6 mo solo female travel in Indochina

Old Aug 3rd, 2016, 08:22 PM
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6 mo solo female travel in Indochina

I've decided to travel extensively to SEA on my own. I've not done that much traveling and nothing on my own. I have searched the web for weeks and it's daunting. I've yet to go to the library and pull the travel guides off the shelf but will. With that said, I've considered flying in to Bangkok, staying for a week or so and researching tours, etc when I arrive and make my decisions as I go along. I'm a 60's solo female. I'm active but I do not want to be backpacking. I want to be a "traveler not a tourist"! Price ranges per day have been all over. I'm also wondering if there are respectable tour companies and if so which ones? I'm so excited! Any advice is appreciated.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2016, 11:30 PM
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I envy you a 6-month trip!

You will find many solo female travelers here on Fodor's who are not backpackers and who have had wonderful trips to this, and other, parts of the world. I haven't been to the places you list yet, but know that I would start by consulting guidebooks at my local bookstore or library, and then buying several to study in depth. And you might want to peruse this thread, where some of us have shared our solo travel experiences:
http://www.fodors.com/community/trav...collection.cfm

Hope that helps!
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Old Aug 4th, 2016, 06:33 AM
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How wonderful to have 6 months to explore my favorite part of the world!

Is this your first trip to SE Asia? One can travel SE Asia very cheaply or can live in the lap of luxury for moderate prices, which is part of why you have seen prices all over the place.

Certainly there are respectable tour companies. What do you want from tour companies? Are you looking for the occasional day trip with a group? Are you wanting a company to plan your whole 6 months? It sounds like you would like to have the flexibility to plan as you go, and that is possible - and easy - in this part of the world except for specific times of the year. If you are traveling in the last half of December through the week after New Year's you will need advance reservations almost everywhere.

Do use some of the good weather sites, as there are complex weather patterns you need to consider. I use www.weatherbase.com

Let me suggest you consider visiting Myanmar/Burma as it is less developed than the other countries and has only recently opened up to visitors.

A picture can be worth thousands of words. Take a look at our travel photos, mostly from SE Asia: www.marlandc.com

Feel free to ask questions here!
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Old Aug 4th, 2016, 07:04 AM
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I forgot to menton that I don't like group tours, so I don't use them in SE Asia (though I know many people who do use them for a day trip). I am more inclined to hire a car and drier if I want to go somewhere where there isn't public transport (at least easy public transport). Hiring a car and driver is inexpensive and gives you complete freedom about where to go.
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Old Aug 4th, 2016, 03:21 PM
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Kja and Kathie thank you for your replies. Kathie I plan on also going to Burma and Malaysia. The entire mainland with also a stop in Bali. This is my first trip. I've traveled very little. If I did use a tour it would need to be a small group tour but I've been reading not so good stories. I do think I want flexibility. I'm just so unsure. Hiring a car sounds like a good idea. I found a company, Tucan travels 71 day tour but reviews not impressive. Thought I might take their map/itenirary and use it on my own. Of course I won't need to keep to the 71 days or exact places but thought it would be a good place to start. It's a Bangkok to Bangkok trip. I would decided where I wanted to stay for Christmas and New Years then plan accordingly.
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Old Aug 4th, 2016, 05:00 PM
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I've sometimes used group tour itineraries as a starting point for my plans, but have learned to do so with great caution: Because group tours work with pre-arranged transportation, pre-arranged meals, etc. -- and often involve just "drive by visits" -- I've always found that at need at least twice the time as the tour itinerary would suggest.

