Hey guys! A little help for a travel amateur planning a budget?
Replies: 25 - Last Post: Dec 22, 2012 5:52 AM Last Post By: Robertej92
Dec 13, 2012 1:48 PM
I spent a year going round the world, quite a few similar places to you, especially in Asia. I spent less that £10K in 2004-5 ..but I live quite cheap, spent quite a lot of time in cheap countries (Asia!) and didn't drink much at all. Here's where I went and my thoughts...
India 9 weeks. It wore me down and made me as thin as I've ever been in my adult life. I liked Rajasthan lots and Amritsar (Golden Temple) and the border with Pakistan where you can see a brilliant ceremony. Simla and Daramsala are quite cool. I found lots of it dirty and not that great (Delhi, Varanasi, Calcutta, Agra). In the end I bought a couple of cheap flights, one to Nepal and the other to Sri Lanka. I loved loved loved both.
Nepal - Kathmandu, Pokkhara and Chitwan. Nice people, good food, fun times, cheap , fab.
Sri Lanka is soooo beautiful. I went to Colombo, Hikkaduwa, Galle, Unawatuna, Miriasa. I nearly died there in a tsunami and I still adored the place. Beautiful people, beautiful places. Go!
China - I agree about not going for Chinese New Year. I was there just before and it's crazy trying to get any transport. Winter is very very cold too. But nice. And the hostels were toasty with good staff. I stayed in a hotel for a few days in Bejing, but didn't need to, the hostels are great. I flew in to Hong Kong, got the train to Shanghai, then Beijing and got the train all the way down from Beijing to Hanoi Vietnam. It was £70 at the time, dunno what it is now but it was so much fun. I loved it, but I'm a big fan of a long train journey. I recommend.
From Hanoi you can get a coach that for around $30 US will take you from North to South Vietnam, to Hoi An, Hue, Nha Trang (fab!) and Saigon. It's a really good and cheap way to see the country. While you're Vietnam eat on the street. It's divine. But you have to sit on child's patio furniture.
I went overland to Cambodia, then into Laos then into Thailand, travelling down to Malaysia and Indonesia. Please don't miss all these bits of SE Asia out. They cost very little to stay in. The East coast of Malaysia has some amazing islands and beaches, far nicer to me than Thailand's. Indonesia is amazing. So many islands so much to do, so much beauty, so much food. Sumatra, Bali, Lombok. I could go on and on about Indonesia. It's great.
While you're in the SE Asia region check out Air Asia. It's like Easyjet. Safe and good value. Put some planning into it and you can get dirt cheap flights all over. Speaking of which Brunei, nobody visits but if yo think you might like a bit of opulent mosque and deserted theme park it's worth a trip. And Burma. The people are lovely and it's so undeveloped. It's one of the few places in the world where it's not all the same (7 eleven, coca cola, mc Donald's, Colgate...) but it's all changing so fast. Fly there and soo it now. Mandalay, Yangon, Lake Inle, Bagan)
If you have as much time as you want and are only limited by money you should spend as much time in SE Asia as you can. You can't fail to love it. And can I mention Singapore? People say it's soulless, boring and expensive. It's none of these. It's a green clean paradise and planning utopia where the streets are so clean the food is so yummy and the shopping is heaven. It's worth seeing.
I flew from Singapore to Japan and had a fabulous but money intensive month here. You can do it cheaply though in hostels, eating in Yoshinoya/ Matsuya/ Tenya and getting a Japan Rail card before you go. I spent a week in Tokyo then got around the Kobe/ Osaka/ Kyoto/Himeji/Nara area and did some train rides to Hiroshima, Fukuoka and Sapporo. It's pretty easy when the train goes this fast. I spent about £1300 in a month... Which was a bit of a heavy one but then I lived it cheap elsewhere for months and months. And it was the most amazing time. Loved Japan.
From there I went to NZ (pretty but a bit dull) Raratonga ( nice but I think I'd been spoilt by Malaysia as to my idea of paradise) and the USA (LA, San Fran, San Diego, Vegas, NY) then back to little old Blighty.
I know you've got a European leg of the tour but I hope I've written down a few names of places that make you want to find out more and have given you some ideas for places you may not have considered but I think would be well worth a bit of a detour to.
