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SE Asia Route Planned: Please help with time distribution

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Jul 25th, 2009, 05:30 PM
  #1
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SE Asia Route Planned: Please help with time distribution

Hi everyone,

This is my first post but I've been reading away and have already found some terrific info and ideas on this forum for my upcoming trip to South East Asia.

I'd like to ask for help with my itinerary below. At this point, I'd like to stick to this routing so I'm looking for:

1) suggestions for adding/subtracting time in each location
2) day trip ideas

Today I spent several hours searching connections and fares on low cost airlines to help me pinpoint my route. For just less than $300 USD total, I've come up with the following route and rough timeline.

Singapore 5 days
Penang 4 days
Kuala Lumpur 4 days
Bangkok 4 days
Ko Samui 8 days
Hong Kong 7 days
Macau 1 day

I have 32 nights between arriving and departing the region. I arrive in the afternoon and depart around midnight of the 33rd night.

I'm aware that I need to take travel time into consideration but I can't do that until I know exactly which flights I'll be taking and for that I need to know exactly how many days I'd like to spend in each location. Which brings us to my question for help.

I'm purposely postponing Vietnam and China because of their Visa requirements.

My trip goals are to relax, try lots of new food, shop and gain travel confidence for future trips. This is my first trip to Asia, let alone SE Asia. To be honest, I don't really want to go off the beaten track. I don't want to travel to a new location every night or even every other night. I'd rather explore each place in depth.

Now please rip into my itinerary.

Thank you!
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Jul 25th, 2009, 05:41 PM
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As you've been reading the forum, you know that I'm not hesitant to say what I think about an itinerary. I think yours is good. I might balance it a bit differently if it were me (and it's not), but it depends on what you are most interested in. You've given yourself enough time in each place to get a chance to experience it.

I do hope by Penang you mean the historic Georgetown area and not the rather mediocre beaches.

I don't see when it is you are going. That will be important in planning your beach time.
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Jul 25th, 2009, 05:59 PM
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The flow of your trip seems correct, but I would tweak it a bit. 5 days is too many for Singapore. I might take 2 days from SIN and 2 days from KL and visit either Northern Thailand or Siem Riep. Also, 7 days in HK may be too many.
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Jul 25th, 2009, 06:47 PM
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i too like the outline....,but more than 3 days in K/L and you will regret it....its boring with a capital B...btw, the budget airlines all use a seperate airport at K/L...its very efficient, but not part of the bigger international airport although i suspect they use the same runways...the pan pacific airport hotel offers discounts for those using air asia and other airlines and the hotel is quite lux...

the sheraton imperial in K/L is a fantastic hotel and right near to the rapid transit...

so take time from K/l and give it to bangkok...

you might add a day to macau....and i agree that more than 4 nites in singapore is too long unless you arrive here from the west and need a day or two to unwind...

siem reap is a great place to visit if you like unque old ruins---allow a minimum of 3-4 days there---fly there from bkk. bangkok air is the one to fly to from bkk

8 days is a long time for samui unless you had something special in mind there....4-5 days would be plenty....more days to add to bkk or SR...

depending on your budget we would be delighted to help you with hotels along the way...let us know your budget...
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Jul 25th, 2009, 09:05 PM
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I think you've got a pretty good selection here. I would love five days in Singapore. Especially if you like to eat and want a gentle introduction to Asia. I had 7 days there last year, and didn't get bored at all!

KL didn't really excite me much, so I would take off two of those days and go instead to the Cameron Highlands inbetween KL and Penang. The Malaysian buses and roads are really wonderful, so I'd take the bus KL-Cameron -Penang. The Cam Highlands are an area famous for strawberries and tea. Beautiful country, and very civilized and easy to get there.

If it was my trip, I would also consider Borneo or one of the islands such as Sipidan or Tioman that are off Malayasia, but I like things a bit more off the beaten path.

Seven days in Hong Kong would be too much for me. I'd knock off two of those days and add them to Bangkok.
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Jul 25th, 2009, 10:13 PM
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I'm in agreement with trying to add Siem Reap. It's changing rapidly and if you have any interest at all in temple ruins you should go now. The difference I saw between 2002 and 2007 was astounding in terms of out of control development in the area and how access to the ruins is being limited.
Were it me, I would take a day off of each of Penang, KL, Samui, and HK and give yourself 4 nights in Siem Reap.
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Jul 26th, 2009, 01:23 AM
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I havent been to Singapore or KL, but I would say that 7 nights in Hong Kong is WAY too much (3 days was more than enough for us), and 8 nights in Koh Samui is a lotta chill time!

I havent been to Siem Reap either, but am a big fan of Northern Thailand - a must if you will be in Thailand for the 1st time. beautiful rainforrest areas, you can do loads of adventure stuff - white water rafting/ATVing, plus visit some great elephant camps/monkey farms etc.

we are leaving to Thailand tonight! gotta pack our bags!!

