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First time in Asia - where should I go???

First time in Asia - where should I go???

Apr 26th, 2009, 06:48 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 163
First time in Asia - where should I go???

Hi All - I am trying to decide where to go on vacation next and I've never been to Asia, so this region is a top contender. However, I don't know where to start??? Thailand, Cambodia, China, Bhutan, any others?? I could really use some ideas on the TOP place to visit if you could pick one...We are planning a trip for 10 days to 2 weeks in the May or June timeframe. Any suggestions?? My husband and I are on our early 30's and we are up for anything - we love culture, interesting cities, as well as small, picturesque towns. We also love scenic beaches and the outdoors...

Any other suggestions on our first trip to Asia would be much appreciated! Thanks...
alldaytravel is offline  
Apr 26th, 2009, 07:00 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,988
Only you can figure out where you want to go. My rules for planning a great vacation are
1. Know thyself
2. Know they destination.

You're in charge of the first; we can help with the second. There is, of course, no "top" place to visit. Asia is the largest continent and the options of places to visit seem endless. My top place (top in what way?) is unlikely to be yours.

Weather will likely impact on your choices. Take a look at www.weatherbase.com and look at each city you are considering visiting.

Browse through the Asia board here and see what places catch your fancy. Visit your local travel bookstore and browse through the Asia section. Think about movies you've seen set in Asia, books you've read. What especially appealed to you?

Think about travel infrastructure. Places with excellent traveler infrastructure include Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia and parts of Indonesia (especially Bali).

As you begin to develop ideas about where you want to go, ask questions (the more specific the better).

You might find some of my blog to be helpful to you as you think about where to go. www.travelindependently.com
Kathie is offline  
Apr 26th, 2009, 08:55 AM
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Kathie has given some useful general thoughts. I will take a different tack and specifically suggest two weeks in Thailand and Laos. I would fly into Bangkok, go to Luang Prabang (Laos), then down to Ko Samui and back to Bangkok. This would be a great introduction to Asia. The tourist infrastructure is great in all three locations. Plus, the food is great.
Gpanda is offline  
Apr 26th, 2009, 09:22 AM
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Your blog is very well written Kathie. It would be nice to have the info posted as a 'sticky' on Fodors.
Femi is offline  
Apr 26th, 2009, 09:36 AM
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Thanks, Femi. I was coerced into this blog by Cheryl who started it, then asked me to write a post, then turned it over to me. I find I'm really enjoying writing for it. I'll have more time to post on it once the remodeling is finished!
Kathie is offline  
Apr 26th, 2009, 09:49 AM
Join Date: Aug 2007
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For a first time visit to Asia I would start in Thailand. Spend a few days in Bangkok and at least one more night just before you fly out. This way you can set up flights and tours in the beginning of your trip and be back in Bangkok for a final night of shopping and dining before you fly out.

Bangkok is worth a visit. Some travelers fly into Bangkok and immediately leave for some other destination, this presents other problems with accommodation and time between flights.

In Bangkok if you choose a hotel near the Skytrain route you can use that overhead rail service to get around town. In Thailand if you want a tour you can get them from travel agencies. There are lots of travel agencies all over the place. They will have a selection list of popular trips such as River Kwai, Ayuthaya, Floating Markets, National Parks, etc. You can choose the tour the night before and leave the following morning. Tour company picks you up at your hotel and returns you there at the end of the day.

One suggestion is that you can use an overnight sleeper train to get up to Chiang Mai. In Chiang Mai you can get tours to the Golden Triangle area, Hill Tribes, Long Neck Women Villages and lots more. Same as Bangkok, find the nearest travel agency for local tours. Some hotels also have tour desks too.

You don't have a lot of time on your trip for more than one side trip to a different country. Perhaps a few days in Siem Reap/Angkor Wat might be enough. Keep in mind that there are tourists that stay just in Thailand for a whole month and still need more time to see everything. Don't waste all of your time at beaches, beaches can be found in many countries, try to see the things that makes Thailand unique.

Good luck.
SirHalberd is offline  
Apr 26th, 2009, 07:13 PM
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Thailand (depending on the political situation) plus a side trip to either Siem Reap or Luang Prabang would be my suggestion. All are very easy and have good infrastructure.
silverwool is offline  
Apr 26th, 2009, 07:15 PM
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A picture is worth a thousand words. You might also enjoy browsing a number of years of our photos of various locations in Asia at www.marlandc.com
Kathie is offline  
Apr 26th, 2009, 08:59 PM
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Posts: 15,625
May is a very good time to go to Japan. Japan is very modern and very traditional. Lots of castles and shrines to visit. Fascinating culture. There are several festivals in May with one of the biggest of the year in Tokyo being in May. See sumo, geisha, baseball. Very safe. No beaches.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Apr 27th, 2009, 03:07 PM
Original Poster
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Hi All - Thanks for the suggestions! I know I am leaving the door wide open and Asia is a HUGE place, but I always like hearing ideas from experts.

Thailand is certainly at the top of my list, but is it safe to travel there now? Silverwool commented on the political situation there and of course, several months ago, many travelers were stranded in Bangkok airport due to some of these issues. Just curious what people's thoughts are here. Thanks!! So many places, so little time!
alldaytravel is offline  
Apr 27th, 2009, 03:13 PM
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Personally, I wouldn't hesitate to travel to Thailand. Indeed, I have tickets for November. But that's a question you'd have to answer for yourself. Note that we currently have a couple of regular poster visiting Thailand and we have several who live in Thailand. There is good, up to the minute reporting here on the political situation (which is calm now).
Kathie is offline  
Apr 27th, 2009, 03:32 PM
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I would say Bangkok-and you might engage the services of a driver to get you around to some of the sights. Having a driver for a first time saves energy, time and its not expensive. While you don't need a driver (and you don't need a professional guide either) its a great convenience. There are several drivers mentioned on this board- everyone these days seem to go with Tong, but our driver in bangkok is Ratt who knows the city pretty well.
BillT is offline  
Apr 27th, 2009, 04:34 PM
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allday, I'd suggest that you take a look at Bali. May/June is a good time -- good weather and low tourist season. You can get fascinating culture, arts and crafts, nature and adventure travel, plus the beach, all in one fairly compact island.

Most likely you would have to fly through a larger city -- Tokyo, Hong Kong or Singapore -- so you could combine Bali with a stop over in an Asian urban environment as well.
marmot is offline  
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