6 weeks in Asia - What to do

Jan 27th, 2009, 02:18 PM
  #1  
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6 weeks in Asia - What to do

My husband and I have decided to quit our jobs and travel around Asia for 6 weeks before moving to our next home. We are looking to go from June through Mid-July. I'm really looking forward to this, problem is, I have no idea where to start. I have many questions, so was hoping that I could get some suggestions from all you smart travelers. Just a little background: We love to travel and like to experience local cultures, but I know I do have my limits on how adventurous I can be. We also are looking to do a mix between travelling cheap with a little luxery mixed in. So, here are my questions:
1) Where should we go? Currently we are thinking of doing 4 weeks in SE Asia (ie Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and possibly Singapore) and then 2 weeks in China. Is this overambitious?
2) Are there any must sees/dos?
3) Is it easy to travel between countries? How about in/out of china?
4) Where is the best place to fly in to and out of? We were thinking of flying into Thailand or Singapore and back to the US from China.
5) How easy is it for 2 foreigners to travel around? Is there anywhere you would recommend we take a tour?

Like I said, any info. would greatly help. We need to book our flights soon and I just don't know where to begin. Thanks in advance!
psucarrie is offline  
Jan 27th, 2009, 02:55 PM
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thailand is a good choice for a start---singapore is equally good if you wish to go there---then you could move in a north direction...

you might want to check out malay air to see what specials they might have or cathy pacific, flying in and out of hong kong...

there are a number of discount internal asia airlinesw....i like air asia a lot...

get a good asia guidebook to help you plan: fodors, frommers and others....they are a big help..

get specific ideas or questions and come back with specific questions..

while 5 wks seems like a long time, it really is not....i could spend 6 weeks in bangkok alone....

one warning is to not plan to do toooo much....give each place at least 4 days, some longer...
rhkkmk is offline  
Jan 27th, 2009, 02:56 PM
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Congratulations. I wish we could do the same thing. You're brave.

You might check out the Cathay Pacific All Asia pass. The flights tend to be in and out of Hong Kong, but you might be able to save some money if you mix and match with other flights.

Or, take a look at the Bangkok Air Discovery Pass. It charges a small amount for Thai domestic flights and a little more for international flights. You need at least three legs, but if you're going to Siem Reap and Luang Prabang you can save a lot.

Generally, with six weeks, I think you can do your plan. The one caveat is that you should plan at least 4-5 days in each location. This will allow you to enjoy the pleasures of each without too much rush.
Gpanda is offline  
Jan 27th, 2009, 05:10 PM
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What a wonderful opportunity! Personally, I do think your plan is a bit ambitious. You have 4 or 5 countries for your first 4 weeks (remember these are different countries with different cultures). If you really only want to visit one location in half of the countries, you'll be ok, but then you'll have little sense of the country or the culture, just a sample of one location. I agree with Gpanda, you'll want at least 4-5- days in each location. Asia lends itself best to slow travel.

It's easy to get around by air. Ground travel in some places is easy, some not. I would not recommend a tour in any of these places. There are some logistics to consider. You'll need visas for Laos, Cambodia, VN and China. You can get visas on arrival in Laos and Cambodia, but you must have a visa in advance for both VN and China. You will also want to arrange your itinerary with a view to whether you'll need a multiple entry visa for either of these countries. Note that if you go to CHina, then to Hong Kong and back to China, this would require a multiple entry visa. I know it doesn't seem to make sense since Hong Kong is now a part of China, but that is how it works.

And have you thought about travel health issues? Take a look at wwwn.cdc.gov/travel There are a number of vaccines it would be wise to have and you will be visiting malarial risk areas, so you'll need to decide about precautions against malaria.

When you ask whether there are any must-sees and must-dos (for 6 countries!) all I can say is yes. Get yourself some good guidebooks, and decide what interests you most. You'll find many trip reports here that can be helpful. But what you see and do will depend a lot on your interests.
Kathie is offline  
Jan 27th, 2009, 05:43 PM
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You might start with a general Southeast Asia guidebook. It will give you an overview of the broad poosibilities. If you see something you particularly like, you can get a more specific guidebook. You can check the SEA guidebook out of a library and then buy ones for the locations you choose.
Gpanda is offline  
Jan 27th, 2009, 11:38 PM
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4 weeks is a fair amount of time in SEA but not enough to see everything so I would focus on 4 countries, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. With 6 weeks it is perfectly feasible and you will see and experience much more if you do most of the trip overland rather than by air. Rather than flying into one place and out of another, you may wish to consider a straight return to Bangkok and then, after seeing some of Thailand get the bus/train/boat to Cambodia (Siem Reap/Phnom Penh/Siahnoukville/Kratie etc.From Cambodia you could make your way into Laos enterin in the south around Si Phan Don (4000 islands) - lots to see in that area (Wat Phu/Tad Lo etc.)and some great places to stay. You could make your way north taking in Vientienne (the best place to get your visa for Vietnam)and then onwards and upwards to Luang Prabang (full of tourists but still has that magic). There is a lot to do in and around LP and it is definitely worth a few days just to chill out before heading out on a circuit of the far north - Luang Namtha/Muang Sing/Phongsali - the minority villages are amazing and you are close to the border with China and so will get a taste of what rural China is like. It is possible to go overland from N. Laos to Vietnam but it is not straightforward and this is where a flight from say LP to Hanoi would make sense. You could also do this trip in reverse.

