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nbdtravel Jul 23rd, 2016 01:46 PM

Bucket List Trip: Bali, Angkor Wat,Japan
Is it possible to do a 14-16 day trip to Bali, Angkor Wat, and Japan (travel from SFO)? All three places are on my bucket list, and I would love advice on how to make it all work. I have every intention of making another trip back to fully explore Japan, but want to use this visit to "get my feet wet". Thanks for any advice!

tripplanner001 Jul 23rd, 2016 01:55 PM

Assuming you have 14-16 days on the ground, not including travel, yes, what you are proposing is doable as long as you stick to one location in Japan. Given that many flights from the U.S. involve a connection through Tokyo, you could visit the city and surrounding areas for a few days on your way to Southeast Asia. However if you are like me and enjoy temples, gardens, and culture, you could skip Tokyo and go straight to Kyoto; I would spend at least 5 nights in Kyoto. Bali is worth at least 5-6 nights as well, although you could easily spend your entire trip there too; check out Ubud as a base. Haven't been to Angkor so I cannot comment but others will.

Kathie Jul 23rd, 2016 06:54 PM

I think this is really two trips. You have unequal destinations. Japan is a whole country, Bali is a small island and Angkor is a set of temple ruins.

I'd suggest a two week trip to Japan if you want to have any sense of the country. If you are content with a few nights in Tokyo, you could cram it into a trip including the others, but if these are really places that you want to experience you will want to slow down and experience them.

I'd suggest a minimum of a week for Bali, perhaps dividing your time between Ubud and a beach location. Are you interested in stopping in Java?

Angkor takes three full days to see just the major temples, longer if you are really interested. We spent a week at Angkor and didn't see all we wanted to see.

Do some research to have a better sense of what is important to you. For Japan, the best online guide is

For Angkor, Dawn Rooney's book, Angkor: A Guide to Cambodia's Wondrous Temples

There are lots of guidebooks for Bali, take a look at the Lonely Planet.

marmot Jul 23rd, 2016 07:57 PM

I agree -- one again :) -- with Kathie's comments. Three countries is certainly doable in 14-16 days, but it seems that you'd be shortchanging all three (especially Japan) and spending a disproportionate amount of time in transit.

You'd be better off either concentrating on Japan alone, or on Southeast Asia. If you want to add in an Asian city, Singapore, Bali and Siem Reap make a logistically easy threesome. Singapore Airlines non-stop from San Francisco to Singapore would put you in a good launching point for Indonesia (including Bali and Java) and Cambodia.

If you do decide to pursue your original plan, you can get to Tokyo non-stop from San Francisco on several airlines. I can see the advantage of choosing either Tokyo or Kyoto as your Japan stop. Transportation within Japan will be very efficient, but still will eat into your overall time.

Getting from Tokyo to Bali/Denpasar is relatively easy. I haven't checked lately, but there used to be overnight flights on Japan Airlines and Garuda. From Bali to Angkor/Siem Reap look at Singapore Airlines and SilkAir.

I like Periplus guidebooks for Bali, and I concur a few days at one of the southern beaches and a few days in Ubud would be ideal.

thursdaysd Jul 24th, 2016 06:39 AM

Agree with Marmot, except instead of Singapore (very nice but Disneyland Asia) I would add more time in Cambodia. Phnom Penh and maybe Battambang or somewhere on the coast. And a bit more time for the temples.

If you include Japan I would vote for Kyoto over Tokyo as an easier entry.

nbdtravel Jul 24th, 2016 11:35 AM

Thanks for the replies and advice! I'm struggling with how to start the trip, and hence had been thinking a few days in Bali. While I would love to be able to hit the ground running, my husband will need two or three days to rest and get acclimated to the time change. He and I are very different travel types, and I know that in order to have a successful trip, he has to rest at the beginning of it! ;)

This truly is a bucket list trip, thus we don't mind having to spend more time traveling on order to get to our choice destinations. We would love to be able to see a wide variety of places. 3-4 days in both Angkor Wat and Kyoto are a must, and I'm trying to figure out the third place to visit. Again, I plan on making another trip back to Japan to travel it more extensively.

If we don't start the trip on the beaches of Bali, any recommendations on where to go? The goal is complete relaxation for these first few days...and we don't mind country hopping or having to spend a few more hours traveling in order to find it.

tripplanner001 Jul 24th, 2016 11:54 AM

Have you been to Asia before? If not, then what you have proposed won't check the relaxation box. And if this is your first trip to Asia, Marmot's suggestion of Singapore would be a good acclimation to Asia. From there you can hop over to Bali for a few days on a beach as Kathie suggestion and then spend a few days in and around Ubud.

As I mentioned earlier, visiting one place in three countries is doable if you are looking to sample different places, are okay spending 4-5 nights at any place (which may or may not be enough), etc., but come prepared that it won't be relaxing.

Hope this helps.

nbdtravel Jul 24th, 2016 12:34 PM

Thanks again for your advice. I've been to Asia several times over the past five years, traveling throughout China, South Korea, Vietnam, and Hong Kong on each trip. I am used to the hectic and stressful travel experience in Asia. I think my familiarity with those areas is why I keep trying to convince myself this trip will work, but it sounds like it is time to face the reality that it will be pretty exhausting and difficult trip...

If anyone has suggestions, they are much appreciated!

