We are three 21yr old girls planning a mega trip to Asia in January 2011 and just want some advice about arranging travel, accomdation etc...
One of us has family in India so we plan go to NewDelhi first and then train it to Nepal and then next train to Tibet - we then plan to fly to Thailand and do the whole thailand, cambodia, laos, vietnam adventure...
None of us have really backapacked before so we just wondering if it better to arrange all in uk? or arrange once in India? also is this to much? time isnt really an issue we expecting a good couple of months (aslong as we can save enough money!)
any tips or places to visit would also be very much appreciated!
also anyone thinking of going out similar time, might be nice to meet up for a drink!
Plenty of time then but if I were you I'd first find out how much money you're going to have for your trip.
After that you can better plan (and book flights). Not much use to have big plans and flights for 6 countries if you only have $3000 for 6 months.
Some people can get by on $500 per month (not me) but that is very tough going if you consider all costs involved (bustickets, visa, excursions and so on, occasional party/splurge) besides actual living costs (room and food). Better to budget for (far) more if you're1st time backpackers. You may want some western comforts every once in a while. Some people have written good cost breakdowns here so have a look at those while you plan.
Might be good to buy your main flight tickets before you set off though. Within the next year you should be able to fnd some good deals on flights. Read a few threads on that topic.
Accommodation you shouldn't book (this far in advance). Especially if you stay in backpacker places that take very few bookings anyway. Perhaps only for some crucial dates and festivals but you can make those booking a week or few days in advance.
Plan and plan then some more planning. Know the facts about transport from A to B. For example, your comment about getting a train from Nepal to Tibet does really work, even a train from India to Nepal will include a bus up to Kathmandu for example.
Travel light. Gather up all you think you want to take then see if you really want to carry that much.
Prepare your minds! India is INTENSE, three young first timers might be in for the time of their lives and the shock of their lives!
All the best.
Thank you so much for the replies, been alot of help!
Yea we going to try do it as cheap as possible. I know someone who did the thailand trip and they did it all by train so alot cheaper, avoid flying as much as we can.
We are all students - so as soon as studies finish we going to get some full-time work and just save - just wanted to know a rough estimate of costs so we know how much to save a month. good idea checking the break downs thanks.
yea weve been doing some research on tibet so im not sure we will even do that - due to the politcal environment and getting visas, do you know if this is an issue? or do a few tourist/backpackers go?
Two months for Seven countries as varied as India and Vietnam? In my opinion that's biting off WAY too much. That's just a touch over a week per country. Too much time traveling, too little time to figure a place out - there is so much to see and experience (remember, these two things are not the same) in just one of these places, running around from place to place makes little sense to me. And the high volume of travel, particularly air travel, is going to take a big, wet bite out of your expenses. India is a huge place with a very veried environment and culture. Two months there alone probably isn't enough.
Also, train in Thailand is not particularly cheap - bus is much cheaper. Not sure about India, but in Thailand it's considerably more expensive than bus. People coming from some places in Europe have a notion of train being the cheap, long distance travel option, but this isn't always true elsewhere.
............If you haven't found it already, check out www.seat61.com - amazing source for trains all over the world. Indian trains are definitely preferable to buses, in my experience but for SE Asia, buses are usually cheaper and still comfortable.
Some things you won't need to pack - hairdryer, straighteners, 10 pairs of shoes, lots of nail polish, lots of make up ... you can get cheap manicures and pedicures everywhere in SE Asia. Forget about having perfect hair every day and go for traveller-friendly styles - the other backpackers you meet will be in the same boat! You'll also find you wear the same pair of flip flops to death, so no point lugging lots around with you. Something sturdy for trekking and maybe some nice girly shoes will do. Make up isn't so necessary when you have a tan and it all comes off with the sweat anyway. Bit of mascara will probably sort you out.
Things you should pack - a pegless clothes line (from the airport if nowhere else, but Millets probably do them), a padlock for your door, hand sanitizer, a bandana or scarf (make it wet, tie it around your neck, blissful on hot journeys) Imodium, longsleeved tops and long trousers/skirt for India. Dressing very modestly will really help you out there. Also, pictures of people and home to show travelling companions on long train rides. One big book each that you can swap once you've all read it. However many clothes you think you need, you won't - and you'll need to leave room for the fabulous bargains you buy along the way. Upsetting to have half of Top Shop in your bag and not to have room for that made to measure dress in Hoi An or the custom made shoes in Phnom Penh!
Agree with Madmac that 7 countries in 2 months seems far too much - I spent over 2 months just in India and that wasn't enough. Don't underestimate how long it can take even to do simple things like buy a bus ticket or send a letter - can be half a day gone by the time you find the right place and queue several times.
Booking accommodation in advance really isn't necessary unless there's a big public holiday and people you meet along the way will be able to recommend places to you. For Indian trains, you will need to book ahead, especially if you're on a tight schedule. Bus tickets are usually easier to come by, often the day before you travel (certainly in SE Asia).
Have fun planning, and then don't be surprised if you end up somewhere you'd never expected - that's the joy of travelling!
As you still haven't departed yet so I'll add a little something.
Don't do Tibet in this trip. You have so much to see and the hassle and budget necessary to do Tibet really shouldn't figure into your calculations.
You must have an overpriced group-tour booked for Tibet, no solo travel. Also, getting a visa from Beijing to visit Tibet from India is more difficult than any other way . . . as it is a politically sensitive issue considering the number of monks now living in India. There is also no train into Tibet from Nepal. Air travel from Lhasa to anywhere is also horrendously expensive.