my first solo trip to SE Asia, Nth Thailand, Cambodia for voluntourism
Replies: 15 - Last Post: Oct 24, 2012 4:35 AM Last Post By: nettiesdream
Sep 14, 2012 1:03 AM
I am planning a 1 month solo trip arriving in Bangkok early Nov. Apart from having a hotel pre-booked for 3 nights then flying to Nth Thailand I havn't made further plans as to where and how long I stay. I am having second thoughts about travelling alone after reading the safety/ scams page.
Whilst I would prefer to travel with a companion I dont know anyone who is willing to come with me. Towards the end of my trip I will meet up with another Aid worker in Kampot, but until then I am on my own and as the time draws closer I am feeling quite apprenhensive about travelling my myself in SE Asia, especially as this is my first trip so not streetwise as such, apart from taking onboard the suggestions/precautions on LP. naturally I wont go out alone at night or walk down dark alleys!
I had considered doing a group Tour but I want the flexibility to stay on in a place I enjoy and not have to rush.
I am a positive person and dont expect things to go wrong but I need to be realistic too esp being in a different culture.
I welcome any female ladies who have travelled in their 50s to share their experience with me.
When I get to Siem Riep I plan to get in touch with an organisation called CONcert to arrange volunteer work with children. I have several contacts here for accommodation.
If anyone is planning a trip to this region and would like a travelling companion please let me know.
Sep 14, 2012 5:44 AM
In my honest opinion Thailand is one of the safest countries in the world for a solo female traveller. Sure there are some risks but you seem to have then covered in the main. Just go and enjoy.
Hope you chose your volunteer projects wisely. Too many around that are not worthy of good folks support. Take care.
Sep 14, 2012 10:09 AM
2I'm (well) into my fifties and two years ago I took a long leave of work to travel for almost 8 months. Apart from travelling in relative safe countries like Australia and New Zealand, I had never travelled solo before and was just as apprehensive (bordering scared sh*tless as the day of departure came closer) as you are right now.
It turned out to be one of the best journeys of my life. I met a lot of wonderful people (locals and travellers) and nothing bad happened to me the whole time. Of course it is a good idea to take precautions, like not walking in dark alleys at night, and make sure your valuables are safe. But I'd do it again in a heartbeat and it was a nice ego boost to know that I could hack it on my own!
During this trip I travelled a bit in Thailand too and -as Brax stated- it is a pretty safe country and very easy to get around.
So, have fun, trust your gut feeling and -most importantly- enjoy!
Sep 14, 2012 10:50 AM
3Trust your instinct and you'll be fine. Thailand is basically safe - a few scams but nothing that's likely to challenge your safety. Cambodia is wonderful - and the people so pleased to have their county back they make you hugely welcome.
Last minute jitters are fine - they will help you keep your instincts on the alert. But please don't let it stop you going!
(I gave up work in my mid 50s, and took off on my own with a rucksack. Yes, I was beyond nervous, but it was the best thing I could possibly have done.)
Sep 15, 2012 10:29 AM
4I'm female and in my mid 60's. I rate Thailand as both an easy and safe place to travel solo. Although I generally travel with husband I have gone to Thailand several times by myself. A couple of years ago I spent a couple of weeks travelling in Cambodia solo. I had a wonderful time especially in smaller centres such as Kampot. And Phnom Penh is by far my current favourite SE Asian capital city. Obviously be aware of your surroundings and keep valuables safe.
Sep 15, 2012 11:55 AM
5I am female, in my early sixties and spent four months this year travelling around Southeast Asia on my own. I was amazed at how easy and inexpensive it was. I never felt fearful, although you do have to be smart. I had pre booked my hotel in Bangkok and Chiang Mai and from there went where my mood took me (Lao--my favourite, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia before flying to China in month five). I found the cultural differences to be educational and not difficult.
Staying in small places like B&Bs was a good way to meet other travellers. Also on the tourist shuttle vans. If you have more money you can hire a car and driver to get you to more out-of-the-way places (this was particularly helpful in Indonesia).
Also remember that you can say "no thanks". And don't take much stuff with you. You lose control if you are always trying to keep track of your stuff.
Sep 15, 2012 4:49 PM
6We two grandmas have traveled in Thailand a few times and have always felt safe, with most folks going out of their way to be kind to greyhaired elders. Even when we were lost in a somewhat shady area while looking for the Bangkok Harley Davidson dealer, we found people were very helpful. Although there were two of us, I don't believe you will have trouble as a single.
Sep 15, 2012 7:47 PM
7I think most of us get the jitters the night before setting off to a new country that we have not been to before. If you have not done much traveling it will be even more so. I have learnt to not let if get to me because experience has shown that once I am started on my trip the anxiety will disapear and I am in explorer mode. You will be fine. Just take it easy the first day ......just explore around your hotel area and take an afternoon nap at your hotel. Visit the local stores and food stalls and get to know how things are done.... get a feel for the country before you set off to do more.
