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Southeast Asia forum

Advise on 5 month SEA plan

Posted by ec2011 on 14/10/2012 at 11:57

Hi Everyone,

My partner and I are thinking of going to SEA March 2014 for 20 weeks.

We are volunteering in Nepal for 4 weeks and then considering the following itinerary;

2 further weeks in Nepal
3 weeks in Tibet
2 weeks in China
2 weeks in Thailand
1 week in Laos
1-2 weeks in Vietnam
1-2 weeks in Cambodia
1 week in Borneo

Does that all sound do-able? We are both in our late 20s so aren't really looking for a 5 month long party! We are quite happy, in fact happier, to take the road less travelled if it means we get to see and experience much more of the culture of SEA.

Any advice would be much appreciated!



#1 ec2011 has been a member since 14/10/2012. Posts: 2

Posted by busylizzy on 14/10/2012 at 13:51

It's probably doable, but it looks a bit busy to me. Most of those countries warrant more time, taking into account travel time. With that kind of itinerary, you will be on the move constantly, only seeing the highlights, and you might find that you're a bit weary after awhile. Unless you're flying many of the internal routes, you will be spending a large % of your time sitting on buses, etc - unless you focus on one region of each country.

Slow it down a bit, and take time to get to appreciate the countries that you are visiting.

Either way, I wouldn't overplan it. You will find that you change your minds as you go anyhow. Start with a basic itinerary outline, then just head out and see how it goes. Don't book too many flights ahead of time (esp 2 years out!) or you will be kicking yourselves later.

#2 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,153
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Posted by caseyprich on 14/10/2012 at 21:05

I'd say the five weeks you have for China is plenty of time - but staying in Tibet for three weeks may prove expensive as the regulation to have a guide with you and stay as part of an organized tour. Things may change, but since 2008 there have been regular closures of Tibet and each time it "opens" for foreigners there are more regulations on where you can travel. The areas of Western Sichuan are very Tibetean (such as Tagong Grasslands) but not easy to reach and sometimes closed as well. Otherwise, depending on what exactly you want to see in China . . . Bejing, Shanghai, Guilin/Yangshou, Lijiang are some of the main highlights for people, I'd say you want 3 weeks minimum for any 3 of those 4 locations - also thinking that you could if going to Yunnan Province (Lijiang) head directly into Laos or if you pre-arrange a visa go from Guilin into northern Vietnam overland.

With 1 or 2 weeks in each country I think you'll want to focus more on a region - such as not Laos, but just Northern Laos and not Vietnam but Northern/Central Vietnam sort of thing. You must really want to see Borneo, and I'm into that - but if I was making this itinerary I'd probably cross it out as getting there and out will be very expensive and you could instead add that week of travel to the mainland of SE Asia. If you are really looking for some buddhist experience, you'll find some very heavy stuff in Tibet, but for a more smiling and cheerful approach to it I recommend more time in Laos.

#3 caseyprich has been a member since 3/3/2010. Location: China. Posts: 1,281
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Posted by ec2011 on 27/10/2012 at 05:37

Thank you for your advice guys, that's really useful! Much appreciated!


#4 ec2011 has been a member since 14/10/2012. Posts: 2

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