Have fun!
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Jul 26th, 2009, 01:23 AM
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I would suggest cutting Samui a bit too and giving yourself 4 nights in Chiang Mai area.
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Jul 26th, 2009, 03:19 AM
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Don't know how old you are or what interests you have but it seems as though you're targetting cities and really touristy areas to me.

Kathie asks about when you are planning this and it can affect more than just beach time for if you're going anytime in next three or four months you can expect to have it really wet and humid in places, and depending on where you're from?, not Oz is it?, with numbers of days you have for travel I guess for if so, beaches in Asia are not so great compared to downunder.

I see you do not want to get off the beaten track but that's where some of the best places are as Fire Dragon mentions re northern Thailand and it's easy enough travelling just about anywhere in Asia.

Singapore 5 days
Penang 4 days
Kuala Lumpur 4 days
I'd cut a couple of days off all three above and that'd help allow you time for places like Tioman Island, Cameron Highlands, Lang Kawi or http://www.perhentianislands.com/
and northern Thailand, cut Koh Samui back to 4 as well.

And by your order, if that means you're thinking of flying to Bangkok and then back to Koh Samui, if you do go to Lang Kawi or Perhentians you could head that way from KL by train/bus and then same on to Koh Samui and it'll give you great opportunities to meet up with other travellers, maybe get a travelling buddy for here and there.

Bangkok 4 days
Ko Samui 8 days
And then some say 7 days is too long for HK and never been myself but I've got in mind heading there for not just the city but outer islands - but again tyhoon season is imminent!
Hong Kong 7 days
Macau 1 day

Don't be too anxious, but for sure it's a lot different with touts and scammers looking out for victims but just be sensible and do not trust anyone anymore than you would a stranger back wherever home is and keep valuables close and out of sight as much as possible.
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Jul 26th, 2009, 09:03 AM
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I have to laugh - here you've done a great job of limiting your number of stops and so many people want to add in more! As I understand from your post, you have not figured in travel time yet, so I would consider any place that says 4 days as having three days to explore the place. IMO I wouldn't stay anywhere less than that as this is your first trip and you need time to get oriented to these places.

If it were me (and, again, it isn't), I'd cut time from Koh Samui and add it to Bangkok.

If you are convinced by the above posters that you want to go to Siem Reap then I'd cut time from both Koh Samui and Hong Kong to come up with 4 nights, three full days in Siem Reap, the minimum time required to see just the major temples. Do a little research to see if Siem Reap is something that would interest you. You can take a look at our photos at www.marlandc.com There are photos of all the places you plan to visit except for Koh Samui.

Unlike some others, I've spent weeks in SIngapore over the years, including several visits that were 5 or more days, I've spent a week in Hong Kong a couple of times as well as shorter stays and there is plenty to see and do to keep one interested and occupied.

Some people love Chiang Mai - a couple people above recommended it. I find it pretty dull, and it is totally on the tourist track. I wouldn't give up time at any of your destinations to go to CM.
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Jul 26th, 2009, 10:15 AM
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I would lose a day in Singapore which I found a bit sterile. KL is about right - excellent food and a mixture of Malay, Chinese and Indian culture, plus some fantastic hotels.

Penang is great for food but as kathie rightly points out the beaches are not a reason to go. Bangkok is amazing on so mant differnt levels and deserves a little more time.
Koh Samui is not the island paradise it once was (or still aspires to be). A choice of beach location is really dependent upon the time of year you are travelling.

Hong Kong people tend to love or hate but 7 days is a long time.

You mentioned wanting to see each place in depth and as such i do wonder whether you would be better restricting your travel to SE Asia and maybe including Cambodia (Phnom penh and Siem Reap) at the expense of HK and Macau
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Jul 26th, 2009, 03:34 PM
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I note that you want

1) suggestions for adding/subtracting time in each location
2) day trip ideas

1) I suggest 1 day less in KL and put it to Bangkok. If Ko Samui is your relaxing time then only you know whether 8 days is the right amount of time: there is little sightseeing there. If you have days to spare, I would add them to Bangkok.

As others have said your trip-timing could be crucial: I suggest you avoid Ko Samui in November.

It is not possible for me to suggest sightseeing without knowing more about you; but here as some of my favourites.

Singapore - Chinatown and Little India. I enjoyed the Night Safari although generally I am not a fan of zoos.

Penang - the whole of historic Georgetown. I agree the beaches are not a strong feature here.

KL - the railway station (for the architecture) and the Twin Towers - for the same reason.

Bangkok - Grand Palace and the river (in particular exploring Thonburi, across the river from the modern city)

Ko Samui - N/A

Hong Kong - Victoria Peak and Lantau Island

Macau - the Colonial Portuguese architecture (no I am not a building- fanatic!)