Kathie Jul 24th, 2016 12:50 PM

If Bali is where you want to start, you'll need (at least) an overnight stopover on your way there. I'd suggest (as tripplanner and marmot suggested) a few days stop in Singapore. The fly to Bali for a few days in a lovely beach area (avoid Kuta - full of drunk adolescents and people acting like adolescents - and Nusa Dua - a sterile tourist enclave). I'd suggest Sanur or many people like Seminyak. After a few days there, move to Ubud, where you will get more of a cultural experience of Bali. Even if you just want to sample Bali, I'd spend a week there, divided between the beach and Ubud.

From there you can fly to Angkor on Air Asia (you use Kuala Lumpur as a transfer point), on Silk Air, Singapore will be your transfer point. Decide how much time you'd like at Angkor. A minimum of four nights, which gives you three full days is recommended, but after reading Dawn Rooney's book, you may decide you'd like more time there.

From there, if you want to hit all three places, fly to Japan. I agree with Kyoto being a better introduction to Japan than Tokyo. I'd suggest a week three, with day trip (or better yet, an overnight trip) to Nara. Obviously, this will only gibe you a glimpse of Japan.

Of course, this is more than a 14-16 day trip, but if you MUST visit all three places, it is the minimum amount of time I would consider for a brief taste of these amazing places.

What time of year are you planning on traveling?

kja Jul 24th, 2016 07:18 PM

Something to consider: Are you fully committed to a "get your feet wet" trip? You might find it more rewarding to choose a destination and give yourselves the time to visit it. Just a thought....

(I must admit that I have never found the value of a "get your feet wet" trip, at least in part because some of the things I most enjoy in travel are the things one would NEVER do if one's time there was very limited. JMO.)

marmot Jul 24th, 2016 07:43 PM

If your objective in the first few days of your trip is to spend some down time on a nice beach, then I'd suggest that you substitute a beach location in Thailand or Malaysia. Beautiful beaches and less travel time to Cambodia and Japan. The time of year that you travel will also impact your beach choice.

On the other hand, if you want to experience nature and culture Bali, you should plan at least 7 days on the ground -- 3 at the beach and 4 inland. Although I can understand why you might want to start at the beach to recover from jet lag, the logistics of flying directly to Japan from San Francisco favor making Tokyo and/or Kyoto your first stop. Then continuing on to Bali, then Siem Reap, then home, perhaps on the non-stop from Singapore.

Japan (especially Tokyo) is an amped up environment which can keep jetlag at bay until you get to Bali. I did a bit of cursory research on flights from Tokyo to Bali and only found non-stops during the peak tourist season. The non-stop is about 6 hours but connecting through Hong Kong or Jakarta will add hours to the travel time. So check your flight options before you plan the order of your stops.

Basically, the key to packing in several places without total exhaustion is to limit the time that you spend getting to and from airports, in airports and in the air. Non-stop and one stop/good connection flights will make all the difference in what you can accomplish.

The first time I took my husband to Asia we visited Singapore, Penang, Phuket, Bangkok and Tokyo in about 10 days. (We were young.) By the time we got to Toyko we were punch drunk, but oddly enough, and even though it was over 30 years ago, my memories of stumbling around Tokyo are razor sharp. So I empathize with your ambition. :)

kja Jul 24th, 2016 08:59 PM

I can’t believe I’m about to disagree with marmot, but … nothing can keep jetlag at bay – to my knowledge, that isn’t an actual biological possibility (although, of course, individuals differ in how, and how hard, jet lag hits them.) So while Tokyo can ramp you up and help you get through that initial phase of jeg lag, it can generally only do so at the cost of an even more severe dip in energy later on. :-(

(@ marmot – sorry, and OMG, that 1st trip with your husband sounds awful! I’m going to think of it as a clever test of your compatibility. ;-) )

marmot Jul 24th, 2016 11:04 PM

kja, That's just my personal experience with jetlag when traveling east to west, from North America to Asia. I find that if I have a demanding schedule on arrival I adjust fast and keep going. (In the other direction, it's another story. Nothing helps.) I agree that jetlag does eventually catch up and that nbdtravel would welcome that Bali beach after Japan.

I hope to never do a 5 stops in 10 days kind of trip again, but I have to admit we had a great time.

kja Jul 24th, 2016 11:14 PM

@ marmot -- I sincerely hope you know that I intended no criticism of you, nor did I mean to question your experience. My apologies if it seemed otherwise!

I'm glad that first insane trip worked for you and your husband! :-)

marmot Jul 25th, 2016 12:35 AM

kja, no need to apologize. I understood you perfectly.

mrwunrfl Jul 25th, 2016 10:52 AM

Despite the inevitable jetlag, I have found that I have more energy at the beginning of a trip like this than at the end.

For that reason, I would put Japan at the beginning and Bali at the end. Would prefer to fly the United nonstop from SFO to Osaka Kansai airport.

I absolutely understand the "get your feet wet" idea. I do it and enjoy it, but Bali the one place that you don't want to cut short.

Bali is possibly the least likely place that you will return to. Japan is easy to get to for future visits. You might one day visit Thailand and easily visit Cambodia from there. Bali is more out of the way

I highly recommend at least 6 full days in Bali.

CaliNurse Jul 25th, 2016 03:09 PM

Thursdaysd--Singapore as "Disneyland Asia"--love it! Right up there with your "ego-stick" expression!

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