Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Asia
Reload this Page > Hong Kong / Bangkok / Seoul / Tokyo
Notices

Hong Kong / Bangkok / Seoul / Tokyo

Reply

Jun 19th, 2016, 08:44 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 5
Hong Kong / Bangkok / Seoul / Tokyo

Good Evening!

This is my first time posting here so forgive me if I fail at any forum etiquette! I have a question that I've struggled to find online. I'm a man in a same-sex partnership and we're looking to travel to Asia for his birthday in late October. He's 26 & I'm 28. He's decided on venturing out into international travel and he has an ambitious first trip in mind.

We're looking at a 12-14 trek through Hong Kong, Bangkok, Seoul & Tokyo. I've been struggling to find the best way to actually plan the trip. The best idea I came up with is buying a string of one way flights and using travel blogs to get an idea of how long to stay in each city. I'm researching visa requirements as well.

I'm concerned about language barriers, cost per day, whether to go the hotel route or look into AirBnB, safety(especially for a same-sex couple), etc.

What's the best way to build this itinerary and what are some resources I could utilize to learn the things that I don't even know I NEED to know (lol) before I start booking flights. Any tips, resources and general advice is welcome. We're coming from the southeast USA if that makes any difference. Thanks a lot!

-Bran
B_Haz3 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 19th, 2016, 09:21 PM
  #2
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 17,154
Welcome to Fodor's!

First and foremost, get some good guidebooks, or consult them at your local library. There really is nothing that serves quite the same purpose, as they cover everything you need to know, even if you don't know to ask.

I haven't been to Hong Kong or Bangkok yet, but Seoul and Tokyo are both easy for Westerners to navigate, and although knowing a few words (the basic civilities) will be of GREAT help, you should be able to manage well with just English.

Are you thinking 12 to 14 days? If so, I would cut AT LEAST one destination from your wish list. You will lose a chunk of time to transportation, checking and and out of hotels, getting oriented, etc. If you cut to just 3 cities, once you count transportation etc., you would probably have about 3 days per city, which would (I think) be pretty much bare minimum for a highlights-only visit.

That said, how much time to spend in any one location really varies from person to person and depends on interests and preferences. My recommendation would be to identify the things you most want to see in each location by consulting guidebooks, reading trip reports and planing threads, etc.. Then check opening/closing times on the internet, and mark them on a calendar. Then pencil in your transportation, add some time on either side (for getting to/from your lodging, checking in/out, packing/unpacking, getting oriented, etc.). Then see how things fit together.

I could be very much mistaken, but I would seriously doubt that one-way flights would be the way to go. Not only are they expensive, but they also raise lots of security flags. Use "multi-city" flight searches, and definitely plan on flying out of a different city than the one into which you fly.

Hope that helps!
kja is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 20th, 2016, 05:19 AM
  #3
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 5
Thanks KJA! I appreciate your feedback.

I'm going to look into the "multi-city" search and see where that leaves us. And yeah, 3 different cities might be the best way to go. 4 stops in that time frame did seem like we were pushing it. I'm considering dropping Seoul, but we'll see....!

I'm gonna look into some guidebooks asap. Any must do's in Tokyo (and Seoul in the event it still makes the list? Thanks!)
B_Haz3 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 20th, 2016, 06:11 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 22,513
Welcome to Fodors. kja has given you good advice. I do a lot of my travel planning at Barnes and Noble, reading their guidebooks over a cup of coffee (I do occasionally buy one!). I use the glossy guidebooks - Insight, DK Eyewitness, National Geographic, sometimes Michelin (although no pix) - to help decide where to go. I use Lonely Planet and Rough Guide for logistics, and Fodors and Frommers for additional hotel and restaurant ideas. Lonely Planet has info specifically for gay and lesbian travelers.

Definitely look for multi-city fares for the long haul flights. Try sites like kayak.com to get an idea about prices, then buy from airlines direct. I would not ignore cheap flights in Asia - use skyscanner.com. Be aware that some airlines only post fares about three months out - I am currently waiting on Peach to post for November.

You have come up with a very big-city-centric itinerary, which is a pity, as Asia has so much else to offer. I love traveling in Asia, but those are not my first choice destinations. However, Bangkok is a good first introduction, and also a transport hub. Sleep by the river. then you could consider a Thai island, or go up-country.

I am making my second trip to Japan this year, and will not return to Tokyo, which was my least-favorite place last time (click on my name for my East Asia TR). I would suggest Kyoto instead, but I just got through booking rooms for October, and it is very crowded. Maybe a trip through the Japan Alps to Kanazawa instead. Seoul should be less crowded, consider taking the train to Gyeongju.

