About six months ago, I took the (very spontaneous) plunge and booked the Indochina Discovery trip with G Adventures with my best friend.
I’ve never been to Asia and it’s been about 10 years since I had a continuous month off work so I’m very excited as the 6 week countdown begins.
The Indochina Discovery tour is designed to pack in as much of Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia into 4 weeks as possible. G Adventures – who Sarah and I did the Kilimanjaro trek with – a fantastic at organising a flawless trip so I’ve got complete faith that the tour will be incredible. But with all of our accommodation and transport organised by G Adventures, that leaves very little for me to do right? Completely wrong!
I’m now in a flurry of packing and organising panic as I try to pull everything together in the last weeks running up to the tours!
If you’re doing a similar tour – one that’s semi-organised by an operator – or thinking of going at it alone, I’ve made a list of things that need doing before jetting off!
Preparing for Indochina Discovery trip:
1. Visas: We’ll be visiting Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam and the only visa we need ahead of time is a Vietnamese one. We’ve decided to go with a Vietnam 30 Day Travel Visa through postal application (costs about £60 incl postage) and they say it takes about 5 days to process. Thailand allow a 30 day tourist visas upon arrival and we’re staying exactly 30 days. Laos and Cambodia visas can be gained at entry.
2. Vaccinations: For the trip, we were recommended to get rabies, Japanese encephalitis, hepatitis A and B, typhoid, diphtheria, polio and tetanus. That is a lot of vaccinations if you plan on getting them all (I did!). Try to stagger then as much as you can and start booking in for shots as soon as you’ve confirmed your trip. This will spread the cost as a well as softening the pain in each arm! Most vaccinations are free from the NHS so do check with your local GP clinic before booking into a private travel clinic. However, rabies and Japanese encephalitis were expensive (about £160 for rabies, £180 for Japanese encephalitis). Worth thinking about this in your budget too.
3. Malaria tablets: Because we’re travelling around so much, our risk of malaria varies. However in some areas like the Mekong basin, the risk is very high. We’ve decided to go with malarone – it’s suitable for the area (that means the malaria virus hasn’t become resistant to malarone there) and it has the least side effects. It is expensive – pharmacies vary but expect to pay at least £3 per tablet – but after a terrible experience getting sunburn through SPF 50 at 9am in Zanzibar while taking doxycycline I decided to foot the bill for peace of mind!
4. Travel and medical insurance: I’m quite fortunate that my work include travel insurance and medical insurance as part of my contract, so really I’m just gathering the paperwork! But travel insurance is a must for a trip like this!
5. Backpack: I’m going to write a whole other blog post about picking your backpack because I believe it’s an investment! It holds everything you own for the time your away, it pretty much lives on your back and if anyone has read Cheryl Strayed’s novel Wild, you’ll know how important it is not to buy a ‘monster’! Stay tuned for my backpack guide!
So I’m making my way through the list and ticking off each day ’til the trip begins! Indochina Discovery here I come!
Do you have any tips and tricks for this preparation stage? We love planning trips so please share your comments below!