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Honeymoon- February 2010- Thailand/Malaysia/Laos/???

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Sep 28th, 2009, 01:47 PM
  #1
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Honeymoon- February 2010- Thailand/Malaysia/Laos/???

Hello,
We are planning on taking about a 2 week honeymoon from NYC in late February/March (flexible on dates, but January is not possible). I feel overwhelmed by the choices in SE Asia. Thailand looks beautiful, but we feel it's too built up/touristy. I definitely want to spend some time at an Elephant Camp, so I thought we would enjoy Chiang Rai but it looks like we could do this in Laos.
We like light hiking, jungles, animals, could do a few beach/pool days but we are not intersted in Phuket etc or a beach only place. We also are not intersted in Bangkok, KL etc for more than a day. We prefer nature to temples/culture or a built up resort area. We do not want to be 'roughing' it really- budget - pref no more than $400 a night USD.

Places that look intersting to us are:
-Chiang Rai
-Chiang Mai (only at the recommendation of friends who honeymooned in Thailand)
-Borneo (monkeys)
-Kota Kimbalu
-Langkawi
-Hanoi
-Luang Prabang
-Chengdu in china (only for the Pandas)
Any thoughts, suggestions, etc GREATLY appreciated!!!!
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Sep 28th, 2009, 02:55 PM
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If jungles and animals are high on your list, your should seriously consider Malaysian Borneo. If you click on my name, under trip reports you'll find my report on Borneo. The Danum Valley is the best place to go, which means the Borneo Rainforest Lodge. Kota Kinabalu is a rather gritty town, not someplace you want to spend a lot of time, but it is your entry point to Sabah. You can go to Mount Kinabalu and even climb it if you want, but if you go, do go there first before the BRL, otherwise you'll find it disappointing. You can also fly to Kuching and take in Bako as well. If you want a couple of days of beach time, you can do so either outside of Kota Kinabalu or near Kuching. Two weeks would be a nice amount of time to spend in the area.

There are many wild animals to be seen in this area. The orangutans, of course can only be seen here, but there are wild elephants, leopards, many kinds of monkeys, etc.

Since you quote prices in US$, I am assuming you are from the US. To get to Kota Kinabalu, you'll need to go through Kuala Lumpur or Singapore.
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Sep 28th, 2009, 06:39 PM
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There is a Le Meridien in Kota Kinabalu- that should be ok (and we have a lot of starwood points). It looks like february would be a good time to go as well. What do you think of a week in Borneo and then a stop in Chiang Mai or Langkawi? We would not climb Kinabalu. I will look for your trip reports. How many nights would you spend in the rainforest lodge- 3?
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Sep 28th, 2009, 07:53 PM
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The Le Meridien should be just fine. It's the city itself I found a bit disappointing. Yes, I'd recommend three nights at the BRL. Then consider some of the other places to view wildlife in Sabah or Sarawak. Kuching is a charming city, very walkable. And you can go to Bako from there.

Frankly, if it were me (and it isn't) I'd spend all of my time in Malaysia. There is lots to see and do and it's far less touristed than either Chiang Mai or Langkawi. Langkawi is really just a beach resort area, nothing else to do there. Chaing Mai? Well, I love Thailand, I have been there many times and CM is my least favorite place I've visited. Now some people love it - it's just that I don't. It's a huge, sprawling city with no public transportation (so traffic is unavoidable, unlike Bangkok, where there are a variety of public transport options) and lots of particulates in the air (they still burn their trash). I know it's billed as the gateway to the countryside, but CM is not the countryside.

If you want to spend time with elephants, I'd suggest the Anantara at the Golden Triangle, a lovely resort which has a division of The Thai Elephant Conservation Camp on the grounds. However, getting there is an issue. You'd have to fly from Kota Kinabalu or Kuching to Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, then onward to Bangkok then to Chaing Rai, then an hour transfer to the Anantara. The only places that are one stop away from Kota Kinabalu or Kuching are Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. So save the Anantar for your next trip.

