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Where to go in south east Asia

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Aug 16th, 2016, 07:13 AM
  #1
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Where to go in south east Asia

Hi everyone,
My husband and I are planning on doing a south east Asia trip in feb of 2017. We are both in our early 30s. We like to have a little bit of a night life but nothing super crazy. Can someone please recommended some countries and areas within them?
I have been doing a lot of research and am finding it very difficult to decide. We were really excited about thialand but since the recent bombings there that will no longer be an option. One place for sure we also know we want to go to is Bali. Thinking of staying in legian or semenyek.
I've heard that Vietnam is beautiful but have also been cautioned about a lot of scams and the locals not being very friendly to tourists. It would definitely put a damper on things if we felt unwelcome.
Other places we were also thinking was the Philippines or Malaysia or Cambodia.
Maybe another thing to know is that we will not be back packing or anything like that. We're are going to try and stay in some nice places but nothing too crazy expensive.


If anyone can help with some suggestions that would be awesome!!

Thanks.

Oh and p.s we are planning on going for about a month
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Aug 16th, 2016, 08:23 AM
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"...excited about thialand but since the recent bombings there that will no longer be an option."

So then Boston, London, Paris, Brussels are also no longer options? How many tourists were killed in Thailand? I think you might benefit from more perspective as well as more research to narrow down the options.

Now, regarding Thailand, it was the first country I visited in Asia and I found it to be an excellent and easy introduction to the region. I've been back more times than I can remember since and am checking airfares to Bangkok again. I suggest you think more before making a decision and then go to Thailand. Thailand & Bali are an excellent combination although a month in just Thailand would not be too much.
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Aug 16th, 2016, 10:31 AM
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I agree it is sort of silly to drop Thailand because of the recent bombings. You are safer there than in the US, for instance.

But what is it you want to do/see/experience on this trip? The only clue you have given us is that you want a little nightlife. Almost anywhere in SE Asia will give you that. What else do you want? Are you interested in the temples of Angkor (in Cambodia)? Or do you want to see orangutans in the wild?

If Bali is the one place that is certain for you, then plan your trip around that. Maybe go to Java as well as Bali or maybe Lombok, and add a stop in Singapore. Be aware that February is rainy in Bali. Personally, I wouldn't let that stop me - I've often been to Indonesia during the rainy season. But it depends on how you feel about rain.

February is a fine time to visit Thailand, Cambodia, Laos.

The only place you listed that I haven't visited is the Philippines. There are so many places to visit in SE Asia that it is hard to make recommendations with thievery little info you have given us about what you want. Maybe take a look at our photos - mostly of SE Asia - to help you decide: www.marlandc.com
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Aug 16th, 2016, 12:50 PM
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If you worried about all those things you would never leave home. Thailand has had a spate of recent bombings in recent years but Bali has fared far worse. It does however pay to be aware of your risks and to check your own governments websites for travel safety warning ( admittedly some do need to be taken with a large pinch of salt.

Not sure what you have heard about Vietnam but we have spent many months travelling the country over many years and have always found it to be one of the friendliest countries in Asia. Scams are everywhere from New York to New Dehli and are no worse in Vietnam than anywhere else. It is a wonderful country and I certainly wouldn't discount it out of hand.

Kathie is spot on in suggesting that you decide what interests you the most. Get a couple of guide books from the library and read up on the region to identify places that interest you, maybe take a look at www.travelfish.org

Everyone has their favourite places. For me that would include Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia, but that is merely my own subjective view. Thailand and Bali would not rate highly on my list and I am sure others have widely differing opinions.

As for general advice. A month sounds like a lot of time but it isn't.
Limit yourself to max two countries and you will end up seeing far more.
Try to spend at at leat 2/3 nights in each location otherwise you risk travel time between locations really eating into your time.
Any time you spend now in the planning will be well rewarded in the form of a better trip later.
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Aug 16th, 2016, 01:42 PM
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You're dropping Thailand because of bombings? I've been going there regularly since the 90s and was there during the New Year's Eve bombings in Bangkok, but that hasn't stopped me from going. I also stay a 10-15 minute walk from where the Erawan Shrine bombings were, but I still went to Bangkok a few months after the bombings and also have a plane ticket to return again this winter for 3 of my 6 weeks in S.E. Asia to be spent in Bangkok as usual. I live in L.A. and stuff happens here, but tourists still come and in droves.

Although I do 6 weeks in S.E. Asia, a month is a decent amount of time to be away. Now as to where you and your husband decide to go, of course that will be totally up to you as it, will be only up to you to decide where you think you might feel the safest. None of us can decide that for you.

If I were planning a month, I'd personally do 12 nights in Thailand, 3 nights in Penang, 3 nights in Singapore and 12 nights on Bali. And regarding Bali, remember there have also been bombings there however not when I was there as I was there in the late 90s. However, when I travel I try to put safety issues into perspective. There are no guarantees in life as we have seen in Boston, San Bernardino, Miami, and other situations right here in the U.S.. But, to each his own.

