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Another Reason Travel in Southeast Asia is Easy!

A major goal of this blog is to demonstrate how international travel is far easier and cheaper that most folks think.

It is all too easy to get worked into a froth, worrying about all the scary snags possible in future travel dreams. These worries can make you put off your voyage for months, even years.

Here’s the secret: When you finally set off on your journey and are in the thick of it all, you’ll be one happy little clam, and you will laugh heartily at all your former worries.

Here’s a major area in which travel is easier than you think once you’re actually in it: transportation between Southeast Asian cities.

If you browse through your guidebook, the whole getting-from-one-place-to-another gig seems like a nightmare. There are multiple bus stations, there are scam buses, there are different routes… how can a wide-eyed traveler ever surmount such obstacles?

When you are actually in Thailand or Cambodia or Vietnam or Laos, however, the delightful truth becomes plain: every hotel and hostel is also a travel agent, and every city or town block holds five additional travel companies. Booking a bus, train, boat, or even motorcycle or elephant to literally any destination is as easy as waking up in the morning and walking downstairs to the lobby.

Indeed, because the hotel clerks are middlemen, the ticket prices are often inflated by a dollar or two, but given that bus prices are usually less than a dollar per hour (ex: 26 clammy hours from Hanoi to Vientiane cost me $14, WITH the hotel surcharge added in), that is not such a hardship.

This morning, I sleepily stumbled to the hotel clerk in my Vientiane hotel (oh, those delightful smiles of Laos!) to whom I paid my $6 for my pleasant little room for the upcoming night. “Can I see your bus ticket list?” I then asked, and was given a menu longer than my brother’s childhood Christmas/Hanukkah Request List to peruse.

Did I want to go to Ko Tao, Thailand, via a 36-hour bus-boat-bus combination for $20? Tempting, but no. Did I want a China visa for $42 and two passport photos? Not now, thanks. China blocks Facebook and I would freak out. Did I want to fly to Singapore or do a trek on foot to see hill tribes? Nope and nope, but thanks.

Ah ha! Four hour bus to Vang Vieng: $4 (with the surcharge added in). I pointed and smiled, the clerk whipped out a little pink ticket form book, and asked as he filled out my ticket, “Are you from Australia?” I set him straight, thanked him kindly as he handed me the ticket. I then happily headed into town to stuff my face with the insanely good and inexpensive food of Vietntiane.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that Southeast Asia is a backpacker’s heaven!

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lissie

Wednesday 29th of February 2012

Yeah but if you do it that way - not only will you pay waaay over the odds, you will travel with only other tourists and you will probably be delivered to a highly over-priced hostel at the other end - who is paying for the bus to drop you there. We picked up one of these tourists buses in Vietnam - we had a booking at Mui Nee - but I had to insist the bus stopped and let us off and then insist that they give us our packs - they were NOT happy. By the time we stopped we were clearly in the middle of town (there was only 1 street) and not one other tourist got off - even though they were taxis and hostels everywhere! They hadn't been told to yet you see LOL

I really do suggest getting yourself down to the bus station- buying a ticket there and going from there. Its not like you actually need to book most local buses anyways.

Lillie

Thursday 1st of March 2012

I hear you that you can save even more money with local buses, but this worked just fine for me, because the convenience was worth the extra, given how reasonable prices in SEAsia are anyway.

Drew

Friday 16th of July 2010

Actually, based on my experience in China, Lillie was right. Facebook was the only site I was unable to access during my 1 1/2 weeks in Shanghai and Nanjing.

Lillie

Friday 16th of July 2010

Hmm... That said, a friend who just arrived there said that "Everyone" is heartily using rerouting internet tricks to access Fb through other countries. She said it makes everything REALLY slow on her computer, but at least she can get her fix!

Imported Blogger Comments

Wednesday 26th of May 2010

David said... My mother said that she nearly had a heart attack when she heard I left to see the rest of Vietnam on my own. My reply was .. "MOMMMMMmm, (Eric Cartmen impersonation) if some round-eye who can't even speak the language can do it, why can't I?" Knowing the language only made an easy process even easier.

October 31, 2009 5:51 PM

Lauren said... I immediately recognized Mixay Guesthouse's signs in your photo. Always good to remind the fearful that traveling is not as hard as they think.

And, reconsider China. Facebook was not usually blocked. Depends on the political mood of the moment, and changes daily. You'll survive.

October 31, 2009 8:09 PM

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