Photo: Street food Phetchaburi Soi 10, Bangkok.

Southeast Asia forum

Planning a solo trip - where to start?!

Posted by AJ on 22/7/2011 at 04:06

Hello everybody,

I'm planning to spend some time in SE Asia later this year (October/November time). Budget will determine exactly how long but probably looking at 6-7 weeks.

I've travelled in India and Nepal before, but no further east. I'd love to visit Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. I'm quickly realising that's a lot of ground to cover in my relatively short space of time... So perhaps one trip this year and save up go again next year.

It's been a while since I've travelled solo and planned a big trip and, well, there's so much info and so many sites out there, I'm a bit overwhelmed...where do I start?

I don't want to rush around and spend tons of time on transport. As a long female traveller with appalling sense of direction, I'd also like to feel comfortable.

I'd like to relax,soak up the atmosphere, meet some friendly people, see some stunning landscapes and just chill... Possibly volunteer at a school or orphanage (can I just sort that out when I'm there? Can't afford to pay big admin fees to a gap-year company...)

I am nervous about venturing out there alone. If any of you experienced bunch can give me some pointers - tips of areas I should head to, how I should approach the itinerary, what to buy in advance/what not to buy in advance - anything - I'd really appreciate your pearls of wisdom and advice! Thanks very much

#1 AJ has been a member since 22/7/2011. Posts: 4

Posted by kateemily on 22/7/2011 at 11:17

my first bit of advice is to check out the itenerary pages on this website for ideas:
that may be a good one to start with.
there is a whole forum dedicated to answering your volunteer question, i havent volunteered yet personally, but the common consensus seems to be dont pay to volunteer!

Myself and my boyfriend are going to Cambodia, Laos and Thailand in Sep-Oct, so far we've only booked our flights from Melbourne to Bangkok!
We are going Siem Reap - Phonm Penh - Luang-Prabang - Vang Vieng - Chaing Mai - Ko Chang and Ko Lanta.
You can find out any info you like on this website, thats where i'd start if i was you

#2 kateemily has been a member since 7/4/2011. Posts: 12
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Posted by AJ on 22/7/2011 at 16:08

hey, cheers for that. will defo have a good read, and look up the other forum.

it seems the general feedback across most of the site is to do some preparation/have a rough plan in mind but not try and be overly military about it!

have a great time on your trip!

#3 AJ has been a member since 22/7/2011. Posts: 4

Posted by MADMAC on 23/7/2011 at 11:53

What are you interests? What do you want to do? What do you dislike? That kind of info will help people steer you better. You can relax and soak up atmosphere almost anywhere, but given your listed interest in "stunning landscape" that would seem to suggest rural, vice urban, environments.

Don't worry about traveling alone. This region is generally pretty safe as long as you don't do anything foolish.

#4 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by AJ on 23/7/2011 at 16:41

hey madmac, cheers for your response.
my interests are varied really - i love urban and rural environments, a good balance of calm and chaos. but i really like to see the traditional way of life when i visit new places, and like to meet people who can tell me stories about their history and way of life.
from the reading so far, it seems so long as you do a bit of research you can't go far wrong in this part of the world - which ever regions you focus on are going to be worthwhile and beautiful.
but given it's my first trip to these countries, if anybody has any particular top tips, or good places and routes to start with, that'd be ace.


#5 AJ has been a member since 22/7/2011. Posts: 4

Posted by SBE on 23/7/2011 at 17:07

Best place to see things things like traditional lifestyles etc would be Myanmar (Burma) a mile. You could spend all six weeks there. Otherwise you could start with Thailand for a couple of weeks and do a month in Myanmar. (Cheap flights to Yangon from Bangkok). Thailand will seem very very easy after India I think.

