First time solo SE Asia travelling girl with a few questions!
Replies: 9 - Last Post: Aug 17, 2012 8:40 AM Last Post By: montyman
Aug 15, 2012 1:07 PM
First time solo SE Asia travelling girl with a few questions!Hello everyone!
OK, where to start. Basically, I'm a 28 year old gal who has decided that life is too short to sit at a desk for the rest of her life! I really want an adventure and to explore and to try and find out who I am and what I want to do - also have some fun along the way!
I've decided that I am going to pack in the the job and go travelling on my own round SE Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Loas) and also Singapore, Indonesia/Bali, then Oz to see some friends and finally NZ to visit a friend. At least that is the plan. I think I would like to be away (and can afford to be) for about 4 - 5 months, unless I decide to do the working thing in Oz when I get there (I may apply for the visa just in case).
The aim of the trip is to lap up some culture, meet new people, try out some new activities like scuba diving/sailing etc. Although I wouldn't go as far as to say I'm embarking on a spiritual journey, I would love to challenge myself and get to know myself a lot better on this trip. I wouldn't say no to any sort of yoga/spiritual retreats on the way!
I love to have fun and meet people and enjoy myself - but I am really not that keen on getting involved in lots of partying all the time. I'm sociable, but also enjoy solitude and I hope to find a good balance of the two while I'm away!
So basically, with all that in mind, I was hoping you seasoned travellers could help me with a few questions/concerns I've been having:
1. I intend to leave the UK early November - if I stay in Asia for more than 2 months I will be alone for Christmas - has anyone ever experienced Christmas away on their own before? Would I be better to get to my friend in Melbourne for the Christmas period? I just wouldn't want to rush the Asia part of my travels just for the sake of Christmas, but at the same time, I worry about being sad and alone :( Sad I know!
2. Does anyone have any recommended routes for the above destinations? I have done a bit of research, and have a fair idea, but when it comes to travelling Singapore - Indonesia - Bali etc I am not so sure...
3. After main flight costs (i.e., not including any internal flight costs I may have), I will have £5,000 (maybe a little more) spending money to take with me? Do you think that will be enough to cover me for approx 2-3 months in Asia and then another 2 months in Oz and NZ? I can see myself trying to do things on the cheap - but I wouldn't mind my own room where possible (i.e., not constantly sleeping in 10-people dorms in hostels - although obviously I will do this if I have to :) )
4. How long do you think I will need to cover Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos? And how long for Singapore, Indonesia, Bali etc?
5. Lastly, if anyone of has any tips at all or recommendations based on the above information I've provided they could pass on I'd be really grateful!
I've been a little disorganised up til now and I don't have a massive amount of time to get everything organised in time for my departure in early November - but I'm so super excited I know it will all come together!!
Any help much appreciated!
Aug 15, 2012 1:58 PM
13. £5,000 for 5 months is £35/day which is oodles for SEA but you will find Oz and NZ much more expensive. If you include flights from Indonesia to Oz and Oz to NZ it's going to look even more barren.
I've read blogs of folk who have travelled around SEA on as little as £18 a day but for reasonable comfort it's been advised to go up a bit to say £25/day.
4. It depends how thoroughly you wish to see each country. If you just want a glimpse of many countries then you could spend a 10-14 days in each. For a decent slice I would set aside upwards of 3 weeks for each country.
Aug 15, 2012 2:12 PM
I did similar trip last year, and had a time of my life. First of all, do not worry, you'll have great time and meet loads of nice people who will be full of good tips, advise and willing to share their experiences with you. And remember that many others are in the similar position as you will be, so everyone helps each other, which is great!
The typical route when travelling SE Asia would be, visit islands in South of Thailand, then travel to north of Thailand (Chang Mai - lovely place for trekking and tai cooking lessons). You can fly or take bus. From there it's very popular to take slow boat into Laos, Lauprabang. The trip is 2-3 days long and unbelievably beautiful views. Make sure you get up early one morning (5am) to see monks being "feed" and must visit forest waterfalls. From there majority go to Vang Vieng, then capital city Vientiane. Here you can apply for Vietnamese visa, it takes few days. Check before you leave, or apply in UK.
