I am going through the planning stages for a RTW trip I am aiming to start around August 2007. This is my proposed route, I'm based in the UK.
August 1st Fly London - Rio
August 2nd - November 30th Overland Rio - Santiago via Peru and Bolivia (Inca Trail, Lake Titicaca etc)
December 1st Fly Santiago - Easter Island
December 2nd - December 7th Explore Easter Island
December 8th Fly Easter Island - Tahiti
December 9th - December 27th Tahiti
December 28th Fly Tahiti - Tonga
Decemeber 29th - January 5th New Years in Tonga (first place in world to see 2008)
January 6th Fly Tonga - Vanuatu
January 7th - January 21st Explore Vanuatu
January 22nd Fly Vanuatu - Auckland
January 23rd - February 23rd Overland Auckland - Christchurch
February 24th Fly Christchurch - Sydney
February 25th - April 5th Overland Sydney - Perth
April 6th Fly Perth - Tokyo
April 7th - May 7th Explore Japan
May 8th - Fly Tokyo - Hong Kong
May 9th - July 9th - Overland Hong Kong - Bangkok through China, Vietnam, Cambodia & Laos
July 10th - Fly Bangkok - Kathmandu
July 11th - July 30th - Spend some time in the Himalayas
July 31st - Fly back home
As you can see I am aiming to spend a year away and will have around £10,000 to see me through. If I am careful with my budget do you think this itinerary will be okay or do I need to save a bit more? I know that's like asking "how long is a piece of string" but I'd be interested to hear what other people that have done similar routes have spent. I will be travelling on my own.
Thanks for any advice and if there are any changes you'd suggest to my itinerary I'd love to hear them!
If you were very very tight with your money, always staying in the cheapest of the hostels in the cheapest size room everywhere you went, you might sneak it in assuming your RTW is already included before the £10,000.
One month in Japan will eat up a lot of money. It is a 100% necessity to buy the JR Pass before you enter Japan. It seems like a lot of money when you buy it, but for the amount a long distance fare costs, it is good value to buy that JR pass. It is a good idea to book your hostels in advance especially in the very late part of March and early part of April, because depending on how the weather is going, that is a very busy time (when the cherry blossoms are on) but also an extremely nice time to visit Japan. I was in Tokyo March 29 this year, and the cherry bloosoms were almost at its peak, it only lasted for a few days and after that It wasn't as beautiful. If it is possible, it would be worth changing your dates to be in Japan from say 25th March or there abouts to be sure to be there when the Cherry Blossoms are at its peak in Tokyo and Kyoto. During the Cherry Blossoms loads of people from all over Japan and the world go there and it is a very picturesque time to go even if the weather was a little bit on the chilly side, with one day of constant rain where I spend the day travelling wide and far on the JR looking at the place in the bullet trains which is a good way to spend a crappy day instead of being indoors the whole day. Being from the UK where the weather rarely reaches more than 20C in Summer, you'd be use to cold weather. It'd be very dissapointing if you got there only to see all of the flowers have fallen off the trees, as it didn't even last the whole two weeks I was there.
Two and a half months in New Zealand & Australia will eat up plenty of money. $40US a day might get you to see a bit, but if you really want to enjoy your time properly going on a few of the really cheap backpacker aimed tours etc, you'd be looking at $70US a day especially in Sydney where prices are very over the top.
The 3 months in South America should be able to be done on about $35US a day if you want to have a bit of fun without going over the top.
The Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Bangkok, Kathmandu part of your trip could be done living it up on $30US a day, but you could get by quite comfortably staying in the chepest accommodation on $20US a day. Like this full day island hopping tour in Nha Trang/Vietnam cost only $7US. A bus ticket that went almost the whole length of the country (Hanoi-Saigon with numerous stops along the way), cost $20US and the buses were pretty reasonable quality and the roads for the most part weren't too bad. Hong Kong is a little more expensive, but still can be done on $30US a day staying in the cheap hostels (which may well be very crappy quality like the dump I stayed in). I haven't been to Kathmandu, but from what I have heard other travellers say, it is pretty cheap, but going on tours to climb up past base camp on Mt Everest are very pricey.