When you go to this part of the world, you have to decide just how much time you want to spend in transit. After all, you've flown at least 18 hours just to get to KL or Singapore. Choosing to stay in one general area and to limit the number of stops you make will increase your enjoyment of the trip.

Photos: www.marlandc.com click on Borneo
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Sep 28th, 2009, 09:30 PM
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If you don’t want “built up/touristy places” then IMO you need to remove a few places from your itin. The first would be IMO Langkawi, which is a purpose-built beach resort destination with basically nothing but big hotels. I would also say going all the way in winter to Chengdu to see the pandas would be quite a haul for probably a disappointing trip (you need to see them in nature, not at a zoo. Go the National Zoo in Washington DC if you want to see pandas in a zoo.). The Chinese visa alone will cost you US$100, and you probably won’t find any non-stops from SE Asian cities but will have to go through Beijing or Shanghai, which is going to take a chunk out of a 2-week itin. Not to mention how cold it will be in Feb and March in Chengdu. Finally, I think you may also find that any “elephant camp” is going to be quite on the touristy side. If you can do an overnight trek by elephant, this may be a better, less touristy option. I would agree that Laos may be the preferred place for this. I wish I had some suggestions, but perhaps this board or Lonely Planet may offer some.

I would note that the Lunar New Year (i.e. “Chinese” new year and Tet in Vietnam) will be celebrated from Feb. 14 -16 in 2010. This may not make a huge difference to the places on your itin so far, other than Chengdu of course. You may find hotels and flights to be more booked up and/or expensive during this time; esp. in Luang Prabang and at resorts in Langkawi and possibly Kinablu, all of which are quite popular with expats in Asia who don’t need to stay home with family for the holiday, like the Chinese or Vietnamese. Your itin does not currently include any place other than Hanoi or Chengdu where you will see big celebrations, so if you want to see the festivities, you would need to include a place like Singapore or Hong Kong or other parts of the PRC. Or stay longer in Vietnam. In those places you may have some closures of shops, restaurants and some tourist sites during that time, so bear that in mind. But generally it is a very interesting time to be in one of those places as there are special markets, decorations, food and often fireworks.

I would also actually say to avoid Hanoi, which is quite a built up city, and if you want to go to Vietnam, concentrate on much smaller places like Hue, Hoi An and/or then interior places around Sapa. These places would give you a good mix of nature and history (and chock a block with temples), especially a place like Hue which has river, mountains and beaches in addition to historical sights. I just spend Sunday afternoon bicycling inside the walls of the old imperial citadel in Hue and it was delightful; basically no cars only other bikes and motorbikes, and I was the only tourist I saw in more than 2 hours of riding. Tons of great street life. This is not something that is easy to do in Hanoi. (Definitely avoid Ho Chi Minh as it would not seem to match your interests).

I generally agree that Borneo may be a good choice in terms of the ability to see nature and animals. (I think you meant to refer to orang utans there, not just “monkeys” which you can find wild virtually anywhere, including here in Hong Kong.) I find it odd that you like hiking, but would give up the chance to climb Mt Kinablu which in the low rain season in Feb would probably offer the best views of any time of year. Taman Negara rain forest may on the mainland may also be of interest to you.

I also have to say that although you seen to want to avoid cites, that in Feb in Singapore there is a very special Hindu holiday call Thaipusam. It is only celebrated in Singapore and in the Batu Caves in Malaysia not far from KL. This holiday includes firewalkers and people carrying huge headdresses attached by skewers to their skin. It is something to see, and would seem to fit your interests. It is generally in mid-Feb to early March, but it moves depending on the moon phase, so check something like the tourism authority website in Singapore and see if they have posted it. You could fly into or out of Singapore from the US as part of the trip, and there are non-stop options available which are quite attractive. If Thaipusam coincided with the Lunar New Year, then Singapore might be quite interesting to you. You could also go to the Batu Caves in Malaysia, but I think you will find observing the festivities from this location to be difficult compared to Singapore where devotees parade between temples. Singapore has great food, lots of little ethnic neighborhoods to explore, a very good zoo (if you want to see animals in captivity it at least is a good one) as well as some smaller nature reserve areas in the north which are good for birding.

