I've been reading your forum for a good few months now and picked up some great advice and tips for planning my own trip.
I am travelling SE Asia from 8th February to 15th September, starting in Thailand (BKK) working my way up to Chiang Mai, onto Laos, south onto Cambodia then to HCMC up to Hanoi, possibly with a weeks trip to Nanning China.
After this i will be travelling back to BKK then southern Thailand (islands etc) onto Malaysia then to Java [visiting bali, lombok etc aswell] where i will fly home on the 15th September from Jakarta.
Between me and my girlfriend, we have a budget of £9000 minimum to last us this time (maybe slightly more). Working out a budget of roughly $30 each a day. this is with our flights [not internal], gear, insurance etc all paid for. Although, this seems alot, i have concerns whether we are trying to fit in too many countries with budget, as we will also be hoping to see sites (museums, national parks, ruins, temples etc) and enjoy the odd night out! But will rely on cheap hostels, street food & cheap transportation to see us by.
Considering this is both of our first trip travelling i thought it would be worth getting your experienced opinions and advice!
One other quick point, do you have any reccommended ways of looking after my money? The obvious choice looks like using the good old ATM but are there any other alternatives that you think might be better?
#1 Mazusara has been a member since 2/1/2013. Posts: 2
It's a workable budget, for sure.
You'll be hard-pressed sticking to $30 a day in Malaysia and Indonesia; but for Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, it's definitely do-able. I guess it depends how disciplined you are. If you're staying in a place for a few days, hire a bicycle or motorbike instead of taking regular tuk-tuk rides; if travelling by bus/train, go for a late departure, as this'll save money that'd otherwise be spent on accommodation; if you fancy a beer on the beach, buy some bottles from a convenience store, not from a restaurant/bar; when exchanging money from USD to local currency (esp. in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam), try and use crisp/undamaged notes; ask to view a room before you agree on a price (don't forget to HAGGLE); and buy meals from street vendors/night markets.
Remember, you'll need to factor in visa charges, too.
#2 perkinwarbeck has been a member since 1/1/2013. Posts: 2
You have a good amount of time and are not proposing anything too ridiculous, unlike a lot on here. 7 countries in 7 months is ok. However 6 countries would be better.
The first thing I would say is why are you going to China just to go to Nanning? Perhaps you have a reason but otherwise I would say leave it. Nanning is fine but it is definitely not worth the effort and cost (incl. visa) of getting there. China is an amazing place and would warrant a longer stay than this.
Perhaps you could have a longer stay in China and exclude Indonesia entirely. I haven't been to Indonesia but I'm guessing your costs could rack up there with air fares etc. China is certainly very cheap.
$30 a day per person is tight, very doable, but tight. It will require thriftiness and not a whole lot of excess. For what it's worth I found Vietnam the cheapest of all the countries you mention (so maybe aim to spend 5 or 6 weeks there), China not far behind, especially if you don't go to Shanghai or Hong Kong and possibly Macau (casinos).
#3 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 738
I would be inclined to rethink my direction if I were you. You say you're going to arrive in Thailand in February and work your way north to Chiang Mai and Laos. February to April however is the start of the so called 'burning season' in that part of the world when farmers slash and burn forests and fields and pollution reaches toxic levels. It's advisable to keep a wary eye on the PM-10 levels which are a measure of air quality. See: http://ourchiangmai.com/air-pollution-in-chiang-mai-thailand/
The smog was so bad last year that Chiang Mai airport had to be closed because the runway was no longer visible. See also: http://www.asia-traveller.com/when-not-to-go-to-chiang-mai/
It might be an idea to reverse direction and not head northwards until April/May.
Your budget seems very tight for Bali and to some degree, Lombok. In Bali try Putu Rama's homestay in the quiet beach community of Canngu. It's up the coast from crazy south Bali, not far from Echo Beach and Puri Tanah Lot. Getting around Bali isn't cheap. Bemos will work but your kidneys will suffer to be sure. Blue Bird Taxis are your best bet, I've always known them to be honest. There's a modest but definite entry fee to the temples and museums, (be sure to have a sarong for the temples). Take the ferry from Padangbai to Lombok, it's slow but very cheap. Ask one of the customs officials to refer you to the boy who will carry your luggage aboard as well as get you a prime seat. You'll never regret it.
#5 drlopan has been a member since 2/11/2011. Posts: 1
Thank you for all of your feedback, great advice and i have taken it on board.
Chinarocks, i think you're right, i don't think i will go to China, primarily for monetary savings, and as you mentioned a week would not be enough time to enjoy the country. My main reason to go there was as it was situated very closely with vietnam, i thought it could be a great opportunity to get an insight to their culture.
Xircal, you mention the burning season that takes place between february & April.. is this something that predominantly effects north thailand [chiang mai] or does it also happen in Laos, Cambodia etc??
#6 Mazusara has been a member since 2/1/2013. Posts: 2