Hello everyone, I found this forum a few days ago and I’m hoping that you’ll be able to help me.
For the last 10 months I have been teaching in China and, now that my contract has finished, I plan to travel down through South East Asia and then, once I hit Australia, return home to England. Since I am already on the doorstep of South East Asia and ‘have more time than money’, I don’t intend to purchase a RWT – I plan to use overland routes as much as possible. However I do have a few questions.
Firstly, I’ve read that some countries, such a Laos, will only issue visas on arrival if you can show evidence of our planned outward journey. How does one deal with this? Am I correct in thinking that buying the visa before entering the country eliminates the need to show evidence of an outward journey?
Next, I have traveled quite extensively in China and (despite its size) have nearly always used trains rather than planes. I was just wondering how the train services in the countries of South East Asia compare to those of China. Are they convenient? Fairly reliable? Or am I going to find myself purchasing air tickets out of necessity (or frustration) and wishing that I had bought a RWT?
Lastly, I have heard that there is a train that runs between Beijing and Hanoi (Vietnam)? Does anyone know much about this train? For example, if I want to travel by train into Vietnam but don’t intend to start from Beijing, can I catch the train at a later stop? Or is there a different service?
Sorry, to bombard you all with questions, but I hope you can help.
Thanks in advance,
Sounds great what you've been doing!
Unless its changed in the last 12 months, then yes, if you get your Laos Visa before entering, you don't have to show evidence of outward journey.
For Vietnam, you need to get the Visa before, and it is quite strict with the dates. However, I don't think you need to show evidence of onward travel, just state your intentions.
I don't know about the China to Vietnam train. There are trains between the larger towns in Vietnam, but the buses aren't bad either. There are no (that I know of) trains in Laos or Cambodia but the bus services are Ok and distances aren't so huge.
Trains in Thailand and Malaysia are good, comfortable and reliable, but it's probably cheaper to use the buses, which are also quite good.
There's really no need to fly anywhere in SE ASia mainland if you have time. And if you've lived and travelled in China you'll find it a piece of cake. Just maybe fly from Malaysia or Singapore to Indonesia, and again to Australia. You can probably fly into Darwin quite cheap cos its so far north, but I suppose that depends how much of Australia you want to see and how much time you want to spend on the road there.
Since you would be travelling round SEA, maybe this article would be of use to you.
The Most Affordable Way To Travel.
In most cases, you will feel the itch to travel as much as you can, especially in a conducive situation. It is to most humans, the desire to travel to see the world and experience the diverse culture of the people. To the seasoned travelers, they will surely agree that you don’t really appreciate or reminisce about your home too much until you have the perception of seeing how people live in other parts of the world. One way of experiencing such feelings is to home stay with the local people – live, eat, and emulate their daily chores.
The truth is, traveling is virtually expensive to most people. Unless you are well off, you won’t be able to travel frequently until you acquire some budget travel techniques. This is not just a straightforward technique but also an overall approach that you should execute to all aspect of your trip.
Explore charter flights, accumulate airline royalty points and last minute deals to obtain the lowest airfares, include home stay as part of your itinerary, so that you can stay and enjoy the home cooked food cheaply with the family.
To reduce your trip costs, is to stay longer at a place to explore areas around your location closely. You will learn where the bargains can be found, where are the cheap places to eat, where the cheap entertainment is. Besides, you will have the opportunity to submerge yourself more deeply in the local culture, a local may reveal an interesting spot you never would have considered when planning your itinerary back home or able to get a good judgment of what it is like to live in a place.
It won’t be cheap, if you constantly travel, never staying at a place long enough. Get in and out of the bus and train, spend long and tiring day doing touristy tours, then sleep in a cheap hotel only to get on another bus or train the next morning. Wherever you are, bus and train fares, and car rentals are expensive. No doubt, you will cover lots of places, but do you know the difference between seeing places and experiencing places?
Learn to bargain in a foreign country especially the second world, your money will definitely last longer. Bargaining is part and parcel of the daily life and if you do not participate, you will find yourself over spending. The art of bargaining is not to be in a hurry to buy. Your home stay host will give you an idea of a good price. Do not reveal your keenness to buy, pretend to walk away or showing a willingness to avoid the transactions. You may be surprised the seller will lower the price voluntarily. Once you have mastered the bargaining skill, you will find it easy and fun.
Another aspect to budget travel is FLEXIBILITY. If you strictly stick to your ‘what you want to do and when to do plans’, it can be costly to your travel budget. Being flexible about the dates you are willing to travel or be open to traveling in many different places will save you money. For example, if you are willing to go to any part of South East Asia rather than a specific Asian country, you will be able to take advantage of cheap fares.
The budget traveler who arrives at their destination with a flexible itinerary will take advantage of the available opportunities. This is not the case for a rigid traveler who insists on going to a particular place and time, then he/she could be at the mercy of the travel agents and tour guides and pay whatever it costs.
Flexibility includes your food and entertainment choices. Local food is always cheaper than others, why don’t you try them? Locally brewed beers are cheaper than your favorite brand back home. Being flexible will definitely stretch your budget.
As a result of your flexible and meticulous planning, you will find that even those on moderate budgets can afford to travel regularly and enjoyably. Most importantly, you will have a more culturally impressive experience, one that you will always remember than a high-class tour.