Happy Travels!
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Aug 16th, 2016, 05:11 PM
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February is the height of the rainy season in Bali, which may impact your beach experience. It's unpredictable, though. Last year it hardly rained at all, and this year it's raining right through the dry season. If you don't mind some stormy days, then February can be a good time to visit -- it's a quiet period and rates are low.

I would suggest that you split your time in Bali between one of the southern beaches and inland in the Ubud area. Ubud is the center for nature and culture based activities and you could easily fill up a week in the area, and it's fine during the rainy season.

For the beach, I would concentrate on Petitenget -- the northern part of Seminyak -- or even farther north in Canggu. This is where you'll find the young and sophisticated beach culture -- innovative restaurants, lively clubs and wellness activities like spas and yoga.

Petitenget beach is long, wide and sandy with big surfer waves. The beaches in Canggu (Berawa, Batu Bolong) are a bit scruffier but have lots of energy. The Legian area is older and more congested. But be aware, all of the west coast beaches get hit by storms during the rainy season.

As for where else to go in addition to Bali, if you're not comfortable visiting Thailand at this time, then don't. I would have given the same advise about Indonesia a few years back. No one wants to spend vacation looking over their shoulder.

You could use Singapore or Kuala Lumpur as your transit hub and easily get to any number of places in Southeast Asia. AirAsia has really changed the way people travel in the region. Personally, I'd like the combination of Bali, Angkor/Siem Reap and either Bangkok or Singapore, but as mentioned, you have to think about what interests you personally.
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Aug 16th, 2016, 05:15 PM
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I guess the only reason we decided not to do Thailand is because I heard it was not a terrorist attack but government vs the people issues. I could be wrong tho. Our travel agent sent me the link about it the day after it happened and I haven't looked much into it since then just started looking elsewhere. My thoughts were that if it were a terrorist attack that wouldn't stop me but with government vs people issues then there might be a lot more instances and don't know if it will get worse from now till the time we leave.
As for other information, we definitely want to see some beautiful beaches and waterfalls. And would like to check out some cities as well with lots of culture and things to do. One of our favorite things to do on vacation is rent a car or atv and go on our own and explore.
I have never been to Asia so don't know what to expect.
What are your thoughts on Singapore vs Kuala Lumpur?
I would like to do a city and a beach destination in which ever countries we choose. So any opinions on beach destinations in Malaysia?
I have also looked into the Angkor ruins and would definitely be interested in checking that out. Can anyone recommend other sites and destinations in Cambodia? And how much time to spend at the ruins?
I guess our interests are pretty simple. We enjoy a lot of walking around and exploring, excursions and good food. Be definitely enjoy a nice beach but are not the type just to lay on the beach all day.
Day trips to other islands and site would be ideal.
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Aug 16th, 2016, 05:36 PM
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Marmot, thank you very much that is great info and advice on Indonesia that is a great way of putting it "young and sophisticated beach culture". When it comes to nightlife and bars that is what I'm looking for. We want to be able to go out and have some drinks and have a good time but don't want to deal with a "spring break" type atmosphere. That would have been great about 8 years ago but have out grown that now lol
Can anyone recommend somewhere with lots of waterfalls and lagoons to go and explore?
For example we went to the Krka waterfalls in Croatia last year and it was one of the beautiful things I have ever seen.

So to sum it up I guess what we are looking for is a place that we can spend about 4 nights at as a home base that we can roam around when we feel like stay close by but that has lots of things near by that be can do day trips to.

Thanks for all the advice
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Aug 16th, 2016, 06:28 PM
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Andreea1: "What are your thoughts on Singapore vs Kuala Lumpur?"

I've been to Singapore a lot since the 90s and have been to KL several times, the last time being in Jan 2016. I personally pick Singapore over KL. As for Malaysia, I also pick Penang over KL. Penang is a World Heritage Site which I find very interesting and will return to again in Jan 2017 for the 3rd year straight. I find it a nice addition to a trip to Malaysia.

Happy Travels!
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Aug 16th, 2016, 06:43 PM
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Cambodia and one other country would be a good option. Apart from Siem Reap (spend at least 4 nights) the capital Phnomh Penh is a fascinating and vibrant city. Kampot and Kep are only two hours away, for some beach time.

Consider neighbouring Laos, some nice waterfalls around Luang Prabang which is a lovely laid back town.

The people vs Government in Thailand has been going on for years in the three southern border provinces, where the people identify as Malay and want autonomy. It is disturbing if they are now targeting tourist areas, but no one knows yet who was behind the blasts. A more worrying event is also looming, being the succession of the current monarch. I wouldn't want to be in Thailand when that happens.

The Indonesian parliament is currently debating a bill to ban alcohol, that would be a problem for me if passed. While Bali is largely Hindu and lovely, the rest of the country is Muslim and pretty hardline.

Singapore vs Kuala Lumpar is a no brainer for me. Singapore may be more expensive, but has so much to see and do without the all pervading Muslim attitude to alcohol. (says she, sounding like she can't live without a drink, hic).
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Aug 16th, 2016, 06:48 PM
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Crellston:"Everyone has their favourite places. For me that would include Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia, but that is merely my own subjective view. Thailand and Bali would not rate highly on my list and I am sure others have widely differing opinions. "

Very true. For me Bali didn't do much, but I'm glad that I experienced it although I cut my time way short there and flew back to Singapore and then from Singapore to Chiangmai and lastly on to Bangkok, back in the 90s on my first trip which was solo.