I also have to say that if you like hiking, I personally would include Hong Kong which has many excellent trails in mountainous terrain and include stunning sea and beach vistas. They are well-marked in English and you don’t need a guide, which is hard to say of hiking in other places. Also the ability to get to and from these trails by public transport is very convenient. While the city parts of Hong Kong are definately built up, the place is about 40% reserved parkland where you can be far away from the city. February would be a far better month for this than March, although February here is generally cool and a bit foggy (although last year was dry and sunny so it’s a matter of luck to some degree). It’s a very interesting place to be for Lunar New Year, we have great fireworks in the harbour and there are special markets like the Flower Market that are fun to visit.
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Sep 29th, 2009, 01:11 AM
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In thinking about your interests, I would say that “animals” would include undersea creatures, and so if you are in Malaysia, you should take advantage of the superb diving in the area, in particular in Sipidan, but there are other good areas off of Borneo which you could consider like Layang Layang, which is well-known for Hammerhead sharks. (Sipidan is fantastic diving, but permits to access the underwater park are quite restricted, so bear this in mind.) There is good snorkeling too to a degree here and elsewhere, but I would say take diving lessons now and be certified for the trip as you really can see much more even just at 30 feet than you can snorkeling; and there are other great diving destinations in SE Asia and world-wide and this is a life-long sport which can add greatly to your holidays. IMO the best Malaysian snorkeling is on the east coast of the mainland of Malaysia, but not in Feb and March which is the rainy season there. You could also consider diving in islands south of Laos like Koh Samet or Koh Chang in Thailand. (I have not been but others have posted, do some searching.)

Also, I just did some research, and it appears that Thaipusam will be celebrated on January 30 (I would say give or take a day on either end but close to that date.) I should mention that if you don’t see this in Singapore, you could watch part of the festivities in Kuala Lumpur, as some devotees start their pilgrimage to the caves from there. That may be easier than trying to get to the caves themselves, as several hundred thousand other people will be trying to do the same. (I have not been to the Batu Caves during Thaipusam, so can’t say for sure, but given their size and location, and the fact that I know about a million people attend, I think watching them from the caves area would be not as rewarding due to the huge crowds.)
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Sep 29th, 2009, 11:53 AM
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Thanks so much for the wonderful responses. I should clarify a bit regarding cities. We live in Manhattan, so prefer to vacation in a more relaxing setting. However we have enjoyed visiting many european cities (most recently Moscow) and loved Tokyo. We hated Cairo. I have heard good things about Sinagpore, but have been told Bangkok and KL are somewhat loud, polluted, congested etc. I don't think they compare to Tokyo (please correct me if I am wrong).
I did not know about hiking in Hong Kong- that sounds great. HK is an easy place for us to begin or end since there are non-stops to NYC. Chengdu doesn't seem too cold in Feb/March for us (remember it will be around 15 degrees farenheit in ny) but the visa is a pain. Maybe save China for another trip.
Kathie, thanks for the honest opinion of Chiang Mai. I had 2 friends who enjoyed chiang mai and chiang rai most in Thailand. Maybe Borneo would be enough. When I say we like hiking, I mean light, not too strenuous hikes- nothing requiring special gear...i read climbing Mount Kimbalu is somewhat challenging.
I will do some more research on vietnam...are there good flight connections from malaysia to smaller cities in Vietnam or must I go to KL and then to Ho Chi Min City?

