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8 month trip, how's this sound?

Travel Forums Round the World Travel 8 month trip, how's this sound?

1. Posted by kevin86 (Budding Member 6 posts) 9y

I got a lot of good tips reading this forum when I went on my first backpacking trip 2 summers ago through Europe, and now I'm back looking for some input on my next trip.

Basically I plan on spending about 8 months traveling, and here's the very rough layout I have in mind, leaving this September

South Africa - land in Johannesburg and spend about 1 month on the Baz Bus, including a 4 day trip in Kruger NP on the way to Cape Town
Mumbai - land here, and then spend about 4-5 weeks getting around on trains before departing from Delhi to....
Ho Chi Minh City - spend (how much time?????) traveling through Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos
Thailand - probably entering in the North from Laos, heading south from Chiang Mai and a few other places up there before going to the islands. Then head up back to Bangkok, and catch flight to...
Cairns - Oz Experience(??) to get down from Cairns to Melbourne
Christchurch - then overland it north to Auckland (3-4 weeks)
Papeete - as a stopover on way back, and for some reason it makes my flight on the STA route planner cheaper (1 week?)
NYC - HOME

Ok, so I'm really looking for some input on general time spent in SE Asia. I know I won't be spending a few months in Australia like a lot of people here are (not working and prolly not doing west coast) so I have more time to spend in other places and am looking for rough estimates.
Also, I would like to do some volunteer work along the way, and have looked into teaching English in Thailand. Only problem is its ridiculously expensive with i-to-i, but they have a placement on Koh Tao which would just be awesome. I have looked into Travel-to-teach, but I have less of an interest in spending around 6 weeks in the north in one place.
Any suggestions there?

Thanks a lot for any helps, I really appreciate it. Especially since most of my friends here in the U.S. are worthless with stuff like this and don't appreciate travel as much.

[ Edit: Edited on Mar 1, 2007, at 3:08 AM by kevin86 ]

2. Posted by aharrold45 (Travel Guru 1281 posts) 9y

I think it all depends on if you just want to see the main tourist spots, if you like a relaxing time or what your travel style is. I think that if you had the time 4 weeks in Vietnam would be good (the full length of the visa), but a minimum of 3 weeks should be had if you want to go the whole length of the country by bus. Would it be possible to land in Hanoi instead of Ho Chi Minh City? If you did that, then you could do the open tour ticket from Hanoi-Saigon then get a Mekong Delta tour from Saigon-Phnom Penh which was 3 days 2 nights and a real adventure. Then you could travel around Cambodia for how ever long you wish as long as it isn't more than 30 days and then go to Laos. I haven't been to Laos, but I have heard that you can easily spend the whole length of the visa there. In Cambodia I reckon that 2 weeks would be enough time, but if you want a bit more cheap relaxation you could veg out for a few days in Sihanoukville where you can get a bungalow only about 15 metres from the beach for like $5US a night. The water is so nice to swim in as well.

I say a minimum of 3 months in SEA if you want to see a lot at a non Amazing Race style pace, but preferably 4 months if you wish to see Thailand well and do that volunteer thing in Thailand. I spent 2 months in SEA and my travel style is see a lot in a short amount of time and I still missed Laos.

Have a great trip but be prepared for a HUGE culture shock when you hit India! Nothing in the world that I've seen even comes close to India for a culture shock and a half, I ended up having to change my dates to leave early before I totally lost it with the men who continually harrass you and make you feel like you are a little fish in a sharks feeding frenzy.

3. Posted by kevin86 (Budding Member 6 posts) 9y

Hmm i just tried that, flying into Hanoi instead of Ho Chi Minh and it came out even cheaper. Not sure why I never thought of doing that, but thank you.

And what kind of tour is that 3 day one from Saigon? Any link ya got?

And yea this will be at a relaxed pace I hope, and 3-4 months was kinda what I had in mind, but also I havent done a ton of research yet. 4 months in SE Asia... I think that would leave me with about 2 months for Australia and NZ, though. I've heard 6 weeks is ok to do the East Coast but I still need to research it and find out what I want to do there and in NZ, so may have to adjust timeline for other places

I would really like to see India, though and am definitely gonna keep the culture shock in mind. Can't really prepare for it I guess, but will try to somehow

[ Edit: Edited on Mar 1, 2007, at 3:55 AM by kevin86 ]

4. Posted by aharrold45 (Travel Guru 1281 posts) 9y

You can check out http://www.sinhcafe.com.vn for tours, but DO NOT purchase them off the site. It is a complete rip off for almost everything on that site the prices are way off what tour shops in Vietnam sell them for (and it is through the same company when purchased in Vietnam). That site did mention the exact tour I went on somewhere on that site about a month ago when I looked, but I couldn't find it when I just had a quick look but it should be on there somewhere. That site lists all the tours that you will be able to buy at many different travel shops in Hanoi and other parts of Vietnam but in most cases the prices are way higher on the site than in the agents so only use it as a guide to see what's available and even then it'd be best to only look at the tours that are day trips or no longer than 3-4 days. You'll notice on most tours it'll have 1 PAX or 2 PAX but those price refer to if you were to do the tour with only you there and no other travellers along the way. The tours I went on had loads of people who didn't know each other, all booked individually and most varied between $5US and $20US. On that Mekong Delta tour it even included all accommodation and transport (be sure to get the hotel details for your 2 night before you go as you might find yourself in the same position I did).

