Part of traveling on a shoestring is finding the most economical way to get from one place to another. Often times that means spending more time getting from one place to another as well. My wife and I sometimes feel like we’re 20-something backpackers again! We have to always remember we’re not, and that we have 3 young kids with us. Even still, we act like frugal 20-something’s when deciding how to get from one place to another. I have to say, the kids have been real troopers during our travel days. Having games with us, especially of the electronic kind, books to read, and journals to write in have been really helpful.
Skyscanner lets us put in our current location and a day, next week, any month, or any year. Then it tells us where to go sorted by price. That’s how we found our tickets to Singapore. It’s also how we’re going to decide where to go after Vietnam. It’s too expensive for a visa for China, so unless we want to go west through Laos, Myanmar, Bangladesh, into India (which isn’t a bad idea), then we’ll have to fly out of Vietnam. We could get to India then fly out of there as well.
Seat61 is everything about train rides and bus rides everywhere in the world! That’s how we’ve been getting around SE Asia… sleeper trains, day trains, and buses. Seat61 has been a great resource for planning our travel days to date.
As for travel times, here’s what we’ve been through:
- LAX to Singapore: 5:30pm flight on a Saturday evening. That’s really 8:30am Sunday in Singapore, so let’s start there. Stay overnight in the Taipei airport and catch a 7:30am flight to Singapore. Train into the city. Walk to our hotel. Check in around 2:30pm Monday. So that’s 30 hours of travel. But we saved over $100 per ticket! 🙂
- Singapore to Kuala Lumpur: Catch a bus Friday at noon (I’m not going to include check out time and time to get to the bus terminal at the airport). Go through border control. Get to Johor, Malaysia and wait for 11:30pm train to Kuala Lumpur. Arrive Saturday morning at 7am, wait out the rain, take subway to Chinatown, walk to hotel, check in around 11am. That’s 23 hours of travel!
- Kuala Lumpur to Penang: Catch 10:30pm train Monday night. Arrive at Butterworth 6am Tuesday morning. Wait out the rain, take Ferry to Penang, have breakfast, walk to hotel, check in at 2pm. That’s 15 1/2 hours of travel!
- Penang to Kho Tao: Catch 6am train Saturday morning to Hat Yai Thailand. Take 4:30pm train that left at 7pm Saturday night to Chumphon arriving at 3am Sunday morning. Catch 7am ferry to Kho Tao arriving at 10am. After early lunch take taxi across island and check into hotel at noon Sunday. That’s a whopping 30 hours of travel!
- Kho Tao to Bangkok: Catch 2:30pm boat back to Chumphon Thursday. After dinner take 9:30pm train to Bangkok arriving 7am Friday morning. Take subway to hotel after breakfast and drop off bags at 10:30am. 20 hours travel time!
- Bangkok to Siem Reap: Catch 6am train from Bangkok to boarder town arriving at 1:30pm. After lunch take tuk-tuk to boarder, cross boarder, get cash, take 2 1/2 hour taxi to Siem Reap, check into hotel at 6pm. 12 hours travel time!
- Siem Reap to Phnom Penh: 8:30am bus to terminal to catch 9:30am bus to Phnom Penh arriving at 5:30pm. Tuk-tuk to hotel checking in at 6pm. 8 1/2 hours travel time!
Ah… what an adventure!