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NeverEatAlone Jul 7th, 2010 06:32 AM

3 months in SE Asia - Itinerary suggestions
Hi, this is my first post on this board, but after reading a lot of the topics I am genuinely impressed by the quality of advice. I was hoping this community could give me some advice in my upcoming travels.

I will be traveling with my wife in SE Asia over the next 3 months (Starting on Aug 19 in Kuala Lampur). Right now we've more or less decided on all the major destinations (though the order and time spent is still flexible), and I was hoping to hear your suggestions on the particular points of interest in the area, the hidden gems and perhaps a guide, or a hotel.

For example, we were planing on flying from Jakarta to Yogyokarta until I read about how much a train trip could be, so now we're taking a train.

Thank you for your advice in advance,

Location Time spent Date arriving

Japan_______________________89 days
Kuala Lampur (Malaysia)_________5 days_____19_7_2010
Malaka (KL)_________________1 days_____24_7_2010
Jakarta (Indonesia)_____________4 days_____25_7_2010
YogYakarta (Indonesia)__________4 days_____29_7_2010
Bali / Denpasar (Indonesia)_______2 days_____2_8_2010
Kuala Lampur (Malaysia)_________1 days_____4_8_2010
Rangoon (Miyanmar)___________14 days_____5_8_2010
Bangkok (Thailand)_____________2 days_____19_8_2010
Siem Reap (Cambodia)_________12 days_____21_8_2010
Phnom Penh (Cambodia)________2 days_____2_9_2010
Saigon_Cho Chi Minh(Vietnam)____6 days_____4_9_2010
Uhue _ world heritage___________1 days_____10_9_2010
Harlong _ world heritage_________1 days_____11_9_2010
Hanoi (Vietnam)________________6 days_____12_9_2010
Vientiane (Laos)_______________14 days_____18_9_2010
Bangkok (Thailand)_____________0 days_____2_10_2010
Puket (Thailand)________________5 days_____2_10_2010
Singapore_____________________4 days_____7_10_2010
Japan________________________7 days_____11_10_2010
Seattle________________________0 days_____18_10_2010

Apologies for cricked table, seems this is the best i can do, hopefully it's legible.

Thanks, Alex-

Kathie Jul 7th, 2010 06:49 AM

You are covering a lot of territory. Remember that travel in Asia can be slow and you need to allow for travel time and acclimating to the heat.

Here are my thoughts as I read your itinerary:

KL is not an exciting city. Two or three days are plenty. To get a full two days, that means three nights, three days means four nights.

Meleka - one full day is fine, but that means two nights. It's a charming palce, and you might want a leisurely 2 day/3 night stay.

Jakarta - I wouldn't spend 4 days in Jakarta

Yogja - 4 days is fine, you might even want to add a day or two depending on what you want to see in the area.

Bali - two days aren't nearly enough. I'd spend a week, dividing my time between a beach location (I like Sanur) and inland near Ubud. Don't stay in Denpasar or Nusa Dua or Kuta.

Rangoon - I assume your 14 days means you are traveling all over the country. If you haven't read my trip report, take a look (just click on my name and go to trip reports). 14 days is a nice amount of time for Burma.

Bangkok - two days wouldn't be enough for me. If you've never been to Bangkok, I'd say you need four or five days just to see some of the major sites, eat some great food, etc.

Siem Reap - 12 days . I'm guessing with this much time you must be planning to teach for the PLF or similar.

PP - 2 days is fine

Saigon - 6 days is a lot - I'd cut and spend some of the time elsewhere.

You'll need to allow more than one day for Hue just because of transport time. You'll need a minimum of two nights, maybe three.

Halong - do spend an overnight on a boat here

Hanoi - 6 days is fine

Vientiane - why 14 days? I'd spend a few days there, some time in Luang Prabang and perhaps another stop in Laos.

Phuket - October will be rainy here,and other beach locations in Thailand will be rainy as well.

Japan - 7 days is enough for a brief taste.

