Posted by ParchedKiwi on 6/4/2017 at 13:29
I have 6-8 months around S.E.A planned and I am pumped! First time backpacking, solo, all that good stuff.
And what sort of budding backpacker would I be without itinerary paranoia! Here's what I've put together just based on what I've seen in regards to weather, high low seasons, expensiveness etc..
Indonesia - September
Thailand - October
Cambodia - November
Vietnam - December
Laos - January
Myanmar - February
Philippines - March ???
I am in no way attached to this plan it's just the best I could come up with in terms of weather, not backtracking too much, avoiding peak seasons at least somewhat etc.. I've left off Malaysia only because I'm told Indonesia is similar and better in many ways but I'm open to adding it in. My interests for travel include beach/island life, nature/landscapes, some partying and festivals, temples, small towns, large towns, cities.. just everything really. I need to get my PADI somewhere as well.
My ideal plan was to start in Thailand as it sounds like the perfect country to get a taste of backpacking but I don't want to waste it on bad weather which appears to be the case in September (when I want to head to my first destination).
SO I guess what I'm asking is, if you had ~ 7 months in S.E.A starting in Sept where would you be going and in what order?
#1 ParchedKiwi has been a member since 6/4/2017. Posts: 6
Posted by DLuek on 7/4/2017 at 00:24 TF writer
If you want to hit Thai islands I'd suggest going in November, February or March if possible; October is very rainy on the Gulf side and still pretty rainy on the Andaman side as well. It gets better on the Andaman side in November, but you can't beat February-March. (December-January is also great for weather but more crowded and higher room rates as it's peak season.) Thailand is central so you could always hit parts of it in October and then swing back through in February/March.
Something like this would make a lot of sense from October to February/March: Fly from Indonesia to Bangkok, head through Cambodia, then into Southern Vietnam and up to Central and Northern Vietnam, then into Laos, then into Northeastern and/or Northern Thailand, then into Burma and then back into Thailand for the islands. Or you could do that in reverse; would work pretty much the same.
You could do all of that overland or break it up with short-leg flights -- budget airlines worth keeping in mind include AirAsia, Jetstar, VietJet, Lao Central, Nok Air, Thai Smile and Tiger Air. Come March you could head to the Philippines, or swing through Malaysia and Singapore, or hit another part of Indonesia, or just stick around Thailand and fly home from Bangkok.
But I'd suggest leaving it open-ended enough to stay in one place for a while if you feel it. Great experiences often come from getting to know a place fairly well, making friends with locals/expats and beginning to feel what it would be like to live there, rather than just zipping through.
Also, unless you're young and just looking to party and meet other travelers, it's good to have some ideas in terms of what you hope to get out of such a long trip. Along with the diving you might consider trying to learn the basics of one or more languages; doing a meditation or yoga retreat; studying history, religions and/or art; learning muay Thai; learning/improving photography or travel writing; learning about refugee situations and/or minority groups; or volunteering in any number of ways. Things like that help to guide the trip along, putting wind in your sails and making it meaningful.
#2 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,348
Posted by ParchedKiwi on 7/4/2017 at 19:16
Ah DLuek you're a star! Exactly the sort of guidance I was hoping for and I really appreciate you taking the time to write it out.
Your general list sounds great as a simple guideline and I'll start basing my planning around that. I figured that jumping in and out of Thailand might be the way to go and it was frustrating not being able to find specific details on how that might work.
As you've said from October, would you agree that Indonesia would be the best place to start in September in terms of weather and accessibility? How is it for a first time backpacker? I'm not overly worried and wholly anticipate a few (many?) bumps in the road so as long as it's not going to overwhelm me to start off there instead of in Thailand then I'm happy.
Also I'm more than happy to let the wind take me where it will! But I figure you've got to have a path in mind first in order to be swept off of it.
Great advice on how to get the most out of a longer trip. I'm 24 so I feel like I can enjoy a combination of what makes travel exciting, culture and adventures. I'm going to be using this time to work on my travel writing to see if it's something I'd like to really commit to and I'll also be casually scouting out places to potentially live one day! So with that in mind I'll be making an effort to really engage with the communities beyond a standard site-seeing mentality.
