Asia Forums

Post New Topic

Recent Activity

View all Asia activity »
  1. 1 HP PRINTER @ I8OO*68I*72O8 in$tallation CONTACT HP PRINTER Tec*h care 24/7
  2. 2 Anti Malarial tablets in SE Asia
  3. 3 Family trip to Thailand for Christmas and possibly New year
  4. 4 6 Days in Thailand
  5. 5 Is it safe to travel Hong Kong in Oct?
  6. 6 Wat Arun
  7. 7 Trip Report Nywoman an older single traveler explores Taiwan
  8. 8 Trip Report Laurel and Hardy in Drag Do Bangkok
  9. 9 9 days in Japan in April
  10. 10 Trip Report RHK's Fall SEA Trip
  11. 11 Question re. fees at BOM
  12. 12 best way to travel between Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Siem Reap, Cambodia
  13. 13 Best guidebooks for SE Asia
  14. 14 Spa Bangkok
  15. 15 Internet in SE Asia
  16. 16 Please recommend a hotel in Mumbai
  17. 17 Trip Report Vietnam, Cambodia & Hong Kong - Fall 2017 Trip Report
  18. 18 Using a Starling Bank card in SE Asia
  19. 19 cooking school in Chiang Mai?
  20. 20 need your help with japan itinerary
  21. 21 Japan in July with 20 year old
  22. 22 Hotel in Vang Vieng
  23. 23 A comprehensive guide for tourists visiting North Goa
  24. 24 4 DAYS in KERALA...
  25. 25 VN + Japan 6 wks March/April - which order?
View next 25 » Back to the top

Trip Report Trip Report - Six weeks in South East Asia

Jump to last reply

My husband and I (both in our 50’s) recently had a 6 week holiday to S E Asia. We had a wonderful time, except for a bit of a flat spot midway through the trip. We consider ourselves tourists rather than seasoned travelers, but we are getting more adventurous with each trip. We have travelled to quite a few places in Asia before including a 6 week trip to China a couple of years ago.

I am an avid reader of the Fodors travel forum and Tripadvisor and the people who contribute were a great source of knowledge when planning this trip.
I booked everything on the net including my flights. I had no problems with any of these arrangements. There were a couple of flight time changes and I was notified by email in a timely manner by the airlines concerned. We were lucky in that we had no flight cancellations.
Out itinerary was as follows
Indonesia (Bali)

We chose to go to Phuket first to ease us into Asia and also to get used to the heat and humidity. I actually love that kind of climate but my husband it the complete opposite. When we first arrived he looked like he was going to melt. We had already been to Bangkok so bypassed it totally.
We flew V Australia to Phuket from Canberra via Brisbane. We asked Daj ([email protected]) to arrange a pick up for us. We stayed at the delightful Coconut Paradise Villas in the Bon Island Villa ( The villa was just perfect for us. The luxury of having my own swimming pool was a real novelty - I was in my element. It was in a really quiet spot and walkable distance from numerous restaurants and bars. It was like staying in the countryside complete with early morning rooster. The villa was very well equipped and beautifully maintained. Our only problem was that the bed was so hard, but they always are in Asia and we had to get used to it. The owner took us on a mini tour of the area on our first morning which was very useful to get our bearings plus he stopped at a local supermarket so we could stock up on essentials. The information pack at the villa was very comprehensive. Many of the local restaurants home deliver meals and we used this service a couple of times.

We used a local taxi service to get around though if I was going again I would hire a car. The island of Phuket is much larger than I imagined. So much for my extensive trip research.

The activities we enjoyed were:

A day trip with Daj which was interesting and really good value. Stops included various lookouts, the Big Buddha and Wat Chalong. He also took as to a lovely seafood restaurant for lunch and waited for us at a shopping centre in Patong. Gerry and I had our first fish pedicure here. Much to the spa ladies’ amusement the fish would not go near Gerry’s feet and attacked mine like piranha.

A great trip with Phuket sail tours ( (Kho Phanak Sail, Caves & Hong Tour). Captain Mark was great company and brilliant at engaging and including everyone on the tour. The food on the tour was incredible considering the size of the galley.

