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Travel Help!!!! PLEASE!!!!

Travel Forums Asia Travel Help!!!! PLEASE!!!!

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1. Posted by JAY_H (Full Member 69 posts) 10y

Hello travellers

I am a first time traveller and really need your advice.

I have been saving for AGES now and by the time I go in March 2007 ill have £6000. I want to make the most of this break as it may be the biggest trip i do, so Id like to go for 12 months. My plans are Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia & Laos (3 months in each). Not sure what order but Thailand first.

Ill get a ticket to Bangkok and go overland from there.
Im guessing a return ticket with sta travel will cost around £1000 so that gives me £5000 spending money and for visa's (for 12 months).

My questions are:
1. Is this possible with my budget (I am quite good with my money, would love to do a few day trips though)?
2. How much are visa's for each of the countries?
3. Can I get the visa as i am about to enter each country or shall i get it arranged before i go?
4. Will i meet other people with similar travel plans in the same situation?

I hope you can help, greatfull for any info

Cheers
Jay

2. Posted by emma1979 (Full Member 126 posts) 10y

Hi Jay!

I find it quite hard to predict money and budgets but I'm sure £5000 will be enough for you if you stick to your budget - seeing as it's a whole year you're going to be tavelling for.

Your thai visa is free for 30 days but you can also pay for a 90 day visa or do a 'border run' where you go to the border after your first 30 days then get re-stamped into the country again for a further 30 days for free but you will have to pay travel costs to get to the border and it might mess up your plans so maybe think about just paying for the 90 day visa - a lot less hassle and might end up cheaper than paying for travel to the border. if you are travelling from thailand to cambodia the bus will stop just before the cambodian border where you can buy your visa and have your photograph taken (best to bring spare passport photos just to be safe) or you can get the cambodian visa through travel agents in bangkok but they send your passport away so you have to give it up for a day which can be worrying as not all travel agents are legit. i think the cambodian visa cost me around $30 but not too sure.

you can get your vietnam visa at the vietnam embassy in sihanoukville in cambodia. it takes about 15 minutes and costs about $30 dollars also i think (sorry memory failing me on the visa costs - can anyone else confilm this???)

i got my laos visa in hanoi - can't remember the costs but they have different lengths for visas like 15 days and 30 days. all the visas i got were for 30 days. ask at sta travel about visas for longer - again it's probably easier for you to get them all before you leave for 3 months for each country but i think it's probably cheaper to get your visas when you're there.

you'll meet loads of other travellers while there so don't worry about this. i met a few people who had been travelling s.e.asia for months.

so hope this helps a bit. sorry for the vagueness! not very helpful at all really am i?

have a good trip! you're so lucky getting to spend a year there!

emma

3. Posted by Degolasse (Travel Guru 823 posts) 10y

I would say that if you have whole year, don't just stick to those 4 countries. Not to say that these aren't great countries worthy of the time, but after 3 months in Cambodia or Laos, you might start to get a bit bored. Unless of course you plan to do some volunteer work or something. As well, since most of the visas are good for only 30 days (maybe it's possilbe to get extended ones?) it might be a hassle having to go back and forth to renew visas.

I don't know the exact details, but I'm told that Thailand has recently put new restrictions on entry. You can only enter 3 times in a row before you have to wait a year or something before you can come back. It's to prevent Westerners who are working there from hoping over the border every month to renew the free stamp and effectivly being able to stay for years. Unfortunetly it screws us travellers who just want to use Thailand as a base to see the surounding countries. As I said, I'm not sure the exact details, but it's defienlty something to look into and make sure you know how it will effect your plans.

But anyways, as I was saying, if all you are planning to do is travel and get to know the countries a little bit, I would say two months in Thailand is plenty (1 on the beach, 1 up North). Two months for Vietnam, if you can get that long of a Visa, is lots. I spent a month there and seen almost everything I wanted to see, but there was lots of towns that I would have stayed twice as long if my visa was good for more than a month.

A month in Cambodia and a month in Laos is also lots.

