I am going travelling with a friend. Hoping to leave early in May 2008
I am a first time traveller so naturally have a lot of questions / concerns. If you could advise on anything that'd be absolutely great.
We've already got a basic route plan and figured out the times we want to go to each place to catch the best weather. We are also aware of all the visa requirements & vaccinations. We don't want to look as if we're making you do all the work!
1. How long should we stay in each country (we wish to see most of the main sites / attractions and wish to leave the country feeling as if we really know about it & it's people.
2. I know it's like saying "how long is a piece of string" but ROUGHLY how much would YOUR budget be for this trip?
3. What is the best way to travel through this trip (overland or air / boat etc.)
4. What is the best way to stay over (hostels or camping / hotels etc.) and how best to book (in advance or on arrival?)
4. Finally, do you have any "insiders" tips on any of the destinations?
Total duration - 7 month -> 12 months
Europe - 1 month
China - ?? (time?)
Laos - ?? (time?)
Vietnam - ?? (time?)
Cambodia - ?? (time?)
Thailand - ?? (time?)
Malaysia - ?? (time?)
Singapore - ?? (time?)
Indonesia - ?? (time?) - Is it even worth visiting?
Australia - ?? (time?)
New Zealand - ?? (time?)
Any info you can provide will be great!
Many thanks in advance.
I went travelling to SEA last year and am doing a RTW trip in 5 months doing similar places to yourself. I am planning to be away for 10+ months and have budgeted for about £6K. Regarding timings i would probably aim for the folllowing, but it is quite hard to say because you tend to get to a place and either love it (therefore stay for a long time) or hate it (only there for a few days).....
Europe - Not sure (how much of did you want to visit?
China - again, china is a massive place, depend how much you want to cover. Try and visit HK if you can. I know it isn't a true reflection of china but is a great place to visit for a few days.
Laos - This was my favorite place, there is not much to do, but is very relaxing. at least 10-14 days
Vietnam - 2 weeks
Cambodia - 7-10 days
Thailand - Its a massive place, and if you wanted to do all the island you could easily spend a few months there.
Malaysia - Maybe do the jungles, so aim for 2 weeks...
Singapore - 1 week
Indonesia - I am going here for the first tim,e in my next travels, i am aiming to spend at least 2 weeks on numerous islands.
Australia - as long as you like, its not as cheap as asia, so you have to take this into consideration when budgeting...i am aiming for 3 months
New Zealand - This is meant to be everyones favorite place, so at least a month. Also try and get to Fiji if you are a beach person.
These are only guidelines, i am sure that other people will probably have their own ideas.
The best way to travel really depends on your flight and the number of stops you have paid for. I paid £1340 for about 6-7 stop overs (inc USA) but especially around asia it is cheap to get internal flights and overland travel (bus/train) is even cheap and more fun.
Book your first few stop overs in advance then just sort it out when you get there. when you get to your destination you will be flooded with people trying to get you to stay at their hotels/hostels.
Hope this helps a little. It is only my thoughts and i am sure other people with be able to pass on their knowlegue too.
when did you wanna go?
Wow, sounds like a nice strip.
I can advise about the Singapore-Indonesia-Thailand-Malaysia part. About the rest, I will ask you soon (am hoping to do one).
Singapore is metropolitan and easy to navigate through. For a week, you will be occupied (if you are into partying and such), rested and safe. It is pretty expensive: both alcohol/accomodation/transport. Food is pretty cheap as long as you know where to eat. If you run out of ideas, drop a message or sth.
From Singapore, you could do a road trip to Malaysia. There are both buses and trains both ways. In 1-2 weeks: you can cover KL (if you prefer to), Tioman (very beautiful), Genting, Langkawi, maybe a tropical trek and a few beaches. Malaysia is much cheaper than Singapore, but still not as cheap as Thailand.
Closest island from Singapore is Bintan/Batam in Indonesia by ferry, with some pretty decent beaches. Have not been to the rest of Indonesia, so can't comment. You should book hostels in Bintan/Batam a little earlier as people from Singapore often vacation there and it might be full during weekends/public holidays.
Thailand is one of the favourites in the regions. Very cheap, amazing food/people, culture and lots of things to do. If you are visiting for a short time do Bangkok-Chiang Mai-Phuket-Krabi. If you want to explore more, there are a million other places as well.
Have fun planning the trip=)
How long should we stay in each country (we wish to see most of the main sites / attractions and wish to leave the country feeling as if we really know about it & it's people.
Well really in most of the areas you are talking about you could easily spend a month but in the larger countries 2-3 months and still not be able to lay claim to what you want to do.
Europe - 1 month is not enough unless you only focus on a couple of countries ie UK and maybe France. If you want more than that their is no way you will be able to get what you want out of your trip. I've spent about 3 months in total over 2 trips and still don't feel I could lay claim to what you want, but I have been to a lot of the countries.
China - Well that depends on which areas you want to focus on because to see the whole country you could be there for years and not see it all except on Google Earth. A Month as a minimum if you just wanted to see the main points on the east coast.