One day we took a longtail boat over to Bon Island ( for lunch and had a thoroughly enjoyable a relaxing day with wonderful food (especially the prawns in garlic and black pepper) and pina coladas

The only activity we did which was a bit disappointing was the Fantasea show. It started off well but I was bored after 15 minutes. Maybe I just wanted to be at home in my swimming pool.

We ate at numerous restaurants in the area and never had a bad meal. We mostly had seafood served quite simply but also enjoyed the soups on offer especially the Tom Ka Gai (chicken soup with coconut milk and lemongrass). I have never been a great fan of the Thai food I have tried in Australia as I am not keen on coriander and every dish here is laden with the stuff. In Thailand we found it not added to everything and if it was the taste was much for subtle. One restaurant of note was Banana Corner in Rawai Beach ( the Mussuman Chicken Curry was terrific.

We were given a TRUE SIM card at the airport on arrival and we topped it up a couple of times with 300 THB during our whole stay in Thailand. Besides local calls we called our son’s mobile in Australia every couple of days and found this amazingly cheap compared to call charges in Australia.

No problems getting cash from ATMs. I used cash to pay for everything .

We really enjoyed our five days in Phuket. Staying away from the hustle and bustle of Patong was a great choice for us.

We flew Air Asia to Chiang Mai. Even though it was only a short flight I paid the extra couple of dollars to secure a front row seat. We took a tax from the airport to 3 Sis B & B ( We just loved it here. The staff were wonderful and the location just opposite Wat Chediluang could not be beaten. Lovely quiet room and tasty breakfast as well. Great area to wander around.

The activities we enjoyed were
Elephant Nature Park ( was fantastic. Being able to feed and bathe these magnificent creatures was unbelievable. Hearing the stories about how they came to be at the park was very heart wrenching and the optional video they show on baby elephant training was very confronting. It was a great day out with a good lunch provided.

A highlight for Gerry was our visit to Tiger Kingdom ( . I know some people don’t think it is ethical etc, but thought it was very well run and we both enjoyed our sessions patting the tigers. The babies were so playful and really funny when they just stopped after a little while of active play to take a nap. The food in the restaurant was good and eating on the balcony overlooking the tiger play area was very entertaining. We hired a private songthaew for the day so we could go to Doi Suthep in the afternoon. Great views and a hive of activity at this historic wat.

My highlight was the Flight of the Gibbon ( I was so scared to begin with I was shaking. It didn’t help that Gerry and I were the only ones over 30 in our group. However, once I had done a couple of the zip lines and felt safe and comfortable getting to the next platform, I enjoyed it so much. If he had had time I would have returned the next day for another go. The young guys who run the trip are very safety conscious and very amusing. They took great sport in teasing me and making me more relaxed. A side trip to a nearby waterfall was worthwhile. I didn’t climb to the top but paddled in some of the rock pools at the bottom. We also got a tasty lunch before being returned to our hotel. It was the best day.

We ate at various restaurants near our hotel. Once again we enjoyed every meal. For a bit of a change we stopped by Vieng Joom On Teahouse ( on our way back from buying bust tickets. It was very quaint and most enjoyable. The custard sandwiches served as part of the High Tea were a bit odd but I ate them anyway.

We went to a Khantoke dinner and performance at the Old Chiang Mai Culture centre ( . The food was plentiful (some people on an adjoining table must have eaten their body weight in fried chicken) and we were able to sample things we would not normally order .We enjoyed the some of the Thai Lanna dancing, but the Hilltribe show was woeful.

We really enjoyed our time in Chiang Mai. We could have spent much longer exploring the old town and the surrounding area. We could not see everything in just five days.

We went by VIP to Chiang Rai. We bought the tickets a couple of days before the trip. The journey was very comfortable. The Chiang Rai bus station is a little way out of town so we had to get a tuktuk from there to the Orchid Guest House ( I made a bit of a mistake here. This place was really a bit basic for us. Having said that it was very clean and well worth 450 THB a night. There was just nowhere to sit around and relax and the rooms were very small and boxy. As we were only here for two nights we just made the best of it.

