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Suggestions for Asian visit Feb. 2014, incl. Singapore

Suggestions for Asian visit Feb. 2014, incl. Singapore

Old May 7th, 2013, 02:22 PM
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Suggestions for Asian visit Feb. 2014, incl. Singapore

My husband's been invited to a conference in Singapore early March 2014. I'm going to go along, and we want to come up with a 3-4 week itinerary for a decent Asian trip, most likely *before* the conference, i.e., in February.. It's early days yet, we might decide to throw in a cruise, or some kind of guided land trip. Or, we could just spend time in Hong Kong, Bangkok and perhaps one other place (Bali?). My husband was in Singapore last winter and liked it, so he says we should spend a few days there as well, but it's not the centrepiece of trip.

We could also fly in our out of one of the other cities, and that could even be Tokyo. But I'm thinking the weather in Japan might not be ideal in February (we don't like the cold, but on the other hand, have always wanted to go to Japan.)

So at this point we're just throwing ideas around. Any suggestions would be welcome. We are late 60's, fairly active but not into hiking in the jungle. We like cities, although love beautiful places in general.
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Old May 7th, 2013, 02:28 PM
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From Singapore - Bali definitely, Malaysia, Bangkok, Sri Lanka...
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Old May 7th, 2013, 02:54 PM
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I'm looking at weather. I know it will be very hot in Singapore. Looks like February is a good month to visit Thailand, but not a good month for Hong Kong. And of course, Japan would be quite cold. It's rainy season in Bali. Looks like decent (hot) weather in Malaysia. So Penang and/or Kuala Lumpur could be on the list.
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Old May 7th, 2013, 03:09 PM
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Singapore is an excellent jumping off point for exploring SE Asia. Places at the top of my list would be Indonesia (Bali and Java), Thailand and Malaysia (Georgetown, Penang is a treat, or consider Malaysian Borneo - Sabah or Sarawak). Sri Lanka is also an excellent option.

IMO, a cruise is the worst way to see this part of the world and there is no need for a guided tour. It is easy and relatively inexpensive to travel in this part of the world.

Sometimes photos can be the most helpful in choosing destinations. So take a look at our Asian travels at www.marlandc.com

If you click on my name, you'll see a list of recent trip reports. In 2012, we visited Java, and there is an older report on Sri Lanka and older yet reports on Borneo and Penang.
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Old May 7th, 2013, 03:52 PM
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I wouldn't worry too much about the weather in Bali, even during rainy season. In Malaysia, consider Langkawi and Kuching, in addition to Penang (which is worth a few days). And yes, February is pretty good in Thailand, but it will still be very hot just like in Malaysia.
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Old May 8th, 2013, 01:30 AM
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From Singapore you'll have good access to the rest of Southeast Asia. (I'd leave Hong Kong China and Japan for another trip and concentrate on Southeast Asia.)

My top picks to add on to Singapore would be Bali, Bangkok and Siem Reap (Cambodia / Angkor). This would give you a good balance of urban and country side and a good range of cultures and activities.

February in Bali is mixed. You'll most likely get a few days of sun and a few days of rain -- and some intermittent showers and some tropical downpours. This won't slow you down if you're in the Ubud area for culture and nature, but is an unpredictable time for the beach.

I'd agree that you won't need pre-arranged guided tours. All of these areas are safe and traveler friendly and have a wide range of accommodations and activities.
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Old May 8th, 2013, 06:08 AM
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Thanks for the input so far. Yes, if we went to Bali, I'd want to get off the beaten path, and avoid the tourist haunts if possible. Not interested in the beach particularly.

The only reason I thought to include Hong Kong (other than the fact that I've wanted to go there for 40 years or more), is that coming from North America, most likely on Cathay Pacific, we would be routed through Hong Kong anyways. So would be really easy to start there and then fly down to Singapore a week later.
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Old May 8th, 2013, 06:14 AM
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Oh, and I agree about the cruise--cruising is in some ways the worst way to see many parts of the world, except as a relaxing taster for places you might want to come back to. And I don't see this trip like that--this may be our only trip to Asia.

These cruise destinations are exceptions to this rule: French Polynesia, Caribbean, and repositioning cruises of various kinds. We recently turned down a cheap add-on to a TA cruise we're doing in the fall, that would have taken us to 9 ports in 10 days, including one day in Rome, Florence, Naples, Provence, etc. Bad way to see Italy.
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Old May 8th, 2013, 06:21 AM
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I might add that we're desultory sort of travellers. We like to spend time in places, enjoy the local scene, not kill ourselves frantically trying to "see" everything. So a few days in Bangkok, a visit to Chiang Mai (is it worth it?), perhaps a trip down to Kuala Lumpur and Penang?
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Old May 16th, 2013, 04:21 PM
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>>>The only reason I thought to include Hong Kong (other than the fact that I've wanted to go there for 40 years or more), is that coming from North America, most likely on Cathay Pacific, we would be routed through Hong Kong anyways. So would be really easy to start there and then fly down to Singapore a week later.
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Old May 16th, 2013, 06:48 PM
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Thank you for your lovely reply, Robert.

