Site Structure & Surveys


You will find here some information about the site and how the surveys were conducted.

Note that Passplanet is best displayed using Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

The structure of the site :

The various ratings and surveys :

The abbreviations used :


The structure of this site...

Area Level :

You will find plenty of info to prepare your itinerary and choose the country to visit :

  • A short description of each country with the basic practical info

  • The backpacker's survey : what travelers think of each country

  • The Passplanet's survey : what I personally think of each country

  • The cost table : the cost of a few basic items, country by country

  • The of the area in terms of nature, action, culture, religion, society or backpacking

  • The top 10 localities of the area


Country Level :

The information is classified in four parts :

  • Before your trip :

Check out what travelers think about the country (Why go ?), get the basic information to prepare your trip (How to go?), select your destinations by using our localities ratings (Where to go ?) and get advices on various aspects of your adventure (Travel Tips

  • During your trip :

The core of Passplanet.  Find all the practical information you need for an economical and rewarding trip. Information may be classified at different geographical levels, according to the size of the country :  Zone > Province > Locality

  • After your trip :

Share your experiences with other travelers, participate to the ratings, help update the information, make this site yours... This is the interactive part of the site ! 

  • Culture shocks  :

If available, read texts about the country, the people, the culture and the various "Cultural shocks" that you may encounter... So far, this part is available for China and in French only 


Locality Level :

You will find the following information :

  • Ratings by criteria :

Subjectively done by Passplanet, this rating from 1 to 5 (the highest the best) gives an idea of the attraction of each place for different criteria : charm, scenery, parks, culture, minorities, market, relaxation, fiesta and cost. A global rate is then calculated out of 20. More details below...

  • Travelers' ratings :

We asked backpackers about their opinion for each place they visited : "Did you like it ?", "Would you happily come back again ?", "Would you recommend the place ?"   At the end, we asked them to rate the locality from 1 (the lowest) to 20. More details below...

  • Description & Comments :

A short description of each locality and its surroundings as well as comments & tips about the locality or the itinerary

  • What to do ?

List various activities that you can perform in the area, from watching butterflies to starting snowballs fights in the middle of August at 5000 meters...

  • What you may not like ?

List the various annoyances that you may encounter in that specific place, from traffic jams to shopkeepers eagerness to relieve you from your money...

  • How long ? 

Helps you organize an itinerary by telling you the recommended length of stay

  • Where to stay ?

List the accommodations of the area with the following criteria in mind : cheap, centrally located and acceptably clean. The subjective friendliness of the key girl or the color of the wall paper shall not be discussed. However, we tried to help you choose your paradise by telling you some reasons to go there as well as a few things that you may not like. Those information are obviously subjective and subject to change.

  • Where to eat ?

No western restaurants listed but locations of food stalls or cheap local restaurants when appropriate.

  • What to see/visit ?

No cultural information but how to go there, what to expect, how to visit and how to save money when appropriate.

  • Money & Communication :

Banks, telephone or internet places listed when necessary

  • How to leave ?

Precise information about the different transportations options to leave the place, with a preference to short or medium distances trips. Those info being highly volatile, you should always double check the schedules.

  • The trip to X :

Practical indications for the trip toward the next "logical" destinations : recommended type of transport, cost, duration or where to seat on the bus for the best view...  Also included when personally tested, the story of the trip in all its glorious or miserable parts (a kind of backpacker's diary) as well as tips for making your life more easy on the road...

Note : Additional information like the trains schedules or the suggested itineraries can also be found at the "Zone" or "Province" sections...


About the photos ? 

In addition to our Photos Gallery, you can also find some photos at the locality level. See the listing at the index of each country.


About the links ? 

Our Links section offers a selection of Backpackers' sites. Do not hesitate to recommend yours. In the text, you will also find links to professional sites which offer additional or institutional informations. 



The various ratings and surveys...

We tried to be as objective as possible when writing about a place. This is why we developed a series of surveys and ratings systems. It is not perfect but it should help you to get an idea about what to expect : 


The backpackers' surveys for the countries ?

