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Advice needed about traveling round SE Asia as a lone female

Travel Forums Asia Advice needed about traveling round SE Asia as a lone female

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1. Posted by Clare_Ruth (Budding Member 10 posts) 3y

Hi everyone!

A few months ago now, I posted on this website talking about how I want to go travelling but didn't know how to arrange it. Following some of the advice I was given here, I consulted STA Travel and almost booked some flights, but in the end didn't because I had my driving test coming up and wanted to pass before going travelling. It's just as well I didn't go through with it, because I only passed my driving test last month!

Anyway, now I've passed my driving test I have nothing standing between me and going travelling (something I've wanted to do for years) and I keep saying to myself 'Why are you still here?!' The answer is... I'm dithering because I'm nervous about going through with it.

Here are my plans as they currently stand:

- Going to do a tour of India for three weeks or so, most likely with STA Travel
- Then going to Thailand and spending one month each in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Malaysia.
- After 5 months in SE Asia, I'm going to go on to Australia where I will stay indefinitely (I'm an Aussie citizen so don't need a visa).

I'm not overly nervous about India as I will be in a group, I'm not nervous about Australia as the language/culture is more or less the same as the UK's, what I'm afraid of is the 5 months in SE Asia. This is something I feel I totally want to do, but I'm nervous as I will be a female travelling alone in countries with different languages and cultures. I'm also very green about travelling, have only been abroad 4 times in my almost 27 years, and I'm very trusting and naive, so I think I'm the kind of person who could easily be taken advantage of.

My mum and dad keep trying to persuade me not to go to SE Asia or at least do it in a group, which tbh is making me more determined to do it alone. However, I would like some advice from people who have travelled around SE Asia - particularly women who travelled alone!

In particular:

- Is it feasible to go travelling round SE Asia as a lone female who has never travelled before, or is it a recipe for disaster?

- Any general tips for staying safe and not being led astray?

- As I said, I plan to go to Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, starting off in Thailand. What order would you recommend going around these countries?

- What were the main cities/places you visited?

- How did you travel between countries and within countries, and how did you book said travel? (Something that's been confusing me especially.)

Any other advice/info will be gratefully received! I'm going to go crazy if I have to stay in England much longer!

Clare xxx

[ Edit: Edited on 15-Oct-2013, at 12:17 by Clare_Ruth ]

2. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3562 posts) 3y

I suggest you go over to the 'travel companions' forum. Post your plan. There are heaps of a single females touring SEA all year. Perhaps you can contact several of them before you head off for SEA. I will assume Thailand is up next after India. Get yourself over to the Koh San Road area of BKK and you will certainly meet other females touring Tland. I changed my plans my first trip to Tland when I met some guys that were heading for Koh Samui. It is more fun to share the experience with others. I have travelled SEA solo and with friends, with others is better IMO. If you are even a bit outgoing, you will meet others: at your guesthouse, out eating, drinking, on a tour, etc. You won't be by yourself for long is my prediction.

After Tland, into Malaysia. free visa on arrival. I would get myself over to the bus station while down south in Tland. Say Hat Yai. There are 2 basic bus systems in Tland. Gov't buses that leave from bus stations and private buses that are primarily filled with tourists that book through travel shops. Use the bus that the Thai people use is my best advice. Or use the train if you prefer train travel. You do need to book a few days in advance if you want sleeper or better class seats. From Malaysia I would fly Air Asia to either Laos or VN. You can buy a Lao visa on arrival. With VN, you will need to plan ahead. VN has a visa on arrival system for those that fly into VN. My blog talks about my experience flying into HCMC. I used the open tour bus system while in VN. Cheap, convenient, hits most of the cities you will want to visit. Or use the train system. Safer, more expensive and need to book days in advance. My blogs covers from Nha Trang south, my photos cover from HaNoi to the delta. Cross into Cambodia via bus. Many companies to choose from. I wrote about my experience. Cambodia issues visa on arrival. After PP and perhaps Sihanoukville, head up to Siem Reap for Angkor Wat. Now you need to figure out if you want to go straight into Laos ( if you fly into VN) or back into Tland, then Laos. Here is a good resource for Cambodia and SEA in general.

Good luck with your planning.

3. Posted by Steve79 (Respected Member 330 posts) 3y

Hi Clare

Congratulations on passing your driving test!

You are in a similar position to that I was in in 2009. I was 30, had never travelled outside of Europe and the longest flight I had been on was four hours. I went away for 18 months and had the time of my life!

All I can say is I had the same fears and apprehensions and they were completely unfounded! South-East Asia is a very easy place to travel and I would say you will be safer there than you would be in England! I met plenty of single females travelling around the area – some just 18.

Also most people in South-East Asia, especially on the tourist trail, speak English to some extent.
First of all I would say make sure you go to South-East Asia – it is a fantastic part of the world and I would go back there like a shot. Also once you have travelled for a couple of weeks you will honestly wonder what all the fuss is about – it really is very easy.