So with that, it takes you to only a half a year. This leaves you time to head down to Malaysia for a few weeks, and through Indonesia for two months months. With 3 months left, you could head over to Myanmar for a side trip (gotta fly though), and while in Vietnam, you could head into Yunnan in China for a month which is an awesome place to see. Then you have a month left which you can spend back in your favorite country of the bunch.

That's my suggestion. With so much time, you have the oportunity to see the whole region really well. Most people see the whole region in half the time that you have.

As for money, 5K is plenty. 3000 pounds would be enough to live and have a good time off if you are on a tight budget. But with 5000 you won't have to worry. You'll still have to stay in budget accomidation and not drink your face off everynight, but its plenty of money. If you are sticking in one town for a week or more at a time you can bargain a better hotel rate and so things will be cheaper.

As for meating people - once you get there you will laugh at that question. It will be impossible not to meat people in Southeast Asia.

4. Posted by buzzard (Respected Member 187 posts) 10y

I would also suggest cutting down the length of stay in some of those countries and seeing more of the region. I'm a big fan of Myanmar/Burma and would suggest going there for at least 2 weeks. Parts of Malaysia and Indonesia are also worth checking out. And China can be incredible, too. Too much to see, I know, but do try and go to Myanmar. Totally amazing country.

5. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 10y

Hello Jay

The most expensive country, on your list is Vietnam. The daily budget recommended for Vietnam, by the on a shoe string travel book, is $23 US per day. This would include accomodation, transport within the country, by bus, train and boat, food and a few beers.
I posted some visa info, for somebody else. I will try to find it,for u and copy and paste.

Mel

6. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3562 posts) 10y

Quoting Mel.

Hello Jay

The most expensive country, on your list is Vietnam. The daily budget recommended for Vietnam, by the on a shoe string travel book, is $23 US per day. This would include accomodation, transport within the country, by bus, train and boat, food and a few beers.
I posted some visa info, for somebody else. I will try to find it,for u and copy and paste.
Mel

Jay,
Emma is right on VN visa costs. Sihanoukville will do it while you stand there and chat for $30. In Phnom Penh several guesthouses and busineses will get it in one day for $30. Real price is $25, they make a little for themselves. Cambodia is $20, but graft for the Cambo officials adds $5. Laos is $30 if you go to the Lao embassy.

VN is certainly NOT the most expensive country on your list. I was there in Feb. and never paid more than $8 for a fan room, many $5-6 rooms in most cities. A/C rooms go for $10 in many cities. Try and find a A/C room in Thailand for 380 baht. Many cities in Thailand will be more expensive than VN. Certainly Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui, Koh Tao, Pattaya, you will be hard pressed to find a room under 300 baht.

Food is also cheap if you eat where the locals do or stay with the BP restaurants. This is true in all your countries. 'Eat Street' or from the street vendors and you will keep your food costs low. Just make sure they cook it in front of you for health reasons.

Transport in all your countries can be very cheap as well. The 'open tour' buses in VN are a bargain when you can go from HCMC to HaNoi for around $20, depending on the company you choose. Sinh Cafe is the best, TM Brothers or An Phu are the cheapest. I went with Hanh Cafe and would again, $23. In Thailand you can choose from fan or a/c buses from the bus station or use the private buses favored by the travel agents. I would choose the gov't buses when you have the option. Stay off the mini buses when you have a choice. More expensive and not as safe. Jay, you want as much metal around you as possible. Too many in SEA use the kamikaze style of driving. Nothing will ruin your holiday faster than getting hurt in an auto crash. 'Maximum metal' should be your mantra when travelling.

Jay, I have photos of much of this trip in my photo gallery. PM me if you need additional details.

7. Posted by JAY_H (Full Member 69 posts) 10y

Hi everyone
Thanks for all your replys, you have all been really helpfull with my queries. You have also open my mind to how much i can actually do when i go.
The reason I have restricted myself to these four countries is because of the amount of spending money i have. A few of you seem to be quite confident that i will be able to see more on this budget. Am I correct by thinking this?
I was also considering going to Indonesia & Malasia but what with the trouble in Thailand recently I didnt want to cross the Malasian border as i understand it is quite dangerous, is this correct?
Also are Burma & Manamar dangerous? I have never even thought of going to these countries, will i meet other people going here or are they a little off the beaten track? Are these places also quite cheap?
Could I do all this on my budget?
It seems like quite a lot of travelling (Which i am definately up for) and visa's but can i afford it?
Sory to be such a pain with all the questions, id really hate to run out of money and have to come home, id also love to see as much as i can.

