So I'm travelling o/s for the first time.. bear with me I'm new at this.. and I'm going by myself to Thailand. My first impulse is to jump on a tour (like intrepid) so that at least I will have a group of people I'll get to know and maybe make some friendships out of. But I'm hearing more and more that I can do this alone. So, I get off a plane in Bangkok... then what? And where do I meet fellow likeminded travellers to share experiences with? And will I feel safe there? Appreciate your thoughts / suggestions / advice...
Just from my experiences in Thailand, and around the region: If you are going to be travelling in a group then I assume you are backpacking, if that is the case then the place you are going to meet fellow travellers the easiest is at hostels / guest houses. The main district for guest houses in Bangkok is on and around Khao San Road (http://wikitravel.org/en/Bangkok/Khao_San_Road). There you will probably see a higher concentration of backpackers than anywhere else in Thailand. Whether you stay there, or at a guest house elsewhere, you will meet people, and you will find people who want to see and do similar things that you want to. This is pretty much the case with wherever you go actually. I found that I just floated from friend to friend over my time in SE Asia, a few days travelling here with this person, a few days exploring this city with the next... The great thing is spending a few days travelling around with someone and you really get to know them quick, its pretty awesome for meeting cool people :).
As for safety, I am no expert, but basically it's a case of common sense. There are plenty of guides online on travel safety, and once again your fellow travellers will be a great sources of how dodgy various places are. almost 10 years ago
Well... yeah not really backpacking, and not travelling with a group. Happy to meet a group to travel with, but don't know anyone going at this point in time.
What are the guest houses like?
Am looking forward to meeting some cool people :) Thanks for the info. almost 10 years ago
I am at the opposite end of the age spectrum from you but once asked the same questions. Thailand and Laos seem absolutely "safe" for travel - the advice from others still stands however. Use the same sort of judgement you use at home, go steady. You ask about guest houses ... in both places they are awesome and all the feedback about meeting people is very true ... they are almost a sub-culture and don't necessarily equal back-packing - just people from all over using this level of accommodation. Just returned from three weeks where I just jumped buses (crap ones and full A/C VIP inter-city ones). Very economical. Guest houses 200 thru to 600 THB per night @ 23 THB to the AUD, so very good value where we have dived against the USD. And some of the best value was at the 200 end of that range. Out there, everyone is sort of equal, so you will find meeting up, travelling in "groups" just sort of happens - people are often heading in the same general direction. Best advice ... get off-line, yes visit Koh Samui and the "names" but also head out into the relatively unknown places - it is there that you will find the best and most memorable experiences.
Airfares out of Oz using someone like Air Asia from MEL to KL, then doing a short hop to the rest of many many cities is truely economical - like $190AUD MEL to KL OW. Point to point on JetStar also great prices.
Advice for Thailand, Lao and Vietnam is all the same. Cambodia slightly different ... need to keep your wits more about you.
Trip Advisor and Travelfish are good travel sites with property reviews and are a traveller's friend. Internet is EVERYWHERE - up to you whether you use their equipment or take a Netbook to travel with your own gear.
Travel LIGHT - it makes the journey so much more enjoyable.
Enjoy. almost 10 years ago
jai and getasoz have some good tips..
Guest houses are a big part of the travel experience in SE Asia. They are basically somewhere in between a hotel and a hostel. You get your own room + bathroom (usually private, but sometimes shared). The family usually live in an adjoining house, and are always around to provide assistance and local advice. There's a 'welcome' feel about staying in a good guest house - it's sort of like staying in a small hotel with really friendly staff. The good thing about staying at a guest house is that there's a constant flow of travelers coming and going, and as jai said you inevitably meet people and make friends. Keep in mind LOTS of people are also traveling by themselves - you aren't going to be the only one!
A little trick I do when going to a new place is to book a night at a hotel for my first night. I then have a day to wander around the area and find a good guest house to move into. It saves the first day stress of being in a new country and trying to find accommodation.
If you make a basic itinerary of places you'd like to visit then you can travel about with flexibility. Once you get bored (or if you don't like the place), just book a bus/train to the next destination and go!
Getasoz is correct about internet cafes - you can't help but trip over them in SE Asia. So you can easily jump online and search for information about your next destination.
Hope that helps! :) almost 10 years ago
You guys rock. I feel like a total schoolgirl completely inexperienced with this stuff but none of you are laughing at me... thank you.
getasoz, thanks for the tips on flights... cheaper than I ever imagined.
ian - cheers for explaining guest houses in more detail, makes more sense now. i'm expecting a lonely planet thailand book in the mail shortly so i'm just going to start reading and note the places i'd like to see... get there and try and wing it.
if I get stuck, i know I can just jump online and find some friends with some pretty handy tips to help me out!
:) almost 10 years ago
Good tips guys.
When conserning safety I have some general tips.
In my experience the safest places are actually the most dodgy because you let your guard down, never let it down. I have some really messed up stories I will spare you from Scandinavia, which has got to be the safest place in the world, while ive had no problems whatsoever in a lot of places your told not to go to.
Alcohol is by far the most dangerous drug in the world. Every dodgy situation ive ever been in is in some way related to been drunk. If your not in a safe location, ie a hostel or guesthouse, stay within your limits.
Heres a little tip most people dont know. Get a soft sunglasses case, put your passport, credit card, excess cash or whatever else really importand in the case. Tie the string loop thing around your belt or belt holder things and wear it inside your pants. Safe as shit. The passport holder things you buy at tourist shops that you strap to your chest are good but really determined theives know about them and if theyre hardcore and desperate will go for them. Noone will think of the sunglasses case trick. The only problem with this is if your wearing tight jeans its noticable and uncomfortable, also its a pain in the arse if you actually have to get to it. If you dont like this girls have a distinct advantage to guys known as a bra. Ive met a lot of girls who swear by storing cash etc there.
Anyway good luck Amber, sorry if I scared you, you'll be fine. Go forth and conquor!
p.s. read "the alchemist" by Paulo Coelho at the start of your trip, its the quint-essential travelers book. almost 10 years ago