We're planning to travel from Philippines > Singapore > Malaysia > Thailand > Cambodia > Vietnam > Philippines
Goal: To reach the "capital" of each country via train... spend some time on it... until we go back to our own country.
Tips... contacts... must try foods... things to avoid... etc are welcome!
Date: December 2017 (3 days per country = 15 days)
Cheers to all!
[ Edit: Edited on 06-Mar-2017, at 11:07 by foobarph ]
The Man in Seat 61 for all things train .. & , avoid the drugs
3 days per country? For a total of 15 days?! You're not being realistic.
If your purpose is to reach each capital for the sake of going to your destination by train, it is ok. It is very slow traveling by train in this part of the world, and this was my experience going from southern Thailand to KL, and from KL to Singapore. Going bus is faster for sure.
Traveling by train will leave you with very little time, if any, to explore around, and you'll be very tired being on the run.
And to be honest, traveling by bus still isn't worth spending all that money, as you'll still be rushing.
With just 15 days, I would just pick 2 countries at most and explore within each. There is so much to see in any of the ones that you intend to go.
You really have to look at a map and look closely at the distance between capitals. I have done the Bangkok to KL to Singapore by train. It is a very long ride!
Seat 61 shows time between various train stations.
I can see you doing Bangkok, KL and Singapore during 15 days. You won't have much time in each capital city for exploring.
I am an avid reader! I always have books to read so long flights or long bus rides or long train rides isn't a great problem as long as I have reading material. You sound young, I don't see too many young people reading books anymore. Find something to entertain yourself on long runs. Often what you see out of train windows is the backyards of factories, housing projects and dumps. Sometimes a little bit of nice scenery during the day. Night time most often you barely see anything at all except small train stations.
During long train rides I always felt a little grubby. From Bangkok to the bottom of Thailand (for visa runs years ago) I RON'd (remained overnight) at Hat Yai. For Singapore I RON,d Butterworth/Penang. I really needed the break to take a shower!
On trains (same for buses) keep your bags in sight. If using the overhead I keep my bag forward of my seat so I can glance up and verify it is safe. Keep bags locked! Never put valuables in any bag you store - keep money and passport on your person! Stay vigilant when people are getting off at intermediate stations. You don't want anyone walking out the door with your bag!
Visas. Different countries means different visa requirements. I guess you have figured out how to get across the various bodies of water right?? Even rail service sometimes is affected by the rainy season. Tracks become loose in the mud and separate causing delays.
Have fun but look at a map and check time required between various capital cities.
As everyone else has said, that's a lot of travel for 15 days. A couple of things, Cambodia doesn't have a rail system, so you would have to bus across that country. You can make it from Bangkok to Phnom Penh in a day, but it is a super long day by bus. You would probably also want to stop in Siem Reap to see the Angkor Archaeological Park.
Vietnam is a country a lot of people underestimate in size, it is SUPER long. In three days you would get from South to North with basically no time to spare.
All of these counties are beautiful and I think you should pick two of them and then use another trip to come back and see the rest. Thailand/Cambodia is a good doable combination in 15 days along with Malaysia/Singapore.
Have a great time!!