Looking for advice: 3 1/2 months itinerary:Vietnam-Indonesia

Travel Forums Asia Looking for advice: 3 1/2 months itinerary:Vietnam-Indonesia

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1. Posted by Enthusiast (Budding Member 6 posts) 45w Star this if you like it!

Hi folks!

28 yo German here. I'll start my first solo-travel from May until Mid August this year in SEA. I'd really appreciate if you could try to answer my below questions :)

As for now, I'm planning to fly from Frankfurt to Hanoi (better climate than in June), travel down Vietnam and then cross into Laos midway, go South into Cambodia, travel down the bay of Thailand and then start exploring Indonesia from there. No clue about which parts of Indonesia I want to explore yet, but I'm eyeing Sumatra & Sulawesi. Still have to learn so much about Indonesia first. My budget is 4000€ including flights.

1.) Does this route seem doable to you in 3 1/2 months? If no, what would you do differently? Which countries would you, personally, skip before the others?

2.) I planned to travel from North to South and not the other way round, since I was told that the climate in the North (Hanoi) is better in May than in August. Can you confirm?

3.) If this makes sense to you, which way would you recommend to leave SEA back to Germany? For example, if I'd leave from Indonesia, which airport is usually the cheapest?

4.) Lastly, can you recommend locations/ things to do in any of the countries i mentioned? Or perhaps even other countries?
I've been looking for places I wanna see but the sheer mass of information in travel guides etc. overwhelms me. So I decided to simply ask people, whom have already been travelling, what they can honestly recommend. To help you giving me recommendations, here's what I'm looking for in this journey, ranked by priority:

1. Alternating between beautiful nature ( jungle>beach>mountains) and crazy cities (concerning nightlife and cultural activities such as flea markets etc).
2. Meeting friendly people - locals or fellow backpackers - doesn't matter. Calm but funny people that are into honest, long conversations over a beer.
2. Exploring the local culture. Getting in touch with people and learning about their different perspective on looking at life.
3. Nightlife - I'm 28 and nightlife is important to me. I'm not talking about superficial Full-Moon parties with pathetic music - I'm used to Berlin: chill, open-air vibe - deep house/ afro-house music in an alternative, non-posh, location with people that know how to behave themselves.
4. Food :)

If you read through all of the above and even feel like helping me out : kudos to you! Really appreciate it!

2. Posted by Enthusiast (Budding Member 6 posts) 45w Star this if you like it!

5.) When is the best time to buy flight tickets? I got 3 months left now and a no-return flight to Hanoi is 400€ now. Is that comparatively expensive? Will it get cheaper, likely?

3. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 2125 posts) 45w Star this if you like it!

"28 yo German here. I'll start my first solo-travel from May until Mid August this year in SEA."

Male or female? You might get some different answers depending on gender. There are posts on this forum for solo woman traveler and solo travelers in general. Do a search and read some. Also a simple Google type search for "solo traveler Southeast Asia" will give you advice.

You must carefully research the visa requirements for each country. Some countries may require proof of onward travel. This proof of onward travel could be enforced at a departure airport.

You should work up a budget and see how much money you have for each day of spending AFTER paying for flights. How much you can afford for your hotel room, how much for food, how much for drinking, etc. Also have back up sources of spending money. Don't rely on a single debit card. Have credit cards available for emergencies that may come up. You could lose a single card or even have a hotel visitor steal it.

One constant for each place you visit is a hotel room. Any advice you get for particular places will depend on how much you want to spend per night. You must determine how much you can afford each day for a hotel room. If you find that you will be staying in a lot of crappy places because of your budget pay more per day for your hotel rooms and go home earlier.

Bangkok is pretty good for all sorts of nightlife. Bangkok is cheaper than some good beach areas. Some males prefer Pattaya for cheaper nightlife but the beach is no good. In Thailand the Full Moon Party at Koh Phangan is popular. If you are female and you get wasted on alcohol or dope you will be used by many men when you pass out and can't resist. For Ko Phangan FMP more teenagers go there to get wasted without any parental control.

