Photo: Street food Phetchaburi Soi 10, Bangkok.

Southeast Asia forum

Cambodia, vietnam and laos

Posted by danni87 on 7/11/2010 at 22:13

Hello! Im hoping someone can help me?
Me and my friend want to travel to cambodia, vietnam and laos from approx 25/07/2011 for around 3-4 weeks. We only have a small budget and was looking to do a tour for £600 which was only 13 days around vietnam and cambodia. I would like to do more if possible...
I am 23 and my friend is 26 both female..we have been told by some people it is too dangerous to travel around by our self so they have adviced to go with a tour compnay. Is this correct?
Will be very greatful if someone can help

#1 danni87 has been a member since 7/11/2010. Posts: 7

Posted by jeremyisaaclee on 8/11/2010 at 03:30

I've been to various cities in Vietnam and Cambodia over the past year with my friends.
In a particular city, we usually join the day tour with a local agency for sightseeing in the usual attractions that are a few hours' journey away.
Otherwise, we plan our own inter-city travel, or wander about a particular city ourselves with public transport.
I don't think it's particularly dangerous to plan your own travel as we've met a number of female travelers on the road. But of course, it is wise to exercise caution in dark and deserted locations.

#2 jeremyisaaclee has been a member since 8/10/2009. Location: Malaysia. Posts: 4
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Posted by busylizzy on 8/11/2010 at 04:08

Hi danni - apologies in advance for my long response (I got a bit carried away!). However, I hope that you will find it helpful.

You will find that most people (me included) on this site will suggest that you do not need to do a tour to travel around SEA. It is one of the safest and easiest areas in the world to travel in, as long as you continue to use the common sense that you would (hopefully!) use at home.

However, I guess there are pros and cons for both options that can be considered:

Tour pros:
- Everything is organised for you: accom, transport, activities etc. You won’t have to worry about traipsing around the streets with your pack on your back trying to find somewhere suitable to stay. And you won’t have to stand around trying to decipher bus timetables in a foreign language.
- Good if you have limited time and wish to cover off as many places as possible. (and by the looks of it, you have a fair bit that you want to try and cover off). This will give you a sampling of places that you might otherwise not get the chance to see.
- Travelling with a group of people that have the same mind-set to experience new cultures and experiences and have the potential to become your life-long friends.

Tour cons:
- Much more expensive than what you would pay to do it yourself.
- No flexibility to change your plans (ie you might really, really like that perfect beach that you are lying on and wish to stay for another 2-3 days – but you can’t as the tour must keep moving!)
- Tend to focus on the standard touristy locales and activities.
- You are constantly moving. You get to sample each place, but never really immerse yourself in your environment because you’re not there long enough. Moving constantly becomes tiring, and places can become a blur.
- Travelling with a group of people that you can’t stand. (Obnoxious and arrogant, staid and boring, party-animals, party-poopers, too old, too young, whatever....)

Independent travel pros:
- A sense of satisfaction that you did it YOUR way. That you overcame the challenges and difficulties.
- You can hook up with other independent travellers who you will meet along the way.
- Flexibility! Change your mind, stay longer, stay shorter, whatever. You can do what you want, when you want.
- Cheaper! You’re not paying for the overheads of a tour company, the guide, etc,etc.

Independent travel cons:
- You have to do t he hard yards in terms of planning and preparation, and you gotta figure it all out as you go, but look at these things as challenges to overcome!
- There will be ‘bad days’ where things don’t go to plan, but think how much more interesting your stories are when you get back home.

If you are still keen to do a tour, I have heard good things about Intrepid Travel. Several friends in NZ have done their various tours in different parts of the world speak very highly of them.

My recommendation is to do it on your own, BUTdon’t try to do all three countries that you mention in just 3-4 weeks. You will spend far too much time getting to/waiting for/riding in planes, trains and buses. Don’t under-estimate the distances that youare trying to travel, esp. in Vietnam. Each travel day can eat up one day of your valuable holiday time.

You have a great resource here at this website to gather up loads of information, and lots of people in the forum to help you out with suggestions, advice. And you have plenty of time to plan and organise an itinerary.

Hope this helps!

#3 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,153
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Posted by danni87 on 8/11/2010 at 20:57

Thank you very much to you both for your reply!!
It has given me lots to think about : )
I may contact you in the future for more im just getting to grips with planning now..
Thanks Again!

#4 danni87 has been a member since 7/11/2010. Posts: 7

Posted by eastwest on 9/11/2010 at 13:31

Excellent points from busylizzy. The only thing I don't agree on is the price of group vs DIY.

I've worked as a tour leader for a short stint (I hated it) and I think that organized group tours give great value for money and are a lot of times cheaper than doing it yourself.
Most times they include a flight as well and often those trips go for around $2000 or 2500 per person. Yes, you may be able to travel yourself for that amount or cheaper but you'll end up in lower class hotels and transport. And that's where the difference is: for the same price a group tour would give you more value for money when it comes to standards of hotels, food and transport.

The hotels my groups stayed in were mid range hotels charging a rack rate of $50 per night or so and these bigger travel companies get big discounts. Also for flights.
Doing it yourself in mid-range hotels and private buses (with stops along the way) would set you back more money.

#5 eastwest has been a member since 17/12/2009. Posts: 778
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Posted by MADMAC on 10/11/2010 at 00:01

I wouldn't do a tour. I would hate being chained to a schedule and a bunch of other people. I prefer to just get on my chopper and go where the road leads me.

#6 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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