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Wonderlust03 Oct 17th, 2015 10:31 AM

Suggested itineraries
My husband, three year old and I are going on an 8 month traveling stint starting next year. We have finalised the countries and length of stay in each place but I am very open for suggested itineraries for each stay.
Here are the countries we will visit:

India - 7 weeks (5 weeks North India, possibly Rajasthan, and 2 weeks Cochin and surrounding areas)
Vietnam - 5 weeks (fly to Hanoi and make way down to HCM)
Cambodia - 2 weeks
Thailand - 7 weeks
Malaysia - 2 weeks
Singapore - 5 days
Indonesia - 3 weeks (Fly into Jakarta and fly out of Bali)
South Africa 7 weeks (Fly into JHB and out of CT)
Note: We will be traveling from Hanoi to Singapore by land.

Any suggestions from travelers would be much appreciated, bearing in mind we will have our 3 year old daughter with us. We are looking for day trip ideas, sights, things to avoid, etc.

We appreciate your input!

Kathie Oct 17th, 2015 10:51 AM

For Indonesia, I wouldn't fly into Jakarta, I'd opt for a location in central Java instead, you can fly into Yogyakarta or Solo City from Singapore. I assume you know that Singapore is a very expensive city.

Do I read this correctly that you plan to travel overland through VN, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia then to Singapore? In that case, you really can only see peninsular Malaysia. Do try to get to Georgetown, Penang on your way.

On long trips, people need some downtime - especially traveling with a 3 year old. It looks to me like you are planning for Thailand to be a place where you can pause and spend some time in one place. I think it's a good choice. What time of year will you be in Thailand, as that makes a big difference in where I'd suggest you go - both for reasons of weather (Thailand is affected by two different monsoon systems) and for reasons of air quality (I don't recommend Northern Thailand during the burning season).

Have a wonderful trip!

LancasterLad Oct 18th, 2015 12:38 AM

As you plan do much of the trip overland I'd just take it as it comes.

There's bound to be places along the way that you want to linger, and places that you think are overrated and you want to move on quickly.

Then there's the weather. We hit typhoon conditions and got rained in for almost 5 days recently in Hue (Vietnam). So that could slow you down or make for changing your plans.

Illness can happen any time too. So that might slow you down.

Wonderlust03 Oct 18th, 2015 05:51 AM

Thanks for the replies. If need be we would take flights to make life easier but I think we would prefer train travel.

Yes, we are aware that Singapore is an expensive city so we have kept it to a 5 day visit.

Kathie we will be in Thailand during March and April. I tried to plan the trip to avoid some of the worst weather but I may be wrong? As for Malaysia, we were definitely wanting to hit Penang but just before we were thinking of Pulau Langkawi and then taking a ferry to Penang. Would you recommend this small island?

Lancaster lad, I am hoping that we can avoid weather like this in Feb but obviously being gone for 8 months we will encounter some shoddy weather. I do think you are right in saying to 'take it as it comes', but I wanted to still here back from people who have been to these places and who have more insight than I do as to what places to see. Like is a Halong Bay cruise worth it? We are thinking of a 2 night cruise.

I appreciate both of your responses!

Kathie Oct 18th, 2015 07:14 AM

March and April are not the best months for Thailand. April is the hottest month of the year, and in March, the air will be thick with smoke in northern Thailand.

Langkawi is an international beach resort. If that is what you are looking for it should suit you well. If you want a flavor of Malaysia and its culture, skip Langkawi and visit Georgetown, Penang instead . Don't stay at the beach on Penang but right in Georgetown.

When will you be in VN? Take a look at some weather sites. I use Personally, I'm not enamored of Halong Bay. And two nights is overkill. To get to Halong Bay, it's about a 6 hour drive each way from Hanoi - and a very boring drive. Hanoi is a fascinating city, spend time there rather than on the road. And many people complain about the amount of trash in the water at Halong Bay.

I'm assuming you have visited a travel medicine doc and have gotten appropriate immunizations and medications for this trip.

crellston Oct 18th, 2015 07:38 AM

Hi wonderlust03 - we are just coming to the end of a year long trip through Asia including New Zealand and Australia rather than India and Africa.

All I can say is that the more planning you do the better. Especially with a three year old in tow!

It is entirely feasible to do the SE Asia part of the trip overland. Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand are reasonably well served by trains. We went the entire length of Vietnam by train and into Cambodia by boat. Also most of Java from Jakarata down to Java was by train. Remarkably straightforward. provides pretty much all the info you will need.

Don't dismiss flying entirely though. Air Asia has a great, cheap network and can cut out a lot of the most boring stuff. Be VERY wary of buses anywhere in Asia, especially with a child. They have an appalling safety record and accidents, often serious, are common place. Drivers generally are complete lunatics and are often on speed to keep them going on longer journeys.

