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Suggestions for Asian visit Feb. 2014, incl. Singapore

Suggestions for Asian visit Feb. 2014, incl. Singapore

May 27th, 2013, 01:14 PM
  #21  
 
Join Date: May 2013
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3-4 weeks is ample time to see south east asia. I'm a little jealous. February is a great time too. It should be just before the monsoon season in most of the countries then.
Emdee's right about Cambodia and bangkok. Both are highly recommended. Chiang Mai's a bonus if you do go. It's less developed and a good way to see how Thai's really live. The elephant farm takes a whole day because I believe the trip is get there is quite a distance. Then you get to watch the elephants work, play, bathe. You can ride them through the forests into the rivers and I think there might be an elephant show as well. When I went there they had included a crocodile farm trip as well. But that was over 10 years ago so details are vague.
After that, do go through Malaysia. If you take the train, it runs down like a spine from Thailand to Singapore. Via langkawi (mainland port), Penang, Kuala Lumpur, melacca. The cultural wealth is unbelievable.
If your man's going to be in conference for 2 weeks, I can honestly say that's plenty of downtime. Singapore's mainly city. Unless you go to sentosa island and the universal studios theme park.
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May 28th, 2013, 09:19 AM
  #22  
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Well, he's going to be working,but will have time to play too, and probably we'll get some help from us friends to show us around SIngapore.

I'm up and down about this. It will probably be more like 2-3 weeks, since we'll be in Singapore so long.

Wondering if I should just bite the bullet and leave out Hong Kong this trip, and Hanoi, and concentrate on Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.

The train trip from Bangkok to Singapore sounds really interesting! I've heard many times about Penang--perhaps we can manage a stop-over for a day or two.

So many choices!
WWanderer is offline  
May 28th, 2013, 10:05 AM
  #23  
 
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You will enjoy your trip more and have more experience of these wonderful places if you cut down on the number of stops you make.

I think leaving out Hong Kong makes sense - save it for next trip, when you can spent at least 5 days to a week there. And cut Hanoi - again save for your next trip when you can visit other parts of VM as well.

The train makes sense only if you have the time. Stopping in Penang for just a day or two is not worthwhile, IMO. Either spend some time there or skip it.

If you want to interact with elephants in Chiang Mai, opt for one that treats the elephants well - either the Thai Elephants Conservation Center at Lampang or the Elephant Nature Park. Avoid places that have an elephant show!

Two to three weeks is enough for 3 or 4 stops - Siem Reap, Cambodia (min. 4 nights), Luang Prabang, Laos (min. 5 nights), Bangkok (min 5 nights).
Kathie is offline  
May 30th, 2013, 10:10 AM
  #24  
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Thanks Kathie for the input. I think I've come around to the idea of leaving out Hanoi, Halong Bay and Hong Kong, unless we decide to take longer (which I doubt.)

Still musing about the train from Bangkok to Singapore. We could stop over in Koh Ta or Koh Samui for a few days before continuing on to Singapore. Or if we felt we didn't have time, we could fly to Chumphon or Surat Thani, but would have to then take the train to Singapore or fly back to Bangkok first.

Just thinking that a few nice days at a beautiful resort might be a great prelude to my husband working really hard for two weeks, after touring steadily for 2 weeks or so.

If we did it this way, we would fly return to SIN, then D. could leave his work materials and clothing in Singapore so that we could travel light. We could then just fly to Bangkok and do perhaps a circle of Chiang Mai, Luang Prabang and Siem Reap.

Or could Chiang Mai do the trick for beauty, culture and relaxation? If so, we could cut out the beach resort and do Chiang Mai last, and spend a few more days there at a nice resort.

(Funny aside. I asked my brother for advice about the Thai beach resorts and islands (he lived in Asia for 15 years and has been to Thailand countless times). I said I wanted something with natural beauty, local culture and relaxation, not particularly a party place. He said that he couldn't help because he only went to those places for the partying and girls(he's married!) No wonder his wife doesn't want him to go there alone any more!)
WWanderer is offline  
May 30th, 2013, 10:51 AM
  #25  
 
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You certainly could add in a beach resort if you are willing to add a few days to your itinerary. But the idea of taking the trains and "stopping off" at Koh Samui/Ko Tao doesn't really work. If you want a beach resort, I'd suggest the Andaman Sea side - maybe Ko Lak or Krabi. You can then fly from Phuket to Singapore non-stop.

I'm not fond of Chiang Mai, and in March, I expect the burning will have started, which will make it very unpleasant. Indeed, you may get smoke in Luang Prabang as well. If you weren't going to get smoke, there is a gorgeous Four Seasons Resort outside of CM which is lovely and would be a good substitute for a beach. Or another option to consider would be spending some time at the Anantara at the Golden Triangle. It's a lovely place and it has a small division of the Thai Elephant Conservations Center on the grounds.
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May 30th, 2013, 05:22 PM
  #26  
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It'll be the last half of February. Will there be burning then?
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Jun 1st, 2013, 09:27 AM
  #27  
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Kathie, could you elucidate why taking a train to Chumphon or Surat Thani wouldn't work? I have read that the train between BKK and SIN is very pleasant--is it a matter of scheduling and changing trains? I can see that this might be a problem.

Krabi I have looked at a bit. So we could fly into and out of Phuket and then make our way to Krabi. Interesting. How about Ko Phi Phi, how is it these days--very commercial?