However, my best friend absolutely loves Bali and started going in the 90s although she's spent far more time in Bangkok over the years as she loves Bangkok. I also really like Malaysia a lot. Haven't been to Vietnam or Cambodia yet. But, for me Thailand has been at the top of my list since the 90s.

A lot of what one likes or dislikes has to do with the vibes of the place and if one is in sync with them which is why it's a good idea to do as many places as comfortable, in a certain travel time period, and then one can get a broad overview of different places to decide what suits one best.

Happy Travels!
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Aug 16th, 2016, 07:18 PM
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"A lot of what one likes or dislikes has to do with the vibes of the place..."

And the FOOD. I love Thai food and find it the most reliably fresh and wonderful. Yes, I like the food in other countries in the region but when I tire of the food anywhere I hot-foot it back to Thailand and am again a happy camper. Never underestimate the impact of the food, for better or worse!

(Chinese is my other favorite.)
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Aug 16th, 2016, 08:30 PM
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MmePerdu;

LOL! Yes, and the FOOD which is why I don't do well in Europe, but do too well in S.E. Asia. Right now, I'm eating very strictly, here at home, so that I can get ready for 6, straight weeks of eating in S.E. Asia, when I leave four months from now. I love Thai food, Peranakan food (especially in Penang) and lots of varieties of food in Singapore. Then, when I get home from the S.E. Asian trips, I go vegan for 6 weeks straight to get the body back in balance before taking off to NoLa, two months later, for a dew days. LOL!

Happy Travels!
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Aug 16th, 2016, 08:39 PM
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I think you would like the Petitenget area of Seminyak. Some resorts to look at:
The Colony -- not on the beach, but very near. Charming boutique hotel.
The Legian -- Pricey, but fabulous.
The Alila -- big, new and stylish
Negotiate hard. February is very low season.

I can't stress enough, however, that on the beach you may be disappointed by the weather in February. I'd highly recommend splitting your time in Bali between a beach location and the Ubud area. You could, in theory, commute to Ubud from the beach, but I think you'd be missing out on the Bali nature and culture experience. If you have a month, you could devote 10 to 14 days to Bali.

The area around Ubud and farther north is profoundly beautiful with rain forests, river valleys, volcanic mountains, and yes, waterfalls. This is also where you find the concentration of arts and crafts and performing arts and the spiritual and wellness activities.

There are many, many resorts in the Ubud area. A few to look at
The Komaneka Group -- beautiful properties, both in the town of Ubud and the countryside
Uma Ubud -- very hip and stylish, in town
The Alila -- beautiful surroundings, sophisticated design

I wouldn't recommend renting a car and driving yourself, but cars with drivers are not very expensive.

I would definitely choose Singapore as a destination over Kuala Lumpur. Both are good as places to connect to the rest of Southeast Asia, but KL is the hub for many AirAsia flights.
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Aug 16th, 2016, 08:57 PM
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Can anyone recommend a area in Singapore that is close to lots of tourist attractions and transit?
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Aug 16th, 2016, 09:04 PM
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Mermot,
do you think going to Bali at the end of February would make a difference? I heard February was the end of their rainy season. I also heard traffic is really bad in this region (seminyak). Would it be any different in ubud? How would we get there from seminyak? And would we just rent the car there?
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Aug 16th, 2016, 09:06 PM
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Thanks everyone for all the advice. I've been researching online for weeks and have learned much more in one day one here
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Aug 16th, 2016, 09:18 PM
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Andreea1: Singapore is very small. The whole country is half the size of Los Angeles County and central Singapore is REALLY small. Select some hotels that you might be interested in and run them by us and then we can comment on both the hotels/ area.

Singapore has the MRT (subway) system which is beyond efficient to get around central Singapore. You can buy an MRT card, inexpensive, and then top it when it needs to be topped and it's even good for 5 years, I think it is, and if you don't use all of the credit on it, you can get your money refunded at an MRT station before you leave Singapore. It's a win-win situation.

As for the tourist sites, they're spread out, but spread out in Singapore is not even that spread out. Plus, they have the Hop On Hop Off bus of which I tried for the first time in Jan 2016 and went all over. I got a very discounted price as I had flown on Singapore Air so when I got on the Hop On Hop Off bus, I just showed my Singapore Air, used boarding pass, as I had just arrived from Kuala Lumpur on Singapore Air. The discount is good for a month after one has flown. I only had to pay S$8.00 to ride the Hop On Hop Off bus and there was a bus stop directly across from the Four Seasons Hotel where I was staying. Very convenient. For exchange rates www.xe.com. I think the regular price of the Hop On Hop Off bus was around S$20.00. You can google for the link.

Happy Travels!
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Aug 16th, 2016, 09:18 PM
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Guenmai,
How much time would you recommend spending at pengang?
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Aug 16th, 2016, 09:28 PM
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Penang*
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