My name is Andy (female!) and in September I'll be travelling to SE Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam) for 12 weeks. I arrive back in London the week before Christmas!! EEEEKKK! So the countdown is ON!
I fly in and out of Bangkok and understand that the trip I'm taking is a very common one (though I personally don't know anyone whose done it!). Thing is, I've only ever been on organised treks before and never gone backpacking solo... so I'm quite nervous as you can imagine. I figured 3 weeks per country, roughly, would be a great way to get to know and absorb each country...
I'm reading my DK Eyewitness and Lonely Planet books and trying to work out a rough itinery to follow. I've always wanted to have my own adventure so don't want to be too rigid with my plans and I'm sure I'll meet lots of amazing peeps along the way who'll give me their pointers on where to visit/go to next, but wondered if anyone here could please help point me in the right direction of a recommended travel itinery I can refer to, given that I have about 3 weeks per country? Also trying to avoid back-tracking too much aswell...
Thank you in advance if you're able to help and sorry if this has been asked 1000 times already before. Just needing a bit of Dutch courage as reading the books alone is quite overwhelming and it all looks so amazing but am totally open to suggestions and tips!!
Best wishes and kindest regards,
#1 AndyPandy has been a member since 8/8/2012. Posts: 18
Hey Andy - good on you for planning an extended solo trip. You'll have a blast!
You're taking the right approach - get an overall idea of an itinerary, but don't overplan it. Your plans will definitely change as you go.
In terms of planning an overall itinerary, I'd suggest the best place to start is the Suggested Itineraries section on this website (follow the 'Planning Link' at the top, or >>click here
Awe, thank you and thank you for that link. I found this itinery to be really useful, but it's geared more for 5-6 week trips https://www.travelfish.org/trip_planner/thailand-indochina-tour1
I might try and find 3 week itineries for each of those countries in the planning section and then try to follow a similar overall route as per the above link so as to not back-track too much....
#3 AndyPandy has been a member since 8/8/2012. Posts: 18
Unless you have very specific interests or want to bum round somewhere for a couple of weeks, then a 12 week cirlce from Bangkok would be the pretty standard route. This would encompass the islands, Bangkok, Northern Thailand, some trekking in Northern Laos, Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng (if you are that way inclined), Vientiane, Si Phan Don, into Cambodia - Kratie, Siem Reap, PP, Kampot (maybe Sihanoukville), then Vietnam - Saigon, Hoi An and Northern Vietnam and then a cheap flight back to Bangkok.
This pretty much minimises the backtracking and is a very good intro to SE Asia, covering a good bit of a lot of things (e.g. trekking, beaches, big cities, good food towns etc).
#4 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 738
I'm keeping an open mind for this trip as I want to be able to go where the wind takes me but I guess just having a basic route and plan to fall back on helps keep the nerves at bay....!
As I'm going Sept-Dec, do you think clockwise from Bangkok or anti-clockwise works better weather-wise?
I've just ordered myself a big travel map to take with me so will be adding stickers to it in the coming weeks to get a loose itinery going. Hopefully being a vegetarian won't be tooooo awkward out there either. I'm already preparing myself for fish sauce in everything though!! Haha!
Thank you so much for your replies. It means the world to me to have some assistance and I'll try to man up in the meantime and not let the nerves get to me too much.
#5 AndyPandy has been a member since 8/8/2012. Posts: 18
I've mapped out my first itinery for the Vietnam leg of my trip. Does this seem do-able in 3 weeks? Because I'm away for 12 weeks in total and wanted to spend about 3 weeks per country, I just wanted to gauge if it seems I'm taking on too much or if this is achievable. I'm still only loosely using an itinery but wanted to have something to follow.
I'm researching Cambodia next and just wanted to assess if I'm squeezing in too much as I don't really appreciate how big these countries are!!
Thanks so much,
Temple of Literature – 2km west of Hoan Kiem Lake
Hoa La Prison MuseumKhazaana (restaurant with veggie options)
Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre (Municipal Water Puppet Theatre)
Islands and caves and floating villages (use Ocean Tours to book)
Cat Ba Island:
Cat Ba National Park
Cuc Phuong National Park:
Endangered Primate Rescue Centre
Turtle Conservation Centre
8km return hike within national park
Tam Coc (three caves by row boat)
Ba Be National Park (mountains, rivers, waterfalls, caves)
The Perfume River - Pagoda – boat tours around $25
Phong Nha Cave
Royal Tombs: Tomb of Khai Dinh and Tomb of Minh MangCitadel Imperial Enclosure
Old Quarter – lots of museums, historic buildings
SOUTH CENTRAL COAST/MEKONG DELTA REGION
Phan Thiet: (seaside town)
Mui Ne Beach (rolling sand dunes by the sea)
Po Nagar Cham Towers
Con Dao Islands: (cluster of 16 islands)
Con Dao National Park
Can Tho and Cai Rang - floating houses and markets
HO CHI MINH CITY
Jade Emperor Pagoda
Cholon - pagodas everywhere!
Chu Ci tunnels
#6 AndyPandy has been a member since 8/8/2012. Posts: 18
Less than a week to go before I take off for 3 months! I finally mapped out my own map so I can "see" how it should all shape up based on areas I'd ideally like to visit and have added a link to the pic for you. I also dotted some blue border crossings in to help me out too (colour coding each country made life easier!). Hopefully my map-reading skills won't fail me...! haha.
Thank you for all your help and advice - it made preparing for my trip so much more pleasant, exciting and less daunting.
#7 AndyPandy has been a member since 8/8/2012. Posts: 18
Hope youre trip has started well and you are enjoying every minute! I am planning a very similar trip for myself for May next year. Similar time frame and a solo journey too! Would be really great to hear back from you on how it all goes and what you were able to fit in during your trip!
All the best