Hello fellow travellers,
We are a small group of ladies (+/- 5-6) in our mid-twenties that are looking to travel to South East Asia from South Africa for 4 weeks over December 2013/January 2014 (projected dates in SEA are 12/12/2013 - 11/1/2014). We would like to cover Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam during this time. So much to see - so little time! We are pretty clueless at this stage, but we do know that we would like to do it on a medium to low budget (the Rand doesn't go very far! 1 ZAR = 889.21729 LAK) although we definitely don't want to miss out on anything and would like to stay in decent, well-run backpackers (or guesthouses if decent backpackers aren't an option in some places) more for the social element, but also the lower cost part of it. Could anyone please recommend an itinerary with suggested accommodation as well if possible? I am sure you get this request all the time so I apologise for the over-kill! We are open to different and exciting and experiences so don't hold back.
A few questions:
1) Is it better to fly in and out of Bangkok from a cost perspective?
2) Is it recommended to book accommodation and internal travel (flights/buses etc.) in advance or just wing it when we get there given that I would imagine it is a busy time of year?
3) We were hoping to do the tubing in Vang Vieng, preferably over New Years for a good party (although this isn't essential) but I have heard this has been shut down? Is that true?
4) What visas are required on a South African Passport and on a British Passport?
Any help is sincerely appreciated! Thank you so much!
#1 claireshean87 has been a member since 23/2/2013. Posts: 2
That's a lot of ground to cover in four weeks.
I'd suggest breaking it up something like ten days in Laos, two weeks in Vietnam and the remainder in Cambodia. Make use of flights to minimise travel time.
You don't mention Thailand, so I'd recommend flying into KL, Malaysia then take a low cost flight with AirAsia to Luang Prabang in Laos. Then travel south to Vang Vieng and Vientiane .
From Vientiane fly to Hanoi and visit Ha Long Bay and Sapa then take the train (or fly) to Da Nang then onwards to Hoi An hanfg out there then back to Da Nang and fly to Saigon. A couple of days in Ho Chi Minh City then take a Mekong Delta combo trip through the Delta that finishes with you in Phnom Penh in Cambodia.
From Phnom Penh, onwards to Siem Reap for Angkor Wat then a flight back to Kuala Lumpur and home.
If you had more time, I'd recommend the islands off Cambodia's south coast.
The above has a lot of flights, but given the time taken to cover the distances involved, it is a reasonable option. If you don't want to fly so much, I'd suggest either taking a longer holiday or dropping Vietnam.
1) You'll probably get better fares from South Africa to KL in Malaysia and KL has better LCC flight connections into the region.
2) If you decide to do a lot of flights, book them soon to get better prices.
3) Yes the party has been shut down, but VV is still great. You can read more about the scene now here and here and here.
4) You'll be able to get visa on arrival for Laos and Cambodia, for Vietnam you'll need to get either a visa before hand or get a pre-arranged visa online.
For accommodation tips - check out some of the destination guides on this site as we list heaps of places.
Hope that helps
#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,709
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Thank you so much for your reply! It is much appreciated. Apologies for the delayed response from my side. Happy travelling!
#3 claireshean87 has been a member since 23/2/2013. Posts: 2