With prices relatively equal, and if you only had roughly six weeks to travel in SEA (wanting to see Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand; time dependent) is one of these cities better to book a round-trip ticket in and out from?
Granted, I realize that figuring out a route would help out a lot, but am just wondering if there are any suggestions that might help me get started.
Is October - November a decent time to be traveling in SEA?
Thanks in advance!
I would begin your 6 week trip from Bangkok, Thailand. When you arrive in Bangkok you will get a FREE 30 day entry permit stamped in your passport. If you leave Thailand before the 30th day for another country you can return to Thailand and get another FREE 30 day visa.
I find more discounted plane tickets to Thailand than the other three countries. Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia like many Communist countries require a visa that you must pay for. If you run out of time getting a visa for those countries you can get one from their embassies in Bangkok.
From Thailand you have a choice of cheap transportation to the other countries. There are discounted flights you can use and good busses or trains to the borders. Lots of choices. You can even go by boat from Northern Thailand to Laos.
If you go to Thailand first plan on at least a couple days in Bangkok to get used to the heat and time changes and rest up from your plane ride. You can take this time to purchase plane tickets or reserve seats on the trains if you want to. Flights you purchase in Bangkok are often cheaper than what you may be able to obtains elsewhere.
In Bangkok, If you are really, really young pick a hotel in the Khao San Road (KSR) area of Bangkok, if you are a little more adult choose a hotel in the Siam or Sukhumvit Road part of Bangkok where you can take advantage of the Skytrain. The Skytrain is handy for taking you around to lots of places in Bangkok and for connections to the Ekamai bus station and the main train station using the subway connection.
Food and hotels are pretty cheap in Thailand. In Bangkok hotels, with aircon included, range from around 700 baht per night to over 2000 baht per night. Smaller towns have cheaper hotels. In some smaller towns you can get an air conditined room for less than $10.
That's good advice, and Bangkok is actually the cheapest RT option that I've found.
Would you recommend working from Bangkok up north to Chang Mai (sp?) then looping back around from the north of Laos and Vietnam back south to Bangkok in the end?
Since you bring up visas, it sounds like Thailand is just a stamp in the passport upon arrival. For the other three (Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam), are these best to secure before you arrive? I know you said you can take care of it in Bangkok, but would you be just as well taking care of it in advance? Any idea on whether the visas are stamps or full page stickers? My passport is getting pretty limited on space. I might be okay if it's just getting stamped, but any more of those full-page stickers and I'll need to order more pages in advance I'm afraid.
Thanks for the help!!!
Although Bangkok seems like quite the center of s.e.asia and will instantly set you into a traveling mode, but I noticed that you did mentioned KL.
I would suggest that you fly into Kuala Lumpur and embark on your trip from there by heading north to Thailand either by train/bus. Try to get a cheap deal from airasia.com to Phuket or straight to Bangkok.
I've done Bkk-Cambodia-HCM-Hanoi-Laos in 4 weeks, it was alright except the bus trip from Hanoi-Laos.
...Bangkok up north to Chang Mai (sp?) then looping back around from the north of Laos and Vietnam back south to Bangkok in the end?
You're on the right track.
The Lao visa I got was full page as well as the Cambodian one. I woulld recommend making sure you have more than enough pages to avoid any border and/or embassy hassles.
I know you didn't mention Singapore...but the country is trying to set up a network of budget airlines. You might want to check it out and use Singapore as base.
Try this 3 options for budget air flights:
Thanks guys; very helpful. Out of curiosity, what is the train and/or bus trip like from KL to BKK? Any "must-sees" along the way?
Not much for big cities (and with limited time), I'm thinking that if I were to just fly into KL or Singapore and then fly right on up to Bangkok, I might be better off just flying straight there in the first place. Any thoughts?