Photo: Street food Phetchaburi Soi 10, Bangkok.

Southeast Asia forum

2014 Travel Advice for 22yo Solo Female. SEA in 5 months on £5,000 plus must sees?

Posted by drewebear on 24/1/2013 at 14:00

Hi All,

My first post on Travelfish although I regularly check the info and forums for the past 3 years! Took the plunge and joined up...
I’m a 22 year old female from the UK planning a solo trip in SEA butconcentrating on Thailand as this has always been my priority. I just want toask some generic questions but I am going to add my planned route and what Ilike so it’s more tailored and less repetitive for yourselves.

So firstly, I’m flying in the Bangkok. This is how my travel plan islooking from many hours of research:
Bangkok>Koh Chang>Koh Kut>Koh Samet>Bangkok>ChangRai>Chang Mai>Sukhothai>Phitsanulok>Bangkok>Koh Tao viaChumphon>Koh Phangan>Koh Samui>Phuket via Surat Thani>Koh Tapu (Iwant to see James bond Islands)>Koh Phi Phi>Koh Lipe

I’ll then head on to Malaysia (via Koh Lipe) & Indonesia then flyfrom Denpasar to Vietnam, travel through here to Cambodia, into Laos, then back to Bangkok and fly out.

Malaysia: Palau Langkawi>Palu Penang/Georgetown>Ipoh>CameroonHighlands>Kuala Lumpur>Melaka City>Singapore then fly to…

Indonesia: Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Borobudur, Mt.Bromo>Denpasar>Ubud>Denpasar then fly to…

Vietnam: Hanoi through to Ho Chi Minh City (advise inbetween) then to…

Cambodia: Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Koh Ru, Kampot, Siem Reap/Angor Watvia Phnom Penh then to…

Laos: Don Det>Don Khon>Don Khong> Bolaven Plateau via Paske>Vientiane> Vang Vieng (heard it’s not party central anymore so that’s good)& the Blue Lagoon> Luang Prabang then slow boat to Thai border

I plan on spending 2 months in Thailand (60 day visa) then the rest willhave to fit in the remaining 3 months. I’ve vaguely seen places I want to go ineach of the other countries but I am making Thailand my priority.

What I want to ask is there anything you think I’ve missed from above orI should 100% leave out? I’m interested in Photography, nature, historicalarchitecture and of course, lounging on beaches with a good book, as opposed to clubbing, drinking and nightlife (I know Koh Phangan won’t be my topplace to go but I just want to factor it in there in case I need to let off some steam).

Also, budget wise, I was thinking £1000 per month for each country. Doable? I can’t seem to make my mind up as I’ve done tons of research but thenumbers vary so much. I’m not going to be drinking so I know this will help(back here in England, I like to go out drinking in London regularly however Ijust will not feel safe drinking in a foreign country as a solo, female traveller). The accommodations I look at seem to be £14 and under so I’veplanned £33 per average day. Of course, there are going to be some days where Idon’t want to do anything and other days where I’ll be a full on tourist. Iplan to take buses and trains everywhere. I would like some advice on flyingout of Indonesia though, I know there flying isn't the safest but neither isthe ferry?

Anyway to sum up, I’d love if you guys could suggest some places that Imay have over looked in Thailand to visit plus places in the other countries (Ihave some knowledge of each).

Thank you all in advance!

#1 drewebear has been a member since 9/1/2013. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 14

Posted by drewebear on 24/1/2013 at 14:02

Apologies for any spelling mistakes or words put together which should be seperate. I wrote it fine in word but when I pasted it here, it came up with a bunch of HTML! Tried to edit it but I can see there are a few words that have somehow become one..

#2 drewebear has been a member since 9/1/2013. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 14

Posted by somtam2000 on 24/1/2013 at 19:59 admin

Welcome to Travelfish & that is a trip and a half :)

The most important point you don't mention is when. As weather will dictate quite a bit of advice regarding a route like this.

Money wise, you've got plenty.

Down to the route - I've broken it out by country and added some suggested reading and other advice for each bit.

Bangkok -> Ko Chang -> Ko Kut -> Ko Samet -> Bangkok -> Chiang Rai -> Chang Mai -> Sukhothai -> Phitsanulok -> Bangkok -> Ko Tao (via Chumphon ) -> Ko Pha Ngan -> Ko Samui -> Phuket via Surat Thani -> Ko Tapu (I want to see James bond Islands) -> Ko Phi Phi -> Ko Lipe

Minor changes, but unless you particularly want to go to Phitsanulok, I'd drop it (there are direct buses between Sukhothai and Bangkok and Sukhothai and Chiang Mai).

