I'm hoping that you can give me some much need advice/guidance on the 12 month trip around SEA that I have planned.
I intend to travel in December 2014 with a £9.5k (GBP) budget.
I have the following (rough) itinerary in mind:
Flying into Bangkok and spend 3 nights there before taking the over night train to Sukhathoi, I'm planning on spending 4-5 nights here before heading up North. I'll probably spend 4 weeks travelling between Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Chiang Dao before catching the 2 day slow boat to Luang Prabang. I'm thinking of sticking to the South of Laos and using this as a rough guide - https://www.travelfish.org/trip_planner/southern-laos-holiday (6-8 weeks).
I'll then move on to Cambodia using this as a rough guide -https://www.travelfish.org/trip_planner/cambodia-one-month-trip (6-8 weeks).
I'll head into to HCMC and spend 6-8 weeks travelling north by motobike (ending up in Sapa). I was thinking of catching a flight into KL Malaysia, spending 3 nights here before moving on to Kota Kinabalu.
I'll move from Sabah to Kuching before heading to the Philippines. I'm planning to spend 8 weeks here visiting Luzon, Palawan, Mindanao and The Visayas before heading to Indonesia.
I plan to fly into Java and emplore Yogyakarta and then follow the coast line to the island of Bali. I'm also interested in seeing Bali, the Flores, The Gili Islands and Lombok.
I'll then fly into Krabi befire heading to Khao Yai Nao and Ko Lanta. I'll then head back to the main land and travel north to Bangkok following the Eastern coast.
I'm interested in visiting national parks, caves, visiting minority villages, beaches, cooking, meeting new people and generally seeing where the wind takes me.
I'm happy to visit these sights on my own as apposed to doing it in a large group tour. I'll be staying in guest houses and maybe camping in the national parks.
My questions are:
Is this feasible on my budget?
Is there anything that I've missed that worth seeing or vise versa?
I already have the cash for my return flight to Bangkok so my budget would have to cover visas, accommodation, trips, food etc. I'm not too fussed about the accommodation that I stay in, as long as its clean and safe.
Sorry for the very long winded post and thanks in advance for the help!!
"Flying into Bangkok and spend 3 nights there before taking the over night train to Sukhathoi, I'm planning on spending 4-5 nights here before heading up North. I'll probably spend 4 weeks travelling between Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Chiang Dao"
Why the rush to leave Bangkok? It's worth more than 3 nights. Also Kanchanaburi is worth a few.
CM, CR and CD aren't worth 4 weeks IMO. 2 weeks would be plenty. You might also want to visit Soppong (good cave there) and Mae Hong Son. There are other places like Lampang and Phayao as well.
What's your budget in baht or US dollars?
I went to Bangkok 2 years ago and spent 7 days there (first time visit) and felt like that was enough, maybe I'm wrong.
My budget in USD is just shy of $15,000.
I've checked out the places you suggested and they seem pretty interesting, definitely think I'll add them to my itinerary.
Sounds like it should be a lovely trip (and it's great that you're giving yourself plenty of time, and not rushing about constantly).
Your budget, once you set aside Â£400-500 to cover your insurance, works out at roughly Â£750 a month (Â£24.50 per day / roughly $38.50US). That's definitely doable, although you will have to be a bit careful with your money - some inexpensive meals in markets and street kitchens, not too many "big" nights out, and you'll probably find it doesn't stretch to cover the expensive extras (like scuba-diving). It will help with the budget that you're not rushing about, as that will save you some money.
(As a rough guide, a budget of $30 per day will cover a basic cheap trip, but one a lot of people will find restrictive over the long term; a more flexible budget of $40 per day allows you to do a bit more.)
Of course, if you're prepared to be flexible, you may just decide to go with the flow and come home when the money runs out. Either you do all the extras and make it a 9-10 month trip, or you travel a little cheaper and go for the full year. Once you're on the ground, you'll be able to judge what sort of trip will make you happiest, and can always change your travel style as you go.
Have a great time!
I'm definitely agree with you about being flexible as when I went to Thailand before I pre-booked every day-trip and guesthouse and when I arrived there the things that I thought I would like I didn't and vise versa.
I'm hoping to stretch my budget to last the year but like you said I could do all the extra's but shorten the trip. I'm in two minds about the scuba diving...... I really want to experience it but on the other hand, do I want to spend all that money....?
I'm more then happy to eat at markets and street stalls as I feel like you'll get more interaction with the people around you then what you would in a restaurant, which i'll need seeing as i'm doing this trip solo.
Have you been to many of the places that i've listed?
Sounds sensible. You'll probably also find it easy to meet other travelers in your guesthouses, when you feel like company for dinner.
I've been to some of the places you've got listed (I've traveled in Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam) but no where near all of them - I'm rather envious!
When you travel up the eastern coast of Thailand, I'd recommend you spend a few days in Prachuap Khiri Khan - a nice, chilled out town with a friendly local beach.
What was Malaysia like?
To be honest, of all the places that I've been looking at Malaysia is the one that i'm having the most trouble getting to grips with. It's such a huge country and it doesn't help that it's over two peninsula's. I definitely know where I want to go on the eastern side but when it comes to the main land its really hard to decide.
Thanks for the advice!
Honestly, I haven't been to the Borneo side of Malaysia - I spent the month in Peninsular Malaysia.
I really liked it, in fact I liked it better than Thailand. The culture is very vibrant (the mix of ethnic Malay, Indian, and Chinese, with the colonial influences layered in there). The food is absolutely amazing (ditto). I'm a real foodie (it's a big part of why I travel) so that's a big part of why I loved Malaysia.
I'd definitely recommend everyone go to Penang. I also enjoyed hiking into the countryside of the Cameron Highlands, and chilling on small beach towns like Cherating.
Other pluses - the language is easier to get to grips with than Thai, and English is quite widely spoken, so it's easier to have a conversation with the locals.
So yep! I recommend it!