Where to go?

Jul 30th, 2003, 01:25 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9
Where to go?

My husband and I are planning a 1 month vacation for August. We just found out about this great deal from Cathay Pacific, that you can fly to 17 cities for US699. The problem is neither of us has ever been to Asia and we have to figure out our destinations and how much time we want to spend in each place until tomorrow (last day to buy the ticket). We can chose any, or all of these cities, but we don't want to spend so much time on planes, so we were thinking about maybe 4 or 5 cities. Any suggestions?
We definately want to go to Thailand!
Bali - Bangkok - Cebu - Fukuoka - Hong Kong - Jakarta - Karachi - Kuala Lumpur - Manila Nagoya - Osaka - Penang - Sapporo - Seoul - Singapore - Surabaya - Taipei - Tokyo.
Thanks in advance for your help!
Dani01 is offline  
Jul 30th, 2003, 02:01 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 63
I would recommmend trying this...

Hong Kong - 5 nights
Bangkok - 5 nights
Bali - 5 nighs
Singapore - 4 nights
Tokyo - 4 nights

Since you've never been to Asia, I think Hong Kong will be a great first city to visit. Very modern on one hand with excellent transportation and easy to get around. Taxis are also relatively cheap compared to US major cities. Don't miss the view of Victoria Harbor from the Peak, Temple Street night market, and Ladies' Market for some great shopping rubbing elbows with the locals.

Bangkok is more gritty and exotic and not as modern but still fairly easy to get around. The weekend market is excellent so plan your stop in Bangkok over a weekend. Also, the Sunday Jazz brunch at the Sukhothai Hotel is great. Bangkok is nice because you can stay at very nice hotels for very reasonable prices.

Bali - haven't been yet but I think you'll need some rest and relaxation after Hong Kong and Bangkok! lol

Singapore is very neat, clean, and EXTREMELY easy to get around in. Food and taxis are not as cheap as Bangkok and alcohol is very expensive because of govt tarrifs. The food courts in the major shopping malls are lots of fun for trying out new foods cheaply and easily. Smith St. (i think it's smith st.) in Chinatown is great at night where you can sample things such as stingray. (it's really good!) Little India is a great place to buy gold by the gram and fabrics.

Tokyo is also fairly easy to get around in although I don't think as easy as Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Singapore. It is a little pricer but I think would provide a nice balance to round out your trip. I have not been recently so I don't have many suggestions. A walk down the Ginza is a must (the major shopping boulevard) and many like visiting the wet market.

Good luck!
MarcieLynn is offline  
Jul 30th, 2003, 02:03 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 63
I forgot!

If you're in Singapore over a Sunday, DO NOT miss the brunch at Ritz Carlton. 5 piece, live mini orchestra, lobster claws, sushi, Moet & Chandon, etc. It's wonderful! Just did that 2 weeks ago and wish I could go back for more.
MarcieLynn is offline  
Jul 30th, 2003, 02:04 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,596

Fukuoka! Hai!

Fukuoka is a large Japanese city but not a megalopolis like Tokyo or Osaka.

Transportation is really easy from the Hakata rail station. Easy to get to/from the airport. Head out to Hawk's Town to catch a baseball game and the Hard Rock Cafe.

Get 5-day JR Kyushu passes before you leave (see japanrail.com) and head south of Fukuoka to visit an onsen. Spend a day or two in Nagasaki. Rail over to Kumamoto and/or Beppu or elsewhere around Kyushu.

Oh! Get a 7-day JR Pass and fly to Tokyo. Visit Hakone, Kyoto & Nara, Hirsoshima, and then fly back to HKG after visiting Fukuoka!