And please, would you mind sharing why you don't like Chiang Mai? What about Chiang Rai?
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Jun 1st, 2013, 09:44 AM
  #28  
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Just a follow-up. Phi Phi sounds great, but isolated, sounds like a day-trip kind of place. Is Phuket itself really terrible? Hate rampant tourism, but don't mind some if we can get away from it.

I also see that AirAsia flies BKK to Krabi and as you said, we can fly Phuket to Singapore. Sounds like an interesting idea.
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 07:48 AM
  #29  
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I looked at Chiang Rai a little further--sounds charming, and more what we want than Chiang Mai (the tour operator I contacted suggested the latter was "better", but he doesn't know me.)
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 08:22 AM
  #30  
 
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The last half of Feb should be ok in terms of the burning.

WW, let me start by saying that we are all different, we like different things, prefer to travel in different ways. So what appeals/doesn't appeal to me may be the opposite for you. Chiang Mai has an old walled city. The city now is huge and sprawling. It has no public transport, so I find the traffic worse than Bangkok. In Bangkok, you can get away from the traffic by using the skytrain and the water taxis - in CM you don't have choices. I am also more bothered by the air pollution in CM, as it has many particulates (they still burn their garbage). I loved the Golden Triangle area, not so populated, and you are in the hills. (and if you can afford the Anantara, it's a wonderful place to stay).

There are plenty of beach areas in/near Phuket. Not all are over-run. If you choose your beach and hotel carefully, you can get what you want in Phuket. Krabi is another option, as is Koh Lak. A number of people here feel that PhiPhi is heaven on earth. If you want to experience PhiPhi, don't go as a day trip.

You have lots of good options - the difficulty is in deciding.
Kathie is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2013, 12:45 PM
  #31  
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Thank you so much, Kathie. I would like to experience a mix of urban and rural, but charming small towns with clean air sounds good to me.

My thinking has gone around and round in circles on this, but I've found lots of useful info from people like you on this and other boards, and some friends who have done this.

Have pretty well decided to leave out Hong Kong and Hanoi (Halong Bay rather reluctantly, but not the best time to go I'm hearing.)

If Luang Prabang and Chiang Rai are as pleasant and laid-back as I'm hearing, perhaps we won't need a beach stop at the end.

So, what I'm thinking today at least:

- fly straight into Bangkok
4 nights Bangkok
4 nights Siem Reap
4 nights Luang Prabang
4 nights Chiang Rai

- back to Bangkok perhaps overnight, fly to Singapore

That's 16 nights, could extend a bit, perhaps another night in Bangkok to de-jetlag, but what with 2 weeks in Singapore and 4 days of long-haul travel from Tampa, don't want to extend it too much more.

What do you think?
WWanderer is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2013, 12:52 PM
  #32  
 
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I'm glad you found my comments helpful. Do note that there are limited numbers of flights from Chiang Rai, and I doubt there is anything overnight. Just aim for the latest afternoon flight that you can.

I think this is a good plan. You get a reasonable amount of time in each place, you'll have some time to explore.
Kathie is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2013, 01:45 PM
  #33  
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I'll have to look into the air further. At the moment I'm waiting to talk to Exotissimo, and then compare them with IOT at some point.

We're old folks now, pretty active, but want some support I think--private tours with a car with a/c, planned transfers. I know we could manage it all ourselves, but with the heat I think it will be a good idea. Will try to arrange lots of free time for ourselves to wander and discover.
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 02:26 PM
  #34  
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BTW, how is Air Asia? Is it really cramped and undependable like I would expect from a budget line, or is it acceptable? I know most of these flights will be short.
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 02:56 PM
  #35  
 
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It's pretty reliable. It has the usual drawbacks of budget airlines: limited luggage allowance, you have to pay extra for early boarding and for a standard luggage allowance. All flights are point-to-point, so no transfer of luggage even from one Air Asia flight to another. If you want all of the "extras" the price won't be much different from a full-service airline like Thai.

You may find that Bangkok Air's Discovery Pass can be helpful to you. It's a "Boutique" airline with good service and all the usual amenities.
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 05:05 PM
  #36  
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Looks like to fly among these places, we'll have to mix and match. No one airlines does all these routes. Haven't seen one yet between Luang Prabang and Chiang Rai. How is Nok Air?

If we use a TA I guess we'll let them work this out for us.
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 06:58 PM
  #37  
 
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I don't believe there arer any flights from LP to CR, you'll have to connect in Bangkok.
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Jun 2nd, 2013, 08:01 PM
  #38  
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Just a thought, are there any good trains between any of these destinations? Train travel can be very pleasant, much more so than air, to me.
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Jun 3rd, 2013, 07:52 AM
  #39  
 
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No trains in Cambodia and Laos. You can take the train from Bangkok to Nong Khai which gets you close to Vientiane, Laos, but it would then be a long bus ride to Luang Prabang. Likewise, there is a train to Aranyaprathet, which is close to the Cambodian border, but then you have to contend with the border scams and catch a taxi for a long ride to Siem Reap. In Thailand, you can take a train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, but must take a bus to Chiang Rai.

Really, you are best advised to fly.
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Jun 3rd, 2013, 11:04 AM
  #40  
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Thanks again, Kathie.
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