Last year my partner and I traveled for roughly 22 days in south east Asia, In this time we had 3 days in Bangkok we were supposed to travel up to northern Thailand but due to flooding in the area we chose to fly to northern Vietnam instead. We took 2 weeks to travel down the coast of Vietnam and then on into Cambodia where we spend around 5 days or so and then back to Bangkok for a few days.
We Would love to go back to Thailand and Laos to experience the places we never got to see last year. We have about 7 weeks to play with and would love to go to The phillipines, Myanmar(Burma), Indonesia and Malaysia too. We have been to Singapore already and Bangkok so we have no desire to return to these places unless it is to pass through. My family have friends in Manila in the Philippines and also somewhere in Burma, so we would very much like to go there.
The question really is, is 7 weeks enough time to travel in Thailand, Laos, Burma, Phillipines, Indonesia and Malaysia? Regretfully I dont think it is. So Where would you leave out?! Last year we took buses and trains every where and only flew from Bangkok to Vietnam, we dont mind the rough travel, but we are open to flying this time round as long as we can leave our big bags in the airport in Bangkok or something â€“ we currently live in Australia and are moving home to Ireland so we have a lot of stuff to carry! We rarely drink, dont mind eating the cheap street food and are open to saying in cheap hostels/hotels-we are looking to budget but we would like to do some tours and things- jungle trekking see some elephants and orangatangs etc- boat tours etc
Last year we felt a bit rushed on our trip and we didnt want that feeling again this year, we want to really enjoy and experience each country not just see it from the window of a bus!
I thought 2 weeks in Thailand- Phuket to chumphon> chaing mai, chaing rai??
1 week in laos? luang prabang, vang vientiane, plain of jars, phonsavan?
Malaysia for at least a week- kuala lumpur?
maybe4- 5 days in the phillipines- just to see Manila and surrounding area â€“ or should we spend more timr and actually travel around.
Burma for a week?
Indonesia for a week?? Bali- Jakarta? Indonesia is huge tho so maybe it is just a whole separate trip! My partner isnt as keen on Indonesia, but I have read a bit about it and I would like to go there. It really depends on whats actually practical time rise?
So any advice on what to do or where to go on our trip would be amazing!
#1 ciera89 has been a member since 16/7/2013. Posts: 5
im also planning to visit myanmar after chiangmai thailand .. maybe december 2013.. when are you goin there ?
#2 arienneantonio has been a member since 1/7/2013. Posts: 6
Last year we felt a bit rushed on our trip and we didnt want that feeling again this year.
I think you just answered your own question.
As far as I'm concerned, you need 2 weeks in a country just to dip your toe in. For a decent exploration, you could easily spend 3 or 4 times that in most countries. So in 7 weeks, I'd recommend limiting yourself to 2 or 3 countries, tops. You'll feel less rushed and have more time to enjoy yourself because you'll be spending less time on trains, buses, and hanging around airports.
If I were you, I'd concentrate on Thailand (since you saw so little of it last time) and Burma (since it's one of the places you've said you really want to see). I'm guessing Burma is also one of those places where travel takes a long time (like Laos) and there's tonnes to see in both countries, so you can could easily spend the entire 7 weeks in those 2 places.
IMHO, it isn't worth the trip to Malaysia just to go see KL. I think you can eliminate Malaysia from your list this time.
If you decide to go to the Philippines to visit friends, than you should definitely spend a few days in Manila and than spend a few days up to two weeks to explore the country. Lots of destinations to chose from like Palawan, Siquijor, Bohol, etc. Disclaimer: I am Filipino but I'm pretty sure your family friends will tell you the same thing.
Regarding Indonesia, Bali is worth considering for this trip. Jakarta you can skip since you are pressed for time.
So you and your partner have to decide which destinations to exclude and how to allocate time among the remainder. So you are looking among Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Bali and the Philippines for this trip.
No Cambodia? You can squeeze it in. Right on the Laos border...
#5 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
OP, with respect, your plan is crazy. Six spread out countries in seven weeks makes the mind boggle.
Come back with a revised plan (i.e. 2/3 countries in 7 weeks) and I'm sure you will get lots of constructive feedback.