#6 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,053
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Posted by MADMAC on 23/7/2011 at 22:23

The big advantage of Burma in this respect is language. English is not commonly well spoken in Thailand, but in Burma proficiency in that area is much better. I read a study on it a while back and Burma reportedly has the highest incidence of proficient English in SEA (excluding the PI). I haven't been there, and have heard mixed reviews on it given it's form of governance. SBE has, and she loves it (which I guess you can tell from her post). Rural Thailand is easy to travel in (where I live) and easy to get to know people, but if you don't speak Thai, it's tough to communicate a whole lot - which is one of the reasons most tourists go to the same places, where communication is easier.

#7 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by Jules_Wood on 24/7/2011 at 20:01

Hey! I just came across this post, I'm also planning a 6.5week trip to Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand for Oct/Nov this year. Definitely alot to see and fit in but I'm slowly working out the places I want to go for sure and then just getting ideas for stuff to do once im there but not booking anything in advance or setting it in stone. I'm also a lone female and this is my first trip on my own. I've managed to work out a 2 week period in thailand where I can meet up with some friends but the rest is just me. If you do hear of any places that should be avoided for a girl on her own please pass it along! I'm focusing on Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng & Pakse in Laos. Siem Reap, Battambang & Phnom Penh in Camboida. Ho Chi Minh City & Siagon in Vietnam. and then all over thailand for kiteboarding and diving.
Any advice u can pass on will be greatly appreciated!

#8 Jules_Wood has been a member since 24/7/2011. Posts: 1

Posted by MADMAC on 24/7/2011 at 21:58

Too much in too little time. Takes too much time to move between places and you've chosen some very disparate ones. 6.5 weeks - about enough to reasonably enjoy Thailand and Laos.

#9 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by AJ on 25/7/2011 at 17:28

Thanks guys

Burma does massively appeal. Think that may have to be a whole other trip by itself - I'll put it on my wish list for next year.
And that's reassuring to know that Thailand will seem easier compared to India. I know the challenges ect can be part of the experience but it's good to feel confident about it.

Jules - if we cross paths, let's have a beer!

#10 AJ has been a member since 22/7/2011. Posts: 4

Posted by rhiannon1988 on 4/1/2012 at 08:15

Hi all,
I’m a 23 year single female planning a trip to southern Thailand this time next year (quite a lot of time left yet!) and am trying to plan a route. I’ll hopefully be there for about 6-8 weeks. I have been before but I started in Bangkok and headed straight to Koh Chang the last time.
I would like to do some island hopping and visit as many different places as possible, and was wondering whether anyone had any advice on good routes? I’ll most likely be flying to Phuket and starting there and should have a budget of around £1000-1200.
My main interests once there would be more elephant trekking (I have found some in Krabi , Phang Nga, Phuket and Khao Sok), snorkelling/scuba diving (I’ve heard Ko Tao is ideal for this), jungle trekking etc. If possible I’d like to visit Phang Nga Bay, Krabi and surrounding islands, maybe the Railay beach area too.

Also I want to avoid tourist-heavy areas as much as possible, although I know this is becoming more difficult.
Any advice would be very much appreciated. Thankyou!

#11 rhiannon1988 has been a member since 4/1/2012. Posts: 2

Posted by PlanAsia on 5/1/2012 at 03:16

Check out Timor-Leste if you can! It's a young country that gets very few visitors. You can really be one of the first there.

#12 PlanAsia has been a member since 5/1/2012. Location: Thailand. Posts: 2
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Posted by tedbehr on 5/1/2012 at 04:12

If you haven't already, I'd suggest learning to scuba dive. I got my Open Water certification in Nha Trang, Vietnam and haven't looked back. SE Asia has the perfect climate for diving and the prices, professionalism and quality of diving are excellent. Ko Lanta in southern Thailand, Mabul Island in Sabah, and any Indonesian island would be great places to learn. It's also a good way to meet new people when traveling.

I'd recommend staying in guesthouses rather than dormitories. They're generally more comfortable, similarly priced and attract a more varied bunch of tourists.

Lastly I highly recommend Laos. Anywhere north of Luang Prabang or Si Phan Don in the south will be sure to please.

#13 tedbehr has been a member since 18/11/2011. Posts: 3

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