Photo: Street food Phetchaburi Soi 10, Bangkok.

Southeast Asia forum

First time travelling and going solo

Posted by Prairie_Matt on 19/5/2014 at 14:19

Hey Everyone,

I have finally decided to act on a dream I have had for a very long time. I have wanted to backpack through Southeast Asia since I graduated high school but have never had anyone to come with me. I am now ready to go at it alone and not wait for someone.

The Plan:
Head over to Bangkok at the end of April/beginning of May 2015 and take about 5-6 weeks and to go through Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand.

My must-sees:
1.) Angkor Wat
2.) HCMC/Saigon
3.) Mekong Delta
4.) Halong Bay
5.) Chiang Mai
6.) Koh Tao
7.) Koh Samui
8.) Railay/Phi Phi
9.) there are a couple other small places that are day trips from the locations listed above.

Some Questions:
1.) What are some places that I should not bother going to because of weather at that time of year?

2.) Is it dumb to entertain the idea of bringing an iPad with me?

3.) How much cash should someone carry with them at any one time? (Im trying to determine what bank package to get)

4.) Im just under 6'5 and am unsure if I should bring every piece of clothing/footwear with me or will there be my sizes there? (Men's XL tops, 38 waist short/pant and size 13 shoes/sandals)

5.) I am intending on bringing around $4000-$4500 Canadian dollars, after flights to SEA. I am wanting to do a couple night cruise through Halong Bay, PADI certification in Koh Tao, possibly a boat cruise from Phnom Penh to HCMC. I am also intending to take flights from Bangkok to Siem Reap, Hanoi to Bangkok, Bangkok to Chiang Mai (return). I would also like to have a single A/C room for about 2/3 of the time or so. I am not a big drinker so I wont be spending a ton on booze. Will this be enough?

6.) What is a good size bag or the biggest bag to bring to not have to check it on buses/trains/flights within SEA?

7.) What are some things to bring with me that I would not be able to find in SEA?

8.) Any suggestions on a waterproof camera to buy before I go?

Any feedback is greatly appreciated, as are suggestions. Thank you

#1 Prairie_Matt has been a member since 19/5/2014. Posts: 1

Posted by casey_r19 on 20/5/2014 at 18:50

Hi Matt,

Had to leave a comment on this because I was in the exact same position before my first trip to Thailand last June. Waited quite a while for some friends to tag along until I got sick of it. Booked the trip for myself after graduating from college. No regrets. In fact, I enjoyed the trip alone more so than I did after a trip to Costa Rica in February with a good friend.

I'm still a novice, but I will try to answer some of these the best I can.

You're going to get rain. Be prepared. I survived 4 weeks (comfortably) with a few shirts, shorts and a light jacket (which come to think of it, I don't believe was ever used). I brought one pair of shoes and bought a pair of sandals while I was there. I ended up losing both and coming back with a pair I didn't own, but that's besides the point. Unfortunately, I'm a lot smaller than you so I can't answer this question accurately. They do size a lot differently. For instance an XL t-shirt fit me like a medium.

All of my stuff fit easily in a 38 liter pack which I could carry-on with me on flights. I'm sure you can carry-on packs even slightly larger.

Not a dumb idea to bring an iPad. Just be sure to keep it dry and locked/stored safely when you aren't with your bag (obviously I suppose...).

Hope this helps with some of your questions.

#2 casey_r19 has been a member since 27/3/2013. Posts: 16
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Posted by AbigailatPenhandInk on 21/5/2014 at 01:04 TF writer

It'll be hot, hot, hot in Cambodia at that time, although you might also get some rain showers. Get up early to see Angkor Wat temples and take a break in the hottest part of the day - there's plenty of swimming pools in Siem Reap!

No reason not to bring an iPod, just be careful with it - don't keep it in your pocket and don't fall asleep on the bus while you wear it!

You might struggle to buy clothes and shoes in your size in Cambodia - T-shirts not so much of a problem, but trousers etc tend to be on the small/short size.

You'll be able to get a reasonable room with aircon for about US$20 a night (often cheaper). A Western meal in a backpackers cafe will set you back between $3.50 and $6.50. Soft drinks and beers are usually between $1-$1.50, although there's still 75c draught beer to be found!

You will likely have to put your bag under the bus - and with your height, you'll want all the leg room you can muster! Generally passengers just take on a small backpack/handbag (which should contain all of your valuables BTW) and the big bags get stowed. Rucksack theft is not that common, although rummaging for goodies might sometimes happen.

You'd be surprised how much stuff is available in SE Asia, but if you have particular medication needs, bring them along to save hassle.

Hope that helps and happy planning!

#3 AbigailatPenhandInk has been a member since 9/11/2010. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 178
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Posted by noddytravel on 21/5/2014 at 21:17

bring shoes from home, you wont find in your size in Asia!
I travel with ipad, laptop, cameras etc and never had an issue (I have waterproof cover for ipad and waterproof bags) keep all your valuables in one bag that stays with you at all times, maybe invest in one from Pacsafe (google it, and no , I have no affiliation with them whatsoever, just a satisfied customer).
the only time you will need to 'check in' a bag is on flights, no big deal really and I think you are better off to bring the things you want and need rather than worry about having to check in a bag. bus/train travel etc is safe, people worry too much. as with anywhere, be alert.
you are crazy to bring so much cash, never have that much on you mate, only asking for trouble. ATM's are everywhere, use them as you need or enough for a few days/week. yes it will cost you a little extra in fees, but nothing compared to peace of mind. don't travel with lots of cash. I have been in SEAsia for 2 years now so have local bank accounts to avoid the fees, but for 6 weeks, no worries.
the Olympus itough is a great, easy to use waterproof camera.
accommodation is ridiculously cheap, I always have my own room, $10-20, sometimes with breakfast.
safe travels

#4 noddytravel has been a member since 18/2/2014. Location: Australia. Posts: 25
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Posted by hmrolstomt on 23/5/2014 at 19:36

I'm looking for a bicycling partner for a supported tour as tours in my budget have a two person minimum. Any chance you might be interested? I've heard they are a great way to see things. Our trips will overlap and my schedule is flexible so let me know.

Either way, have a great trip!

#5 hmrolstomt has been a member since 23/5/2014. Posts: 10
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Posted by antoniamitchell on 24/5/2014 at 17:09

All good advice, above. The only thing I'd add is that you won't need that much money, unless you plan in staying in higher-end hotels. Many backpackers/flashpackers find they can get along fine on $30-$40US per day, plus extra for the Padi and internal flights.
Have fun,

#6 antoniamitchell has been a member since 13/5/2012. Posts: 541
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