SE Asia

Apr 9th, 2015, 03:45 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 2
SE Asia

Hi, I'm about to leave to go to Australia to pick fruit next tuesday, it's my first big trip and I'm terrified.

Anyway, I'm going with a few mates and after we save some money, we plan to travel round SE Asia. We should hopefully have around £5-6000 and want to backpack for as long as we can and see as many countries as we can (Not so many that we're in a rush though).
I had a vague route planned, which included places like Bali and Malaysia, but I'm starting to think I could travel for longer if I avoided places like that, I also wanna avoid the main tourist traps. I was wondering where you guys would suggest we go? I really want to get as long as possible out of it so the main goal is cheap areas.
That said, I still want to enjoy myself but I'm pretty frugal so I'd be happy to eat mainly streetfood, take buses, stay in hostels etc. and for the most part don't care about any tours or stuff like that. We just want to see some of everything really history, culture, food, nature, a bit of partying etc.

Where would you guys suggest I go?
CosmicGypsy is offline  
Apr 9th, 2015, 03:59 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,783
Where is cheap? Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, VN. Malaysia is more expensive than these countries. Higher priced countries are Burma, and at the top are Singapore and Hong Kong.

Rather than just looking for cheap, I'd suggest you do some research on these places and decide what appeals to you. What do you want to see/do/experience on this trip? This is a fascinating area of the world, and it would be a shame to miss fabulous places because your focus was just on cheap. There is no need for tours or guides in any of these places, particularly if you have done your research ahead of time.
Kathie is offline  
Apr 9th, 2015, 05:32 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,337
Laos and Cambodia the cheapest countries in SEA by far. Staying in dorms you could get by paying less than £5 per night. If there is a small group of ypu then you would probably get a whole dorm to yourselvesl. You are entering the low season for most places now so are lily to get discounts anyway. Easy just to turn up and find somewhere on spec. Also check out and for ideas of cost.

Thailand is getting expensive now but if you avoid the main tourist areas, it is still possible to travel relatively cheaply. Same with Malaysia.

One country not on your list, which I would urge you to consider is Vietnam. Still possible to travel very cheaply there.

Don't just focus on the cost. Sometimes it is necessary to fork out some cash to get to see the best sights Asia has to offer, otherwise what is the point of travelling there?

Check out for more detailed info on travel throughout Asia.
crellston is offline  
Apr 9th, 2015, 09:02 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 2,759
I wouldn't eliminate Bali. There's a well developed back-packer culture that would allow you to experience "history, culture, food, nature, a bit of partying" without spending a lot of money. Other parts of Indonesia are even more off the beaten track and even more economical.

The major expense in traveling throughout Southeast Asia is the cost of getting from place to place. As you lay out your itinerary, be sure to factor in airfare between countries. Surface travel by bus or ferry may be cheap but may not be safe or practical.

How much time have you allotted for this trip and what months will you be traveling in? This will make a difference in the number of places you visit.
marmot is offline  
Apr 10th, 2015, 02:12 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 2
Thanks guys.
As for how long I plan to travel, well basically as long as the money will last, I was thinking like 6-7 months or so but if the money stretches further then I'll carry on. As for what month, we'll probably leave for Asia in from around October to December, depending on how much money we've saved.
Vietnam is definitely one I mean to check out, didn't mean to leave it off. Do you guys think it's better to just go there with a vague idea of a route or is it better to plan the whole journey?
CosmicGypsy is offline  
Apr 10th, 2015, 08:33 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,783
You will need to do some planning, but you certainly don't need to go there with the whole trip planned and booked. Be aware that for VN, you must have a visa in advance if you are entering overland. If you are flying into Hanoi or HCMC, you can get a pre-arranged visa. Visas for other countries, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia you can get on arrival Be aware that you passport must be good for 6 months beyond the dates of your travel. Also, make sure you have plenty of blank pages - the Cambodia visa require two pages for instance, and they will turn you away at the border if you don't have them. Also, there are plenty of scams for the unwary in crossing land border. gives you the info you need for entering Cambodia and has good info for other countries.