Backpackers are asked to rate 17 aspects of the country (from the tourist attractions to the quality-price ratio) from 1 to 5 (the highest the best). We then multiply those marks by 4 to obtain a score out of 20 for each of those aspects. Backpackers must then answer whether or not they like the country, whether or not they would like to come back and whether or not they would recommend it. We turn those "yes or no" answers into the percentage of approvals.   

In the recapitulative table, we also calculate the "criteria rate" by weighting separately (from 1 to 3) each criteria according to its relative importance : while traveling, we consider for example that the friendliness of the local people is more important than the shopping opportunities. 

The "global rate" is found by multiplying the "criteria rate" by the percentage of backpackers who liked the country and those who would recommend it to their friends. We did not include the "Would happily come back" results as the size of the country usually influences the answer.


The Passplanet's surveys for the countries ?

Backpackers rate the country individually so, taken individually, most countries usually show a lot of strength. For a first travel experience, Laos people are certainly very friendly. But if you come back from the Philippines or Myanmar, they may not rate as high. Having visited all the countries myself, I decided to set up a comparative table between the countries : the rating of the 17 above aspects from 1 to 5 in relation with the other countries.  I tried to be as objective as possible but this remains my own rather subjective opinion. If other backpackers have also visited all the countries, I would be happy to get their opinion. 


The localities ratings by criteria ?

This rating is done by ourselves and is therefore subjective. Indeed, only someone with a global vision of a country (that is someone who visited all the localities) could try to establish a rating. We introduced various criteria :

  • Charm : the global urbanism attractiveness of an area.  This is some rather ugly towns can get a good rate : they are the transit points to charming surroundings villages.

  • Scenery : the natural charm of an area

  • Parks : a criteria for the cities only

  • Culture : the cultural opportunities of an area : monuments, temples, caves, museums, festivals...

  • Minorities : the interests & friendliness offered by the local minorities

  • Markets : interest of the local markets

  • Relaxation : the possibility to leave the crowd and spend hours by oneself in a dreamable surrounding.  

  • Fiesta : either the ability to have fun with other backpackers or the possibility to go out & join the locals.

  • Cheap : the cost of basic accomodation, food and local sights...

As you have noticed, some criteria apply only to cities (parks) while others apply more to  countryside (scenery). This is why, in general, the rating of a locality rarely goes very high : a city has got nice parks but no natural scenery for example. 

Still, we took all the criteria into account to establish the rating. We established a rate from 1 to 5, the higher the best, for each criteria. The total is then divided by the number of criteria (9) and multiplied by 4 to get a rate out of 20. 


The localities backpackers' ratings ?

Backpackers are asked to rate each locality they visited from 1 to 20, the higher being the best. 

The number of people surveyed appears in bracket : the more surveyed, the less subjectivity for the total rate.  Some localities have however only one respondent !  Help us gain objectivity by completing the locality survey : Participate ! 


The localities global mark ?

For each locality, an average was made between the criteria ratings and the travelers' ratings. A ranking was then established between the localities presented...

Note : recapitulative tables of these localities' ratings can be consulted at the sections "Where to go" of each country.



The abbreviations used...

Transport sections ?

  • "The Trip to X :  Bus / SSSS / L&R / Y5 / 1h30" means : Type of transport / Scenery rating : N (night), S (nothing to see), SS (nothing special), SSS (nice), SSSS (very nice), SSSSS (superb !) / Where to seat on the bus : L (left), R (right), L&R (both side OK) / Price / Approximate duration of the trip

  • ++ = a lot of buses

  • O = ordinary Bus / S = Sleeper Bus / L = Luxury Bus / I = Iveco, a kind of small & fast luxury buses, very popular in China

  • Freq. = Frequency of the buses in mn (minutes) or hrs (hours)

  • na = non applicable


Accommodation sections ?

  • Sgl = single room / Dble = double room / Trpl = Triple room

  • For dormitories, the number in bracket after the price is the number of beds in the room

  • Bldg = Building

  • HW = Hot Water

  • GF = Ground Floor


Other sections ?

  • HS = High Season / LS = Low Season / WE = Week End

  • The number in bracket next to some sights is a subjective rating : (1) = no interest, (2) = if nothing to do, (3) = interesting, (4) = very interesting, (5) = not to be missed

  • Exp = Expensive for what you get

  • All prices are expressed in local currencies, except when specified.