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Old Nov 28, 12, 5:58 am   #1
 
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Backpacking Asia advice

I am going backpacking for the first time ever, and I will be going solo. This is all new to me, and yeah my itiniery keeps changing, but I am beginning to finalise things now. I will be heading out in Feb 2013, and hoping to stay out there for at least 3 months.

Staying in budget hostels, obviously, I will be allocating no more than 20 per night on accommodation. I currently have 83 nights planned which gives me roughly a 'bill' of 1660 for the hostels - and yet all my flights come to around 1800.

I plan to spend 28 days in Thailand/Cambodia, 20 days in Japan, 5 days in Seoul, 5 days in Beijing, 11 days in Malaysia, 14 days in Indonesia...and possibly 14 days in Australia added on at the end, if I can afford it.

LHR-BKK
Bangkok to Koh Samui to Phuket via train/bus/ferry
HKT-CNX
Chiang Mai to Bangkok to Siem Reap to Bangkok via bus
BKK-NRT
Tokyo to Hiroshima to Osaka to Kyoto to Tokyo via Shinkansen
NRT-ICN-PEK-KUL
Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi via train/bus/ferry
Langkawi to Penang via ferry
Penang to Kuala Lumpur via train/bus
KUL-DPS
DPS-SUB
Bromo to Yogyakarta to Bandung to Jakarta via train
CGK-SIN-SYD
Sydney to Queensland to Sydney via train(?)
SYD-SIN-LHR

Which parts of my itiniery are unrealistic?

In 83 days, how much would I have to allocate each day for transport/food/stuff?
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Old Nov 28, 12, 10:33 am   #2
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A380 Flyer View Post
I am going backpacking for the first time ever, and I will be going solo. This is all new to me, and yeah my itiniery keeps changing, but I am beginning to finalise things now. I will be heading out in Feb 2013, and hoping to stay out there for at least 3 months.

Staying in budget hostels, obviously, I will be allocating no more than 20 per night on accommodation. I currently have 83 nights planned which gives me roughly a 'bill' of 1660 for the hostels - and yet all my flights come to around 1800.

I plan to spend 28 days in Thailand/Cambodia, 20 days in Japan, 5 days in Seoul, 5 days in Beijing, 11 days in Malaysia, 14 days in Indonesia...and possibly 14 days in Australia added on at the end, if I can afford it.

LHR-BKK
Bangkok to Koh Samui to Phuket via train/bus/ferry
HKT-CNX
Chiang Mai to Bangkok to Siem Reap to Bangkok via bus
BKK-NRT
Tokyo to Hiroshima to Osaka to Kyoto to Tokyo via Shinkansen
NRT-ICN-PEK-KUL
Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi via train/bus/ferry
Langkawi to Penang via ferry
Penang to Kuala Lumpur via train/bus
KUL-DPS
DPS-SUB
Bromo to Yogyakarta to Bandung to Jakarta via train
CGK-SIN-SYD
Sydney to Queensland to Sydney via train(?)
SYD-SIN-LHR

Which parts of my itiniery are unrealistic?

In 83 days, how much would I have to allocate each day for transport/food/stuff?
I've mentioned this before, but your extra flights/jumping from SE Asia to N Asia and back are adding expense.

LHR-NRT
(Japan)
NRT-PEK
(China)
PEK-BKK
(Thailand, Malaysia via train/ferry/bus)
KUL-CGK on a cheap AK flight
(Indonesia via train/ferry/bus)
DPS-BNE on a cheap JQ flight
(Australia by bus)
SYD-SIN-LHR

Your budget is fine for Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Japan and Australia are going to be expensive (especially Tokyo).

Last edited by eponymous_coward; Nov 29, 12 at 12:28 pm..
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Old Nov 28, 12, 6:15 pm   #3
 
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Originally Posted by eponymous_coward View Post
Your budget is fine for Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Japan and Australia are going to be expensive (especially Tokyo).
Beware of Australian prices as well. The pound is weak right now, and the dollar is very strong: 20 quid/night is about A$30, which will barely suffice for a dorm bed. Realistically, you'll need to budget at least A$100/day on bed, food, sights and local transport, with long-distance transport on top of that.