For Ko Tapu an alternative route could be Ko Samui -> Surat Thani -> Phang Nga and from there you can do a tour to Ko Tapu etc then back to Phang Nga -> Krabi -> Ko Phi Phi (this saves you needing to go to Phuket).

PLUS if you're in this area, Khao Sok National Park is well worth considering trying to fit in.

Further reading:
How to do Khao Sok independently
Bangkok to ChiangMai what to see
Which beach on Kolipe

I'll then head on to Malaysia (via Koh Lipe) & Indonesia then fly from Denpasar to Vietnam, travel through here to Cambodia, into Laos, then back to Bangkok and fly out.

Palau Langkawi -> Penang & Georgetown -> Ipoh -> Cameroon Highlands -> Kuala Lumpur -> Melaka -> Singapore then fly to...

This is a pretty standard west coast trip. Make sure to allow enough time in Georgetown -- it is a great place.

Further reading:
The Langkawai blog
Great places to stay in Georgetowen

Jakarta -> Yogyakarta -> Borobudur -> Mt.Bromo -> Denpasar -> Ubud -> Denpasar then fly to ...

Most visit Bromo on a tour and then continue onto Bali -- and HEY! there's more to Bali than Ubud :) For flying to Vietnam look at AirAsia or Jetstar to Singapore than a Tiger Airlines flight to Hanoi -- very very affordable.

Further reading:
Highlights of Java
Bromo the alternative route

Hanoi through to Ho Chi Minh City (advise in between) then to ...

Further reading:
Sample itinerary from Top to Tail Note you'd need a minimum of two weeks for this

Phnom Penh , Sihanoukville, Koh Ru, Kampot, Siem Reap/Angor Wat via Phnom Penh then to...

Drop Koh Ru read about some other Cambodian islands here

Don Dhet -> Don Khon -> Don Khong -> Bolaven Plateau via Paske -> Vientiane -> Vang Vieng (heard it's not party central anymore so that's good) & the Blue Lagoon -> Luang Prabang then slow boat to Thai border

Further reading:
The new VangVieng

This Laos loop leaves you at the top of Thailand, so you could feasibly take your northern Thailand bit and add it on here instead for as you make your way back to Bangkok.

Other more general advice, with a trip this big I'd work in a fair amount of wiggle room as itineraries this big can go off the rails quickly! Take your time and resist the temptation to see too much -- especially in Vietnam.

Overall looks like a great trip & I'm sufficiently jealous :)

More questions ask away.

#3 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,576
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Posted by mooball on 24/1/2013 at 20:12 TF writer

You'll honestly struggle to spend that much money per month unless you do lots of those expensive activities like patting elephants and zip lining through the forest.

And because you have a lot of time, I'd spend more time in Indonesia. Java really does deserve more time especially if you like the beach. Both pangandaran and Karimunjawa islands are great destinations. Also would suggest dieng plateau since you're so close to it when in yogya although almost every single person skips it. For me it shouldn't be missed.

#4 mooball has been a member since 19/6/2010. Location: Australia. Posts: 433
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Posted by drewebear on 26/1/2013 at 07:35

Hi Somtam2000,

This is amazing thank you!

I'm flying out mid February as I am trying to avoid the 'monsoon' season in Thailand. I'm not too savvy on the other countries though, so if anyone could advise on a better time to leave with my itinerary, that would be great.

I'll take your advice and drop Phitsanulok so it makes the journey easier. I'm so glad you mentioned Khao Sok national park! I remember reading about it around 2 years ago and thinking that it was a 'must see' however I lost the bookmark and forgot about it. Very grateful for that so thank you! :)

I love the look of Koh Rong in Cambodia, so I'll probably swap that for Koh Ru. I'm interested as to why you said to drop Koh Ru though?

Bali has always been one of those places where I am desperate to visit but don't have the knowledge of what to see there (haven't spent much time researching Indonesia to be honest). Where else would you suggest in Bali? I will probably head to Kuta for a day or 2 to see if I enjoy it (I've heard it's the Aussie equivalent of what Benidorm is to us Brits). I'm just wary of the recent travellers who have died from methanol poisoning because of locally brewed alcohol…

I'm not planning on spending too long in Vietnam, I'm much more excited about the other countries so the Vietnam link you sent me is perfect. I am mainly going to see Ha Long Bay (which I see I've missed out above) but it would be really nice to say I've actually spent time in Vietnam as opposed to only going there for 3 days or so.

I imagine there is going to be times when I'm not going to be able rip my self away from a beach so this could all change, but I'd like to visit most if not all the places I've listed. I'm probably going to stay in Bangkok for the first 5 days so I can visit the Erawan musuem, Emerald Buddha and similar plus try as much food as I can on the street markets!

