A year's worth of travel for 2013
Updated on 25th January, 2013. First published 17th December, 2012
We're often asked about our picks for where to go when travellers have a certain amount of time up their sleeve, or what the best time of year is for going to this island or those mountains. With weather in mind, and pretending for a moment that we could travel right through 2013, here's where we'd go in Southeast Asia over the next year based on where we've already been and what we've read about when it comes to where we want to go.
January: Ko Kut, Thailand
This is one of the few developed Thai islands that we've never set foot on. Our researchers have though and Ko Kut sounds like the perfect kind of place to ease in the New Year. Think long beaches, a comprehensive range of accommodation (from the cheap to the super luxurious) and in January, delightful weather.
February: Hoi An, Vietnam
I've been to Hoi An many times over the years and while it's a fully developed tourist destination nowadays, it remains a beautiful and charming town. Get up early to wander the fresh produce market by the river, munch your way through the day at the many cafes and noodle outlets and wind up on the beach for the late afternoon. And if the vendor hassle gets too much, make a beeline for nearby An Bang beach, where the monsoon should just be easing off.
A quiet road in Hoi An.
March: Hua Phan province, Laos
One of Laos' most isolated regions, Hua Phan's history is as fascinating as its landscape is stunning. Spend time visiting the cave systems that first served as shelter during the American war and then prisons afterwards. This is untouristed Laos at it's best.
The road to Sam Neua.
April: Perhentians, Malaysia
It's been almost 15 years since we've wandered the beaches here and we'd go back in a heartbeat. On this first (and only) visit we stumbled upon what remains one of the most stunning beaches we've seen in Southeast Asia. We need to revisit Little Perhentian to see if it is still there; we wouldn't mind another swim with the turtles, either.
May: Flores, Indonesia
With its fancy new airport, everyone is talking about Lombok, but I'd suggest casting a stone a little further east to Flores. Once there, I'd be setting aside a considerable stretch of time for beach and snorkelling research.
June: Si Phan Don, Laos
The 4,000 islands in southern Laos get pretty busy (by Lao standards) in high season, so why not buck the trend and go at the peak of the wet season in June? The crowds should be as low as the river is high, making for a relaxing slow week aside with just a hammock and a river view to distract. Take some good books and get offline for a bit.
Slow days on Don Dhet.
July: Joochiat, Singapore
Joochiat remains our favourite part of Singapore. Excellent food, a vibrant night scene -- it's sleazy by Singaporean standards so not uncomfortably so -- and a hop, skip and a jump into the more central parts of the city where we'd get our museum fix and do a bit of shopping. We thoroughly recommend doing the Betelbox food tour for a taste of what's on offer around here, too.
Go fly a kite.
August: Sumatra, Indonesia
Another Indonesian island
province we're yet to explore, in August I'd love a lazy month taking in Sumatra from top to tail. Kick off at Pulau Weh, then Aceh and Lake Toba before slowly weaving our way down the spine of the province, finishing off with a view to Krakatau off the southern tip. Oh and eating quite a bit. No, actually a lot.
September: Kuching, Malaysia
Just about everyone I know who has been to Kuching says they'd happily live there, so I'll be a visit virgin in 2013 both for the town itself and the outlying Bako National Park, which our researcher in Sarawak has handily just covered.
Croc or cannon?
October: Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia
Cambodia's poster child for eco-tourism, the reports remain resoundingly positive from the interesting and low-key Cardamoms. I'd probably cheat and combine it with a revisit to Koh Kong which itself has some great beaches, river trips and other distractions.
The boat from Andoung Teuk.
November: Umphang, Thailand
Umphang is one of our favourite destinations in Thailand. Stunning scenery and, if border conditions/security allow, we'd love to finally undertake the seven-day trek south to Sangkhlaburi, which weaves you across (illegally) into Karen State in Burma. Best thing in doing this is getting to go to Sangkhlaburi too.
Now that's a bridge. Sangkhlaburi.
December: Koh Rong, Cambodia
Where better to finish 2013 off than the picture-postcard perfect island of Koh Rong, off the Cambodian south coast. Koh Rong is appearing at the top of a lot of hot destination lists at the moment, so this is one of those places we'd advise heading to sooner rather than later.
Just another day on the beach...
What would be on your wishlist for 2013?
Related readingTrekking the Cardamoms in Cambodia
The best islands in Cambodia
Singapore's Hip Haji
Southern Laos by scooter
Responsible shopping and eating in Hoi An
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