Covering both China and Korea in ten days seems a little ambitious, and flights up there aren't cheap either. You could save a fair amount of cash by spending that same time in SE Asia instead.
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Old Nov 29, 12, 12:38 pm   #4
 
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Originally Posted by jpatokal View Post
Beware of Australian prices as well. The pound is weak right now, and the dollar is very strong: 20 quid/night is about A$30, which will barely suffice for a dorm bed. Realistically, you'll need to budget at least A$100/day on bed, food, sights and local transport, with long-distance transport on top of that.

Covering both China and Korea in ten days seems a little ambitious, and flights up there aren't cheap either. You could save a fair amount of cash by spending that same time in SE Asia instead.
I agree. I think the OP would be better off dropping some of their destinations and flying, especially the expensive ones (Japan, S Korea and Australia), swapping in ones like Vietnam that are more reasonable for the budget. Limited budget does not work well with spending over a month in some of the most expensive cities in the world, unless you don't mind going on the Rick Steves peanut butter, jam and Fanta diet.

Right now, you can get the US Airways miles necessary to fly LHR-PEK(stop)-BKK(dest)-LHR in Y for ~800, plus another 100 for fees for a ticket- so I think the OP is also paying too much money for his flights...
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Old Nov 29, 12, 6:54 pm   #5
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Originally Posted by A380 Flyer View Post
I plan to spend 28 days in Thailand/Cambodia, 20 days in Japan, 5 days in Seoul, 5 days in Beijing, 11 days in Malaysia, 14 days in Indonesia...and possibly 14 days in Australia added on at the end, if I can afford it.
I would:

1) limit Japan to 7-10 days
2) skip Seoul and Beijing (February is cold)
3) take Spring Airlines from Japan to Shanghai, availing of a y1 fare
4) allow up to 2 weeks making your way towards Nanning
5) head south from there toward Singapore

Cheap places: second/third tier China, Thailand, VN
Moderate places: first tier China, second tier Japan, Malaysia
Expensive places: Tokyo, HK, Singapore, Australia

ETA: I was in SIN getting ready to leave when I wrote this post earlier today, and reviewed my expenses on the plane; "expensive" is an understatement; the money I dropped in 2 days there would have been sufficient to last for 3 months in Nanning.

Last edited by moondog; Nov 30, 12 at 4:16 am..
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Old Nov 30, 12, 11:43 pm   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moondog View Post
I would:

1) limit Japan to 7-10 days
2) skip Seoul and Beijing (February is cold)
3) take Spring Airlines from Japan to Shanghai, availing of a y1 fare
4) allow up to 2 weeks making your way towards Nanning
5) head south from there toward Singapore

Cheap places: second/third tier China, Thailand, VN
Moderate places: first tier China, second tier Japan, Malaysia
Expensive places: Tokyo, HK, Singapore, Australia

ETA: I was in SIN getting ready to leave when I wrote this post earlier today, and reviewed my expenses on the plane; "expensive" is an understatement; the money I dropped in 2 days there would have been sufficient to last for 3 months in Nanning.
Sounds about right to me. The OP's pounds sterling will stretch much further with some rethinking of the itinerary...
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Old Dec 1, 12, 4:41 am   #7
 
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Originally Posted by moondog View Post
Expensive places: Tokyo, HK, Singapore, Australia

ETA: I was in SIN getting ready to leave when I wrote this post earlier today, and reviewed my expenses on the plane; "expensive" is an understatement; the money I dropped in 2 days there would have been sufficient to last for 3 months in Nanning.
Singapore is not cheap for business travel (hotel prices, in particular, are quite silly recently), but it can still be visited quite affordably as a backpacker. Dorm beds are $20/night, big hawker meals $5, MRT and bus transport usually under a dollar a ride -- you won't hit any of those price points in Japan or Australia. And unlike them, you don't need several weeks to do the place justice.
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Old Dec 1, 12, 8:41 am   #8
 
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Singapore is waaaaayyy cheap compared to Tokyo. I'm being honest here, because the amount of money I dropped on my Suica in Tokyo was unbelievable. The transportation in Singapore is decent, just don't expect Japanese standards of course.

