Advice Needed for a First Trip to SEA

Sep 10th, 2007, 07:38 AM
  #1  
Pausanias
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Advice Needed for a First Trip to SEA

Would like to get to see this part of the world. I gather the best time is November, and that would be possible. We can manage two full work weeks away -- leaving on a Friday night from NYC and returning on a Sunday would give us 16 days.

Here are some spots I'd like to see:

Hong Kong -- Cimbrone's recent description of the walking and sights in the New Territories make this sound enticing.

Singapore -- for the street food. Anthony Bourdain in the NYTime's a few months back, and Calvin Trillin in this week's New Yorker have me salivating. Both of them had, of course, highly knowledgeable guides due to their fame -- does someone do good food tours for mere mortals?

Bangkok

Angkor Wat

Naturally there are many more places we'd like to see -- Vietnam looks very interesting -- but this is probably enough if not too much for the available time.

Does it look doable? How much time should we allocate to each city? Would it be best to fly in to HK, then on to Singapore, and Bangkok? I'm guessing round-trip to Angkor Wat and then return flight from Bangkok.

Many thanks.
 
Sep 10th, 2007, 07:56 AM
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You'll lose two days to travel, so it appears to me that you would have 14 days on the ground in Asia. You've listed 4 places you want to go. Frankly you'll be happier and will experience more if you limit yourselves to three locations.

I'd suggest you cut one location, either Hong Kong or Singapore. Save one for your next trip.

Angkor takes a full three days in Siem Reap just to see the major temples. If you are really interested in teh temples, you'll want more time. We spent a week there and didn't see nearly all of the accessible temples. So plan on at least 4 nights in Siem Reap.

If you opt for Singapore, spend 4 nights there and then I'd suggest 6 nights in Bangkok - there is so much to see and do. And everthing is reasonably priced.

If you opt for Hong Kong, I'd suggest 5 nights in Hong Kong and 5 in Bangkok.

Note that of the locations, Hong Kong is the most expensive by far, Singapore the second most expensive.
Kathie is online now  
Sep 10th, 2007, 09:43 AM
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I would select only 3 places and no more. And personally Bangkok and Singapore would be two of them. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Sep 10th, 2007, 10:11 AM
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i would cut singapore becasue of the places you have listed it is the least fun and least interesting and the furthest away....certainly not worth going there just for the food...

thai air flt from jfk leaves at noon....the best deal for a short stay like yours....17 hrs 10 min non-stop...airbus....comfortable...
rhkkmk is offline  
Sep 10th, 2007, 07:46 PM
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I agree that with 2 weeks, picking 3 places is best. While you will lose a day coming out, you will gain a day coming back which gives you something; but all in all, you will lose time traveling between cities, up to half a day or more (for example its a 3 hour flight between Hong Kong and Singapore, not counting travel time to the airports, check-in, immigraiton, security, etc); plus you want time to enjoy the places while you are there. Jet lag will slow you down a bit on your first few days, esp in the hotter more humid climates. It's hard to pick I know, but IMO you will get more out of each place if you give yourself time to really enjoy it. You do have about 13 nights, 14 days, as you return flight on Sunday will most likely leave mid-morning, so you won't really have much of a day for touring on Sunday.

However, I honestly could not advise which of the four places on your list to tell you to cut out. If you got really good flights to Siem Riep and only wanted to rush there for 1-2 nights, it MIGHT be possible to do all 4 places on your list; however you would have to look into flights and make sure this would work. For example, Siem Riep Arlines flies non-stop to and from Hong Kong and Siem Riep, but only on certain days. This would be great for getting there without "backtracking" to and from Bangkok. You may however be cutting yourself a bit short on the other cities on your itinerary, IMO if you try to "do" all 4. Also, to go all the way to Siem Riep and then kind of give short shrift to the temples may not be what you have in mind. I would suggest you do some reading on all the places and see what interests you most about them and make a choice based on activities and sights which interest you most. Some people can look at a thousand temples, others cannot, some people want to spend lots of time in night markets, other find these boring.