#6 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
#7 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Sure, lots of constructive feedback on this site.
#8 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
Do Thailand, Burma and Laos and then fly to Philippines and finish your trip there. Around 2 weeks Thailand, 10 days in both Burma and Laos and then the last 2 weeks in Philippines plus or minus days depending on places you want to see in these countries as you could easily spend much longer in all of them.
I would leave Malaysia and Indonesia for another trip as well as Southern Thailand for now(fly into Bangkok instead of Phuket), cheaper and you could easily spend 2 weeks in south Thailand if you haven't been there before. Easy to combine these countries into a future trip as well.
The logical places to drop would be Indonesia and Phillipines
#10 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,083
in support of antonia:
yes. i found spending half of the last decade in s e asia has got me to beginner level.
if people want a trip with photos and stamps on the passport it is their choice and I do not feel myself better than them.... but... backpackers who have "done Vietnam" in a week make me feel like a very slow learner.
Seven weeks is enough time to race through Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. That's still a lot of movement, but it's manageable.
#12 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Hi everyone. Original Poster here; Thanks for all the comments... we have taken your advice into consideration and We are going to leave out Indonesia for now. Although I still plan to Head to Thailand, Laos, Burma, Phillippines and Malaysia still- I know its do able - it will be hardcore, on the go all the time. But you know unfortunately most people just dont have the time to take 3-4 weeks for each place. i might never be back to this side of the world and I dont want to regret not seeing it. I know ill just be dipping my toe in, but its called traveling not living lol. I really appreciate all the advice. And I know your right that its not enough time to "see it all" but I dont feel the need to see every nook and cranny- just the best bits
So now were thinkin, 2 weeks burma, 1,5 weeks phillippines 1 week laos, 1 week malaysia and 1.5 thailand?
Anyone know of any good itineraries for any of these places? I have already done alot of research - phillippines and malaysia are the ones im struggling with??
Thanks guys for all your help
#13 ciera89 has been a member since 16/7/2013. Posts: 5
OK, this theme comes up often. The more you move, the less you see. The more countries you visit, the less of the region you see. The reason is simple, the more you move, the more time you are spending on transportation instead of actually seeing things. Each time you relocat you are eating the better part of a day. That's a day you are neither seeing things nor chilling. Which brings me to:
The other factor to consider is the nature of this place. This isn't Europe, with lots of great architecture, museums and so forth. There is some of that, but the tropics eat places alive. Old architecture mostly hasn't survived. What makes this place interesting is the slow pace of life. The chill out factor. Your itinerary is destroying the most interesting element of this environment.
Moving slowly, each day, up to the next province and taking a couple of days to be lazy there, allows you to enjoy the experience. If you race from country to country, in a year you'll be looking at photos and you won't even remmember which country they were from.
Being "Hardcore" by moving around a lot is going to leave you with plenty of pictures and passport stamps, but no real appreciation for where you've been because you're not taking the time to absorb anyplace. In my own opinion, it's better to get to know one country well, than 7 hardly at all.
#14 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Thanks for the comment MadMac;
I dont why everyone keeps talking about stamps on my passport... I never said I wanted to travel just so i can have stamps on my pass port?
Also I didnt Say, (for example) I am going to Thailand for 2 weeks and I am going to travel the WHOLE country... which seems to be the impression you all got.... No What I meant was... if you had two weeks in Thailand (for example) what would be the best itinerary?
I Did however say I dont want to, and also I know, that I cant see it all.
I would prefer for you all to stop focusing on telling me how silly my plan is and what I cant do.
Please let it be noted- I was aware, and now I definatley am, that I cannot see every single town in every single country in such a short amount of time. What I wanted to know was if anyone has done a similar trip to any of the countries I wish to visit - separate or in one trip. where did you go and which areas of these countries would u recommend I DID see. So that I can plan an itinerary .
So Lets rephrase the question- if you had this amount of time (stated below) in these countries, where would you go?
