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Is it possible to do the Southeast Asian mainland on a bus?

Is it possible to do the Southeast Asian mainland on a bus?

Aug 1st, 2015, 11:31 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jul 2015
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Is it possible to do the Southeast Asian mainland on a bus?

I intend to take a 5 month break from work and I was wondering if it was possible to do the Southeast Asian mainland only through buses? Has anyone done it?
anlig is offline  
Aug 1st, 2015, 03:38 PM
  #2  
 
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It's possible, and lots of people do it. You might have better luck with details on a site with more backpackers, like Thorn Tree.

My daughter's friend traveled over quite a bit of Asia by bus. She was on an extremely tight budget. About half way through the trip, she realized that with some advance planning, flying was not that expensive, and gave her a lot more time to enjoy her travels. Local local buses not only took forever, but one or two crazy drivers and crummy buses made her realize she valued her safety a bit over the few dollars she saved.
lcuy is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2015, 01:18 AM
  #3  
 
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Don't do any overnight travel by road in SE Asia.
LancasterLad is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2015, 01:24 AM
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What's the problem, LLad? O'nite buses in T'land OK but drivers may be only fair. OP asked about buses and you imply all road travel at night not good. I have found no real negative issues, but it's' not like USA.
jobin is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2015, 02:42 AM
  #5  
 
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It is entirely possible and as lcuy says, lots of people do it, whether it is advisable, is and entirely different question.

I have used buses all over SE Asia over the year and am currently on an extended trip in the region but am using planes much of the time on this trip. Bus driving standards in many SE Asia countries, notably Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand, range from barely adequate to appalling. One one bus ride through the Mekong delta the Cambodian border the driver was actually watching movies on his iPad for much of the time! Some bus companies will routinely pack 20 people into a 12 seater minibus. If you do do it it is worth paying a little extra for the best bus company you can find ( even then there are no guarantees).

Like LancasterLad I would advise against using overnight buses at all. It is simply not worth the risk. many drivers routinely use amphetamines to stay awake and the "sleeping buses" themselves are death traps consisting of a tubular steel frame built inside the buse to hold the beds. Hard enough to get in and out of normally, in a crash it would be nigh on impossible.

See http://tuoitrenews.vn/society/25994/...entral-vietnam - sadly not an uncommon occurrence.

Having said all of this, to get to many of the more remote and most interesting places in Asia, bus travel is a necessity and, on the positive side, it is a great way to meet the local people.

Trains are a viable alternative in some countries for longer journeys www.seat61.com
crellston is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2015, 03:35 AM
  #6  
 
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@jobin<<>>

A lot of Thailand is easy enough by train, Kanchanaburi, Ayutthaya, Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan and down the Gulf coast to Surat Thani, Chiang Mai, Nong Khai, Aranyapraphet (for Cambodia). So train is my choice for most overland trips, particularly to or from Bangkok. Rail travel is fun, you mix with the locals, and you can move around a bit. Just don't have any onward travel arranged same day as the train will inevitably be late.

Being cramped up in a van anywhere doesn't do much for me, and my last big bus trip from Prachuap Khiri Khan to Bangkok (Southern) broke down twice and took twice as long as it should have, and also included a crawl for the last 30 miles. Plus there's the security issues with your gear if you fall asleep.

But as Crellston mentions, bus journeys are necessary to reach some of the interesting places. My favouries being Sangkthlaburi on the Thai-Myanmar border, day trips from CM, Vang Vieng in Laos, and the awesome Prithvi Highway between Kathmandu and Pokhara [definitely to be avoided in the dark!].
LancasterLad is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2015, 06:29 AM
  #7  
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Thanks everyone! It's good to know that it is possible but not without its risks. I guess the best thing would be for me to be extra judicious and first find out on which routes have a bad rep to substitute with train or flights.

My plans include Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and possibly Myanmar, and currently thinking of travelling in early 2016.

Cheers
anlig is offline  
Aug 2nd, 2015, 08:35 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
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Yes. It's possible but I do not recommend it because it's tiring and boring. You should rent a motorcycle and make your journey with it.
KimFionafromUK192 is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2015, 12:30 AM
  #9  
 
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Malaysia is one country where buses are a nice way to travel!
lcuy is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2015, 12:33 AM
  #10  
 
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"You should rent a motorcycle and make your journey with it." only if you have a death wish! The worst suggestion I have read on these forums in a long time.
crellston is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2015, 05:37 AM
  #11  
 
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No kidding "You should rent a motorcycle and make your journey with it." is terrible advice. The leading cause of death for both tourists and locals in SE Asia are motorcycle accidents.
Kathie is offline  
Aug 4th, 2015, 12:45 AM
  #12  
 
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I used to do that travel when visited Vietnam and it's really fun. There's always a risk when you transport regardless of bus, train, plane or motorcycle.
KimFionafromUK192 is offline  

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