Also- our other honeymoon option (we are leaning towards southeast asia) is South Africa. I know this isn't the right board but if anyone has also been to SA and can compare and contrast....
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Sep 29th, 2009, 11:56 AM
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Forgot to ask- would you pair borneo rainforest lodge with 3 nights at Shangri La Rasa Ria (for a little relaxation and orangutans?) or is that a bit redundant?
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Sep 29th, 2009, 12:24 PM
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I wouldn't pair the BRL with Rasa Ria - it will be a disappointment after being in the rainforest. If you want a beach, the other Shangri-La would be better. Generally, people say the beach is better and you have the option to go into KK for a meal or shopping if you what, as opposed to being isolated at the Rasa Ria.

People like different things. People could say that Manhattan is "somewhat loud, polluted, congested" but it would still be a fabulous place with all kinds of things to see and do. Bangkok is my favorite city in the world. KL is ok for a couple of days, but IMO it doesn't have a lot. Hong Kong and Singapore are both good stopover cities; both have a lot to offer.

If you want to go to VN, you'll have to fly through KL or Singapore from Kota Kinabalu, then through HCMC or Hanoi. The logistics will take up a lot of time.

I'd really encourage you to restrict the number of stops you plan so that you have time to experience the places you've chosen. Remember each of the places you've named have very different cultures. If you hop from one place to another, you'll never have the chance to absorb any of it.

In general, figure it will take you most of a day to get from one place to another from checking out of one hotel into another. So when you think of spening, say, three nights somewhere, you really only have two full days.

Count up how many days you'll have on the ground in Asia. Two weeks often means just 12 days on teh gorund. In twelve days, I'd choose three stops. So if you opt for Borneo, the BRL, the beach and a day or two in KK would count for two stops under my system, and you could add a stopover in Hong Kong or Singapore. Which city you choose will liikely depend on airline routing. Singapore Air is perhaps the best airline in the world, and if you fly with htem, they often offer great stopover packages in Singapore with wonderful hotel deals. Opting for Singapore would reduce the amount of time you spend connecting from place to place and thereby make your logistics much easier.
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Sep 29th, 2009, 12:52 PM
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Personally, in SE Asia, my vote would have been for Langkawi also. But you were asking about South Africa. Cape Town would be a strong contender for the most stunning city in the world, the nearby winelands are beautiful and, as in Thailand and Malaysia, you dollar will go a long way. Combining that with a safari to somewhere like Kruger National Park would be a pretty unforgettable trip. The wildlife in SE Asia is remarkable, but nothing compares with an African safari and seeing lions, elephants and, if you're lucky, leopards in their natural surroundings - it's both jaw-dropping and humbling. Some of the safari lodges can be pretty damn romantic as well!
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Sep 29th, 2009, 01:18 PM
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I personally don't think Kl and BKK are comparable. IMHO KL is a bit to "Western" where as BKK manages to retain more of its eastern flair
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Sep 29th, 2009, 07:40 PM
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I was actually going to suggest at the end of my post that you consider South Africa, as it may fit your interests better. I went there on my first trip in March and thought it was just awesome. Feb and March are going to be the rainier season, so bear that in mind, see weather websites and read guidebooks (there are guidebooks just on choosing the right type of safari and right park for you; the literature on travel in Africa generally is expansive. You can even do walking safaris or alternate jeep drives with walks). Due to the rains, the grass is higher and other vegetation is thicker than in the other months, so spotting things like cats sitting low in the grass can be quite tricky. Bigger game are of course easy to spot. I don't think there is a lot of flooding or anything, but most people consider this the low season due to rain and the harder time you may have spotting game. However, despite some concern on my part about going in the rainy season (this was the only month which worked for my sisters who were travelling with me), we had excellent weather in March, so I can’t complain, we may have been just lucky however. The plus side also is that Feb March are just about the best time of year in Cape Town and that area like the Garden Route, as fog is less and winds are lower. (High winds can shut down the ferries to Robben Island.) You should also get better deals on hotels as it is the low season. I agree that Cape Town is a great city and you can spend time in the adjacent wine country which is very beautiful and has vineyards for wine tasting, colonial Dutch architecture and some excellent restaurants. When you start reading about all that there is to see and do in SA you may be even more confused!

