We are planning to travel around Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam from May to September. Although planning to stay in hostels etc most of the time we have heard that some of the most beautiful areas are off the beaten path and camping may be necessary.
Is it safe? Are there official campsites or can you stay anywhere?
I don't want to lug a tent round (even a lightwieght one) if there is really no need or indeed if it is not safe.
Any advice would be appreciated.
I have lived in Laos, Vietnam and often travel to Thailand. If I were you, I would not do any camping in small group. Although the majority of the people you meet out in the open and during the day time are decent and friendly. In secluded area and at night, there are people who would rob you or do other harmful things to you or people whom you travel with. Hotels in those countries are quite cheap anyway. I would recommend checking with local tour agency concerning camping. Take precaution for malaria is recommended.
Relly accommodation in S.E.Asia is very cheap.
With 5 - 20 USD you have a basic room with enough equipment for sleeping. In Vietnam we have some official campsites but not in very attractive areas. You can arrange some trekking tour in North Vietnam like Sapa, Ba Be, Mai Chau ... then try some homestay nights if you want to see what is the real Vietnam, how is friendliness of local people. And in Sapa, you can try an Adventure of conquering Fansipan with some camping nights on this mountain area.What you need is to finding some local people go with you to show you the way on Fansipan.