Backpackers are those who travel freely around the world, while carrying all their luggage in one backpack on their shoulders – these could be either young people, in between jobs, or just fresh out of high-school, or even flashpackers, who are looking for a higher percentage of luxury and comfort on the road. This movement began in the late 1960’s and has been gaining follower base around the world, with some of the most popular backpacker destinations located in Southeast Asia. Just imagine exploring the pristine jungle in the North of Thailand, followed by a Temple adventure in Cambodia, wild river rafting in Laos, with a soft finish of Vietnamese culture in Sapa. All of these sound wonderfully intriguing and exciting, and here are some essentials that you should consider before launching on your wonderful travels.
When arranging your travels to Southeast Asia, you will come across thousands of websites and internet pages advocating one way itinerary or another, with pros and cons, advice and tips on how and where to travel to first. While all this is wonderful to gain some perspective, remember that what differentiates a backpacker is the ability to be completely free and mobile – don’t plan everything to the minor detail. Get your ticket to the first destination, be it Vietnam, or Thailand, or even Myanmar, and from there continue your travels as it suits you. Perhaps you will find other opportunities on your way, or wish to stay in a certain place for longer – don’t weigh yourself by purchasing tickets for onward travel.
While travelling, keep in mind the total number of days that you have available for your adventures and try to allocate the time in each country or area accordingly. If you plan on visiting 3 countries in 1 month, you know that you don’t have much luxury to stay in one place, if you want to see everything listed on LonelyPlanet and Tripadvisor. Another good idea to base your travels on is the permitted number of days according to your Visa – that makes things a little more clear and you know where and for how long you would like to stay.
Don’t limit yourself with air travel – there are numerous budget- friendly options to travel around Southeast Asia, including the train, which is especially efficient in Vietnam; busses – here you have a choice from mini-vans to overnight sleeper busses, or even boat travel. Do your research online, but also visit some of the small travel agent booths around – they usually have the best, and by that we mean cheapest, options available and can advise on what’s best to see.
While travelling a whole region may seem like a task that will take up to 6 months of travels, you will find that some places are more alluring and interesting to you than others, and you wish to spend more time there. Being a backpacker gives you the option to either stay or travel onwards without any obligations or bookings that will cost a fortune in cancellation fees. Make a rough outline of what you would like to see, how much time you have and embark on your travels!