For info on trains in Asia see seat61.com - in some countries they are non-existent or bad, but Japan has excellent trains, in Korea and Thailand they are good, and Vietnam's aren't bad.
thursdaysd is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 20th, 2016, 06:14 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 12,402
I would say that that's far too many places to do in 12-14 days. I haven't been to Seoul, Tokyo, or Hong Hong although Hong Kong has been added to the 2016/2017, Asia trip, but I'm gone for 6 weeks; 3 weeks in Bangkok, 2 places in Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

I have done Bangkok, a lot, since the 1990s as that's my #1 destination. But, I combine it with Malaysia and Singapore and I do buy one way tickets; Bangkok-Penang (one way), Penang-KL (one way), Kl-Singapore-(one way), and then pick up my overseas flight in Singapore to fly back to L.A. I've also been down to Indonesia as far as Asia goes.

Thai Air flies to Bangkok and stops in Seoul although I haven't taken that route as I fly Singapore Air which stops in Narita Airport (Japan-Tokyo). I used to take Thai when they stopped in Osaka and also when they had non-stops out of L.A.

I would first sit down and really think about where you absolutely want to go and then map out a flight plan. Personally, I'd only pick 2 countries, but with different areas within two countries. But, you'll have to decide what you want as it's your vacation. Or I'd go Singapore Air to Tokyo, see Tokyo and then Singapore Air on to Singapore (6.5 hour-flight) for a few days and then on to Bangkok on Singapore Air (2.5-hour flight) and return to the U.S., via Singapore. I know that you had not included Singapore, but they can have some really good combination deals. As for accommodations, I've done hotels, serviced apartments, and Airbnb and have had great experiences with all. That you will have to decide on.

Also remember that the weather is different in some of the places on your list. I fly to Bangkok in December and when I get to Narita, it's very cold outside whereas it's summer hot in Bangkok. But, I'm only changing planes so it really doesn't matter and I can just pack, hot-weather clothes for my entire trip. So, when you're packing, consider that. I don't know how the weather is in Tokyo and Hong Kong in October, but Thailand basically has three seasons as far as I'm concerned; hot/hotter/hottest. Smiles. Good luck with your plans.

Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 20th, 2016, 08:54 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 31,780
Good for you venturing off to Asia! I agree with others that the four cities you name is just too much for 12-14 days (and don't forget you will lose a day flying to Asia from the US).

Stop and think about what you want to so/see experience on this trip. I love cities, but that itinerary would be urban overload for me. Take a look at what interests you in these places - what made you choose these cities. That will help you decide which one or ones to cut for this trip and will help you decide how much time you need in each place.

Take a look at weather. October is a difficult (rainy) month in SE Asia, but is lovely in Bali, for instance. October is nice in Japan, though you will be too early for koyo (fall color). The weather website I use for planning is www.weatherbase.com

Consider costs as well. Of the cities you listed, Hong Kong will be by far the most expensive for hotels, Bangkok will be the least expensive. And you raise your expenses each time you change locations.

Pictures can be helpful in deciding, take a look at some of our trip photos at www.marlandc.com

Happy planning!
Kathie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 20th, 2016, 10:35 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 12,101
Hong Kong is a good place to begin your Asian experience, English spoken widely due to former status as a British Colony.
It is easy to get around too, excellent infrastructure, Metro, trams, ferries, even escalators to go up and down the steep hills. Not overwhelming.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 20th, 2016, 03:18 PM
  #8
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 5
Thanks everyone for all of your replies and advice! I'm taking all of the constructive criticism and applying it to our travel notes. He's telling me now that Bangkok was dropped in favor of Singapore and Seoul is cut out now completely. So we're focusing on building an itinerary that includes Hong Kong, Singapore & Tokyo. Now that that's banged out fleshing out the itinerary is going to take some work.

I'm seeing a lot of suggestions stating that the strictly "big city travel" is missing most of the heart of Asia. So I guess it's still in flux to be honest. This is feeling like a massive undertaking and quite overwhelming honestly, so forgive the "new guy" commentary on my end lol!

But between guidebooks, forums, friends who've done it and the wonderful wealth of knowledge online I have confidence that it'll shape up to be an amazing trip however we do it. I grew up kinda nerdy with an "anime phase" in middle school so I'm super excited for Tokyo! It's just hard to figure out what's a must-do, what can be chopped off and how to schedule it all in advance. It just seems massive trying to do it from stateside. But it'll come together. Thanks so much again everyone!
B_Haz3 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 20th, 2016, 04:28 PM
  #9
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 22,513
That is still very city-centric, plus Singapore has a much less Asian feel than Bangkok - I call it Disneyland Asia. Not that it's a bad place to visit, but I don't think it will give you a very good intro to Asia.
thursdaysd is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 20th, 2016, 04:37 PM
  #10
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 31,780
But Thursdays, Singapore is an easy intro to Asia. Everyone (almost) speaks English and the MRT (subway system) is excellent - it can get you anywhere quickly and in air-conditioned comfort. They aren't going to a city that really feels exotic - like Bangkok - but they are getting some variety. Besides, they are young and no doubt will return to Asia many times.
Kathie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 20th, 2016, 04:47 PM
  #11
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 5
Hmmmm... I'm hearing that a lot. Would anyone mind giving some suggestions that are less city centric? Like if you had a beginner Asian trip with 12-14 days to work with, what would be a good jumping off point? I imagined from Tokyo you can take the train to a few other cities to explore Japan. I'm genuinely curious because I'm literally starting from scratch. I've just been doing a lot of reading over the past 24 hours. I'm terrified yet determined.