Easter Island is not that bad price wise, I stayed in this persons house which they rented rooms in, and it was $10US a night, but most places were a little more expensive than that if you chose the cheapest places. Food was 1 and a half-2 times as expensive as mainland South America. You could cut your time on Easter Island to a maximum of 4 days, unless you want to be bored out of your mind for the other days. I was there for 4 days (2 of which it rained a lot of the time). I went on this full day tour which was pretty cheap and it took me to nearly all the main sites in one day. I walked to other sites (most people wouldn't walk it though) and for one day I was basically walking around pointlessly and on another day I was sitting at the ocean front for about 2 hours of it. If you are just wanting to escape from people, that is a magnificent place to do it, because you can find nice spots by the water where nobody bothers you and you have the nice fresh ocean breeze in your face. If you could hire a car, you could see it even more thoroughly and in less time than 4 days. If you want good photos, you'd need to travel around the island the way the sun is shining (ie start by travelling on the east side and finish by going along the west side), because without the sun on the moai statues, they don't show up well in pictures despite what it may look on the camera display.
Bus fares in South America can add up to be rather expensive, I paid anything from about $10US for a shortish distance bus (a couple of hours drive) to $119US for the longer distance buses that went for over 24 hours, and I always chose the cheapest time and cheapest company to go on. Most the time the prices varied depending on what time bus you caught (assuming that more than one bus a day on the company existed). Sometimes a little bit more inconvenience for the time can add up to a large discount in price, as can shopping around the different bus companies who do the routes.
My trip had a lot of similarities to yours, but mine also had a lot in Europe and going to India instead of Nepal. Mine was only 7 months in length and when converted from Australian dollars to Pounds, I think my approximate costs equated to about £6,000. I didn't spend any time in Australia, so that section of your trip and the 14 days extra you are spending in Japan probably counts financially as the amount I spent in Europe.
My trip was about 100,000km so yours is relatively small in distance to mine, but a lot of parts of your trip are similar and I visited a lot of the same places in South America and Asia.
For the Inca trail you will want to look in to that well before you are there, because although I didn't head there, when I was in Santiago, fellow travellers had just come from Peru and hadn't been able to go on the inca trail as they needed to book a spot for it well in advance, and they were expecting to just be able to turn up and go on it.
I think as long as you are careful with your money staying in hostels instead of hotels where ever possible, and that amount is after your airfare which will be pretty expensive, well your budget would stretch, but staying in hotels more than in South East Asia, will push your budget to it's limits and probably resort in going to creditcard debt.
I could give you more details of my RTW trip which covers a lot of the areas you are going in South America and Asia and well I know plenty about Australia and a bit about New Zealand. If you need anymore info, just PM me and I'll try and give more details of the parts of your trip I did and others I know plenty about from research for my next adventures. I've also got some websites which might interest you for your planning.
(I am obsessed with anything travel having been to 48 countries so far, so I know a lot about most parts of the world even if I haven't been there. I want to go to every country in the world at some stage before I die, so I spend most my non work time researching my next trips and costs for what I'll need and stuff). Be careful, you'll probably turn out like me with travel when your amazing adventure finishes, and believe me your time will fly after the departure date comes around.
Have a great trip when it comes time to go.
[ Edit: Edited on Dec 29, 2006, at 5:14 AM by aharrold45 ]
Wow, thanks very much for such a detailed reply mate. From what you've said about Japan and its expense do you think it might be better to cut that altogether and instead head up over land from singapore to beijing taking in the other places along the way, saving Japan for another trip on its own?
Also at Easter Island, how did you sort out your accommodation? Did you just arrive at the airport there and sort it out then or did you contact the family in advance? The photos tip you gave me is priceless - thanks a lot for that.
I really can't wait to get out there - do you think that scrubbing Japan and instead giving 4/5 months to go from Singapore to Beijing is a good idea?
For Easter Island accommodation, I just arrived and then loads of locals are there to greet you at the airport and you arrange some accommodation whilst you are in the baggage collection area.