If you are thinking of Hong Kong in November, it is great here weather-wise, air pollution not withstanding which may obscure some views (but not at night in any event). If you want to walk in the New Territories, the Oxfam Charity Walk on the MacLehose Trail is the weekend of November 9, so that is not a great time to try to walk any part of that trail, and I might avoid that entire area of the NT that weekend as it can be congested with participants, observers and press. Otherwise, that is a good time to be here. The Maltida Hopsital sedan chair charity race is on November 18 which is fun to observe and can be done as part of a visit to the Peak and/or some walks up around the Peak, to the Pokfolum or Abderdeen areas, or if you want a good work out (or just a long walk), over to the backside to Stanely. There is a Continental non-stop flight from Newark which departs at 3 pm daily and arrives into Hong Kong a day later at about 7 pm (i.e you would leave Friday at 3 pm but not arrive into Hong Kong until Saturday night at 7 pm).

I don't have any doubt that a "mere mortal" could find enjoyment in the street food of Singapore. There are guidebooks available, as well as the tourist authority website and just walking around, as well as reccos here. Having lived in Singapore, Europe and Hong Kong twice I CAN honestly say that it is actully worth going to Singapore for the food. Besides the cheese plate in the Fletshchorn Hotel in Saas Fee, Switzerland and the Crepes Suzette at the Villa d'este in Lake Como, I miss Singaporean food more than anything. However, to cut out Bangkok or even Hong Kong just for some popiah would be a tough one. I don't know. Walking the Dragon's Back or the Twins in November and then a pizza beachfront at the Blue Room in Big Wave Bay calls to me as well....and I could sit and watch the river traffic in Bangkok for hours on end, not to mention the lovely Thai people (and their food too).

Divali is November 9, which is a major Hindu festival (the new year) and will be celebrated in Singapore more than any other place on your itinerary, although celebrations there will not be hugely major, it is not a public holiday for example (but it is a good time to go to Little India and visit temples).

The Bangkok non-stop looks like a good option too if you wanted to start there, or take that on the way home. There are non-stops on SQ to and from Singapore too.

If you do decide on 3 places, then 4 nights in each works out pretty logically with an "extra" night somewhere (which may be the first city you arrive into from your US flight, as this may be something of a loss as you may not get to see much of the city on that day IMO bewteen arrival time and your jet lag, getting to the hotel, etc). IMO you don't need 4 in Siem Reap, so I would add a night to another city if Siem Reap is on your itineary. I don't think you need 4 in Singapore either, so I would add the most nights to either Hong Kong or Bangkok. But a lot will depend on timing of flights between cities, an extra night in Singapore may work out well with flights.
Cicerone is offline  
Sep 11th, 2007, 05:03 AM
  #6  
Pausanias
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I'd like to thank you all for your thoughtful and generous replies. (Also to apologize to Cicerone for misidentifying him as Cimbrone.)

I spent last night reading a guidebook to Thailand and concluded one could easily spend the entire two weeks there, maybe managing three or four days at Angkor Wat. Obviously then, there is much more research to be done.

I probably posted prematurely. We looked over our calendar last night too. Between scheduled vacations and family commitments it appears we won't be able to make the trip until 2009 -- which makes me think that rather than November, February might be the time to go. At least, it is nine months earlier . . .
 
Sep 11th, 2007, 05:37 AM
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There is so much to do and see in SE ASia, you'll no doubt go back again and again. So as you peruse guidebooks, think of this as planning your first trip to the area. It never hurts to start your planning early.

By the way, Cicerone is a she.

Kathie is online now  
Sep 11th, 2007, 05:49 AM
  #8  
Pausanias
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Oops. Another apology sent.
 
Sep 11th, 2007, 06:59 AM
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Bob...Singapore...the "least fun and least interesting?" I thought you hadn't been to Singapore yet...maybe I misunderstood. And as for the food...it IS worth going for. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Sep 11th, 2007, 08:52 AM
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guen---we went for two days many years ago and will return for 3 days next june....

the only less interesting place we have been to in asia is seoul.....
rhkkmk is offline  
Sep 11th, 2007, 09:35 AM
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OK. I thought you hadn't gone yet. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
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