OP if you're planning to travel around Japan remember your JR Pass, which is actually pretty pricey.

I'd say put Indonesia/(Singapore?)/Malaysia/Thailand along that same line because it's cheap to get around on budget airlines. Australia seems a bit 'off' in that itinerary but if you're willing to sit it out from Singapore to Australia on a LCC airline, Scoot is really cheap.

p/s: I'm assuming your tickets are not bought yet.
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Old Dec 1, 12, 3:40 pm   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A380 Flyer View Post
I am going backpacking for the first time ever, and I will be going solo. This is all new to me, and yeah my itiniery keeps changing, but I am beginning to finalise things now. I will be heading out in Feb 2013, and hoping to stay out there for at least 3 months.

Staying in budget hostels, obviously, I will be allocating no more than 20 per night on accommodation. I currently have 83 nights planned which gives me roughly a 'bill' of 1660 for the hostels - and yet all my flights come to around 1800.

I plan to spend 28 days in Thailand/Cambodia, 20 days in Japan, 5 days in Seoul, 5 days in Beijing, 11 days in Malaysia, 14 days in Indonesia...and possibly 14 days in Australia added on at the end, if I can afford it.

LHR-BKK
Bangkok to Koh Samui to Phuket via train/bus/ferry
HKT-CNX
Chiang Mai to Bangkok to Siem Reap to Bangkok via bus
BKK-NRT
Tokyo to Hiroshima to Osaka to Kyoto to Tokyo via Shinkansen
NRT-ICN-PEK-KUL
Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi via train/bus/ferry
Langkawi to Penang via ferry
Penang to Kuala Lumpur via train/bus
KUL-DPS
DPS-SUB
Bromo to Yogyakarta to Bandung to Jakarta via train
CGK-SIN-SYD
Sydney to Queensland to Sydney via train(?)
SYD-SIN-LHR

Which parts of my itiniery are unrealistic?

In 83 days, how much would I have to allocate each day for transport/food/stuff?
Many years ago, I landed in Bangkok on the first leg of an ambitious three month backpacking journey through Thailand, Nepal and India. I never made it out of Thailand except to Penang on visa runs, and the 3 months became almost six.

Even if this is a perceived absolutely once in a lifetime gap year experience, I would lower my sights considerably. In 83 days see a little bit of a lot of Southeast Asia (Thailand, Cambodia,Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar) or see a lot of a little bit of the region (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam).

Don't fly so much.

And you list 25+ cities. Really?

Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia as one trip would be another option.
Or maybe Hong Kong, China and Vietnam?
I have not been to Australia or Japan (except Narita City).

If you go to Asia and you enjoy it, you will return.
If you go to Asia and dislike it, you will be happy you didn't bite off so much at once.
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Old Dec 1, 12, 9:17 pm   #10
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Originally Posted by Ryvyan View Post
Singapore is waaaaayyy cheap compared to Tokyo.
I only wish that you had shown me the ropes during my trip last week. My data points:

hotel = $450/night
food = $250/day + $100 for room service
golf = $300/round
Tiger = $18/pint
taxi ride across the marina (10 minute walk) = $12

(All prices presented in USD.)
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Old Dec 2, 12, 4:39 am   #11
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moondog View Post
I only wish that you had shown me the ropes during my trip last week. My data points:

hotel = $450/night
food = $250/day + $100 for room service
golf = $300/round
Tiger = $18/pint
taxi ride across the marina (10 minute walk) = $12

(All prices presented in USD.)
I live here, so that's moot. It really depends on your budget and comfort level when it comes to how much you spend.