I also did this bargain island hopping tour at Nha Trang which if you want a relaxing day you should definitely do which was worth heaps more than it cost.

The Open tour bus ticket is dirt cheap at $20US (last time I saw) and it goes from Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh City or the opposite direction. You do make numerous stops at tourist shops along the way, but when it only costs $20US for about 2000km you can't really complain too much.

5. Posted by Dezafinado (Respected Member 177 posts) 9y

Quoting aharrold45

The Open tour bus ticket is dirt cheap at $20US (last time I saw) and it goes from Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh City or the opposite direction. You do make numerous stops at tourist shops along the way, but when it only costs $20US for about 2000km you can't really complain too much.

I saw the Open tour bus ticket for US$20 too when I was there last year. How long was the ride? Was it comfy?

Second your opinion about SinhCafe. They're pretty good with decent price. Do your shopping in person once you're there.

6. Posted by aharrold45 (Travel Guru 1281 posts) 9y

The buses were comfortable enough except on one of the overnight buses where the road is very very bumpy, but then the buses are still alright it was just that particular road. It was the bus from Hoi An-Nha Trang which was the dreadful one, the rest were reasonably good. The rides all vary, because the way the ticket works is that it has a number of tickets all in one with a total price of $20US. So it had two ticket option of HANOI - HUE - HOIAN - NHATRANG - DALAT - SAIGON or HANOI - HUE - HOIAN - NHATRANG - MUI NE - SAIGON. I chose the one that has Dalat instead of Mui Ne.

The length of the bus ride in terms of time was 14hrs for the Hanoi-Hue, 4hrs for the Hue-Hoi An, 14hrs for the Hoi An-Nha Trang, 14hrs for the Nha Trang-Dalat and then 14hrs on the Dalat-Saigon bus. If I had of decided on the Mui Ne option, it would have been 6 hours on the Nha Trang-Muine bus and then another 14 hours on the Muine-Saigon bus.

So it is a lot of hours on the bus, but seeing you can stop at the various points and spend a day, 2,3 or whatever in between it isn't too bad certainly when you take in to account it only costs $20US for that distance. You do need to book your place on the bus from the set office in the city you are in, the day before the one you want to depart and then depending on where you are staying you may need to walk to the office but when the bus arrives at the place it stops at hotel where they get a commission. You either decide to stay there where they drop you off or not, but the places aren't that expensive anyway even when they have the tiny commission bumped on to the price you pay. If you want to see distances, times etc that website I put in the previos post I made has information on the buses by clicking on a link on the left hand side of the page.

[ Edit: Edited on Mar 3, 2007, at 3:02 AM by aharrold45 ]

7. Posted by mdancy (Full Member 104 posts) 9y

Hi,
We recently did an overland trip that included SE Asia - started from China then hit Hanoi, tooks trains/buses south to HCMC with several stops along the way. Because we like train travel, we opted for that whenever possible. It wasn't too expensive, but certainly way more than the open tour bus tickets. We spent about 3 weeks in Vietnam, only a week or so in Cambodia, couple of weeks in Thailand (as we hit it both coming and going), couple of weeks through Malaysia/Singapore, a week or so in Laos. Mind you, we didn't do much lounging around. I would have preferred relaxing more, but my hubby is not the relaxing type....

As for India. We went there on our first RTW trip in 2000. My guess is that it hasn't changed much as far as annoyances. We cut our time from a planned one month to about 2 weeks before my husband was driven completely nuts. He says he wants to go back - this time he says he'll be prepared for the onslaught. Hmmm... doubt it.

Actually, though it did get to me too, I would have liked to go the whole month. Our trip was only in the north, but we did hear that the south is much mellower and not quite as intense. Maybe you should consider starting in southern India and making your way north?

Martha

8. Posted by Eleniki (Full Member 125 posts) 9y

Hey Kevin
Good luck with your trip, sounds great. I'm going away in September as well, also for 8 months, starting in Ecuador (volunteering in a cloudforest) then Galapagos, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina. After that I'm flying to Nepal for 2 further months volunteer work, then travelling in China and Tibet. I agree with you that i-to-i is only for rich students. There are many volunteer organizations charging a lot less but be a bit careful - some of them charge nothing, but you get much less out of the experience and may end up paying more than if you'd paid an organization because you have to provide accommodation,food,the lot for yourself, which can also be daunting and time-consuming. So, somewhere in the middle is good - pay a reasonable fee and reap the benefits. There's a book I found invaluable - it started me on my year's plan and continues to be of great use: Lonely Planet 'The Career Break Book'. It has a section on volunteer organizations and lists 200 or more, and their websites. Try these for starters though: www.workingabroad.com; www.volunteering.org.uk; www.transitionsabroad.com; www.volunteer.org.nz; and www.volunteering.org.au. Doesn't matter where you are applying from - they will organize it for you if it interests you. No doubt these sites will lead you on to other possibilities as well. Cheers!