I am really excited to announce my upcoming travel plans- Pommie is going to Southeast Asia! This November/December I’ll be visiting Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Burma and then… Australia!
I’ve been to Thailand and Singapore, and I once lived in Indonesia, but there are still lots of countries in Southeast Asia I haven’t been to. While I love Europe, I’m looking forward to heading somewhere warmer, less expensive and visiting new places. I’ve visited 27 countries so far, and barring Monaco, all the countries I visited this summer were repeat visits. So by the time I get to Australia in December, my country count will be at 30!
First stop I am going to Vietnam. I’ve been doing my research on the Visa situation for Vietnam online, and it seems there’s two options- either apply through the Embassy in London, or use myvietnamvisa.com. I can send my passport off in the post to the Vietnam Embassy in London to get the 30 day single entry visa, but at the moment I’m not sure how much it costs because they refuse to display the prices on their website. From reading forums it looks like it should be about £44 GBP plus an £8 fee for posting it back to me by special delivery. I’ve sent them an email and waiting to hear back.
Through the myvietnamvisa.com website you can get a sort of Visa On Arrival and it seems legit on the Trip Advisor threads. You fill in an online form and pay the service fee of $19.99 USD. They send you a Visa Approval Letter via email which you print out and take with you on your flight. When you arrive at one of the international airports in Vietnam (usually Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang or Hanoi) you visit the desk and pick up your visa, where you pay a ‘stamping fee’ of $25 USD. So it’s a bit cheaper for me to do it that way. There seem to be two small catches: 1. there may be queues for VOA on arrival at the airport 2. when you get your Visa Approval Letter it has other peoples’ names and passport numbers on it since they process them all at the same time. Having lived in Indonesia though, this is not surprising to me. So I guess it’s just a case of weighing up pros and cons.
Next up I am going to Laos, and although I don’t have any plans as of yet, I know I don’t really fancy tubing in Vang Vieng after reading Nomadic Matt’s post: Why are Backpackers in South East Asia So Stupid? I’ll probably end up there, but I don’t envisage I’ll be getting in the river. From there I’ll go to Chiang Mai and Bangkok, then fly to Burma!
I am really really excited about going to Burma/Myanmar. I know there has been a tourism boycott, but I heard the people are lovely and I have read so many good things about the place. And when you see pictures like this…well it looks jaw-droppingly gorgeous:
There are cheap flights with Air Asia from Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur to both Mandalay and Yangon in Burma. So the plan is to fly from Bangkok to Mandalay, then visit the Bagan temples and Inle Lake, then head down the long road to Yangon by bus. At the moment visa-wise it doesn’t look too much of a problem for a 4 week visa- just fill out the form, 2 passport pictures, £14 payment and post off my passport with a pre-paid envelope so they can return it. I’m going to get mine before I leave, but you can also get one in Bangkok and Johnny Ward has written a great post about getting the visa here. I’ve also been doing a lot of research about getting around Myanmar and it seems there are 3 options- train, bus or domestic flight. More about that later.
After Myanmar I’ll catch a flight to Kuala Lumpur, then I’m off to spend Christmas and New Year in Melbourne. I’m going to Falls Festival since a mate of mine in Canberra is heading over and happens to have a spare ticket!!
Back to the UK at the start of the new year!