3 months in south east Asia

Apr 15th, 2019, 01:28 PM
  #1  
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3 months in south east Asia

Hello ,
I'm in the early stages of planning 3 months in southeast Asia (Jan-Mar) I have ordered the guidebooks but I have often found better tips and advice here. (Spain tips were perfect!) So I'm thinking 1 month in Thailand, then split the other 2 months between Vietnam, Cambodia, and Indonesia with stops in Malaysia. We have no set itinerary, other than we want to leave snowy Canada on Jan 1! At this time just starting to map it out so any help is always appreciated. And yes I have a lot of homework to do but it's something I love!
Thanks
Heather
hmount is offline  
Apr 15th, 2019, 06:40 PM
  #2  
 
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Vietnam in 3 weeks or more is advised (North to South of VN)
DinHo is offline  
Apr 15th, 2019, 08:30 PM
  #3  
 
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That's a lot to cover in three months. I spent three months in SEA in 2002, and that didn't include Indonesia, nor much time in Thailand.

Might give you some ideas: Wilhelm's Words -- Travels Round Asia 2002
thursdaysd is offline  
Apr 15th, 2019, 11:53 PM
  #4  
 
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SE Asia is a very diverse region, what do you actually want to see/do/experience? Nature, trekking, wildlife, 5* hotels ancient monuments, culture or all of the above.

Planning is fun but sometimes the choices can be overwhelming. Rather than just dividing up your time arbitrarily, I think I would probably start by reading those guidebooks and identifying the key things you want to do, see and experience, and then allocate your time accordingly.

The weather is not the be all end all, but could have a significant impact on your planning. Great weather for Thailand , Cambodia and Vietnam, not so great for Indonesia.

I would probably drop Indonesia from your trip , partly because of the weather and partly because you don’t really have enough time to do it justice. One third of your time in Thailand would be too big a propotion of your three months for me. One month in Vietnam would give you enough time to travel north to south or vv at a reasonable pace. Cambodia could take anywhere between one an three weeks depending on what you want to see. if you are up for more off the beaten path type travel then far northern Laos is worth considering.

Travelling around - it is relatively easy, but time consuming to travel much of the region overland by bus, train and boat. If you favour flying, then I would consider using Kuala Lumpur as a base. it is the hub for Air Asia, making it very cheap and easy to get to a lot of places.

There is a lot of stuff on our blog about our travels in Asia which may be of interest @ https://accidentalnomads.com - just click on the destination tab for the appropriate country. www.travelfish.org is a brilliant resource and more up to date than the guidebooks. www.seat61.com is excellent for train (and some other modes) travel.

Enjoy the planning!
crellston is offline  
Apr 16th, 2019, 01:04 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Mar 2019
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I think 3 weeks in Thailand would be sufficient, just use the remaining 1 week for an added trip to Laos or Philippines.
kapia is offline  
Apr 18th, 2019, 08:14 PM
  #6  
 
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My take would be very similar to Crellston... who gave us advice for 5 weeks that we just returned from. Advice is more easily offered if you can give us the kind of activities you enjoy, and your general budget guidelines.
A big highlight for us was taking a Mekong River cruise, we traveled down river, from Cambodia ending in Saigon. So many great pieces to that experience!! If it is of interest I can unpack that more if it would be helpful.... no pun intended.
out_and_about is offline  
Apr 19th, 2019, 06:23 AM
  #7  
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Yes I would love more information about the river cruise.We are fairly competent travellers who really just enjoy experiencing the culture and seeing the history. We don't plan to hike or trek thru any jungles. We do like being independent and tend to avoid organized tours. This trip is meant to see things as well as find a few spots to just stop and relax. Our budget is moderate. No hostels and we are not on a shoestring. After working for over 30 years it's a bit of a sabbatical and we can afford to do it nicely.
It is definitely overwhelming with so many options to choose from and we really don't want to plan every single thing out but I am heeding some of the above advice already.
Thanks
Heather


hmount is offline  
Apr 20th, 2019, 01:26 AM
  #8  
 
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It might help you narrow in on an itinerary if you were to think in terms of cities, places or areas instead of countries. Each of the countries on your list covers a wide geographic distance, but there may just be two or three places within each that you'd like to focus on. Airfare tends to be inexpensive in Southeast Asia (AirAsia is terrific!) which can shrink the geographic reach a bit.

