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Southeast Asia forum

First time travelling SE Asia, whats the best way to get around?

Posted by SEAsianBegin on 21/5/2013 at 00:59

Hi all,

I'm spending about a month in SE Asia in August and I'm starting to plan it. My boyfriend and his friend are thinking of joining me for two weeks. Does anyone have any suggestions on an itinerary? We are thinking Thailand and Indonesia right now, although I'm interested in Laos and Vietnam as well. And what is the best way to travel, plane, bus, train etc? I've travelled Europe extensively, and am just wondering if Asia has something similar to RyanAir and Easy Jet. I know the places are further apart, so I'm wondering how long to expect to be travelling between cities or countries. Thank you so much for your help!

#1 SEAsianBegin has been a member since 21/5/2013. Posts: 1

Posted by Captain_Bob on 21/5/2013 at 03:19

The regional budget airline equivalent is Also check out in Thailand and in Vietnam. The cheaper alternative is of course by bus, but it can be slow, with point-to-point trips taking a full day or night. Also consider train travel in Thailand and Vietnam (Laos and Cambodia no trains). See for extensive info about train travel.

Itinerary-wise, there are far too many possibilities for a random stranger to suggest on someone else's behalf. First maybe determine where you're enterting the region initially (Bangkok? KL? Saigon? etc) then with your available timeframe map out a relistic number of places you'd like to check out. Avoid the "American in Europe" pifall of trying to "do" every country in a month. I'd say Thailand OR Vietnam for a month would be good, or maybe include a 7-day sweep through northern Laos or Cambodia. I'd also say avoid making the itinerary too rigid and allow room for spontaneity. Many travellers just arrive in Bangkok and wing it from there.

#2 Captain_Bob has been a member since 27/5/2006. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,911

Posted by amnicoll on 21/5/2013 at 05:23

can not offer any better advice

#3 amnicoll has been a member since 10/1/2005. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 732
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Posted by MADMAC on 21/5/2013 at 08:11

I'm with Bob. Get to Bangkok and just wing it from there.

Four countries in four weeks? WAY too much moving around. Western Europe is small, the rail service is excellent. Here the infrastructure isn't nearly as robust. Movement is slower and more painful. Any one of the four countries of interest has enough to keep you occupied for one month - so just pick one and slow down and enjoy it. Remmember, Europe is about seeing things. SEA is about chillin'.

#4 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by abi0811 on 22/5/2013 at 04:38

I did Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia in just under 4 months. I think 4 countries in 4 weeks is too much travelling. I did all my travelling by sleep bus and boats. I suppose if you're travelling by plane you're gonna save a lot of time. I think many people on here would disagree with me but I found Laos boring and not worth the time and hassle. If i could do it again I definitely wouldn't have bothered! I say swap Laos for Cambodia, its beautiful and fun and has a lot of contrast. Dont plan the trip too much as things will change on the way. just head to Bangkok and have an idea weather you want to head North or South and just go from there...
Sleeper buses are cheap easy and you meet people. Some I went on I slept the whole way, some I drank tigers the whole way, Haha! Never done a train, just wasn't needed and cost more than buses.

#5 abi0811 has been a member since 22/5/2013. Posts: 2

Posted by Snookieboi on 22/5/2013 at 04:49

I'd agree with abie, having travelled extensively in s/e asia. 4 weeks is really only good for like 2 countries or 3 with an easy route. For example you could do bangkok to Cambodia to Vietnam, doing a little of south Vietnam, and seeing Cambodia's main sights, returning to Thailand for your choice-if you draw a line on the map from bangkok to saigon, you'll see it's pretty direct and easy, but be sure to get your visa for vietnam sorted beforehand. Perhaps look at a cheap return flight to cambodia or saigon, or do it with buses. Laos is intriguing with time to chill, but cannot be rushed as it's vibes are calm.

Otherwise, just Thailand and Cambodia is more than good ennough.

#6 Snookieboi has been a member since 14/4/2013. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 61
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Posted by MADMAC on 22/5/2013 at 11:28

The thing is, if you stick to one country, you can start to learn the language. I hate going somewhere and can't speak the language. As the saying goes, language is culture. It comes first. One country will allow you to at least dip your toe into the language in question.

#7 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by seasia on 22/5/2013 at 12:27

Hello :o))

I am planning to go to SE Asia ( july - september) first time...
anyone wants to join ? :o))
I am flexible with dates.... and locations :) open to interesting routes suggestions....
i am considering : Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos....though im open to suggestions...

PS: Contact me with your plans, ideas and Ask me for more details... so Maybe... we will be soon sitting all together in the aeroplane to the dream holiday ? ;o))

#8 seasia has been a member since 22/5/2013. Posts: 1

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