Southeast Asia forum

How to make the most of a short trip to SE Asia...

  • jkif987

    Joined Travelfish
    10th May, 2011
    Posts: 4

    I wanted to see if some of you SE Asia veterans could lend a hand in helping me make the most of short (30-day) trip to the region in June. So far, we have the following plan:

    June 3- Arrive to HCMC at night
    4- HCMC
    5- HCMC
    6- Leave for Hoi An on 10am flight, arrive at noon
    7- Hoi An
    8- Hoi An
    9- Leave Hoi An from Da Neng at 330pm
    10- Ha Long
    11- Hanoi
    12- Hanoi
    13- Hanoi-BKK at 9am, Arrive to Bangkok at 11am, see city, floating mkt
    14- BKK-USM at noon, arrive to Koh Phangan early evening
    15- Koh Phangan
    16- Koh Phangan
    17- Koh Phangan

    We're trying to decide what to do for the rest of the trip and I'm hoping for some suggestions. Currently, I'm thinking about doing the following:
    18- Koh Tao (diving)
    19- Koh Tao (diving)
    20- Samui>BKK in AM, Bangkok for most of the day
    21- Bangkok (Day trip to Kanchanaburi)
    22- BKK>Bali in AM
    23- Bali
    24- Bali
    25- Bali
    26- Bali>Singapore
    27- Singapore
    28- Singpaore>HK (Arrive to HK around noon)
    29- HK
    30- Leave HK in AM

    My flight back is booked from HK, so no wiggle room there. Also, it's substantially cheaper to fly through Singapore, so figured I might as well spend a day there. But could cut this out

    The other options being tossed around would be to either go north in Thailand, Laos, or Cambodia. I'm concerned, though, about the weather there in June.

    We could spend less time in the Kohs/Bangkok and head to Bali or elsewhere as early as the 18th or 19th.

    Also, if anyone has suggestions about our vietnam plans, that would be great as well.

    Thanks in advance!

    #1 Posted: 10/5/2011 - 11:38

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  • Thomas922

    Joined Travelfish
    1st July, 2007
    Location Global Village
    Posts: 346

    Ouch! I don't even know where to start. Don't travel as if you will never do it again. That is the first rookie mistake. Your trip is a night mare of movement. I know some want to see all kinds of stuff to say they did but your trip is a nightmare of movement. I had to repeat that.
    In 17 days you have Vietnam and South Thailand. You are just looking at things you are not seeing or feeling the places. You will regret that unless this is you usual style of travel but I am aghast.

    Saigon and the Mekong can easily be more. I know Hoi An is cool but it is not, not, not, a must see. Just a cool place. But you are just rushing through it. It's a chill spot but if you are on a highlight the famous stuff tour it can be skipped. Unless you are hitting the nearby beach.
    You are hitting Bkk at 11 am and plan the floating market at that time of day? There is not much left of the authentic floating market at that time. Tourist city. You want it very EARLY to get the real local feel. There is one that has an evening market (Amphawa).

    Questions? Is this your first time in Asia? Do you not want to see more of HK? (260 islands) Is beach time the most important to you? (It seems)

    #2 Posted: 10/5/2011 - 12:12

  • jkif987

    Joined Travelfish
    10th May, 2011
    Posts: 4

    Thanks for the response, Thomas. This is my first time to Asia and I think my desire to see/do a lot is obvious. Beach time is a priority, but getting some good cultural exposure is also important. We're not so much looking to "hit" major spots and take pictures, but rather enjoy our trip and experience as much as possible, while not being too rushed, in a fairly short period. I think we could probably spend the last 10 days spending more time in Bangkok/surrounding areas and HK, but I'm a little concerned about having bad weather.

    How long would you recommend for HK? Any thoughts or suggestions would be helpful.

    Thanks!

    #3 Posted: 10/5/2011 - 12:26

  • Thomas922

    Joined Travelfish
    1st July, 2007
    Location Global Village
    Posts: 346

    HK is a beast! The main island is the most bland. That is the main area for westerners also so there is that nightlife. If I lived there is one thing but as a traveler I would spend more time elsewhere. There are over 260 islands that make up HK. Make sure you see the view of the harbor from Victoria Peak. Very touristy but awesome. Travel to the otherside of HK island for beautiful views or the far side of Lantau island to see small towns that make you forget all about the city. Parts of HK are like being 1000 miles away from the city. Kowloon is the real heart of HK so DO NOT skip it. The trains can take you far into the new territories areas. I think if you are into big cities you need a few days here at least. But after SE Asia it may be disappointing people wise. I honestly would skip Bali and do more in the Se Asia mainland area.
    Change it around and stay longer in BKK after Vietnam. Then work south. You can go through Malaysia to Singapore. All one direction instead of back and forth to BKK. You can stop in Langkawi or over on the east side for beach or blue. Hit KL or skip it right to Sing.