We spent the whole of the next day on a tour with Jermsak (jermsak_[email protected]) and it exceeded all our expectations. Stops included the beautiful Thai Queen Mother’s Royal Villa, the monkey cave, the border town of Maesai, the Opium Museum, Wat Jediluang in the ancient city, Chiang Sean.and the Black House of artist Thawan Duchanee. Jermsak was a wonderful guide and he answered all our questions about Thai life, culture and politics.

The morning of our last day Jermsak’s driver (an absolutely charming lady) took us to the stunning White Temple. She showed us all around and took us to the workshops where we were fascinated by all the artists working on new pieces for this work in progress.

The night market in Chiang Rai is well worth a visit. We had both our evening meals in the food court there , buying bits and pieces from the various stalls. There were lots of places near our guest house to buy breakfast.

We decided to take a taxi to Chiang Kong for our overnight stop before our trip down the Mekong. It was an enjoyable journey through the countryside to our hotel for the night the Riverside Hotel ( . Our room was gorgeous with a lovely balcony overlooking the river. We wandered around town and beside the river for a couple of hours then relaxed for the rest of the evening. We had a good dinner at the hotel. We had already run into four of our fellow passengers on our cruise. The owner of the boat met us all at breakfast and got our paperwork organized before we set off to cross the river to Laos.

  • Report Abuse

    Hi Martha,

    Glad you had a good time at Bon Island! Garlic Prawns is our all time favourite dish so it doesn't surprise me that you enjoyed it! I will pass the link to your trip report on to my friends at Coconut Paradise Villas as I know they will be pleased to hear your kind comments.

    Maybe see you here again one day!

    Dawn (Bon Island Restaurant, Phuket, Thailand)

  • Report Abuse

    We travelled from Huay Xai to Luang Praban on the Nagi of Mekong (
    The whole experience was wonderful.
    Adisak the owner met us at our Chiang Khong hotel and accompanied us to the boat. He and his team looked after all our luggage and sorted out our visas ($30 for Australians) and escorted us through Laos immigration. We were travelling with two other Australians and four Brits. The link below is the Trip Advisor forum topic in which both the Australians and the Brits have written their trip reports on our river trip. It sums up my thoughts perfectly.
    Just one thing, if you do this trip it is useful to pack an overnight bag for the stopover in Pak Beng. This saves having to cart all your bags up the hill to the hotel. The rest of the luggage is locked up on board and quite safe.

    In Pak Beng our guide Ki pointed me in the right direction to get my ETL SIM card. Once again I put an extra $10 on card and that lasted me for our entire stay in Laos.
    I didn’t manage to get any Lao Kip until I arrived in Luang Prabang but Thai Baht and USD are accepted everywhere along the river. There are plenty of ATMs in L-P and except for our hotel bills I paid everything in cash. I did have one instance when I did not get any money from an ATM despite having put in my PIN. I thought this may be credited back to my account in a few days, but it was not. I had taken note of the ATM location etc and when I got home I reported it to VISA and they sorted it out.

    On arrival in L-P we were picked up at the jetty by a driver from our hotel. We stayed at Le Belair Resort ( It was situated on the opposite side of the river from the main town and whilst it seemed far away when travelling by tuktuk, there was a short cut back into town using a pedestrian/motor bike bridge just near the hotel. We were very comfortable in the hotel. Our room was lovely and quiet, the grounds peaceful and the breakfast delicious. We had a meal at the first night at the restaurant and it began our addiction to fried river weed with sesame seeds.

    Our activities in L-P
    A full day tour with See ([email protected]) we went to some minority villages about 25km from L-P. It was wonderful to get a glimpse of village life and be reminded of all the hard work necessary to survive in rural communities. See is obviously well known as he chatted with everyone and assured me they were all happy having their photo taken. A couple of photos that sum up the experience is one of a young lad about 7 years old setting up his rat traps to catch field rats to eat and another of a teacher in a classroom with her small baby in a sling on her back.
    In the afternoon See drove us to the Kiang Si waterfall. This is a really beautiful spot and was not too busy as we were there on a weekday. We also visited Bear Rescue park which is on the way to the falls. The bears were particulary active when we were there and it was fun to watch them.

