Advice/Help for Singapore-Thailand overland peninsular journey
Replies: 4 - Last Post: May 14, 2012 11:26 PM Last Post By: Captain_Bob
May 14, 2012 8:31 AM
I'm an 18 year old Australian male who finished high school last year. For months I've been set on going on a bit of walkabout. I have $6000AUD at my disposal and want to use it in a way most effective for soaking up culture and travel. Originally I was planning on going on a bare bones journey from Moscow to Thailand, using as little money as possible. What deterred me were Russian and Chinese VISA requirements, which constrict the time you can spend there and make it hard to chill out and relax, say, stay in a town for a few more days than planned.
So, I thought Singapore-Thailand across land, whilst a tad less ambitious, would fulfil my desire for a bit of a journey. Adding no VISA requirements and 90-60 day stays, I'd be able to relax and move at my own pace.
And I know I'll probably get culture shocked and lonely and homesick at times (as my friends occasionally scold me about), but I've talked to several people who have done similar things (noticeably from older, less spoilt generations) and none of them regret it. I accept the negative has its place next to the positive, but I'm fairly confident I'd have enough energy, and plenty of desire, to do this.
MY PLAN SO FAR/DESIRABLE PARAMETERS
I plan to travel across land from Singapore to Bangkok around June/July for 2-3 months (and perhaps onward to Cambodia, depending on time) I am aware that it can be rainy during this period, but also aware that off-season is cheaper. General searches tell me the Western Coast of Peninsular Malaysia has great food and good beaches, so that's the best idea I have so far.
I plan to be catching buses/trains/ferries along the way. It'd be good to stay in places near nice beaches/interesting attractions.
However, my main parameter is to try and travel as cheaply as possible, whilst taking me to interesting places. Cheaply, but not too cheaply so that I don't get bored. Say, for example, ferry over to Langkawi for a couple of days before I head into Thailand.
Finally, I don't want to keep to too tight a schedule. If I find a nice place to relax for awhile and make some friends it'd be good to just hang out for a time and not have to worry too much about moving on straight away.
WHAT HELP I NEED
-General ideas on where to travel through. (I honestly have little idea, other than the western coast of Malaysia, to start. I welcome any and all recommendations)
-Good accommodation in such places (if people have that knowledge), and even basic tips like "how early should I book accommodation, can I just show up at places and get a decent price?"
-How much everything costs (Is Thailand cheaper than Malaysia?)
-How easy it is to catch buses along the way (although I've heard Malaysian buses are good)
-And general tips and experiences about the road(s) I may travel.
Finally, if there are any guides covering this sort of thing that I missed, or any google searches I should have done, please direct me to them. My aim here is to try and build ideas and a foundation for my trip, for, when it comes down to it, I have little idea of what to expect from a journey through this peninsula (or even a journey at all). The funny thing is, looking at even just peninsular Malaysia I feel overwhelmed, yet in my mostly barren Australia I've been on a 16 hour journey to Alice Springs several times, a journey that, adding return, would take me past Bangkok.
While I plan to travel solo, there's the chance I may be able to entice a more adventurous friend to come along.
Do note, however, that none of this is concrete. Which is precisely why I've come here. I want advice from people who have been to these places, who have personal experience on them. All of my information is simply a draft of what I want to do. I'd be extremely grateful for anything I can get to build on this. The more I know the more prepared I can be, and hopefully the better experience I can have.
Apologies for my blocks of text, I'm kinda just providing as much stuff as I can think of.
PS. I realise there's also a Thailand forum, how should I proceed with getting this there without duplicating? :p
May 14, 2012 9:32 PM
1Sascha - long term trips are a great idea and too few people do them. I am at the other end of my travelling career from you and go on 5+ month trips most years. They need different planning from shorter trips. I suggest you get guide books for the countries you are likely to visit (Thailand, Malaysia and possibly Cambodia and Indonesia). LP books give itineries which may give some starting information. The destinations section of this site may also give some information too. Guidebooks can be heavy so look at downloadable versions which means investment in a notebook/tablet. This will also give you a secure environment for email, banking, Skype etc., storing photos, internet. There is a lot of wifi available or you may need to use USB modems (or use your mobile phone, unlocked, as a modem).
Plan out a general route taking into account visas, extension possibilities and importantly airline requirements for outbound tickets. You can get a lot of information on TT about this. (You asked about the Thailand branch and not double posting - I suggest posting an entry there, crossreferencing this one and asking people to post replies here.)
Flying by Air Asia to Malaysia may be a good idea as I think there are no outbound airfare requirements. Penang is a good place to get visas to Thailand and Indonesia (you don't need them but there are a lot of restrictions on extentions etc). For example - flying into Thailand gives you 30 days visa exemption, coming in by land gives 15 days - in both cases 7 day extentions are available for 1,900 bahts. If you come in with a 60 day visa you can get a 30 day extention for that price. Flying into Indonesia gives you a 30 day visa on arrival extendable once for 30 days. Getting a 60 day visa enables you to get a 30 day extention several times. Consulates in Australia ask for a ticket out but AFAIK the one in Penang does not (you need long trousers to apply though).
Travelling through Thailand and Malaysia by bus is very easy. Travel in Sumatra is not - the roads are bad and the public buses decrepit. English is spoken widely in Malaysia and in Tourist areas in Thailand and Indonesia but less well in other areas. A phrase book for these countries would be a good idea or even trying to learn some in advance - these are some free ones to be found by Googleing, another use for your notebook.
BTW - there is a ferry direct from Langkawi to Saturn in Thailand.
You should have enough time to stay in a place to enjoy yourself and the people (including locals) you meet on the way. So don't rush it or plan tight timetables.
Have a good trip - Paul
May 14, 2012 10:31 PM
2Thanks very much Paul for the useful info. I
l'll be sure to get a netbook when I go, and Langkawi to Saturn sounds like a great route :p A Thai Visa from Penang before I'd get there also sounds like the way to go.
I'll also make a new post on the Thailand forum, and link this in it
With outbound airfare requirements, what do you mean exactly? I wouldn't be getting a plane back to Aus until I reached Bangkok.
westwood - As I said I have 2-3 months :)
May 14, 2012 11:06 PM
3A 60 day visa for Thailand is easier to manage than a 15 day visa exemption on the border. Airline requirements are usually that you need to show a ticket out of the country within the limit of what you get on entry or a visa - particularly for flights from UK or Australia. Eg flying into Thailand without a visa they want a ticket of of the country within 30 days even thought leaving overland or extending is easy. Similarly for Indonesia.
Flying into Malaysia does not seem to have a problem as 90 day entry is permitted. Flying from SEA countries to Thailand or Indonesia does not seem to be a problem. There is a lot of information (too much?) on TT about this.
May 14, 2012 11:26 PM
4Fly into Singapore where you get 30 day stamp, cross to Malaysia where you get a 90 day stamp, get a Thai visa in advance so you'll get 60 day entry. Have a secure source of money and the rest is your journey. Planning it out too much kinda kills the adventure. Maybe go to Borneo and climb Mt. Kinabalu or go caving in Sarawak, hit the Perhentians on the east peninsula or the Cameron Highlands. June/July is SW monsoon rainy season for much of Thailand so some ferries won't be running. Go to the gulf islands for better chance of sun (Ko Tao/Phangan/Samui) or creep up the mainland coast (Ban Krut, Bang Saphan, Prachuap Khiri Khan) for a much more "local" feel. Etc. Visas and money are the only things you need to plan in advance.
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