When you do your research pull up a couple maps on your computer. Look over the best routes. You will have to purchase some flights to reach some of the distant locations. When you subtract the cost of your plane rides you have to see how much per day you have available. Not a lot per day stay for a shorter visit and have more daily spending money.

Not easy to find legal work overseas for spending money.

You have some time to sort things out.

One warning concerns drugs - don't do drugs in Asia! When you get caught you will be thrown in some crappy jail or in some circumstances executed. This is for stuff that might routinely be overlooked in many Western countries. In Thailand right now there are severe restrictions for smoking in some beach locations. Also if you use E-cigarettes there are some restrictions you should be aware of too.

Make sure you have 6 months left on your passport from the final country. Oh yeah, keep your passport safe, clean and dry. Keep copies of your info page in your passport and visa stamps in case you lose your passport or "friend" you meet up with steals it. (My advice if you chum around with someone you meet up with be careful with your cash and other valuables. Trust no one you did not know from back home!)

Check for rain for some places you intend to visit. Rain does not mean don't visit just keep in mind you may have to schedule what you do at what time.

https://www.travellerspoint.com/guide/Asia/

If you can't stay in a halfway decent and safe place each night don't go for such a long visit!

[ Edit: Edited on 01-Feb-2018, at 03:24 by karazyal ]

4. Posted by Teoni (Respected Member 613 posts) 45w Star this if you like it!

3. Nightlife - I'm 28 and nightlife is important to me. I'm not talking about superficial Full-Moon parties with pathetic music - I'm used to Berlin: chill, open-air vibe - deep house/ afro-house music in an alternative, non-posh, location with people that know how to behave themselves.

Your best bet will be in Thailand in the really touristy areas or Jakarta (which is a real hipster paradise when it comes to music;)) if you plan to spend any time there. Anyway try these website as a starting point for Thailand:

http://mixmag.asia/read/mixmag-asia-guide-to-the-best-underground-music-clubs-in-bangkok-city-guides/

http://www.bkkme.com/city/5-cool-underground-clubs-in-bangkok/

You have to remember Vietnam is still a communist country, so experimenting with music has to remain within censorship laws, so the alternative music scene isn't going to be as extensive.

And for Indonesia try this site:

https://www.indoclubbing.com/

Cambodia:

https://phnom-penh-underground.com/

As for Laos, while there is a party scene, there isn't much in the way of a club scene. But there is a lively bar scene if that would interest you.

[ Edit: Edited on 01-Feb-2018, at 06:22 by Teoni ]

5. Posted by indochina_junk (Budding Member 2 posts) 42w Star this if you like it!

Three and a half month is more than enough to discover both Vietnam and Indonesia. For Vietnam, we recommend you to take an overnight cruise at Bai Tu Long Bay, which is less touristy than Halong Bay.
There are 3 main types of cruises:

· Day trip cruises

· 2 Day-1 Night cruises (2D1N)

· 3 Day-2 Nights cruises (3D2N)
Often you will get reluctant between day cruise and overnight cruise; to be fair, the overnight cruises allow you discover the bay more relaxingly while adding a few more activities to your itinerary.

Day trip cruise is a short journey created to give you a short observation of the breathtaking scenery of Halong Bay. The day cruises can be classified as the haft-day cruise and full-day cruise. While attending day cruises allows you to travel from Hanoi to Halong and back within a day where your time is limited; otherwise, we strongly recommend you to book an overnight cruise.

2 day 1-night cruise is a great option to admire the marvelous natural beauty of Halong Bay in a limited time frame. This itinerary lets you not only discover the beautiful thousands of limestones islands and islets but also participate interesting outdoor activities such as swimming on a wild beach, kayaking around the island and visiting a fantastic cave on the Bay.