The closet I've come to leaving America is driving from Seattle to Vancouver, BC and that was a culture shock of epic proportions lol. Only spent 24 hours there just to say we did it.

But thanks for making me aware of something I wasn't considering. All feedback is greatly appreciated!
B_Haz3 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 20th, 2016, 04:50 PM
  #12
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 5
Kathie, I've been looking at your photos and reading about your 2013 trip to Japan. I'm in complete awe! Reading how you got lost has my partner and I a little scared (well, maybe just me lol) but I'm up for the challenge. I appreciate you sharing that information!
B_Haz3 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 20th, 2016, 05:15 PM
  #13
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 12,402
"Bangkok was dropped"

Why?

Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 20th, 2016, 05:22 PM
  #14
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 17,154
You are getting some great advice! I'll add just a few comments:

While your trip is decidedly city-centered, I don't necessarily think of that as a drawback -- my belief is that the best first trip is the one that most appeals, whether that involves only cities or only towns or whatever. And I must admit that although I now usually combine cities with other destinations, I could happily spend months on end in cities. Just my preferences!

As for Singapore, well, I just visited it and must admit that I had to keep reminding myself that I was in Asia. That isn't a criticism; just a comment.

I suspect that most of us know that planning a trip -- especially a first one -- can be daunting. FWIW, I have come to love planning my trips, even though I STILL (after 18 trips of 3-4 weeks each) find it daunting! Well, I enjoy everything except for the part about being realistic and having to cut this and that and the other thing to match my available time. And fair warning: With an aim to see Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo in the same 2 week trip, you WILL end up needing to trim your plans! On the other hand, you will learn all sorts of fascinating things about the places you are thinking of visiting, have a chance to contemplate all sorts of experiences that you might never have thought possible, etc.

Your world may be full of insurmountable challenges opportunities -- and my advice is to embrace them! You can NOT see everything. Live with that. Figure out what you most want to see, do, and experience, letting research with some great guidebooks guide you. (I agree with thursdaysd about the benefits of the ones with high quality photos for early planning.) Take lots of deep breathes. Let yourselves be excited about the wonderful experience you are about to undertake! JMO.
kja is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 20th, 2016, 06:01 PM
  #15
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 12,402
" I'm terrified yet determined"

I think you're overthinking it. When I plan trips, I just jot down some places of interest and then do a calendar type grid on my computer and start plugging the destinations in according to the dates. Then, I add in the accommodations, and then I personally look at flight combinations on Expedia to get an idea as that can be done 24/7. Although I'm sure that others do it differently, that's what has worked for me for 4-plus decades and before the computer I just made a travel grid on the type writer and then called the airlines. I first left for overseas at age 17 and have had to figure it out on my own ever since and have done all of the continents many times over. It will come together, just don't panic and don't overthink it. Just go with the flow.

Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 20th, 2016, 07:08 PM
  #16
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 22,513
I'm more old-fashioned than Guenmai, lol - I print off blank calendar pages and plan on those. In pencil! I just finished planning a three and a half month trip that way. Lots of erasures, but it comes together in the end. Don't forget to allow for travel time, and remember that it takes two nights in a town to get one full day.

I already made some suggestions for combining big city and somewhat smaller city, but if you want to visit three countries that's going to be difficult.
thursdaysd is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 20th, 2016, 08:16 PM
  #17
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 31,780
Please don't let my getting lost in Shinjuku station put you off Japan. I think it is a rite of passage for Japan travelers. So many people have now told me their tales of Shinjuku!

It sounds like you have decided on your cities... as you grapple with flights, hotels, thing to do and see, come back and let us help you.

Once you have planned this trip and experienced Asia for the first time, you will know that you can plan a trip to anywhere.
Kathie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 20th, 2016, 08:55 PM
  #18
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 17,154
Kathie wrote: "Please don't let my getting lost in Shinjuku station put you off Japan. I think it is a rite of passage for Japan travelers."

I planned my time in Tokyo specifically to make sure I avoided Shinjuku. I'm glad I managed to avoid it, even though I think I missed a rite of passage in doing so.
kja is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 21st, 2016, 12:49 AM
  #19
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 12,402
'thursdaysd on Jun 21, 16 at 4:08am
I'm more old-fashioned than Guenmai, lol - I print off blank calendar pages and plan on those.'

LOL! I used to do it that way, but my small, MacBook Air is great and I do the planning on it as then I can add and delete travel plans very easily and quickly. Then, when the calendar and all necessary travel info is finalized, I just print the page, but also leave it on my MacBook as it comes with me anyway. Right now, I'm lying in bed in Copenhagen and am on it.

Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 21st, 2016, 02:13 AM
  #20
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,131
I have a simple Word document with a table in it with columns for date, a column for city we're overnighting, one for any travels that day, another for hotel booking that day, another for dinner or activity bookings and one for general ideas and info for what we might do that day.
Kavey is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:49 PM.