3 Month Asia Sabbatical Itinerary Help

Mar 24th, 2007, 08:59 AM
  #1  
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3 Month Asia Sabbatical Itinerary Help

All,
My husband and I are planning a 3-month sabbatical in Asia this coming October. It is so hard to decide where to go!!!! We have the following draft itinerary and would love to hear suggestions on places that we should not even go or places that we should definitely visit in 3 months! This is our lifetime trip!!!! Here are the routes we are planning and days in each place. We are afraid of being to tiring or just spending too much time in places that are not that great. Thoughts? Suggestions? Thanks!!!!

Itinerary (Number of days in each place):

Tokyo 5
Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Kobe and Himeji Castle 6
Hiroshima 3
Beijing 4
Xian 3
Lhasa 5
Shanghai, Suzhou, Jiangsu - Garden of the Humble Administrator 6
Hong Kong, Guilin - Yangshuo Li River
Cruise 7
Bangkok 5
Chiang Mai 3
Phuket, Ko Samui and Ko Phi Phi 6
Kuala Lumpur 5
Penang 5
Singapore 5
Denpassar (Bali), Lombok and Amanwana 6
Mumbai 3
Delhi 5
Udaipur 3
Jaipur 3
Agra 3


Poliana is offline  
Mar 24th, 2007, 10:58 AM
  #2  
 
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3 months is a heavenly amount of time, lucky you.
I can't comment on all portions but my first thought is you don't need 5 days each for Singapore and KL.
You're also losing time every time you fly to another city. Some transits are quick, ie. BKK to Chiang Mai is less than half a day, but other distances are longer.
I wouldn't try to do Bali and Lombok in 6 days. Maybe just Bali -- there's a big difference between the beach locations and the heartland (Ubud) and you're going to want to see Ubud and surroundings to experience Bali.
I know others will have specific ideas as to the other parts of the trip.
Also, do find time to go to Siem Reap and see Angkor if this is your trip of a lifetime to Asia. Only an hour or so from BKK by air and definitely worth several days of your time (or more).
jenskar is offline  
Mar 24th, 2007, 11:11 AM
  #3  
 
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A few thoughts.

Do you want a brief overview of lots of places (which is what you have) or would you like a more in-depth view of fewer places. Asia in general lends itslef best to slow travel. The distance are large and the cultural differences even larger.

I would also not that many people feel the cruise in China is a waste of time. You may want to cut that in favor of more interesting places.

You are mostly hitting large cities. Let me comment on the SE Asia portion of the itinerary.

Bangkok 5 - ok, there is plenty to do here
Chiang Mai 3 - another huge city, but in the north, For variety, I'd recommend the Golden Triangle area instead. There has been a recent thread on the Anantara at the Golden Triangle
Phuket, Ko Samui and Ko Phi Phi 6 - I assume you mean OR rather than and. Which island to visit depends on excatly when you would be there. Judging from the general comments you made at teh beginning of your post, I'm guessing it would be late November or later when you arrive at this point in your itinerary. That means that Phuket and nearby PhiPhi would be the places to visit. Samui will be starting their monsoon season.

Now, you haven't mentioned Siem Reap, Cambodia to visit the amazing temples of Angkor. I highly recommend it, and recommend you spend at least three full days there. That's how long it takes to see the major temples. If you are really interested in the temples, consider longer (we spent a week and didn't see them all).

Another wonderful place to visit is Luang Prabag, Laos, the old cultural capital and spiritual center of Laos. A lovely, sleepy little town, it is well worth three full days, longer if you can manage it.

Kuala Lumpur 5 - I actually think this is too long for KL. You can cover what you'll want to see in perhaps 3 days. I might even recommend cutting KL in favor of more interesting places. (The fewer stops you make, the less time you spend in transit)

Penang 5 - I'd highly recommend staying right in Georgetown at the famed E&O Hotel. (Read my trip report - Kathie;s Penang, Chiang Mai and Bangkok trip report November, 2006)

Singapore 5 - While there is plenty to do and see in SIngapore, I'd tend to cut a few days to spend more time in other places, or even cut Singapore entirely in favor of more interesting spots.

Denpassar (Bali), Lombok and Amanwana 6 - In a mere six days you will see only a bit of Bali. Plan one location for this time or add time to it. You might also consider going into central Java to visit Yogjakarta and nearby Borobudor and Prambanam. This is more off the track than some other places you are visiting, but for me is one of the must-see places in SE Asia.

I must admit that if it were my trip (and it isn't) I'd choose fewer places, more off the beaten path places, and stay longer in each place.
Kathie is offline  
Mar 24th, 2007, 06:02 PM
  #4  
 
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Poliana, Wow, what a wonderful opportunity! Good for you and your husband.

First, I would suggest that you consider how your dates overlap with the Islamic fasting month of Ramadhan and the holidays that follow. This year Ramadhan is roughly September 12 to October 12 and the holidays roughly from October 12 to 20. Itís best to avoid Islamic countries during Ramadhan as local restaurants are closed during the day, cultural events are curtailed and people are not operating at their best. During the holidays that follow, millions of people are on the move making transportation difficult. This would apply to most of Indonesia (and indirectly to Bali), Malaysia and parts of India.