Thank you again for all your advice

#5 drewebear has been a member since 9/1/2013. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 14

Posted by drewebear on 26/1/2013 at 07:40

Hey Mooball,

I'd never heard of Dieng Plateau, I've just googled it and it looks breathtaking. I'd never even heard of it before, do they do trips here from Yogya? Do you have an approximate price of what it would cost?

I just looked at Pangandaran and Karimunjawa. Karimunjawa looks like a place I'd definitely want to go. How would I get there? I'm stuggling to find it on a map..

#6 drewebear has been a member since 9/1/2013. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 14

Posted by mooball on 26/1/2013 at 08:18 TF writer

You can do daytrips from Yogya to Dieng on a tour, but it's better to go up there for a couple of nights and take your time. It really is spectacular up there and the quirks of nature are cool too. Local transport would cost in the region of 50,000 rupiah ($5) from Yogya. A tour might set you back 250,000 rupiah, but you may have to find others to go with you. As I said, it's just not popular for some bizarre reason.

All of these places are listed on travelfish. Getting to Pangandaran is easy from either Jakarta or Bandung. There are direct buses from both cities and you might be lucky and find another tourist heading your way on that day. Both times I've caught a bus to Pangandaran I've had one or two other tourists for part of the journey which is nice.

Karimunjawa is more difficult to get to than Pangandaran but is still not too bad. Firstly you need to get to Semarang , a big city on the north coast. You can easily get a direct bus there from Yogya or almost anywhere else in Java for that matter. Change buses in Semarang for a bus to the port town of Jepara . A quaint town with a small museum and an old "fort". From Jepara the boat goes to Karimunjawa. It might sound complicated, but it's all rather easy once you get to a bus station -- you'll have people chucking you on the right bus all the way. Once in Karimunjawa, hire a motorbike for the day and hit all the local beaches -- not another person in sight. Here's my post for Travelfish on Karimunjawa

and here is the research I did for travelfish.

I usually live in Java, so if I'm around when you're swinging through, let me know and you can stay with me and my wife.

#7 mooball has been a member since 19/6/2010. Location: Australia. Posts: 433
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Posted by molko on 26/1/2013 at 13:37

hi, i'm planning doing the same thing next year, i thought leaving end january, pretty much the same countries, except indonesia, but somebody on this forum told me to consider it also in my travel, so i kinda started looking into it, and indeed worths it. trying to just blend in with nature and beautiful suroundings. the budget i was thinking match yours, so one more reason to think is doable. of course lotsto prepare and research untill then but hey, one year is a long time. anyways, good luck with your planning and please post for any new place found worths going to. best!

#8 molko has been a member since 14/1/2013. Location: Romania. Posts: 3

Posted by drewebear on 27/1/2013 at 07:14

Mooball - I think Dieng and Karimunjawa are going to be added as 'musts' for my Indonesia itinerary. I can see Karimunjawa isn't as difficult as I thought it would be and if it is as you describe it, it should be well worth the effort anyway.

That's very kind of you, I will be sure to update you of my plans closer to the time and see if you are around when I'm on Java. Always good to meet someone who knows the country you are travelling in well!

Molko - Would be good to meet up in Bangkok if we both end up being there at the same time? I'll be active on this site from now on so we can monitor when we head off.

#9 drewebear has been a member since 9/1/2013. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 14

Posted by somtam2000 on 28/1/2013 at 02:41 admin

@drewebear - I've not been to Koh Rong but I have been to Koh Ru and it Rong just sounds like a far nicer place.

As for Bali, I live here so I'm a bit biased -- get out of Kuta! If you like surf and beaches, heard further south onto the Bukit Peninsula -- Balangan Beach in particular is lovely. If you like the hills, yoga and all that + great eating, Ubud is worth a look. But Bali is a big place -- with more time you can get more off the beaten trail (most don't stray much beyond Kuta & Ubud). A good starting point is the Indonesia Blog -- lots of ideas there -- @mooball researched most of it -- careful or he'll have you spending all your time in Indonesia ;-)

#10 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,576
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Posted by mooball on 28/1/2013 at 03:17 TF writer

Yeah that's true. Love Indonesia.

#11 mooball has been a member since 19/6/2010. Location: Australia. Posts: 433
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Posted by drewebear on 1/2/2013 at 07:40

I'm actually thinking of splitting this trip up now because of the whole onward travel/visa thing which is doing my head in. I might do 2 months in Thailand this year in November then do the rest of the trip late next year. Also because I've been convinced by mooball that I'll need to spend longer in Indonesia!

#12 drewebear has been a member since 9/1/2013. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 14

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