I'm completely new to the backpacking world, after putting it off for years and constantly dreaming of going travelling.
So I'm looking at finally doing it in July/Aug this year in the summer break.
I need some advice of where to travel. From scouring the forums I've seen that Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam might be a good idea for squeezing into a 1.5 month trip, but am open to all suggestions.
Also money wise - I have no idea how much I will need to save? Will be travelling from London, so any budget suggestions please let me know.
I will be travelling with another girlfriend, looking to explore as much as possible but as I have health conditions I don't want to push myself too much.
Thanks in advance for any help you can give!!
#1 katie123 has been a member since 3/1/2014. Posts: 6
Have a look at the Planning section on the home page banner. It is a great way to get started building a picture of places you might want to visit - including sample intinerarie, what things will cost in different places, and how you can get from A to B. After that, look around through the Forum for similar questions to get a sense of what others have said. Once you've done that, come back with specific questions that folks can answer for you. The more details you include about yourself - your travel style, what you like to do, if you drink alcohol, etc., will help people respond with specific and up-to-date information.
Good on you for taking the plunge. Have a wonderful time. Cheers.
Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam is probably too much to fit into 6 weeks unless there are only a few certain spots you want to see and are willing to pay for flights which aren't that cheap.
A large part of planning a trip is having an idea of what you want to see. If you don't know the actual sights yet then post up the types of things/places you would like to see.
On a 6 week trip if you want to see a fair bit and be economically friendly I would probably recommend a round trip from Bangkok(usually the cheapest to fly to), you can spend roughly 2 weeks looking around the Bangkok area and Northern Thailand then head into Laos and spend a couple weeks working your way down to Cambodia. Then spend a couple weeks in Cambodia before heading back to Bangkok. This kind of trip gives some nice sights, nice cultural experiences and is quite cheap to do. There will be a fair bit of travel involved but it won't be too unbearable. If you can take 7 or even 8 weeks it would be even more comfortable and give you extra time in case you get sick or something.
Cost depends on the person, some people like myself can get by on $30 a day although you have to miss out on the odd thing and put up with low end accommodation/food at times. $40 is probably what I would recommend(you may not even have to spend it all but I would recommend having at least this much available). If you want to stay in higher end accommodation or something like that then you might need a bit more but even that shouldn't put you over $50 a day, especially if you share rooms with your friend. Flights and other overhead costs like travel insurance and vaccinations etc will be extra on top of the daily expenses.
Thanks for all your replies so far. I have a rough idea of what I want to see, but am a bit unsure about how to get certain places.
As I said before I'm completely new to all this so I have no idea if my plans are realistic or not. It's looking like I will have to cut my trip down to 4 weeks/5 weeks at most now so I know I'm going to have to miss a fair bit out.
I will be flying in to Bangkok - from here I'd like to spend a couple of days then go to Chang Mai (probably on the overnight train) - spend 3 days in Chang Mai? Then on to Luang Prabang - I get majorly sick on boats so would probably have to fly here to avoid the slow boat unless there is another way? Then somehow get down to Cambodia - Siem Reap/Angkor Wat (a week?) then down to Koh Phi Phi spend about a week there and back up to Bangkok.
Is this at all realistic? As I said I'm open to all suggestions - I don't want to miss anything amazing, or if my route is completely unrealistic please let me know!!
#5 katie123 has been a member since 3/1/2014. Posts: 6
It's rainy season in most of the places mentioned so far so you could use weather to narrow down your choices. Bear in mind that it will be wet in Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang at that time of year. Rainy season at Angkor Wat too but fewer tourists and less dust in the air probably make it a better time to take photos. Air Asia now fly to Siem Reap from Bangkok if you don't want to go overland.
The west coast of Thailand will be wet too and although Phi Phi may look stunningly beautiful in glossy brochures the reality is very different. It's been utterly ruined by over development and is now party central...very tacky, very overpriced, very noisy, very crowded, lots of concrete, dead coral. If you want wild parties then Ko Phagnan or Ko Tao on the east coast have better weather at that time of year. Those islands have some quieter beaches as well, though it will be busy there in July and August.
Some weather maps...
You can take buses to Luang Prabang. They go from Huay Xai to Luang Namtha to Oudomxay to Luang Prabang. You can stop along the way in some of these places(recommend to stop in Luang Namtha is nothing more to break up the long bus ride) or go all the way.
As others have mentioned almost all of South East Asia is going to be rainy season at this time so give yourself extra time in case you have rain days.