We are thinking (nothin is set in stone) 2 weeks burma, 1.5 weeks phillippines(Wher we have to go to manila to visit family friends) 1 week laos, 1 week malaysia and 1.5 thailand (We are flying in and out of Bangkok but have no intention to actually staying there again as we have been to it for about 5 days before. )
People do these countries in this time frame all the time. it is not impossible.
I have done alot of research myself Its mainly Malaysia and Philippines im not sure on for the itinerary.
#15 ciera89 has been a member since 16/7/2013. Posts: 5
With one week in Laos, stay in Luang Prabang for the whole time and do some day trips from there. There's tons to see and do around here (waterfalls, elephants, sunsets etc) and it's a nice place to base yourself for a week or so.
One week in Malysia - go to KL and Penang . Nothing more. Penang is worth 4 or 5 days IMO.
I'll let some others comment on the other countries.
#16 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
It depends what you want in a destination in the Philippines. Some people want a place with well-developed tourist infrastructure and others prefer the road less travelled. It also depends when you plan to go. For example, right now it is a low season for the northern mountain provinces because of the monsoon rains.
With one week in Malaysia - I'd go to Sabah. Fly into Sandakan (from KL) and take a trip to the Kinibatangan River basin and do some diving near Mabul...10 days in Thailand - I'd fly into Krabi and use it as a base to see an island or two, the national park and/or head down to Trat...
You haven't mentioned what time of year you're going (weather considerations) so it's not easy to suggest itineraries but there are already some ideas here.
In the end you'll have to look at a map and try and work out the most economical and time efficient route through all these countries yourself though. Everyone thinks the itinerary you're suggesting is far too rushed and you're not going to enjoy it. You disagree. Sobeit, it's your holiday. But bear in mind that nobody is getting paid to spend hours and hours checking out transport options and whether connections will work for you either. If you insist on squeezing in as many countries as you can regardless, then finding a feasible and affordable itinerary is your problem, not theirs.
Stipulating you want to spend 7 days in one country and 10 days in another etc is a daft way to plan an itinerary anyway. Just because tour operators do it like that doesn't mean you have to. How about researching what's available in each country first, prioritizing what you really want to do, then tailoring the time to fit the activity rather than doing it the other way round.
You say you're having difficulty with the itinerary in Malaysia. Why? If it's because you can't find a really compelling reason to go there then scratch Malaysia off your itinerary too. You may well have to transit in KL if you're using Air Asia but personally I'd be using the days elsewhere. Maybe add a week to the Philippines instead seeing as you have friends to visit there anyway and there are about 7000 islands to explore. And how were you planning to fill a whole week in Laos? Couldn't you do with an extra day or two there too?
Ciera89, yes people do these trips all the time. Some times they are disappointed and the majority of the time they miss the actual highlights. I ran into lots of people on my trip that only had a week in a country and because of it they were very limited on what they could see or do and they were always missing out on something significant. MADMAC is a little extreme in his travel ideas but he is right in that slower is better in southeast asia. It is the little things here that will really make you enjoy your trip.
You say you might not come back to this area, instead of thinking that way I would make a good plan to give myself a reason to come back(you have already been there before and guessing you would return again since you are doing so already) instead of trying to make an excuse not to come back. Why try and cram in Malaysia when it is isolated from the rest of your countries? You aren't going to be able to see the highlights of Malaysia in a week and are going to be pretty much tied to Kuala Lumpur since you will have to fly in and out of the country. Waste of money imo but do whatever you like.
I would leave something like southern Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia for a future trip. Imo you would want at least 5-6 weeks for those countries so it makes a good future trip to look forward to.
As for an idea with your plans. If you follow my advice I would spread out your extra week from Malaysia mainly in Laos since 1 week won't allow you to see much, maybe a few days somewhere else if you feel you need it.
In Thailand, head north and spend your time there. A person could spend a week in Chiang Mai alone there is so much to do there. I had 3.5 days as I figured that was plenty for the highlights in Chiang Mai but I sure was mistaken and missed out on a lot.
