Hi, I am a 19 year old male and hoping to travel Thailand, Laos, Cambodia & Vietnam for 2 months. I want to leave in about 4 weeks and wondered how much planning is really needed. I am going solo and was thinking about just buying a single ticket to Bangkok with a rough outline of all the sites I want to see and in what order, and then taking every day as it comes. I will be travelling solo so I want to meet up with other backpackers and adjust my route accordingly.
Few quick questions as well:
- Is it simplest to just buy a visa for Thailand before and buy all the others at the borders?
- Roughly how much should I expect to spend per day on food and sleeping?
- What vaccinations do I need?
#1 gemuuu has been a member since 24/2/2011. Posts: 6
You probably won't need a visa for Thailand. If you're flying into Bangkok you're going to get 30 days automatically and for free. If you're going to those other places it is unlikely that you'll be in Thailand longer than 30 days in one go.
You should get your visa for Vietnam in advance, though. Visas for Laos and Cambodia you can get when you cross into those countries (or in advance ... up to you.) You might want to get your Vietnamese visa as soon as you get to Bangkok just to get it out of the way and sorted.
Bring U$ for border crossings (and for your Vietnamese visa) and get a bunch of passport-size black and white photos made before you leave Thailand. Nearly every town in the country will have a photo shop that can do this for you, and very inexpensively.
How much you spend will depend on how you like to live. I usually get by on $20 - $30 CDN per day depending on where I am and what I'm doing, and that's living quite comfortably and not doing without. It's possible to get by for much less if you want. On some days I won't spend more than $15.
As for planning, it sounds like you know how to go about doing things. Go with an idea of what you'd like to do and when you get there see how things go and fine-tune. You'll probably change things along the way. It's part of the fun of bumming around a place like SE Asia.
I'm not going to comment on vaccinations. You'd be better to go to a travel clinic, or your doctor to ask. After all, you'll probably have to go to one of those to get your shots in the first place, anyway if you decide to get any.
I'm in the same boat as you - I'd like to visit Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia in about 4-6 weeks. Go see a doctor immediately, because as I am finding out, some of the shots may need to be spaced out over a period of weeks, or take time to become effective.
Also, Tilapia, thank you very much for your info
Thanks very much for the great info! Is there any particular reason for needing US$ for border crossings? (I am from the UK). Cost sounds great, will give me plenty of time to get things done.
That just reminded me of another thing I was unsure of.. where is the best place to change my money?
gottagetaway - Have you already been to see a doctor? Will try and book an appointment ASAP, shame as I had one last week and didn't think to ask! Hope everything goes well for you on your trip, we might even bump into eachother!
#4 gemuuu has been a member since 24/2/2011. Posts: 6
The best place to change money in Bangkok is at a money changer. You get better rates than a bank. Look up superrich. I usually would just go to a bank as I wasn't changing large enough amounts of money to justify going out of my way.
The worst place to change money is usually at the airport. So only change a small amount for taxi and incidental expenses.
There are various travel med sites but they are no substitute for your own doctor's advise. They do give some info so you can be an informed patient.
The biggest dilemma you will probably face is whether to do malaria prophylaxis or not. That will depend which countries you will visit and your itinerary in the country. Your doctor might recommend malaria prophylaxis due to a lack of familiarity with the local situation. There are many areas where it will be enough for you to take precautions like insect repellent/mosquito nets, etc.
See here and be sure to discuss with your doctor. Be sure to look at the country index.
"The worst place to change money is usually at the airport"
true for western airports but thai airports very little difference
you may need an onward ticket outta thailand to even board the plane to get there. cant just turn up without a visa and no onward ticket unless the airline staff are very slack.
vietnam visa easier to buy at home.
"The biggest dilemma you will probably face is whether to do malaria prophylaxis or not."
Not really. isnt that common unless staying in remote areas.
most common shots are hep a and b. tetanus booster too if you havent had one in years and typhoid.
#6 Krabiman has been a member since 2/1/2011. Posts: 223
Hi Gemu im from the UK like u and starting my trip in 4 weeks. U should head to a doctor soon and get the following vaccinations. go to ur local GP
Hep A (free)
Hep B (£155 for 3 weeks crash course this is because you don't have enough time to do the 6 months course)
Get a tourist visa with 2 entries from the thai-embassy in london. Its free. I got mine and i am allowed to stay 60 days at each entry.