    During the next two days we just wandered around the town. We both found it very relaxing walking around the streets, visiting wats and not really having anything planned. We climbed up to the top of Phousi Hill. We used the stairs on the Khan River side and although this is a more direct way up, the access from opposite the National Museum is much more gradual and more importantly shaded. The National Museum was very informative, we did the audio tour and it is well worth it. There are two headsets on each audio player so the extra cost is very reasonable.
    I had bought some maps of L-P, Vietiane and Chiang Mai from Hobo Maps ( and found these invaluable.

    One night we went to the Royal National ballet performance at the museum. We bought the cheaper normal seats and they were perfectly comfortable and we could see the stage OK. It was a very enjoyable performance and the venue was really interesting as the walls were covered in mirrored mosaics scenes similar to those at some of the wats.

    There are so many restaurants in L-P we were spoilt for choice. We mainly ate Lao food and all our meals were lovely. I am not sure I varied my choices much IMO you just can’t get much better than fried river weed, larb beef followed by sticky rice with mango accompanied by a cold beer. Each morning we went to the JoMa bakery for a latte and a Nanaimo bar. One restaurant we really enjoyed due to its location was the Dyen Sabai.. The food was good and the eating spaces which were all lit up by lanterns are all on different levels. We walked there from our hotel but people staying in the town can get a boat across the Khan river or use the temporary bamboo bridge in the dry season.

    We did not do any shopping in L-P as I did not want to cart stuff around for another 4 weeks. I really only intended to buy little gifts and souvenirs for family and friends anyway. We briefly looked around the markets and shops. I thought the quality of the handicrafts on offer was much better than anywhere else we visited.

    We flew Lao Airlines to Vientiane and were picked up at the airport by our hotel. We stayed at the Lao Orchid Hotel ( This was another lovely hotel with friendly staff and a great location. We thought Vientiane was a lovely city, very compact and great to walk around, not too much traffic and well maintained pavements.

    We only had two full days to explore. On the first day we overdid it a bit. We headed off to the Lao National Museum which is well worth a visit especially if you are like us and knew hardly anything about the history of Laos. After a pit stop at the JoMa bakery we headed to Patuxai to see the view from the top. We stopped at the Kualao restaurant for lunch before heading out the COPE centre. This free museum/exhibition is excellent. The exhibits are creative and informative and the information is well written and presented. They have several excellent videos so you could spend a considerable amount of time here if you were to watch them all but you should allow 1-2 hours minimum for your visit because it is so interesting. We probably should have got a tuktuk back to our hotel but we didn’t realise how far it was. By the time we got to our room we were shattered.

    Next day we shared a taxi with another hotel guest to Budha park. It was worth a look around, but I would have been better if there had been an explanation of some of the statues as I am sure they have a tale to tell. We got dropped off at Great Sacred Stupa and after a wander headed back to our hotel. Gerry was not feeling the best – he had been suffering from a bad back since having a Thai massage in Chiang Mai. It was not getting any better and our marathon walk in the heat had not helped. Whilst he rested I went ‘a-watting’ around the hotel and also went to have a look at the huge statue of King Fa Ngum which was just down the road.

    On our last evening we walked up the road to the Spirit House and enjoyed a martini watching the sunset over the Mekong. When deciding where to eat dinner we passed Aria Italian Culinary Arts and thought we would give it a try. The prices seemed pretty expensive by Lao standards but as it turned out they included a glass of prosecco and a plate of mixed breads with flavoured butter. The food was heavenly. My risotto was the best I have ever had. I can’t remember what Gerry had but I do remember the look of pleasure on his face with every mouthful.

    One more thing on the food front. If you have any kip left to get rid of (they take USD too) and have some time to spare at Vientiane airport, you could not go past the buffet at the upstairs restaurant. I am not sure of the operating hours, we were there around lunchtime. Besides Lao dishes there was freshly made sushi, grilled meats, fresh fruit and some local desserts. I think I ate my money’s worth in banana flan. Beverages are also included in the price. It was a very pleasant way to spend an hour or so waiting for our plane to Vietnam.

