Finally I'm getting on the train to Asia.
It's a very last minute trip, but here's what I've come up with:
Day 1: depart US, flying to Hong Kong via London
Day 2: arrive HK late afternoon
Day 3: HK and overnight
Day 4: fly HK to Bangkok, for 2 nights. My plan for BKK is to visit temples, the Grand Palace and Jim Thompson House.
Day 6: either drive to Kanchanaburi or fly to Chiang Mai. If the former, 2 nights. If the latter, 3 nights. My priorities are nature and highest on my priority list is to visit a real elephant camp, where it's not just touristy stuff, but also a place where the animals go for being raised, rehabilitated, etc. I'm obviously expecting the touristy stuff wherever we go, and I will fully lavish every minute I take a ride on one's back, but I want it to be a legit camp.
Day 8 or 9: fly to either Phuket or Ko Samui. My priorities here are to see the landscape. I hear Koh Phi Phi is an idea place, so we'd go to Phuket. But I also hear KS is wonderful. Stay 2 nights.
Day 10 or 11: fly to Siem Reap, stay 2 nights.
Day 12 or 13: fly to Danang. We'll spend 2 nights in Hoi An and 1 in Hue. Not sure of the order.
Day 15 or 16: fly Danang to Hanoi. Spend 2 nights in Hanoi and 1 in Halong Bay.
Day 18 or 19: fly Hanoi to HK and back home.
So, my initial questions and input. We're in our early 30s and have always done these types of trips - visiting lots of places, hopping around after only a night or two. We're active and nature lovers, so we're hoping to get to a national park, we're also hoping to get some hiking or kayaking in.
My priorities are buddhas/temples in BKK, seeing elephants north of BKK, doing a bike trip in Vietnam, Angkor Wat, maybe seeing some tigers, and hopefully doing a village visit. I also may visit a school that my company recently built in Cambodia if I can fit it in.
Thoughts? Anyone with elephant experience? I've written down a few things from the web and books, but it's always helpful to have "live" feedback.
For Hong Kong and Bangkok, we'll try to use points for more westernized hotels. But for the rest, we want cozy little places that speak to the destination we're visiting.
Thanks in advance for your input, I appreciate it!
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First trip to Asia: HK, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam. Thoughts?