Short Trip to Japan & South East Asia

Aug 16th, 2016, 05:55 AM
  #1  
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Short Trip to Japan & South East Asia

Hello! This will be my first time traveling to South-East Asia (I am from Canada).

For some background on travel experience, I recently did a backpacking trip around Europe for 2 months (covering 12 countries). I do not travel for relaxation, the more I see the better in my time.

I plan on taking 3 weeks next May-June and looking for recommendations on travel destinations - the only place set in stone is Tokyo Japan (1 week). I was thinking of Thailand (1 week) and Bali (4 days) as I heard it was lovely!

Looking for comments or other suggestions

Cheers,
Amanda
EuroGirl2016 is offline  
Aug 16th, 2016, 08:12 AM
  #2  
 
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Sounds like you have the three weeks pretty much already covered with your current plan. Understand that unlike Europe Asia is huge and you will need a lot of travel time between these places. 3 weeks is extremely short to do Asia.
CanadaChinaTraveller is offline  
Aug 16th, 2016, 08:47 AM
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>>the more I see the better
Then you can add Kyoto to the Japan part. Maybe a day/night in Hakone. For better weather you would want the Japan part to be in May, not June (rain).

You sh/could add a day to Bali.
mrwunrfl is online now  
Aug 16th, 2016, 09:20 AM
  #4  
 
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Fewer destinations will allow you to see/do/experience more. If you are going to Japan, definitely visit Kyoto. If you only have a week for Japan, spend a few days in Tokyo, the rest in Kyoto and fly onward foreman of the airports near Kyoto rather than returning to Narita to fly onward.

One week is very short for Thailand, and a mere 4 days for Bali is not a great idea. If you fly non-stop from Thailand to Bali, it's a four hour flight. I'd suggest dropping Thailand this trip,, and spend half of your time Japan, half in Indonesia. In Indonesia, you might visit Java as well as Bali or if beaches is what you want, visit Lombok as well as Bali.
Kathie is offline  
Aug 16th, 2016, 09:33 AM
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should be "fly onward from one of the airports near Kyoto" auto-incorrect strikes again!
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Aug 16th, 2016, 10:31 AM
  #6  
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Thanks all! Kyoto will definitely be added to my Japan duration.
So Thailand & Bali are tight it sounds like - would those be the two destinations that are recommended above the others in South East Asia (aka. Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia)?

Making this a Japan/Bali trip (if Bali needs >1 week) is a thought and do Thailand later with some others (Bangkok was also on my "to-do" list) but I prefer moving around a lot and not much for beach lounging.
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Aug 16th, 2016, 11:48 AM
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I've never done any beach lounging on Bali - not to say that it can't be done, but that isn't why one goes there.

Do some research on the destinations you are considering and see which ones call to you the most.

In May-June, Bali (and Java and Lombok) have pretty good weather. It will still be hot, of course.

SE Asia is different from Europe. I understand that you visited 12 countries in 2 months in Europe. While I would never do that (I'm a depth person), it is less unrealistic in Europe than in Asia. In Asia, you need to slow down to experience the culture. Otherwise, you are just checking things off a list.

Bangkok is my favorite city in the world. I highly recommend a visit there - just not on this trip. When you do go to Bangkok, side trips to Cambodia for Angkor or to Laos are excellent combinations.

People who love VN would say you should spend three weeks there to get a flavor for the country.
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Aug 16th, 2016, 12:18 PM
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I'm a believer in tough love when I read sentences like "I do not travel for relaxation, the more I see the better in my time." It screams youth & inexperience to me and no understanding of the idea that when you're moving you're actually seeing less, not more.

If Japan is the given, pick one more destination and force yourself to stay in locations longer than you believe now you might like. I think movement is an addiction of sorts and it may take a couple of tries before you begin to feel the difference and find you very much enjoy things like walking the backstreets, returning to local restaurants for a 3rd time where you'll be greeted like an old friend, learning the ins & outs of local transport, and on & on. Travel is a skill like any other and the more you try new ways of doing it the better your experiences will become.
MmePerdu is online now  
Aug 16th, 2016, 12:58 PM
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Boy, that was well said, MmePerdu. The other aspect is young folks have plenty of time to revisit places, yet they are the ones who seem most in a hurry to see too much.

Also, every time you change countries, you have to go through immigration and deal with a new currency. And I get all uptight trying to use up the last of my money in each country, so that in itself adds stress.
CaliforniaLady is offline  
Aug 16th, 2016, 06:11 PM
  #10  
kja
 
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I don't look to relax when I travel. Instead, I use every possible minute to see what I can. I wish I'd had more than 3 weeks in Japan. I enjoyed 9 days in Bali, and easily could have used more -- and none of that was lazing on the beach time. I haven't been to Thailand yet. To each his/her own!
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Aug 16th, 2016, 07:51 PM
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I think the idea of splitting your time between Japan and Bali is a good one.

May/June is a good time for Bali, good weather and not too busy. I would note that May 12-14 are the dates of the Ubud Food Festival, which can be a fun event if you're interested in food -- cooking and eating -- of Indonesia and Southeast Asia. If that's not appealing to you, then you should avoid Ubud during those days, as it will be quite crowded and low cost accommodations will be overbooked.

In Bali, you could split your time between one of the southern beaches and the Ubud area, which is the center of culture and nature.

I would look at the Canggu area -- Berawa and Batu Bolong -- for laid back beach accommodations. In Ubud you'll have lots of choices, both in town and in the surrounding countryside. As you go farther afield to the northeast and northwest parts of the island you get farther away from tourism and deeper into village life.
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Aug 17th, 2016, 04:53 AM
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Thank you for your time!

