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4 weeks trip to South East Asia

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Hi Guys,

So we just booked a good deal with a flight to Singapore at the end of January, 2018. We will will be landing in Singapore on 24th. Now I know Singapore is not an ideal place to start a southeast asia trip as compared to Bangkok but I dont think we will be getting a better deal than this anytime soon this year and also Singapore is like 70 CAD flight to Bangkok.

At the moment we were thinking about starting like Singapore - Kuala Lumpur - Bangkok - Siem Reap - Ho Chi Minh City(Maybe) - Then check the Thai islands either the Gulf or the southern islands - off to Indonesia (Wife wants to visit it - still looking which place we can accommodate in our trip, maybe areas in South of Indonesia, Jakarta, Bali, Gili islands not sure). But I think Indonesia will be hard to include as its bit little off the route. I know we will be skipping the north Thailand Laos and North Vietnam but we can save that for our next trip

We can also do the typical route: Singapore-Thailand-Laos-Vietnam-Cambodia-Thai Islands but I think that will require more time than 4 weeks as some of the on land routes I heard take around full day and we dont want to waste any day.

But again we just started planning it like last week. We would like to know your opinion/feedback about how we can come upto a best itinerary for our 4 weeks around south east asia. It will be me and my wife in this trip and for now we are planning a budget of around 3-5k CAD including accommodation, transportation and food which we will adjust as we start finalizing our possible itinerary so we do have flexibility.

Feel free to share your feedback/advice/itinerary/experiences/recommendations/hotels/hostels/activities/food

Thanks and looking forward to hear from you

Jawad

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    Where are you flying home from? Do you have to return to Singapore? This will make a difference in routing.

    Most of SE Asia is relatively inexpensive. Singapore is a very expensive city, so you would be wise to minimize your time there.

    From the places you have listed, I'd cut Kuala Lumpur - not much to see there, IMO.

    Indonesia has lots of fascinating places to visit, but Jakarta is not one of them.

    You will need to limit the number of places you visit, as each time you change locations, you will lose a minimum of half a day o travel, and some days you will lose most of a day. So think about what you would like to see/do/experience on this trip.

    Take a look at guidebooks and at trip reports here to help you decide what to see/do. Once you know more about what you want from this trip, we can be more helpful.

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    Bear in mind that Lunar New Year will take place February 16 next year. Each country celebrates a little differently, but you would definitely be impacted in Singapore and Vietnam at this time. Less so in Thailand and Indonesia. I'm not sure about Cambodia or Malaysia.

    Does your budget of 3-5K CAD include your longhaul flights from home to Singapore and back home? Either way, you'll need to research budget travel, which is readily available in most of SE Asia aside from Singapore.

    Wherever possible, I would suggest you use AirAsia which is cheap and efficient. You do have to be aware, however, that their cancellation/change policy is quite rigid.

    You can easily get to Bali/Denpasar from Singapore, Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur. I agree you can skip Jakarta, but you may want to add Central Java (Yogyakarta and Borobudur).

    January is the wet season in Bali, Lombok and Java. The good news is that rates will be low, but your beach time may get rained out. Central Java and Ubud in Bali will still be enjoyable, even in the rain.

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    Kathie and Marmot thanks alot for replying


    So we are flying from Calgary, Canada to Singapore and yes our return flight is from Singapore too. We are planning to spend like 02 days in Singapore just to get some rest, get use to the time difference and wear off the jet lag(hopefully--mehhh) and then off to our next destination.

    @ Marmot, 3-5K is excluding our long haul flights but they will include the flights within SEA.

    @Kathie, We just wanted to check out the Petrona towers in KL that is the only reason we want to stop by there (well for now unless you guys can suggest something else? I heard Penang is also a better place to check it out. And you are right about skipping out the places as that can waste a lot of time during travelling. At the moment we have

    Singapore(02 days)

    KL(50/50 as Kathie suggested - 01/02 days)

    Thai Islands 05-07 days
    (Any suggestions where we can stay and check out the other islands. In the south we have Phuket, Koh Phi Phi, Ko Lanta, Ko Lipe, Ko kood, Langkawi, is it possible to stay at one of these island and check the others in 05-07 days? Also then there are islands on Gulf of Thailand like Ko samui Ko Pha Ngan. We dont want to have any fancy resort stuff but a decent reasonable priced separate hut/room will work.

    Bangkok(100% - 04-05 days) -

    Krong Siem Reap(100% - 02 days)

    Should we do Vietnam like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City or just skip the whole Vietnam and fly to KL and then to Indonesia??

    For Indonesia, yes so I checked Jakarta and there is nothing much there. With Bali, I heard its really tourist and super expensive. Can we have stay under budget in Bali? or we will have to splurge little bit?

    Indonesia to Singapore for our return flight

    I am going to check Central Java (Yogyakarta and Borobudur)as Mormot recommended.