That's a lot of cities - and a lot of shopping!

If you decide to take on board some of the other suggestions posted above, I should be happy to give some further input.

I hope that helps.

Tony
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Jul 26th, 2009, 05:31 PM
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so what is your thinking now??
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Jul 27th, 2009, 02:01 AM
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And how's the drinking!
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Jul 28th, 2009, 11:51 AM
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Wow, thanks everyone for taking the time to chime in with your ideas!

Sorry I've been slow to respond. It's been a busy few days in real life. And I've wanted to spend some time doing my homework to follow through on all the suggestions. Going through the archives, it doesn't take long to be able to spot the posters who haven't done much research. As unprepared as I admittedly am, I am trying my best to learn as much as I can in the background.

Getting back to your suggestions, lucky for me, most of your advice was unanimous. I'm halving my time in Ko Samui, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and reducing my time in Hong Kong and Singapore. I'm adding the Cameron Highlands and 4 days in Siem Reap (will hire a guide)!

A special thanks to those of you who tossed Siem Reap into the deal. You wouldn't think it from my original trip plan but I have been wanting to go, especially after having recently bought the latest Nat'l Geographic Traveler mag at the airport for it's cover story on Ankor Wat. I pushed the idea aside figuring it was better suited for a future trip to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. But so many people are saying to go asap and it's really convenient to fly from Bangkok so why not?

My trip will be in September which is not the ideal time for most of these places. However, I can't change the time I can go so I'm just going to be prepared and make the best of it.

Truth be told the September factor has been a pain. I've spent a lot of time deciphering weather charts and rethinking my time at the beach (Penang is solely for Georgetown). From what I can tell, Ko Samui is one of the least worst islands to visit at that time of year in Thailand. I spent some time reading about the beaches in Malaysia which would sound great for divers but I just want to lounge around for 3-4 days and Ko Sumai sounds like it has cleaner beaches with more conveniences. Above all, I'm primarily concerned with the weather but I can't tell if Malaysia or Thailand is better at the end of September.

To complicate things further, it turns out that Bali is a good place to be in September. And many people recomend Bali as enthusiastically as Siem Reap despite the risks. After letting the idea sink in for a couple of days, I've come around to considering Bali and Java now that I've read about Borobudur and Prambanan.

So now I'm debating whether to stick to my original itinerary or change things up a bit so that I can go to Indonesia. I tend to be a risk-averse fuddy duddy but the weather factor is forcing me to consider stepping outside of the box.

At this very moment, I'm leaning towards sticking to Ko Samui and the rest of my plan. Anyone have any strong thoughts here?

Also, after I sort out ^ I will start seriously researching accomodation and guides (at least for Siem Reap, not sure yet about other places). If anyone has any accomodation recommendations to throw my way off the top of their head right now I'd be very grateful. In terms of my budget, I don't have to pinch pennies but I'd like to save money where I can. I think I'm what the kids call a bare-bones flashpacker. I've saved enough money so that I can stay in private rooms but I don't need anything fancier than a/c (this is asking a lot in some places in SE Asia right?). Shared bathrooms are fine. Don't need a TV. What else am I leaving out? Internet's a plus but only necessary about once a week or so.

Like everyone else I'd like to stay in safe locations within reasonable convenience to public transport/the action. I plan to eat out some evenings but I don't plan on going to clubs/bars. I have enough money saved that I can splurge where it's really worth it...i.e. I'd like a nice place in Ko Samui since I'll be making use of the facilities day and night.

I guess that about does it for this post. Time to get back to reading and planning...thanks everyone!
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Jul 28th, 2009, 12:03 PM
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OK, you've cut a number of days out, which gives you more options. With 32 days, there is enough time to bounce over to Bali. If you did so, i would cut out Ko Samui altogether. You should spend at least 5 days in Bali, with another 3 if you're going to other parts of Indonesia.

Definitely go to Angkor Wat as soon as possible. It is expanding at light speed. We were there 4 years ago and they were building at an incredible rate. It's only getting worse.
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Jul 28th, 2009, 12:13 PM
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I think your plan is reasonable. You've added in Bali and Java, so you may need to walk though your plan again to make sure you've got a reasonable amount of time in each place.

Yopu should have no difficulty getting a/c any place you are going. And prices in Thailand and Indonesia are very reasonable, and also in Malaysia. Singapore and Hong Kong are the most expensive places you are visiting. So in the interests of your budget, you may want to cut those places down to a minimum.

Angkor is the only place you may want a guide. All of the other places are easily done on your own.
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Jul 28th, 2009, 12:56 PM
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Thanks Gpanda and Kathie!

True, I would go to either Indonesia or Ko Samui, not both.

Kathie, you convinced me in the archives that a guide is not necessary in Penang

If I go to Indonesia then I'm looking at cutting out Malayasia altogether. I'd like to spend a full 7 days at least there.
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