Hey there, I am 25y/o female from UK flying to Bangkok in April for 2 months. I am trying to decide whether or not to book a tour. A friend recomended Intrepid travel (Bankok-Cambodia-Vietnam, 18 days)Has anyone been on one of these tours? I am a bit nervous about travelling solo so the thought of this sounds good...to start with atleast! Thank you :-)
#1 amylou has been a member since 3/12/2009. Posts: 19
As per my knowlegde Intrepid is quite an expensive tour operator.
Thailand is a tourist friendly country. I went there last month (January 2010 end) for a week. If you are citizen of some countries then visa on arrival (VOA) services also possible. Check net for some thailand backpacking ideas.
I hope this works for you. More Questions are welcome.
Hello Amylou! I know exactly how you feel. I set off on my own to Thailand this time last year and I was pretty scared I'd get lost & lonely but as it turned out, this couldn't have been further from the truth! People in Thailand are super-friendly, not just the locals but fellow backpackers too (the land of smiles is contagious). Making friends on the road is inevitable and you will probably find yourself travelling in a group before too long.
Also, as Jayanraj says, organising travel around Thailand is surprisingly simple - there is information in English prettymuch everywhere and many Thais speak good English and are really helpful.
I've not been on a tour (except a 2-night one in Halong Bay) but I've been told they're pretty travel-intense & expensive. Also, if you really like a place, you can't just drop out and stay there for a week without giving up the rest of your prepaid tour. If you have 2 months in Asia it seems like a bit of a waste storming through 3 countries in 18 days!
My personal advice would be: book yourself into a nice guest house in Bangkok, decide where you'd like to visit next (up North? Islands?) and just head out there. Before you know it you will have bumped into someone who is making the same trip.
Take care & write back if you need any extra advice!
Thanks so much for the advice...It's great to get a bit of reasurance and advice from someone with experience! I will hold off on rushing into booking anything, apart from a nice guest house on arrival - Which guest house did you stay in last year Francesstella? or could you recommend one as a starting base for me?
Thanks again - very helpful! A
#4 amylou has been a member since 3/12/2009. Posts: 19
I suggest you to start from Bangkok airport to Pattaya which is just 3 hours away from Bangkok by road. At Bangkok airport counter you can check with some of transport operators. Taxi to pattaya might take minimum 1000 Baht. Pattaya is a small city compared to huge Bangkok. In fact at airport you can check for accommodation also. I went there thr' a Mumbai based tour operator and it was just US $ 500 for me for 6 days (Inclusive of return Air tickets, 3* hotels with B/Fasts, airport transfers, some sightseeing). However I am going to Thailand soon for 15 days. Planning some sort of trekking / hikings in North Thailand. Still collecting information.
From Thailand you can enter Cambodia via some borders. Cambodia is a great place for backpacking. But at present climate could be not so pleasant. I will check net about it. Some of main attractions in Cambodia are Angkor Wat at Siem reap, Phnoem Penh - Cambodia's capital. I will do Cambodia backpacking by end of year 2010 for 25 days. The roads in Cambodia are bumpy so take care of your back. But Cambodians are smiling people. You will like them. Plenty of budget hotels starting from US $ 5 per night.
Regarding Vietnam I went there in November, 2009 for 15 days. You can enter Vietnam from Cambodian Mekong delta area thr' boat as per my knowledge. There are some roads also but I am not sure from where to where. You can start from South vietnam where you can should spend not more than 2/3 days. Central & north vietnam are really beautiful.
Central Vietnam : Da Nang city, Hoi An town, My son Cham sanctuary
North Vietnam : Hanoi city, other day tours near hanoi city.
Do not forget Sapa area visit and Halong bay. Try to spend atleast a night at both these areas. In fact in Hanoi city there are plenty of tour operators who can arrange short tours for you within very short time.
I am sure all these 03 countries in just 18 days could be very fast.
I hope this works for you.
To answer your question, I stayed first at a gorgeous little place called Shambara Boutique Hostel which I actually found through Travelfish (https://www.travelfish.org/accommodation_profile/thailand/bangkok_and_surrounds/bangkok/khao_san_road/all/961) but because it's so hot this time of year I soon moved into B&B Inn on Kao San Road - not very charming but it has a swimming pool! I didn't book in advance, in fact the only places you might have to book are, for example, islands during the Full Moon Party etc.
I haven't been to Pattaya but Jayanrad's suggestion could well be valid. I headed up North by train to Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai & Pai then across into Laos but you could hit the islands first too. The good news is, it's hard to go wrong! :)
Write back if you need anything! Take care!
My wife and I(28) just finished (February, 2010) three Intrepid tours back-2-back: Cambodia Basix, Vietnam Unplugged, and Tap into Laos. This was my first time in SE Asia, and like you I was a bit nervous about planning all the logistical stuff. The low-end Intrepid tours (Basix) basically just pay for rooms and bus/train travel and not much else. Theoretically this allows you the same flexibility that you would have on your own just without the head ache, but it really didn't work out that way for us. Here is my list of pros and cons.
-met lots of interesting and fun people that we traveled with
-stayed in nicer places than we would have booked on our own
-Intrepid is good about being considerate to the culture
-having a guide to tell you when to get off the over-night trains in Vietnam was really useful (it would have been super hard otherwise to know at 4am which stop was ours because the trains were super late and everything was in Vietnamese)
-did lots of stuff in a short period of time (I think I would have gone slower and not seen as much)
-felt pressured to do activities since the cost per/person goes down with the more people doing them (one guide was really aggressive about this)
-activities seemed more expensive than doing it ourselves
-usually went to Western-style restaurants which are pricier because they worry about people getting sick (I did not go to Asia to eat Western food)
-getting around and booking things on your own was not that hard and we saw many people doing this (there is really a tourism trail marked out). We just did Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore on our own with no problems. It just takes some more time in each place to figure out where you are staying.
-we had a crazy obnoxious girl on one of the tours (you cannot control who will be in the group)
-met fewer locals than I was expecting due to always being with a big group
If I had it to do again, I would not book a tour. Things were just too structured and we spent more than I wanted on things I did not really want. However, if it is important to you to have people to talk to and enjoy things with then a tour is great. It also makes it easier to learn the history and background on each place you visit.
If you are set on doing a tour, from what I have heard, Intrepid is one of the better companies to go with, and they often have specials that discount their rates a bit.
Hope this helps and let me know if you have any questions,
#7 laconic has been a member since 14/3/2010. Posts: 5
I haven't done any Interpid tours but my sister has.
They are a good operator, but you are really paying a premium.
Thailand and the rest of South East Asia is so easy and travel friendly you really don't need a tour.
If you get there and do want to do a day trip or want to go on a tour somewhere, you can easily book one from a travel agent or hotel.
That way you are not radically overpaying for it.
#8 MikeV has been a member since 19/12/2005. Posts: 2
Yes I have but not to SEA. I was actually going to go with them (or GAP) to Thailand but I kept reading information about it being much cheaper to travel solo (it really is). As someone who changed their mind, let me assure you that it is much cheaper to travel alone. I spent a lot less than I would have paying for the trip. The benefit of using a tour operator is that you just don't have to think about a thing - just turn up and I can see why people would do it. I would suggest going alone and then maybe using a tour company within Thailand to see highlights of certain areas but doing most of it alone (I went on 1 day trip with a company and that was in Kanchanaburi). That way you get the best of both worlds. I didn't enjoy the Intrepid trip I went on. If you're VERY outgoing, you'll probably like it though (it depends on the people you're with).
#9 deliverusmaud has been a member since 20/1/2010. Posts: 6