    Also what airline should I keep an eye on flights within SEA. I noticed that flights between Thailand-Cambodia-Vietnam are pretty expensive.

    So what do you think about the itinerary, should we head towards Bangkok first?

    Again thanks for your feedback. We really appreciate it

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    Here are some comments on your itinerary: For Thai Islands, you want yo be on the Andaman Sea at that time of the year. If you want beach time, you will want to choose one beach area so you don't waste all of your beach time "checking out" other islands. I would avoid Koh Phi Phi - now the definition of over-touristed. I also wouldn't go to the islands in the Gulf of Thailand at that time of the year - not the best weather and the waters will be rough. Stick to the areas on the Andaman Sea: Phuket, Koh Lanta, etc. Langkawi is in Malaysia, though nearby.

    Siem Reap - you only have 2 days, not even enough time to see the major temples. Are you not interested in the temples of Angkor? If you aren't interested, don't go, as it is an expensive side trip. If you are interested, get a copy of Dawn Rooney's book, Angkor: A Guide to Cambodia's Wondrous Temples.

    One can certainly go to Bali on a budget. You don't have to stay at fancy resorts. Just do a little research. The Lonely Planet Guides and the Rough Guides can give you lots of suggestions. For Java, do read my trip report " Kathie's Return to Jogja" (click on my name and look under trip reports). Photos are at www.marlandc.com

    For air within SE Asia look at Air Asia (the cheapest) but also look at Bangkok Air which offers a Discovery Pass that can be a good deal depending on where you are going.

    VN is a big country - a few days just won't do it. So do your research and decide whether you want to go this trip or save it for another time. Given the amount of time you have, I'd say choose either Indonesia or VN - you really don't have time for both.

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    Bali is extremely budget travel friendly, especially during the rainy season. Finding nice accommodation in the USD50-60 range is definitely doable. The inland area around Ubud will offer a lot of choices. Rates are somewhat higher along the southern beaches, lower you venture further north. Food is cheap, notably so if you like Indonesian food. Wine and alcohol are very expensive.

    The southern beaches are heavily touristed (as are beaches in Thailand) with a focus on ocean activities -- swimming, surfing, sunning, sunset or sunrise on the beach, walks on the beach, drinks and meals on the beach. Snorkeling and diving in the northeast and northwest.

    The rest of Bali offers a glimpse into the unique Balinese Hindu culture with an emphasis on performing arts, arts and crafts, religious pageantry and ceremonies. It also offers adventure activities like mountain trekking, rain forest and rice paddy walks, rafting, biking.

    Wellness activities like yoga, spa treatments and massage, and organic foods are popular all over Bali (which makes Bali an excellent place to recover from jetlag). You can also find a range of classes -- cooking, textiles, painting, offering making, photography etc.

    There's a lot to do.

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    Hey, so after some research I have come up to the following itinerary

    24-27 (Singapore) 03 nights
    27-29 (SIN - Kuala Lumpur) 02 nights
    29-1 Feb (KUL - Siem Reap) 03 nights
    1-4 (Siem Reap - Bangkok) 03 nights
    4-8 (Bangkok - Krabi to Ko Lanta) 04 nights - will stay in Koh lanta what do you think ?

    8-13 (Boat ride from Koh Lanta to koh Lipe) - 05 nights
    13-20 (Boat ride to langakawi and then to Bali) - 07 nights
    20-21 (Bali to Singapore)

    I have made the above plan based on the fact that the day of traveling takes up half of your day and probably sometimes whole day. Also for Siem Reap I know Kathie recommended atleast 03 days but we have 02 whole days apart from the day of traveling and also we dont want to cover every single temple over there too so I think it should be fine.

    For the southern islands, is it better to keep Koh Lanta as your base and check other islands like Koh Phi Phi, Maya Bay and monkey island and other islands or do you recommend other island. I have heard that Koh Lanta is a pretty decent island to stay...not too party but also not that quiet and lots of activities and places to eat. After alot of research and recommendation I found Koh Lipe to be one of the most beautiful and clear water beach and decided to stay couple of nights there. (What do you guys think, is there any better island than Koh lipe??).

    So after Koh Lipe we can either go back to Krabi and fly to Bali or go to Langkawi and fly to Bali. Is it easy and smooth to go from Koh Lipe to Langkawi??

    We havent researched much in bali yet but probably will spend more time IN Ubud area and not much on the beach. or maybe check Lombok and Gili islands.

    so based on the above itinerary the cost for the flights including boat ride to Koh lipe is coming around to be 1000 CAD for two persons. This doesnt include taxis or any other transport on land. Does that make sense??

    Again feel free to advice/critique/recommend according to your own experience and opinion. Also looking at our destinations when should we start booking our accommodations and for the flights?

