Vietnam, or ?, Cruise, or ?

Sep 29th, 2015, 09:51 AM
  #1  
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Vietnam, or ?, Cruise, or ?

My husband and I are thinking of a 2-week trip to Southeast Asia, we're near 60, good health, and have traveled a bit, but not to Asia. I can't decide on a Avalon/Uniworld type river cruise, or something else... through Vietnam & Cambodia, or head to Laos, Malasia instead... or just go to Bali/Indonesia??? Any thoughts welcome... Thank you...
bellatravel is offline  
Sep 29th, 2015, 10:11 AM
  #2  
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After reading more posts, I'm now considering Thailand, Chang Mai, Bangkok, a beach.... not sure
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Sep 29th, 2015, 10:52 AM
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A cruise is not the best way to experience SE Asia. But if you want to do a river cruise, do one with a local company, not the big European river cruisers. We will be taking a Pandaw cruise in November, on our third trip to Burma/Myanmar. www.pandaw.com

What time of year are you traveling? What are you hoping to do/see/experience?

For Thailand, Bangkok, Chiang Mai and a beach are a usual first trip and a good introduction to the country. If you can spend more than two weeks, or if you are willing to cut Chiang Mai, you could take a side trip to see the temples of Angkor in Cambodia.

Indonesia, including Bali and a side trip to Central Java to see Borobudur would also be an excellent first trip to SE Asia.

So many options! Take a browse through some of our photos os our many trips to SE Asia at www.marlandc.com
Kathie is offline  
Sep 29th, 2015, 12:05 PM
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i am high on thailand... we leave next month for our 19th thai trip---other SEA countries as well.

thailand is by far the easiest... good food, lots of english, great sights, good shopping, great seaside places, etc.

we also love bali--- an 8-10 visit to bali and a few days on lombok, next door is fabulous... alam shanti hotel in ubud and qunci villas on lombok would be my absolute choices...

we are 71 btw
rhkkmk is offline  
Sep 29th, 2015, 01:26 PM
  #5  
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Ok, lots to look into.. thank to you both... guess I'll rule out uniworld, avalon for now.... and by the way we live in Los Angeles, so very far for us... do you also travel far for these trips? Indonesia/Bali seems so remote when we can go to Hawaii or Mexico, but not sure....
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Sep 29th, 2015, 01:32 PM
  #6  
 
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I did the Uniworld Mekong cruise with my parents - sights were great, some a bit much for my Dad (who is NOT in shape) but boat was lovely, as were the guides and crew on the boat.

Only issue was the fellow passengers. They've been on 6 Uniworld cruises, with me along for 3 (I'm 25, first was when I was 20?) never an issue, people were always VERY nice, didn't seem to mind having me along for the trip- usually the youngest by at least 30-40 years! Some even said to me it was nice to have a younger person along for the trip!

On the Mekong trip, there were only 16 passengers total (versus 80-120 on Europe cruises). One couple were openly upset that my parents don't drink- even calling my mom a 'cold fish' and saying 'she never had a chance based on what her parents named her'???? They also didn't like that I sat by myself at breakfast one morning at a hotel, and not with them, when my parents ate before me... (Like, really?? I'd met you the day before) This happened over dinner, where they started shouting and we moved to an open table (for the record, we had sat down first, they willingly joined) Because cruising is 'about community' (what? We were there to spend time together as a family! Not bond with you over 6 glasses of wine)

Well, they recruited another couple and they were EVIL. My ulcers flared up on the flight over and it took me a few days to realize it- that together with jet lag made my first few days quiet ones/or I'd put my head on my mom's lap when we were sitting somewhere- the Husband came up to me in Siem Reap and said "I'm glad you decided to be part of the group and talk to people" (wait, what??) The wife grabbed me by the arm one day and shoved me because I was taking a picture next to her (again- really???) and the wife visibly bumped/pushed my Mom at Cu Chi caves- to where she almost fell down into a bunker. I'd had it at that point (my Mom is SO NICE and doesn't stand up for herself the way she should) and body slammed that old troll a minute later and told her if she EVER went near my Mom again she would be sorry. (Very dramatic, yes, but REALLY we didn't do ANYTHING to them)

Even at the farewell dinner in Saigon, the old troll came up to me and grabbed my arm and said 'Everyone calls you Elephant Girl'- as though that was a slight? I have a number of pieces of clothing with elephants on them, which I wore a lot on this trip, and someone said 'we're calling you elephant girl, you're always wearing them!' the first night on the boat- I just shoved her off of me. I *really* wanted to punch her in the face, but I didn't want to see the inside of a Vietnamese prison.

Also, it wasn't just us, an older gentleman travelling alone, Roger, was also a target of their spite- to the point where he ate dinner in his room every night on the boat

I realize you didn't need the whole run down, but the passengers on the Uniworld Mekong trip are vastly different than those on the European cruises!!! Plus smaller boat (I think a max of 48?) can lead to different dynamics...
needmorevacation is offline  
Sep 29th, 2015, 01:41 PM
  #7  
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Beautiful pics Kathie! I'll have to peruse awhile, looks like you've been around... I am interested in nature, animals, history, architecture, culture, food, etc. .... I heard Thailand was overly touristy, Vietnam was less developed, plus I've always liked the French influence on the culture, especially the food.... Than I heard Cambodia was a must at least in terms of Angkor... Turns out the new Masterpiece Theater show "Indian Summer" is shot in Malasia, and it's stunning beautiful, so then I thought why not Malasia. Others say Laos is fantastic. Then I'm reading Thailand is best for a first trip, so I've gone full circle... We also love to snorkel in clear fresh water an can scuba, and so thought Bali and environs would be nice. As a first trip, not sure where to start... other than a stack of books I've brought home from the library...
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Sep 29th, 2015, 02:02 PM
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Needsmore, what a terrible experience!