It is a hard toss up between South Africa and SE Asia. They are so different. But if animals are really the focus of your trip, then you may want to consider it. You can also consider places like Uganda for chimps (but watch weather there, as rains are heavier further north of SA at that time. We ruled out Botswana, which was our first choice, due to the potential for more rain there in Feb/March).

To answer some of your specific questions:

1. Please do not compare any Asian city outside of Japan with any city in Japan, other than perhaps Korea. It is impossible to do so. Japan is clean and organized on a scale that can’t be match elsewhere, including most “western” nations (nor do I understand how they do it.) If you don’t like noise, traffic, disorganization bordering sometimes on chaos and a good bit of just plain dirt, then please don’t come to SE Asia. Even the small villages are going to have quite a bit of that. Go to Switzerland. My philosophy on living here is that a lotus grows in the mud.

2. No special gear or hiking ability is necessary for Mt Kinabalu. It is mostly just tons of stairs. If you are relatively fit, these won’t really be an issue. Going down is the harder part because there are so many stairs. But it is not difficult technically, you don’t need crampons and won’t be attached to ropes or anything. Lots of people in surprisingly bad shape make this climb without any problems from what I have seen.

3. Bangkok is crowded and can have traffic, but it is hard, IMO, to think of a more interesting city (and I live in Hong Kong which is pretty darn interesting). From a cultural, spiritual, food and wow factor aspect, this city is hard to beat. Bangkok offers so much to see and do. The pollution, compared to other SE Asian cities, is not that bad, and I would not put that down as a reason not to go (unlike Shanghai). Remember, this is not Japan.

4. Kuala Lumpur is not really that interesting when you compare it to other Asian cities, to be frank. It has few tourist sites compared to other cities. It actually is relatively unpolluted and traffic is not that bad compared to places like Jakarta or Mumbai or even Bangkok at times. The people, however, are wonderful and the food is excellent. (I could not agree less that KL is more "western"; you need to look beyond the obvious of the modern buildings and get an understanding of how the people have adapated this to their culture.) But you can experience that outside of KL. With only 2 weeks, I would concentrate on countryside areas.

5. I don’t think you will find that there are many flight connections between KL and Vietnam other than to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, which may be fine as you can either connect to internal flights or go via car or train from there. See Air Asia which is a local Malaysian low-cost carrier, at http://www.airasia.com/site/hk/en/home.jsp. However, there are also some good connections via Singapore to secondary cities like DaNang (on Silk Air which is Singapore Air’s “domestic” carrier), which means you could bypass cities. See http://www.silkair.com/mbe/en_UK/ . Silk Air also flies to Borneo as well as Siem Reap (if you wanted to go to Ankor Wat which we all probably should have mentioned as a destination that might fit your interests. There is a Silk Air flight which connects through Siem Reap which might be good way to include both.) There are connections to major cities from Hong Kong as well.

On China, it’s not so much the cold in Chengdu, it’s the fact that you would need to bring completely different clothes given that all your other destinations are tropical, and you would only use them for the few days you are in Chengdu. Also, going all the way to China and only going to Chengdu would be a waste IMO. I agree to skip it; save that for an anniversary trip!! (You don’t need a visa for Hong Kong, by the way; only the PRC mainland.)
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Sep 30th, 2009, 06:11 AM
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Cicerone, Thanks SO much for all the help. Maybe we will consider South Africa more seriously. SE Asia seems safer- though most reports I've heard say Cape Town is fairly safe. SE Asia also seems less expensive for more luxury- granted we can take a trip to S. Africa and not spend much, but for a fancier experience it seems MUCH more expensive than SE Asia. The hotels in Thailand, Bali, Malaysia are very reasonably priced (to us at least).
I agree with everyone who says not to bother with Chengdu...i have always LOVED pandas, but it is not worth the time or hassle to get a visa.

