Where to go for first trip to SE Asia?

Jan 8th, 2011, 06:37 PM
  #1  
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Where to go for first trip to SE Asia?

In the early stages of planning our vacation for late May/Early June time frame and looking for some input on where we should go. We are currently looking at Thailand and Bali in SE Asia (also considering Peru but that's a different forum). We are an active couple in our mid 30's and looking to do a big trip that would be a little more difficult to take once we had little ones in tow. Last several vacations were to England, Spain and Alaska(twice) and I'd like to go somewhere completely different this year. We love food,hiking, kayaking, experiencing new cultures. As always any advice is greatly appreciated.
brmsimmons is offline  
Jan 8th, 2011, 07:49 PM
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Either Bali or Thailand would be totally different experiences for you. It really doesn't matter which one you visit first, I expect you'll want to visit both eventually. I'd suggest browsing some guidebooks for each and reading some trip reports to help you decide which one is calling to you most. Both are marvelous destinations. You can't make a wrong decision here.
Kathie is offline  
Jan 8th, 2011, 08:12 PM
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i love both of those places at that time of year....good news in thailand is that at that time the hotel rates are about the lowest of the year...

bali is not yet into its peak season so rates are still reasonable...

how long do you have for vacation? that can make a difference...

what is your hotel budget...

there are more flights to bkk than to bali--more options and usually slightly cheaper...bali is generally thru singapore which is worth a couple of days too...

if coming from usa, look at korean air and finn air....i have been on both recently and really liked them... thai air from CA.... ANA and asiana... all the usa suspects...

we are glad to assist with more planning once you decide where you wish to go and what kind of budget you have....also what things you like to do...
rhkkmk is offline  
Jan 8th, 2011, 09:18 PM
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When I first did S.E. Asia back in the 90s, I chose L.A.-Singapore-Bali-Singapore-Chiangmai,Thailand-Bangkok-L.A. I wrote my own trip and took off solo for three weeks. That schedule worked quite well for me. However, I bought the type of plane ticket in which I could change flights if I decided to, and without a fee. Then if I wanted to stay longer in one place and less time in another I could.

I didn't prepay any of my hotels, as I usually don't, so I had a lot of flexibility and I took advantage of it. It was a great adventure and I've been back to S.E. Asia nearly every year since. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Jan 9th, 2011, 02:49 AM
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For first timers for me

www.sawadee.com Thailand affords beauty variety

and is fairly low tourist that time of year...

www.phiphi.phuket.com/beaches/maya-bay.htm

Is amazing my fav really...

Peru also amazing beaches not great but

for Inka history ruins mountain trekking

through amazing spectacular Andean vistas

www.amazingperu.com www.llamapath.com

So one of those 2 would be best for me...

Happy Hunting,
qwovadis is offline  
Jan 9th, 2011, 05:25 AM
  #6  
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Our vacation time will be about 10 days including travel time. We usually stay in 3-4 star boutique hotels or B&Bs, hotel budget will ultimately depend on how much we pay for our flight but we'll say max $200 for now which should get us a pretty nice place. Bali initially caught my eye but as I've done a little more research Thailand has also looked inviting. It's hard deciding when you want to go everywhere!
brmsimmons is offline  
Jan 9th, 2011, 07:33 AM
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Been to all three you're thinking about. Hard to quantify Peru in with the others, but of course all three are different.

I think I'd probably allow more than your 10 days for Peru, because of the acclimation time that *might* be needed to see the famous high-altitude stuff.

Both Bali and Thailand are exotic and friendly and offer plenty to fill 10 days. Thailand quite a bit more, actually, due to it's size and range, but Bali wouldn't disappoint for that period of time or even more. Couple of things I like about Bali - you can get the diverse range of environments, from highlands to beach, without getting on a plane or long train ride. On the other hand, Thailand offers far more enjoyable urban experiences than Denspasar ever could.

This bit is highly arguable, but I also like how the aspects of Hindu culture are realized through all the family and rice paddy shrines everywhere. To me, Bali's exoticism is in the family's front yard and the farmer's field. Thailand is more seen at a community level, with the temples and such. IMO, the food between them is a tie.

Peru....at least in the Sacred Valley, MP and Cusco is less "outgoing" than southeast Asia, more hardscrabble and the beauty is in the layers of history and in the dignity of quiet interactions. Not a huge fan of what is true local cuisine in Peru, but in all fairness, Asian food is more my thing. If a person likes a mountain view, however, you'd be hard pressed to find a place more beautiful than Peru. Places like Kintamani in Bali or Doi Maesalong in northern Thailand, but they don't hold a candle to the cloud forest surrounding Machu Picchu.

Guess it's all in what's most important to you in a trip
Clifton is offline  
Jan 9th, 2011, 11:38 AM
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I have been to all three. All are awesome, but if you're traveling from the US I would vote for Peru - no jet lag and less travel time.
crosscheck is offline  
Jan 9th, 2011, 12:46 PM
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I've been to Thailand and Peru and thought they were both fabulous. With only ten days I would choose Peru not only for the reason crosscheck gave, but also because the weather in Peru in May/June is ideal-springlike and very litlle to no rain. Either trip will be memorable.
shelleyk is offline  
Jan 9th, 2011, 05:06 PM
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i hate to disagree with two esteemed ladies but peru can't hold a candle to SEA... MP is unique and interesting and awesome, but bali/thailand are exotic, reasonable, lux, very warm, beachy, fab food, shopping to die for, etc...
rhkkmk is offline  
Jan 9th, 2011, 08:02 PM
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Not to belabor the obvious but Thailand is a large country with several different environments – urban, beach, upland – whereas Bali is a compact island. Both are excellent choices for an introduction to SE Asia offering rich cultures and profound natural beauty plus a wide range of travel infrastructure.

It’s like choosing between France and Italy. Eventually, you’ll get to them both. I haven’t been to Peru so can’t compare, but it sounds like a completely different trip.

Bangkok is a fascinating city and a good combination with either one of Thailand’s beaches or upland areas; however, in order to get from place to place you would have to fly which would cut into your on-the-ground time. In Bali you could experience a combination of beach and rain forest with a relatively easy “commute.”

I'd give Thailand the edge for beautiful beaches and food. Bali for culture and performing arts. It's a draw on natural beauty, adventure travel and arts and crafts.
marmot is online now  
Jan 13th, 2011, 11:22 AM
  #12  
 
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Hi Bob - Not sure where you went in Peru, but I find it terribly exotic, with much to do and see beyond Cusco and MP - rafting, Lake Titicaca, the Amazon, Arequipa, etc.

Bali and Thailand are also incredible destinations (among my all-time faves, along with Peru), but a ten-day trip to Asia would be more grueling - at least 2 full days of intl. travel and then several more days to get used to the time. I go to South America often, and it's wonderful to get off the plane after a night flight without feeling spaced out.

I also agree with shelleyk about the weather. May/June is monsoonish in Thailand, probably fine in Bali, but glorious in Peru.
crosscheck is offline  
Jan 15th, 2011, 08:24 AM
  #13  
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Thanks for all the replies. If scheduling works out I will go to Peru as I have a friend who is from there who has offered to take us around and stay with his family for part of the trip. If that doesn't work out Bali looks more and more appealing every time I look.
brmsimmons is offline  

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