Laos - I haven't been so can't really comment, but I'd imagine 3 weeks minimum.
Vietnam - You should use the whole 30 days on the visa otherwise it is extremely rushed if you want to see from North to South including the Mekong Delta region (which is a must see).
Cambodia - 2 week for the main touristy things
Thailand - 1 month just for a basic oversight of the country (if time was limited a week and a half in Bangkok to see it well and also take a few day trips to neighbouring areas would be good enough to get a taste.
Malaysia - I haven't seen much there but probably about 3-4 weeks would give a fairly good look or a bit longer if you wanted to go to the islands or Brunei/Sabah area.
Singapore - 1 week
Indonesia - Not sure I haven't been so can't cemment at all
Australia - 2 months would give you a small taste. It is such a diverse country that the people particularly in Northern Western Australia, Northern Territory and some areas of Outback Queensland are very different in culture to a lot of the other Australians. The landscape is very different in those areas it just varies so greatly depending on which area you go, so if you don't see all areas you would only really be able to know the people and the place for the regions you visited. When I was a lot younger I went on a 4 month driving holiday with my parents and that was barely enough to fulfil what you want in all areas of the country.
New Zealand - Again you have at least two dominant cultures but the places are not as different as what they can be in Australia. If you did a driving holiday 1 and a half months would get you to take in a lot in the north and south islands.
With your budget well it depends on how many tours you take part in, how many expensive activities you do, if you stay in the cheaper back packer hostels or are staying in hotels amongst many other things. As a rough guide Australia/New Zealand 50-60US a day depending on where and what you do, most of South East Asia $20-25US a day, China $25-30US a day but maybe more with the Olympics coming up, Europe depends greatly on which countries but for the main tourist hotspots between 50-60 Euros a day could get you by living it very cheap but you would miss out on a lot of things with that budget in Europe.
Best way to travel again depends on the region. In Europe I personally found flying best with Ryan Air, Easy Jet etc all being very cheap if booked in advance, but other people will definitely disagree with me on that and say train is better. Most the time in South East Asia overland was best for smaller distances but if you wanted larger distances in one hit then air using Air Asia, Tiger Airways etc which are very cheap if you get the flights on Special. In Australia it depends on the areas, but if you are limited in time then air would be best in most case with some areas particularly Tasmania, Western Australia and Northern Territory being better for self drive. New Zealand is one of the best countries in the world for self drive holidays. As I have said all of this would depend on the regions in the country and how far you would need to skip in a certain amount of time.
Best way to stay would depend on your comfort levels. If you have been brought up spoilt all your life then you probably couldn't stand to camp or stay in hostels, but in mine and many other peoples opinions hostels would be best in Europe, Australia and New Zealand (where possible) but in many areas of Asia you will struggle to find any hostels and hotels can be very cheap as it is. Like I stayed in a guesthouse in Phnom Penh Cambodia for $2US a night and I also stayed in a bungalow about 50 metres from the beach in Sihanoukville/Cambodia for only $5US a night! Sometimes it is just good to spoil yourself to have a room to yourself after being in hostels for a fair while.
When in South East Asia get a flight from Bangkok (or Kuala Lumpur) to Hanoi in Vietnam on Air Asia and then get the Open Tour bus in Vietnam from Hanoi down south to Ho Chi Minh City. Be sure to spend a couple of days in Ha Long Bay before heading south and also be sure to do the 3 day 2 night Mekong Delta tour from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh as that is definitely a highlight of Vietnam and a great cultural experience. For a cheap and less touristy place to relax a bit go to Sihanoukville whilst you are in Cambodia where the water is over 20C, crystal clear and the accommodation can be dirt cheap. I stayed at somewhere beginning with GST I think it might have been called GST Guesthouse and that had bungalows that were $5US a night and was very close to the beach. Great value and certainly a nice place to kick back for a couple of days (not much more than a couple of days though).
In Europe you should definitely allocate more time and if history or photography are your thing you should try and head to Eastern Europe and visit Russia but mainly for Moscow and St Petersburg which are just great for the things I just mentioned. Italy is a country you should not miss but do be prepared for quite a lot of money to be spent there. Of course you can't go past the favourites of London and Paris (and maybe Amsterdam if you are in your 20's and want an eye opening experience).
When in New Zealand if you are in to adrenalin activities head to the south island and in particular Queenstown, but expect to pay quite a bit for anything. You really should try and do a driving holiday around both islands as this is the only way to truly appreciate the country and see all the amazing sites.
When in Australia if nature is your thing you should certainly head to Tasmania if you can (hiring a car is pretty much essential if you want to see anything outside the major cities). Also no matter what you are interested in head up to Queensland and see from the Whitsunday region up to Cairns. Do not make the mistake many people do and get stuck in Sydney, see it as quick as possible and move on to the better stuff in Australia.
Have a great trip.
[ Edit: Edited on Jan 30, 2008, at 4:23 AM by aharrold45 ]