For me the highlight of Laos was seeing how the people actually live not seeing the tourist infrastructure. For me it was my experiences on local buses(uncomfortable but an experience worth doing), seeing life along the river(slow boat is ok but the Nam Ou river up by Nong Khiaw and Muang Ngoi was better imo). Definitely spend a few days in Luang Prabang, go see the waterfall(rent a scooter and driving there is a nice trip). Then you will also have time to either go north or go down to Vang Vieng, Phonsavon or swing down to Konglor for a couple days.
I don't know much about Burma other then you are in close proximity to northern Thailand and Laos which makes sense travel wise.
ciera and "mad max"
i appreciate that you [ciera] are not collecting stamps but madman has all the reason. you think you might miss something by not going here there and everywhere. i agree madmax that you actually miss the ESSENCE. photo of orangutan and that horrible tower in KL and a wat here and a ruin there....... easy but you need to SMELL the place. 7 weeks enough for one country if you are lucky.
With respect everyone, and I agree that slower is better, however the OP had made it clear that they are doing this whirlwind trip and they do not want any of the usual monotonous stuff that the regulars on here give here about soaking up the atmosphere etc. I wouldn't do this trip if you paid me but the OP had made it quite clear that they want to do it.
I have given my opinion on her proposed time in Laos and Malaysia. Why don't some of you try and offer some advice on the other countries instead of the usual slow down, etc?
#22 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
I have given my opinion on everything but Malaysia. 1 week in Malaysia and coming and going to the other countries they plan on seeing means they have to fly into and out of Kuala Lumpur meaning they have time to see one other place in Malaysia along with Kuala Lumpur. What sight they should see I do not know. It will depend on when they will be there as east and west coast have different monsoon seasons and also depend on what they like to do.
So if they are dead set on Malaysia the usual top draws in no particular order are Penang, Langkawi, Perhentian Islands, Cameron Highlands, Taman Negara, or east coast cities/beaches. Pick the one you like(make sure to confirm monsoon season with final plan as I believe many places shut down etc from what I have read).
I would recommend not doing so and coming back to see more of Malaysia as I would want to travel to almost all the above places if I were going to travel Malaysia. Mainly focusing on Kuala Lumpur is going to be like how you focused a large part of your travelling in Bangkok last year and have no desire to go back. Just another big city in a different country.
Thank youChina for this : " have given my opinion on her proposed time in Laos andMalaysia. Why don't some of you try and offer some advice on the othercountries instead of the usual slow down, etc?"
Thank you everyone for your help, we are arriving October 22nd anddeparting again around December 10th-15th? I am pretty sure that is monsoonseason? but we were travelling in monsoon season last year and it wasnt toobad.... lol... ok it was pretty wet! but at least we know what to expect thistime round. I know that means when it comes to travelling - buses etc that ittakes much longer.. last year i was on a bus that was supposed to be 11 hours..ended up being over 18hours, it was awful. but I love telling that story so itwas worth it.
Ok so i dont have exact days yet but this is my plan so far -
day 1 Bangkok --->(Laos) Vientiane (day 2 and 3)---> VangVieng(4,5)---> -Luang Prabang(day 6,7, Day 9 Mekong River boat to
(thailand)Day10 Chiang Kong boarder -- day 11, 12,13 Chiang Mai ---> (myanmar/burma) day14 ,15,16 Yangon--->17,18 inle lake
--->19,20,21mandalay---> 22,23,24Bagan--->25 Pyay---> 26 Yangon--- (thailand) bangkok --- 27petchuburi--- 28,29 chumphon---
30,surat thani--31,32.krabi---33,34Penang---35,36Cameron Highlands---37,38,39 kuala lumpur ---Manila (phillipines)(no plans yet!) 10
days??---> bangkok --HOME for christmas 10th-15th dec( we can obviously add and take away days/places but this is sort of what i
wasthinking - just so you know i have actually done research and i am not justasking u guys to do everything for me... like some people
seem to think i was.It was really more of reassurance that i was looking at the right places? we have around 49-53 days to travel
I know once i start to add in the travel and stuff that we may have to add days or take out places, which i am ok with, as i said nothing here is set in stone. (I have a trip around asutralia and newzealand to plan first before i finalize any SE asia plans!! but im weird and i apparently like to plan things backwards!)
