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Thailand forum


Posted by Jay7777 on 10/10/2017 at 04:49


I am an 63 year old, and would love to back-pack across Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.
However, accepting the limitations posed, I have decided that it may be easier to join a tour group.
I would like to spend 2 months on tour, mainly cultural, with good amenities, tour guides,
organized, with visas etc

If you have done this type of trip, please recommend, the Tour company and any other advise, will be much appreciated.

#1 Jay7777 has been a member since 23/3/2017. Posts: 1

Posted by exacto on 10/10/2017 at 15:23

Hi Jay,

I'm afraid I haven't done a two-month organized tour in Southeast Asia, so can't recommend a specific company for you. I have done several organized tours, however, including a 1-week trip in Far North Queensland, and 2-week tours each in Turkey and Baja California.

Based on those tours and my own experience as an independent traveler in Asia, I think two months would be too long to be on an organized tour. I just think that is too long to be in a situation where someone else sets the pace and the agenda for you.

As an alternative, perhaps you would consider doing shorter tours in the places you mention, and fill in the gaps with some independent travel and day tours. Thailand is a great place to get started and to get your legs under you with a shorter tour, then perhaps move on to another country. Mixing it up will give you a chance to get the best of both worlds, build in some flexibility to revisit places you particularly like, and spare you from being confined with the same people for your entire trip, because, even though I'm sure you'll like and get along with most of the people on tour with you, there is always at least one person in every group that will rub you the wrong way that you'll be glad to escape at the end of the tour.

I hope that helps. Go on you for hitting the road. Have a great trip. Cheers.

#2 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,755
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Posted by DerekH on 11/10/2017 at 00:13

Don’t do tours just backpack it is easy. Use travel fish as a guide. I have done Thailand,Laos and Cambodia on a month in each place and enjoyed it and is easy to do in one go. You meet some very friendly people when you backpack and helpfull. I’m 69. Just do it cheers and safe travels.

#3 DerekH has been a member since 24/9/2016. Posts: 4

Posted by DerekH on 11/10/2017 at 00:14

Don’t do tours just backpack it is easy. Use travel fish as a guide. I have done Thailand,Laos and Cambodia on a month in each place and enjoyed it and is easy to do in one go. You meet some very friendly people when you backpack and helpfull. I’m 69. Just do it cheers and safe travels.

#4 DerekH has been a member since 24/9/2016. Posts: 4

Posted by Megaworldasia365 on 13/10/2017 at 21:42

Hi Jay,

Something which you may want to consider is tourism v travel. In my experience they are two different entities. Tourism is mainly about packaged, conveyor belt sightseeing with emphasis being on the group. In other words the idea of individualism and a sense of adventure aren't really part of it. Having lived in the S.E. Asian region for the best part of twenty years and traveled extensively through the countries on your target list, I will say categorically the most unsatisfying tourism experiences are in Thailand. However with a little bit of planning and application you can still have a good independent travel experience there without too much difficulty. If you're coming to Thailand first I would say straight off the bat avoid Phuket, Samui, and Chang Mai because those places are about to enter into their respective high seasons and the crowds (particularly from mainland China) will be of nightmare proportions. One of the best off the beaten track places with less crowds and a lot of great things to see is just 300 - 400 km south of Bangkok. Take the train down to Hua Hin and/or Prachuap Khiri Khan . Book into a guesthouse, hire a motor bike to get around or go on day trips with local tour companies. From Hua Hin there is two exceptionally good National Parks just to the south; Khao Sam Roi Yot and Kui Buri National Parks. Kui Buri National Park is the best place in Thailand to see herds of wild elephants in their natural habitat. Day tours can be arranged easily from Hua Hin. Prachuap Khiri Khan is approx 90 km south of Hua Hin and is one of the best coastal scenic spots in Thailand. It's got pristine beaches and lots of inexpensive guesthouses which overlook the ocean.

For more in-depth information on the above mentioned attractions, check out my travel blog: megaworldasia dot com - South East Asia's off the beaten track specialist.

#5 Megaworldasia365 has been a member since 26/8/2017. Posts: 20

Posted by daawgon on 18/10/2017 at 05:20

Posted from within Vietnam.

Easier yes, but considerably less rewarding! It's easy to get around here.

When you go on tour you stay in hotels picked by the tour company (usually not as nice as what one would have chosen) - same goes for the restaurants (you also pay more on tour!) I'm 74 and I speak from experience.

If you want a more rewarding trip do it on your own, but also do considerable research right here on TF and please take their advice not to crowd your trip with too many short stops.

