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I am finding the side-quests in Flotsam tough, because of the monsters in the surrounding area. I also discover that by doing some of the main quests, I get decent XP and some good loot.

When is a good time (level, point in the main plot and etc.) to start doing the side quests in Flotsam?

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You should certainly go see the commandante first, that is part of the main quest and not that difficult. Afterwards you need to go outside in any case.

The by far most important thing you should do before venturing into the forest is to get a new silver sword. Don't try to kill monsters with an iron sword, you will be at a huge disadvantage.

But you should be able to handle the monsters from the beginning of the chapter, once you got your silver sword. Remember that you can use bombs, traps, potions and blade oils. I've written about general combat tactics for our Gaming.SE blog, maybe that can help you a bit.

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At Level 6 it gave it a try. The nekkers come in large groups. The most imortant thing is not to get hit in the back. As the damage you receive is 200%, if I remember correctly. So hop around. I used swallow and Petri's philter and Samum did a great job as they come in masses. It's always a good idea to use the "places of power" or what are they called in the Witcher 2?

For the endregas I used the "insectoid oil". This was a lifesaver. It helps a lot when you use the corresponding oil.

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