I would suggest you book your first few nights before you get there. From then on, you can choose whether to wing it or to book a few days ahead. Be aware that the time from mid-Dec though New Years is the highest of the high season - prices will go up (double or triple). especially at beach areas and it may be difficult to find lodging if you haven't pre-booked in some areas.
Kathie is offline  
Apr 10th, 2015, 04:15 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,337
you need a basic plan of where and when you are going in order to make the best of your trip. If you don't then the chances are you will just end up on the usual backpacker/ tourist trail and miss some of the best stuff. The more research you do in advance the better but you don't necessaarily need to stick to any given plan or itinerary.

A number of factors to take into account are:

1. Visa requirements - as a UK citizen ( I presume) most countries Do not require a visa and allow you to stay for 30 days. - Vietnam is an exception. If you want to stay longer than 30 days in any country then you will probably need to apply for a visa in advance.
2. Weather - check for each place you are visiting and plan accordingly. It is not the main factor but you won't want to be at the beach when it is constantly raining.
3. Identify the "must see" places on your list and try and work them in to some sort of logical order- no point and expensive to keep doubling back.
4. Join airline programmes like Air Asia and Jetstar and you will get advised when sales are on and there are some real bargains to be had. Overland travel is the best way to experience the region but sometimes the odd flight makes more sense.

We are currently 4 months into on a similar trip to yours, a year through Asia en route to australia. Did we plan? A little. Are we sticking to that plan? Not at all! That said the more research ( as opposed to planning) you do either now or en route, the better.

Have a great trip and come back and tell us all about it in a trip report.
crellston is offline  
Apr 11th, 2015, 01:56 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 2,759
Sounds like a great opportunity!

Although it would make sense to make Indonesia your first stop after Australia, November to February is Bali's rainy season, which isn't the ideal time to travel there. The best time for Bali and neighboring islands like Lombok or Java would be April to October. July/August is high tourist season and rates go up, but it's also a fun time to meet other young travellers.

You can get a 30 day visa on arrival which can be extended another 30 days once you're in Indonesia.

I would also note that the major Islamic holidays that follow Ramadan will take place this year roughly from July 15 to 25. These holidays don't impact Bali too much (because Bali is Hindu), but it's not a great time to travel to other parts of Indonesia and most of Malaysia.

I agree, pick a few must see destinations then think about how you'll get from place to place. My top picks would be Bali and Java, Bangkok and Siem Reap (Angkor). If you want to go further afield in Indonesia, I'd recommend Sulawesi and Nusa Tenggara (Sumbawa, Sumba and Flores).

Air Asia is your friend.
marmot is offline  
Apr 13th, 2015, 04:57 PM
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 443
"Laos and Cambodia the cheapest countries in SEA by far." This is not correct. Thailand is cheaper than Laos now for all but western style dining. Even that is changing; we had good meal in a new Italian restaurant the other week and 2 main courses, desert and a good bottle of wine cost $110 USD.
For clothes, Malaysia is cheap if you know where to shop.
Vientianeboy is offline  
Apr 15th, 2015, 01:42 AM
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 454
What a huge price for a meal in T'land. I thought golf was expensive. In fact, it's unclear to me where you ate that meal.
jobin is offline  
Apr 15th, 2015, 04:30 PM
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 443
As my response to a rude post was removed, let me tell you where we ate. It was a place called La Acqua. It was an excellent meal, but horrendously expensive for Lao, though still less than you would pay in Australia.

Those who say Lao is cheaper than its neighbours have obviously not been here for a long time. In the 10 years I have lived here, everything has gone up a lot. Sreet food has doubled and in some cases trebled in price, electricity, groceries etc have all gone up. There is a reason why Vientiane residents go to Nong Khai or Udon regularly to do their shopping. We go about every month or so. Thailand is cheaper in all apart from Western food.
Vientianeboy is offline  

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