One of Southeast Asia’s many attractions for travellers from all over the world is the availability of cheap travel available within and throughout the whole region. Discounted airline tickets are also available for travel to Southeast Asia from many sources worldwide, and within the region, most air, bus and train tickets are pleasingly affordable.
Bangkok City Of Smiles
Most travellers to Southeast Asia head first to Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand. Of all the countries in Southeast Asia, Thailand has the most highly developed tourist industry with countless travel agents in shops, hotels and guest houses offering cheap flights to the neighbouring countries of Myanmar, Malaysia, Cambodia and Laos. Other countries close by, such as Vietnam, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia can also be reached reasonably cheaply. Some countries require visas. Thailand allows visa free entry for 30 days, (or 15 days if arriving overland) to nationals of many countries, (especially rich countries), which is also why most travellers start their Southeast Asian travels from Bangkok, especially as the obliging Thai travel agents are happy to arrange visas (for a fee, of course) to the other countries.
Cambodia’s Redeveloped Rail Lines
Travelling by rail is generally a safe but interesting way to travel in much of Southeast Asia. Cambodia’s rail network, however, is in ruins following their civil war, but is being re-developed. This will eventually enable rail routes from Thailand to Vietnam. In the recent past, with over a million unexploded landmines littered throughout the country – a parting gift from the Khmer Rouge, some trains had an empty carriage at the front. If a landmine was struck, only that carriage was destroyed by the blast. They didn’t stay empty for long, though, as brave-but-poor passengers were allowed to travel in them free – at their own risk. Hopefully, that practice won’t be necessary when their rail network is fully re-developed
Crossing The Asian Archipelagos
Air travel is best for getting around the countless islands that make up the Southeast Asian countries of Indonesia and the Philippines. As both countries are archipelagos, ferry travel between neighbouring and nearby islands within the countries is popular and often necessary among locals and travellers, but domestic flights are the most practical way to travel over long distances within either country. Train or bus services are available for travel within individual islands.
The Opium Centre Of South East Asia
A popular area of Southeast Asia for travellers is the ‘Golden Triangle’. This area forms borders with Thailand, Laos and Myanmar (or Burma as it’s still popularly known). This whole area became infamous as a major centre of narcotics production and smuggling. The US Drug Enforcement Agency has put a lot of effort into assisting the governments in each country in curtailing the trade, and with a reasonable amount of success. Overland travel between Thailand and Laos is simple but Burma is less accessible. The Burmese town of Tachileik, which proclaims itself ‘The city of the Golden Triangle’, is easily reached, without visa, from the neighbouring Thai town of Mae Sai, but in general, travel in Myanmar’s border regions is restricted. The authorities prefer travellers to arrive in the capital city, Rangoon by air and with the proper visa.
Southeast Asia’s many charms and attractions will continue to attract visitors from far and wide. The availability of cheap and interesting travel options throughout the region make it an even more appealing destination.