Photo: Street food Phetchaburi Soi 10, Bangkok.

Southeast Asia forum

First time solo backpacker in SEA ??

Posted by Intrepid82 on 29/7/2009 at 10:24

I have an image of myself meandering through SEA at a laid back pace over 3 months, taking in a range of things including pristine islands and beaches, rainforests, hill tribe treks,villages, temples, bustling markets etc etc......

Maybe it's a quarter-life crisis....I'm nearly thirty.

I had been planning a 3 week group tour around Cambodia and Laos BUT I cant escape the feeling that if there is anywhere on earth that I should go for my first ever solo backpacking journey it should be here! Have I been brainwashed by 'The Beach' or is it totally do-able?!

If I had the luxury of three months I would also want to include Thailand and Vietnam.

I have no idea how much I would need to have saved to cover those 4 countries, and I am slightly worried that I may not cope well on my own for such a length of time.

Would I be biting off a bit much considering I have no backpacking experience? The longest holidays I've been on were 5 and 8 weeks, staying with friends/family AND hotels.

Am I too long in the tooth to be starting out now?

Are there any other first time backpackers over 25 out there?! I'd love to hear about your experiences and anything you'd do differently!

#1 Intrepid82 has been a member since 21/4/2009. Posts: 33

Posted by BruceMoon on 29/7/2009 at 11:21


At 32 posts, you have asked heaps of questions and seen lots of replies.

I get the feeling that worry is starting to plague you.

On other posts, I've given you advice as to how to travel without a tour company. That is, on your own.

My first suggestion here would be to stop worrying.

It matters little where you first land in SE Asia. Everything will be so amazingly confrontational: if YOU will allow it to be confrontational. You won't know the language, you'll not have a clue about transport, you'll have never heard of the places on maps, etc., etc..

Once your head comes to terms with the fact that you are not the first person to have done what you are doing, I suggest you'll be able to cope. Why would you be so different to all the other first time backpackers? And, they coped OK!!!

I assume you'll have a good travel guide. I use Lonely Planet, but there are others (go look at this Travelfish page).

One important aspect of the travel guide is that you will be heading for places that everyone else has on their itinerary. So, on one hand you will be meeting loads of other backpackers. On the other hand, you'll not necessarily be experiencing the local culture in the local (or 'natural') setting. On this topic, try reading this.

Once you get out of the major city, be it Bangkok, SaiGon, etc., you will find yourself staying at places with other backpackers. This is especially so if you use Travelfish as your accommodation guide. I also suggest that you will be talking to other backpackers and you will get loads of advice about places to stay, places to see, things to do (and not do), etc.. The essential issue here is that YOU ask questions of others. Put simply YOU start the conversation going.

There will be times when you meet another backpacker and the two (or more) of you will join for a while to do/see/visit/etc.. Others do, so why shouldn't you?

As for finances, elsewhere on Travelfish, people have asked and I'd suggest that generally, if you don't spend like a millionaire's wife, then somewhere in the range of US$20-25/day will see you enjoy comforts and be able to travel at leisure. But, you can do it for less.

You are not starting out too late in life. My 'beginning' was decades later than your beginning will be.

I suggest the only problem you will experience is your own mental attitude.

Please, stop worrying, and go and see SE Asia for as long as time/finances will allow, and have fun doing it.


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

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Posted by MADMAC on 29/7/2009 at 13:07

Very good advice from Bruce here. You're worrying too much. This place is so easy to get along - just chill and don't let the small things bother you. If they do bother you - don't show it. Just stay cool and you can have a great time here.

In my opinion (somewhat at variance with others here) the most wonderful thing about this place is the people. Don't worry about social faux pas' too much. Do something wrong, just say I'm sorry, and almost anything is quickly forgiven.

On top of that, outside of tourist areas you will be somewhat of a novelty. This makes nightlife here more fun because it's easy to find people to drink with, woman to hang out with.

Bruce is right, just come, relax, and figure your way around. It's not that hard and the challenges are part of the fun.

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