Heading to South East Asia at the end of the year. Starting off in Malaysia and then working our way through Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines. Just wondering about bus/ train costs, visa costs and things to watch out for.
Also anything about volunteering.
Any advice would be nice!
Whats up man. Im an American backpacker and one of the best pieces of advice i can give you, as i have just made my way through India, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, is do not plan anything. I was suppose to go to India, Thailand and back to New York and i met so many people who influenced my trip during that time that i wound up crossing boarders into Laos, Cambodia and then when running out of money, flying myself to Australia. Everytime you meet someone they will change your mind about what your next step is. As far as busses go, that is where you will meet your fellow travelers. Buses in Asia are VIP which consist of cheap 5 to 10 hour bus trips and thats what all backpackers will take as it is much faster and not much more expensive to take. Every now and then it is good to jump on a local bus as i have traveled in many but don't expect to get what you paid for every time you buy a ticket. Just one example, i was traveling from Southern Cambodia to Bangkok by bus and was picked up at my hostel by the Big Luxurious VIP bus. That lasted only 3 hours. We got to the boarder of thailand and we were taken off the VIP. jammed into a mini bus that fits 7 people ( including all our bags) and transferred 5 times to other mini buses before bangkok. It was horrible but being with all other backpackers we all became talkative and close within those 14 hours lol.. Just don't pre plan anything while you are there as you never no who you will met at a bar and want to travel across the boarder with the next day. Southeast asia is extremely easy, just don't follow the main path in lonely planet as everyone else does, thats when you will met not only cool locals but the best backpackers, you don't want to come back from your trip and realize you've traveled another mans journey (lonely Planet)
Some places to go in Thailand... Pai is a must, along with most of northern thailand because it mountainous and after spending 1 week in the islands you will quickly determine what kind of backpacker you are..Dont be the typical UK backpackers that go to thailand and live on party filled islands the entire time your in Thailand. head north and experience the mountains
Laos..Boarder cross in the most north part of Thailand and take one of the most dangerous speed boats of your life for 7 hours down the mekong to Luang Prabang. Then you have to see Vang Vien, for tubing..Then skip vientiene, the capital. Im sure you will be templed out by then because that is all there is..Head right outside the capital and go to Dream Time eco retreat. One of the coolest places i have ever been, isolated in the laos jungle in a wooden bungle with no electric or running water, check the website out. after that you can go to tha ket and do the motorbike tour around the mountains and then head south to 4,000 islands
Cambodia.. you have to see the capital as it is awesome and the killing fields which are extremely sad but so real, then head south to the party south of Shinakouville and take a boat two hours off the coast to Koh Rong island. also no electric but awesome white sand beaches and crystal clear water..i lived there for 2 months without coming to the mainland
hope this helps..just don't take trains as they are more expensive and visa for Thailand is free for 30 days if you fly in, free for 15 days if you bus in. Laos is 25$ and Cambodia is 29$, you can also teach english and make decent money in Chiang Mai northern Thailand.
Pdemarsico has given you a nice answer. i just want to add a little thing about visa issue.
for the Vietnam visa, the procedure is much easier now. citizens of Japan and South Korea, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland are exempt from a visa for 15 days. citizens of most South East Asian nations get 30 days. the extensions are often available with less than 1 week on your ongoing visa, and after 3 extensions, you must get a new visa.
for Laos and Cambodia visa, you should obtain in Bangkok, it will reduce the cost.
You please go by bus from Vietnam to Cambodia. Normally, traveller will choose 3 ways:
1: Highway No 22 from Ho Chi Minh city , crossing Moc Bai International checkpoint
2: Provincal highway No 952 from Tan Chau (Vietnam), Crossing Vinh Xuong International checkpoint to Kaam Samnor (Cambodia)
3: Xaxia (Vietnam) to Prek chak crossing Ha Tien international checkpoint. This checkpoint is open mostly internatinonly travelers.
There is no train from Cambodia to Vietnam
Please note some information related to visa procedure:
Vietnam visa on arrival is easily to applied online. It is used to travel by air
Immigration at these check point only requires Vietnamese travelers to present passport to cross the gate while international tourist need Cambodia visa which can be obtained at the chekpoint on arrival. E-visa which is obtained online from Cambodia Ministry of Foreign Affair also accepted.
On the way back to Vietnam, you need to have a visa ready to show to Immigration office at the checkpoint. Vietnam visa on arrival is not available with border crossing.
Enjoy your travels coming up. It's difficult to what the visa situation will be as they often change. However, it truly is a beautiful place. I'm sure you will get all these issues figured out, so just enjoy the experience of a life time.
I will also be doing a similar route at that time of year, leaving on the 2nd of jan for 6 months.
Would be nice to maybe cross paths with someone as im going on my own and it'll be my first time traveling.
have you booked your flights out there yet?
Thanks heaps everyone for the advice! Its all been helpful, a big thank you to Pdemarsico. That was very extensive.
@megan93: Haven't booked flights just yet, will be finalizing everything in the coming weeks, but it looks like we'll be in Malaysia on Boxing Day.
Take your time. Figure it out as you go...
I happy to recommend you link to take bus, train, plan, do visa in Vietnam. You do not pay for any more service.
Bus: you should take: thesinhtourist.
Train: You should go to Goverment office to get ticket.
I do hope you will found some information you need if you would like visit Vietnam.
[ Edit: Edited on 16-Aug-2012, at 09:23 by LauraNguyen ]