First allow me to inspire you, planning a trip across the world, into the unknown, is not as hard as it sounds, however it does take time, patience and a continued effort on the individuals planning the journey, it wont happen over night.
Here are some tips when planning the trip, and all the way at the bottom of the post you will see my itinerary. Disclaimer, we stopped in too many cities in the span of 17 days, we never rested.
10. Bring friends and travel buddies. It’s a certainty when traveling that sticky situations will put you in an uncomfortable pickle. So bring experienced travelers or befriend positive people on the road. Travelers are usually pretty awesome and knowledgeable.
9. Paperwork. Make sure you have the appropriate Visa for each country you visit well before the trip. Also stay organized with airline tickets and hotel reservations. Not a bad idea to email yourself a photo of your ID, passport and credit card.
8. Allow for wiggle room. Don’t have every minute of your trip planned out, definitely solidify a healthy number of excursions (zip lining, elephant riding, site seeing) but you will want relaxation time and the ability to change plans depending on who you meet or how your feeling.
7. Bring a currency exchange cheat sheet.
6. Hostels, make sure you check out reviews and even call the hostel before you book. Hostels are are cheap and they are also great for booking excursions.
5. Create a packing list
4. Weather, there are only two seasons in Southeast Asia.
3. Talk to friends who have gone on similar trip, ask them about there experiences, from taking overnight buses to places to visit; it’s a conversation that can be advantageous.
2. Go see your doctor, make sure you are up-to-date on shots and anything else.
1. Have a great itinerary, update it, love it and own it!
Here is my itinerary, it’s raw:
December 25th- Fly out at 10:40 AM from NYC -FREDDY BOOKED
26th- Arrive Bangkok at 6:40 PM
28th- Fly to Siem Reap Leave 7:50 PM Arrive at 9:00 PM (Booked $270.73 total invoiced) -FREDDY BOOKED
29th- Angkor Wat- Fly to Chiang Mai at 4:30 PM arrive 8:45 PM (Booked $262 pp invoiced) -FREDDY BOOKED
30th- Travel day to Huay Xia from Chiang Mai via bus that leaves at 8:30 AM (not booked)
31st-Go on Gibbon experience at 8 AM to zipline and shit (Booked- $342.62 pp invoiced) – FREDDY BOOKED
2nd-end of Gibbon experience (12 Hour bus at 6 PM for Luang Prabang (not booked)
3rd- Arrive in Luang Prabang early AM (If we can’t make bus we take a fast boat or maybe 2 day slow boat)
4th- Fly to Hanoi from Luang Prabang at 5:10 PM arrives 6:10 PM (Booked- $175.00pp invoiced) -FREDDY BOOKED
5th- Bus to Halong Bay Cruise (Half booked/Unpaid by all three- $89 total or pp) FREDDY BOOKED
6th- Halong Bay back to Hanoi
7th- Fly from Hanoi to Hong Kong 9:35 AM (booked- paid by Andrew) – FREDDY BOOKED
9th- Fly home from Hong Kong at 6 PM (Booked- paid by Andrew) – FREDDY BOOKED
26th-27th- Arrive Bangkok NapPark Hostel at Khao San, 5 Tani Rd. (Banglampoo) Taladyod Phranakorn Bangko, Bangkok, Thailand (Total upaid- $62.97+ $18.56 paid by me)- FREDDY BOOKED
- Tel: 66 2 2822324, 66 2 6291187
28th- Fly to Siem Reap arrive 9:00 PM The Mad Monkey Siem Reap, No19, Mondul 2, Khoum Svay Dangkom, Siem Reap, Cambodia (Total Unpaid- $26.14+ $10.56 paid by me)- FREDDY BOOKED
- Tel: +855636880008
29th- Fly to Chiang Mai arrive 8:45 PM Bunchun, 92/10 Sridonchai Road, T. Chang Klan,A. Muang, Chiang Mai, Thailand (Total unpaid $10.26+ $5.71 paid by me)- FREDDY BOOKED
- Tel: +66-830723121
30th- Travel day to Huay Xia from Chiang Mai via bus that leaves at 8:30 AM (hostel not booked)
31st-Go on Gibbon experience at 8 AM to zipline and shit- FREDDY BOOKED
2nd-end of Gibbon experience (Overnight bus 12 Hour bus at 6 PM for Luang Prabang not booked)
3rd- Arrive in Luang Prabang early AM Luang Prabang Hotel by Villa Merry Lao 3, Bahn Aphay Phousi Road, Luang Prabang, Laos (Total unpaid- $52.80+ $13.20 paid by me)- FREDDY BOOKED
- Tel: +85 6-20-56249451
4th- Fly to Hanoi arrives 6:10 PM Central Backpackers Hostel, 16 Ly Quoc Su st., Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam (Total unpaid- $12.70+ $8.24 paid by me) – FREDDY BOOKED
- Tel: +84-4 – 3 938 1849
5th- Bus to Halong Bay (Half booked via our Hanoi hostel- $89 total or pp unpaid)- FREDDY BOOKED
6th- Halong Bay back to Hanoi Central Backpackers Hostel, 16 Ly Quoc Su st., Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, Vietnam (Total unpaid- $12.70+ $8.24 paid by me) – FREDDY BOOKED
- Tel: +84-4 – 3 938 1849
7th- Fly to hong Kong arrive 12:25 PM Pandora after 80s, Flat F, 11/F, No.275 Gloucester Road, Entrance on Cannon Street, Causeway Bay D1 exit, Hong Kong, Hong Kong (Total unpaid- $156.11+ $27.29 paid by me)- FREDDY BOOKED
- Tel: +852-34995900
9th- Fly home from Hong Kong at 6 PM(Booked- paid by Andrew)- FREDDY BOOKED
Getting from Chiang Mai to Huay Xai
Train The website is a little shit, okay very shit, but it’s a good source for looking at train routes. http://www.seat61.com/Map-southeast-asia-train-routes.htm#.Vh0W4M6TxKQ
Tuk Tuk These are great ways to get from A-B, Although in Thailand, especially Bangkok, they’ll probably try and tell you to do an all-day sightseeing tour for $5 and they’ll drive you everywhere. This is true, but they’ll make you go to a suit shop or a jewellers before taking you home. They do this so they can get free fuel from the companies to keep working. It’s frustrating.