Note that there is lots of transport time involved in your plan even if you do fly.

Have a wonderful trip.

rhkkmk Jul 7th, 2010 07:40 AM

i agree with kathie's assessment of your days allotments... two full days in K/L for instance is plenty...

bangkok needs at least 5

siem reap---why so long...there is not that much to do after about 5 days..

vietienne-- 2-3 days is plenty

bali is a minimum of 5-7 days... also why go all that way for such little time and huge expense...

i would skip jakarta...

NeverEatAlone Jul 7th, 2010 08:05 AM

I would like to clarify my timeline. The places in the itinerary are landing points for the country, and from there we'll move around exploring. I am hoping to use your suggestions to figure out how to best spend our time and where.

Kathie, Rhkkmk, thanks a lot for your suggestions, that's exactly what I am looking for. Could you be a little more specific, for example what we could do after the two days in Vientiane or Saigon?

And you're certainly right, I too feel that we are rushing things. But my wife gave me an ultimatum on coming back :) From that perspective, I figured a few days in Bali is better than no days in Bali. I found that while I have to buy a flight out of Yogyokarta two weeks in advance to get a good deal, I can get the same good deal with 2 days notice from Bali. So in case of Indonesia, once we get tired of Jakarta we can move on to Yogyokarta, and Bali. Flights with AirAsia (ex: $50 Bali to KL) allow incredible flexibility.

We've been to Thailand before, and it was amazing. I've budgeted two days to have dinner with our friends, before flying to Myanmar.

ps: Reading my original post my dyslexia must have kicked in. I meant to say 'how much fun train could be' ;)

crellston Jul 7th, 2010 11:53 PM

Nevereatalone (great screen name BTW!)I tend to disagree with the comments re KL as I have visited many times and find it to be great city with divers cultures, great food and a good place to "acclimatise" to the Asian way of like upon arrival.

We spent a similar amount of time in the area as part of a year long trip (although we didn't include Indonesia on this trip or Myanmar and we did include parts of Thailand).

Here is a link to a blog of our travels covering our itinerary in SEA and Japan.

The blog includes links to at least some of the places we stayed. Two sites which I found invaluable for finding good quality budget accommodation (if that is what you are looking for) were:

Rather than comment on all of your trip, I will limit myself to Laos and Vietnam.


You need to travel slowly in Lao. Indeed much of the time you will have little choice as the travel infrastructure,although improving, still has a way to go. With 14 days allocated to Lao, if you don't want to be rushing around all the time then I would stick to either the North or teh South of teh country. The north has fantastic mountain scenery, hill tribes and is great for trekking. Luang Prabang is a beautiful town and well worth a few days (although it is no longer as tranquil as it once was). Frm there it is possible to explore the far north - such places as Muang Sing, Phongsali Luang Namtha, all have a lot to offer.
If you choose the south then it is mostly about the river th area known as Si Phan Do (4000 islands) is a great place to relax for a few days on one of the islands - Don Khong , Don Dhet, Don Khone. The Bolavens plateau has great scenery, waterfalls etc. and lots of coffee and tea plantations. It is relatively easy to get into Cambodia by river from this area - Kratie in Cambodia is not too far from the border and is a nice place to spend a few days.


It would be easy to spend a month in VN and where to go largely depends upon your interests. My favourite places (in no particular order are:

Ha Noi
Mai Chau
Buon Ma Thot
Ba Be lakes
The "Dien Bien Phu loop" in the north.

Finally, whilst travelling around for convenience Air Asia takes a lot of beating band is certainly necessary for some transits but to really see a country travelling by bus and train takes a lot of beating and really is part of teh adventure. Have fun, I really do envy you! (Now where is my backpack...

marmot Jul 8th, 2010 12:15 AM

Sounds like a great trip. If you're only allocating 10 days to Indonesia then I would agree that you could eliminate Jakarta (and I live there!) and add more time in Central Java and Bali. You might want to continue to East Java to Malang and Mt. Bromo from where you could take the ferry to North Bali.

kuluk Jul 8th, 2010 10:16 PM

Completely agree with Marmot. Indonesia is too amazing and diverse to just do a quick jump through. Skip Jakarta, relax and explore the countryside and culture in Bali. In my opinion, if you are just doing 2 days in Bali you might as well not go there at all, you will not get any idea of what it is about.