Indonesia as an island nation is especially far flung. You could easily fill up a week each in Bali and Java, as well as more off the beaten track destinations like Sulawesi or East Nusa Tenggara. January-March will be the wet season throughout Indonesia, which while not a good time for the beach, won't slow you down too much when you're inland.
marmot is offline  
Apr 27th, 2019, 11:44 AM
  #9  
 
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Originally Posted by hmount View Post
Yes I would love more information about the river cruise.We are fairly competent travellers who really just enjoy experiencing the culture and seeing the history. We don't plan to hike or trek thru any jungles. We do like being independent and tend to avoid organized tours. This trip is meant to see things as well as find a few spots to just stop and relax. Our budget is moderate. No hostels and we are not on a shoestring. After working for over 30 years it's a bit of a sabbatical and we can afford to do it nicely.
It is definitely overwhelming with so many options to choose from and we really don't want to plan every single thing out but I am heeding some of the above advice already.
Thanks
Heather
Sorry for the delay getting back to you... glad to give you more info on our recent Mekong River Cruise. We usually travel pretty independently but decided in this part of the world we would take advantage of some tours as well. The Uniworld Mekong River Cruise was part of a larger package which took in the UW cruise and itinerary. Kampong Cham, a four hour coach ride from Siem Reap, was our starting point and we ended at Ho Chi MInh City/Saigon. The other big port we were at was Phnom Penh which included a city tour, eg the sliver pagoda, royal palace. Also the Killing Fields which I opted out of. It was too incongruous for me to take in such a place and then come back for lunch... just couldn't do it.

Our room was somehow a bit smaller than expected, but certainly sufficient. The advantage of a cruise --- unpacking for 7 nights, right? =) There are a number of places to hang out on the ship, so we weren't in our room all that much anyway. Having a balcony was nice, although not essential because it is so hot without shade. We were toward the front of the ship, which meant we could hear the anchor moving in/out. =P (And very cool, that you could be on the brand new Mekong Jewel, we were on the Navigator.) By they way, our tour director (independent of Uniworld) said he has traveled with most/all of the cruise companies on the Mekong, with Uniworld being the best - his opinion. I can see it would be hard to beat!

The staff were excellent, English spoken well by most/all, which was a nice surprise. Meals are a combination of buffet and menu, with generous helpings. I had to ask for smaller servings so I could finish my plate; there was a variety of choices/styles from Western to Asian to pasta or vegetarian. House wine was served, others were available at additional cost, same with cocktails. A popular choice for many came to be their ginger tea, at almost any meal but especially breakfast. I think it was made with lemon grass?? Fresh water was always available, you just didn't drink it from the taps. No surprise there.

The excursions were fascinating. Going by river gives easy access to areas less busy for tourists, along side roads or canals to catch a glimpse into villages and local life. We visited a family business for handmade conical hats (kind of an icon of Vietnam) sold to locals, and another day to a man's home who builds sampans, the smaller canoe-variety. Getting to these locations were definitely part of the adventure, and cause for lots of pictures and laughter. Back on board after any excursion, we were met with cold towels and and an even colder drink before heading to our showers. Sunsets on the upper deck were gorgeous, although the orange glows likely a consequence of air pollution, either from grass burning, city smog or whatever. Some evenings were just cloudy of course.

Ending in Saigon, which also included city tours, the evening dinner cruise on the Saigon Princess was just perfect - the lights of Saigon, a live music ensemble on the upper deck, it was a magical ending to our Mekong Tour.

If you have specific questions, I will do my best to answer. Hope this helped, and was of some interest. =D
out_and_about is offline  
Apr 29th, 2019, 04:08 AM
  #10  
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thank you for the information about the cruise. I think this may be perfect for us during our trip particularly the no unpacking piece! Slowly but surely we seem to be pulling this trip together.
Thanks again!
hmount is offline  
Apr 29th, 2019, 08:52 AM
  #11  
 
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If you are interested in a rive cruise in SE Asia, I'd highly recommend tat you take a look at Pandaw.com This company is based in Burma (Myanmar) and offers a good variety of river cruises in SE Asia, not just the most popular one between HCMC and Siem Reap. I took their Chindwin River Cruise a few years ago; the whole cruise was well off the tourist track. We saw no other westerners for the entire length of the cruise.

