Southeast Asia forum

First time in South East Asia, itinerary for 3 weeks! Any advice greatly appreciated!

  • Pixa2012

    Joined Travelfish
    14th January, 2012
    Posts: 3

    Dearest globe trotters,
    Me and my boyfriend are planning a trip to S E Asia, for August/September 2012. We’re looking to have about 2-3 weeks there and have a budget (including transport!) of about £1,300 each. Wondering if anyone has had similar adventures, we would really like to take in some jungle, some tropical beach, some culture, history and general craziness! Has anyone done a similar mini-tour? Any routes people have taken, dont-forget-to-take, definitely-miss-outs or general must-see’s? its our first time backpacking so any tips would be really appreciated! :)

    We have drawn up a bit of a route (although it's completely open to change as we're not sure on how much time to spend in which places, we want the trip to be quite flexible), as follows:

    Land in Thailand (from UK)
    2 nights Bangkok
    1-2 nights in Phuket
    1-2 nights in Ko Phi Phi
    1-2 nights in Langkawi
    1-2 nights Cameron Highlands
    1 night Tama Negara
    3 nights KL
    2 nights Singapore

    ..and from there not quite sure what to do in terms of time and cost.

    We're still looking at 3 weeks, but would probably need to be back in Bangkok for flights. Would like to take in either: Laos (Gibbon Experience / Tubing in Vang Vieng), Cambodia (Angkor Wat) or Vietnam (floating markets).

    Does this sound a good route? Also, how are the costs of internal travel around Asia? I'm (Mark) not particularly fond of flying, so would like to avoid planes where possible.

    Thank you kindly in advance!
    Jodie & Mark

    #1 Posted: 14/1/2012 - 07:10

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    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6955
    Total reviews: 10

    WAY too much movement. At least three nights per place. I would recommend having a route without a timeline. You go someplace, when you don't like it there anymore, you move on. SEA is not about seeing things or checking this or that block. What makes this place special is the slower pace of life. There are much better sights to see in Europe, so if you want to see things, go there. Here, it's about taking it easy. That's the whole charm of the place.

    It's toward the end of the rainy season, so I would get rid of any idea of "jungle" anything. It will be thick that time of the year.

    #2 Posted: 14/1/2012 - 12:50

  • Pixa2012

    Joined Travelfish
    14th January, 2012
    Posts: 3

    Hi Madmac,

    Thanks for getting back, much appreciated!
    Yeah, we had wondered if the route was a bit ambitious... managed to save a couple of days too, by landing in Singapore and working up to Bangkok via; KL, Tama Negara, Cameron Highlands, Langkawi, Phuket, Siem Riep, Bangkok.

    Having trouble finding much info about rainy / monsoon season dates. From what we can gather, August/September seems to be the most predictable time to go, in that there will be daily heavy short bursts of rain in most regions between long periods of hot, humid tropical heat. Does this sound about right, please?

    Cheers kindly!J&M

    #3 Posted: 14/1/2012 - 20:13


    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6955
    Total reviews: 10

    Yep, from a weather standpoint that's about right. The problem is that when there's a lot of rain, the vegetation out here grows very rapidly. I climbed a mountain out here in the dry season, and in the rainy season the "trail" was impassable and the snakes were out in force.

    #4 Posted: 15/1/2012 - 01:26

  • Nobby0401

    Joined Travelfish
    25th January, 2012
    Posts: 1

    I agree with Madmac - select a couple of places and spend more time at each. I live in Bangkok, Thailand, and previously lived in Singapore (5 years). I wouldn't bother with Singapore - it's so boring and, unless you love shopping, there's not much else to do there. You might consider to arrive in Bangkok and stay a few nights then head of from here. My favorite places in SE Asia are listed below and you might like to incorporate some of these places in your schedule...
    Angkor Wat, Cambodia (everyone shoudl see AW at some stage in their life)
    Hoi An, Vietnam (beautiful capital city and great food)
    Hanoi, Vietnam (lovely city, great pace to get suits made and nice nearby beach)
    Chiang Mai, Thailand (great scenary, elephants and nice city)
    If you want to finish your tour at a beach at a low cost location, rather than go to Phuket, you might consider Pattaya (2 hrs south of Bangkok) - yes, it's got a lot of Thai gogo bars but there are some areas/beaches that are really great (such as Jontian) and access to BKK airport is easy.
    Internal travel in SE Asia is very cheap via buses, trains, tuk tuks, etc
    In terms of security, SE Asia is extremely safe but you still need to be aware of your surroundings.
    If you have any specific questions, please ask...
    Cheers, Nobby

    #5 Posted: 25/1/2012 - 22:14

  • tyler

    Joined Travelfish
    7th December, 2010
    Location Canada
    Posts: 257
    Places visited:
    At least 71

    Singapore can be a great place to start for your first visit to SEA. Some English and western conveniences for your first couple of nights is probably a good idea. It can easily be perceived as boring if you have been there before and especially compared to Bangkok. You'll find all of the craziness you want in BKK.
    You can consider taking a speed boat from Langkawi to one of the southern Thai islands and staying at either Koh Lipe, Koh Kradan or Koh Lanta on your way to Phuket. Great way to travel and easy access to so many beautiful islands.
    It appears to me that with the time you have and the route you desire you have time for one other "excursion". Angkor Wat is amazing and worth the small effort it takes to get to. 3 days is enough time to see AW and enjoy Siem Reap.
    I totally agree with what both of the previous posters are saying in regards to not rushing things. More time in less places seems to be a repeated phrase throughout the forums for good reasons. Have more of a route than an itinery and let life fill it in on the way. Enjoy!

    #6 Posted: 26/1/2012 - 07:27

  • Pixa2012

    Joined Travelfish
    14th January, 2012
    Posts: 3

    Hello all,

    Just wanted to say a huge thank you for taking your time to reply to our post. We have taken your advice on board about not rushing; we have cut our route back a bit. We are now looking at:

    - Landing in Bangkok for a few nights
    - Moving onto Cambodia for a few nights to Siem Reap and the Phnom Penh
    - Probably flying from Phnom Penh to Kuala Lumpur just as a stop over before moving onto Cameron Highlands
    - From Cameron Highlands to Perhentian Islands
    - Back to Kuala Lumpur for a few nights before flying home

    We are a bit worried about our budget, not sure if £1300 will be enough, sure it will all work out fine though! We also looking at going in October now rather than August/September.

    Once again, thanks very muchly for the advice!
    It's greatly appreciated.
    Jodie & Mark

    #7 Posted: 11/2/2012 - 13:27


    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6955
    Total reviews: 10

    Is there some reason in particular you want to go to the Cameron Highlands and the Perhentians? It seems pretty out of the way from the rest of your geograghy. If you dropped that leg, and stayed focussed between Bangkok and Cambodia you could hit Angkor Wat (which sounds like it's important to you), get some beach time in in Cambodia, get some sightseeing and party time in in Bangkok. That would be much more compact, reducing your travel time and travel expense.

    #8 Posted: 12/2/2012 - 08:06

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