Dec 13, 2012 5:03 PM
16Thoughts by poster above are pretty good, except you may not have time to include every place you hear about due to time and budget constraints. Again, your own research and knowing your own interests is the key. And be careful of getting price and budget information from trips earlier than 2009 or so. Since then, not only has inflation been relentless, but the currency exchange rates between many of the Asian currencies has appreciated greatly against the USD, Euro, GBP and some others. While developing Asia is still cheap by Western standards, it's not as cheap as it used to be. Fortunately, there is plenty of updated cost information on this forum and others.
Dec 14, 2012 9:16 AM
17THat was a fantastic post Kirkbygirl, thanks. Exactly the post I was hoping for when I started the thread, i.e. gives me starting points to research on where to visit since researching points to go to in an area as large as Asia is daunting. I doubt I'll go to Australia though it would provide a good opportunity to visit relatives, but I'm definitely gonna see as much of SE Asia as I can, from everything I've seen and read both on here and elsewhere it seems to be the area most in danger of changing alot in the next few years so I want to see as much as I can before it does. The plan atm is for India to be the last point before I stop and consider my situation, how much farther I can afford to go etc,. at which point I'll either fly across to the UAE and see my Uncle there before flying home, or travel through the middle east if possible. I'm hearing positive signs that Baghdad might be visitable by the time I go out so I definitely want to see that since Baghdad is one of my dream destinations because of the history behind the whole region, and Mesopotamia in general. I'll have to see how that goes, UAE - Saudi - Iraq - Turkey would be a preferable route to just flying from UAE to Istanbul, would mean I could see more of Turkey too since I'd be entering from the south.
jiejie - that is definitely something I've been aware of from the start, hence the marking up of prices of transport for March-April 2013 by about 10% to factor in possible inflation. And your point about running out of time and money is very true, but like I said if I can get a load of SE Asia in before heading home I'll be happy, getting to loop home all on train is just the dream trip.
Edited by: Robertej92
Dec 14, 2012 12:43 PM
18Oh God I'm an idiot. I've been planning this trip and all along I've been thinking 'damn, it's a shame I can't figure a way to get to Tibet and Nepal'. Somehow, don't ask me how, it managed to escape my attention that you have direct access to Nepal from bloody India! Maybe because I was trying to plan it from the route of getting in through China. So I'm thinking now that it would definitely be worth going from the South of India (maybe start in Sri Lanka?) to the North, go to Tibet and Nepal, and then fly to the UAE? I'm really excited at this possibility because I was really annoying myself that I couldn't think of a suitable way to fit Nepal and Tibet in to the trip
Dec 14, 2012 5:14 PM
19If you're a budget traveller then Tibet probably isn't going to happen for you.
Dec 14, 2012 5:44 PM
20And if you have a UK passport, Tibet isn't going to happen for you unless the Chinese gov't lifts current prohibitions on same. Although it's likely that will happen between now and 2014, Tibet just adds a huge layer of cost and hassle to your trip. For what you'll spend for a week or so in Tibet, would cover you for a month elsewhere in China or SE Asia. Finally, the Chinese government has for the last 4 years, closed Tibet to foreign tourists off and on during the year, sometimes on short notice.You can research the Tibet sticky and other forum threads on costs and issues. But it almost doesn't make sense anymore to plan long in advance.
What you can do is plan to fly from SE Asia (particularly BKK) to Kathmandu, see Nepal, then cross overland to India and carry on. That might be the best tentative plan to hang your hat on for now. Then, if Tibet is open to foreigners and you finish up in SE Asia and your budget still allows, you can get to Kathmandu and get an agent there to set up your Tibet tour with the required prearrangements, get a new, limited-use Chinese visa there, and go Nepal-Tibet-Nepal and onward to India. You would get a regular Chinese visa in the UK, in advance of your trip start, and just use that for your initial entry and trip between Mongolia and SE Asia.