Kathie, Bangkok will be on my trip list for 2018! If you have any recommendations for accommodation or activities please let me know.

Marmot, who doesn't love eating?! I will keep the May 12-14 food festival dates in mind. Appreciate your feedback.

Kja, thank you. It's nice to hear from someone who has the same travel mentality as me. I have decided to do Japan and Bali (Japan for 2 weeks). What were the highlights of your trip when in Japan?

MmePerdu, "I do not travel for relaxation, the more I see the better in my time." means I am young & inexperienced... FYI both of your statements are untrue. I have tried both means of traveling and choose to see more in less time as it suits my goal better (to see all that I can - can always return/move if I like a place enough). Unfortunately, I do not have the luxury of taking months off at a time (I used to live in UK with a different job with more flexibility). That being said, you're not the first with this opinion but please do not jump to conclusions from one statement.

Everyone can travel how they like - why people criticize on these forums is beyond me. I was asking about opinions on my destinations and IF these places could be done in a timeframe. No need to bash my way of traveling, if you're not going to make productive comments resist posting.
EuroGirl2016 is offline  
Aug 17th, 2016, 07:49 AM
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Euro, I'll be glad to help with your Bangkok planning when the time comes.

We spent a little over two weeks in Japan a few years ago - amazing place! You might find our photos helpful in your decision-making: www.marlandc.com We spent a few days in Tokyo, then moved on to Kanazawa (where we would have loved more time, especially if it wasn't pouring!), then to Kyoto for 6 nights. Next trip, I'll add a couple of nights in Nara. We also loved our time in Hakone before we flew home.

Happy Planning!
Kathie is offline  
Aug 17th, 2016, 09:34 AM
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"...why people criticize on these forums is beyond me."

We criticize because you come here for advice and we say what experience tells us will make your trip better. No other reason.

On the subject of not having "the luxury of taking months off at a time", my trips that used to 3-6 months long have been reduced for the moment to 1 month. Instead of a number of stops of a minimum of a week each, I now go to 1 place. I fully realize that not everyone would be entertained by staying so long, we're all looking for different things, but there's a practical mid-ground that does serve most, except for those with a very short attention span or no meaningful interest in the cultures they're traveling through. My wish is to help you find a meaningful experience.
MmePerdu is online now  
Aug 17th, 2016, 10:19 AM
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MmePerdu:"... I now go to 1 place. I fully realize that not everyone would be entertained by staying so long, we're all looking for different things, but there's a practical mid-ground that does serve most, except for those with a very short attention span or no meaningful interest in the cultures they're traveling through. My wish is to help you find a meaningful experience."

Well said and traveling in Asia is not traveling in Europe.

Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Aug 17th, 2016, 10:30 AM
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"...traveling in Asia is not traveling in Europe."

Indeed!
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Aug 17th, 2016, 06:02 PM
  #17  
kja
 
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It seems I was not clear: What I meant was that even though I don't travel to relax, I felt I needed much more time for these locations than you are giving them. That's not a criticism; it's information.

Rather than skimming the surface and spending time getting from place to place, I choose to skip some places entirely, even if I am sure I would enjoy them. I want to maximize the time I have to actually see and experience the places that I choose to see, while minimizing the time spent traveling between places (unless, of course, the point of the journey IS the time in transit). I’ve also realized that if I can return to a region, the LAST thing that I am likely to do is spend my time re-tracing all that extra travel time so that I can go back and finally see the things I skipped the first time. In fact, I might end up not returning specifically because it would mean wasting so much time going from place to place. (And that rather defeats the purpose of a "sampling trip" as I understand the concept.) And one other consideration: I've found that some of the things I most treasure in the places I visit are ones that would never make it to my "skimming" agenda -- and what a loss it would be, from my perspective, to miss those moments! But, of course, we all travel for different reasons and with different preferences....
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Aug 17th, 2016, 08:26 PM
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>>except for those with a very short attention span or no meaningful interest in the cultures they're traveling through

Yeah, that's pretty much an insult to anyone who doesn't have the time to find your mid-ground.
mrwunrfl is online now  
Aug 18th, 2016, 12:21 AM
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I absolutely agree that when folks ask with advice, then give them recommendations according to what you have found works for you and for others you know.

But, I must say that extrapolating from someone's travel preference style that they are young, inexperienced, immature, have a short attention span or no meaningful interest in the cultures they are traveling through is enormously rude and frankly, I'm insulted on the OP's behalf.

I prefer to give fewer places more time, but I know many people who travel in a different way. I'll certainly let anyone who asks for advice know, politely, that my recommendation is to give a place longer, so one can touch more than the highlights.

But I don't think there is any need to imply that if they don't choose to follow that advice, that they are deficient human beings in all the ways you have stated.
Kavey is offline  
Aug 18th, 2016, 09:56 AM
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Early on in this thread the OP took advice and cut a destination.

My question for the "slow down, get a feel for the place" travelers have have always traveled that way or was that approach learned by experience?

>>trying to use up the last of my money in each country

The way I do that is to use cash to pay part of my last hotel bill and get to the airport with $20 to $50 worth of the local currency. No reason, really, to use up JPY in Japan, just exchange it for THB in Bangkok. Exchange the THB for IDR in Denpasar. Get home with a few inexpensive, easy to carry, souvenirs in the form of foreign notes and coins.
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