SE Asia - 13 Days for Honeymoon!

Old Jan 2nd, 2019, 01:38 PM
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SE Asia - 13 Days for Honeymoon!

Hi All--

Would love your help as I have tried to plan my trip 6+ times and end up getting rather overwhelmed by it, and I haven't made any decisions.

My wife and I are taking our 2 week long honeymoon in Feb or March of this year - and we want to go to SE Asia.I would love to do two countries, which I know is ambitious, for our honeymoon. We want a mix of beach time and adventure. And we love a bit of "off the beaten path" kind of adventures.

I had initially wanted to go to Thailand and Myanmar but have been advised against going to Myanmar due to political unrest - is that something we should be concerned about? Same goes for Sri Lanka. Both of those places are top on my list of places to go.

Given that advice, we had looked at Thailand + Laos or Thailand + Cambodia. Probably would steer away from Bali given it feels like its the latest and greatest place to travel to, and feels a bit cliche at this point - however I could be convinced otherwise! I think we'll save Vietnam for another trip given my wife has already been there and we'd like to discover some new places together.

Any tips on how to structure it would be incredibly helpful. Where to go, for how long, and what we can't miss. And any tips for well-priced luxury hotels is much appreciated!

Please help an overwhelmed soon-to-be traveler!

Thank you in advance!
MeganMFallon is offline  
Old Jan 2nd, 2019, 06:17 PM
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Each country in Southeast Asia has its own pluses and minuses so you may not find an ideal combination. I'd suggest that you think along the lines of two destinations: one beachy and one either cuture or nature oriented rather than trying to compare whole countries. The important point is to try to minimize the travel time and aggravation of getting from one place to another. It always takes longer than you expect.

For the beach portion you definitely want to check the weather for February/March.

I believe that Sri Lanka is now politically stable so I wouldn't let that be a deterrent. I would also not worry about political unrest per se in Burma, though the government's handling of the Rohingya crisis may be a negative for you. (Or may be not, it's personal decision.) Thailand which gets about 34 million tourists a year is certainly not off the beaten track, but as a honeymoon destination it's hard to beat Thai beaches and beach resorts. Bangkok is a fascinating city, but may or may not be the kind of "adventure" you're looking for. Angkor in Cambodia is, to me, a cultural experience like no other. I haven't been to Laos.

It's with good reason that Bali is a popular honeymoon destination. It offers beach + nature/adventure + a vibrant culture all within one small and accessible island. Once you're there you're there. I would avoid February which is the height of the rainy season, but March tends to be mostly dry and is also low tourist season. Even the most elite resorts will be heavily discounted.

March 7 is Nyepi or quiet day, a huge Balinese Hindu holiday the lead up to which involves island wide celebrations, processions and ceremony. On Nyepi Day itself the whole island is closed down. Everyone stays in their family compound or resort and there are no cars, no airplanes, no music, no TV and at night no lights and a million stars. It's a very special time to be in Bali.

Bali's beaches tend to be wide, sandy big-wave surf and sunset beaches, not the calm turquoise waters you would find in Thailand. Once you get out of the well traveled southern beach area and into the interior there are multiple opportunities for cultural, artistic, spiritual and nature-oriented activities. You could easily fill up 13 days between the beach, the mountains, the rice paddies and the rain forests. There is a wide range of accommodations including world-class resorts and surprisingly affordable private villas. I don't know that I'd put Indonesian cuisine on the same level as Thai or Vietnamese, but there are quite a few really very good Asian inspired restaurants, especially in the Ubud area. (E.g., Locavore).
marmot is offline  
Old Jan 2nd, 2019, 08:43 PM
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". . . Probably would steer away from Bali given it feels like its the latest and greatest place to travel to, and feels a bit cliche at this point - however I could be convinced otherwise! . . . "

I was camping in Sequoia National Park 12 years ago and was lucky enough to have a pair of very interesting traveling neighbors in the next tent site. We talked about our favorite destinations, they mentioned Bali and I said something not unlike what I quoted from your post. They told me to forget what I'd heard, that Bali is one of the most beautiful & unique places on the planet, not to mention a great value, and to go. I did and have spent a couple of months there. So I'll say forget what you've heard and go to Bali.
MmePerdu is online now  
Old Jan 2nd, 2019, 11:13 PM
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We enjoyed our 3 weeks, but I'd flag up Kuta and Legian as places to be best avoided.....Party Central, and if you're not careful you could get fleeced.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2019, 01:25 AM
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Two weeks and two locations is not realistically going to allow you much time for"off the beaten path adventures"

Laos, Cambodia both offer massive opporpunities for adventure travel and less visited destination but little by way of beach time. Far Northern Laos is stunning but don’t expect much by way of luxury. Southern Laos also has some beutiful places and can be combined with Cambodia.