Ah what a nightmare. I really wish I could go at another time but I'm a teacher so am confined to the summer holidays. From experience, when you say rain - how wet is it? Horrible and having to stay indoors or short downpours? I would hate to spend this much money and be stuck miserable and wet.
To be honest, I'm open to a lot of paths. My top spots are Chiang Mai, maybe Pai as I've heard such good things about it from others that have been, Siem Reap, and a nice hot beach.
It's a shame about Phi Phi, but that doesn't surprise me.
In terms of what I want to do/see - I'm happy to go along with a crowd, and open to exploring more rural places. I'm not up for wild parties, it's more about seeing for me, although I will be having the odd drink. It looks like I may be going with my boyfriend now and we are able to stretch it out for 5 weeks max. Happy to do short flights but still want to keep the cost down. Hoping to budget for just under Â£2000 including flights, which are Â£550 at the moment from London.
Thanks again for all your help, keep the suggestions coming!
#9 katie123 has been a member since 3/1/2014. Posts: 6
I haven't travelled during the rainy season but based on what I have read it usually consists of short but heavy downpours usually in the evenings. There will be days with no rain and some days where it rains most of the day though. Overall it isn't a big issue but I wouldn't be planning everything down to the minute or booking ahead. Give yourself lots of time so you don't miss out on things because of the rain.
When thinking about costs don't forget about other overhead costs like travel insurance and vaccinations(if you don't have them already). That could run you as much as $200-300 each. So for your 2000 pound budget you will probably be lucky to have $2000 usd to spend while travelling. For 2 people I would suggest planning to spend $60-80 per day depending on quality of hotels, food and how much you want to see/do in a day. In places you can definitely get by on less especially if you are moving slower due to rainy season but you are still probably looking at a minimum of $40-50. At $60 average that gives you roughly 33 days so is pretty much your 5 weeks as you had determined. If you have to do any other flights or want to do any more expensive tours or splurge for a few days these types of things would have to be extra.
If you want island time your best bet is Koh Samui/Tao/Phangan since as mentioned these have a slightly different climate. They will be busy with students on break and with being the only really good beach option at that time. I can only think of one real alternative which I will comment on later.
If I was going to offer advice on an itinerary I would probably say work your way north in Thailand then spend some time looking around up there. Air Asia has one way flights from Chiang Mai to Siem Reap for around $120 or if you can figure out a decent way to loop back to Bangkok they are only around $70 from there(or could take bus which would save money). Then you could spend a while in Cambodia before heading back to Bangkok.
A different idea to consider and would give you a variety of things to see as well as some more beach options is going to Malaysia, I haven't been there but know the climate for all but the west coast should be much better then the more northern parts of SEA. There is a decent amount of things to do and see and Kuala Lumpur is tied to every major city in SEA with cheap flights as it is the base for Air Asia. For example could fly to Siem Reap or Phnom Penh for ~$80 one way then back from Bangkok for around $90, this would allow you to spend say 3 weeks in Malaysia and 2 weeks between Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Bangkok. If you keep your eyes open Air Asia regularly has sales offering dirt cheap flights from Kuala Lumpur, some of them really are ridiculous. Alternatively you could fly into Bangkok go see Siem Reap and then fly to Malaysia before flying back to Bangkok(round trip will most likely be cheaper) depending on which way is cheaper flight wise.
Your money may be a little tight for something like this considering the extra flight costs and the fact that Malaysia may be slightly more expensive but you should have better weather so might be worth looking into.
Sharing a room helps but costs largely depend on the activities u do. For 2 people combined $80 to 90 a day should be fine unless u want to.learn scuba.
I would advise picking 7 or 8 destinations for your 5 weeks rather than rushing around like a mad fly to a dozen or more places like a lot of novices do. Those types see a lot of bus stops and dirty bus windows and miss out of the real beauty of a place.
Thank you so much for all your advice so far. You've given me a lot to think about!
Booking our flights this week, here is my (very) rough itinerary so far....
London - BKK (3 days inc travel)
BKK - Chiang Mai (4 days inc travel)
Chiang Mai - BKK (1 day)
BKK - Siem Reap/surrounding areas (7 days inc travel)
Siem Reap - BKK
Then down to the islands for a week (or two)
How does this all sound? Willing to fly places as long as they are cheap to save time.
I've had a look at going down to Maylasia and flying from KL - LDN, but it adds quite a bit of money on to the journey.
#13 katie123 has been a member since 3/1/2014. Posts: 6