Second I would sit down with a flight guide either the OAG or an on-line service and carefully map out the real options for getting from A to B. You need to know how much actual time you will be devoting to getting to and sitting in airports. For example the route from Moyo Island to Mumbai will be challenging to say the least.

Third, if I were to edit a bit, I would eliminate Malaysia altogether. Although KL and Penang are of interest historically, I would choose to spend more time in some of the the more out of the way places, plus recover time for the travel fatigue.

I agree that 5 nights in Singapore is more than you need. 3 would do it.

I think Indonesia, which is my area of expertise and bias , could be expanded. Personally I would skip Lombok as youíll have plenty of beach opportunities in Thailand and get a lot of ocean at Amanwana. Bali alone is worth at least 6 nights, maybe more, and I think the idea of visiting Yogyakarta and Borobudur is a good one. If you are outdoorsy, Iíd also suggest a stop at Mt. Bromo, the volcanic area between Yogya and Bali.


marmot is offline  
Mar 24th, 2007, 06:46 PM
  #5  
 
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i think the revision suggested above are good...

i would think: K/L 3 days max
sing, the same...

skip the cruise and do 5 in HK

add a day in jaipur
2 in agra is more than enough--dump

a couple more days in the bali region

i'm jealous

rhkkmk is offline  
Mar 25th, 2007, 11:37 AM
  #6  
 
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I believe that these are ballpark times and that you don't literally mean that you will visit all three place, Phuket, Ko Samui and Ko Phi Phi in 6 days. But that you mean '6 days at a Thai beach'.

I would drop Kuala Lumpur entirely if you were planning to/from there. Might keep it as a stopover on a railroad trip.

As far as places that I have actually been to:
You have about the right time for Tokyo. You will find that you can drop Osaka and Kobe. You'll visit Himeji and Nara as daytrips. Three nights in Hiroshima is one too many. For these three nights, you actually want to add a destination - Miyajima - which is a short train ride and ferry boat from Hiroshima.

ANA flies from Hiroshima to Beijing via Dailan. Another option, much better than Tokyo and better than Osaka, would be to fly nonstop from Fukuoka to Beijing.

My preference would be to skip the cruise and spend another week in Japan. Drop KL and add the 5 days to Bali, etc.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Mar 25th, 2007, 07:30 PM
  #7  
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All,
Thank you so much for all the replies and great tips!!! Based on your comments, we've made a few changes to our itinerary below. Please let us know if you have any additional thoughts. We've added Maldives (which we know it is a really long flight from Mumbai but wanted to end at a nice/relaxing beach location before coming home). Any thoughts on that?

Finally, we have a few more questions:

1. Any thoughts on good flights / airlines from Xian to Lhasa and then to Shanghai?
2. Has anyone flown on Air Asia or bought online tickets? How reliable was it?
3. How about the overnight train from KL to Singapore? Is it good? What is the best way to buy tickets?
4. Any recommendations on a good tour guide/agency/operator for Delhi - Udaipur - Jaipur - Agra?

Here's our revised itinerary:
Tokyo 7
Kyoto (Nara & Himeji Castle) 7
Beijing 4
Xian 2
Lhasa 5
Shanghai 7
Hong Kong 5
Bangkok 5
Siem Reap 4
Phuket (and Phi Phi) 9
Kuala Lumpur 3
Singapore 3
Denpassar (Bali) 8
Delhi 4
Udaipur 3
Jaipur 3
Agra 2
Mumbai 3
Male (Maldives) 7

Thanks a bunch,
Poliana
Poliana is offline  
Mar 25th, 2007, 07:45 PM
  #8  
 
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looks fabulous...is 7 too many for shanghai?? don't know as i have never been there...
rhkkmk is offline  
Mar 25th, 2007, 07:52 PM
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This is a better plan in my opinion.

A couple of thoughts: 9 days in Phuket and PhiPhi sounds long to me, especially since you will be finishing up with a week in the Maldives. If you are really beach people that's fine, but if you are not, cut a couple of days.

7 days in Shanghai sounds long to me too, unless there is something special you want to do there. I might go for 5 days there and add a day to Hong Kong and one to Bangkok.

These comments are really in the "fine tuning" category.

It sounds like a wonderful trip!!
Kathie is offline  
Mar 26th, 2007, 06:23 AM
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Sounds like a fabulous trip.

Just a thought though: You're in cities almost the entire time. It might provide a bit of balance to shave some days off of Shanghai or Phuket and add 3/4 days or so in Luang Prabang (Laos) or in Northern (rural) Thailand.
cruisinred is offline  
Mar 26th, 2007, 08:05 AM
  #11  
 
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Kuala Lumpur doesn't need five days. I'd say 3. And although I adore Singapore, you could cut it down to 3 full days if you need the days to put someplace else. As for all of the other places, if I were planning this trip, I'd take out about 6 places and slow down and take time to really absorb the places. For two-plus decades, I used to spend summers in Europe, but for a good decade of the two, I'd spend 11 weeks straight there. I would make one place my base every summer and pay rent on it for 8 of the 11 weeks and then take trips away from that base. That way if I got tired or sick, I always felt like I had a place to go back to that felt like home away from home. But, endless traveling from one place to another and slepping the whole amount of luggage can be exhausting.