Vietnam offers both beach and OBP opportunities but you seem to have discounted that as your wife has been before (although there are probably lots of places she hasn’t been in the country.

Another thought is Malaysia. The west coast has some superb beaches and luxury hotels. Langkawi is my first thought, if only because we got married there ourselves at the The Datai, an incredible hotel! The Tanjung Rhu and Fourseasons are all very nice too. A little less expensive but unusual and very nice is Bon Ton.

If you chose Malaysia then there are plenty of places you could consider for OBP travel. One of the national parks like Taman Negara or Belum would be great for a rainforest experience. A trip from say Dingapore to Bangkok on the Eastern and Oriental Express train would be unforgettable.

With just two weeks, I would link very carefully about transit times from place to place.
crellston is offline  
Old Jan 3rd, 2019, 08:35 AM
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The only place you've listed where you can easily get off the tourist track is Myanmar (Burma). You would be in no danger from the political unrest, which is mostly about the maltreatment of The Rohinga, but you may have objections to visiting the country given that issue. The logistics of planning a trip to Burma are more complicated than for other countries, but much easier than it was just a few years ago.

Laos is also less touristed, and you could get off the tourist track there as well. But as crellston noted, getting off the tourist track severely limits the luxury accommodations (id any) that are available.

Sri Lanka is a marvelous destination with the best boutique hotels in the world, mostly at reasonable prices. The political issues have mostly been settled, and as a visitor you would not be in any danger in any case. There are many cultural attractions as well as beautiful beaches. If you opt for Sri Lanka, plan to spend all of your time there. While it appears to be a small island, getting from place to place takes time, as the roads are narrow and winding. If you look at Google's estimates of how long it take to get from one place to another, multiply their estimate by 3 to get a more realistic idea. I do have a trip report here from a decade ago. Click on my name to locate it.
Kathie is offline  
Old Jan 5th, 2019, 07:41 PM
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I was very recently in Myanmar and had no trouble getting around. The main touristy areas are not near the Rohingya areas. As mentioned by others, your own personal convictions in relation to the trouble may or may not want you to consider it. I can only say that the local people I met were lovely. As individuals they are have no say in what the military of their country is doing and, for those that rely on tourism, their livelihoods are being badly affected. Tourists numbers are down significantly and, for those that come, you will be welcomed with open arms. If you were to consider it, I would recommend both Lake Inle and Bagan, particularly for honeymooners. There are some luxurious resorts at Lake Inle (I stayed at Sanctum Inle - beautiful) and a hot air balloon ride over the temples at Bagan seems to me to be a perfect honeymoon moment, even if you will probably have another 10 people in the basket with you. It was an amazing experience. Both Yangon and Mandalay are big cities and wouldn't be my idea of honeymoon destinations. Even just for ordinary tourists, a couple of days in each would be suficient.

The situation in Sri Lanka has improved immensurably over the past few years and would also be a wonderful honeymoon destination with a resort beach stay and a bit of touring. It has become a hot ticket destination from Australia in the last few years and everybody I know who has been have loved it. I'll be going myself later this year. You don't mention the Maldives which is a very much a 'honeymoon' destination but you will got a lot more for your money in Sri Lanka than the Maldives. Both Thailand and Vietnam are very affordable, even for a 5 star experience.

With most of these destinations make sure you thoroughly investigate the weather and what part of the country you want to go to. What is the best time to go in one place is definately not the best time to go in other parts of the country, depending on whether you are on the east or west coasts, north or south.
shandy is offline  
Old Jan 6th, 2019, 04:05 PM
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you might also want to checkout El Nido in the Philippines. Great marine life.
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