Hi, I'm planning on going to SEA next year. I'd like to go in january to make the most of the better weather but I won't have as much money as i'd like (somewhere around £7000 in jan) How long could that last (eating cheap and staying in budget hostels)? and if i can't go in January, is May onwards that bad? I'm looking to visit Thailand, Loas, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia. Is it easier to get visas on route? and is it possible to travel to thailand with just a return ticket, and no proof of flights in and out of other countries that i want to visit inbetween. I'd like to do overland as much as possible and get a few cheap flights along the way if i can. I don't want to be tied to how long i am in a certain place . A Million questions, I know! Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks John
Assuming you are not from India, etc where you may have trouble getting a visa:
Thailand you get 30 days visa free so no problem.
Laos Vietnam and Cambodia you can get visas on arrival with little effort. I gave some links but mentioning them it seems I am advertising embassies so they are strictly verboten so you'll have to find them yourself.
Malaysia and Indonesia are no problems.
The only real condition for westerners is that they must have at least 6 months left on their passport when they leave these countries.
I have never had any trouble entering Thailand, for 3 months with no visa, with only a one way ticket, etc. Thailand, notably Bangkok is a travel hub so many book tickets out from there. Customs will normally ask what you are going to do, your travel plans, onward travel and the like.
Overland is fairly easy. Start off with a visit to a travel agent on Khao San Road in Bangkok. They've done it all before.
£7,000 should be ample unless you have expensive tastes. Prepaid credit cards are a good way of taking that much money.
For information on these countries, try the Travel Guide link above. Any further information try the travelfish site.
Cheap accommodation, try the link at the top of the page.
Early January is a good time to go. Early December is even better as month by month it gets hotter, till the end of April. I'm out early December and back mid March and glad of some cooler weather back home.
Vietnam you need a visa, or some online yadayada that I have never done, in advance. Easy to get in other countries in the region. Laos and Cambodia buy visas on arrival. Thailand 30 day visa exemption if you fly in 15 day if you come by land.
In your plan, i see that you will visit vietnam. Iam a vietnamese so I can makes sure that Vietnam is a good choice for you. Almost services in Vietnam are cheap but good quality. Vietnam Visa service is, too. You can choose a traveling agency in Vietnam where providing Vietnam Visa through internet. it is very fast, cheap and secure.
Vietnameses are friendly and hospitable so you will be satisfied when coming to Vietnam.
Hope you have a nice trip.
Most of your questions were answered in above posts. You should have no problem staying under $1K/month. Your 7K GBP should last until June, perhaps longer.
All your visas except VN can be obtained on arrival. I will guess you will go overland through either Laos or Cambodia. Buy your VN visa while in Vientiane or Phnom Penh. Allow a few days as fast service will cost you more.
Once you are in Thailand, you will meet many others that are touring SEA on the cheap just like you. Take a notebook. Worthless when you arrive, one of your most valuable items when you leave. Write down others suggestions on where to stay in each place you plan on visiting. Good, cheap places to eat, buses to take, beaches to visit, etc. You will also have plenty of names and e-mail address as you travel through SEA. Good luck with your planning.
thanks everyone really helpful and positive advice.