Help with SEA Retirement Trip

Feb 15th, 2013, 06:51 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Oct 2003
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Help with SEA Retirement Trip

I think I have a doable plan for a 3 month trip to SEA. Any critique appreciated.

Oct. 19 Seatttle to Bangkok
Oct 20-25 Bangkok
Oct.26 fly Krabi
Oct. 27-31 Koh Lanta (good deal at Layana right before high season starts)
Nov.1-6 explore southern beaches
Nov. 7 fly Bangkok for overnight
Nov.8-13 Siem Reap
Nov. 14 Bangkok overnight
Nov. 15 Train to Chiang Mai
Nov. 15-21 Chiang Mai (meeting family)
Nov.22-28 Mae Song Loop, possible trek
Nov. 29-Dec. 5 Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
Dec. 6-12 Luang Prabang
Dec.. 13-19 trek north of LP
Dec 20 overnight LP
Dec. 21 fly Vientiane
Dec 21-23 Vientiane
Dec. 24 fly Bangkok
Dec. 24 overnight Bangkok or better yet catch a flight to Singapore same day
Dec.25-29 Singapore
Dec. 30-Jan 1 Penang
Jan. 2-3 KL
Jan4-14 Java ( intrigued with ferry from eastern Java to Bali)
Jan.14-23 Bali (basing in Ubud area)
Fly home from Singapore if Bali prohibitive)

Any huge flaws in my thought process? Tried to fit in a lot of our bucket list with what seems like plenty of time in each place to relax.
Thank you.....
cindyjo is offline  
Feb 15th, 2013, 07:15 AM
  #2  
 
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it looks fabulous to me..

check our salana botique hotel in vientianne
rhkkmk is offline  
Feb 15th, 2013, 07:26 AM
  #3  
 
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I'd change the order - you fly from Bangkok to Singapore, then back up to Penang. Thai Air has non-stop late afternoon flight to Penang. I'd fly to Penang first, (add a day here) then on to KL, then Singapore (take a day away from here for Penang) and from Singapore to Java.

Forget the ferry from Java to Bali, IMO. Indonesian ferries are renowned for overcrowding, and several sink each year. Fly.
Kathie is online now  
Feb 15th, 2013, 08:34 AM
  #4  
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My reply disappeared. Oh dang..

rhkkmk, it looks like the Salana may be booked for our dates but I have emailed them, sometimes more accurate.

Kathie, you are absolutely right. Penang should be first. Thanks for the Thai Airways tip. Will look more closely but looks as if it may work. I am going to book E&O for Penang. It will be a lovely place to spend Christmas.

Worried about Singapore hotel. So pricey. Probably best to book soon as I am sure the city will be busy NYE

Thank you for the ferry warning. We live in Seattle (Whidbey) and we take ferry safety for granted.

This trip has taken months for me to plan. Finally feels like a winner. Am sure I will have more questions and in the meantime am avidly following Fodors. Thank you.
cindyjo is offline  
Feb 15th, 2013, 08:42 AM
  #5  
 
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Cindy, as a fellow Seattle-ite, I know what you mean about ferries.

You'll love the E&O and it will be great for Christmas. Singapore has gotten SO expensive! This would be a fine time to use any hotel points you have.

It will be a wonderful trip!
Kathie is online now  
Feb 15th, 2013, 01:47 PM
  #6  
 
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Sounds like a great trip!

Although I agree that you should avoid long distance ferries in Indonesia, the ferry between East Java and North Bali is an exception. It's just a short hop (about 20 minutes)and is fairly reliable. There are several crossings daily, used mostly by Indonesian tourists and trucks bringing goods from Java to Bali. Service is suspended during storms and high seas.

This is an acceptable option if you're on the far east coast -- Bromo or Ijen. If you're in Surabaya or Central Java you might as well fly.

Unless you're staying in North Bali, you'll still have to arrange transportation to Ubud or the Southern beaches. So, the choice between the ferry and flying really depends where you're coming from and going to.
marmot is offline  
Feb 15th, 2013, 07:13 PM
  #7  
 
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Another option for Bangkok to Penang and on to KL and even Singapore is the train. Either the regular train, or the pricey Orient Express.