You will find luxury along teh way if you want it as well as lots of really nice budget places to stay.

For a little more info, here is a link to our blog of our travels. Please don't the blog as a suggested route as we have been to Indochina many times over the years and we deliberately avoided some of the places we had visited before. Have fun - I am getting itchy feet agin just thinking about it!
crellston is offline  
Jan 28th, 2009, 07:59 AM
  #7  
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Thanks everyone! Definitely still looking for more advice, but I think after reading the posts, that we are deciding to cut out China. We probably will still do Singapore though as we have a friend there. I know all the major places to visit, but are there any places off the beaten path that we should make our way to?
psucarrie is offline  
Jan 28th, 2009, 08:56 AM
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I think it's a good decision to cut China for this trip.

Tell us what kinds of things interest you, that will enable us to make recommendations that fit your interests. We all have favorite places that are off the tourist track, but what interests me may not interest you. Arts and antiques? cooking classes? local markets? traditional weaving? hiking and trekking? wild life?
Kathie is offline  
Jan 28th, 2009, 12:32 PM
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nix on china---good idea
rhkkmk is offline  
Jan 30th, 2009, 05:11 AM
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All good questions (sorry, can you tell I'm overwhelmed here - and I'm an experienced traveler!) We like to do a blend between touring and vacationing (i'm the tourist, my husband just tags along). I Really love to see/experience local culture. I love markets. I'm a barterer (which I hear you can do here) and love to pick up arts and crafts made by the local artisans to decorate my home. Also am a big foodie. I'm somewhat daring in what I'll try, but have heard there are some great food markets here as well. Definitely would love to see ruins. I know that Angkor Wat is a big one. I can handle a few museums, but really don't want to spend my days locked up in a building. We do love to be outdoors and I think we are hoping to do a few hikes and have found some places in Thailand or Borneo to go diving. There is also a tour into Chang Mai I found where we can do a cooking class and considering Thai is one of my favorites, I'm definitely going to try this out. Oh, and most of all, I'm really looking for somewhere in Thailand to get a great Thai massage. I heard they are amazing there, so any recommendations on somewhere affordable would be great. Hopefully this gave you more of a sense of our interests.
psucarrie is offline  
Jan 30th, 2009, 06:40 AM
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Ok, a few things: Angkor is truly one of the wonders of the world. It takes a full three days just to se the so-called major temples. If you are really interested in the temples you'll want more time. We spent a week there and could have used even more time. DO your research so you'll know how much tim to allocate to Angkor. The best guidebook to Angkor is Dawn Rooney's book, Angkor (get the 2006 edition). You are also welcome to view our photos (of Angkor and many other places in Asia) at www.marlandc.com.

You'll find wonderful crafts everywhere. Bangkok is a craft-shopper's paradise. Bartering? Well, there was a time, long ago, when western goods were in short supply in SE Asia, a friend of mine traded a United first-class amenities pack (back in the day when they were lovely leather and beautifully stocked) for a hand-carved mask in a market in Rangoon. Now days, most "western" goods are made in Asia. So typically craftspeople want cash, not something you brought with you to trade.

There is a museum I'd recommend in Bangkok if you are interested in the fine arts of SE Asia. It's a private museum, mostly outdoors, and you must make a reservation to go there. It's the Prasart museum. If it sounds like somewhere that would interest you, I can give you some more info.

You'll find amazing food - no problem. We can make specific recommendations once you have your itinerary nailed down.

Are you going to Borneo? If so, do read my trip report, as I'd recommend an unforgettable experience of staying at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge. http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...7&tid=34716301

DO NOT take a tour that includes a cooking class in Chiang Mai. We can recommend places to take cooking classes in CM and Bangkok and elsewhere. (indeed, I cannot think of anyplace where you need a tour or would benefit from a tour. There are places where you may want to hire a (private) guide.)

