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Southeast Asia forum

Travelling without pre-booking bus/train/flights - a Goonie in pursuit of a real adventure

Posted by AndyPandy on 26/8/2012 at 04:34

Hi all,

I'm still in the thick of putting together my "wishlist" of places to visit for the 4 countries I'll be travelling to next month. I'm getting SO EXCITED!! Your tips have been duly noted and I'm very aware of not trying to cram too much in the 12 weeks I have to play with. Definitely want a real adventure of my own with a bit of downtime thrown in before going back to work in the new year.

Can I just ask, for peace of mind, are there any places in particular when travelling between Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam that a person really needs to do their travel research? Or is it a case of whichever hostel/hotel you stay at, you can find bus/train/domestic flights info out quite easily with the assistance of the establishment that you're staying at?

I've previously been so used to doing organised treks with Gap or Trek America etc, that having to do this part myself seems quite daunting!! At present, I'm just focusing on putting together my loose "must see" itineraries of the 4 countries and jotting down recommended hostels to stay at too. I haven't even begun to try to work out HOW I would actually get from one place to another..... Do most people literally just wing it with ease or do I need to do a lot of homework before I go?

Sorry if I'm asking a really stupid question. It's hard to imagine from the comfort of my London home what it will actually be like when I'm travelling between towns/villages/cities without an organised trek to sort it out for me and as I still have a few weeks to go, I want to make sure I don't leave out any critical pre-trip research.

Thank you if you can help this Goonie out :)

Andy x

#1 AndyPandy has been a member since 8/8/2012. Posts: 18

Posted by antoniamitchell on 26/8/2012 at 05:45

I can't speak for Laos or Cambodia, having never been there, but I found it very easy to manage my transport in Thailand and Vietnam. I either looked online and found a schedule for the relevant train line or bus company, or I simply turned up at the bus or train station and asked either at one of the ticket offices or at the information window, and found out that way.

An aside: bus stations in Asia frequently look like absolute chaos, filled with touts and hawkers and more people than you can imagine (I found them pretty intimidating at first), but they're usually pretty efficient at getting you where you need to go.

Sometimes I got some advice on bus and train routes from my guesthouse. Sometimes I didn't (especially in Vietnam where there is often a onsite tours agency that will want to book for you - I tend to prefer to book my tickets myself rather than relying on an agency, but perhaps I'm over-cautious.)

When travelling by bus, the companies vary a lot in quality and reliability, so ensure you check out their reputation before you buy your ticket - check online at sites like this, or ask other travellers. In Thailand, the consensus is that the buses that run out of the main government-run bus stations are more reliable and safe than those that run out of the tourist streets.

Road safety isn't always what it should be in Asia, so be safe (I personally chose to avoid overnight buses because of safety concerns - again I might be over-cautious. You'll have to make up your own mind about what you're happy with).

#2 antoniamitchell has been a member since 13/5/2012. Posts: 541
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