Bella, do start with books about the places that interest you most. Ignore comments that say a whole country is too touristy! There are areas of Thailand that are very well developed for tourism, other areas that are far off the tourist track. But even the places in Thailand that are firmly on the tourist track can be lovely. I wouldn't stay at Patong Beach on Phuket, but here are many other beaches that are lovely and aren't over-developed on Phuket.

After all, you probably want to go to a place that has a well-developed tourism infrastructure: nice hotels, good restaurants, good service, interesting things to see and do.

What time of the year will you be traveling? That will make a difference in where we might recommend you consider.
Kathie is offline  
Sep 29th, 2015, 02:04 PM
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OP - for some one who has never been to SE Asia I suggest you start off in Thailand as it is probably the easiest place to get around and negotiate your way. If you decided that you like the climate/culture/people then make plans for the next trips to Cambodia/Laos; Malaysia/Singapore; Bali; Philippines - not necessarily in that order


Your question "Do you also travel far for these trips" - I reside in Australia and have flown to Miami USA. That's about a 24 hour trip (including transit). Also have travelled SYD-SFO-EWR-Puerto Rico - so, yes we all travel far to get to where we want to go.
PhiMeow is offline  
Sep 29th, 2015, 02:12 PM
  #10  
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I was aiming to go in the spring or fall, but can be anytime. Of course I want to travel when the weather is best and tourists least.... I have traveled far... to Africa no less, so I am willing and able if it's worth it to me ... am also considering Brazil, about the same flight time in another direction... but we did Peru last year, so thought it was finally time for Asia...
bellatravel is offline  
Sep 29th, 2015, 02:17 PM
  #11  
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Oh and needmorevacation, wow sorry to hear that... I have traveled with Globus to Italy and Cosmos to Greece (the latter with my then 80-year old mother) and I think when it's the only way to go these large groups are worth it... but otherwise, I'm too restless and really don't want to spend too much time talking to a bunch of North Americans when I'm out of the country. I thought these Asian river cruises might be better... guess not, or again depends on your physical level and what you can handle. They do take a lot of the planning, work out of the equation...
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Sep 29th, 2015, 02:58 PM
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Bella, I live in Seattle and we go to SE Asia (almost) every year. Yes, it is a long way but it is my favorite part of the world.

As for when to travel, Thailand is best in Nov/Dec/Jan/Feb If you want to avoid crowds, chose Nov or Feb. For Indonesia, Our "summer" is a good time. Bali is lovely and it is culturally unique, but it isn't the best place to snorkel.

As you begin to decide when to go, take a look at www.weatherbase.com for historical weather information. There are some places you can go and enjoy even during the rainy season, other places where the monsoons are such that you get flooding and places are closed or inaccessible for part of the year.

The only reason for me to take a river cruise is to get to places that are otherwise inaccessible. That's why we are taking the Pandaw Cruise - we will start north of Mandalay and end almost at the India border. We are on a ship with just 5 staterooms. This is not the usual river cruise experience. But I wouldn't recommend a cruise - any cruise- for a first trip to Burma/Myanmar. The must-see places aren't necessarily along the Irrawaddy. The same is true elsewhere in SE Asia.

Planning and booking in SE Asia is pretty easy. if you can plan a trip in the US or Europe, you can plan a trip in SE Asia. And the prices in SE Asia are so much better!
Kathie is offline  
Sep 30th, 2015, 05:08 AM
  #13  
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Sounds like Thailand would be a good start maybe early next year, November still gets a bit of rain I'm reading at weatherbase... another concern is the terrorists in Bali and in Thailand, where I think something like 20 people died in a bomb explosion in Bangkok just this August; there was another where no one was injured... That was another reason I considered Vietnam instead.
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Sep 30th, 2015, 05:20 AM
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<> True, I just looked up some river cruise itineraries for Myanmar and would have missed most of my favorite places from my trip there, something to consider for my next trip (although me on a boat in Burma again may not be the best idea).

And yes, it's totally possible that we just got the short straw with wretched travelers, but I don't think the small group size helped. My parents went on another Uniworld this past summer in France (?) and again, just loved it.
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Sep 30th, 2015, 11:33 AM
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OP, we took our first trip to Thailand this past spring. We are parents in our late 50's, invited by our mid-20's children. We loved Thailand! The people were wonderful. Food was a highlight of our trip, and we ate in places as varied as the street, to a newly opened restaurant. I will say that we hired a local guide who was wonderful. He helped us get our feet on the ground and feel more comfortable. The price was right and he followed our requests for sights and meals. I didn't find it too touristy at all. We went in mid-late March because of schedules, it was hot, but we expected that. Our vacation also involved a rest at a small island eco-resort and then on to Angkor Wat. Our whole family is still talking about this trip. I think you'll enjoy it if this is your choice.
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Sep 30th, 2015, 11:57 AM
  #16  
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Thanks Mutti, Sounds wonderful.. how did you get started...? Can you recommend some names, places?
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Sep 30th, 2015, 12:11 PM
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bali is simply fab... forget terrorists...

we live in boston and fly there every year..

we HATE tours of any kind, do now do some cruises in our later years.

i have a very reasonable guide/driver for you in bali-- about $50/day.. Putu is his name

mybalifriend.com

he would take wonderful care of you both.

shop for the asian airlines... we love korean air..
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