How to Plan A Trip to SE Asia!
Day 2 – #DoyinTakesSEAsia
If you didn’t know, I’m in full swing (well the end of) day 2 of adventuring, documenting and trying something out of my comfort zone for a month or so! I decided to venture out to parts of South East Asia (currently in Bangkok, Thailand) to travel document, connect with fellow creatives/travellers and create a new personal meaning of travel! So Why South East Asia!?
Why not!? Lol… well it’s relatively cheap, the regions are easily accessible via plane, train, boat or the road! & there’s loads of information already out there on SE Asia!
So why write a post on SE Asia then!?
Yes I can read your mind haha… but rather than waffle on “What to do while in blah blah blah” (that’s coming in future posts lol) I want you to know 5 top things I’ve learnt or wish I knew before coming out here (many which are applicable to other countries/regions too)!
This is a difficult one and a common question I get is “Oh Doyin, how have you planned your life in SE Asia for a while month!?” – Many of us don’t have the luxury to travel for months not to talk of a month so unless you are a super keen on going with the flow on an entire trip I’ll suggest you plan at least your destinations & flights before heading out. Of course if you are less time conscious you can skip this one. 😉
International Flight to SE Asia: I flew with China Southern (service was 7/10) and purchased my ticket via STA Travel due to the pretty sweet deal they offer for flexible flight passes. The Flexi-Pass means my return ticket is eligible for unlimited flight changes at no additional costs – i.e., it’s an open return ticket. STA also price match with airlines and other travel agencies so you won’t be paying more for your flight ticket.
Regional flights in SE Asia: Making 10 stops in 1 month means I need to reduce my journey time, but most importantly at a cost efficient rate! I booked all my internal flights with Air Asia who offer flights from as little as £10 so there’s really no excuse!
Regional trains: There are some things you just have to do when in SE Asia… taking the overnight/day train is one! I’ve taken the night train in China and oh was it an experience – it must have been a pretty good one because I’ve only gone and booked a night train from Bangkok to Chiangmai (I’ll let you know how it goes lol). I used 12go.asia who are a trusted source and the service I’ve received so far has been really professional.
Timing: When flocking around to several destinations in SE Asia in a short space of time, timing is of course KEY! I use Tripcase to sync all my travel plans (including flights and accommodations) and the app even manages my itineraries.
Be sure to carry/wear a watch with you (remember your phone can easily die on you – especially in the SE Asia heat)! Managing my time with me on this adventure is Vitaelondon – I haven’t missed a flight yet so it must be a good thing!
My planning tools: For general “to do’s” and itineraries for SE Asia I spent a good amount of time on Nomadic Matt’s travel guides – they are short, snappy and straight to the point!
Seriously, Google “What to do in …” you’ll be surprise on the amount and also accurate amount of information out there – that’s really how I plan most of my trips. Of course, take the personal reviews with a pinch of salt and use it parallel to your preference.
“Doyin, what about accommodation!?” …accommodation needs its own love lol.
SE Asia is a “hit and miss” with accommodation and where you decide to stay will of course depend on your style/type of travel. During my 1 month trip I’ve combined budget, mid-range and affordable “luxury” and here’s what I did:
Budget accommodation: Simply walk into a guest house/hostel and ask whether there are any free rooms – sounds crazy to some but I guarantee you’ll find a bed. Although I read the reviews that mentioned this I decided to ignore and as a first timer in SE Asia I pre-booked all my accommodation… but damn you can literally walk into a “space” and ask for a room! While strolling on the infamous Khaosan Road in Bangkok last night I thought to give it a go so I walked into a “Guest House” and asked if there were beds available. The cute receptionist lady even offered me a discount rate “just for you my dear!” she shouted. Pretty good deal for 400 THB (not even up to £10) per night, so yes all the reviews are true!
Mid-Range: I used Agoda as you do not have to make payments on some accommodations before arrival. You simply secure your room so if you are unsure it’s pretty easy to make a cancellation free of charge. They offer a range of pre-booked budget accommodation too!
Affordable “luxury” accommodation: My favourite! Luxury of course is relative and during this trip my necessities are Wi-Fi, cleanliness (always) and a space I’m more than happy to come back to for writing, editing or even a cheeky afternoon nap. You know the drill guys – my first love Airbnb ! My amazing home in Bangkok (pictured below) was about £16 a night and the whole apartment came equipped with daily essentials and it accommodates up to 2 people (£8 per night)!
FYI, here’s £30 free credit on your next Airbnb stay https://www.airbnb.co.uk/c/doyins 😉
Super luxury accommodation: I honestly cannot help here lol – but Airbnb do amazing luxury villas/apartments too! …Yes, I’m an Airbnb advocate!
- DOWNLOAD GOOGLE MAPS OFFLINE
A buddy of mine shared this with me and damn do I have a new found LOVE for Google (you already know I’m obsessed with Google Flights lol) – so hey, you can actually download a map of the area you are staying in and use it offline! Google allows you to download a map of a selected area to use when you have no data. Simply go to ‘Google Maps’, hit ‘Offline areas’ and download a custom area.
As always there are disclaimers *sighs* lol… apparently downloading offline isn’t available in some areas due to contractual agreements etc., but when it works you can make sure your Uber driver isn’t going around the roundabout, twice!
- CASH MONEY
I admit I messed up a little here lol. Many of the SE Asia reviews I read said “no need to change money, the rates are better here in SE Asia!” but oh did I misinterpret that. I usually travel with the currency of my given destination in hand, or at least some. Lucky enough I brought some pounds with me but I really should have brought more – for my entire stay in SE Asia actually! The rates are actually better here but only if you have cash form your home country! Here in Thailand there are currency exchange booths all over the city that offer favourable rates than at home. However, many of the booths I have approached only take cash and not credit/debit cards so be sure to bring cash from your home currency to change over here.
Also note that the rates in the city of Bangkok are better than the airport rates!
Another tip I read on a review but took lightly lol. Personally, I love haggling! But I’m British so a hint of politeness always comes to play. But when in Thailand (I’m sure this goes for most of SE Asia) haggle, haggle, haggle! – Even with local taxis, boats and food vendors. What’s the worse they can possibly do? Curse you in a language you don’t even understand? Lol… be sure to haggle – you get my point. 😉
I hope you enjoyed this short and snappy post on how you can pretty much plan most trips to SE Asia and beyond!? As always, please leave a comment, let me know your thoughts and do share the post!
Stay tuned on my social media networks as I journey on in SE Asia and don’t be shy, let’s connect… especially if you are in SE Asia!
*Thanks to all the folks that have contributed so far to my gofundme ! Feel free to check out my story and support on the link* 🙂