Im 28/F from the UK. Im doing a solo RTW tour and will touch down in Bangkok on the 15th December, planning on touring SE Asia/Malaysia. I don't really have a time frame or any fixed plans so will just be going with the flow. Would love to hear from anyone who will be there around the same time/doing something similar.
I'd also like advice on the best route to take. As a say, I land in Bangkok then my next flight will be from Singapore to Perth when I'm ready to move on.
Look forward to hearing from you, Lorna x
#1 Barefootsuzie has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2
Bangkok is very nice (especially the food), but Indochina is the real SE Asia in my opinion. Dec 15th puts you right in high season. I will have just left from Hanoi by then (I leave for home on Dec 9th). If you're going to Vietnam, you want to do that rather early - by late Jan it gets very crowded with Overseas Vietnamese returning for Tet (that means higher prices and transport difficulties). I've been to this area 4 times now, and so far my favorites are Luang Prabang and Hanoi (almost opposites in style, but 2 great places).
I know Vietnam pretty well - my advice is to reserve a free tour with the student guides (this is done for English practice) - they're wonderful, and you have an instant friend this way (Hanoikids, Danangkids and Saigonhotpot) - just send them an email a month ahead of your trip - they all have websites or just google.
Classic route here should at least give you a start to your plans, but it's nice you have no real time constraints and will go with the flow. Many travellers start in Bangkok then either go north to Chiang Mai or east to Cambodia and then follow the others around the usual circuit. Most just go through northern Laos and only visit Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, & Vientiane, but southern Laos is great too (so is the very far north). NE Thailand ("Isaan") also gets very few tourists, but can make for a more adventurous challenge. Thailand gets a bad rap for being too touristy but 99% of tourists go to roughly the same 30 places. Easy to get off the beaten path with a little initiative. As you say though - go with the flow. As long as you have your health, some money, a visa, and underpants you're good to go.
ATMs accepting overseas cards are abundant in Thailand and Vietnam, and increasingly in Cambodia and Laos, but always keep enough cash on hand for a few days in case of (whatever). Also have a backup plan for accessing money if your card/s fail. Laos and Cambodian visas are available on arrival, Thailand visa-exempt for most nationalities (30 days by air arrival, but only 15 days by land arrival - don't say you weren't warned). For longer stays get a Thai tourist visa in advance (in UK you can get up to triple-entry at the consulate in Hull - Google it) or in Vientiane, Laos can get up to double-entry, 60-days per entry. Vietnam visa best to get in advance at home, or in a neighbouring country (Bangkok, Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville).
Find out when big festivals are, which can hamper transport options and drive up costs (but can be fun). Aside from those times, transport by train (Thailand, Vietnam) and by bus is ususally easy to arrange either on the spot or a day in advance. Word of advice: Avoid the temptation to over-pack. It's cool up north December-February only but most of the year it's warm enough for t-shirts and baggies or shorts. Flip flops are enough for most daily use, but sturdy boots come in handy if doing any strenuous trekking (then mail/give them away). If you've packed for RTW and carrying heavier clothes, consider storing them in Bangkok or parcel them onward to Australia, don't lug it around like so many miserables I see every day here with massive bags. Happy planning!