Im planning on heading to SEA later this year with my girl freind as the start of our RTW trip, shes a bit nervous about travelling independantly through cambodia and loas etc and would like to start off doing a tour with intrepid, we are going to fly into bangkok, then try and cover cambodia, vietnam, laos, northan thailand and back to bkk before heading off south to singapore overland. Im pretty sure the southern bit will be fine. But has anyone got any advise on going on a tour virses going independant through these countrys? what would work out cheaper ( cheaper the better) and which would be more fun less stress etc? be great to hear some opinions from people who have been there and done it.
Another question how easy is it to travel from hanoi, through laos, down the river etc on to chaing mai independantly? and whats the best route?
any help would be great. thanks
I always travel independently.
I think independently, I experience more. On tours, I think people live in a bubble. They are in a big group, so dont have to make an effort to fit into the culture, so much.
If you're staying in one place for 2-3 days why not take the tour for one day and then ask the tour guide tips before venturing out on your own? Or hotel staff? You did say you want it to be less stressful, at least with some insider info you'd be more comfortable about doing it independently...just a suggestion.
Hey - I don't think there's any need to take a tour in South East Asia - you can pretty much do all the things you would do on a tour for a quarter of the price by yourself, it's easy to meet people (and you're not going to get stuck with then) and you get the option to stay on/leave somewhere if you like/don't like it.
I agree with magykal1 and Mel- there is no need to do a tour on such a well trodden and safe backpacker route. I might consider a tour if i was alone or in somewhere that is not as safe, but SE Asia is safe and so geared up towards travellers. I think you would feel restricted as part of a tour group. Perhaps if your girlfriend read up on the region a little in, say, Lonely Planet, she might feel more confident about the trip.
Do it alone Gandk.
I'm in the exact same situation as you, travelling in Nov 07 with my gf, who is a total 'home bird', not that well travelled. So she was wanting to do an organised tour - e.g. intrepidtravel.co.uk. but looking at the prices, plus with advice from everyone on here we've decided to go it alone!
if you want, send me a private message, i can relay all the info that the others have already sent to me in private messages, to save time.
sure send me a private message anyway, if you want to compare notes on routes
thanks to everyone for your comments looks like im going independant bonza!!
Even though I have the same opinion as everyone else, I figured you might like to hear it once more.
Full on tours are very expensive in this part of the world in comparison to the acutal local costs and the price of doing it yourself. We are talking like 4 times the price to take a tour. For example: an 18 day tour of Indochina with Intrepid costs 1600AUS. 18 days on your own will cost you about 500 or less. Traveling on your own is a peice of cake and you will be two of thousands of backpackers just like yourself. And once you are in towns, there are many short day-tours or 3-days tours that take you around to local sights, and since they are booked locally, they are a fraction of the cost of big international tour companies.
and.... you might wanna hear it just one more time: GO INDEPENDENT!
haha. there's not much need for tours here. in fact, u will find tour groups a bother - they rush you through all the places, and in the end u feel shortchanged, as if you have not seen enough. without the restrictions of a tour, u can spend as much time as u like at places tht u enjoy, n skip those places tt u think you won't be interested in.
if ure not the detailed-planning type (aka the disorganized type), consider going for a tour because u're going to find urself (a) without visa at some places (b) without accomodation (c) clueless (d) stranded due to fully booked trains, buses, flights, etc.
but if you're not any of the above, just do the following:
get a Lonely Planet
read alot on the internet
p/s: planning for a trip, although stressful, can be alot of fun too. rope your gf in to do some of the research as well as reading up on the different places. u will find, during ur trip, tht the both of you will have a whole bank of knowledge abt the different places, n it wil b fun to share and point out the things that u have read about to one another.