Thank you again, you've helped me immeasurably.
#3 ParchedKiwi has been a member since 6/4/2017. Posts: 6
Posted by DLuek on 8/4/2017 at 00:47 TF writer
I don't know Indonesia well so not really sure about weather (it was pretty nice in Bali when I was there in September a few years back), but I'd say that ease of accessibility depends on where you go. A trip to Bali, the Gilis and/or Yogyakarta would be pretty easy since those are all popular destinations. But going deep into, say, Sumatra or Sulawesi, would obviously be more challenging. If you're coming from New Zealand I'd say it makes good sense to start or finish with Indonesia due to the geography -- it's pretty much separate from the rest of SE Asia as far as travel planning is concerned.
I'd advise you to research as much as possible so that you have a decent handle on a) options (i.e. destinations and opportunities that look interesting to you) and b) logistics (i.e. what visas you'll need and where you can acquire them on the road, potential border crossing points, flight options, and just how to get from one place to the next in the most efficient ways). A lot of nuts and bolts kind of stuff can be found here on TF under Planning, Itineraries, and then in the Beginners sections that you'll find after clicking on any country. Preparing yourself like that will make it much easier to be spontaneous once you're on the road. Happy planning!
#4 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,348
Posted by ParchedKiwi on 8/4/2017 at 22:15
Cheers DLuek, I will indeed be coming from NZ.
Yes good call, I've researched a lot in regards to the fun stuff but I really should get the technical aspects sorted as well. I'll take a look at the guides you've suggested.
Thanks for putting everything in perspective!
#5 ParchedKiwi has been a member since 6/4/2017. Posts: 6
Posted by rosaw1 on 10/5/2017 at 14:53
Thank you for your post and DLuek for your VERY helpful response. ParchedKiwi, I am 25 and going travelling for the first time for 6/7 months (from UK) but starting in October - weirdly also want to go to the same places as you! I have basically been as lost as you with the planning but this answer seems a very good place for me to start - I just hope the weather is good enough in Indonesia in October? Have you had any more insights that you care to share with me? I am so overwhelmed about planning all of this, it's a bigger task than I had imagined!
#6 rosaw1 has been a member since 6/5/2017. Posts: 4
Posted by ParchedKiwi on 10/5/2017 at 18:34
Hey! That's awesome, I love coming across people who've asked the exact questions I have, glad it helped you out :)
So Dlueks answer pretty much solved most of my concerns in terms of weather. I researched each country in more detail with his suggestions in mind and given everything (weather, flow of travel, avoiding the absolute peak of peak seasons etc) I've ended up with loose plans that look like this:
Indonesia - Sept
Cambodia - Oct
Vietnam - Nov
Laos - Dec
(Maybe a week in northern Thailand between Laos and Myanmar to celebrate New Years)
Myanmar - Jan
Thailand - Feb
Philippines - March
Which I'm really happy with as a very general guide. As to your questionon Indonesia in October heres a link to a cool website.
Yuu can search country by month. I'm not sure how accurate it is but seems to give a fair overview. Also just try googling for peoples experiences in October for an overview.
Other than that the only thing I have to had is that Indonesia is huge and there's no way a month is enough to see it all without being silly. So I'll be flying into yagyokarta on Java and making my way east to eventually end up at the Gili islands which I think is a good way to spend the month, trying to work in Borneo though I'll see when I'm there.
But yeah don't feel too overwhelmed, I think that once you're there it all falls into place. I also think overplanning can freak you out a bit, but I also find it very fun so I can't help it. Just make sure you know the deal with visas for each country and keep in mind you may need to buy a cheap bus ticket or something out of the country to 'prove' you have onward travel.
Oh and everyone says to skip Jakarta. Normally I'd see for myself but I've never seen so much unity on a subject so I'm taking the advice!
#7 ParchedKiwi has been a member since 6/4/2017. Posts: 6
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