Photo: Street food Phetchaburi Soi 10, Bangkok.

Southeast Asia forum

Flash in the pan idea started a hungry fire in my belly!

Posted by PlanOneWay on 10/4/2013 at 22:32

Hey all,
I'm 28, male, and and am just about to finish my 3-year degree. But now I've realised I have NO commitments to tie me down I'm free. Although I could get a job, I've this crazy idea to ditch everything and go travel SE Asia!!

I've done a bit of research and the more I see the more I want to do this. I want to go for about 3 months, and have the real travellers experience, sightseeing, volunteering, and just get in with the culture. I've establish that you really need about £1,000 a month to get by but by the time I want to go ( about 8 weeks!! ) I should be able to get together about £1,800. Do you think this is possible?

I don't mind doing things on the cheap (seems part of the fun), but I want to make sure I get to see loads, although I have no real plan or route set out yet I know I want to visit it ALL! Bangkok, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos. I know the more I'll look the more I'll find and plan stuff out. So this is really just my intro to everyone, HI!

Saying that any advise, please, please, please send my way. I've never been, I want to plan it in about 8 weeks, and I don't even know where I want to go. This should be fun :)

#1 PlanOneWay has been a member since 10/4/2013. Posts: 6

Posted by DLuek on 10/4/2013 at 23:16 TF writer

Your excitement comes through clearly. Now you've got to switch from your right brain to your left and put your 'realistic cap' on.

So you say you'll have 1,800 pounds, or around US $2,760. Is that after air fare, health insurance, visas?

If so, you're looking at around $30 per day over 3 months (if not, you should think about going for a month, maybe six weeks max). You'd need to be frugal, but it's doable. Of course, "seeing everything" won't be possible, but honestly, virtually all the people I know who have traveled extensively in SE Asia say the same thing -- don't try to do too much.

You say you're interested in volunteering -- that's great, and it could also be a way to save money over a prolonged period. Just stay away from orphanage volunteering. Establishing relationships with kids over the course of a couple weeks and then leaving does them no good.

Good luck,


#2 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,297
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Posted by MADMAC on 11/4/2013 at 02:49

Man, DLuek is right - you're good to go on enthuiasm.

Let's break this down:

"I want to go ( about 8 weeks!! ) I should be able to get together about £1,800. Do you think this is possible?"

Possible? Sure. Fun? No. Buses cost money. Renting rooms cost money. Food costs money. Do you like to drink? Money. Do you like women? Money. Visas ? Money. 30 USD a day (DLuek's trusted calculation) will be enough for a decent room, some decent food and a bus ticket to the next major town. If the site you wants to see costs money to access it, you are out of luck. So I'd say about 6 weeks and you should be OK.

"...just get in with the culture."
"...but I want to make sure I get to see loads..."

This subject comes up often here. These two things are in conflict here. You mention Bangkok (Thailand), Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos. That's four countries. Even if you stay for eight weeks, that's 2 weeks per country. Enough to learn to say hello and count to ten in each language, so I hope you aren't planning on trying to learn much linguistically. Forget about "getting into the culture". Takes more than two weeks to do that. OR you could pick one country and really figure it out. If you take a "If it's Tueseday it must be Belgium" approach, you might see plenty, but you won't experience much. Not enough time to do that. You have to decide which is more important to you, getting to know the people and how their societies function here (what makes them different from you and yours) or seeing a lot of things. You can't do both.

"...and have the real travellers experience..."

In modern parlance, "Travellers" have become a culture unto themselves. They tend to socialize with each other, not indigenous persons. They tend to travel to the same locations. They don't really want to get off the beaten path, because then they can't socialize with each other. This has, to a large (not exlcusively) become it's own tourist sub-culture which feeds on itself. Where in the world the travellers are is less important than if they are with other travellers. So I assume when you say you want to learn about the culture you mean the cultures of the indigenous persons, and not this other sub-culture. Not sure though. Maybe you do. Maybe you want to start on KSR and hit the "bannana pancake" trail.

