Southeast Asia forum

5 months, best travel route?

  • beyall

    Joined Travelfish
    26th June, 2011
    Posts: 2

    Im in need of help!!
    im flying to Bangkok on the 1 of october. At first I had planned to go up north and travel to Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.. Then back to Thailand and down south. But now i have read so many good things about Indonesia as well. Is it to much of a travel to do all these countries or should i go either north or south?
    (I am flying home from Bangkok as well)

    Which countries are your favourites?? Please help!

    #1 Posted: 26/6/2011 - 01:43

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  • SBE

    Click here to learn more about SBE
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    Five months is a enough time make full use of your visas and stay a full month (or two) if you like somewhere so take your time and stay flexible. You really don't NEED a fixed itinerary, SE Asia is a great place for changing plans on a whim. I've been spending about six months there every year for the last decade and I never really know where I'll be going till I get there. My itinerary plan usually consists of having a first destination and the rest just happens.


    If it were me I'd start with Indonesia ...October is a very good time to go weather wise (normally...the weather was very strange all last year everywhere) and it's still rainy season elsewhere.

    Indonesia is a big place though...it would take a lifetime to see all of it. You don't say what your interests are but Bali is very easy to get to from Bangkok, has a variety of things to see and do and getting there is not too expensive (just hop on an Air Asia Flight).

    Everything is pretty much set up for tourists in Bali and everyone speaks English so it's an easy place to start with even if you've never been to SE Asia before. From Bali you could maybe go island hopping to Flores and see the Komodo dragons (excellent diving round Komodo too...more or less guaranteed ray mantas) Or you could go check out Lombok and the Gilis or Java or Sulawesi...the options are endless. There's so much to see that you could easily spend two months in Indonesia. Rainy season starts here in late November and lasts till late March (ish).

    My favorite places in Indonesia are actually way off the beaten path and pretty hard to get to, very basic comfort wise, you need to speak some of the lingo, and transport options are few and far between... so maybe not so good for a first time visit to SE Asia unless you're very adventurous and don't mind roughing it a lot more than you will be in Thailand for example.

    Anyway, if you go to Indonesia first, the rainy season should be mostly over elsewhere by November so you can take your pick where to go next.

    From Bali or Jakarta I'd advise you to fly to KL (on Air Asia again) because from KL you can get another cheap Air Asia flight straight to either Vientiane or Siem Reap. Flying to either of these places from Bangkok is far more expensive so you might as well take advantage of the logistics.

    Around Xmas and New Year everywhere is likely to be busy as it's peak season ...if you want to get away from the hordes a bit then try Burma... it's very different from everywhere else, like stepping back in time to an older age and an amazing place for photography.

    Some ideas anyway... have a great trip!

    #2 Posted: 26/6/2011 - 04:34

  • beyall

    Joined Travelfish
    26th June, 2011
    Posts: 2

    thank you for your reply. it really helps alot!
    Could i just ask you another couple of questions if you dont mind?
    so im flying to bangkok, and then as you suggested start off with indonesia. Is it hard to travel down via train/bus/boat or is it impossible? i was thinking maybe going down that way, then flying back to bangkok, to continue up north. What do you think? Because i would like to go by air as little as possible to save money, i dont mind the hours on bus/train..

    many many thanks! :)

    #3 Posted: 26/6/2011 - 04:59

  • busylizzy

    Joined Travelfish
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    SBE has given some great advice. I did that nearly that exact same trip in a 5 month period, starting at the same time of year and it was done at a fairly relaxed place.

    To get from Bkk to Indonesia, I would suggest you have a look at Air Asia for some reasonably cheap flights. I know they fly from Bkk to Bali, but there are probably another couple of cities as well.

    To give you an idea of what can be achieved, my itinerary essentially went like this:

    - 2 months Indonesia (Bali, Lombok, Gili Islands, Lembongan, Penida, Flores) - the first 4 are fine for first time travellers, with a good range of accommodation and English is widely spoken. The second two are also fine for first-time travellers but English is not as widely spoken, and transport through Flores can a bit a bit tougher to get around if you don't mind a bit of discomfort on the local busses. As SBE mentioned, it would also be worthwhile considering Java and/or Sulawesi. Personally, I love Indonesia - and there is so much more to see. Spend a bit of time learning some language basics and you'll be amazed at how well people respond when you are off the beaten track. (There are some online language podcasts that are pretty good).

    -1 week+ - Singapore/Malaysia (KL, Malacca,)
    -4 weeks - Vietnam (Hanoi down to HCMC, and through Mekong Delta)
    -2 weeks+ - Cambodia (PP, Siem Reap, Kampot, Otres)-
    -4 weeks - Thailand (Bkk, Southern Thailand)

    My original plan was to stay on for another month to see Laos, but I was ready to come home. I did spend a bit of time languishing on beaches in Thailand and Indonesia at the beginning and end of my trip. I could have upped the pace and squeezed in Laos within that 5 months if I really wanted but to be honest, there isn't anything that I would have changed in terms if where I went, or how long I stayed. (And now I get to come back for another trip to Laos this year!)

    I also agree with SBE's comments about weather. I started my trip at end of September, and experienced very little rain over 5 months following the above itinerary - other than a few brief dumps of rain in Lombok that lasted an hour or so.

    The key thing is it not overplan it. I sketched out an itinerary that looked something like what I detailed above, which was mostly driven by visa limitations. (NOTE: I flew into Thailand from Cambodia rather than come overland to get the longer 30-day visa; you only get 15 days if you arrive overland).

    Once I was on the road, the plans were fine-tuned as I went. If I found a beach area that I enjoyed, I stayed for longer. If I arrived in a place that just didn't work for me, I moved on.

    Good luck!

    #4 Posted: 26/6/2011 - 05:31

  • SBE

    Click here to learn more about SBE
    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Global Village
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    Hi beyall. The reason I suggested flying to Bali is because it's not only quicker but also cheaper that way.

    You have to factor in accommodation as well as the cost of the actual transportation when travelling overland. Even if you don't stop anywhere it would take days and days to get there and be very tiring after your long (presumably) flight to Bangkok. Bear in mind you'll be acclimatizing to the weather, different food and getting over jetlag etc. too.

    Don't worry, you'll be spending many long hours on buses and trains and boats during your trip anyway during your five month trip.

    You could always come back from Bali overland to Jakarta if you want and fly to KL from there. That would be more manageable and make more sense logistically too.

    #5 Posted: 26/6/2011 - 21:14

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