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Southeast Asia forum

Advice needed on SE Asia trip

Posted by Decoy on 8/8/2012 at 09:48


Me and a mate are looking to go travelling around SE Asia. We want to take in all the usual countries - Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore - and then probably move on to Australia and New Zealand (To hopefully stay and work for a while to fund more travels to Japan/Hong Kong/Beijing).

As soon as we have enough money we will go, but we're looking at towards the end of 2013.

We have done a fair bit of research (nowhere near the amount I expect is needed) so thought it might be a good idea to post here and see if anyone can give some advice.

There is no time limit on the trip, we are happy to spend as little or as long as required in each place - we want to see as much of each country as possible.

It will be our first trip so any general advice on any topic will be much appreciated:

-Route (Which is best to take? What time of year?)
-Visas (I know a little about a few countries but is there any important things we need to know? How easy it is to get one? How long they are?)
-Activities (As I said, there is no real time limit and we want to do as much as possible but is there anything we should definitely look out for)
-Accommodation (I've read it is quite cheap in hostels and most are safe, but is there anywhere that is particularly good/bad in any country?)
-Safety/Insurance (Health/possession's insurance? advice on illness before and during trip)
-Equipment (Any stuff we definitely should/shouldn't take?)

Thanks in advance,


#1 Decoy has been a member since 8/8/2012. Posts: 7

Posted by Captain_Bob on 8/8/2012 at 12:34

Where will you fly to initially? Bangkok usually has the most flight options and is a good starting point. The Classic Circuit is a good basic plan, then head to the southern Thai islands, then to Malaysia by island-hopping the west coast to Langkawi in dry season (Nov-April) is good. Check out the Tigerline ferry service. Or other months by train or bus to Butterworth and beyond.

For visas, Thailand offers visa-exempt entry to most nationalities of 30 days if entering by air (15 days by land). If you want more flexibility get a Thai tourist visa in your home country in advance. See the link on Thailand's visa policy For Laos and Cambodia you get visa on arrival for 30 days, with cost USD30-35 for Laos, $20 for Cambodia. For Vietnam get a visa in advance at the Vietnamese embassy/consulate in Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Vientiane, Luang Prabang for around USD45-60. Malaysia gives visa-free entry for 90 days free of charge, and Singapore free 30 days. Usually cheapest to pay for visas, where applicable, in USD.

Health-wise, there are no required vaccinations, but Hepatitus A/B, typhoid and a tetanus booster are worh considering. Risk of malaria is fairly low, but dengue fever which is also transmitted by mosquitos is common in rainy season. Apply insect repellent frequently, which is available in many forms at pharmacies and corner shops around the region. Anti-malarial drugs are not (in my opinion) necessary in popular tourist areas, but you should consult your local MD for more info.

Daily costs vary a lot depending on your travel style and desired level of comfort. Most backpackers spend around 20 quid or $USD35 per day, and the more flashpacker mob go for up to twice as much, while the cheapest survivalist types can get by on maybe 10 quid or $15/day at a stretch. Prices also vary a lot by region. For example northern Thailand and rural Laos is very cheap while southern beaches and big cities are often twice as expensive or more. Hope this helps kick-start your planning.

"There is no time limit on the trip, we are happy to spend as little or as long as required in each place - we want to see as much of each country as possible"


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

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Posted by thebahamas on 9/8/2012 at 07:19

Hey Bob, Can you please suggest me some cheapest flights from UK to Thailand. Next week I am planing a official tour to Thailand. This is my first experience to Thailand. Can please suggest me some tips or places to visit in Thailand.

#3 thebahamas has been a member since 31/7/2012. Posts: 3

Posted by Decoy on 9/8/2012 at 07:52

Thanks Captain_Bob,

We were thinking of going to Malaysia first and work our way around but most people seem to suggest that doing the northern area (Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam) first, and then working down through Thailand to Malaysia might be best. To be honest the starting point could be swayed by any deal we might be able to get on flights.

Money-wise, it depends on how much we can initially save but it will be a case of balancing comfort and expenditure.

Also, I am not sure if you know much about work? We were thinking of maybe doing some temp work out there (any of the countries), for a few weeks/a month or so depending on visa situation. Is this even possible?


#4 Decoy has been a member since 8/8/2012. Posts: 7

Posted by Captain_Bob on 9/8/2012 at 12:19

Unless you have a teaching certificate, a uni degree and teaching experience I would forget about working in SE Asia. You need a work permit for this and most foreigners don't qualify for jobs other than English teaching. Also the wages here are very low - hardly enough to top up your travel funds. You'll have better luck finding work in Aus and NZ.

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

Posted by Decoy on 10/8/2012 at 18:28

Thanks again Captain_Bob,

We have thought of a new route which ends in Aus/NZ, which is where could hopefully work and fund more travels thanks to your advice. We thought of this route due to us believing it would be best to start in a northern area and work our way down and eventually end in Aus/NZ. We have also placed the so called better places to visit (Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines) on the second half of our tour.

1. Ha Noi - Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam)
2. Phnom Penh (Cambodia)
3 . Luang Prabang (Laos)
4. Lampang - Bangkok - Phuket (Thailand)
5. Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)
6. Singapore
7. Jakarta - Kupang (Indonesia)
8. Manila (Philippines)
9. Australia/New Zealand.

Is this a good route? We aren't booking anything in advance besides our one way flight so we might not even stick to our "plan".

Any places you think we have missed out which you believe are a must visit?

Obtaining Visas could change things. We are planning on getting visas on arrival or in the country we will be in at the time before we move on to the next. Is this OK? (we have British passports).

We were thinking of travelling slowly by bus/train/boat and experiencing more. Is this a good idea or would it be best to fly form country to country? (We hear internal flights are cheap)

We are currently in the process of saving up around £6000. Would this be enough for a trip of this magnitude?

Any help/advice is welcome.



#6 Decoy has been a member since 8/8/2012. Posts: 7

Posted by Decoy on 6/2/2013 at 13:25


Since posting the last message, we have done a quite a bit of research and have found out more info, but were hoping someone could help us on a couple more questions:

-We were thinking of biking it through Vietnam as it is supposed to be the best way to see the country, however we have not really ridden before and have read it is quite dangerous. What is the best thing to do? Should we forget about biking and get train/buses everywhere? Or is is possible to do some biking and combine the two?

-When travelling through Cambodia and Laos, we want to travel along the Mekong as much as possible. Is this the best way? And how much is possible to see by river? Is it too expensive or difficult?

-After Laos, we want to visit Thailand. Is it best to travel at an overland crossing, or fly straight to Bangkok (gaining a 30-day stay rather than 15)? Basically, is it worth travelling down through Northern Thailand?

-Finally, we want to visit Borneo, Philippines and most of the Indonesian islands, before ending up in Australia. Which is the best route to take? We expect to come down through Thailand and Malaysia to Singapore, but we're unsure of the best route after that?

And "We are currently in the process of saving up around £6000. Would this be enough for a trip of this magnitude?"


#7 Decoy has been a member since 8/8/2012. Posts: 7

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