    Thanks again

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    Your budget should be fine most places in SE Asia are great value with the exception of Singapore. Decent ensuite accomodation can be had in most places for 40-70 CAD and much cheaper if you want to forgo a few "luxuries like ensuite and aircon! There are some really nice places out there for that sort of rate. www.booking.com is a great resource, both for good rates and ease of booking. Perhaps also www.hostelworld.com ( not just hostels!)

    Beach resorts will tend to be higher priced and busier than city hotels at the time you are visiting so it could pay to book in advance if you want to stay somewhere specific, although just turning up it will be easy enough to find somewhere to stay in most places.

    It is around ten years since we last went island hopping down the anadaman coast and a lot has changed since then and not necessarily for the better. Many islands have become much more busy and this certainly applies to Koh Lipe. You can check out the various island at https://www.travelfish.org/islands it is a great resource for a "warts n all" analysis of both locations and accomodation. Note that even on the same island there can be quiet beaches and "party" beaches so choose the area as well as the island.

    Journeying south by boat is a great way to get to Malaysi. We set off from Hat Yai by boat to Koh Libong, Langkawi and finally Penang. Penang is great as a city/ cultural destination but not so great for beaches. Langkawi has much better beaches. Continuing on to Penang is also pretty easy.It is relatively easy to do, not expensive and the boat trips are really nice as you get to see the coastline from the other side so you speak.

    I much prefer KL to Singapore which I find rather soulless and very expensive. There is a lot more to see in KL than just the Petronas tower, with the time you have I seriously consider just transiting in SIN and going on to KL and recover there for a couple of days.

    It does have some of the best and most varied food in SEA - Malay, Indian, Chinese, Nonya etc. and accommodation costs are a third of the cost of SIN? ( you could probably get a room in. 4-/5 star hotel in KL in which to recover for the price of a hostel in SIN! A further consideration is that it is the hub for Air Asia which has the most extensive range of cheap flights around the region. They have a very useful route planner for their flight on their website. Join their loyalty programmes for advance warnings of their sales.

    You can do a whirlwind trip of the main temples of Angkor in one day (2 nights) you could also spend a lot longer depending on your interest in temples. Phnom Penh is an oft neglected city but is well worth a couple of days. We took my in laws there as it was on there list of "must dos" and they got to see the main sights in one very full day and were very happy.

    Here is a link to our blog with details and photos of our travels in the region https://accidentalnomads.com - just click on the destination tab and go to the relevant country.

    Just a few random thoughts, hope they help.

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    Hey crellston, thanks for your reply. I agree with you that every island has different kinds of beach and one should wisely choose where to stay. Which area/beach do you think we should stay at Ko Lanta. Also I heard there are couple of popular boat tours from Ko Lanta like 4 island tours and I was wondering if we can visit to Ko Phi Phi and Maya Bay and other islands around it. What islands should we check from Koh Lanta as our base?


    Also yes I am thinking about to spend minimum time in Singapore, perhaps one night only and go to KUL. There is also a cheap option of taking sleeper train from SIN-KUL. It leaves at night from SIN and arrive at KUL in the morning and saving us a night accommodation. You think is it worth it or should we just take the flight?

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    Pause and consider what the most important experiences are that you want from this trip. I notice that more than half of your time is at beaches. Is this what you want?

    IF that is what you are looking for, fine. But to be In Cambodia and only spend a day or two at the Angkor temples would feel to me (not necessarily to you) like I'd missed the main attraction. Do take a look at Dawn Rooney's book, Angkor: A Guide to Cambodia's Wondrous Temples. This will help you decide whether to go and how much time to spend there. Personally, I consider Angkor one of the wonders of the world, but you might not.

    Personally, I wouldn't waste my time on an overnight train between Singapore and KL when it's an hour's flight, but some people love trains.

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    I use overnight trains a fair amount when travelling in Asia and find them a great way of saving accommodation costs and, if you factor in ALL the time of flying inc. travel to/ from the airport, delays , waiting time etc, the benefits f flying are off minimal. That said, when we have flown into SIN I have always just got a transit connection straight through without going through immigration. Absolutely no point in just one day in SIN just bite the bullet and do you recovery in a much cheaper hotel in KL. JME.

    I have taken that train in the past and it is fine but not from the airport. If the flat arrival time and train dep time work, then it could be fine if not, connecting flights are usually cheap with one of the budget airlines.

    Re beaches and island in Thailand. Whilst I have visited many of the places you mention, I hesitate to suggest anywhere specific and it is several years have passed since we were there and things will have changed radically. Check out the link to Travelfish I provided above which will be more current than any info I can provide. I would however say that I would rather spend a day at the dentist having root canal work than ever visit Phi Phi islands! And awful place jammed with toursists, dead coral, litter etc. Ther may be some nice places but I couldn't find them and that was years ago.

    Boat tours will vary tremendously in quality and like most things when travelling "less is often more" so don't get hung up on the number of islands visited, rather the quality and time spent in places. John Grey Sea Canoe are pretty good but more expensive than most but much higher quality of operation. All a question of value for money I suppose.

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