Sep 16, 2012 7:53 AM
I am sure that you will have a great time.
The only flaw I can see in your plan is contacting CONert after you get to Siem Reap - unless this is what they hava advised you to do. It takes some arranging for any organisation to make a space for volunteers. I would try to make the arrangements beforehand. Do you have skills or a profession that will be usefull to them?
I know some people who are currently volunteering in organisations in Siem Reap that are well set up to handle volunteers. PM me if you would like to know more.
Sep 17, 2012 9:27 PM
9T-chick, above, touched on one of my ways to avoid stress upon arrival at a new city. I have noticed that upon arrival at an airport or train or bus station people are usually in a big hurry to leave and get to their hotel/hostel, Not I. I gather my belongings and then sit down for a while; maybe even have a cup of coffee. Then I walk outside and check the taxi/bus transportation system, watch the traffic, and the weather and other (rushing) travlelers. I start getting a feel for the city. I don't let anyone rush me, especially the taxi drivers. Then I leave when I'm good and ready and when I am comfortable with my schedule. For me this works out great.
Just a thought.
Sep 20, 2012 5:41 AM
10SanchoP has some excellent advice (as do others, e.g., see Brax re choosing project carefully). There's something that drives many people (me included) to get out of the airport fast, into town, LET'S GET THIS TRIP STARTED! But the airport is part of the trip, as is being smart about transpo, as is the ride into town...
The main thing is keeping your passport and $ on your body all the time - never in a pack or (gimme a break) in a purse or shoulder bag or cleverly hidden in your room (who would ever think to look in your dirty clothes or deep in your pack - other than every thief in the world). If your PP and $ are always safe, you've pretty much eliminated the two worst things that can happen other than death or injury, which aren't common.
Have a look at the scam section of the SEA guide in my sigline. Being safe and smart frees your mind to enjoy the trip.
Have a good trip.
Sep 20, 2012 6:57 AM
Sep 20, 2012 12:40 PM
12Also, there may be a somewhat honest tuk-tuk driver in Bangkok, but I still haven't met him - bunch of thieves. Bus easy to take (get bus map in bookstore or tourist kiosk) or taxi meter.
Sep 30, 2012 8:05 PM
13G'day to everyone who replied and apologises for my late response (forgot my username)!
After your replies I am feeling somewhat excited and more 'at ease' with my solo travel adventure.
and YES i will try to remember to ENJOY the moments whether they be at airports or hotels etc and my goal is to enjoy the journey, not just get from A to B !! so definately no 'overdrive' for me.
T-chick and other I will take on board your tips for a quiet first day, rather than organising a half day trip as suggested by travel advisor!
I have a nursing background and love helping people less fortunate than myself. re: booking volunteer work in Cambodia, Siem Reap. It is difficult because i am unsure of my time frames, as I want to see Thailand first and maybe Laos, so this trip may be best just to check it for next year maybe. who knows the climate may be too hot and humid for me! so for first trip I am thinking 4 wks max, but then again if I love it I may consider extending my return home and venture further....I really dont know, what do you think...I am "all up in the air" ! with no fixed times.
Am open to your ideas. I would think a longer volunteer time is needed to be fair on the children.
Soksabai, yes I will look up your no as I would like to know your friends volunteer suggestions.
Bun-cha you mentioned contacts for hospitals? do you mean incase I get sick, or to work at...whereabouts do I find this info....new to this site, ta You also mentioned PP and cash on Body (do youmean wallet attached round waist, or one of those Anti-theft bags ....? i am unsure what bags etc are needed guess there is a Section on this stuff!! so much to learn.
the travel agent also suggested an Indian hotel in BK for $75 night x would prefer something cheaper does anyone know Suk 11 soi 11 nana this has been recommended for 3 nights stay....will check out cost soon.
oh another BIG question ? whereabouts on this site can i get help/suggestions with a basic itinariry....
Look forward to hearing any feed back....
I LOVE this site
Oct 1, 2012 5:10 PM
14Crappy Thorntree - losing a good post. Starting over:
Suk11 very good. Close to Skytrain and buses. Easy access to Siam Paragon for one of Asia's best food courts (ground floor). Robinson's/Tops fairly close with a decent much smaller food court and a salad bar.
RN good creds for volunteering, though not likely to practice. Health teaching a possibility. Best to google for nurse or health or volunteer or health programs Cambodia or etc. organizations. Some good ones around, including in Australia. Contact before leaving.
I gave you the health contacts because you're on an older travelers forum and we tend to have more health issues.
We carry our $ and passports in these: http://www.rei.com/product/819686/eagle-creek-undercover-deluxe-money-belt.
More info at links below (Journal, Budget Guide to SE Asia, etc.). SEA guide is what you want. Within that page be sure to click Travelfish and Tales of Asia.
(4 star Hotel)
From US$112.12 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$57.21 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$65.77 per night