my husband and I are headed "around the world in 64 days" starting mid May- our itinerary is as follows and would love tips and advise from those who have gone before us, especially on camping, hiking, eating, touring, and other inexpensive things(and purhaps an occasional slightly more expensive thing) . Thanks for all the help, it is an overwhelming, but exciting adventure.
I think you will have more sucess if you section your enquiry and be more specific and focused with the questions. You're covering a lot of ground on your trip, and a tip book could be 1 mile thick. It may be better to begin a question post on each region, like Asia etc. Then ask questions you need answered, like "How much will a 2nd class sleeper train cost for an appx 12 hour journey , in India?". I can mostly help you when it comes to the Asia stage of your trip. So i can advise you when it comes to places like India, Nepal, Thailand etc. If you think up a list of questions you need answering, then i'll see what i can do.
Thanks Adam or do you prefer Ommadawn?- good tip! okay, here is a specific question. We are trying to keep costs down during our travel and are curious about traveling overland in Asia. If we fly into Hanoi, Vietman, is it easy to get to Napal, Tibet, and parts of India overland? I understand that India has a good train system, will it get us to any of those places we mentioned? What is is like to take the train second class for long periods of time? Any idea what it costs to book a cabin on a train? Thanks again for your help.
I've not been to Vietnam. Just the surrounding countries like Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. But it's very easy to get to any of those from Vietnam, either by land or flying. By land, it's certainly cheaper of course (but through Cambodia, the roads get reaaaaaal rough). Once getting to Thailand, there are very cheap flights to Kolkatta (previously known as Calcutta) in Eastern India. It's a a flight i use a lot. Biman airlines or Druk air (Bhutanese) are the cheapest airlines doing that trip. The problem going from South East Asia to South Asia, has always been Myanmar (formely known as Burma). They wont allow anyone to travel overland in and out of their country. It's been a pain for travellers for years, and means that it's hard to do that whole region by land 100%.
As i say, the Bangkok to Calcutta flight is a good option.
But as you've mentioned Tibet, then the other way is going into the Chinese Mainland from Vietnam. You will need to obtain a chinese visa beforehand in Vietnam. From there, you can go by land as far as to places like Chengdu in Western China. From there you can get into Tibet. The rules regarding entering Tibet province, change every few months. So any personal info i give you about that trip, may be out of date now (from 2002). China is very akward regarding Tibet and the manner in which visitors enter. In 2002, i was extremely lucky that it was a year in which the chinese were allowing people to come in to Tibet from Kathmandu (Nepal) with just a standard individual Chinese tourist visa. So i did that., and it was very simple and easy really
I just had to get to Lhasa initially with a group of people, and then split off on my own, and returned to Nepal independently. Since 2002, this has all changed "again" and they've reverted to what it called a group visa, which demands you go everywhere they want you to go (only), in a group, as a group, and return as a group. From the Chinese mainland, this kind of trip costs hundreds and hundreds of dollars because they nearly (but not always) insist that you fly into Lhasa, and back out. The other option is to get to a place in North west China, called Golmud (Xingjiang province). From there, many travellers have been known to get into Tibet independently (long trip of several days at high altitude).
If all this sounds like a MAJOR pain in the ass, then your best bet is to fly from Bangkok to India. Travel in India, then overland to Nepal (visa at the border is US$25). Once in Kathmandu, you can organize trips to Tibet for a LOT less than in the Chinese mainland. As i say, i still dont think that in 2004 you can go on an individual visa. This means that things get more expensive in terms of getting in there initially. But once in, things are fairly cheap. All this, you can enquire about in Kathmandu.
In India, the 2nd class sleeper trains are good. 2nd class non AC (which means you'll just have a fan) is a good enough option. 2nd class AC (air conditioning) is a good idea when doing epic train journeys. They're a big hike in price, but worth it for long hauls. The bus system in India s good too, and goes pretty much everywhere. Just getting an unreserved train tick, is a nightmare though. It means you'll have no guarantee of getting a place, and when the train arrives at the station it's survival of the fittest and a game of rugby. Very unpleasant and i advise against it. Always buy a reserved ticket, to save hastle. On major long trips, you sometimes have to book a ticket 2 days or so beforehand to be sure.
Very difficult to give you a rough idea of the costs, because it really does depend on multiple factors. The type of train you are going on, if it's a direct route, if it's AC or non AC. But to cut it short. Trains in India are very very cheap considering the distance you are travelling there.
Hope some of this helps,
Near midnight right now. So i'll give more advice tommorow if needed.
Going RTW in 64 days? That ain't cheap! Thinking about 2 months no work, but just spending. However, you are smart to choose spending in mostly Asian countries, where your dollars go a long way. I have a few general tips to help you save. Although, I have been around the world 3,4 times, my experience mostly in Asia.
1) By RTW tickets and not for individual trip.
2) Southeast Asian countries are cheaper than Europe or Japan, Hongkong.
3) If you can book for night long plane trips, so you save on hotels
4) For local trip, don't book it on the internet. It is cheaper, when you get there and book locally (you can bargain, too.)
5) Stay longer where it is cheap. For instance, in VN, and Bangkok, too, hotels could be as cheap as $15/night or less. Meals for $2,3 or less can be found. Compare to Tokyo, $8 for a cup of coffee.
6) Befriend with the local people and ask for suggestion as to hotel, ect... Sometime, I book in a hotel for 1 night and move to other once I get to that city and found better or cheaper hotel.
7) If possible use the ATM machines. Often, they give better exchange rate for your dollars than the local money changers.
8) Make copies of your passport. And never use your passport as colateral for anything. Otherwise, you may be blackmailed.
9) Watch for pickpocket, especially in Europe.
10) Be safe, don't walk down the deserted streets at night. I once saw a man being robbed in a secluded street in Bangkok.
If you have more ??? Just ask. If I know I will share w/ you. Good luck!