Photo: Street food Phetchaburi Soi 10, Bangkok.

Southeast Asia forum

First time solo traveler off to SE Asia for 3 months next month, would appreciate some advice.

Posted by NFT_Terrorist on 13/5/2014 at 15:45

On June 23rd I will be flying from Cork, Ireland to Bangkok. I will be staying in South-East Asia until 8th September when I will flying home from Saigon.

I will be working for an NGO in Hanoi for 8 weeks starting July 7th, for the two weeks beforehand and one after I will be free to travel around as I wish.

I'm a first time traveler and as a result I do have some concerns about this trip, especially the initial two weeks. I currently planning on flying into Bangkok, spending a few days there then going to Pattaya and Siem Reap for Angkor Wat before returning to Bangkok to fly into Hanoi for the beginning of my NGO programme.
This itinerary is open to suggestions, although I am set on seeing Angkor Wat. I have a few questions that hope you all can answer.


1) Would it be advisable to bring a backpack instead of a luggage? I will only be backpacking for 3 of the 11 weeks as the NGO in Hanoi will provide me accommodation for 8 weeks
2) Should have my itinerary set in stone before I touch down in Bangkok and have all my accommodation booked or should I just book for the first few nights in Bangkok and go with the flow from there?
3) What are the required Vaccinations for these countries ? 4) Are there any safety tips you have for a lone male traveler in SE Asia ?
5) How much money is advisable to carry on yourself? Also I heard it's better to bring dollars instead of Euros...and obviously the local currency of course.
6) Is it realistic to travel around Thailand/Cambodia for 2 weeks on a budget of around 500 euro? I don't plan on doing many activities but am partial to the nightlife

#1 NFT_Terrorist has been a member since 13/5/2014. Location: Ireland. Posts: 5

Posted by somtam2000 on 13/5/2014 at 20:08 admin

Welcome to Travelfish :)

First thing would be I'd drop Pattaya for an alternative beach location -- Ko Samet should be ok (Ko Chang will be quite wet that time of year). To your questions:


1) Would it be advisable to bring a backpack instead of a luggage? I will only be backpacking for 3 of the 11 weeks as the NGO in Hanoi will provide me accommodation for 8 weeks

Take whatever you're more comfortable using. Personally I prefer a backpack as I find them easier to lug around, you you see stacks of backpackers with wheelie bags etc. Just use whatever you feel more comfortable with.

2) Should have my itinerary set in stone before I touch down in Bangkok and have all my accommodation booked or should I just book for the first few nights in Bangkok and go with the flow from there?

I'd lean towards the latter. There is nothing wrong with booking in advance if you want, but this isn't a peak time of year for travel and I wouldn't expect places to be packed. Booking your first few nights in Bangkok would be prudent as you've never been there.

3) What are the required Vaccinations for these countries ?

There are a LOT of posts on this in the Health section of the forum, here is a good summary

4) Are there any safety tips you have for a lone male traveler in SE Asia ?

Nothing specific to a lone male, but some general advice on staying south in SEA is here

5) How much money is advisable to carry on yourself? Also I heard it's better to bring dollars instead of Euros...and obviously the local currency of course.

Bring whatever currency you have -- in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam you'll have no problems changing whatever you bring.

6) Is it realistic to travel around Thailand/Cambodia for 2 weeks on a budget of around 500 euro? I don't plan on doing many activities but am partial to the nightlife

35 euros a day should be plenty assuming you're at backpacker standard accommodation and are not partying till dawn every day.


Hope that helps. More questions, ask away

#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,575
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Posted by caseyprich on 14/5/2014 at 02:29

I'd add on the luggage issue that I've found a wheeled suitcase to be really inconvenient in these areas. The sidewalks are full of holes, or just stop existing, sometimes you've got areas of sand or mud to walk through, streets/sidewalks can be full of merchandise that must be dodged and even loading them up onto buses can be a hassle. If you're looking for convenience, get a backpack that unzips fully on the side and not just on the top, so you can throw it open just like a suitcase and get at things all over the bag.

#3 caseyprich has been a member since 3/3/2010. Location: China. Posts: 1,281
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Posted by amnicoll on 14/5/2014 at 06:31

Good advise as usual from Somtam.

Why return to Thailand to go to hanoi? you can fly from Cambodia. Small $ very useful in cambodia esp when off the tourist beat. Is 500 Euros enough well that would really depend on where you stay and where and how much you party

You should sort out inoculations ASAP it amazes me that people are prepared to ask the advise of complete strangers rather than professional doctors

I am with Casey a backpack is far easier

#4 amnicoll has been a member since 10/1/2005. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 686

Posted by NFT_Terrorist on 15/5/2014 at 13:13

Thank you all for taking the time to reply to me!

@Somtam
Would you really recommend dropping Pattaya?

I'm open to other ideas but I was hoping of going somewhere to east of Bangkok, therefore I could go from there to Siem Reap .
Ko Samet seems a bit out of the way to go to seeing as how I'm looking to go to Cambodia.


@amnicoll
I am flying from Bangkok to Hanoi because Air Asia do flights for only 50 euro. There are no Air Asia flights from Siem Reap or Phen Phnom to Hanoi. I haven't checked other airlines but I was told Air Asia are the cheapest in the region by far.

>Is 500 Euros enough well that would really depend on where you stay and where and how much you party

Well I'm trying to budget my accomdation on 15 euros a night, targeting guesthouses and private rooms in hostels. From looking at trip adviser it seems to be doable. I've no problem living off the local street food....never understand why people would go half way across the world to eat burgers and pizzas anyway!

