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Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam or Sri Lanka?

Auckland, New...
Level Contributor
156 posts
31 reviews
Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam or Sri Lanka?

Hi there, I'm 18 years old and am planning on going on an overseas exchange with AIESEC https://www.aiesec.org/ Obviously the country I choose will depend upon the project I decide on but I just wanted to know what you would think someone my age would enjoy the most. Things to take into account are costs including the all important food. language - do people speak English, safety - Is there the risk of terrorism or crime, amazing destinations, the friendliness and hospitality of the people. I want to be inspired by the people, amazed by the destinations and just overall have an amazing time. Outside of the programme (I.e during weekends) sometimes I would be travelling on my own so transport and infrastructure are also an important factor but I'm aware that a lot of these places are third world nations and I'm sure I will adjust to the cultural shock. Sorry if this seems like a lot to answer but any advice or tips would be greatly appreciated. Thanks :)

Amsterdam, The...
Level Contributor
9,431 posts
52 reviews
1. Re: Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam or Sri Lanka?

Given the commitment you are embarking on I would think it would be better to try and answer most of those questions for yourself first. Then maybe after having narrowed down your shortlist to two countries you can ask input on the pros and cons you yourself see for each shortlisted country and see what others think.

Siem Reap, Cambodia
Level Contributor
8 posts
1 review
2. Re: Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam or Sri Lanka?

Cambodia :D

Perth, Australia
Destination Expert
for Cambodia
Level Contributor
23,371 posts
177 reviews
3. Re: Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam or Sri Lanka?

Each one of the countries you've mentioned is wonderful, interesting and very different from western nations. I am no longer 18, but have a pretty good idea what someone of your age group would enjoy, therefore my two choices of countries, as Lenny suggested you do, would be Thailand and Cambodia, probably in that order.

Sri Lanka has become quite expensive (relatively) in recent years and it wouldn't be as easy to get around. Malaysia, although interesting with lots to see, probably wouldn't tick all your boxes.

Cambodia is a country which is cheap, easy to travel around, the people are lovely, it's reasonably safe providing of course you exercise the normal precautions you would anywhere else in the world, is full of history, but if you're interested in beaches, then it's not really that sort of place. There are a couple of beaches, but nothing to write home about.

So that leaves us with Thailand, which is vibrant, exciting, varied, modern, but with lots of history and the people are lovely also. Prices of food, transport and accommodation are quite a bit higher than Cambodia but lower than Sri Lanka and Malaysia. There's lots of different sorts of night life for all age groups and a lot of young people from all over the world travel there, so you'd be bound to meet up with like minded people. There are plenty of beaches in various parts of the country and various adventure trips you can do if you're that way inclined.

Safety? Again, you need to be sensible and take the same sort of care you do anywhere else but I'm a lot safer walking about at night in Bangkok, for example than I am in my home city. You would be wise to read up about the scams that happen to a lot of innocent tourists in Bangkok in particular if you do decide to go there.

If there is anything else you'd like to know, I'm sure that others on the forum would be more than happy to help you plan a great trip to wherever you choose. I'm also happy for you to send me a PM if you'd like to do that.

Edited: 27 July 2014, 11:38
Auckland, New...
Level Contributor
156 posts
31 reviews
4. Re: Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam or Sri Lanka?

Thanks for the tips. I noticed you didn't mention Vietnam which is probably in my top three so far. To me Thailand seems to be already inhabited by tourists meaning there isn't much unspoilt land. Especially in fake resort spots such as phuket where you often hear of people being framed for having drugs and a corrupt police force. Would this be a fair judgement? Vietnam is turning into a Thailand-type holiday destination but it is far behind Thailand. It is more backward, diverse and is full of history.

lewes uk
Level Contributor
10,679 posts
206 reviews
5. Re: Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam or Sri Lanka?

Hi,

I don't think your view of Thailand is very accurate... surely islands like Phuket, Samui etc are incredibly touristy and untypical of the country as a whole, but even they also have rather pressing social issues that affect the Thai residents there.

If you head to the northeast, Issan, you will find it very unvisited and with some pressing poverty issues for the largely farming communities. Also the north of the country around Chiang Rai where hill tribes are having an increasingly hard time or along the Burmese border on down to Mae Sot where the Karen are often dislocated.

I wouldn't rule out Thailand because it has a few popular beach resorts.

I also disagree with travelkats assertion that Thailand is a lot more expensive than Cambodia, once you are out of the tourist gettos it is a similar price for food, accommodation and transport, often cheaper in my experience.

Cheers

Perth, Australia
Destination Expert
for Cambodia
Level Contributor
23,371 posts
177 reviews
6. Re: Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam or Sri Lanka?

Yes, Paul is right about the prices in Thailand being a lot lower out of the cities and main tourist areas. I was commenting mainly about Bangkok. I also agree with him that the northern parts of Thailand are far more typical of the country than places such as Phuket, Pattaya and those sorts of tourists places which I don't particularly like and never bother visiting these days.

Sorry, I neglected to mention Vietnam in my original post. Got carried away with the other countries. Although I do like Vietnam and find it diverse in climate, food and places of interest, over a number of visits over a lot of of years I've noticed the huge changes and strides towards progress that have taken place very quickly. It feels very much like a country on the move. I wouldn't like to try and make any price comparisons because, like Thailand, it depends on where you are and what you want to do.

In a nutshell, I'm seriously in love with Cambodia for many reasons some of which are complex, but my heart belongs in Thailand. Whenever we walk out the door at the airport, it feels like we've come home.

sydney
Destination Expert
for Cambodia
Level Contributor
19,744 posts
84 reviews
7. Re: Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam or Sri Lanka?

I would really like to know what AISEC do and what you plan to be doing through them. I am very sceptical of any organisation that will not let you in to look at "opportunities" unless you sign in. I am even more sceptical of organisations that say things like "application fees vary..." I assume you are thinking along the volunteer lines - there are plenty of opportunities around the world to volunteer without paying.

One final question - what skills and qualifications do you have?

South Australia
Level Contributor
352 posts
162 reviews
8. Re: Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam or Sri Lanka?

I am agreeing with lenny in that you need to decide what two are the most appealing to you. My daughter spend 4 months in SE Asia last year at age 18 alone and she ended up spending most of her time in Malaysia including Sarawak which she really enjoyed. She actually changed plans and skipped Laos to go back to mainland Malaysia from Chiang Mai. I have been to parts of all of these countries but what appeals to me will differ from what appeals to you and what i find amazing might not impress you at all and vice versa.

9. Re: Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam or Sri Lanka?

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