Thanks again for the posts, ive read them all about four times now trying to get it clear in my head.

Jay

8. Posted by Degolasse (Travel Guru 823 posts) 10y

If you budget wisely, attempt to get things for a decent price, pay attention to what you are spending, don't drink too much beer, don't mind basic (though usualy very clean and safe) accomidation, and eat meals in cheaper restarants, then you will defiently have enough money, and will go home with some to spare.

If you go there and say "wow this place is cheap" and start spending at random without thinking how long it will last you, then you will surely run out of money.

When I'm in the area, I usually budget about 7-10 pounds per day, depending on the country. Assuming you spend 10 a day, that's only 3650 over the course of a year. That is the low end of the budget, but it's perfectly possible, and if you are there for that long, you will learn how to live that cheaply. I've always enjoyed myself on that budget and didn't think I was being to cheap.

Here's an example of a budget in Thailand assuming you spend 5000 over the year which is 13 a day.
13 pounds = 914 Thai baht.
Accomiation can easily be found for 200 baht for a single. A meal will cost you 50 baht at an ok restarant, 25 at a local place, and up to 150 in a touristy restarant. So assuming you mix it up a bit, you will probably spend 250 baht a day on food. This leaves one 80 baht beer (or much cheaper some places) a day. So after those basics, you've only spent half your budget and the rest can be carried over for when you need to buy bus tickets, pay for entry to a tourist site, or need more than one beer.

You may find Malaysia and China to be slightly more expensive (not much), but Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Indonesia to be a bit cheaper. Sorry, I don't know anything about Myanmar.
If you want to go somewhere really cheap though, add India to your list. You could easily cut down Southeast Asia to 8 months and spend 4 in India. In 6 months in India, I spent almost exactly 1000 pounds.

Oh yeah, and just so you know for future reference Burma and Myanmar is that same country. Burma is the old name, but Myanmar is now officially used. But peope still use them interchangably.

9. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 10y

The following posts will be the visa requirements for UK citizens
Firstly Thailand
U will have to check with the Thai consulate, that this info is still valid. I have heard that there have been changes in the visa requirements, lately.

When u enter Thailand, u get a free 30 day visa, entry.
Thailand
There are 3 ways to extend your visa.
1. Just cross any border, to any country, outside Thailand. Then come back into Thailand and u will get another 30 day visa free of charge.
2. U can extend your visa at the Thai immigration office in Thailand for 7 to 10 days for 500B.
3. For around 30 US dollars u can buy a 60 day tourist visa in Thai embassies around the world. It will take around a week, to get it.

10. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 10y

Visa info

Laos
i will type out what the book says, because it is detailed.
On the spot 15 day tourist visas ($30US with 2 passport photos) are available at Vientianes Wattay International Airport, Luang Prabang International Airport, Pakse International Airport, the Thai Lao Friendship Bridge at Nong Khai, the Thai border at Huay Xai, Savannakhet, Pakse,and the Boten border with China in luang Nam Tha.
However, the Lao government can be very fickle about its visa regulations and prices. It has cancelled all automatic visas without warning in the past so check the current situation before trying to enter the country. Lao consulates and travel agents in Vietnam, China, Cambodia, and Thailand all issue visas and will be able to advise on the latest border crossing situation.
Once in Laos it is easy to obtain a visa extension costing US$1 per day(from the immigration office in Vientiane), up to a maximum of 30 days. Elsewhere guesthouses and travel agents in provincial centres offer visa extension services for around US$2 to US$3 per day. Your passport will be sent to Vientiane, so it can take up to five days, depending on how far from the capital u are. If u overstay your visa, u must pay a fine at the immigration checkpoint upon departure. The fine is US$10 for each day over the visa's expiry date.