#3 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by Captain_Bob on 11/4/2013 at 07:12

Simple math 1800 quid over 3 months comes out to 20 quid/day. This is a decent daily budget for backpacker style travel in the region (and assumes you've already paid for the long flight over and back). Basic guesthouse rooms can be had for around 5-10 quid, foodstall meals for less than £1, around-town transport also about £1/day and longer-distance buses/trains around £5-15 depending on distance/class. You'll just have to keep an eye on the daily outlay. A night's drinking session or splashing out for a scuba dive can easily put you in the red. Also good to have an emergency fund/backup plan if things go wrong (lost wallet, theft, injury, etc)

So effectively your plan is a go, with a few precautions and attention to expenses. Shore up your funds as much as possible, inform your bank where you're going so they don't block your cards, read up on visas for each country and shop for cheapest flight in/out of the region (Bangkok usually has the most options). Don't fret too much about what to bring. It's warm all the time and you can live in shorts, t-shirt and flipflops year-round. Anything you need can be bought here. Hell they have Marmite on the shelf and Boots Pharmacies in every major Thai town these days.

Secure your passport, cash, and cards in a wallet or moneybelt which can be tucked away on your person. Never leave valuables unguarded. Daylight robbery is virtually nonexistent, but theft from rooms and on buses is a regular deal. Beyond flight and visas there's not too much planning required. It's very much a get there and see destination. Pretty much any transport and activities can be decided as you go.

Ok get busy!

#4 Captain_Bob has been a member since 27/5/2006. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,947

Posted by PlanOneWay on 11/4/2013 at 07:25


Thanks for your replies, the £1,800 will be after flights, insurances and visas. This would be purely for the travel side of things. I know I'm being fairly optimistic with my timescale, but to be honest the idea I have in my head is to plan for 4weeks, have an itinerary for this period and just see how it goes. If I get to 4 weeks and get suck, I come home; if at the end I want to do more, I can; if something comes up after a week and I want to get an 18 hour bus journal across country in another direction, why not;. 3 months is really just a vague time scale for me, I just want to go with the wind. (maybe I'll need a better budget though ;))

DLuek I can completely understand what you mean about not trying to do too much though. I did this in my first visit to rome, I had 5 days in Rome and crammed everything in. Although it was great it was a mad rush. I went again a year later, had no plan, just strolled round and it was so much more relaxing and ended up being much better. I couldn't imagine doing the madrush thing for a month, let alone 3!

MADMAC - My plan above was a bit vague I know I said I want to do all these places but I completely agree with both of you I will need to cut this down a bit. I think once I start planning my trip, I'll find the places and route that is good for me.

I suppose my perception of a 'traveller' is the same as what it is now, don't get me wrong I love meeting now people and socialising but I wouldn't want to stop me from getting 'off' the beaten track at all.... I don't know yet really. I think right now I just want to see where live takes me, I don't want to be too restricted and plan too much, just enough that I can feel comfortable being alone that for from home for a short while. Get my legs and then just see where they take me

#5 PlanOneWay has been a member since 10/4/2013. Posts: 6

Posted by PlanOneWay on 11/4/2013 at 07:31

Captain Bob - I love your way of thinking. Do I have enough cash, erm, yea. Passport, check. Flights, check. Visas, check. Grab a sh*t load of faith, check.
Now what? GO! GO! GO!

#6 PlanOneWay has been a member since 10/4/2013. Posts: 6

Posted by MADMAC on 11/4/2013 at 07:57

If you come out to Mukdahan way, drop me a line. I'll buy you a beer and show you around. Have a great trip.

#7 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by PlanOneWay on 11/4/2013 at 14:40

That my friend is an offer I will hold you to!

#8 PlanOneWay has been a member since 10/4/2013. Posts: 6

Posted by MADMAC on 12/4/2013 at 01:13

You have a deal saxib. I have a route if you are interested in it. It is off the beaten path. It doesn't hold a lot of (but some) great sights. But it is an interesting Mekong river route that will get you off the beaten path for sure.

#9 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by DesmondTeng on 16/4/2013 at 02:09

You should make Singapore should be part of your trip as well!

Dubbed as Asia 101 for foreigners, this small city-state will not disappoint you.
And if after your trip, you decided that Asia is a place to start your professional career, you'll not regret having visited Singapore.

#10 DesmondTeng has been a member since 16/4/2013. Location: Singapore. Posts: 4
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