By that point you will have visited India, so you will feel more confident and might even have met people on that trip that are going to South-East Asia at the same time as you.

So to answer your questions:

- Is it feasible to go travelling round SE Asia as a lone female who has never travelled before, or is it a recipe for disaster?
Yes very feasible!

- Any general tips for staying safe and not being led astray?
I think you will find you are with others most of the time and also after a couple of weeks your inbuilt danger sensor will be fully working! Also if you get ripped off once, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it means you will be on your guard and it is less likely to happen again. I don’t think South-East Asia is unsafe at all.

- As I said, I plan to go to Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, starting off in Thailand. What order would you recommend going around these countries?
You may find you meet someone on your trip in India and they are going to South-East Asia, so you just start off where they start.

I went Bangkok up to North Thailand, into Laos, across to Vietnam, down Vietnam into Cambodia and back into Thailand.

- What were the main cities/places you visited?
Main ones were Bangkok, Chang Mai, Vang Vieng, Louang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Hue, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Mui Ne, Saigon, Phnom Penh, Siam Reap, Ko Phan Ngan, Phuket and Ko Phi Phi

- How did you travel between countries and within countries, and how did you book said travel? (Something that's been confusing me especially.)
Generally I booked it all as I went along, apart from a couple of sleeper trains and did it by bus or internal flights (Air Asia flights in Asia are very cheap). In short I got to a town/city, found out how much I liked it there, stayed as long as I felt like it and then booked my onward transport the day before and then left the next day! Quite often the hotel/guesthouse/hostel I was staying in could arrange this.

Get out there and do it, you’ll be glad you did!


4. Posted by MsBuster (Budding Member 6 posts) 3y

Hi Claire,

I travelled with Stray Asia earlier this year on their Big Wat pass and can highly recommend it. It's a hop on hop off backpacker bus pass covering Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, think they also have passes for Vietnam now too.
Met some great people and visited some really remote places which I probably wouldn't have seen if I had been by myself.

Happy travels

Di x

5. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3562 posts) 3y

I took a look at Stray Asia and it is a convenient way to hop around SEA. My quibble was price. Roughly $1,400 for transport hitting, Tland, Cam. Laos, VN. They stop at selected GHs, but you can stay where you like. Accommodation is extra. It might be a bit more difficult, but doing on your own is way cheaper than $1,400 for 3 months of transport.

6. Posted by Saylor (Budding Member 13 posts) 3y


A friend and I are doing a very similar trip, both been in the same position of wanting to get away and adventure. I would say get your first booking made and then there is no going back!

We have just booked our initial flight to asia and taking the rest of the trip as it comes, arranging it all ourselves. we leave 14th may and will be flying into bangkok. We plan to spend three months going around south east asia (thailand, lao, vietnam, cambodia, back into thailand where we plan to do the islands, phi phi etc. August we then plan to fly over to melbourne australia and work our way up the coast on a working holiday visa.

7. Posted by Alexp87 (Budding Member 17 posts) 3y

Hi Clare

I completely understand what you're feeling - I'm doing the same!

I'm going travelling on my own for 6 months, starting in Australia at the beginning of Feb for 3 months, NZ for a month, Fiji for 2 weeks, then SE Asia for about 2 months - I have to say, that's the one that I'm most apprehensive about and everything that you've listed above is in my mind aswell!

I'll be having my 27th birthday whilst I'm away. When will you be in SE Asia? I'll be there from the 22nd June when I fly into Bangkok.

Would be great to hear from you.

Alex x

8. Posted by Thailandonmyown (Budding Member 51 posts) 3y

I went to Thailand on my own last year . (Am female lol) andit was the best thing I've ever done. I'm going back to SEA next year and can't wait . Travelling in Thailand is so easy there's a travel agent nearly every third shop and they do everything for you. Also as people have already said , you will not be on your own for long . I sat in a restaurant and met people off my plane and then had met about 10 more people and moved in to one of their hotel rooms by the second night. So much fun. Get going woman. :)

9. Posted by YGF (Budding Member 8 posts) 3y

Hello Clare;

I can understand you willing to travel abroad because you are the age to "fly" and feel free. I am a man and I travelled to SE of Asia many years ago and if you were my daughter my advise would be to avoid travelling alone to some of those countries. Your parents advise is my advise.
Some of the posts mention you get friends there very easy. This can be very nice but again my advise is to be carefull as not always this kind of friendship is what appears.
You should see the TV film series "Bangkok Hilton" about a very serious problem in which anyone can be involved. The film was produced in 1989 and was reflecting reality.

Excuse my english...

10. Posted by Katesmap (First Time Poster 1 posts) 3y

Take Care

[ Edit: Edited on 31-Oct-2013, at 22:05 by Nutmeg52 ]