As for partying, I imagine I will be going out every night but will be taking it easy on the drink. I'm a moderate drinking, by Irish standards anyway and seeing as how I will be on my own I would be wary about getting too drunk.



Another question for everyone, I will be living in Hanoi for 8 weeks. I will be working during the weekdays but will be free for the weekends, what are some weekend trips you would recommend that would be near Hanoi??

I obviously plan on going to Halong Bay, but where else?

#5 NFT_Terrorist has been a member since 13/5/2014. Location: Ireland. Posts: 5

Posted by chinarocks on 15/5/2014 at 14:37

With internal flights you can really see anywhere in the country on a weekend trip, preferably with a Friday or Monday thrown in as well.

Sapa and Ninh Binh are options by overland. But, maybe more preferable on a weekend trip, you can also fly to Hue or Hoi An / Danang in an hour.

Saigon is only a two hour flight. I found Jetstar very good for such flights.

#6 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740

Posted by noddytravel on 15/5/2014 at 18:42

with such limited time you should have just flown into Vietnam and spent your time looking around there, so many great places and scenery to visit. I can understand wanting to see more, but it is so rushed. I love Bangkok, but never understand why anyone would spend a few days there on such limited time, im lucky and never have a schedule, and as much as I love it, I would suggest a trip west to kanchanaburi for 2-3 days as opposed to spending that time trying to navigate the city (though that is really easy, but im not sure for you as you haven't travelled).
if its beaches you are after, then Ko Samet is a good call, the whole coast down there is nice, Rayong, Ban Phe. nothing special but Samet still has some decent beaches if you go exploring away from 'town'.
pattaya has a **** beach that you wont want to swim in and although it has a lot to offer re entertainment, it is pretty much just party central.
Siem Reap shouldn't require much time, depends on how many times you go to Temples. if staying longer in Cambodia, go explore out of the city, it is an amazing country.
1 yes use a backpack
2 I would keep it a loose schedule, esp in regards to accommodation. it will be low season and you can get better deals on the ground with some bargaining
500 euro? doable but could be tight if going out every night.

#7 noddytravel has been a member since 18/2/2014. Location: Australia. Posts: 25
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Posted by MADMAC on 15/5/2014 at 21:49

Stuart, your bias is showing through.

It all depends on why he chose Pattaya. You assumed he was looking for a beach location. That may or may not be a correct assumption - he didn't specify.

NFT - If Thailand is the Mecca of sex for sale, then Pattaya is the Kaba. Pattaya is sex party central. Travelfish has a heavy bias against the extremely prevelent sex industry in SEA (and Thailand in particular) with lots of condescending views towards it on display here. So if that's your motivation - don't look for advice here. It's the elephant in the room that is avoided here at all costs. Kind of like Lonely Planet in that regard.

BTW myu grandfather was born in County Cork Ireland in 1895.

#8 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by chinarocks on 16/5/2014 at 01:44

I see we have another unprompted rant about sex for sale...

#9 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740

Posted by MADMAC on 16/5/2014 at 02:37

Rant? China, it was a comment, not a "rant".

NFT China is one of those guys I was talking about.

#10 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by NFT_Terrorist on 16/5/2014 at 04:48

@MADMAC

where in cork?

Well I'm not here to debate the morals of the Sex Industry, but I will say I was planning on going to Pattaya because I was looking for a beach resort to the east of Bangkok.

Therefore I could go straight from there to Siem Reap. Also as I said I do enjoy the nightlife and have heard stories about Pattaya being a good party town. I know it has a reputation as being a very seedy town, what with the prevalent sex industry and all. I wouldn't really be interested in that sort of thing but it doesn't bother me at all.

If not Pattaya is there anywhere else on the coast east of Bangkok?

Also any good tips on where to stay in Bangkok, I'm looking to stay in a typical backpacker area to meet other travelers as well as somewhere within a walking distance of good nightlife?


Oh and one last thing, I heard that most ATMs in Thailand and SE Asia in general have a fee for withdrawing money, something like 150 baht.

This is only 2 or 3 euro but I'm sure over time it would add up, I'm on quite budget so would you advise me to to apply for a visa card for this trip and try to use only card transactions. Currently I only have a visa debit card with my bank?

#11 NFT_Terrorist has been a member since 13/5/2014. Location: Ireland. Posts: 5

Posted by chinarocks on 16/5/2014 at 05:11

I have never expressed any condescending views on this matter. I just fail to see the relevance of your post given the OP's earlier comments (and as confirmed by his latest one) never indicated any desire to explore a sex orientated holiday.

In any event, let's not get sidetracked.

#12 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740

Posted by MADMAC on 16/5/2014 at 07:34

"Well I'm not here to debate the morals of the Sex Industry, but I will say I was planning on going to Pattaya because I was looking for a beach resort to the east of Bangkok."

Then I'm with Stuart. My wife likes Koh Samet as well.

"where in cork?"

I have no idea.

"Also any good tips on where to stay in Bangkok, I'm looking to stay in a typical backpacker area to meet other travelers as well as somewhere within a walking distance of good nightlife?"

I like Sukhimvite, but it's not a backpacker area. More popular with expats. Some of the other guys can tell you about the Khao San area, which definitely isn't my thing.

On the cash thing you could go with travellers checks, but personally I'd stick with the ATM and suck up the fees.

China - He didn't say one way or the other. I was just explaining Stuarts comment and letting him know the deal (which in point of fact he was already aware of). You were the one who felt the need to then comment on it... indicating you do have an issue with it. If you didn't, you wouldn't have felt the need to comment. Just sayin'...

NFT have a great trip. Let us know how it works out.

#13 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957


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