See http://www.seat61.com/Malaysia.htm#
and http://www.orient-express.com/web/eo...al_express.jsp
thursdaysd is offline  
Feb 15th, 2013, 07:36 PM
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i have used air asia for those flights fr bkk to k/l and penang..

clove hall is a very nice small place in penang
rhkkmk is offline  
Feb 16th, 2013, 05:46 AM
  #9  
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It looks as we can get a,flight from Vientiane with Nokair at 07:15 and then a 14:10 with Airasia to Penang, the Thai Airways flight is an evening flight. Laos Air was twice the price of Nokair for V to B.

We planned on the train once we are in Maylasia. we like trains and prefer if there isn't a time crunch. I did research seat61's article on train and it seems reasonable especially with a stop in Penang, KL and Singapore.

Thus far Clove Hall comes in quite a bit above the early special the E&O is offering. I understand why, it is a gorgeous place.

Re ferry. We do,plan to end our trip in eastern Java to,see Bromo so thought the ferry would be comvenient but this part of the trip is still a bit foggy for me. Kathie, your Java trip report sparked our interest in extending the trip to include Java.

I have just started looking at Airbnb for rentals near Ubud. Most of them are out of the city center, is this a bad thing?

We originally were planning a 3 month South America trip but changed our focus in order to meet up with our daughter and family in Asia. They are taking a 10 month around the world adventure with their 2 eleven year olds. Thailand was the best place to meet meshing our trip time. We will be rooming together in Chiang Mai for a week and then most likely meeting up again in LP before they continue on round the world!
cindyjo is offline  
Feb 16th, 2013, 07:00 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: May 2006
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Looks like a great trip. Makes me wish we were going with you.

This may require more of a change in your plan than you want to deal with but your travel dates begin right at the time of Ok Phansa, which marks the end of the rainy season and Buddhist Lent. The holiday is celebrated with boat races and festivities all along the Mekong River (and other locales) in Thailand and Lao. You might want to look into where and when some of these festivals are scheduled and consider working some into your plan. We did that in October 2010 and had one of our best trips ever to SE-Asia. See http://www.se-asiatravel.com/thailan...hailand-isaan/ for a report of that trip and links to several videos of different festivals.

Also, rather than going by train all the way from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in one pass, consider a stop of a day or two in Sukhothai, the ancient capital of Siam. It’s roughly half way between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Phitsanulok is the location of the nearby train station you would use and is the home of Wat Yai, where you can see the Phra Buddha Chinnarat, a gold-plated Buddha image that is considered by many to be the 2nd most beautiful Buddha in all of Thailand (after only the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok.)

IMHO, you could steal a day or two from Siem Reap to free up the time for this stop. You can see quite a bit of the Central Angkor and surrounding temple sites in visit of 3-4 nights. Also, Bangkok to Sukhothai is a relatively inexpensive flight and you could easily fly REP to BKK to THS in one day saving you an overnight in Bangkok.

With all the planning you’ve obviously done, I’m sure you have looked into the Discovery Airpass offered by Bangkok Air but if not, you should check it out. The routing includes many of the locations in your plan including between BKK and Singapore (but with a stop in Samui).

If you do make it to Bali, look into spending a little time up in the northern mountains around Munduk. We found it to be a magical place.
mediakzar is offline  
Feb 16th, 2013, 07:51 AM
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we love alam shanti near ubud... many of the nice places are just outside town..AS runs an on demand free shuttle to downtown areas, i.e. restaurants..

gangga and yumma are the best rooms and worth the extra $$
rhkkmk is offline  
Feb 16th, 2013, 02:32 PM
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"I have just started looking at Airbnb for rentals near Ubud. Most of them are out of the city center, is this a bad thing?"

It's just a matter of preference. The town of Ubud has a lot of appeal -- restaurants, shops, performance venues. Personally, after about an hour of battling tourists, traffic and Ubud's impossible so-called sidewalks, I'm always relieved to get out of town.

The countryside is lush, beautiful and serene. You can wander around the rice paddies and little villages or just sit on your balcony and soak up the green. Most resorts will offer shuttles into Ubud, and most likely you'll be touring different areas anyway.

I would also agree with the above poster that the Munduk area is full of charm. If you do end up taking the ferry from East Java this would be a good place for your first stop in Bali.
marmot is offline  
Feb 16th, 2013, 07:12 PM
  #13  
 
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cindyjo, your itinerary sounds wonderful! I hope it all went smoothly and that you had a lovely reunion with your extended family.

