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Southeast Asia forum

Bali,Vietnam, Cambodja, Laos,or Thailand???

Posted by murivalen on 30/7/2012 at 12:12

Hello guys.
November 2 years ago I backpacked for the first time to Thailand for a month. Really LOVED the country! Went from BKK to Chiang-mai and than buy train all the way down to several island/places as Koh Tao, Koh phi phi, Ao Nang, Krabi, Chumpon, Phang Nga, etc etc.
Loved the laid back atmosphere and really disliked Phuket!!
Now end of this year I´m getting married probably in Bali, and since we are so close I got my boyfriend ready to go backpacking together in SEA!!
Cause I´ve already seen Thailand he said it would be nice to explore further....Now hours and days checking out what to do and where to go I completely lost it!

So please give me your suggestions!! We are thinking to travel for a month, besides our wedding in Bali. I would love to have the variaty Thailand offers again! (City, islands, culture, food, laid back! etc etc)
Would you say: Vietnam, Cambodja, Laos or Thailand? Or even for us to stay in Indonesia, Bali??

Hope to get some really good advice!
Thanx so far! xx

#1 murivalen has been a member since 30/7/2012. Location: Spain. Posts: 4
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Posted by caseyprich on 30/7/2012 at 15:02

I'd start by looking at the climates to see if it'll be the rainy season or what in the areas and that might make the decision for you. For a honeymoon I could also recommend Malaysia as I found travel and accommodation were the most modern when I was in KL and Langkawi.

Indonesia certainly offers a lot to see in a month. You can explore the jungles of Sumatra, the cultures and volcanoes of Java, and the laid back island life of the Gilis - along with time to soak up Bali either before or after the wedding. Different regions hav different local food specialty, music, and I met a lot of nice people on my trip through Java to Lombok.
Laos is very nice, I love visiting it - but not sure it has the right locations for a honeymoon, and travel is a chore. Cambodia, form what I"ve heard, may also lack the right atmosphere for what you're looking for. Vietnam, on the other hand has a solid food culture, many different regions with their own special feel, friendly people and good rink (great coffee!). Hanoi and HCMC offer bigger cities for creature comforts, lots of culture in Central Vietnam (Hue/DaNang/Hoian) and plenty to explore in the Delta - relax at the end of your trip on Phu Quoc Island.

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Posted by murivalen on 31/7/2012 at 00:12

Thank you caseyprich for your advice!
Could you tell me if I can find that the same sort of islands in Vietnam as I did in the south of Thailand? Like with little bays, and to explore it in a few days with that laid back feeling? All I've seen on photos so far are kilometers of beach.

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Posted by caseyprich on 31/7/2012 at 08:36

The only island I've been to in Vietnam is Phu Quoc. It is quite large and described by some as similar to Phuket before it became overly developed. There are snorkeling trips, inland jungle walks/motorbike trails, and several different beach locations to explore. You can find all the information on this site. We stayed on Ong Lang Beach at a now defunct location but it was a nice quiet retreat from Long Beach, though that is the place to stay if you want more activity.

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Posted by daawgon on 31/7/2012 at 12:18

Sounds to me like you've been spoiled rotten by Thailand? Vietnam would be a real chore after Thailand. It is very rewarding, but it simply does not have the beautiful beaches and laid back lifestyle that Thailand has.

I believe that Luang Prabang is an excellent choice for a honeymoon - it has no ocean beach, but it does have wonderful and refreshing waterfalls, laid back lifestyle, beautiful scenery and great food/accommodation. The rest of Laos is still developing and is on the primitive side of comfort.

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Posted by Captain_Bob on 1/8/2012 at 00:08

You'll be hard pressed to find the chilled-out "sabai sabai" vibe of the southern Thai islands in those other countries. When I've circled the region and gone in/out of Laos and Cambodia and Malaysia back into Thailand numerous times there's always that welcome happy vibe to be back. Thais are just generally more fun-loving and easy-going, and Thailand has the best beaches in the region. As you've already discovered, just avoid the mega-crazy spots on Phuket, etc. in favor of more chilled-out islands and beaches. At the end of the year (December/January) the crowds are at their peak so you might want to avoid the Christmas / New Year rush and go more like November /early December or late January (or February even better). Maybe somewhere you haven't been yet (Ko Lipe and the surrounding Tarutao islands? Ko Laoliang? Ko Kradan? Ko Ngai?) Or maybe Ko Chang or Ko Samet then combine it with a side-trip to Cambodia or Laos if you have time. Hopefully some inspiration there. Happy planning.

