Traveling in non violin-safe countries

January 5, 2018, 8:01 PM · Hello all,

I've been having quite a dilemma for the past few years:
How do I travel for extended periods of time to countries where theft and/or climate is an issue and still find an instrument to practice on?

My current problem is specifically with Southeast Asia (one or two of the following countries: Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos). I'm planning to go for about 30-45 days, but I'm not sure what to do about an instrument.

Option 1: Bring my regular, expensive violin
Pros: good quality
Cons: theft/ climate issues (also not insured for humidity damage)
Conclusion: not a particularly attractive option, unless I were totally convinced it's safe

Option 2: renting a violin there
Pros: playable quality, no need to bring a violin on the plane
Cons: not sure if places exist that rent violins in southeast asia
Conclusion: this would be my preferred option if it's possible

Option 3: buy a cheap, electric violin shaped object
Pros: no need to worry about theft or climate, can practice anywhere without disturbing the neighbors
Cons: sound terrible, currently live in Taiwan and not sure where I could buy such a thing

Option 4: ???

Has anyone else had this problem? and if so, what did you do?

Replies (11)

Edited: January 5, 2018, 10:51 PM · Do you live in Taipei? There is a big electronic instrument/guitar store on He-Ping East road close to the Technology Building Station. You could probably try there to find an electric violin. Here is a link to the FB of the store:

But if I were you, I would probably just buy a cheaper instrument that costs about 30K NTD (1K USD), insure it and travel with that. And for the value of the money, I am almost certain to tell you that you can find a better instrument on and have it shipped to Taiwan than any other violin shop in Taipei.

I used to travel with a 500USD student violin from, and I tell you, that same violin is sold under different shop labels with slightly better setups, but it would cost about 1K USD in Taiwan. Of you are willing to accept the sound (still much better than a VSO by the way), then there would be no need to insure it in my opinion.

January 5, 2018, 10:27 PM · Do you have a spare violin?
January 5, 2018, 11:58 PM · Take a beater violin. Something modern and Chinese. An inexpensive CF bow would also be wise.

Cheers Carlo

January 6, 2018, 2:19 AM · SE Asia is difficult for renting violins. Take a cheap violin as others have said.

Alternatively, 30-45 days is not that long, so another option is to leave it, but I get the feeling you want to keep practising.

January 6, 2018, 10:55 AM · Are you using an expensive bow? If so, get a reasonably-priced CF bow or a cheap wood bow. You don't need a top-notch bow for temporary situations.
Edited: January 6, 2018, 5:03 PM · I love my 14-year-old Gliga "Genial" violin, which I bought used for $250 in a guitar store (the only violin they had). I realize this forum has many professional violinists with very high standards, but you can, in my opinion, find a cheap violin that is not garbage and that even sounds good. Online you can get a "Genial" violin for about that price new!

Edit: actually for much LESS! Look here:

January 6, 2018, 5:27 PM · Carbon fiber violin!
January 6, 2018, 5:29 PM · You don't need a top-notch violin for temporary situations.
January 6, 2018, 7:11 PM · For a month, a cheap violin and carbon-fiber bow seem like a good way to go.
January 6, 2018, 10:13 PM · I M in taiwan right now for three months and bought a cheap chinese violin for abput 300. Had it set up at the luthier s and it s perfect for practing. I would suggest doing the same. It has greaf resale vaue since it s so cheap
January 7, 2018, 7:58 AM · I live in Vietnam and travel often to Cambodia and Thailand. Sometimes to Laos.
You are less likely to be robbed here than in any major city in most western countries and it is very unlikely any interest for a Violin.
You cannot rent in Cambodia or Vietnam or Laos. In Ho Chi Minh, there are over 8 million people and there is only one violin shop, if you want to call it that.
There are more places for Violin in Bangkok, but I doubt they will allow you to rent if you are not a resident.

The weather is not a problem for the violin. Humidity is high and temperature is on the warm side but there are not major differences in temperature or humidity, which is what really stresses the wood and the glue. Humidity screws the strings so use synthetic. It is not the rainy season now.

The biggest risk you have in your trip is actually (and only, probably), that you are likely to have to use some messy and bumpy transportation at one point or another. Bus, tuk-tuk, xe-om, and the risk for the instrument is big unless you use a very good case but in that situation you might have a problem in internal flights or be ready to fight your way through untrained ground staff.

If I was you: If you are going to travel "Backpacker", don't bring your good violin. Actually if you go to Vietnam I would suggest that you buy a violin from the local luthier. He is the supplier of the orchestra and it is not half bad. His masterpiece is 1.500 USD and the most normal price is 500USD. It would also be a good memento of the trip. Bring your strings and you might get a good violin for traveling.
If you are going to be in 3* or higher hotels and you are most likely going to use taxis instead of cheap transportation, I would say that you could bring your instrument in a good case and just be careful with it.
99% of the losses of people traveling around here is that they forget their things in a table and when they go back it was not there. Then, they say that they were robbed, like they had no responsibility for that.

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