

Posted by roff on 19/10/2010 at 04:57

Hopefully we can get a little advice on this.

Me and a friend are planning our travelling for next summer. Were both 18 and currently on our 'gap year' working full-time to finance our trip. The plan is to travel round eastern Europe on the trains during May 2011 and then fit in a bigger trip around South-East asia in June/July/August before we start Uni. Although our route is still up for debate, were leaning towards flying into Singapore, travelling up through Malaysia (via KL) and into Thailand. Using the trains or any other method of transport to take in most of south Thailand on the way to Bangkok. A possible sub-trip could include Ho Chi Minh City and/or Phnom Penh.

So basically my question to you guys is how much will our age affect us, if at all, on this trip?

Were both sensible lads and will have gained a bit of travelling experience from Europe even though we understand that its a totally different culture. We dont want to be foolish in thinking were invincible but were also not short of confidence.

#1 roff has been a member since 19/10/2010. Posts: 10

Posted by gilfunkel on 19/10/2010 at 06:50


You won't be the first ones to have attempted a trip like this at your- um- our age. I'm 18 and on a gap year as well and I'll be taking off for S.E. Asia in about 20 days. I'm planning on spending 6-7 months traveling all over the region. I ought to be in Indonesia or headed home when you'll be arriving.

As for the age question, I can't really answer from my own experience, as I don't really have any there yet, but I think you'll be fine. I certainly had the same concerns but abandoned them at some point or another. Sure you may be a few years younger than the majority of the backpackers you meet, but I don't think it'll make a major difference. I have a feeling that your maturity and character will be more of a factor than your age.

I'm really having trouble answering this question though. I guess if you feel confident enough to undertake it, which seems the case, then I think you'll do just fine.


EDIT: Take a look at this traveller's blog

She was 18 when she began her sojourn around S.E. Asia. She's a great writer and her blog offers some good insight into the region. In writing you now I am just realizing though, she barely ever mentions her age in it. Something to think about, I suppose :]

#2 gilfunkel has been a member since 19/10/2010. Posts: 2

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Posted by MADMAC on 19/10/2010 at 09:51

The only drawback to your age here in Thailand (don't know about the rest of SEA) is that you are under age. So you might not be able to get into some clubs or if you try and buy a beer at a restaraunt it's possible (though for the most part probably unlikely) that you won't get one. Since you can't legally drink here, don't go out and get smashed. It would create vulnerabilities for you (and the proprietors) beyond what it normally does.
As for being mature enough. That's an individual thing. I know guys here who are 50 and still aren't mature enough to be here. My son is 23 and lives here (studying) and he's more resonsible than most I know. 18 is old enough to travel around here and it's just as safe here as it is in Europe (at least Thailand is).

#3 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by conorcw on 19/10/2010 at 19:40

hi guys,

i spent two months going around thailand, cambodia and vietnam by myself this summer aged 20. i was still a lot younger than most people i met and inevitably travelled with but never had any problems, they're all like minded, chilled out and friendly people (well, most anyway). The average age in fairness seemed to be 23-26 but i met a few people only just out of school like yourselves. they also never had any problems. once you know what you're doing, how to look after yourself are sociable and respectful to people around you, you'll have no problems. and open to new experiences.
i doubt you'll have any problems going out either, they'll be more than happy to take your money off you. in my experience, most people just presume you to be at least mid 20's.
as i said, most people i hung around with were a few years older than me but once that doesn't you'll have the best time going.i'm hopefully heading back long term myself in 2011 which says everything really.

enjoy your trip anyway,


#4 conorcw has been a member since 19/10/2010. Posts: 1

Posted by roff on 21/10/2010 at 01:29

Thanks for the replies. The trip was never in doubt really as were both pretty determined to go. I guess I just thought that it wasn't especially normal to catch two 18 year olds backpacking around SEA..? Which then led me to what the implications of this could be (if any)?

Ill admit I had already thought about the whole alcohol thing and we will definately stay away from getting drunk, we do enough of that anyway and its more about experiencing the countries and culture really.

As for being sensible and respectful, that goes without saying and we wouldn't be anything but.

Any other advice is really appreciated, please. Just wondering if there were certain areas/countries/citys in SEA that might be worth avoiding from a safety standpoint or maybe even typical situations that could lead to danger. Im trying not to sound really dumb like I don't understand how to live and look after myself which of course I do but this is specific to travelling in SEA, something I haven't experienced yet (obviously!!) Thanks.

#5 roff has been a member since 19/10/2010. Posts: 10

Posted by MADMAC on 21/10/2010 at 10:12

One other thing that nobody on travelfish (other than me) brings up, but you will notice quickly unless you are incredibly obtuse (which you do not appear to be) is that there is a lot of prostitution here. Sometimes it's very direct, in your face. Sometimes though, it's more subtle. Generally speaking, if you sleep with a woman here, she will expect renumeration even if she likes you. There are exceptions to this, but Thai women usually don't have one night stands without expecting money in return. It's just the way it is here.
When you leave the beaten path, you guys will be like rock stars, and hit on often, because young white guys are rare in this neck of the woods. But don't assume if you "score" that it's just because the girl likes you. She may well, but the expectation of payment will likely remain. Just FYI the rules of romance here are not the same as Western Europe.

#6 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by Captain_Bob on 26/10/2010 at 14:49

I have a guesthouse in Chiang Mai and just running through the sign-in book for the past 5 years I see quite a few 18 year old backpackers. Of course most of them are more like 20-25 but 18 isn't "too young". Depends on your mental "age" a lot too, be responsible don't lose your cool use common sense and you'll be safe and easily make friends along the way. Eastern Europe can be more dodgy than SE Asia in many ways so you'll have some experience before you get to this corner of the world. Happy Travels.

#7 Captain_Bob has been a member since 27/5/2006. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,950

Posted by villanovajunction on 5/11/2010 at 22:41

the only thing you got to worry about is not going broke having such a good time! i'm sure you are going to enjoy yourself very much. i stayed in india for 5 months when i was 18 and subsequently travelled to the lovely cambodia, thailand, and laos, and i had an amazing time and met great people. i stay in singapore so if you have any queries..

#8 villanovajunction has been a member since 4/11/2010. Posts: 8

Posted by errik on 25/11/2010 at 20:55

Thumbs up to you guys. I always thought about this but could not go for it :( Good luck

#9 errik has been a member since 28/10/2010. Posts: 28

Posted by lyly10388 on 29/11/2010 at 15:48

Posted from within Vietnam.

Thank you so much for your post.

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#10 lyly10388 has been a member since 29/11/2010. Posts: 1

Posted by errik on 29/11/2010 at 21:50

???? Thanks for what?

#11 errik has been a member since 28/10/2010. Posts: 28

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