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Southeast Asia forum

Advice on grand tour of the region

Posted by Dylan on 29/5/2009 at 03:05

Hi all,

I am currently planning a 3-month-ish trip to Thailand-Laos-Vietnam. I plan on leaving from NY in October, and I have no restrictions on the time I spend in the region (yay!)

I plan on flying into Bangkok, heading north in Thailand via train, spend a few weeks trekking in the north. I'll cross into Laos at the Huay Xai / Chiang Khong border, make my way down to Vientianne via the Mekong, then after a flight to Hanoi, take short train rides down the length of Vietnam (stopping/lazing at will along the way).

Since my itinerary is largely unstructured and flexible, am I better off buying a one-way flight into BKK from NY, then purchasing a one-way back from Saigon? Or is the financial penalty for buying two one-way tickets so severe that I'm better off buying a multi-city ticket (NY to BKK, then SGN-NY) and making sure I reach Saigon by my scheduled departure?

This is my first time in the region, and I would love to remain unfettered by any tight schedule.

Thanks in advance for your help!

#1 Dylan has been a member since 21/3/2009. Posts: 25

Posted by KirstyB on 29/5/2009 at 12:19

In most instances, a return will work out a fair bit cheaper than 2 one ways. Why don't you get two quotes for your flights - one for a one-way NYC-BKK and one for the return return back from SGN. The difference will give you a good idea of what you will need to be able to purchase the one-way home whilst in Vietnam for in order for it to make sense financially.

A return ticket will only become more expensive if you end up forfeiting the return leg and buying another ticket home. The cheapest tickets will have the most restrictions so if you think there is a high chance you may extend your trip way beyond the 3 months and have the flexibility to do so, eg fall in love with the region, decide you MUST also make it to Cambodia and so travel via the Vietnamese Delta into Cambodia and then overland back to Bangkok....... maybe flexibility should be your priority over cost. Depends if you are an off-plan kind of guy or deep down feel you will stick to your 3 months (in which case don't try and cram too much in!).

Hope that ramble helps a little!

#2 KirstyB has been a member since 27/7/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 151
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Posted by Dylan on 29/5/2009 at 21:57


The difference between a multi-city roundtrip (~$1200) and two one-ways (~$700 each) is significant, but not wildly prohibitive.

My real concern is getting a flight when I arrive in this a hard thing to do? Or will any travel agent shop be able to get me a not-too-expensive flight on short notice? Are they notorious for overcharging/shady dealing?

#3 Dylan has been a member since 21/3/2009. Posts: 25

Posted by brucemoon on 30/5/2009 at 20:07


If you want to be unfettered, then book a one way only.

Returning to NY is really only a matter of booking a flight from a centre that offers reasonable prices. If you have to go to Singapore, a Jetstar or Tiger flight won't cost you much. Similarly, you may prefer to depart from Manilla or Hong Kong.

The point, though, is that if you want to hang loose, then you never know where you end up. For example, you may have entered Yunnan (China) and leave from Shanghai.

When in SE Asia, there doesn't have to be 'have to be'.


#4 brucemoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by Dylan on 1/6/2009 at 23:40

Thanks for the advice--some good food for thought.

#5 Dylan has been a member since 21/3/2009. Posts: 25

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