Oh and we are not beachy people. we dont really like to sit around and do nothing? Makes me feel like i am wasting time.. i know that sounds stupid. but last year i got to sit on the beach at Nah Tran Vietnam for all of 30 mins before my boyfriend informed me he was bored and too hot. lol. we like to be more active- for expample. at the temples in siem reap cambodia we opted to cycle everywhere for 5 days instead of getting a tuk tuk-- which was interesting when we stay for the sunsets and then couldnt see my hand infront of my face let alone the road, with no torches and barely any street lights... took a while to get home that night! got lost becuase we couldnt see the street signs! But again I wouldnt change it for the world! Point is, we dont really like to relax at the beach all day (its ok once in a while but thats not what we want for the trip) we like to be more active- out doing stuff all the time, wandering around, going for a trek, getting on a boat, getting in a kayak ETC
so i hope this has given you some insight into what i was thinking for our trip. please feel free to comment. I appreciate all the comments so far, thank you very much for actually replying to my post in the first place.
arienneanto-nio I have just seen your reply about you visiting myanmar also, unfortunatly i think we will have left before you arrive!
#25 ciera89 has been a member since 16/7/2013. Posts: 5
"Last year we felt a bit rushed on our trip and we didnt want that feeling again this year, we want to really enjoy and experience each country not just see it from the window of a bus!"
Either your last trip was crazy retarded or you are going to have the exact same feeling on this trip. Lots of long distance travel in your plans that will require you to add a few days into your above schedule just for travel reasons. You are skipping some places worth seeing(imo) and short changing some locations like Chiang Mai and Krabi(just a couple examples).
What happens if you have some rainy days, get sick or something like that? I got Dengue on my trip and it put me out of service for a week, something like that would make a huge mess of your plans.
I don't mean to sound like a broken record but I would be trimming your plans down. As you have probably realized most of the regulars on here don't travel the way you are planning so sorry if we have only provided limited help.
yes I could get sick on the trip, i know someone who got the same thing as you and it limited what she could do, but I could also get hit my a bus on my way home from work today? I cant plan for something like that, if it happens it happens? nothing I can do about it ?
So chaing mai and krabi you think i should spend more time? Ok i will take that on board, this is why its good to talk to people on forums cus i have never been to these places so i dont know if im short changing them. Is there anywhere on my itinery you think is not worth going to, or somewhere that you think is better?
Oh and my trip wasnt crazy retarded, it was amazing. yeah It was a bit rushed in some places, but thats mainly becuase we went somewhere and had planned like 3 days at it and then got there and decided it didnt need that much time so we moved on and then later wished we had spent longer in other places which we loved. which is why im asking for advice this time. so that i can find out if somewhere like chaing mai needs 3-5 days and not 1 lol or that vang vien needs 1 day not 3 or whatever- do you know what i mean by that?
#27 ciera89 has been a member since 16/7/2013. Posts: 5
When you get to Manila, try to book a slot on Carlos Celdran's walking tours.
Based on what you've mentioned, I suggest Sagada as a destination in the Philippines. I enjoyed the "Cave crossing" though I'm not sure I'd like to do it again.
Another alternative is go white water rafting with Anton Carag. I got a package that included a little caving, a kayaking trip through the rain forest, and white water rafting. I don't know what are Anton's current packages and tours. I stayed at the Anton's ancestral home and I got a room with a noisy aircon. Fortunately I always bring earplugs but you will want to ask about your room.
You can also opt to go island hopping at Palawan.
Ciera, that is the exact reason we like to travel slowly and recommend it. Don't tie yourself down to a schedule and strict deadlines. Just have an idea where you want to go and go for it. Show up in a city look around, do what you want and then when you get bored then move on. Unfortunately you can't really travel like that if you are trying to fit too many things/places into a short time frame.
Chiang Mai is great and has tons of things to do. Trekking, river rafting, elephant camps, tiger kingdom, decent zoo, zipline, cooking courses, temples, night bazaar, weekend walking streets and is a great base to rent a scooter from. Best of all it is quite reasonably priced as well. I spent 3 days there and it wasn't near enough but due to other commitments I had to move on because I had built that portion of my trip similar to yours.
