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Decisions: Thailand/Vietnam/Cambodia or China

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I am just starting to get to work on trip planning for 2013 and would like to head back to Asia. I would love feedback from people who have traveled to Thailand/Vietnam/Cambodia and to China. Which would you recommend?

A couple of notes on my travel priorities:
1 - I have a whirlwind style as the name indicates and prefer to see the highlights of more places rather than really in depth to just one or two. My theory is then I can always go back and spend more time in my favorites.
2 - I am budget conscious and prefer independent travel to preplanned tours. Half the fun is in the planning!
3 - Places that are changing move up on my priority list so that I don't miss out on some of the unique cultural aspects as the world "flattens".
4 - I will likely talk a friend into traveling with me and need to plan itineraries safe for two women.

Thanks!

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