I'd go to Singapore and Bali.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jul 30th, 2003, 05:22 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 274
You do realize that each city you visit is via the hub city..Hong Kong...to go from Tokyo to Bangkok you must go thru Hong Kong..etc...unless the rules are different this time around..
circa is offline  
Jul 30th, 2003, 09:00 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 24
Hi Dani.
My husband and I are also doing the Cathay All Asia Pass. I don't know if you are aware, but at least in the US the final date to book is July 31st. We actually mapped out our itinerary and found an agent to submit the requests to Cathay today 7/30, and we're still waiting for Cathay's response...so hope you have luck...please wish us the same!
tulip is offline  
Jul 31st, 2003, 04:44 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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circa, that's not quite right. The FAQs on the cathay-usa.com site explain that you don't have to fly via HKG if Cathay services the route you want. You can use the pass to fly nonstop from BKK to Singapore and from Singapore to Jakarta.

One Q/A deals with visiting the add-on cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. They make an exception so that you only have to pay for one add-on and fly the open-jaw roundtrip. The rules go on to say that you pay the higher of the two add-on cities but not both.

All 5 Japan cities are served non-stop and via TPE. Flying an open-jaw trip to a regular destination (not an add-on) is allowed.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jul 31st, 2003, 04:48 AM
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So you can go:
HKG -> TPE nonstop
TPE -> NRT nonstop
shinkansen from Tokyo to Osaka
KIX -> BKK via HKG
BKK -> Jakarta via SIN (assuming schedule allows)
Jakarta -> SIN
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jul 31st, 2003, 05:49 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,689
The above references to flying to Jakarta are a little confusing; Jakarta is NOT on the island of Bali. You need to fly to Denpassar on Bali. You may have to pay more for this flight if it is not included in the pass. Many flights from Singapore and Bangkok connect through Jakarta; but a non-stop flight would save you lots of time.

As you want to go to Thailand, I would and spend more time there. There are many places to see besides Bangkok. The islands of Phuket and Koh Samui are beautiful, there is a nice beach area in Hua Hin, and the northern towns in the Chiang Mai area offer trekking and tribal culture. Run a search here, or get a good guidebook to Thailand and Southeast Asia and see what is on offer. You may have to pay for flights to get to northern Thailand and the islands. You can drive to Hua Hin from Bangkok in about 3 hours. However, time of year is an issue too, you are going to run into just the leading edge of the rainy season in Thailand. August is not as bad as later months, but bear this in mind.

Except for Bali, August is the beginning of the rainy season in SE Asia and Japan (which doesn't have so much of a rainy season as the rest), so be prepared for hot, humid and the occasional downpour.

Hong Kong is a no brainier, great and interesting city. It will be very very hot and humid, so keep this in mind when planning your days.

Is Vietnam included? If so, I would actually skip Singapore in favour of Vietnam. I lived in S'pre and loved it, but would go to Vietnams first, or if that is not possible, spend more time in the countryside of Thailand and also focus on Bali.

Japan is fairly far north, and as you want to concentrate on Thailand, you will use your time more wisely by staying in SE Asia. However, by going to Japan you will see a whole different culture as well. It will depend on what you want out of your trip.

Can't say enough good things about Bali, just go. A week there is not too much, IMO. There are lots of outdoor activities in addition to seeing temples and just absorbing the culture. August is a great time there weather-wise as well, as it is the lowest rainfall month.

Assuming you have 30 days, my ideal itinerary would be:

Hong Kong: 4 days
Vietnam: 5 days (go north and south)
Bangkok: 4 days
Northern Thailand/Chiang Mai: 3 or 4 days
Phuket/Koh Samui/Hua Hin/ Bali: 4 days or more
Singapore: 2 or 3 days if Vietnam is not possible or if you have time
Bali: 5 to 6 days if possible
Hong Kong: for your return flight
Cicerone is offline  
Jul 31st, 2003, 09:01 AM
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Posts: 9
Thanks to everyone for your help. My husband and I just decided yesterday evening that we definately want to spend more time in Thailand, so we can travel to the south and north. We are a little concern with the fact that we have to go back to Hong Kong to fly anywhere else, so we have even been looking through other deals apart from Cathay Pacific. Does anyone know a good travel agency or broker in the DC area?
Dani01 is offline  
Jul 31st, 2003, 09:15 AM
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Reply to Ciceronë:

