Routes through SE Asia

As part of a big round the world trip I have 9 weeks to get from Hanoi to Singapore (starting in late September) and am looking for some travel hints and tips!

I’ll be by myself (29yo female), have a decent budget and want to see as much as possible as I’ve never been to that part of the world before.

I’ve heard mixed reports about the Bamba hop-on-hop-off bus tours and was wondering if any one had any experience of them? How easy is it to do something similar independently?

Thank you!

Ariane 20/06/13    Gap yearCambodiaLaosMalaysiaSingaporeThailandVietnam Link Report

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Hi Ariane

Firstly, I think one of the better options to travel through Vietnam is by bus. You can buy open ended tickets from a lot of reputable companies in Hanoi and then every other destination as you travel through the country. Typically a ticket from Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh will cost in the region of $50 (24 hour bus Journey). From Hanoi to Hue will cost around $20 and so on. The itinerary I took through Vietnam was started in Hanoi and then travelled to Sapa for a few days before I travelled back to Hanoi. I then started to make my way down the country hitting ll the major tourist spots like Halong Bay, Hue, Hoi An, Nha Thrang, Mui Ne and finally Ho Chi Minh. All this was done by the open bus ticket, I think the company was called Singh and they were really nice buses.

Leaving Vietnam I would cross the border into Cambodia and travel to the capital Phnom Penh by bus which is approx. 4 hours from Ho Chi Minh. Staying there for a couple of days I would travel north to Battambang and then Siem Reap to visit the temples of Angkor for a couple of days.

From Siem Reap you can fly to Vientiane in Laos or cross the border at Dom Kralor (I did this and it was dodgy, I got ripped off by boatmen, wouldn’t recommend it as its a good 14 hour bus to the capital). From Vientiane you can travel to Luangt Prabang and check out a few temples and relax for a few days then travel across border to Thailand via Hue Xai.

Start Thailand by staying in Chang Mai for a few days then travel south through Sukhothai (Former Buddhist capital) and Lopburi (Monkey town) to finally making your way to Bangkok. You could literally stay here for a month and still find so much to do and see, but I would recommend Grand Palace and reclining Buddha statue, riverboat cruise, a night out on Khao San road and shopping in MBK and Pantip Plaza. Kanchanburi is a really nice area to visit from Bangkok, it is a lot of war history where the river Kwai floats through. I would then spend 3 weeks heading south and chilling out on the beaches & islands of Thailand. Bangkok – Chumpon – Ko Tao – Ko Phangan – Ko Samui. A company called Lomprayah can make this so easy for you. Worth checking out Phuket and Ko Phi Phi also for some beach bumming.

From Thailand you can either head down the Malaysian peninsular by Train into Malaysia or fly from either Samui, Phuket or Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur check out the city for a few days then get bus/train to Melaka and then onto Singapore.

Obviously a fairly rough itinerary there, but its what I did back in 2009 so just going from experience. Let me know anything further you want to know and I will be happy to help.

Thanks and have a good one.


aidoc 20/06/13    Link Report

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  • Right, first off forget any tours. You don’t need them.

    SE Asia is IDEAL for independent travellers. Very cheap, excellent infrastructure, lots of great transport and accommodation options, lots of exploration options and no need to stick to a rigid itinerary.

    It really is so easy to travel independently in the region.

    Unfortunately you really don’t have long to explore the region at all, so with this in mind LIMIT the countries you visit. DON’T try to fit them all in because it just won’t happen. You will see a lot more by travelling slowly than by trying to rush through, trust me on this.

    Now, if you could tell me a little more about your likes/interests/etc then I will be able to help you a little by pointing you to the places that fit your requirements, otherwise I’m just taking a stab in the dark.

    You could for example spend a month travelling down through Vietnam, then from there either spend a month in Thailand OR a month in Malaysia (one of the other, not both), then hop over to Singapore for your last few days/week.

    As for getting around, AC coach is ideal and very cheap, but since you are on a strict time frame then I would also consider a flight or two with Air Asia or a similar budget airline. Bangkok, KL and Singapore are major tourist hubs so flights are regular and often pretty cheap.

    Don’t hesitate to let me know if I can help further.

    Michael Huxley 20/06/13    Link Report

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    I’d recommend Hong Kong, too. Surprisingly green, was in 1997, it’s possible that Disney have developed it all now. Lamma Island is the most amazing little place. I lived there for a year, no traffic, no stress. Just hikes, great food and lots and lots of cats!

    sch_createthink 01/08/14    Link Report

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