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6 months SE Asia and New Zeland

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Hello. My friend and I are planning to go to Bangkok on the 1st of november. Were planing to travel Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and possibly even Laos.
Here comes my first set of questions:
How to most effeciently travel around all of these and than end up in Ho Chí Minh - I would like to take a flight from there to Philliphines. I'm not planning on partying, sky diving or any crazy expensive adventures - we simply want to see the nature and the popular temples. How much time would I need to see all of these countries so I can buy the flight ticket (Vietnam - Philliphines). Also, how much money Should i expect to spend in this period( So far I'm thinking 2 months?) .. I've read stories of people spending as little as 20 pounds and as much as 35 or possibly even more per day. Meaning the monthly budget ranges from 350-700 pounds. Realisticaly how much would that be? How long should i stay in Philliphines? Tips?
From Philliphines I'm thinkin to fly to Singapur for 2-3 nights (any tips for cheap sights in singapur?) - and than New Zeland. This is obiviously different price range and brings all different problems and questions.
On New Zeland were mostly planning to work as workaways - probably stay there about 2 months in different places (This would be around Febuary, March).
I dont have an international driving license as it's expired(cause it lasts a year and I dont have the means to renew it), only European one. Would I get into trouble without it?
How strict is New Zelands visa control? What do I need to know before goin there?
From New zeland I'm planning Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia and than eventually back to London.

We're very open to ideas and suggestions so please tell me if this is realistic with a 6000 pounds/person budget. 4500 after paying flights.


Summary

Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos - 2 months? - ideas please?
- budget 500 pounds/month?
Philliphines - 3 weeks? - ideas?
-400 pounds?
New zeland - 2 months - 70% of the time as workaways - 1000 pounds?(Hopefully less with free accomodation and food)
Malaysia - 2-3 weeks? - 350 pounds?

I've also got safety concerns - visas, transportation, What kind of luggage to take, anything honestly.

Answers to atleast any of these questions greatly appreciated!
Thank you,
Lukas and Katerina

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    You have lots of questions, many of which cannot be answered without more information. It's impossible for me to tell you how much you will spend - we all travel differently. It sounds like you are trying to do the cheapest possible trip. When you are suggesting 20-35 GBP per day, is that per person or for two of you? I don't think it is possible to do that budget for two of you, but per person, it is a tight budget but perhaps do-able. 500 GBP per month I fear is way low: it's 16 GBP per day. You will be hard pressed just to get lodging for that amount. And of course, it will cost you more because you are traveling around and getting from place to place costs money. Even your low estimate of 20 GBP per day would be 600 GBP per month for one person.

    Don't think in terms of whole countries - think about what places you want to see/experience (cities or areas rather than a whole country). In two months, you want to see 4 whole countries - not going to happen.

    Safety will be the least of your concerns - these are very safe counties to travel in. Money will be your problem. Look at visa costs for Laos (about US$30 each) and Cambodia (about US$30 each) and VN. VN offers a short visa-free stay for UK passport holders.

    Singapore is an expensive city, especially for lodging.

    For Malaysia, are you planning only peninsular Malaysia or are you hoping to go to Sabah and Sarawak (which are more expensive)?

    Also note that the time around Christmas and the New Year is the most expensive time of the year to travel in SE Asia. Lodging prices often double beginning the second half of December, particularly in beach areas.

    I hope your trip is in 2017, as you still have a lot of research to do!

    Other resources for you: Lonely Planet's Thorntree Forum and www.travelfish.org

    Good luck to you.

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    I have been to all of the countries you have mentioned, except the Philippines and Singapore. First of all, regarding SEA, since you are flying into Bangkok, you should follow the geography and go west to east, until you get to Vietnam. I would fly, but since you're a budget traveler, you might want to consider taking buses. SEA is cheap for hotels in the low end, and food is cheap, but it still costs money to get places.

    Regarding New Zealand, visa control is extremely strict. In fact, before we boarded our Air New Zealand flight from Sydney to Auckland, the gate agent insisted on seeing proof of a return flight. I had to dig the documents out of my luggage. New Zealand is expensive, food and hotels are high, even in the mediocre range. To save money, we bought some food at grocery stores--they have amazing yogurt and cheese there. My son and I rented a car, and we did not have to get international driver licenses. In my recent travels, I believe Japan is the only country that insisted on one.

    BTW, be sure and hike the Milford Trek in New Zealand. We did it with an organized high end tour, but you can do it on your own, provided you make reservations well in advance. I would have to rate it as my #1 travel experience, ever.

    Regarding Malaysia, East Malaysia (Borneo) is pretty spread out, so you will want to fly to get around. Tickets are pretty cheap, but they may go over your budget. Maybe you can limit your destinations there, such at Sandakan/Sukau, and then the Mulu caves paired with Kuching.

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    You can travel round much of Thailand by train. It's a bit slower than by road, but cramped vans and often cronky old buses driven by sleep deprived kamikaze jockeys aren't my cup of tea. Trains are also a far more atmospheric and authentic way of getting around.

    Here's an excellent website on Thai trains, and contains all you need to know...

    http://www.seat61.com/Thailand.htm#.V8P-89QrJkg

    It's not worth suggesting places to visit, as you need to do your homework. But nothing is difficult. If you're interested in a bit of WWII history, and as a Brit, you should give Kanchanaburi [Bridge over the River Kwai] 2 or 3 days. Very easy to do by train from Bangkok, and easily achievable on a shoestring.

    As you're on a tight budget getting from Bangkok to the Cambodian Border [Poipet] is simple by train. It's a lovely 6 hour ride in a 3rd Class only train and costs 48 baht [£1].

    Kick-off Cambodia in the north and leave from the south by boat or bus into Vietnam. Something like Battambang-Siem Reap-Phnom Penh-Saigon. Lots of side trips as you go.

    Vietnam's a long narrow country. Getting from the south [Saigon] to the north [Hanoi] is straightforward by bus, train or inexpensive flights. But you need to research where you want to see and how long to spend at places. Vietnam is also a v.inexpensive destination. Here's the train info for Vietnam...

    http://www.seat61.com/Vietnam.htm

    If you visit Hoi An, which you should for a few days, then make Hue your next stop, and do it by train from nearby Danang to Hue. It's a beautiful 3 or 4 hour journey all the way, and a snip at 42,000 dong [£1.25].

    I wouldn't bother booking too much in advance, as you'll probably want to change your plans as you go along.

    Laos is also v.easy, but the more countries you want to visit the less time you'll have for each, and less often = more.

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    If I understand correctly, your main concern is around budget and that budget is £4500 per person excluding flights?

    If so then it will be very tight but just about feasible. Just not expect to stay in anything other than basic accomodation and eat simple meals. If you can find 30-50% more then your experience will be enhanced immeasurably. Plenty of people travel on less.

    We spent the whole of last year travelling in Asia, NZ and Australia - details on our blog @ https://accidentalnomads.com where you may find something useful. Our least favourite country was the Phillipines. We planned to stay for three weeks and left after 3 days. In your case, I would say that including the Phillipines adds too much to the overall cost.

    One tip is to join up on the air Asia website for special deals. We found it cheaper to get a LHR to SIngapore return and then a Air Asia return from KL to Sydney. They are also great for getting around Asia on the cheap.

    On the travel tips section of our blog you will find my complete packing list. My advice is to go with a carry-on bag only. Much less hassle on planes and buses and of course, easier to carry.

    New Zealand are very tight on visas so make sure you get the right one. If you don't then you won't be a able to work. The workaway programme is great but the downside is that you won't have much time to see what is arguably to most fantastic country on the planet!

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