I missed out on Krabi but it sounds like a nice relaxing place and is great to check out an island or two from. Also has tours like kayaking etc. 2 days doesn't allow much.
Another place worth seeing in southern Thailand is Khao Sok National Park. I recommend the 2 day lake tour.
Oh and I just noticed your question on monsoon season. You should miss it in most places as late Oct and early Nov are the tail ends of rainy season for these areas, east coast Malaysia would be monsoon season but you aren't targeting that. Probably still get the odd rainy day but shouldn't be too bad.
I think the best way to plan a trip is by looking at a good map and seeing what's doable in relation to transport and also what attractions an area holds. Spending 2-3 days in places is ridiculous. You lose half a day to a day or more each time you travel. So basically you have 1-2 days in places which won't allow you to do much at all.
What are your hobbies and interests? You mentioned animals and treks. Well then google those things and see what tours are avail in those countries. Pick the best places and work out a plan to visit the best places.
Any decent trek is going to be at least 3 days then allow 1 day either side so as a minimum you need 5 days in an area but 7 is better if the area is good.
So really your focus should be on visiting 7-8 locations and that's it. Whether that's across 2,3,4 countries is up to you but you need to consider transport options and what's viable, timely and cost effective.
#30 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
You worry far too much about unimportant stuff (how many nights to spend in Chiang Mai , Vang Vieng etc) and haven't bothered to consider things that require real research like transport options and the logistics of getting from A to B.
eg Day 1. Bangkok --->Laos.
1.Why did you chose to start your trip in Thailand if you're going straight to Laos? The obvious way to get to Vientiane as quickly as possible would be to fly there on Air Asia from KL. There are no budget flights to Vientiane from Bangkok.
2. Never mind, let's assume you've just arrived in Bangkok airport. How exactly are you planning to get from there to Laos on Day 1? You're coming from Australia so you'll already have been travelling for about 12 hours by the time you get through immigration and customs. Then what? Spend a further 12 hours on a bus or train? That'll be a fun start to your holiday (not). Flight to Udon Thani and bus from there? Have you checked whether the connection times work? Will the border still be open when you get there? How, where and when are you going to dump all your excess luggage? I haven't checked (that's your job) but I suspect the airport luggage storage facilities will be quite expensive and there may be a limit to the length of time you can leave stuff there too. What other left luggage options are there? Will it require a detour into Bangkok before you set off to Laos?
Anyway, that's just day 1. There's absolutely no point in having a day by day itinerary like the one you posted unless you've thought about practicalities as well as the nice fluffy bits. It's pretty obvious you've done very little research yourself so far. If you had, you'd know late October-early December is the beginning of the dry season in some places and the beginning of the rainy season in others and you wouldn't be planning to get from Chiang Mai to Myanmar on day 13. There are other things that made me blink looking at that itinerary too... like taking 4 whole days to get from Bangkok to Surat Thani checking out the damp coast of Thailand and then racing from sunny Krabi to Penang in a single day. Why don't you just get a night train to Trang? You'd arrive around 9am and be breaking the journey nearer the Malaysian border. You could spend a few days checking out the Trang islands en route or even island hop all the way to Langkawi if you feel like it. Except you can't do things just because you feel like it because every single day has been planned in advance and your whole holiday would be ruined and the sky will fall on your head if you don't try and stick to the itinerary.
Over planning and cramming in too many places are typical newbie mistakes but you aren't a total newbie and you've acknowledged you found your last trip too rushed and that the unplanned bits were the most memorable ones. So why are you so hell bent on repeating the exact same mistakes this time? The only day you need to be anywhere specific is the day you catch your flight back home. If you have any sense you'll just wing it this time. Let enjoyment and doing what you feel like doing guide you, not that stupid ill-thought out and over rushed itinerary. You say it might be your last trip to SE Asia for a while. What kind of memories do you want? Totally amazing blast or totally exhausting blur? By all means do lots more research so that you know what your options are at any given time but you don't really have to decide what you'll be doing or where you'll be spending day 33 until it's day 33.