#6 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,146
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Posted by SBE on 20/10/2017 at 15:14

Agree with the others, do it on your own! I've seen 80 year olds backpacking in places that aren't exactly easy to get to in Indonesia so your itinerary should be very doable all on your own unless the "limitations posed" mean you're in wheelchair or something. Pavements/sidewalks aren't wheelchair friendly in most of SE Asia so you probably would need someone to help you get around if you're severely physically handicapped. If you're just worried that 63 is too old, forget it, there are loads of silver-haired backpackers in SE Asia and it's a lot easier than you might imagine.

As far as tours are concerned... there's no shortage of local travel agencies who can arrange similar day trips and tours at short notice and it'll probably cost way less than what a tour operator in your home country charges. You'll have more freedom to choose if you arrange tours once you're there.... if you're tired/ill and want to take a day off or decide you'd rather do something else, you'll be free to do so. If you find a place you love you'll be able to prolong your stay there or you can move on fast if one of the places you've chosen to visit turns out to be not so great.

If you're staying in Thailand less than 30 days most nationalities don't need a visa, and you can get a visa on arrival in Cambodia and Laos when you go through immigration. Not sure what the current visa situation is for Vietnam, but it's the only place where you might have to arrange a visa in advance.

If it's the first time you've ever done a backpacking trip and you don't know where to start you could always look at the itineraries proposed by tour operators and then tweak then using info provided on Travelfish. TF covers interesting and less visited places that tour operators don't do.

You don't have to decide exactly where you're going before you arrive or book every hotel in advance but it's probably wise to book a hotel for the first night or two. It makes things easier if you know where you're heading from the airport and immigration forms usually ask for the name of your hotel/guesthouse too.

#7 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,051
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Posted by Billkefalonia on 17/11/2017 at 06:07

I am 70 plus my wife mid 60s two years ago we flew into Bangkok from Greece. 3 months travelling with carry on wheelie bags. Visited Thailand North to South and West. Golden Triangle to Singapore, all researched on TF and travelled on local transport with no more than 4 or 5 hours in a bus, train or ferry. Flew to Vietnam then back to Singapore before going on to Bali.
We are returning, flying into Chiangmai Mai from Greece in mid January and intend (back packing) with Carry On Wheelie Bags for 6 weeks into Laos. Mishaps does happen but I feel confident that our trip will be a pleasurable learning curve. I suggest you do as others have suggested and research and just go and keep things fluid.

#8 Billkefalonia has been a member since 14/8/2015. Posts: 2

Posted by oldmontrealguy on 17/11/2017 at 06:59

Hi from Montreal
My wife and I are a couple in our early 60's. Two years ago we took a month and traveled through parts of Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos. We took only small carry-on backpacks for the month and did not go on a tour.
We flew into Bangkok and took the early morning train down to the Cambodian border. We walked across the border (quite the fun experience) and then shared a taxi to Siem Reap. From there on we traveled to Phnom Penh. Saigon, Hoi-An, Hanoi, Ha-Long Bay in Vietnam. Then over to Luang Prabang and Vang Vien in Laos and back to Bangkok.
We were both amazed at how easy and safe it was travelling in that part of the world. As "older" people we were always met with the utmost respect.
I organized all our visas and accommodations (thank you sooo much Travelfish) ahead of time on the internet, and everything went smoothly. It is much more enjoyable staying at a local guest house and hopping on the local bus.
Saying that, if you still feel uncomfortable traveling that way then by all means go with a tour. There is no shame in travelling in a group. The most important thing is that you are travelling and seeing the world. And who knows, maybe like us you will discover, a world which will call you back again.
Happy travels

#9 oldmontrealguy has been a member since 28/12/2014. Posts: 1

Posted by DLuek on 18/11/2017 at 01:20 TF writer

While I've always preferred independent travel, I recognize that some people prefer the ease and security of a tour and I think that's fine. Sure there are plenty of lame tour companies that squish as many people as possible on to a bus and usher them through super-touristy attractions and crummy restaurants, but there are also companies offering far less-manufactured experiences.

One that you might want to check out is All Points East (, which is owned by a part-time Travelfish writer who has decades of experience traveling Asia and is extremely knowledgeable on the region. I guess that recommendation should come with a disclaimer since I'm also a Travelfish writer, but it seems to me that they offer the sorts of small-group, engaging tours that you might be looking for. Another reputable tour company offering extended tours in more than one SE Asian coutnry is Bangkok-based Smiling Albino (

Also I'd say that you might want to aim for something in between a full-on package tour for the whole time, and full-on independent travel for the whole time. For example you could book an extended tour (say a week or two) specializing in destinations that are harder to reach independently, and then spend the rest of your time doing it on your own, perhaps spending more time in destinations with more established tourism infrastructure.

Keep in mind that you can always book day tours as you go if you want help and insights from locals, while arranging your accommodation and transport on your own.

#10 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,287
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