6 Weeks To Go: Preparations For Backpacking SE Asia!

Tuesday 26 January 2016
Travel, Backpacking, SE Asia, Planning
Image courtesy of Pixabay

It's officially less than 6 weeks until David and I make our way down to Dublin and board a plane for the biggest adventure of our lives to date! We leave home on the 1st March and on the 2nd March we will land in Bangkok, Thailand for the first leg of our 3 month journey!

I'm not gonna lie, I'm still a bit in shock that it's actually happening! Travelling is one of those things that people always say they want to do, and usually they end up not doing it, and a little niggly part of me thought that would be us aswell. Yet, here we are, preparing to head out into the unknown (to us, anyway!), with only the very vaguest of itineraries, a whole list of things to see and do, and only our first 2 nights accommodation booked. It's legitimately the craziest thing either of us have ever done!

When David and I go away together, I usually like having our days planned out to a T, filled with sightseeing and activities, which works perfectly well for a 3/4/5 day mini-break when you want to see as much as possible in the time you have. But backpacking for 3 months is going to be a whole different ball game, one I've never played before and one that's going to take some getting used to! Our time is SE Asia is going to have a different pace than what we're used to, we won't have to cram everything we want to see info a few days. We're going to have plenty of time for visiting temples, parks, forests and markets, and also plenty of time to chill out and relax, to enjoy the different cultures that we're in and take the time to experience them properly. I think I'm going to find it hard getting used to this different kind of travelling, as amazing as I'm sure it will be!

I can't wait until these next 6 weeks are over and we're on our way! It's crazy how quickly the time has gone in, I can't believe it was 3 months ago that we booked our flights into Bangkok! Hopefully our 3 months in SE Asia doesn't fly in as fast. 

We've spent the last week or so tying up any loose ends and booking all the necessary things we need before we leave. 

We decided to book our first 2 nights in Bangkok in New Joe Guesthouse, a hostel close enough to the action but far enough away that you can get a quiet nights sleep. Winner, winner in my eyes! The reviews were decent enough, with everyone saying how amazing the location is, and at £4.10 pp/pn for a private room it'd be rude to say no! Fingers crossed that the reviews are legit, and there's no nasty bed bugs!

We finally(!!) booked our flights home a few weeks ago, which felt like a massive weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I'd been feeling really anxious about not having a flight home, and worried about how much they would cost etc etc. We managed to book a flight from Bangkok to London and then one from London to Belfast. This actually worked out cheaper for us than going with a flight from Bangkok to Dublin with a 19hr layover in Oslo!! 19hrs was just too much for me to handle, and with the expectation that we probably won't be coming back with much money, I just couldn't face it. 

In the last few days we also booked flights from Bangkok to Cambodia for the end of our 30 Day Visa Exemption in Thailand. A friend of David's said that flying into Cambodia would be safer and easier than crossing overland, in terms of visas, and you're less likely to get scammed at the airport than at the land border. With flights only being £30ish each we thought why not. It also gives us a legit ticket out of Thailand, I've read so many conflicting pieces of advice about how strict they are when it comes to having a ticket out of the country, so this will save us any hassle!

>>Our Route

Getting those flights into Cambodia helped to cement our potential route for the 3 months. Aside from that flight and our date to go home, we don't have any other dates or plans that are set in stone, so our route is going to be fairly vague and easily changed!

2nd March - 29th March: Thailand!
We're spending the first month exploring mainland Thailand, making sure to hit Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Pai, aswell as hopefully spending some time in the national parks! We'll then make our way back to Bangkok for our flight to Cambodia.

29th March - 17th April: Cambodia!
We'll hopefully spend 2, maybe 3, weeks in Cambodia, visiting Siem Riep, Angkor Wat and making our way to the coast. We have to make sure to get our Vietnam Visas from the Vietnamese Embassy while we're here!

17th April - 2nd May: Vietnam!
We're hoping to get a 15 Day Visa Exemption for Vietnam, as their visa process was far too confusing and complicated online! Hopefully we can get a visa from the embassy in Cambodia, and if not we'll just rethink our route a little! I'd love to see Vietnam though, Ho Chi Minh City and then making our way north hitting Hue, Hanoi and Ha Long Bay!

2nd May -  16th May: Laos!
From the north of Vietnam we'll make our way across into the north of Laos, and head south. We're still not too sure on where we want to go in Laos yet, so there's still a good bit of research to be done before we leave!

16th May - 7th June: Thailand!
From the south of Laos we will make our way back into Thailand for the last 3 weeks of our travelling adventure! We're planning to head south to do some island hopping, and praying that the weather will be nothing but beautiful sunshine and blue skies! I'm really, really hoping that what I've read on the Visa Exemption in Thailand is correct though. From what I've gathered, because David & I both have UK passports we will be granted another 30 Day Visa Exemption, even though we will be entering Thailand over a land border. Some passports/nationalities only recieve a 15 Day Visa Exemption when entering from Cambodia or Laos over land instead of by air. So hopefully we're granted 30 Days, otherwise we'll have to see about getting a tourist visa!

I genuinely cannot believe it's so close to our leaving date, I'm so excited it's unreal!! Also, massively nervous because I've never done anything like this before, but still mostly excited!

Have you ever been backpacking? Any tips/recommendations are more than welcome!