Thank you so much for your info. I got confused, and we are actually planning this trip from September 1st to October 15th. Do you think we will get a lot of rain? And also, my husband does not want to go to Singapore or Japan, his idea is to stay 5 days in Hong Kong, 10 days in Bali and 30 days in Thailand - travelling inside the country. Do you think it is too much time to be in Thailand? Also, I am very worried about the rain season...
Dani01 is offline  
Jul 31st, 2003, 10:05 AM
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First of all, I am extremely envious of your having so much time in SE Asia! What a great opportunity to really experience the cultures in depth.

As you have so much time, do get a good guidebook like the Lonely planet guide or the Insight Guides (Fodors doesn't do SE Asia in depth, so no guilt there). Advice on this site is helpful, but there is so much to see, and most people here do not have the amount of time you do, so only hit the highlights. You will have an opportunity to see really off the beaten path places, and a good guidebook can help you choose.

In general, 30 days is not too much time in Thailand, esp if you make side trips to Ankor Wat and maybe explore some of northern Malaysia, like Tama Negara national park. I have to be honest however, September is THE rainiest month in Thailand, with October a close second. Take a look at weatherbase.com. Averages are like 16 inches. While in Bangkok this doesn't interfere with seeing the city, if you are at the beach or trying to trek in Chiang Mai, this can be a problem.

Bali tends to be rainy in October, so I would do Bali after Hong Kong. You might want to leave things a bit loose and maybe stay 15 days in Bali if you are enjoying it. (I forgot to mention that you can fly to Surabaya, which is part of the Cathay Pass, and take a ferry to Bali. Surabaya is the town on the most eastern end of Java, the island to the east of Bali. I have never taken the ferry, but this could be a way to get there rather than having to pay your way from Jakarta, which is much further east on Java. You need a good map to start with!)

The further south you are of Singapore in Sept/Oct the less rain. You might want to consider staying on Java and going to Yogyakarta (also spelled Jogjakarta), which is a fascinating town with two fabulous religious sites: Borbadour, an ancient Buddhist temple (huge!) and Prambanan, an ancient Hindu temple. The town of Yogya also has a royal palace and other interesting bits, including a center for shadow puppetry. September is a great month for Java as far as rain. You cold get here from Surabaya. Java is rarely mentioned on this site, but is a beautiful island with volcanoes, rain forests and rice paddies. You could go on to Bali from here.

Hong Kong is also a bit better in Oct than Sept. I would spend 3 days there on your way out, and then maybe return for 3-4 days at the end of your trip. The weather will be a bit cooler, and you may be able to do hikes at this time.

Also, I know it is not on your list, but Sept and Oct are a good time to visit China. You may be able to get good fares from Hong Kong to Beijing, so you might want to consider 3 or 4 days in Beijing and maybe adding Xian to see the terra cotta warriors. The week of October 1 is a major holiday week in China, so I would not recommend travelling to or in China at that time.

Get some good guidebooks and do some searching, and then come back on this site if you want answers to specific questions. People are very helpful here, as you have learned.
Cicerone is offline  
Jul 31st, 2003, 07:42 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28,943
may i also suggest that you look at the special pass tha malaysia air is offering through the end of the year...you can also stop at dubai if leaving from nyc...
also it is more in the southern region if that is where you want to spend your time---K/L that is the hub...

i agree however that the northern route would be better in august and september where the weather is better....H/K, BKK, VN could easily soak up 30 days
rhkkmk is offline  
Jul 31st, 2003, 08:06 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 274
mrwunrfl....Good Stuff...thanks....

I knew I should have looked up Cathy Pacific before I made the post!!!....I checked it out a year or so ago and read all the details then...and the "hub" travel made me decide otherwise. Thanks again for the clearification.
circa is offline  
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