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Spin the Magic Wheel. Where will we go next?

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In my grand travel-obsessive tradition, upon recent return from our Japan & Thailand trip (arrived back in LA this past Wednesday morning), I'm already well into planning our next big trip for December of this year.

Literally on the flight back from this trip, we narrowed down our list to 3 possible destinations currently on our short-list: New Zealand, Argentina or Bhutan. All have been high up on our list of to-dos for a long time...and we toiled over the pros and cons of each possible destination. But what it most likely comes down to--and this is based on some preliminary airline research--is the wildly high availability of mileage tickets to Asia vs. the other 2 destinations (not even a contest as far as choice goes: tickets to Bangkok and Singapore are available almost every day and there's only 1 or 2 days per month available for the other two.) That kind of seals the deal on where we go. It's Bhutan. (YES...finally!)

I've read through a few Bhutan trip reports so far -- including Craig's amazingly helpful one from a few years back. Even though December isn't what one would consider 'peak' season, my understanding from friends who have gone is that December--while slightly colder--is absolutely a fine time to go and a bit more advantageous than peak November season as the daily tariff and hotel prices are slightly lower. Sounds like a plan to me! So...

Two initial things I'm trying to tackle at the onset of planning here:

1) How much can we/should we cover in the time we have allotted? I assume we want no more than 10-14 days in Bhutan. Anything else seems a bit overkill. I know we'll want to cover the basics in the west--Paro, Thimpu & Punakha--and also definitely a visit to the Haa Valley. But the question is about going East. A good friend who spends a lot of time there says the East is the highlight of a trip there and very few tourists take the time to see it. Less infrastructure, but more natural beauty. So we could look at the option of going East and exiting through Samdrup Jonghar and fly out of Assam back to Bangkok. Just not sure if that greatly extends the trip or not. Seems to me like getting out East could take quite awhile by car.

2) Where else can we go as a nice counterpoint on the way home? We'll have a good 5-7 days earmarked for a second destination for relaxation before coming back. On this last trip we spent 12 days in Japan and the last part in Ko Lipe, Thailand. It was a wonderful counterpoint. Just being able to park it in one place and relax. Only thing is it was a bit rustic and I probably would've preferred something a bit more luxe. The last 2 days in Bangkok at the Pen definitely fit the bill--so keep in mind that this destination doesn't necessarily have to be at the beach. The obvious choice is somewhere in Thailand again -- but we've been there so much I'm really hoping to find someplace a bit different. Really looking for a very nice resort to be able to park ourselves at and really enjoy the pampering. I've thought about Langkawi, but that's a bit too much like what we just did (and perhaps too close to where we just were). I also thought about the Philippine islands but wondered if getting to and from would be too much work, etc. Anyway, would love to get some recommendations.

So very excited to finally plan a trip to the magical kingdom I've so longed to go to for so very long!

Hope you all had a wonderful Holiday and New Year -- and happy travels, wherever they may have taken you!

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