I noticed your remark about meeting with your daughter's family. I would love to hear more about their trip, too -- we are about 6 weeks away from leaving on a 5 month RTW with 2 ten year olds! Do they have a blog or posts I might read somewhere? We just started our blog today: www.yourturn.ca/thebigtrip and our Twitter account @thebigtrippers so you could send that onto her if you think she might like to get in touch.
Jaysfan is offline  
Feb 16th, 2013, 09:02 PM
  #14  
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Some really good advice moving us toward tweaking our trip a bit.

Mediakzar, thanks for the link to your trip blog. Really enjoying it. We will stop in Sukhouthai before moving on to Chiang Mai. Any thoughts on where to spend the night?
Unfortunately we arrive in Bangkok Oct. 20 which I think is ok phansa. Also, thanks for the suggestion of Munduk. Also adding this to the plan.

Rhkkmk, will look for Alam Shanti.

Marmot, peace and quiet - i think that will be how we want to end this trip so am encouraged to find a rental outside of Ubud proper.

Thursdaysd, we love trains and the idea of Bangkok to Malaysia is exciting. Have looked at the Seat61 info. We will be coming from Ventiane and earliest flight is 07:15 putting us in Bangkok at 12:50. The current schedule for the international express leaves at 2:45. Seems like that might be cutting it close. So,if train is elected, may have to spend a night in Bangkok.

Jaysfan, our trip starts next October. Our daughter leaves in September. I sent her the link to your blog. Do you have an email I could pass to her. I am sure she would like share info.

Thanks again for all the good advice.
cindyjo is offline  
Feb 17th, 2013, 05:41 AM
  #15  
 
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Have you looked at taking the night train from Vientiane? (Not from Vientiane itself, but it's easy to get to it from there - seat61 again.) That would get you into Bangkok early in the morning. I've taken that train a couple of times and it's quite comfortable (in second class, too). Only problem would be back-to-back night trains - don't know whether Bangkok station has showers.
thursdaysd is offline  
Feb 17th, 2013, 10:34 AM
  #16  
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thursdaysd, will investigate the night train.

spent the morning online and have confirmed a booking at the Clover Hotel in Singapore. Not surprisingly, many hotels are already sold out for NYE week. This seemed to be the best of the lot in or near our price range. online pix and reviews look ok and actually like the look of the place with Streetview. According to Google Maps it is only an 8 minute to Bugis MRT. Also made the reserve at E&O in Penang. A splurge for us but can anticipate how lovely it will be after the train from Bangkok! Will they laugh at us coming in bedraggled with our packs???

Have decided to catch the 2pm train to KL so will extend KL to 3 nights. Any suggestions for a hotel. This is approaching a part of the trip I have not researched very well. Moderate price.

rhkkmk, is alam shanti in Ubud proper? can't quite figure that our by website.

Thanks.
cindyjo is offline  
Feb 17th, 2013, 01:19 PM
  #17  
 
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yes it is just on the other side of monkey forrest from the town...

i can't imagine taking any of those trains when air travel is sooo cheap...

we stayed at the imperial (starwoods) and were very happy---cash and pts...
rhkkmk is offline  
Feb 17th, 2013, 01:52 PM
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mediakzar, where did you stay in Munduk?
marmot is offline  
Feb 17th, 2013, 05:32 PM
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Cindy Jo, I firmly believe that a crucial component for your trip success would be to treat your beloved daughter, son-in-law and grandkids to a luxury resort on a Thailand beach. (;
Greens43 is offline  
Feb 17th, 2013, 07:54 PM
  #20  
 
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So glad you enjoyed the blog. If you navigate a bit on the same site, you will find some links to Bali as well.

In Munduk we stayed at the Puri Lumbung Balinese Cultural Hotel. The accommodations there are 2-story Dutch Colonial style cottages, constructed of teak with woven bamboo floors and walls. The cottages are set in the middle of pools of water and rice paddies. The views in every direction were spectacular and the staff was as kind as humanly possible. It is also a good source for local tours.

In Suhothai, we stayed at the Tharaburi Resort. We had read that it was a nice hotel but our experience exceeded our expectations. One of the reasons we selected it was the close proximity to the Old City. FYI…We were able to get a better rate contacting the hotel directly by email than what we saw listed on their web page.
mediakzar is offline  

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