A place to get great Thai massages - well, you can't avoid places to get great Thai massages. They are everywhere, ranging from Wat Po to luxe spas.
Kathie is offline  
Jan 30th, 2009, 03:19 PM
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Hi there,
SEA is a great choice. Since you are gonna go around SEA, I can recommend you to take a route that is nice and more cost saving. You can fly to Vietnam or Thailand, via Singapore. (you can stop in Singapore up to 5 days with no extra charge on flight and 5 days is plenty for Singapore, if you want, you can even take a bus to Malaysia from Singapore. Thailand and Vietnam have great air deals on Air Asia. You can easily travel between Vietnam, Lao, and Cambodia with flights, bus or cruise. I recommend cruise from South Vietnam to Cambodia. My husband and I traveled from Sweden and here is our route:
Sweden- Ho Chi minh city (via Singapore, we stopped in Singapore for 4 days)( you can do the ourbound stopover as well)
Ho chi minh city to Cambodia ( actually we travel to South Vietnam and took a very nice cruise to Cambodia)
Cambodia to Thailand (by bus or plane)
Thailand to Danang (central Vietnam)
Danang to Laos by bus and then fly from Laos to Hanoi
Fly out from Hanoi back to Singapore back to Sweden.
It's very nice route and cost saving.
All countries in SEA have nice deals with resorts and hotels if you know where to book. We have a friend from Vietnam who recommended us Impressiontravel who gave us 50% discount on hotels in Vietnam and 30% in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. We stayed in 5 stars hotel in Hoi An Vietnam, beautiful beach for 80$ per night. They also have nice massages and cooking class for Vietnamese food.
Last time, Mr Tri from Impressiontravel gave us a list of places and things you MUST do, I find it amusing. You can contact him and he can give you some sample routes.( I dont think he charge anything for that)
We have great experience and we are saving money to go there again. Hope you will enjoy too.
Vian is offline  
Jan 30th, 2009, 03:50 PM
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It's hard to imagine that routing was either convenient or cost-saving. From Singapore to Saigon to Siem Reap to Thailand to DaNang to Laos to Hanoi to Singapore. Let's see you've entered VN three times... take a look at a map there are easier and more efficient ways to see these countries. VN visas as are the most expensive of the SE Asian visas, and this routing would need a multiple entry visa.
Kathie is offline  
Jan 31st, 2009, 01:39 AM
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The good news is that you will be able to get wonderful, cheap massages all over SEA. There are some variations in technique, but they are all relaxing and great.
Gpanda is offline  
Jan 31st, 2009, 02:04 PM
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sorry, I didnt think of the visa, since we are Sweden, we dont need visa to get to Vietnam. But that route is really nice and gives you mix of experiences. It is cost saving because you can book really cheap flights. It's cheaper to fly from bangkok to Vietnam than the domestic flights. Trust me!! check Air Asia. And the route from Singapore to Vietnam is just stop over, costs nothing.
Vian is offline  
Jan 31st, 2009, 03:49 PM
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From Singapore, Borobudur isn't far away.

http://wikitravel.org/en/Borobudur


KMLoke is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2009, 02:15 PM
  #17  
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Wow! These are all great places to start. I'm going to really step up my research now. I'm hoping to make my main flight reservations this week. I have some united points, so I'm going to see about using them, but I love the idea of a stopover in Singapore vs. actually stopping in Singapore. I'll see what they have. Is it required to make reservations for all internal travel prior to arriving there? I know the Visas are important (although I heard it may be easier in Cambodia to just get it while you're there).

As for cooking schools, I will definitely take recommendations. The tour we were actually looking at gives you time to explore the towm and one of the suggestions was a cooking school, but you book it separately.

Well, as I sit at my computer after working 10 hours, you all already have me itching for my thai massage. I better really get working on this trip!
psucarrie is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2009, 02:54 PM
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Remember when you use United points, you can book on sister airlines, e.g., Singapore Air, Thai Air, US Air, Lufthansa, etc. Before you try to book, check out the schedules for a bunch of sister airlines. That way if the United agent says there's nothing on United, you can try on the other airlines. I've found that it's best to do it in front of a computer, so you can check various connections while talking. We used United to book Boston-Bali mostly on Singapore Air. It was great.
Gpanda is offline  
Mar 9th, 2009, 10:33 AM
  #19  
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So, the tickets have been purchased. We are now flying via tokyo (with a 3 day stop) into Singapore. I have friends that live here, so I figured this was a good place for us to start and get over our jetlag. We are debating a stop in either Kuala Lumpur (I heard the architecture is fantastic) or Borneo (we would like to go scuba diving at some point on the trip). My next thing to plan though is the direction of our trip, i.e. start in cambodia and go counterclockwise ending in Bangkok and a resort, or starting in bangkok going clockwise to cambodia and then ending in Krabi or somewhere similar. I have been doing some research and I'm thinking that our best bets for flights is the counterclockwise trip as there are flights from sin/KL to cambodia and then all the way around.
psucarrie is offline  
Mar 9th, 2009, 01:51 PM
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Kuala Lumpur or Borneo? Well, we all have different likes and dislikes, but for me there wouldn't even be a question: Borneo! KL is an ok city, I've been there several times, each time I felt like 2-3 days was plenty. The architecture is interesting, yes - fantastic, no. Borneo does have diving, but if you are at all interested in the rainforests, seeing Orangutans, etc, do take advantage of this unique opportunity. My trip report and photos (links in my previous posts above) should give you enough info to decide whether this adventure is for you or if you'd prefer something else.
Kathie is offline  

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