#7 greektraveller has been a member since 24/1/2011. Posts: 44
Got my doctor's appointment for tomorrow so should be sorted with that.
Krabiman, by "onward ticket out of Thailand," what if I am not flying out of Thailand, but either Laos or Hong Kong? Is this a problem in any of the other countries?
Thanks again for all the great info, will be sure to help out others once I'm back!
#8 gemuuu has been a member since 24/2/2011. Posts: 6
Just done some research on the needing proof of return ticket for Thailand, does anyone know of an airline I can use that has fully refundable tickets?
Or - can a train ticket out of the country count?
#9 gemuuu has been a member since 24/2/2011. Posts: 6
either buy a return ticket which is sensible or buy a cheap ticket from thailand to laos thru air asia and use it. land crossing into thailand gives you 15 days, by air 30 days. so it would be a whole lot easier if you book your flights ahead.
countries dont want backpackers with no visa and no onward tickets hanging around. people used to stay on in thailand for years without visas and they got sick of it.
#10 Krabiman has been a member since 2/1/2011. Posts: 223
I arrived in thailand on a one way ticket and triple entry visa without any problems.
Is there any particular reason for needing US$ for border crossings?
I crossed the border from lao into cambodia & they ONLY take USD (as do many borders) I would suggest you have an assortment of bills: ones, tens & twenties. be prepared to pay random fees from Lao to cambodia: quarantine fee, afternoon fee, processing fee etc. usually 1-2 USD a pop. It doesn't do any good to argue, as some travelers on our bus found out. They argued about the 2 USD departure fee from Lao & they got their passports stamped with an invalid stamp, which was discovered by the Cambodian side & they had to go back through the whole process again.
You can get a 30 day VOA to Lao and you can pay in USD or Thai baht, but it is a total rip off if you pay in Baht.You end up paying about 30% more that way.
If you decide to go to Koh Chang ( very beautiful) I would recommend Nature Beach Resort on Lonely Beach (south of the island) - the crowd is around your age , backpackers from all over the world. I think they have a page on face book.
Some great advice here. I think that heading to SE Asia with no time restraints is a great idea. With regards to your Thai visa situation, I agree with Krabiman on this one, its best to buy a cheap AirAsia ticket out of Thailand and into Laos or Cambodia. Although, I have travelled into Thailand many times on a one way ticket without proof of onward travel and it has never been a problem. Still, better to be safe than sorry.
A 30 day visa should be enough, unless you plan to return to Thailand at some point in your trip and then I would recommend sorting a double-entry visa before you fly just to be on the safe side. Not sure where you are in the UK, but as far as I am aware you can still go in person to the embassy in London, or simply send your passport to Hull. There is a waiver on tourist visas right now at least until March 31st so I'd do it as soon as you can.
With regards to vaccinations, this advice may be too late now but your GP is likely to try to sell you some kind of anti-malarial. I know there is a huge debate about this and honestly, its really up to you whether or not you decide to go for it. My opinion is that its better to wear protection and cover up as much as you can, especially since there is no vaccination for dengue fever which is much more common here. The only thing I would say is that if you do decide to go with the medication, buy it in Bangkok. The pharmacies are great here, and you'll pay a whole lot less than the 100 pounds a friend of mine just paid for a three week course!
Have a great time!
#13 ButterflyGlove has been a member since 20/2/2011. Posts: 7
Thanks again everyone for all the help.
In terms of Malaria, I am planning on taking it when I go to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, but not in Thailand. I have seen a lot of posts saying it is not necessary, but for peace of mind I am getting Malarone. Have decided against Japanese Enciphilitis, but am getting Rabies.
I will be flying in and out of Bangkok, but flying out 3 months after I arrive. If I get a 90 day visa, but leave the country to visit Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, can I return on the same visa? And presumably proof of the return ticket and my 90 day visa would be enough to allow me in. Also what did you mean by a waiver on visas?
#14 gemuuu has been a member since 24/2/2011. Posts: 6