  • Report Abuse

    Hi Martha. I just returned from Laos too and I saw your hotel in LP across the river and it looked wonderful!
    Your tour to the small villages sounded great, I wish that i had done that.
    I went to Joma in Vientiane and saw that they had Nanaimo bars too, which I find really funny cos I live in Nanaimo where there were invented! Who would have thought?
    I really enjoyed your report and agree that the goods at the market were exceptional. Unlike you however I did buy lots and did cart them all over the place with me. Now that I am home I am glad of it however.

  • Report Abuse

    To be honest our first week in Vietnam was a bit of a flat spot in our trip.

    We had enjoyed an almost perfect two and a half weeks in Thailand and Laos and we just kind of lost the momentum in Vietnam. This was mostly due to the weather which was more or less continual torrential rain. I knew it was the tail end of the rainy season but I had hoped we would get at least some good weather on the central coast.

    A couple of years ago I spent 10 days in Vietnam visiting a friend who was working in Hanoi. We divided our time between Hanoi and Saigon, but took several day trips out of each city. I had a wonderful time and really wanted to see some more of the country. My previous trip report link below

    We bypassed Hanoi and only spent one full day in Saigon on this trip.
    We flew Lao Airlines to Hanoi and were supposed to fly onward with Vietnamese Airlines to Hue. I had bought our visas from the Vietnamese embassy here in Canberra so going through immigration was straight forward.
    At Hanoi airport there was an announcement that our flight had been cancelled due to bad weather. Luckily we were one of the first in the queue at the information desk and managed to get on the next flight to Danang.
    Whilst waiting I bought a SIM from Vietel with some extra credit. I had a little problem whilst I was in Vietnam with my mobile. Messages were continually being sent to me and they stayed on the screen until I acknowledged them. I asked a few people what they were and they said advertising. The problem was I had to recharge my battery every day even though I wasn’t using my phone much for calls.

    We took a taxi to Hue. The drive was terrifying due to the weather and all the trucks and buses that use the highway during the night which our driver was determined to overtake at great speed despite the torrential rain. I had phoned our hotel to advise them we were running late and it was well after midnight when we arrived at the Orchid Hotel (: Despite the late hour we were greeted warmly by the reception staff. We were both a bit worse for wear, but had to laugh when they showed us to our room. For some reason I had booked a romantic room and it was all pink velour with rose petals on the bed and the bath towels folded in the shape of turtle doves.

    I must have a rave here about the staff at this hotel. They were all so friendly and nothing was too much trouble. For example of the day we left a young couple arrived at reception looking for a room. They were both totally drenched. There were no vacancies but the front desk staff offered the couple towels to dry themselves off, some food and drink from the breakfast room, plus the use of the internet so they could find themselves a room elsewhere. When we left I wanted to leave a tip for all the staff to share. I left some money with the girls at the front office. Halfway to Hoi An, our driver gets a call and it’s the front office wanting to talk to me. The receptionist was sure I had made an error with the money I had left as it was too much. I assured her I had not and she excitedly said that one of the staff was having a birthday and they would use the money for everyone to go to karaoke.

    We had a good night’s sleep each night and enjoyed the breakfast provided. We had to ask the front desk to get a doctor for Gerry as his back was not improving. The doctor spoke great English and did a lengthy examination, diagnosed inflammation of the sciatic nerve and provided some prescription medication. Gerry was right as rain in a couple of days.
    We did manage to do a couple of things over the next two days but did not get to any of the tombs as it was just too wet for it to be enjoyable for us.
    We managed to see the Citadel on the first day and it was OK. A kind of mini scruffy Forbidden City. We finally gave in after being followed for 20 minutes to some cyclo drivers and they whisked us around the old town and back to the hotel.

    The second day we had a day trip to the DMZ and luckily the rain held off for most of the day. We booked with Mr Trung ([email protected]) but he was sick so he sent another guide. This gentleman was very knowledgeable and spoke great English. We had a good day visiting Doc Mieu US Military base, Hien Luong bridge,. Ben Hai river, Vinh Moc tunnels , Ho chi Minh trail and Truong Son Military Cemetery. The tunnel visit was the highlight. These were much larger and easier to access that the Cu Chi tunnels. We stopped for lunch at a little restaurant on the beach. The setting was lovely, very wild and windy but pretty spectacular. The food was OK. Too many bones in the fish to be enjoyable for us.