Japan is a really nice place especially when the Cherry Blossoms are on, it is just great especially for taking photos. You might be able to reduce your time to two weeks in Japan and then have the extra two weeks to do the overland section which would be cheaper than 2 weeks in Japan, but seeing you'd be heading to Japan at the most beautiful time of the year, you really shouldn't skip that out. If you aren't overly keen on your photography, then you could skip it out, but seeing Tokyo and Kyoto when the cherry blossoms were in full swing, were amongst the highlights of my trip.
This might seem like a very dumb thing to say, but you do realise that the distance from Hong Kong-Beijing is probably about the same distance as from Sydney-Perth maybe even a little more? So with your trip and you wanting to go from Hong Kong in to mainland China as far as Beijing and then head overland through SEA to eventually wind up in Bangkok, you'd be backtracking a few thousand kilometres overland unless you got a flight from Hong Kong-Beijing which if bought seperately from the RTW ticket would not be a cheap one. If your ticket would allow it, you can get a flight from Hong Kong-Beijing on the One World RTW ticket, but then you'd need to go overland to Bangkok as no flight leaves Beijing to head back towards SEA other than Hong Kong which wouldn't be an option. If you do get as far as Beijing, you should definitely do the Jinshaling-Simatai walk along the Great Wall of China (not sure if that is the exact spelling of the parts of the wall). You'd also want to check what months and dates the olympics are on, because the Olympic games are on in Beijing some time in 2008. So things might be booked out very far in advance because of that if you are going to be there on the dates the olympics are on.
Unless flights have changed since I got my Oneworld RTW ticket (which is the only one which allows you to fly to Easter Island), no flight exists from Bangkok-Kathmandu as part of the oneworld alliance, the Bangkok-Mumbai/India flight is the closest one on the RTW ticket that I could find to flying to Kathmandu. By doing that you'd need a lot of overland travel through India to reach Nepal. Maybe things have changed since I booked my ticket about 12 months ago and for your sake I hope so. I ended up doing some parts of India instead of going to Nepal, and then I flew from Mumbai-London.
Whatever you decide, have a great trip.
Thanks mate. Yeah the plan if I were to do Beijing would be to go there from Singapore overland through Thailand and its neighbours and then fly back from Beijing to Bangkok before flying home. Or do you think that's too far? If so I could always make it up as far as Xiamen and get an Air Asia flight back to Bangkok for about £45.
If China was on your must do list, well I personally wouldn't go without going to Beijing to see the Great Wall in particular the Jinshaling-Simatai section. That is a really amazing experience to walk along 18km of the wall. Given that you only have 2 months in SEA including China, you are trying to rush way too much in to a short amount of time. 2 months sounds like a lot of time, but really it is very rushed all time when travelling in that region of the world for that amount of time. You could spend a month in Vietnam alone, but a very minimum of 2 weeks if you want to really rush a lot in to a small amount of time. 1 1/2-2 weeks in Cambodia would get you a bit of a sample, but you'd still be in a rush.I haven't been to Laos, but I'd imagine that being roughly the same sort of shape as size and Vietnam you would be able to easily spend 2 weeks there as well and be rushed. I know that in Thailand a month would be rushed to see much. I spend 5 days just in Bangkok and still didn't see everything properly in and around the city. I think unless you were to fly to and from Beijing basically just taking in Beijing, the surrounding sites and the Great Wall walk, well in such a limited time frame you'd have to cut China out and leave that for another trip simply due to the lack of time. My travel style is fit a huge amount in to a short amount of time, but if you want more than a couple of days in a place before having to move on a long way to another place, cutting China out for another trip would have to be on the agenda.
If you managed to cut one or two weeks off of your time in Japan (seeing it is comparable a small country), then you might be able to squeeze a whirlwind trip of a couple of places in China in. I think that doing that would also mean you'd need to do that cheap flight you were talking about, to cut down all those miles and days of overland travel that you wouldn't have to use back tracking overland. Most of the main SEA countries other than Cambodia and the top section of Thailand are long and thin, so to see more than just one or two cities in each, it will require a lot of backtracking which may mean you would be best to do a couple of flights on air asia covering the large distances like say from Hanoi-Bangkok if Vietnam was going to be the last of the countries in SEA you went to. That would at least cut a week or so of non stop overland travel out. It will be a big rush to also fit China in even if you were to take two weeks off Japan.