I would respectfully recommend you read some of the guidebooks about Indonesia to get an idea of what the country is like.

Cicerone Jul 8th, 2010 11:47 PM

Please take a look at weather websites and guidebooks on weather, as IMO you are going to encounter some heavy rain in places on your itin, esp HCM (Saigon) in September. Some places get about as much rain in September as Seattle gets in a whole year. Hue and Halong Bay are going to be affected as well. It is also typhoon season, and the coast can get hit. While it may not bother you, you should at least be prepared for it. It also may affect your ability to enjoy Halong Bay, although Hue can still be enjoyed in rain. Hue by the way deserves far more than 1 day. It will be hard to see all you want in one day. There are many tombs in addition to the imperial city and to the charming little city of Hue itself. As your time is short, I would actually say to skip HCM in favour of other places in Vietnam.

Bangkok and Phuket are going to be quite rainy in October (esp early in the month when you will be there), personally I would skip Phuket in October. Bangkok is fine in the rain, as there is plenty to do and you are only there for a short time anyway. If you want a nice beach in October, I would head to the Philippines, where the rain has ended and great weather is beginning. Or just stay put in Malaysia in September, and go to the fantastic east coast which is still in great weather in September (rain starts to come toward mid-October.) I enjoy KL, but there is no question in my mind that the east coast beaches are far better than the city. Same good food and lovely people.

Going down to Malacca for one day from KL, then back to KL, and then heading out to Indonesia seems like a lot of travelling. While Air Asia may be cheap, all that back and forth can be wearing and perhaps not worth it. I would do a coastal trip from KL down towards Singapore (bus or train are options for a least part of the way), stopping at Malacca, then head to Indonesia. You can fly from Malacca and Johor Bahru airports (just across from Singapore in Malaysia) to various points in Sumatra, Java and Bali on Riau Airlines or Lion Air see, You can also fly out of Singapore on Lion Air to various points in Indonesia. You can take a ferry from Singapore to Bantam (this is a good ferry to Indonesia, many others are not so safe) and then get a cheap flight from Batam to Jakarta from where you can connect to elsewhere in Indonesia. You could also explore Sumatra.

thursdaysd Jul 9th, 2010 05:02 AM

Like crellston, I enjoyed KL. Admittedly, it was my first SEA city aside from BKK, but I'd be happy to go back. Three different cultures (four if you count the remnants of colonialism) and good food. I'll also join Cicerone in putting in a good word for the east coast - I spent five days resting up on Perhentian Besar on a great beach.

For my three months in SEA see plus my itinerary for Myanmar and Indonesia is on the same site under RTW2004.

glover Jul 9th, 2010 09:14 AM

Really enjoyed your trip report thursdaysd. Read every word, so well written and just enough detail to give a sense of each place and your experience of it. Thanks. We're going to SEA for 2 months this Jan/Feb. Yours was a very interesting itinerary!

thursdaysd Jul 9th, 2010 09:53 AM

Why thanks glover! I'd be happy to do the same itinerary again, although all the way solo a second time. Do you know where you're going yet? I'll be back in SEA same time frame - probably Myanmar (north of Mandalay) and Penang and ....

glover Jul 9th, 2010 11:05 AM

What we know so far - flying into Singapore New Year's Eve and out of Hong Kong in beginning of March. (using miles). After a couple days in Singapore we're going to Bali for at least 4 days , then to Yogyacarta for a couple, then probably to Borneo for some nature. February will be some itinerary through some of Vietnam/Cambodia/Laos. . We're piecing it together little by little, so reports like yours are helpful/inspiring. .

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