I have done some travelling with through my job before - I am an engineer on cruise ships - however I have never gone on a backpacking trip before! I'm set on travelling SE Asia with a friend and have set aside 8 weeks to do so - leaving around October 1st of this year and returning in mid-December.
From reading other posts in forums I think the general consensus is to plan less and try not squeeze too many places in. I do, however, have a rough idea of an itintery and was wondering what you're thoughts are on it (please excuse any spelling errors):
Fly into Bangkok, night train up to Chiang Mai possibly stopping at Ayutthaya or Phitsanuok on the way, across Laos border into Houay Xai. From here a down to Luang Prabang, Viang Vang and Vietiane. From Vietiane fly across to Hanoi . Hanoi across to Halong Bay and back. From Hanoi I fancy doing some of the stops on the Reunification Railway - mainly Hue, Danang (for Hoi An), Nha Trang and finally HCMC. From HCMC into Cambodia to Phnom Penh and then up to Siem Reap . From Siem Reap back to Bangkok to catch night train down to South Thailand for some beach time - thinking Ko Phangan, Ko Tao, Krabi, Ko Phi Phi and back to Bangkok for a couple of days before flying home.
Is this a realistic route? I plan on travelling mainly by bus and train and believe about a week into total will be spent travelling from place to place
Also, how much money would be needed for such a trip, with numerous activites and excursions?
I look forward to hearing your replies and comments!
#1 WillMcP has been a member since 11/2/2013. Posts: 1
The route looks fine to me, and you shouldn't be rushed with this plan. I think you'll spend a bit more time than you've estimated getting from place to place, but even so it won't be too much.
You'd only get a 15-day visa exemption if you cross back into Thailand overland from Cambodia, so plan ahead for that, although I doubt you'd have much more time than that left to spend anyway by that time in your journey.
I can't speak for Vietnam, but best to reserve your overnight sleeper trains in Thailand as far in advance as you can to make sure you get the dates and times you want.
I'm also interested why you'd want to stop in Phitsanulok. I like it there, but most first-time visitors to Thailand don't go there, and if you did, the overnight sleeper train arrives at 3 am or so, meaning you'd be better off with a day train or a bus. If you are interested in ruins and backpacker vibe, Sukhothai might be a better choice than Phitsanulok, but Ayutthaya is a good choice too and you can catch the overnight sleeper from there to Chiang Mai no problem.
Amount of money depends greatly on you and how much you like to spend and the level of comfort you prefer. I tend to spend in the $50 per day range when I travel in southeast Asia and that is a very comfortable level.
I hope that helps or at least gets the conversation started. Have a great time. Cheers.
That route should give you plenty of time to explore and relax along the way. If you want to make the most of your time in certain destinations then I would highly recommend trying to do as much of your traveling over night. I found that getting rest this way was not much of a problem.
How much money will you need? Well this depends on how you want to live. If you want to stay in plush hotels, travel first class and eat at expensive restraunts then you will need to bring a lot.
If you want a proper backpacker experience then you could easily get by on $30 per day. If you eat street food/ local restaurants, don't drink a lot of alcohol and stay at low budget hotels/ home stays then you will have no problems at all.