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Posted by murivalen on 1/8/2012 at 00:45

Hi Daawgon and Captain Bob.
Thank you both for your reply! Although we are getting married in SEA we are not specifically looking for that typical honeymoon feeling all the time. We'd like to experience more than only white sandy beaches with like u said, Captain Bob, that sabai sabai feeling! Back to basic and in between the locals would do it as well!
Even if traveling is kind of a chore (Daawgon said out of Thailand) that would give us a true overall feeling like back to basics! When I travelled Thailand 2 years ago the train trip from north to Chumpon was a great experience! I wouldn't have want to have missed!

I'm already a lot wiser about where to go and how to do it thanx to you travelfish friends! Those Islands you named Capt. Bob I'm unfamiliar with! So I'm going to read a bit more about them!
One more question about Bali....(if you've been there)
Would a week be good to explore it? We'll have a few days of luxury after our ceremony and than we want to go back to basic!?
Thanx again, very helpfull! Ciao Murielle

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Posted by busylizzy on 1/8/2012 at 01:36

I'd suggest staying in Indonesia. You could easily spend 2 weeks exploring Bali. Get out of the popular tourist areas in the South and venture further afield. Places further afield that I'd recommend would be Amed, Pemuteran, Munduk, Bedugul. Spend 3-4 days in each to properly explore, meet some locals, etc. A fun adventure if you have a rental car is to head over to the west coast to areas like Yeh Gangga, etc. There's all sorts of interesting beaches and very little in the way of tourism, but some fascinating local ceremonies to be witnessed. There's some very good info about these areas on this site, thanks to Adam, the TF researcher who recently travelled the island.

From Bali, head over to Lembongan. I fell in love with this place when I first visited in 2009. It's developing quickly - to my distress when I visited again last year. But it's an interesting island with a few good beaches, and some great snorkelling opportunities if you hire a local boat for a few hours (or off the beach in some places). If it's low season, I think Lembongan will retain much of it's charm. I didn't like the increase in tourist numbers last time I went - although it's no where near like Bali.

Still feeling adventurous and want to get further off the beaten track? Catch the early morning public boat from Lembongan to Penida for a few days - you just might find that you are the only tourists on the whole island! I certainly found that when I was there in 2009! A fantastic unspoiled island with some gorgeous beaches, good for snorkelling.

From Lembongan, you can also catch a boat to the Gili's. Spend 2-3 nights on each of the 3 islands- these will be similar in the atmosphere that you enjoyed on some of the Thai islands. Gili T is the 'party' island, Gili M and Gili Air are much quieter. There is a feature article on the front page of this site at the moment - check it out!

If you have still time, you can can continue on over to Lombok, as mentioned by Caseyprich above. Lots to do there too, especially if you are into trekking. Also some great beaches down south.
An alternative to some of what I've written above is to head over to Flores and travel overland from Maumere to Labuanbaju. Check out the Komodo dragons on Rinca or Komodo dragons while you are there. We stayed at Kanawa Island for a few days off of Labuanbaju which was an absolute basic, rustic island, but had some excellent snorkelling. We had the entire island to ourselves for 3-4 days - aside from a few staff. I actually looked at their website the other day and it looks like that have upgraded the Kanawa Resort a bit and they are now doing weddings there. Maybe it's worth checking out? I have posted quite a bit in the past about Flores, so scout around the forum if you're keen to read more.

Honestly - if you are getting married in Bali, there is so much you could see and do just within each reach of Bali. I spent 2 months seeing the areas I mention above - and could have happily dragged it out even longer! Keeping it local will save costs and travel time of flying to other areas. Spend some time learning some Indonesian Language and you be able to easily converse with locals, enhancing your experience there.

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Posted by caseyprich on 1/8/2012 at 16:05

I agree with Lizzy, I had a great time around Bali and Gili (along with Yogyakarta for some cultural sites), the people were just as friendly as any I met in Thailand and the food and beaches were also great.

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