3 day 2-night cruise is ideal for you to discover Halong Bay and local life in a relaxed schedule. You will get to visit a cave, go kayaking and take a look at a floating village, and have a BBQ lunch on the beach. This trip takes you deep into natural wonder, and you will experience two memorable nights in the majestic bay. In the itinerary of 3-day 2-night cruises, some operators will organize you on a day boat to explore the bay on the second day of trip and back to the main boat in the afternoon; on the other hand, Indochina Junk offers you a continuous cruise experience, not switching between boats on the second day of the trip.

6. Posted by Kienhoang (Budding Member 6 posts) 41w Star this if you like it!

1/ I think it is possible for you to do this travelling plan in 3 and a half months in SEA,

2/ Yeap, you are right. The climate in the North Vietnam in May is much cozier than in August (hot and rainy). At that time, you can see the lush green rice terraces in this region under the sunshine blue sky.

3/ There is no direct flights from Indonesia to Frankfurt. You still have to transit at least 1 stop, for example in Bangkok with Thai Airways, in Saigon with Vietnam Airlines or may be some airports in Middle East. Hence, I suggest an itinerary following: Frankfurt - Flight to Hanoi and travel down to the South - Cambodia exploration - Laos (Pakse region and then the North) - Thailand - Indonesia - Finish in Singapore. Then fly back to Frankfurt with Singapore Airlines or Lufthansa.

4/ Some recommendations of the spots in each country as belows:
- Vietnam: Hanoi, Northwest provinces (scenery landscape, hill tribes, trekking), Halong Bay, Ninh Binh, Hue, Hoi An Ancient Town, Saigon, Cu Chi Tunnels, Mekong Delta
- Cambodia: Siem Reap, Sihanoukville
- Laos: Southern Laos (Pakse, Champasak, Bolaven Plateau, Siphandon), Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Vientiane
- Thailand: Bangkok, Kanchaburi, North of Thailand (Ayuthaya, Uthai Thani, Sukhoithai, Phitsanulok, Sri Satchanalai, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai), then do the island hopping. If you want to discover the untouched and pristine island, I propose the Cock Burn Island. Although it is located in Burma, we still can reach this easily from Ranong. Search it and you will not be disappointed by the amazing beauty.
- Indonesia: I have a little knowledge of this country; nevertheless, I am strongly impressed by Bali and the neighbor Lombok, Bromo and Jien Mountains.

Don't forget to join the street food tour on foot or by Vespa in Hanoi. Vietnam is really the heaven for food porn, even more than Thailand.

7. Posted by Enthusiast (Budding Member 6 posts) 41w Star this if you like it!

@ Kienhoang:

thanks so much for your detailed answer - it was exactly what I'm looking for!

Since you seem quite experienced in that region I do have a question regarding my itinerary:

In my post I stated, that I wanted to start in Hanoi and go south from there. However, after reading countless blogs, I realized that it would be mid July by the time I reach southern Thailand - right during the rain season. I'm still not sure whether it's worth including southern Thailand in my tour due to expected heavy rain season, especially the islands around Koh Samui , Krabi region and the islands on the westside including Cock Burn island, that you mentioned yourself. I know the eastern part of southern Thailand shouldn't be a problem weather wise, but the western part isn't advised to travel during July.

That's why I thought of an alternative Itinerary to see the Southern region of Thailand first:

Fly to Bangkok - take a nightbus down to Krabi: explore the islands on the east & west coast in almost 2 weeks - take a nightbus back to Bangkok - from Bangkok travel into Cambodia - from Cambodia into southern Vietnam - travel Vietnam all the way from the south to the North - from northern Vietnam through northern Laos , back into northern Thailand - from northern Thailand down to Bangkok - from Bangkok take a flight to Jakarta and start exploring Indonesia for 3 remaining weeks.

My questions:
1.)Do you think it's worth including southern Thailand in my trip? ( islands around Koh Samui , Krabi region and the islands on the westside including Cock Burn island). In respect to my 4x guidelines I listed.