Guidebooks like the Lonely Planet and Rough Guide usually offer some itinerary options that are much more realistic. And they will have information that you will find invaluable as you proceed!
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Old Aug 4th, 2016, 06:13 PM
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Thank you kja.
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Old Aug 5th, 2016, 10:28 AM
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One important piece of timing to build into your itinerary, whether a set one or more casual plans, is the visa issue, timing validity to arrival date. Sometimes getting them in advance before you leave doesn't work on a long trip, expiring before you arrive. On my own multi-month trips in Asia I've gotten a China visa in India, a Burma visa in Vietnam. Check to see where this might be an issue for a holder of your county's passport and keep it mind as you plan.
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Old Aug 5th, 2016, 01:13 PM
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I have done solo travel in SEA - some of my TRs are in the link kja posted, although perhaps not for SEA. It is very easy traveling, aside maybe for Myanmar, where the support of an in-country travel agency might be wise.

There is NO way I would sign up for a 71 day tour - what if you didn't like the people? I have used Intrepid a couple of times for tours in SEA, they tend to have good itineraries. Avoid their Basix level tours, though, they are more for backpackers.
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Old Aug 5th, 2016, 02:31 PM
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My wife and I spent most of last year in Asia and this year in South America. Planning such trips can be daunting. There are number of approaches you can take but I have found that the simplest is to get a guide book for the region - (Rough Guides SE Asia on a Budget would be my choice)and start ticking off the places that interest you. Once that is done, see how they might fit into a logical itinerary. Group tour operators have some excellent pre-planned trips that you can use as a guide. Intrepid Travel trip notes go into great detail but their trips travel at an alarming pace. IMO double the time they take!

BUDGET -All of us travel on a budget, the only variable being the size of that budget. We tend to break it down to a daily spend. The biggest expense will be accommodation, followed by food and then transport. Don't forget to consider entrances fees, tour costs etc. An average spend of $40-80 US per day would allow you to travel in a reasonable degree of comfort in SE Asia.

ORGANISED TOURs are expensive if booked from overseas, less so with local operators on the spot. Most times, tours are not necessary and it is far cheaper to DIY or just hire a guide and/or driver. Many hostels and guesthouses will help arrange these.
ACOMMODATION in Asia is inexpensive. Expect to pay $20-30 for a nice room with shower, much less for dorm rooms and shared facilities, much more for 5 * luxury. Smaller guesthouses and hotels are generally friendlier and better for meeting other travellers if that is what you want.

www.booking.com and www.hostelworld.com are good places to start to get an idea of prices and standards. In Asia I would also recommend using homestays as a way to get to know the people and gain a greater understanding of culture etc. It is not usually necessary to book in advance for many places.

RESEARCH - Guidebooks are fine but a couple of years out of date as soon as they hit the shelves. Not that it matters much as little changes, apart from prices!

I find www.travelfish.org to be an excellent resource for the region especially if your aim is to get to less visited places.

Having used just about every guide book going over the years, I prefer Rough Guides ( I think!) and have become more than a little exasperated with Lonely Planet in recent times. As kja suggests, get a few from the library to see how you get on with them before purchasing. It is usually easy to pick up old copies of guide books in guesthouse along the way and swap as you go.

ITINERARY - Whilst lots of research will reap rewards, it is perhaps best to not to have too rigid an itinerary on a long trip. If you really like somewhere, stay longer, if not, move on. Generally speaking accomodation and travel can be arranged as you travel.

TRANSPORT - Flights are generally cheaper booked in advance and essential if travelling over holiday periods like xmas and Tet. Last year we mostly used Air Asia who are always having sales (so sign up to their site to be kept informed) . Very cheap, very reliable.
Buses and, in some countries, trains are a viable means of getting around and great way to meet the local people. Do take car re bus companies though as there are some bad ones out there.

On longer trips like yours, it is sensible to build in a few days here and there, just to relax and do nothing. Enjoying yourself can be exhausting at times!

Have a great time planning!
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Old Aug 5th, 2016, 08:20 PM
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Such good advice. I appreciate your time and schooling. ��
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Old Aug 12th, 2016, 12:48 PM
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as I am thinking of a similar ( but abbreviated trip) as a 60 year old woman, I appreciate the info on this forum
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Old Aug 13th, 2016, 03:59 PM
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Loriss what are your plans ideas etc.
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