We are completely ok with dirt, traffic, etc and live in it every day, but my fiancee is asthmatic so was uncomfortable in Cairo due to the poor air quality. I like to spend a few days in a city at least on a vacation to wander through little neighborhoods and attempt to see the local culture- we just won't have the time to spend more than a day or two. Bangkok seems to have more in the way of sights- we are not interested in the Petronas towers at all.

What did you think of the beaches in Cape Town? This is certainly not meant to be a beach vacation, but a day or two might be nice to relax. I know it's not the best season for safari- the weather is why I ruled it out (along with Bali) originally, but I'm sure we would still see plenty of game. It would also be a good time to visit Victoria Falls then.

Decisions decisions...
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Sep 30th, 2009, 07:51 AM
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You are right about costs. You can travel in luxury in Thailand for the price of mediocre hotels in the US and a room the size of a shoebox in Europe.
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Sep 30th, 2009, 09:26 AM
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I was looking into this thread because we are considering a trip to Malaysia in November. However, if you love wildlife....my favorite trip of all time was our African safari. We did Botswana, Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls, and Cape Town. I would go back in a heartbeat! We were considering Nambia this year in the hopes that we could include a few days in Cape Town on our return trip. The animals are wonderful and you can visit more than one camp to have a variety of animals and lodging. The most exciting stay was the tented camp and I would highly recommend a few days in Cape Town. It is a lovely city and is also surrounded by excellent wine country (which we visited for two days and one night). Based on my travels in Southeast Asia (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, southern China, Vietnam)....I don't think anything compares with a safari. Put Capetown at the end but I think you will find an African trip gives you excitement and relaxation combined!
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Sep 30th, 2009, 09:33 AM
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ka...but safari is quite expensive, much more than SEA hotels, but you do have the animals...i'm going in two weeks and really looking forward to it, but i yearn more for thailand which i will visit again in november...
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Sep 30th, 2009, 04:07 PM
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Thanks for the reply ka. How long were you there? I do not think I could afford that long of a safari- both time and $ wise. My problem with safari is that I think after 2 days, I will want to do something else. It seems that in SE Asia you can spend 3 days in Borneo, a day or two at a beach, then maybe a different environment....all with easy access to airports. But a safari is a once in a lifetime type experience. Certain African countries are off limits to me since I can not be vaccinated for yellow fever unfortunately....luckily not south africa!
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Oct 1st, 2009, 05:59 AM
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WE stayed at Camp's Bay in Cape Town, which is a very safe, very smart beachside district 10 mins from downtown. It's got a kind of Miami Beach-type vibe, packed with really excellent bars and restaurants. Eating out is very, very inexpensive, and you'll be amazed at the quality, especially the seafood. The wine is first rate too and, if you're more of a beer kind of guy, a bottle of local Castle was less than £1. Our trip was in March and the weather was fabulous, perfect for lazing on the beach or by the pool. Incidentally, I'd be surprised if you got bored after just two days on safari. Don't get me wrong, I Love the Far East but, for a honeymoon, SA is an unforgettable destination.
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Oct 1st, 2009, 07:54 PM
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I thought the beaches in Cape town were beautiful, but water is cold even in summer (when you would be there, Feb and March are summer going into fall) and the current can be strong. But you can kayak with the penguins in Boulder’s Beach and you also don’t necessarily have to swim at any beach, just enjoy it. There are wild empty beaches outside the city and then the more typical local/tourist beaches in places like Bantry Bay and Camp’s Bay complete with restaurants and shops. I thought the beaches around Kommetjie Lighthouse were especially lovely and unpopulated, and Llandudno Beach was just stunning, hardly a person on it, and great sand and waves amid the big rocks. The area had some lovely homes. I thought that the area in the Cape of Good Hope had some really lovely empty beaches as well,we took a picnic lunch on our day there.