Bangkok: (1-2 days) It’s fucking Chaos. I’ve done it a number of times and always on a shoestring budget. You guys may have a little more cash to splash but I’m guessing you’ll want to keep things pretty cheap. Go and stay in the Koh San Road (http://www.bangkok.com/area-khao-san-road/) it’s cheap, it’s chaotic, it’ll give you the first taste of asia. You’ll find the most westerners there, many only come from overseas and stay there so the further you move out into asia the less knobs you’ll meet. (hopefully)
If you want to indulge head to the Banyon Tree hotel and the Vertigo Grill & Moon Bar
If you have a day or so, go and do a tour of the wat’s (temples) the kings palace and all that culture stuff. it’s nice to do it in the beginning, but there’s so many temples that you won’t miss anything if you decide to get stuck in to some brass instead.
At night from the Koh San road, see if you can get a group of people and go to a show
Siem Reap: Cool city with the main draw being Angkor wat. Do a sunrise tour on a tuk tuk and then wander around the ruins. Mad Monkey hostel/guesthouse is great to stay at. Do a floating village tour very chilled out place. Cambodian people are fucking amazing.
Chiang Mai: (1-2 days) You can fly from BK or get an overnight train, it was about $17 I think and takes 12 hours, but it has beds, it’s a lot of fun and you can drink and meet other backpackers It’s the second biggest city in Thailand but much more chilled than Bangkok. there’s some great hikes, rafting, atv-quad bike hires you can do, check in with most guesthouses and they have panflets and shit. You can rent semi automatic bikes and head out of the city, up to the kings winter palace or get lost like I did and get confronted by the thai army on a training exercise.
Take a 3 hour bus to the border for $5 – I think you pay $20 for a visa it might take half hour or so depending how busy it is.
Huay Xai (3 minutes) There isn’t anything to do here. So unless you decide on the gibbon experience which you’ll book in advance here http://www.gibbonexperience.org/ you can go straight to the river by tuk tuk and get on a boat to Luang Prabang.
You can book a speed boat (6 hours) http://grantourismotravels.com/2012/01/24/guide-to-mekong-river-cruise-from-thailand-to-laos/ or the slow boat (2 days) http://www.travelculturemag.com/everything-you-need-to-know-before-you-slowboat-in-laos/
I would say, that if you’re not going to do the Gibbon experience, then I probably wouldn’t even bother doing Laos on your time-frame. I’d fly straight over into Vietnam
Luang Prabang (1-2 days)
LP is a great sleepy little city on the edge of the mekong river. You can take day hikes to great waterfalls https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuang_Si_Falls there’s great night markets with cheap food, good massages. there’s a few cool little bars Hive bar, and Utopia. Things close pretty early and that’s when everyone gets a tuk tuk to the locals nightclub and or the bowling alley which stays open until 3am and sells bottles of whisky for $2
VISA: See if you can get your visa for vietnam before you go. it’s easier than doing it there. But if you have to you can do it online and print the paperwork. You then queue to get a visa put in the passport upon immigration arrival.
Hanoi / Ha Long Bay (2 days) Hanoi is a bit shit tbh. I didn’t really like it. But to stay, check out http://www.vietnambackpackerhostels.com/the-hostels/downtown-hanoi/ this hostel can book you package tours to Ha Long Bay and ensure you go with like-minded people. If you can swing it, I did a 3 day 2 night trip. But I would probably just got for the overnight trip. You go out on a junk boat, stay on it and get fucking mashed. there’s loads of sluts and you can kayak, around the islands and party. If you do decide to stay longer, you go to a desert island and sleep in hammocks and can choose to do rock climbing, wake boarding or something else.
In Hanoi, there’s a place called Finnegans Irish pub, that area has street food and drinks, in 2012 it was 12 cents for a beer. So def worth considering. Hanoi does have a few cool war museums, which are fucking harrowing tbh, but whilst you’re in that neck of the woods well worth checking out.
Check when all our passports expire. Should be at least 6 months past date of travel
American, Canadian, and UK citizens do not need to acquire a visa for stays not longer than 30 days.
We should get this online beforehand. Print two copies
We can get it upon entry at the friendship bridge in Huay Xia. $35 USD
Confusing as shit. Get help from James. Also, get beforehand
No passport required for stays less than 90 days.
Check with Dr.
Thailand: No vaccination required
Cambodia: No vaccination required
Laos: No vaccinations required
Vietnam: No vaccinations required
Hong Kong: No vaccinations required