Im traveling alone this September on what should be an epic journey, time is not really a factor but money is, iv got 4 months to spend in South East Asia, i plan to start in Vietnam as i will be coming from China, my last destination is Thailand, fly out of Bangkok. I would love if someone could give me:
a) a rough cost of travel? (i know this is a broad question but just humour me, im earning RMB so its super hard to build up the cash)
b) best transport in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand (iv decided train for Vietnam)
c) Must see places/things to do (im adventerous, i enjoy trekking, hiking, zip lining, anything really!!)
d) Volunteering ideas
Its all a wee bit daunting but i just want to savour South East Asia, iv been wanting to do this trip for a long time!! Any help what so ever would be greatly appreciated. Thanks :)
Your average cost can run around 30 USD a day and that includes transport. I don't really do dorm rooms, but a lot of destinations are guesthouses or hotels that don't really offer dorm accommodation anyway. If you figure between 8-10 USD a night for a bed then you'll be well off for that occasional time when you're in a city and can only find a spot for 15 USD or so. This budget doesn't really include the more expensive tours that you may want to hop onto, expensive tickets like the three day Angkor Wat pass or big splurge nights.
In Cambodia and Laos the only way to really transport between cities will be to take buses or minibuses. I highly recommend you rent a motorbike in a few areas to get off the beaten path (Da Nang area, Kampot , Battambang, Bolaven are areas I've really found the 8 or so USD a day on a motorbike to be money well spent). Most people wouldn't take these on long trips between cities but rather do a local loop and then onward transportation.
Sounds like you may as well go south through Vietnam and taking your time you'll hit most anything you shouldn't miss - then up into Cambodia via Ha Tien/Kep, work your way up to Siem Reap (passing through the Cambodia's beaches, Kampot and Phnom Penh). Probably enter Laos via land by 4,000 islands, and much like Vietnam the route up to north will take you passed most of the major spots. You may want to arrange a long-stay tourist visa for when you finally enter Thailand if you're going to do it overland from Laos into Northern Thailand. Otherwise you get a much shorter stay going in by land then you do with the visa on arrival by air.
You'll get better exchange rates (and be able to just use them) if you bring USD. RMB can be exchanged in major areas - I've done it in Siem Reap, but otherwise it isn't the easiest currency to travel with. Make sure to exchange before you depart.
Caseyprich, there's a wealth of knowledge in that post, thanks, exactly what i was looking for!! I have a rough itinerary:
Ha Long Bay
Ho Chi Minh
Koh Tunsay Beach
Ko Tao Stuart Thani
Ko Pha Ngan
Khao Sok National Park
Ko Phi Phi
I complied it from various itineraries iv seen on line and from a lonely planet book i have. I was looking at taking the train in Vietnam but its pretty pricey, there are no multiple stop tickets you have to purchase each leg of the journey individually and its not that cheap on both vietnam-railway and vietnamrailway, any suggestions? Or just go with it!? I will be sure to get my currency before i leave China, thank you.
I won't try and match casey's weath of knowledge but I will say the following. You've allowed yourself roughtly one month per country, which makes sense. However, within that country, don't try and see too many places in that month. For example, it appears you are considering roughly 10 in each country - I would scale this back considerably (to 6, max 7 as a guideline). I know you are probably just familiarising yourself with the places but I also wouldn't plan too rigidly, especially in this neck of the woods where delays, overruns, getting lazy and getting attached to a place are all part of the experience. By all means have a rough outline, but don't book stuff too far ahead.
Don't forget to arrange your Vietnam visa before you arrive at the border as they don't do them for you there. I got mine in Hong Kong but I'm sure any major city in the South of China will suffice.
One place on your list that you could definitely skip is Nha Trang (instead hit up the beach in Hoi An while enjoying food and architecture as well).
#5 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 738
Waheeey, thanks Chinarocks, welcomed information. Ok, so don't have a rigid plan, do you recommend booking accomodation in advance, i know the time of year im going isn't peak season so i persume its not so busy!!?
Absolutely no need whatsoever to book accom in advance, in fact it is not advised. Arrive somewhere, find out from your guide book/this website etc where the best area to stay in that town or city is. Then spend 20/30 minutes going around to a few different places haggling (not too much!) and checking out the general standard of rooms. Make your decision and then kick back and relax.
#7 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 738
Oooooh, ok, this is gona be a hard one for me as im the type of person who plans well in advance but i shall deter myself and just go with the flow!! I don't feel as anxious as i did before about this trip now thanks to all this advise!!! Thanks!!! :)
Clover - yes resist. Don't plan a timeline. If you don't get to some places, so be it. Remmember, this place is about chillin', not about sightseeing. Take it slow. Linger. Be a bum. The real life of planning and working and itineraries will be perfectly happy to catch up with you latter.
One possibility is to do what I did recently while traveling in Cambodia. When I knew I was leaving a spot the next day, I'd check out this site and agoda.com and make an educated guess on where I wanted to stay - I'd see how many rooms were available on agoda and book or not based on that. Often you can get a better price with them as well. Also, say you get to PP and know you'll only stay 3 days there, then let yourself do some research right away to book that place you really want to secure in Siem Reap if that is your next destination - there are different 'amounts' of planning ahead, and if a little security step-by-step helps you feel more comfortable, then just do it.
I would also suggest cutting out a few spots on your list - but why not wait to make those decision until you're on the ground. You'll certainly have a lot of people offering advice on what to miss and what to hit - and who better to find out from then people who have just left a place.
That said, I think you can do some rough planning by thinking regionally and not city specific - just to have an idea how long you'd like to spend in each spot. If you've got a month in Vietnam, then you've got 1 1/2 weeks for the north, 1 week for the center and 1 1/2 weeks for the south and Delta (probably include Dalat in that one) so you just play around with this rough idea.
Cool, ill do that. Im trying to figure out if i can get a boat from Kratie up to the 4000 islands, thought it'd be a cool way to travel, but all the itineraries iv read are routes from North to South not South to North, i seem to be doing it arse ways!!!
Is it possible?! Or even from 4000 islands to Pakse?! I know its popular to do it the other way and there are plenty of tour companies offering it so, but im going the other way!!!
Ok, im back again, this time asking about vaccinations. I have none, well i have yellow fever. Im hearing about Hep A nad B, typhoid, diptheria, teatnus, advise please?!!?! Iv traveled loads over the last 6-8 years granted it was Australia, New Zealand, Europe, but iv never had any of those shots.
Tetnus should be done every 10 yrs no matter what country you are in. Hep A/B should be done for all travelers really.Typhoid is also recommended for SEA.
Diptheria I don't know much about it. Don't think so but any GP can check.
You listed 41 places for 4 mths which is about 3 days per place. That's a lot. if it was me I'd pick 20-25 and spend more quality time. A common mistake is trying to do too much and ending up spending a lot of time on buses/trains instead of really seeing the local area what you are doing is looking out the bus window a lot at highways.