    #4 Posted: 10/5/2011 - 12:51

  • Tilapia

    Click here to learn more about Tilapia
    Joined Travelfish
    21st April, 2006
    Location Canada
    Posts: 1411
    Total reviews: 15
    Places visited:
    At least 71

    Hi jkif,

    The main floating markets are about 40 km SW of Bangkok, and can take a couple of hours to reach thanks to inner-city traffic and congestion along #35. There is a train, but you probably won't make it in time. By the time you arrive in Bangkok, check into your guest house or hotel, get something to eat, and then hit the road for the market, it will be mid-afternoon at the earliest. Making a worthwhile trip to one of the floating markets on the same day is not realistic. Or, at least, it would be incredibly hurried and much of what you'd see and experience during that day would be gridlock.

    In my opinion, the best way to experience a floating market is to arrive in Amphawa the night before and stay in a canal-side homestay (there are lots of them in Amphawa, and there is a small nighttime floating market there, as well), and get up prior to sunrise to see the market the next morning. Amphawa is a lovely little town, as well. You can be on your way back to Bangkok before 9:00 am. Or, if you want, you could continue north to Kanchanaburi (definitely worth more than a day-trip), which isn't far at all, or start heading south to the islands without returning to Bangkok.

    In Bangkok, if you are interested in seeing some of the main temples and markets, you're looking at either a seriously long and exhausting day, or a couple of moderately relaxing days. The Royal Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha can take the better part of a morning alone, and these are in one complex.

    I won't say to drop this place or that place, but as Thomas has alluded to, there is an awful lot of travel in your itinerary ... spring-boarding from place to place ... and though you'll be setting down in them, you won't really have time to see them. This much movement can be exhausting, as well as very expensive. You might find that by trying to see fewer places and going a bit slower, you'll get more out of your trip. That's just a suggestion. Plus, there are a lot of places to see in between the areas you're thinking of checking out.

    With the time you have, you might want to consider just working your way south from Bangkok to Koh Tao to do your diving, then going overland through Malaysia (by train?) to Singapore. You'll see more and won't have to follow as much of a schedule.

    Whatever you do, have a good time.

    #5 Posted: 10/5/2011 - 20:37

  • busylizzy

    Joined Travelfish
    31st December, 2007
    Location New Zealand
    Posts: 2045
    Total reviews: 20
    Places visited:
    At least 107

    In my opinion, the best way to experience a floating market is to arrive in Amphawa the night before and stay in a canal-side homestay (there are lots of them in Amphawa, and there is a small nighttime floating market there, as well), and get up prior to sunrise to see the market the next morning. Amphawa is a lovely little town, as well.

    Amphawa was one of my favourite little 'discoveries' a few years ago. In fact, after enjoying the nightmarket (more a floating food market - a great way to enjoy dinner) the nearby morning market will be disappointing. It's targetted more to tourists and they seem to focus on fruit and tacky souveniers. Amphawa was great - full of Thai tourists but hardly any westerners. Just note that it's only on Fri-Sat nights (maybe Sun night?).

    #6 Posted: 11/5/2011 - 03:43

  • jkif987

    Joined Travelfish
    10th May, 2011
    Posts: 4

    Thanks tilapia and busylizzy for the Amphawa suggestion. I'll definitely try to make it out there. As of now, there are a few things "set in stone". Arriving to Saigon, leaving for BKK on the 13th, heading down to Koh Samui on the 14th (15/16th is FMP), and departing from HK on the 30th.

    If anyone has recommendations of how to best utilize our time in Vietnam, the Koh's, or ideas what to do after the Kohs, I'd love to hear them.

    The overland to malaysia idea is definitely interesting. But I think we'll be flying back to BKK to spend a few days there before heading elsewhere. It's sounding like i should probably plan for 4 days in Bangkok/Amphawa/Kanchanaburi.

    #7 Posted: 11/5/2011 - 09:25

  • jkif987

    Joined Travelfish
    10th May, 2011
    Posts: 4

    Same request as before, but updated my "plan". Thanks guys!

    3- Arrive to HCMC at night
    4- HCMC
    5- HCMC
    6- SGN-DAD
    7- Hoi An
    8- Hoi An
    9- DAD-HAN
    10- Hanoi
    11- Ha Long Bay
    12- Hanoi
    13- Hanoi-BKK at 9am, Arrive to Bangkok at 11am, spend day in city
    14- BKK-USM at noon, arrive to Koh Phangan early evening
    15- Koh Phangan
    16- Koh Phangan
    17- Koh Phangan
    18- Koh Phangan
    19- Koh Phangan - Koh Tao
    20- Koh Tao
    21- Koh Tao
    22- USM-BKK
    23- Bangkok (Day trip to Kanchanaburi (elephants, tigers)
    24- Ayathaya (floating mkt overnight)
    25- Amphawa
    26- Bangkok
    27- BK-HKG
    28- HK
    29- HK
    30- Leave HK at 3pm

    #8 Posted: 17/5/2011 - 12:44

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