Plans are vague right now, but we may be in Singapore for two weeks or more. Luckily for us from a cost aspect, for most of our visit we'll be staying out at the Nanyang Technological University, where my husband will be attending a conference and consulting. This will be in late Feb to early March. I understand the university is not on the subway system but is perhaps accessible via short cab ride. I will be I think spending a lot of time on my own touring around, so I'll be doing lots of research on how to do this. I'm hoping that this is easy to do for an older woman on her own.

Then the rest of our trip must be planned, mostly prior to our time in Singapore I think, i.e., in February. Whether we include Hong Kong, Bangkok, perhaps Siem Reap and Luang Prabam depends on how much time we spend in Singapore, and the length of the entire trip. Perhaps 3 weeks, perhaps 4, we'll see. Again, thank you so much.
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Old May 17th, 2013, 03:28 PM
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bmking to learn more for our trip too.
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Old May 21st, 2013, 10:48 AM
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WWanderer I would really recommend Angkor Wat! We spent some wonderful days in Cambodia and they love Canadians as well. Bangkok has a bit of everything and is a nice city to spend some time and great shopping. And I will put in my plug in for the Shangri la bangkok krungthep wing which has all the pampering of Regent but is on land! I think even Robert ( askoksana) will agree with me there!

My own 2014 far east trip has been shelved but I am thinking of returning in 2015 with a Myanmar add on!
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Old May 21st, 2013, 03:23 PM
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Thanks Emdee! Don't expect luxury on atrips like this, but certRevisiting the weather. Hong Kong is beginning to look good with weather in the 60's. Everybody says that Angkor Wat is really hot and humid.

This afternoon I'm thinking about Bali--easy to get to.
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Old May 21st, 2013, 03:24 PM
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Oops, reply got truncated. I don't expect luxury, but do expect comfort. Other friends suggested staying on the river in Bangkok.

Nice to have these choices!
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Old May 22nd, 2013, 10:59 AM
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WWanderer,
The Mandarin oriental, Peninsula and Shangri la are all on the river.
The reasons why I like the Shangri la Krungthep wing is as follows:
Location on the river - a short ferry ride to the palace etc
The trip to Ayuthaya leaves from the Shangri la so no sweat there!
The costs though not cheap include breakfast, drinks and apps. The apps are so substantial that often we ate a very light dinner ( something that suits me anyway). The fridge was stocked with Evian ( my preferred water),we had a charming lady butler who provided us freshly cut fruit each morning, Warm freshly baked cookies in the evening and even offered to help me pack.I loved the location of the hotel and it wasnt far from one of the popular and cheap thai restaurants well recommended by this board ( name escapes me).
We loved the dining in the Mandarin Oriental though. Lord Jim's sea food buffet was one of the best ever as was the Peking duck at the Chinese restaurant. The bars are also very nice.
We paid a sizable amount for our stay but when we returned got a nice little credit to be used at any Shangri La Hotel.

This board should give you a lot of suggestions for both luxury and comfort in bangkok.

I am one of those you used Tong and loved her tour ( and personality) but dont know whether she is still doing this at this time.

As an aside:
I really miss Dogster any time I come to this board and read reports and postings with a heavy heart. He had promised me to come on the PG but that was not to be.
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Old May 23rd, 2013, 08:52 AM
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Emdee, I looked at the Shangri-La, and seems great.

At the moment I'm working with IOT (Indochina Odyssey) on a bespoke private tour, Hanoi-Halong Bay-Luang Prabang-Chiang Mai-Bangkok with possibly Seam Riep in there too.
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Old May 23rd, 2013, 09:30 AM
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That's an expensive way to set up this trip. Such agencies want to arrange everything - all transfers (often at 10x the price of a taxi or car service), guides at every stop, etc. At least don't let them give you a guide at every stop, as you mostly don't need a guide for most of this trip. Be very specific about what you want/don't want included in your package.
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Old May 23rd, 2013, 10:44 AM
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We covered a few of your spots on our last trip to asia but we did it somewhat piece meal.
Got Tonkin to arrange all of vietnam including Halong bay junk, Mekong Day trip, guiding ( poor) and flights internally and to Siem Reap.I cannot remember whether they arranged Residence de Angkor or whether we did it ourselves. We used Kim San in Siem Reap as our guide ( also used by your B&K friends) and were very satisfied.We booked Shangri La ourselves including their pick up and drop from the airport and those days were excellent.
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Old May 23rd, 2013, 01:25 PM
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Thanks Kathie and Emdee. Yes, I realize this is an expensive way. But we'll be 65 and and 70 when we do this trip. I am going to try to slim down on the guided excursions, especially in a place like Bangkok. In general we like to wander around by ourselves and do our own thing, but the thought of air-conditioned cars to take us places like Angkor Wat is very appealing. And having somebody arrange the flights and airport pickups, etc. Want to minimize schlepping at this point.

For example, they're suggesting all day at the Patara Elephant Farm in Chiang Mai. I can't imagine spending all day doing something like this.

Ditto Luang Prabang--sounds like a charming town, and one that we can see mostly on our own, with some arranged trips out of town.

I'll be wanting more free time, and some downtime--don't want this to be a hectic trip.
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