Which hotel were you at that is $450/night? I would agree that hotels ARE generally quite expensive here as is public housing, and anyone who comes here needs to be prepared for that and budget accordingly. Regardless, hostels are not that expensive here which is what the OP wants. I can say that hotels are expensive in London, but I can also tell you that I stayed in a really cheap and great hostel off Oxford Street. Singapore is small enough to be near the train system or bus service that brings you where you need to go.

On your food $, that's plain ridiculous. Maybe your main sustenance was from high-end restaurants with overpriced+lousy house wine, but generally, restaurants here aren't that expensive. Basically, YMMV again because some people do not mind eating out at hawker centres/food courts which are an absolute steal for the portion and well, local flavour. Room service is always a rip-off.

Small island... pricey golf... It is not a very popular sport in this nation. I have no idea what the costs involve.

Alcohol is expensive here but $18/pint of Tiger is an absolute rip-off. Except in clubs, then that's standard. Sadly. Most people either go all for it when drinking in clubs, or they get a little bit drunk at a nearby convenience store or similar before heading to clubs. There are pubs/restaurants that serve up their own brewed beers and they aren't that pricey even.

Taxis are not that expensive, but the toll fees and peak hour charges and city fee surcharges can add up very quickly. Plus you're going to/from MBS, which taxi drivers hate for multiple reasons even if the extra surcharges are decent.

Sorry for going OT. I don't travel in expensive style ever so again, YMMV.
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Old Dec 2, 12, 4:57 am   #12
 
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I agree that Japan seems a bit unrealistic for that budget.

I just spent some time in Taiwan which is surprisingly affordable and a really nice country. It is also very cheap to get around with lots of buses that go everywhere. According to my friend you can take a bus to pretty much every little town in the country from Taipei. The scenery is fantastic too. And Taipei is cheap to get around. The MRT costs next to nothing and is a great system. There are lots of buses going all over town for cheap too. And some (many?) of the buses are bilingual (i.e. announcements of stops in English and Chinese).

Unless there is some non-obvious reason though, I think sticking to SE Asia would give you plenty to do and save you some time and money on the flying part. Vietnam is interesting. Burma is fascinating and while not as cheap as it used to be, can probably be done.

The only other thing I would add is that 3 months is a long time. Especially for a first timer going solo. My luxury 1 month solo trips are usually plenty for me. By the end I am typically ready to go home. I did 5 weeks last year and it definitely felt like 1 week too long. I enjoy being on my own, but it can weigh on you sometimes, especially when you get sick or injured. I assume you will meet some folks along the way. But if your schedule is very set then chances are you won't meet a lot of traveling companions who will be with you for long.

Last edited by glennaa11; Dec 2, 12 at 5:07 am..
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Old Dec 2, 12, 8:43 am   #13
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Which hotel were you at that is $450/night?
The RC in the marina area. While I'll be the first to admit that $450 was insane, and I didn't even score any award points (they don't participate in MR), it was a pretty nice hotel. I'll drop you a line before my January trip because I really don't like spending money in an obnoxious manner, regardless of who's picking up the tab.
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Old Dec 2, 12, 8:33 pm   #14
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Originally Posted by moondog View Post
The RC in the marina area. While I'll be the first to admit that $450 was insane, and I didn't even score any award points (they don't participate in MR), it was a pretty nice hotel. I'll drop you a line before my January trip because I really don't like spending money in an obnoxious manner, regardless of who's picking up the tab.
We went into the RC two years to have a look at some of the Chihuli glass on display. An interesting foyer but way too over the top for me.
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Old Dec 2, 12, 10:55 pm   #15
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We went into the RC two years to have a look at some of the Chihuli glass on display. An interesting foyer but way too over the top for me.
We're getting off topic here, but I shall say the pool/spa are a letdown, though the rooms are simply amazing... far more comfortable than the Raffles. Other tips: lobby is on floor THREE, your room key only grants you access to your own floor (plus the lounge floor), if you walk down the hallway past the greenhouse, you can find a 711.
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