I am attempting to put together a trip to South East Asia for this summer. Any advice or answers to the following questions would be incredibly helpful.
How bad is the rainy season during mid June to mid July? How much will it affect our trip?
What is the cheapest way to get frow the U.S to South East Asia as well as the cheapest ways to get around once we are there? (Has anyone used Cathay Pacific's All Asia pass?)
What is a fair budget for a 5 week trip including airfare?
How safe is SEA, particularily Thailand, for American tourists?
I have heard Laos and Cambodia are fairly similar? Is it worth sacraficing travel time in Vietnam and Thailand to see both Cambodia and Laos?
#1 nateyu has been a member since 30/10/2007. Posts: 9
1) Different parts of the region are affected by different monsoons. For example, Thailand's Andaman Coast is soaking wet, while Central Vietnam is bone dry. Take a look at the weather links for each country off the Travelfish homepage for detailed information on each country.
2) Most tend to fly via Korea/Japan/Taiwan - though depends on carrier. Generally the US carriers are more expensive. Once in the region, it depends where you are going. For example, Bangkok Airway's Discovery Airpass is an excellent deal for regional flights -- see their website for more information.
3) Difficult to guess without having an idea of what kind of accommodation you're considering, but a typical backpacker budget is around US$20-25 a day, flashpacker US$25-50.
4) depends where you are going, but by and large it's probably safer than wherever you live! Only area which should probably be avoided is far southern Thailand, but given there's not a lot of tourist highlights down there, it's not generally a big problem.
The main "hassle" is petty theft.
5) Laos is mountainous and very beautiful with a wealth of temples and river scenery, all with a very laidback feel. Cambodia is predominantly flat with average beaches. It has a similar laidback feel, but some areas, particularly the capital, Phnom Penh, have more of an edge to them. The highlight is Angkor Wat which is absolutely worth seeing. Generally speaking, you need more time to get a lot out of Laos, while the highlights of Cambodia (Angkor and Phnom Penh) can be seen in a matter of days.
If you're planning on seeing all four countries in 5 weeks, I'd definitely look into the Discovery Airpass mentioned above.
Hope that helps
#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,798
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Thank you, that does help a great deal. I was wondering when you say "soaking wet" does that mean that that region will not be enjoyable or worth going to? We would like to spend some time on the thai beaches and maybe do some scuba diving. Is this unrealistic during that time of year?
I was also curious on how easy it was to travel by train or boat through SEA. How much time/money/hassle would we save by choosing to fly?
#3 nateyu has been a member since 30/10/2007. Posts: 9
If you want to do scuba diving this time of year then either head to Ko Tao where the weather shouldn't be too bad - either that or do it in Vietnam, I believe Nha Trang's weather is great this time of year.
Also if it were me I wouldn't miss out Laos - i travelled for 6 months round South East Asia a couple of years ago and Laos was the highlight. The people in Laos are without a doubt the friendliest, most laidback people I've ever met and Luang Prabang was the most beautiful city we saw! However I agree with Somtam - to see it all you will definitely need to get some flights!!
#4 rocketgirl has been a member since 1/10/2007. Posts: 22
In terms of flights from US, try China Airlines. I've flown with them a couple of times and had a great experience. Three weeks ago I flew one way from Buffalo to Bangkok for $630 USD. Return would have been about 900$. I flew US Airways to San Fran and China Airlines from San Fran to Bangkok. The cheapest is to get your ticket directly from China Airlines from their website. (They are a Taiwanese company by the way.)