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Backpacking around SE Asia then to Australasia

Travel Forums Asia Backpacking around SE Asia then to Australasia

1. Posted by bookay (Budding Member 5 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Dear Travel Helpers

Looking to travel around SE Asia this March for 3 months.

I was thinking of starting in N. Vietnam then travelling by rail to Singapore. Flight hopping will then be used to travel to the Philippines and Indonesia then onto Oz or NZ to meet an old school friend.

I am researching this extensivley but I still have a few unanswered questions. Is it best to prebook flights Flights to the Philippines from other parts of asia seem expensive. Prebooking obviously restricts the freedom of the trip but ensures you move about and don't overstay in one place.

Is it possible to travel to the Philippine or to Indonesia by cheaper boat from Vietnam

Is it advisable to be on the safe side and pre order visas instead of just turning up at border/airpoint checkpoints

Looking say for a week in Vietnam 2 weeks in Thailand. 1 week Malaysia. 1 week Philippines. 1 week Indonesia. Any approx prices for this exc. transport The railway seems a cheap way to travel.

Is a UK photo driving licence advisable as extra ID backup I do not intend to drive.

Any advice on losing a debit card whilst away

Mobile prices abroad (On Orange)

Vaccination Jabs Don't intend to go off the beaten track but you never know.

Whats the mozzie situation like I have fair skin and suffered terribly in Mallorca about 10 years ago. I heard vitamin B1 in large doses helps.

Hope some of you seasoned travellers can offer some advice.



2. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3579 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

I am going to address a couple of your questions. You need to arrange your VN visa before you arrive.
I talk about this in my blog. It is under: 'Off to SaiGon'. Probably your best bet if flying into VN. Most TP members find it much cheaper to fly into BKK rather than either HAN or SGN. You may want to research this part of your trip further. I found a decent airfare to the Philippines.
Air Asia flies it for under $70 from KUL. Jetstar flies it from SIN, but is much more expensive if you check a bag, more like $220. Might want to fly this segment from KUL instead of SIN.

Cambodia visa is 'on arrival', $20. Thailand is 'on arrival' for most countries, 30 days free if flying in, 15 days if crossing via land. The P.I. will give you 21 days 'on arrival', free. Indonesia is also 'on arrival', $25 for 30 days.

The 'open tour' bus system is cheaper than the train in VN. Many companies offer the open tour, Sinh Cafe is the largest, best known travel company in VN. Once in either HAN or HCMC, any travel shop will inform you about the open tour bus system. I have used Sinh and Hanh Cafe, both good, avoid TM Bros. IMO. Bad buses when I used them.

Good luck with your planning, send me a PM if you have questions.

[ Edit: Edited on 21-Jan-2009, at 19:57 by vegasmike6 ]

3. Posted by bwiiian (Travel Guru 769 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Try for cheap flights into Philippines from many asian countries and also for flying within the Philippines. Although you may have problems with your credit card when booking online and have to phone them (this is really annoying and something they really need to sort out). There are no trains in philippines and it is difficult getting around, so as you are only there for 1 week i would work out your routes and decide where exactly you want to go and where you are going to stay before you get there otherwise you will spend a lot of your time messing about trying to work out how to get to places and waste a lot of time. it is very hard to get around compared to other places in asia. But don't let that put you off, it's a great country.

4. Posted by loubylou (Respected Member 664 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

vegasmike and bwiiian's suggestions are good.

The only thing I would say is by trying to fit so much in you are going to be spending most of your time travelling between the countries rather than relaxing and actually seeing anything - you'll be exhausted! Travelling by rail from North Vietnam to Singapore will take you quite a while and there are no train tracks in Cambodia which you will have to pass through to get to Thailand where the train tracks start again.

Maybe it would be better to just do 2 countries - I would logically say Thailand and Malaysia because it is a straight run down then you can get to Singapore for a flight before going to Oz and NZ, that way you will see more in those countries and be able to travel a lot slower rather than moving on every few days. You can leave the other countries for on the way back or for when you have more time. You really can't see much of a country in a week, especially ones the size of Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines.

Well that's just my opinion!

5. Posted by melawasi (Budding Member 20 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!


You’ve got three months to travel; my suggestion is book your flight in and out and when you get there just go with the flow!!

If you’re flying to oz from Singapore, I would suggest flying into Bangkok or kuala lumper whichever is cheaper then catch a cheap flight to Vietnam (visa needs to be arranged in advanced). From Vietnam cross to Cambodia, laos, Thailand then cross to Malaysia and endup in Singapore. There isn’t much in Singapore so don’t plan to spend too long. 2-3 days max.