    We had a couple of good meals in Hue. We didn’t venture far from the hotel. La Carambole was one of the best meals especially the onion soup.

    I arranged the driver from the hotel to take us to Hoi An and was hoping to take in the sights on the way. This was not possible due to the rain, we drove straight through except for a lunch stop at a beachside restaurant.
    We stayed at the Ha An hotel( . This hotel was well run with great staff. The grounds are lovely and the breakfast was fantastic. It was a pleasant walk into the old town.

    We only stayed two nights here as we were worried we would get flooded in and not make our flight to Saigon. The day we left the water was about 4 inches deep in the street outside the hotel. The road to My Son was closed.
    We spent the whole full day in Hue walking the street of the old town. There is a ticket scheme which allows you access to the landmarks. We bought a couple of tickets each and this allowed us access to 10 points of interest. We really enjoyed the Museum of History and the old houses, particularly the Tran Family Chapel. It took us most of the day to look around the town with numerous iced coffee breaks. We had a good lunch at Good Morning Vietnam and dinner at Morning Glory. The best thing about Hoi An is that the old town centre is off limits to heavy vehicles so it is easy to walk around. There are all sorts of alleys to explore.

    As we left a day early from Hoi An we had an unscheduled overnight stop in Danang. I just booked the Pacific Hotel ( as it had a reasonable write up on tripadvisor. It suited us fine – clean and in a central location. The breakfast was very ordinary though. We decided to take advantage of the break in the weather to have lunch at a beachside restaurant followed by a walk along the beach. It was very pleasant. We then went to the Cham Museum. What a surprise this turned out to be. The museum and grounds are lovely and the sculptures are quite remarkable. For dinner we went to the Waterfront Danang Restaurant. We had a table on the balcony with views over the river. The food was wonderful. The chicken parmigiana brought a smile to Gerry’s face and the New York cheesecake brought a smile to mine.

    We flew with Vietnam Airlines to HCMC and were picked up by the driver from the Spring Hotel (http://www.springhotelvietnam.coml). I had stayed at this hotel before and I thought it was great value for money with friendly staff. Just loved the pho for breakfast. We only had one whole day in HCMC and my quest was to try and get some USD to take with me to Cambodia. This turned out to be impossible as the dollar was doing odd things and banks had stopped issuing the currency until it settled down. It was lovely walking around the city in the sunshine. We had no other plan except to get some ice cream from Fannies. We had two great dinners, one at Quan An Ngon and the other at a little French bistro called the Refinery. We were actually heading for Hoa Tuc and found this little place in the same courtyard side street.

    I really enjoyed my day trip to the Mekong delta on my previous trip so decided to spend a bit longer there this time. I booked a two night trip with Visit Indochina ( It was basically a trip to Can Tho and Chau Doc and the boat to Phnom Penh. I was very pleased with most aspects of the trip. The second day involved a lot of driving and whilst I was quite happy looking out the window at the scenery, Gerry was bored to tears. The two hotels that we stayed at were both really clean and well appointed. The Kim Tho ( in Can Tho had the most comfortable bed of the whole trip. Hotel Chau Pho in Chau Doc was a bit out of town but we didn’t have time to look round much. We had no complaints at all.

    Our first day’s highlights were a boat ride to Turtle island for lunch via various canals plus a visit to a fruit orchard. The second morning we went to a floating market then the local wet market, then after a very long drive a very interesting visit to the Regional Goddess Chinese temple.
    Early the next morning we were taken to the river to board the ferry to Phnom Penh.

  • Report Abuse

    Not many people know about the buffet upstairs in the International Airport. It is really good value - 60,000Kip for all you can eat and a glass of wine or beer. (Drink beer as the wine is cask wine and is often oxidised). Food includes steaks, sushi, Lao food, curries, deserts and is good quality.

15 Replies |Back to top

Sign in to comment.