My preference is to use local companies whenever possible.
Kathie is offline  
May 6th, 2019, 03:30 PM
  #12  
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Thank you we are hoping to spend a month in Vietnam and plan to travel south to north actually by train so I really appreciate your recommendations . I think we have Thailand sorted out so we are now working on Vietnam
cheers
hmount is offline  
May 26th, 2019, 06:06 AM
  #13  
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I'm wondering if someone could give me some advice on Cambodia. I'm reading mixed reviews around safety so I am a little hesitant, with the exception of Angor Wat.
hmount is offline  
May 26th, 2019, 11:30 AM
  #14  
 
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I don't know what you have read about Cambodia, but my experience of the country is that travel there is safe. There are a few well-documented scams, such as when you cross the border from Thailand to Cambodia at Poipet, you may be asked to pay extra for your visa for any of a number of reasons - (e.g., it's late and the workers need to be paid for overtime) no need to do that.
Kathie is offline  
May 26th, 2019, 10:39 PM
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Most of Cambodia is as safe as anywhere else in SE Asia, at least in most places tourist will want visit. Sihanoukville on the coast has is not a pleasant place as a result of an influx of gambling aimed primarily at the Chinese , added to which there apparently has been an increase in drug/drink related crime , prostitution etc. Phnom Penh is pretty safe but there is a bit of petty theft around. Avoid places like the Heart Of Darkness nightclub.

As mentioned above, there are scams at most of the borders but these are just immigration officials asking for a few dollars. They can be very "insistent" but unless you are travelling overland, this won’t be an issue.

In Siem Reap I always seem to get offered drugs every time I have been - but maybe that’s just me!!

None of these issues are a reason to avoid visiting, unless you are an extremely nervous/ risk averse traveller.
crellston is offline  
May 28th, 2019, 03:43 PM
  #16  
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Thanks no we are fairly confident travellers. I just wanted to reach out for some advice . It's definitely on our route . Kompot looks interesting if you have any thoughts on that I would love to hear them.
hmount is offline  
May 28th, 2019, 10:18 PM
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Kampot is, or at least was, when we last visited four years ago, a lovely riverine town and well worth a visit. Last time I heard it had seen a n influx of western expats which rarely improves a place IME. It may be worth checking out current opinions onTA or travelfish.

Apart from that concern, there are some nice accommodations there, we stayed at Rikitikitavi which had excellent rooms, service and food. Some great day trips from there out to Kep and it’s crab market, Bokkor Hills, The Salt farms, pepper farms and killing fields.All easily arranged by tuk tuk. A sunset cruise on the river is a must.

My wife posted on our blog about our time there which may provide an insight, https://accidentalnomads.com/category/cambodia/

I think it is now possible to get there from PP by train which would be nice one way. Seat61.com may have details.
crellston is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2019, 06:45 AM
  #18  
 
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Don't forget Laos!
khunwilko is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2019, 10:26 PM
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Khunwilko makes a good point re Laos. It has been 10 plus years since we last visited and it has doubtless changed a lot. Travel there is rarely comfortable but it is very rewarding nonetheless. The far north of the country is beautiful (although I am not sure how much the Chinese Road and dam building has impacted the region.

On one trip we entered from northern Vietnam travelled down through Laos, mostly by river to Luang Prabang and carried on to the south and entered Cambodia via Si Phan Don (4000 islands) to Kratie, a nice river town, similar in many respects to Kampot.

From Kratie there are many options but you could reach Phnom Penh via Siem Reap and Battambang and then get the boat to Chau Doc in Vietnam’s Mekong delta. As you are no doubt discovering, the permutations are endless!
crellston is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2019, 02:52 AM
  #20  
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Thank you . Yes the options are endless and the more books I read the more places I want to see.
We have recently added the slow boat to Luang Prabang to our itinerary which once again changes our route thru thailand
slowly but surely this is coming together .
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