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FAQ – Overland Travel In China And Southeast Asia

I Plan On Traveling Extensively In China. How Is Overland Travel There?

  • Buses are a fantastic way to get around China. Roads are improving by the minute (though there are still some rough areas), which means quicker journeys than ever before. It’s not typically necessary to book a bus in advance, making acquiring tickets much easier than for a train ride, and prices are usually cheaper, too. Sleeper seats are available for many long, overnight excursions (at double the price-but still affordable), and many of today’s buses even have bathrooms and give out bottled water.
  • Trains are another great option for seeing China. There are various classes when it comes to seats. Most of the local people opt for the cheapest hard seats, which makes for really crowded cars. There are also soft seats, along with hard and soft sleepers available for longer journeys. There are several online agencies that book train tickets, but it’s always cheapest to go to the actual train station. It’s a good idea to book at least a day in advance.

Overland Travel In Southeast Asia. Does It Suck?

It’s not nearly as bad as you might presume. While overland travel in Southeast Asia can be uncomfortable and difficult, in many countries it’s quite pleasant. The differences in comfort levels can be astounding from country to country (and even within each country), but one thing is pretty consistent-the low prices!

  • Bus travel is available, popular, and cheap in all Southeast Asian countries. In most of Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore, bus travel can actually be rather comfortable (save for the crazy drivers) if you buck up for nicer buses. But in certain routes in Laos, Cambodia, and Indonesia, it can get pretty brutal on the local buses (in many cases small, local minibuses are the only ones available-and they pack the crowds in).
  • Train travel is excellent in Thailand, with cheap prices, an extensive network, and super comfortable sleepers for longer, overnight expeditions. Malaysia and Singapore offer much of the same. Vietnam’s trains are comfortable and cheap, but there aren’t nearly as many routes, and bus travel is by far the more popular mode of transport for travelers. In Cambodia, Indonesia, and Laos, train travel is all but nonexistent.
  • Traveling by boat is starting to fall by the wayside in most Southeast Asian countries as roads are dramatically improving in nearly every country. But there are still some places where boat travel is not only available, but a great way to get around. Southern Vietnam has boat travel along the Mekong, with crossings into Cambodia. Different routes are still available in Cambodia, but improving road conditions are starting to make river travel obsolete. Ferries and the like are the best and cheapest way of getting to Thai islands and around to the different islands of Indonesia. Laos still has slow boat travel, but if you choose to use it, you are doing it for the novelty of it, not the comfort or convenience.
  • Motorbikes are the preferred method of getting around for most locals in Southeast Asia, and while many tourists rent (or buy) motorbikes each year to get around, it’s not recommended unless you have some prior experience with one and are quite handy. If you’ve never driven one before, it’s probably not the best idea to buy one with the intention of driving it the length of Vietnam.

For more specific information about Overland Travel In China and Southeast Asia, be sure to check out this article.

It’s also a good idea to read up on the FAQ’s for specific information on overland travel in each region of the world:

FAQ – Overland Travel In The Americas
FAQ – Overland Travel In Africa And The Middle East
FAQ – Overland Travel In Europe
FAQ – Overland Travel In Russia And Central Asia
FAQ – Overland Travel In India
FAQ – Overland Travel In Australia And New Zealand

Next RTW FAQ-Overland Travel in Australia and New Zealand »

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