You could also go someplace like Rocktail Bay north of Durban on the coast, which we had originally included but had to rule out due to timing issues. That is supposed to have very pretty beaches and then you can do some diving/snorkeling and wildlife touring as well. There is Rocktail Bay Lodge and Rocktail Beach Camp. See http://www.rocktailbay.com/. These are more rustic from what I understand than the luxury camps, but seems to get good reviews.

The crime in SA is really only in the cities, when you are in the camps it is not an issue at all. (And the crime also generally tends to go more toward buglaries than robberies on the street, ask local people about the precautions they take in their own homes and with their vehicles, they may surprise you; I have a friend who lived there for several years.) And in the cities you just use reasonable precautions. I never felt unsafe in Cape Town.

I agree you may spend more per night at a camp as opposed to a SE Asian hotel, but remember that all your meals and activities are included in the camp, which is not the case with a hotel. And there are camps in the lower ranges, get guidebooks and search on the Africa board here. While the luxury camps are wonderful, I am sure that there are perfectly good options in the more middle range.

With the asthma, I think your fiancé would be OK in Asia provided he avoided cities like Shangahi and Beijing where the smog is quite bad. I don’t think you would find an issue in Bangkok and not in KL at all (but of course that is no reason to go to KL). But perhaps others who have similar asthma issues can give specific comments on their experiences.

I have to say that I would not rule out Bali because of the weather. Bali is one of the few places, IMO, where the weather is irrelevant to the experience. First of all, you don’t go there for the beaches, which are pretty, but average, and much lovelier ones can be found elsewhere (like the Caribbean). You go for the culture which is not affected by weather, and the geography which in some cases can be made more beautiful by the rain (this is part of the Bali magic, IMO). I normally am a person who counsels to avoid places in bad weather (read my other posts on this, it is a common theme of mine, for example March in Hong Kong is mostly crappy), but would not at all say this about Bali. Walking through the green, green rice paddies in the rain with a banana leaf for an umbrella is one of my favourite things to do in Bali. And on a honeymoon, the sound of falling rain on yur villa rooftop on a lazy afternoon may be just what the doctor ordered to finally relieve that wedding stress….You may be limited a bit in terms of animal viewing there (unless again you take up scuba diving), but the music, painting and sculpture, dance, food, religion and other aspects of the Balinese experience would more than make up for it. You could also rent a villa (with staff!) for a good price and have a different experience from a hotel. See http://www.vrbo.com/ which has numerous offerings; I have always been curious about Villa Jepun which comes with its own boat and skipper!! http://www.villajepun.com/. You could also try http://www.laksmanavillas.com/villajemma/index.html. This is a compound of several villas of varying sizes and prices. I have rented Villa Jemma with friends. You could also rent a house with a pool inland in the hill area of Ubud and enjoy some really beautiful rice paddie views.

But I would agree that the other places on yoru list are generally in dry weather in March, so if no rain is one of yoru criteria, then Thailand, Borneo and Vietnam would be good choices.
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Oct 2nd, 2009, 09:09 AM
  #20
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 279
Thanks for the advice. It seems like South Africa might be more "worth it" and contained. To me, Borneo is the other place that seems spectacular. I did some more research on Vietnam and Halong Bay, Hue and Hoi An seem like they would be enjoyable, but maybe on a second trip to SE Asia. In Borneo would we also be able to see (and interact with) elephants? As touristy as it may be, one of the appeals of northern Thailand was the elephant camps. I know on a safari in south africa we would be watching them only from a distance.

I have also been using the UNESCO list as a guide. Ideally, we'd go to KK, Chaing Rai, LP, Hong Kong and Hoi An, but that won't be possible on this trip - I like to spend at least 2 nights in a place.
It has not come up, but is Penang worth researching for our trip?
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