2. If so, wouldn't my above proposed route be better than my initial one, since it let's me explore southern Thailand in May when the weather is supposed to be better than in July? This route would mean that I end up in northern Vietnam in the end of June when the weather is not supposed to be too good but in my head, I imagine southern Thailand to be more worthwhile in good weather than northern Thailand?

And since you have so many location recommendations: May I ask your age and if you've traveled there yourself before?

8. Posted by kickass98 (Budding Member 3 posts) 41w Star this if you like it!

Hi i'm Đức from VietNam , i have some places for you to travel in Hanoi
- Hồ Gươm
- Văn miếu quốc tử dám
- Lăng Bác
some foods you should try
- Phở (it's best food in Hanoi)
- Bún chả
-Bún riêu
...
and something you need to remember:
you must ask price before you buy something if you don't want to buy something expensive
and i think you should go Ha Long Bay , Sapa , they are very nice , not to far from Hanoi.
if you want to know something more or travel to Hochiminh city you can message to me on facebook.
-snip-
i really like to talk with foreigner and learn English.

[ Edit: Sorry, no personal details please. ]

9. Posted by Kienhoang (Budding Member 6 posts) 41w Star this if you like it!

@ Enthusiast:

1/ I really love the island life in Thailand especially in Koh Lipe and Koh Lanta. I haven't been to Krabi, but my friend said that this is amazing. I suppose that if you come to Indonesia with the aim of enjoying the turquoise water and white sandy beaches, please leave Thailand behind. You will be upset about Thailand after the experience in Indonesia though I haven't gone to Indonesia before. In my judgment, Indonesia and The Philippines are two archipelago countries that own such most fabulous beaches and islands in SEA. Regarding the Cock Burn Island, I've just saw it on Instagram and amazed by its unspoiled beauty.

2/ Yeap you are totally right. Yes, I'm a big fan of beach life, so I do love exploring southern than northern Thailand. I recommend another route:
Frankfurt - Flight to Bangkok (road trip to the North of Thailand and finish in Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai) - Flight to the airports of any islands (2 weeks in the South and finish in Phuket) - Direct flight to Siem Reap with Air Asia (trip around this country and reach further to the border Laos - Cam to get to Pakse) - Journey from South to the North of Laos (end in Vientiane or Luang Prabang) - Coach to Hanoi (North to the South and finish in Saigon) - Flight to Jakarta with VNA.

3/ I'm so young (just graduated from university for a few months). I passed a half of Southeast Asian countries. Thanks to a workshop about tourism in Thailand I had the chance to embark on the expedition of some parts in the North Thailand and then come back this country for beach getaway once (Koh Lipe then heading to Langkawi in Malaysia). I had the terrible time in Cambodia last year. I came to this country in the New Year; thus, it is possible that it is more crowded and chaotic than usual. Frankly, I would never come back Cambodia if it weren't for the inspection trip or friends inviting. Note that this is just my experience, give this country a try. I have a rich knowledge of this region because I work for an agency as a trip designer.

10. Posted by Enthusiast (Budding Member 6 posts) 41w Star this if you like it!

Quoting Kienhoang

@ Enthusiast:

2/ Yeap you are totally right. Yes, I'm a big fan of beach life, so I do love exploring southern than northern Thailand. I recommend another route:
Frankfurt - Flight to Bangkok (road trip to the North of Thailand and finish in Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai) - Flight to the airports of any islands (2 weeks in the South and finish in Phuket) - Direct flight to Siem Reap with Air Asia (trip around this country and reach further to the border Laos - Cam to get to Pakse) - Journey from South to the North of Laos (end in Vientiane or Luang Prabang) - Coach to Hanoi (North to the South and finish in Saigon) - Flight to Jakarta with VNA.
.

This sounds like a good itinerary - thanks a lot! Just booked my flight to Bangkok :)