Dec 14, 2012 6:05 PM
21Yeah I've started to realise from reading up on Tibet in the last couple of hours that it's probably not gonna happen :( I've been considering a different route that would get me in to more of SE Asia that would have involved me starting off in Tibet, but if that's not available then it would make sense to start at the bottom of India and work my way up yes? Would also mean I'd be finished just before Monsoon season really hit (Start in late March/early April, finish mid June) and would basically go like this:
India > Nepal > Laos > Vietnam > Cambodia > Thailand > Malaysia > Indonesia > Philippines (I swear my spelling of that changes every time)
As guaranteed routes, and then depending on budget I'd love to go to Japan, if not I'd fly home from Philippines. I figured that since as has been said in this thread SE Asia is changing rapidly AND the fact that it's so cheap compared to so many places meaning I'll get longer out there and more bang for my buck so I'd prefer to prioritise that area and then I could do Trans-Siberian + China as an individual trip later on in life.
India in particular I've been reading up on so much in the last few days and I cannot wait to get out there. I worked out the rough budgeting and accommodation, food and Visas could be anywhere from £6000 - £9500 depending on how much I indulge myself, but since I'm going out there to experience things like the street food, the general culture rather than doing stereotypical touristy stuff I feel I'd be ok travelling for 10 months round that area with £12k, realistic?
Edited by: Robertej92 - removed Burma from the equation since it's seemingly impossible for me to get through that way
Dec 15, 2012 1:45 PM
22India and SE Asia are for sure cheaper than the Transib and China, so a given amount of cash should stretch farther. It's up to you how you do your plan, but it seems that you are moving away from a trip with significant North-East Asia content, so should probably address your India and SE Asia questions on those forums.
Dec 15, 2012 2:25 PM
23Yeah I will do, I'll come back when I'm planning Japan, thanks for all your help
Dec 21, 2012 2:28 PM
24Robertje92 before you go... You can fly with Air Asia to Burma and out again. Not expensive if you book it a bit in advance and pick your moment a la Easyjet. Air Asia also fly from KL I think to Iran. I too would love to visit the axis of evil :-)
I managed to travel a bit around the middle east one summer from Turkey, where my parents have a holiday home, through Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and flying home out of Israel. I really really had the most fantastic time wearing quite a lot of clothing all summer and indulging in kebab all over. I did spend around 2-3 hours at a border point in Israel though as they pored over my life history, questioning me and swabbing my bag for explosives sporadically. Turns out visits to Lebanon and Syria do not make you popular with the Israeli Defence Force. Have to say though that it was well worth it, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are amazing. Another big fave of mine was Beirut. It looks nothing like Kirkby. Absolutely stunning with people who love to party.
The middle east is not as cheap as SE Asia, but is still cheap if you do public transport/ hostels and falafel/houmus/kebab. It's very atmospheric if you're not averse to the sound of a mosque at 5am, very little to no alcohol and conservative-ish clothing.
If you don't get to it on this trip bear in mind that you can do some sort of loop similar to mine from the UK on airlines like Easyjet (Turkey) and Jet 2 (Israel/ Egypt), although you need to bear in mind that once your passport has an Israeli stamp in you'll have problems with Iran, Syria, Lebanon ie you won't be able to go there until you get a new passport. So Israel should be your last place before flying home, or Egypt as that has a treaty allowing Israelis and people with Israeli stamps to enter. The whole Arab Spring thing and total lunacy in Syria complicates things a little more for you. I don't have the answer to that. Maybe wait until things calm down a bit.
On that note can I just let you know that you should try and get to Aceh Province, specifically Pulau Weh while in Indonesia ( it's part of Sumatera) and because I like you I'll let you into a place I love more than any in the world. My idea of island paradise. It's called Pulau Kapas and it's on the east coast of Malaysia. And don't miss Singapore. Or Sri Lanka. Go everywhere infact :-)
Dec 22, 2012 5:52 AM
25Haha I would love to go everywhere, maybe I'll win the Euromillions between now and 2014!! I've just been reading up on Pulau Kapas and it does look beautiful, will add that to the big list of things I want to try and fit in but I'm still on India at the moment, kind of a big country! Sri Lanka definitely appeals, since I'm planning to start at the bottom of India I could probably start in Sri Lanka and cross over fairly easily, since as far as I'm aware there aren't any huge issues regarding cross over from SL to India?
I'm gonna leave the middle east for another trip, I think if I was doing the ME I'd probably look at starting in Turkey then work my way down and then through to Northern Africa so to avoid just skimming the surface I'll leave that plan for a few years and just focus on Asia, I have plenty of time to do all I want
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