Need help on where to go, budget and use of credit and debit cards

by Andrew Lynch

Question: Hi, me and two friends are planning on arriving in Bangkok in early November. We have made no plans as where to go from here. We will have around 3 months in South east Asia. We have no preferences as where to go. Can you help please?

Also do you think that $3000 should cover 3 months?

Sorry but two more questions, where would you recommend spending Christmas?

And finally: Do you really need a credit card? Or would a debit card do?

Answer: Hey Andrew, as for where to go it all depends on what you want to do.

For a route of 3 months I can suggest following circuits:

1) Start from Bangkok, travel to Northern Thailand and visit Pai, Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai, where you can trek, party and relax.

Cross the border to Laos and stop by Vang Vieng -- a notorious backpacking town in Laos where they offer tubing, a lot partying, great caving and waterfalls.

Make your way down to 4000 islands in south Laos where you can swim in the Mekong river, watch dolphins and party more.

From Laos, cross the border to Cambodia and stop by Phnom Penh to visit Genocide Museum and Killing Fields.

Next you can travel to Siem Reap to visit the Angkor temples.

Then cross the border back to Thailand, and spend your last weeks in south Thailand -- where you can dive in Koh Tao, Phi Phi or backpack even more south in Koh Lipe (I've heard the snorkeling and diving there is fantastic), go island-hopping, attend a moon party on Koh Phangan.

If you go all way the south and still have time, you can border cross to Malaysia, and visit Pulau Langkawi -- gorgeous island.

2) Another option is to visit Vietnam.

You just follow the same route as in NR. 1) but you cross the border from north Laos to north Vietnam. In north Vietnam you can trek in Sapa (north of Hanoi), then visit Halong Bay, travel downwards and stop by beautiful Hoi An.

Finish your journey in Vietnam by visiting the Cu Chi channels as a day trip from Saigon, and maybe stop by the island of Phu Quoc.

Then enter Cambodia from the east. In this circuit, you're skipping south Laos and you probably don't have time for Malaysia.

"Also do you think that $3000 should cover 3 months?"

3000 USD should be enough for 3 months! With about 30 USD a day you can stay at guesthouses, eat better food and drinks and use minibus/VIP-bus as means of transportation. The costs will vary from place to place. Maybe you'll spend 15 USD other places and spend 40 USD another place.

Since you're three going backpacking, the accommodation costs might get cheaper as long as you try to find triple rooms.

You can spend a lot less than 30 USD each day if you decide to roughen it. Some backpackers have spent 10-15 USD per day (accommodation, food and local transport).

Make sure you include visa fees, potential flights and big activities (diving course, climbing, hiking etc) in that budget.

"Where would you recommend spending Christmas?"

I spent Christmas on Koh Pha ngan in Thailand. It was great to spend Christmas on the beaches of Thong Nai Pan, with grilled fish as our main meal. The rest was French food (which was OK).

I think spending Christmas on the islands/beaches is a nice thing! We spent New Year's on Phi Phi and had a blast! :D

"Do you really need a credit card? Or would a debit card do?"

You can use both, just debit card or credit card. It all comes down to you! I prefer to have several cards. I usually bring my debit card, credit card (in case of emergency) and cash.

There's usually a fee for withdrawals in ATMs. I always take out 4000-5000 baht each time (to spare me the fees).

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