Re your outline itinerary, I think you have the split about right, although perhaps a little too much time in Thailand and no Laos?? I not write you itinerary in stone and would add in some room to rest up in one place from time to time. Travelling continually can take its toll and I imagine this is even more likely with a child.

On a previous trip we went through Thailand from north to south by train and on to Langkawi and Penang by boat, island hopping down the andaman coast. Sounds like this might work for you but don't leave it too late in the year as the seas will be too rough much past April/ May.

Some more detail and photos from our current trip on our blog where you may find something of interest. Just click on the destination tab for the various countries.

Happy planning!

Kathie Oct 18th, 2015 08:10 AM

One quick note about visas - I assume you've looked into visas, but the one that often trips people up is Thailand. If you are staying more than a month you need a visa in advance. If you are staying 4 weeks or less, you'll be stamped in on a visa exemption if you are from the US, Canada, EU.

Wonderlust03 Oct 19th, 2015 10:59 AM

Thanks again for the wonderful tips and ideas!

Kathy - I think we will do a 1 night boat trip rather. After reading a little, people say 1 night is sufficient.
I am disappointed about what you said about the weather that time of year :( I checked this site when I was planning the route and length of stay and according to it the weather is 'excellent' in March.
I am bummed if this is not right as we were planning on a couple weeks in Chiang Mai.
As for the Thai visa, we will get it in our home country before leaving. We will be in Vietnam from the end of January.

Crellston - I very much appreciate your insight into this, especially considering you traveled with your family! Thanks for the link to your blog; I will definitely give it a read! Did you and the family enjoy Langkawi? It appealed to me because of the geoforest park and the skybridge. Are these places worth a visit?
Thanks so much for the tip on SE Asian buses! Did you visit Chiang Rai? We are planning for a couple weeks in Chiang Mai and I'm wondering if it is worth the trip further up north?
As for missing out Laos. It was originally on our list and depending on time we may add it on when we are there. Our dates are not set in stone and we may stay longer than the 8 months. (I just took a peek at the blog and you have some great info! Will definitely look more closely!

Thanks so much for all the contributions :)

Kathie Oct 19th, 2015 11:28 AM

I looked at your link and have to say I wouldn't trust a weather site that looked like that. I know, I know, it's not a weather site, but a travel agency site, so they want to sell you tours and such. I think for a travel agency site not to mention the smoke is delinquent. And their idea of weather being "excellent" must be very different from yours or mine. That's why I want a site that gives me average highs and lows and average rainfall by the month for a location.

Good luck to you. With such a long trip, It's impossible to be in all of those places at the best time of the year weather-wise.

crellston Oct 19th, 2015 02:15 PM

Wanderlust. I didn't travel with "family". It is just my wife and I ( joined by a few others along the way.

Re the selective Asia site. Despite Katie's comments, re tournaments site I find it to be quite a good site. A quick and easy solution which I find pretty accurate when planning but best supplemented by other sources for more detail.

Smoke in SE Asi is becoming a massive problem at certain times of the year particularly in northern Thailand, Laos. This is due to the burning of the fields at ten end of the rainy season. It happens every year to some degree. This year was particularly bad. In Chiangmai Mai visibility was down toe 10-20 m and some people were not just wearing face masks ( totally ineffectual) but actual gas masks. The smog started in mid Feb and went through to April. It really was unpleasant and would be dangerous for a 3 year old or anyone with respiratory issue. In the end we decided to head off to Bangkok ( for cleaner air!!!)

Sadly, the problem persisted much further south. Khan Lak and the Andaman Islands were very hazy but not as bad as the north.

Currently, Singapore and parts of Indonesia are experiencing similar problems overbite last few weeks.

It does happen every year although not to the same degree (?youncould be lucky)If you could alter your plans to make sure you hit the north Thailand before say early Feb you should be ok.

As Kathie points out there are many good weather sites which will provide accurate but these provide historical data only, which, with climate change are not always great at predicting the coming of the monsoon etc. Few sites are able to provide air quality info but this is one good like navigating it as I think the Thai govt want to make it hard!

We did visit Chiang Rai and, although I like CM a lot, I preferred CR. In fact I just posted a new entry on our visit to the Black house and white temple a really nice city with a lot to see, great places to stay and much moreover user friendly than CM

Wonderlust03 Oct 21st, 2015 01:20 AM

We have amended the dates and will be flying into Bangkok, spending 3 weeks in the north (this will be in Jan and Feb) and then go overland to Cambodia and Vietnam (traveling from south to north) and then finally another flight from Hanoi into Bangkok to spend another 4 weeks in the south. This way we will see the north and avoid the burning season!

Kathie Oct 21st, 2015 07:35 AM

Great! I'm so glad you were able to rearrange dates so you can spend some quality time in Thailand!

Wonderlust03 Oct 21st, 2015 10:30 AM

Thank you Kathie for your help. We would have had a problem if we arrived not knowing about the burning season. Thanks a million!

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