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SE Asia to Australia

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1. Posted by zheacker (First Time Poster 1 posts) 7y

Hi all. Just joined the forums and was hoping someone could help me make plans for a trip.

My roommate and I will be studying abroad in Australia from March to June 2010, and we want to backpack SE Asia during January and February. This is my first big trip like this, and I'm terribly excited, but I need some help with the logistics, so please respond to anything you could help with.

1) The obvious question: what are the must-see's in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia (and maybe Papua)?

2) We want to avoid flying as much as possible. Since I've never done this before, can anyone enlighten me as to the availability of other transportations like rails? How easy is it to get rides from one place to another?

3) Can you pick up visas at the borders of most of these countries, or do they need to be arranged for in advance?

4) How much money (roughly, of course) would you suggest is necessary to live on in this region?

5) And finally, any other friendly travel advice for a first-timer.

Thanks!

[ Edit: Edited on 10-Feb-2009, at 13:39 by zheacker ]

2. Posted by soliqa (Respected Member 284 posts) 7y

Well that's a lot of questions! Firstly, and sorry if I've read this wrong, you are planning on 2 months away? It seems to me like you're trying to fit in a lot in a relatively short time. I've just got back from 5 weeks in Cambodia and Vietnam, and I wouldn't like to spend any less time in those countries than what we did. Trying to fit in Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia on top of that, seems to me like you would spend most of your time travelling rather than actually experiencing the place.

We travelled in Vietnam with a combination of rail (sleeper trains) and buses (both sleeper buses and day buses). Never had any problems, although the bus is much cheaper than the train as a general rule. As far as I understand it, Cambodia doesn't really have much of a rail system, but the buses were fine there aswell. Most times we just booked our buses the day before without any problems, which was handy for us becaue we didn't have a set itinerary at all.

Without knowing where you are from answering questions about visas is a bit challenging. If you let us know where you are travelling from then we can give you some more advice, because the entry requirements vary for different nationalities.

I haven't been to the other countries you mention, so I'll leave giving advice on them to someone more knowledgable!

3. Posted by jadeverell (Respected Member 255 posts) 7y

Hi,

1) The obvious question: what are the must-see's in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia (and maybe Papua)?

- The most popular places in Laos tend to be around Vang Vieng and Luang Prapang. A very popular thing to do in Vang Vieng is Tubing. 6 hours of sitting in a large inner tube, flowing down a slow river with a few beers along the way. A good way to spend half a day in my eyes! (I did it 3 times, ha)
- Thailand, Obviously the beaches towards the south East & West. Trekking up north is alot of fun , seeing elephants and waterfalls etc and spending a few days around Bangkok is a good experience.
- Cambodia, the main tourist attraction is Angkor Wat at Siem reap. Spend a few days here checking out the amazing temples and visit the killing fields. Try and head down to the south to the beach, not many travellers head down there and there is a pretty cool vibe going on.
- Vietnam, there is so much to do in Vietnam. I would recommend spending 2-3 weeks just visiting all the villages, towns and cities up the coast. It is a very friendly place and quite easy to get lost in their amazing culture.

These are only a few ideas of the top of my head, I haven't spent that long in Malaysia and am going to Indonesia for the first time in 3 months. Maybe have a flick through the Lonely planet books. For first time travellers they are superb and can recommend some great places to check out.

2) We want to avoid flying as much as possible. Since I've never done this before, can anyone enlighten me as to the availability of other transportations like rails? How easy is it to get rides from one place to another?

If you don’t want to fly, the main forms of transport for covering large distances tend to be epic 12 hour bus journeys or sleeper trains. Which can be alot of fun (the sleeper trains, not so much the bus journeys) but now-a-days to travel by air is so cheap and quick i would recommend hoping on a plane. Unless you have no time limits and want to see lots of countryside then take the train.
I also travelled via boat numerous times. Once from Laos to Chang Mai, on an epip 10 hour speed boat journey (a small wooden boat with a huge engine strapped to the back) it would have taken less but we broke down 3 times...all good fun! The other time was going from Saigon to Phnom Penn, up through the Mekong Delta. That was very relaxing and one of my best memories!

3) Can you pick up visas at the borders of most of these countries, or do they need to be arranged for in advance?

All can be picked up on the boarder (Visa upon arrival) apart from Vietnam. Its worth getting that before you go.

4) How much money (roughly, of course) would you suggest is necessary to live on in this region?

This ones a tricky one to answer, as it obviously depends on what you want to do, the type of places you want to stay in, how much you drink etc......but a ball park figure would be about $1000AU / 500 pounds give or take. That would give you a pretty good lifestyle.

5) And finally, any other friendly travel advice for a first-timer.

Errrr, you still have quite a while until you depart. The wait can become frustrating, so the best wait to run down the clock quickly is to do as much research about the places you want to visit and start to 'pencil in' on the map where you want to go and what you want to do. There is a great program on Sky TV called Globe Trekker, watch that as it really wets your appetite. Also try not to plan a strict itinerary too much as you probably wont stick to it when you are away.

Another suggestion is, if you haven't booked you flight ticket, do it ASAP. You have a definite departure date then and will give you something to look forward too!!

Hope it helps.

JD

Thanks!