We really like S.E Asia for it's affordibility,climate and for the way we are treated in general.
So far we've only had samplings of the the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam and Cambodia. Next year we are thinking seriously of Laos, Mynmar, Southern China and perhaps North Vietnam.
So far I like ...
Philippines....awesome beaches, great coral for snorkling, beautiful lagoons and cliffs in Palawan.
Thailand....beaches, food, motor biking the hills of Kophangan
Malaysia....a little more luxurious, but still affordable...friendly Muslim people of Lankawi island
Indonesia...more research needed(Bali?) didn't like Batam near Singapore,hawkers to persistant
Singapore... Very clean and intresting to see....hotels a way to expensive for long term stay
Vietnam.... Intresting life on the rivers, nice rural settings
Cambodia...Super friendly people, great prices, awesome temples.
Actually I like them all for different reasons and it's like comparing apples to oranges and more research is needed for sure.
Island hopping around El Nido Palawan in the Philippines was amazing.Unbelievable coral for snorkeling, beautiful cliffs,lagoons and white sand beaches making it a tropical paradise.So far I'd give it a slight edge, but our research is limited.Thailand and Cambodia would be next in line.
Just curious as to what others think and why? Also wondering what people think of Mynmar, Laos and Southern China?
#1 KevandJho has been a member since 15/9/2011. Posts: 65
The atmosphere and environment of Southern China is a little gloomier than SE Asia. From what you've described about the other locations, I'd say you could take a pass for now. There are lots of minority groups, but most of accessible old towns are reconstituted, and the hangingout/social element isn't anything like in Vietnam, Laos, or Thailand. Whenever we get vacations here in Shanghai, we tend to take off to SE Asia - though I've explored parts of Guangxi, Yunnan, and Sichuan, the scenery is nice, but I prefer the overall atmosphere of Laos as the crossroads towns are more pleasant and overall traveler scene more relaxed.
For a touch of luxury and culture at once, you would probably enjoy Luang Prabang, Northern Laos though a different sort of luxury than the resorts on Langkawi. Very lovely little river towns in Nong Kiaow and Muang Ngoi, and Vang Vieng for that matter still capable of being pleasant from what I've been told. You could combine this with a trip back to Thailand, if you only hit the islands last time, the area around Chiang Mai has many opportunities for exploration. That would be a recommended area to explore for me. Though since you enjoyed the islands so much, you could always end your trip with a visit to the Ko Chang archipelago.
Otherwise I've had a lot of fun in Southern Laos and Central Vietnam, for a more remote experience.
NKP. I love the area around the clock tower, the nightlife there has a great vibe. It's totally tourist free, which suits me. It's not on the road to anything or from anything, so it doesn't get a lot of through traffic.
Khon Kaen. The most cosmopolitan city in Issan. Lots of good places to eat, vibrant nightlife, and a little place I can play chess at.
Bangkok - best salsa scene probably in SEA. An endless number of things to see and do, and any kind of cuisine you could imagine.
#3 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
recommend you really do your trip to Myanmar as quickly as you can before it will change dramatically (for the good of the people there ! But of course it may not be as "traditional" as before).
The people are so incredibly friendly and openminded, the country is so beautiful.
I live in Asia for almost 10 years, but I never made REAL FRIENDS so quickly as in Myanmar, and I am always in contact with them.
it as well is incredibly safe to travel there (though this will probably change sooner or later when the country opens up more and sees foreign influences).
Oh, and as long as you leave Kuta and Legian quickly, I still love Bali - the island is big and a lot of lovely places and people to exlore in the interior or the less-developed East Coast.
I just like the unique balinese culture.
As for other places in Indonesia, try to explore Nusa Tenggara provinces in East Indonesia, very low-profile, very few tourists, friendly people.....
Palawan..... well, you did it already...... Palawan is now what over-developed and nature-destroying Borneo was and still wants to be but never is.......
If Philippines: Samar provinces are lovely too, great nature, friendly people, quite safe (by Philippine Standards)
#4 EurasiaTraveller has been a member since 18/10/2010. Posts: 12
Looking at Eurasia's post, it's interesting how different people have different takes on things. He / she loves "traditional" mono-cultural and "natural" environments and dislikes development and diverse cutural influence. I am not a nature fan, like developed places like Bangkok, and love multi-cultural places with world-wide cuisine and world-wide artistic presence. Different strokes for different folks.
#5 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
In no particular order:
Hoi An - it's romantic; it has friendly locals, great temples, long stretches of empty beach and scenic countryside in the surrounds. It's touristy, yes, but I'll always love it.
Sapa and surrounds - it still has "real" hill tribe villages that aren't just tourist sites; stunning countryside; feels like going back in time a couple hundred years.
Ko Bulon Lae - a magical little Thai island.
Bangkok - I love the energy, the food, the culture, the colors, the temples and canals. I especially appreciate the less touristy parts like Din Daeng and Thon Buri... One could explore Bangkok everyday for their whole life and still make new discoveries all the time.
Hanoi (chilled, traffic, food, back streets and ambience)
Penang (food, architecture, melting pot of cultures)
Luang Prabang (chilled, elephants, just splendid)
Sapa (great trekking, scenery and culture)
As MADMAC says, it's all about relaxing and enjoying the culture, not running around from A to B to C.
#7 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
Thanks to everyone who chimed in on this thread.....much appreciated
I really wished that I would have had a chance to check out Sapa on our recent trip to Vietnam. From what I've read,heard from other tourists and seen on various videos, it's definitly a place I'd like to go some day.Halong Bay looks like it's definitly worth some great pictures.
Ko Bulon Lae is an island that now has got my attention. I just love those laid back non touristy islands. Wish I would have known about it while we were in Langkawi a few years back.
Thanks for the good report on Mynmar. Would like to see it coupled with Laos although I'm reading that border crossings by land don't really exist.Perhaps we could schedule in North Vietnam with these two countries when we travel somewhere next year.
#9 KevandJho has been a member since 15/9/2011. Posts: 65
Very hard to narrow it down to just one as we loved so many different places for so many different reasons...so narrowed it down to 3:
Hoi An - Really beautiful town, it has some great places to eat and drink. We spent hours just wandering from bar to bar and looking in the art galleries.
Sihanoukville - I know some people think it's gone downhill recently but it's such a chilled place and the bars along the Serendipity beach were cool, although it's not the prettiest place in SE Asia by a long way. Met some good people there as well and just have good memories of the place.
Chiang Mai - Could quite happily live there as it's got pretty much everything, even a fake beach on a lake to make up for the lack of a real one.