Author Topic: Backpacking SEAsia  (Read 2874 times)

Offline thelostcookie

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Backpacking SEAsia
« on: Jul 04, 12, 10:24 AM »
Hi everyone,
I'm a 23yo female planning to backpack Thailand/Laos/Vietnam/Cambodia/Malaysia in Oct/Nov but am quite lost at the moment. Hoping anyone with prior experiences would be able to share their wisdom?

Some bugging questions..
Female travelling these places solo? Is it safe?
What are the best forms of transport around these days?
Must-see sights and sounds?
What are the costs like?

Any help will be much appreciate!! Thank you so much  :)

Offline wei

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Re: Backpacking SEAsia
« Reply #1 on: Jul 04, 12, 12:12 PM »
(1) Safe or not safe is relative. Bring loads of common sense with you while you are on the road and everywhere is safe, be it SEA, Africa or middle east. Leave your common sense at home and do dumb stuff, it will not be safe, even if you are in Singapore.
Examples of having common sense: keep away from small alleys, keep your money pouch away from other's views.
Examples of leaving common sense at home: staying out till wee hours in the morning, walking down dark alleys because it is "short cuts", going for a drink in the bar/pub on your own, hanging your money pouch on the neck at the front of the chest (read: here's my money, come rob me!)

(2) there is no "best" form of transport. Some places, it is better to go by bus, some by trains. sometimes, you just don't have a choice and have to take a pickup or a boat. Do yourself a favor, go to the library and borrow a Lonely Planet or Rough Guide or whatever. You are covering a few countries. It is not the same as asking people how to get from Yishun to Ang Mo Kio. Go read up the guidebooks. They provide information on how to get from place to place.

(3) Must see sights? Refer to (2) aka go borrow a guide and read up.

(4) Costs? Refer to (2) and (3). All the info you need can be found in guidebooks. If you don't know, there is actually a Lonely Planet guidebook on SEA on a shoestring. You get all the countries you want to go to in one book. If you have doubts after reading, then feel free to post your questions here. You current questions are too vague and too general for us to help you. The books in the library are quite updated these days, You can find the latest editions.  
« Last Edit: Jul 09, 12, 03:27 PM by wei »

Offline shakeleg

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Re: Backpacking SEAsia
« Reply #2 on: Jul 08, 12, 04:02 AM »
Wei's answer is hilarious! LOL.

But I can totally understand. I always wonder why travellers (females especially) always post "Is it safe for a female to go xxxx?" and then you see the destination... SEAsia, the countries are our neighbours!! Why the unhealthy suspicion and presumptions? Thousands of females have been to those places  and return safely without a scratch.

lostcookie, not being disrespectful, but don't embarrass the girls lei! Don't go to Johor Baru or you will be hit with a hammer on the head and kidnapped (actually I am not making this up. My friend's dad was hammered in the skull by unknown motorbike gang while leaving a church after Sunday mass and died). You see, unsavoury reports should not stop one from travelling and most of the time, it's a remote case.

Anyway, to make this reply more constructive... maybe you can fly to Bangkok, take a bus to the border and cross the friendship bridge and hitchhike to Vientiane, then bus to the north, fly down to Phnom Penh, bus to Siem Reap... I don't know the options are endless.

Offline alda

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Re: Backpacking SEAsia
« Reply #3 on: Jul 11, 12, 06:20 AM »
Dudes - give the poor girl a break, everyone starts somewhere and I don't think most of us started out as being street smart anyway.

Though I have to agree with Wei on point #3 on the must-sees and doing some read-up on places which you intend to visit.

Generally costs in SEA are much lower compared to places in Europe and US. Having said that, it really depends on your level of accomodation and makan chosen. Can be budget, hotels, luxe, etc.

Some places where you can find out abt transportation - www.seat61.com. Very good tips and info on transportation especially if you're looking for train travel.

I'd recommend this route: Msia -> Thailand -> Laos -> Vietnam -> Cambodia -> Home Sweet home.

Taking the train/bus from M'sia to Thailand should be pretty straightforward. Within Thailand, buses are easy too. I took the train from BKK to Nong Khai where we crossed the Friendship Bridge into Laos. Worth visiting Luang Prabang in Laos if you're able to bear the bus ride. (not like your SG - KL bus ride, be forewarned) Enroute people do visit Vang Vieng for some tubing!
In Vietnam,Sapa is worth visiting for some treks which brings you through villages where ethnic minority groups such as Hmong lives. May be able to spot some french influences in Sapa as well since that was where the french first disembardked around 1800s if i'm not wrong. Then you may train back to Hanoi and stay a few days there to places such as Halong Bay, Mai Chau, etc... (read the guide book).

Haven't really been to Cambodia (don't count a visa run as being actually visited the country. haha), can't really comment much.

With all above tips... I do agree that you have to be alert and not do silly stuff which may seem perfectly fine in SG, but remember do not take Singapore's safety and security for granted. Examples are already listed by Wei.

Oh.. lastly as a girl, do not ever ever get drunk overseas, not the wisest choice though booze may be cheap and tempting. Being a girl has its advantages too, all you have to remember is just flash that award winning smile! :D

Offline Dounut

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Re: Backpacking SEAsia
« Reply #4 on: Jul 12, 12, 02:17 PM »
Interesting discussion here.  Both shakeleg & alda have their points.  I will keep it short, go google and start reading tones of information available online.  What others find it interesting, might not be the case for you.  SEA is one of the easiest region to travel.  U can just pack and go, don't need to study in depth, just have some rough idea of what you want to do in ur own trip, that's it.
« Last Edit: Jul 12, 12, 02:18 PM by Dounut »

Offline thexcuriousxwanderer

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Re: Backpacking SEAsia
« Reply #5 on: Jul 12, 12, 10:28 PM »
My personal opinion on pack-and-go:

While I like to keep my options open while on the road, not doing research before travelling will not result in maximising the experience. Perhaps there are little places you will miss, little facts that will enhance your journey that you will not realise.

So I always advocate doing your research! Plus the anticipation and expectation that builds up is great :)

But that said yes SEA is easy to travel, abundance of information out there and transport is easy (though to get to some small towns you might have to look for some alternative transport which still can be fun!)