Some people travel to Vietnam from here then to Hanoi (must visit Halong Bay), some travel into Cambodia - Siam Rep (amazing place! - take 2 days pass to see it all). I was not able to take flight, too expensive, instead I took bus via Thailand into Cambodia (found good tips on-line how to do it). Or you can take 24h bus trip to 4000 islands then from there to Cambodia. From Siam Rep I found very cheap ticket to fly into the capital city, and from there you can take a bus into Saigon(takes only 4-5h I believe).
From Saigon you can take a train towards Hanoi, popular places to stay half way the country coast, or if you travelled directly to Hanoi, do same journey just opposite directions. You can fly from Hanoi to Bangkok, then KL, there are cheap flights to Singapore and from there to Bali. Or you can take bus from Bangkok to KL, then Singapore. Or fly from Saigon to Bali then Singapore.
There are quite few budget airlines in SE Asia that you could use, otherwise load of travel operators (use once that someone has recommended to you and please make sure you have your cards and money with you at all times, do not leave them in your luggage that is far away from your view at all times)... Bali, well it is a magical place, visit Ubud and beaches...
Well, I'll stop here, and I hope this will be somehow useful for you. Good luck and enjoy it!
Aug 15, 2012 2:25 PM
Aug 15, 2012 4:39 PM
People who haven't traveled much have no idea how quickly travelers form social groups. If you're on the bus in Clapham, your fellow passengers aren't really your fellows -- they're just a cross-section of people, could be anybody, regular people but you have nothing in particular in common with them.
If you're on the bus in Mawlamyine, most of the people will utter strangers, local, people whose lives are so different you can't really comprehend them, they certainly speak little or no English. However, there will always be a handful of people, other travelers -- and you can easily spot them, if not by their skin-color, then by their back-packs, their boots, and their clothing. They may not be from the same country as you, they may be half your age or twice it, but they are identical to you in ways that at that moment will seem vital: they are among people they don't understand and cannot talk to and they are alone for Christmas.
I cannot tell you the times I've met some other traveler on a plane or a bus and we got to talking and we ended up spending two or three days together. It's very rare that it doesn't happen.
What I'm saying is, don't worry about it. Traveling alone just means you start off alone; you don't stay that way.
Aug 15, 2012 6:45 PM
5Regarding the question about Christmas,
Ive spent Christmas in Catholic countries (Colombia) and non Christian countries (Taiwan). It was a little different not being home, but even the non Christian countries celebrate to an extent Christmas. Taiwan had Christmas trees at random locations, so it you wont completely miss the Christmas feel.
This Christmas Ill be spending it in Vietnam as well..not to worried about it =)
Aug 15, 2012 7:44 PM
Aug 16, 2012 2:21 PM
7If you're looking for yoga in those places it will be easy to find. Thailand, Cambodia and now Laos all have regular yoga classes in the large cities as well as retreats. Vietnam has tons of yoga but it's harder to find it in English. Bali is another huge yoga home and a good place to hang for awhile after intense places such as Vietnam and Cambodia. You might find my posts helpful on traveling and yoga in each of those countries http://www.YogaRetreatsandTravel.com.
Aug 17, 2012 5:21 AM
Thank you so much for your thoughtful replies. Really helpful and interesting to get other people's perspective! The more I think about it the more I think spending Christmas in Asia will be really fun, wherever I will be at that point. I wouldn't want to rush my trip just because of Christmas. I think it's the thought of not being with friends and family which is quite sad, but I'm sure there will be others in the same boat.
I think that is the bit that scares me the most - being alone. But everyone says you meet people along the way. Also, the thought of company home to no job and very little money is a bit scary - but I guess we are all very adaptable and will cope with pretty much anything!
When I make my way from Singapore to Indonesia, would much time would you recommend I spend in Singapore itself? Worth seeing? I guess 2 days would be plenty?
Thanks again for all your replies - much appreciated.
Aug 17, 2012 8:40 AM
9Always travel on my own NEVE Alone. I find its nice to escape over that awful holiday and yet you, can't they are all into the Pagan fest of Saturnalia (origin of Christmas) even in China and Thailand although not as prominent as in the West.
Just have a great time you will and don't worry even if shy you can overcome it and just say Hi where are you going to fellow travellers and chat tips and advice. If I see someone on their own in a restaurant travelling I always invite them to join me at my table.
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