Hi my name is Scott. Me and my friend Luke are planning on travelling around South East Asia. You know the usual Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Malaysia and most likely Singapore. We plan on travelling for around about 6 months before we head over to Australia. We would find it very helpful for any tips and information you could share with us on budget, places to go, things to see, where to live, where not to live. Travel essentials, tips to keeping safe basically any information you could give us would be awesome. We are first time travelers but we are very keen to go. Please please hit me up with any information possible
. Thanks very much and looking forward to reading your replies.
A good first step, funnily enough, is deciding where you're going to go :-)
So take a look at the itinerary planners here and the features section should be useful on the inspiration side of thing.
Once you narrow down a rough plan, take a look at the various destination-specific parts of the site to get more info on where you are going.
When you've got more questions, it is useful if you say when the trip is -- for eg July is soaking wet in southwest Thailand but dry as a bell in the southeast. This will help people give more useful advice.
Also a bit more info on what you're into is helpful. Beaches/mountains/chilling/partying etc -- no you're not allowed to say "everything" ;-)
#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,738
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What is your budget Scott? SE Asia is cheap but six months there (excl. flights) could set you back Â£5k-6k, depending on what your travel style is.
Singapore is nice but eminently missable as it is more like New York than Hanoi and a week or two there would significantly up your costs.
Thailand and Vietnam could warrant 5-6 week stays given their size and diversity. Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia more like 3-4. So six months seems like a perfect amount of time to visit all the places you mention. Beyond this it is hard to say more as you don't say what you like.
The general rule in SE Asia (festivals etc notwithstanding) is not to book too much in advance and just go with the flow - sure have a rough idea but don't overplan as SEA will tear up even the best laid plans after a couple of weeks (cancelled transport, nice beaches calling you for longer etc).
#4 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 738
The highlights of my trip and what I considered to be must sees were Khao Sok National Park Lake Tour in Thailand, Angkor Temples in Cambodia and Paradise Cave in Vietnam. Other then that there are many places that are nice but the main thing is just seeing the different way of life and experiencing the different culture. Also doing new things you can't do back home(Scuba Diving was a blast). One thing you might want to consider if finding a place to volunteer with for a short period(2-4 weeks), I did this and it gave an interesting insight into the country that you don't get when just travelling around seeing the sights.
Cost wise 6 months would probably be 8-10k USD per person after all flights. My 4 month trip cost me $6200 and I considered myself to travel on the cheaper side. Travelling with someone you will be able to save a little bit of money by sharing double bed rooms.
My advice would be to research climate information for these countries, Southern Thailand and Malaysia east and west coasts have different climates and are best visited at different times. Northern Thailand, Laos and Cambodia have similar climates and Vietnam has its own diverse climate that changes all along the coast.
Once you have a rough idea when you want to be there research plane costs as these can either be reasonable or ridiculous. Cheapest is probably to fly in and out of Bangkok. Air Asia is a cheap company that offers some very reasonable flights between Kuala Lumpur and most of the other major cities in the area, they also offer some good flights from Bangkok to Cambodia and Vietnam.
With climate information and plane ticket information you can then set up a rough itinerary/direction of travel. To travel comfortable and see most of these countries I recommend something like 2 weeks for each of northern, central and southern Thailand; 3 weeks for Laos; 3 weeks for Cambodia; 5 or 6 weeks for Vietnam and I believe 3-4 weeks in Malaysia(haven't been there yet though). Singapore probably only a few days as a side trip from Malaysia, might as well see it but don't want to spend lots of time there as it is quite expensive supposedly.
Only lay out a rough plan though and wing the rest. As you travel you will find places you really enjoy or don't like and you might end up spending a lot more time in a certain area then originally planned. I met people that ended up spending 2-3 weeks in places many people only spend a day or two just because they really enjoyed it there.
Good on ya Scotty! You and Luke should have a great time.
You've already got solid advice above to get you started on planning your trip. I'd just reiterate what the others have said about researching climate and weather patterns to make sure you are travelling to places when the weather is expected to be good. Travel during the rainy season has its rewards (smaller crowds, lower prices, etc.), but you'll want to take full advantage of good weather wherever you go as much as you can.
I'd also add to sort out your visa situation well ahead of time. Just find out which countries will issue a visa-on-arrival or visa exemption for the nationality of the passport you are using and what other requirements they may have. For example, some ask for a passport photo to be included with the application and some prefer a specific currency (usually US dollars but that may be changing). Find out too which countries will require you to sort out a visa in advance so you can work that into your itinerary - and remember that some visas arranged in advance only allow a certain amount of time to use them before they expire.
Finally, be absolutely certain to get travel insurance - particularly for such a long trip. It may seem like a big chunk of money up front, but having a travel insurance policy that fits your needs is essential. Don't leave home without it!
Have a great trip. Cheers.