When I first did S.E.Asia in the 90s, I did 3 weeks,alone, of endless traveling with no base and that was more than enough. I can't imagine 3 months of it. Why not pick two bases and then explore regions around those two bases? I'd do as Isis and S.O.( in this forum) have done.She's used a similiar system in Asia as I have in Europe.She's used Bangkok as her base for that region and then rented a serviced apartment...the place that Carol has also stayed at...Pratunum House(?) and then traveled to other places from there. When she and I met up in Bangkok, she was staying there and traveling around from there. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Mar 26th, 2007, 07:39 PM
  #12  
 
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Guilin and yangshuo you should stay about 4 days and I am local you are welceome more info of this area.
jadeleo is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 05:45 AM
  #13  
 
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Hi - how wonderful (and unusual on this board) to have 3 months.

I just wanr to say that I have been to all the countries you mention (except Japan), and I think you are planning far too much time in cities and westernised "safe" places. And there doesn't seem any sense of venturing off the well trodden path. I mean if you have all that time you can - you can skip the tourist stuff and pick a location and go places that are more difficult to get to.

I see you have 5 days each in KL, Penang, Singapore.

Too many days for each. And your India destinations are just so predictable. Take 2 days off each of KL, Penang, SNG and add them to India.

Would be interested to know more about:
Hong Kong, Guilin - Yangshuo Li River
Cruise - 7 days.

Please don't take this the wrong way - but you have picked destinations that the 10-dayers go to. You could do so much better.
chimani is offline  
Jun 4th, 2007, 09:32 AM
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Don't overlook the Philippines (many on this forum do). It has a number of things to see and do and your dollar goes a long way!
BillT is offline  
Jun 4th, 2007, 12:45 PM
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Great that you're spending 3 months in Asia. But I agree that this itinerary is very heavy on cities. Totally agree with Kathie (as usual!) about adding Siem Reap (for Angkor) and Luang Prabang (likely my favorite place in all of Asia). Would also suggest cutting time in Delhi and Mumbai, especially Mumbai, and especially as you're not day-tripping to Agra. I'd look at going to Aurangabad to visit the Ellora and Ajanta caves instead. Or, you could head for Orccha and Khujaraho, for more rural India.

How are you planing to travel between places? I'd highly recommend trains where available for a chance to meet locals, and see more scenery than from a plane.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 4th, 2007, 04:03 PM
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It looks ok to me, I wouldn't spend more than a couple of days in Singapore though. Three months is a good amount of time. My suggestion for these longer trips is to just sketch out a rough itinerary and don't be afraid to change it as you go. Follow your nose, you have three months so whatever you do decide to do you will see some memorable sights.

good luck

http://www.travelsinasia.com
WeiLong is offline  
Jun 5th, 2007, 04:14 PM
  #17  
 
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Although I haven't been to most of the place you've listed, I think you may want to dedicate one day a week just for rest and relaxation. I mean, you are going to be totally exhausted from hitting all the sites and spots at each of the places you visit.

That said, you might want to know where would be a good place to spend ONE day of down time, just relaxing or having a leisurely lunch without rushing to the next city.

Hope that helps. And enjoy your trip.
mingtsainy is offline  
Jun 19th, 2007, 11:27 AM
  #18  
 
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Wow, three months in another continent--how exciting!

I agree with many previous posts: you don't need many days in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. These are mainly business hubs. Also, I understand you want to cover as much terrain as possible, but traveling so much is exhausting. Bear in mind that international traveling means a lot of time spent on waiting in line for customs and immigration!

You may want to consider using the Bangkok Air pass. I heard it's a really good value.

Anyway, if you purchase intra-Asia air tickets that are not part of your trip from the US, then I think the check-in baggage allowance is only ONE piece per person. This is the same rule for traveling within Europe. Note that different airlines also have different weight limits for baggage.
Barkinpark is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 04:08 PM
  #19  
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Thanks for your help... We have done a ton of research and have gotten to the following rough itinerary. We are buy the OneWorld asia pass for some of the major cities, but will leave everything to be planned once we are there... We have 90 days, but we are saving some days for resting as you have suggested... what do you think of this revised itinerary?

Tokyo 5
Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Kobe and Himeji Castle 6
Beijing 4
Xian 3
Shanghai, Suzhou, Jiangsu - Garden of the Humble Administrator 5
Hong Kong 5
Bangkok 5
Chiang Mai 3
Siam Reap/ Luang Prabang 7
Phuket, Ko Samui and Ko Phi Phi 6
Kuala Lumpur (visiting friends) 3
Singapore 3
Bali, Lombok and Amanwana 9
Delhi/Agra (visiting friends) 5
Udaipur/Jaipur 5
Poliana is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 04:37 PM
  #20  
 
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I'd allow more time for Siem Reap/Luang Prabang, especially as this is your only time in Laos. I'd take a day or so from Bangkok and/or Hong Kong, but then I'm not a big-city fan.
thursdaysd is offline  

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