Philippines maybe do another time – from what I’ve heard you would need a good couple of months to see the country.. Indonesia – I did not have the best experience there so not on my recommendation list!

Okay so your unanswered questions
1. pre booking – don’t do it just book internal flights when you’re there. Airasia are really good
2. boat from Philippine to Indonesia – not sure
3. visa – pre order Vietnam – laos, Thailand Malaysia Cambodia indoensia and Singapore you can get visa on arrival
4. costs – hostels £3-7 a night, food £5 a day, local transport £1-2 activities varies but to give you an idea a 3 day trek in chaing mai is approx 2500bhatt which is approx 50 quid
5. id – no need for secondary id – if you loose your passport your fcuked!!
6. Debit card – take visa/ master card/ cash/ travellers cheque with you. Whilst travelling earlier on this year I was on a small island in the south of Thailand and I tried to withdraw cash to find that my card has been cancelled, I phoned RBS and got transferred to a call centre in india where I was advised my card has been cancelled and a new card was sent to my address in the uk, and the only was for me to access funds is to go back and get my new card!! The guy could not understand I was in a different country and could not comprehend the inconvenience in me going back home to pick new card! RBS left me with no funds and I had to sort something out myself! If you bank with RBS consider another bank, I hear nationwide provide good services for travellers
7. mobile – you don’t need one out there, if you want to stay in contact with family/ friends do it via email or use phone at hostel. If you’re adamant get a sim card when you’re out there, it will work a lot cheaper than using any uk service providers
8. Vaccination Jabs – go to your gp and they will advice you what you need to get
9. mozzies – its bad out there so take whatever precautions you can. Spray…etc

Any other questions post away

All the best

6. Posted by bookay (Budding Member 5 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Dear Travellers,

Big thanks vegasmike6, bwiiian, loubylou and melawasi for your advice. Some really useful info there for me to go at.

OK, looks like NZ and Oz are out because we were hoping to get a work visa to pay for our travels. As we are both over 30 years old I don't think this option is viable unless someone knows a way around it.

Not pre-booking flights would make our travels less restrictive but how easy are the cheaper flights to come by. For example if we turned up Kuala Lumpa hoping to get the 80 GBP flight to Manila could we get a flight that instant

melawasi, you stated you did not have a good time in Indonesia. Any particular reason Anyone else had bad experiences in any of the planned destinations

How often do customs/border checkpoints ask for proof of finances for the stay and proof of return/onward flights

Finally, any particular regions to avoid for security/safety reasons What is the situation like in Bangkok at the moment after the recent riots at the airport I noticed certain Muslim areas of Vietnam/Thailand should be avoided due to unrest.

Hope you can all help!


7. Posted by frank_bkk (Full Member 101 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Bangkok is perfectly safe at the moment. No demonstrations, no nothing.

Dont even think about it, just come. Besides The Phillipines has always been far more dangerous than Thailand.

8. Posted by melawasi (Budding Member 20 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

I have been travelling in the far east for the past few years and have never had problems getting internal flights. If you leave it last minute you might pay an extra quid or 2, but you should never have problems booking flights. Recently I booked flight from kl to Chaing mai for 110£ (last minute) then a few weeks later I booked another last minute flight from bkk to krabi for 20squid.

Re- Indonesia; bali I found too touristy with no cultural experience whatsoever (I went to touristy towns!) and Jakarta I found very cold (people) and corrupt! And over polluted…etc

In the past few years I have never been stopped and asked for proof of finances! At immigration all you have to write down is an address of where you’re intending to stay and that’s about it.

There is no problems whatsoever in Thailand. Last years no riots took place, but peaceful demonstrations! No problem with the Muslims either, in the mostly Muslim populated islands the locals act more like bob Marley than osama bin laden!!

9. Posted by loubylou (Respected Member 664 posts) 9y Star this if you like it!

Yes, Bali is very touristy but there are still some really nice parts of Indonesia which I would whole-heartedly recommend. Java was a great experience (yes, Jakarta is just another city) we visited Yogyakarta (for Borobudur and Pramamban temples) then overlanded to Mount Bromo - fantastic other worldly experience. We then went overland to Bali (you might like it, you might not) and then onto Lombok for the Gilli islands. Love the Gilli islands, nice laid back beaches, cheap food and drink.

Vietnam was also amazing we really enjoyed it and we are looking into moving to Malaysia as it was one of our favourite countries.

As to being asked for proof of funds, this is unlikely to happen, but you may be asked for onward air tickets, not necessarily by Immigration but by airlines before they let you check in to your flight.