I've been reading such good advice on this forum and have a wealth of knowledge however it would be great to have more specific knowledge to what i want and would be grateful if you guru's could help me!
We're looking starting our tour of SE Asia. We currently live in China so we would be starting from here. Could someone offer me a logic route of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia...I've got a list of all the places we want to visit (primarily all the main places in these countries.) but we are unsure which country to enter first from China.
We don't necessarily have a set travel time but more a budget (approx 6000gbp per person). Our heart lies in exploring Asia but if we have money left over and want to explore somewhere new, Australia or America may call. Could someone offer a time frame to successfully travel the above countries and feel like we've had a taste of them all. I'm not sure what countries are worth spending more time on etc. I have a big love of the beach and would like to spend a large time relaxing if possible.
Thanks in advance!
#1 lunarangelic has been a member since 19/1/2013. Posts: 1
Probably the easiest place to enter would be Vietnam - simply fly into Hanoi and explore the north. 6,000 GBP is a LOT of money - with no idea what your time frame is, I'd still say that you should minimize your criss-crossing a bit. Start with Hanoi/Ha Long Bay and head into Laos to check out the North (Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Kong Lor Cave) and go to Savannakhet from where you'd be able to cross back into Vietnam around Hue and check out Hue/Danang/Hoi'an - with some beach time there. To make this as easy as possible, get a Double-Entry Visa for Vietnam. I'd say this first portion could eat up a month of travel time. Then work your way down the coast and over to HCMC and the Mekong Delta. Depending on if you need some more beach time already - enter Cambodia around Ha Tien and go directly to some beaches before heading up to PP and then Siem Reap . . . or else just go directly to PP and decide how to approach Cambodia from there. If you give yourself 3 weeks in Cambodia I think that would be adequate.
Enter into Thailand overland and you only get 15 days on your visa - so probably best to fly into BKK and decide how to use the entire 30 days of your visa then. I'd recommend spending hitting up Chiang Mai area for at least 1 week before finishing with some beach hoping for 3 weeks (figuring in BKK time as well). If you want to figure a way to spend more time in Thailand with free visas then skip Laos at the start and stick to Vietnam all the way down - head overland into Thailand from Cambodia and you've got 15 days to get from the border, through BKK and up and explore Chiang Mai area before heading via Chiang Rai (Huay Xia crossing) into Northern Laos from that direction . . . work down as before through Luang Prabang-Vang Vieng- Vientiane . Then catch a flight into BKK from Vientiane and that gives you 30 days to explore islands.
Probably fly from BKK down to KL is easiest for Malaysia - plenty of beaches to relax in, but I think you don't need more than 3 weeks. Indonesia has a lot offer, with easily 3 weeks just exploring Java as a possibilty. So, I'd just wait to see what your finances look like and decide on getting a 60 day (possible?) visa for Indonesia in Singapore or something and then spending 2 months working through Sumatra-Java-Bali-Lombok and so on as far as the eye can see . . .
Yunnan province is a nice backdoor way out of China. From Kunming take a bus or flight to Jinghong for a Xishuangbanna experience. Then get a bus to Mengla and the Boten border with Laos and carry on to Luang Namtha which is a peaceful but convenient gateway into north Laos. From there you can get a bus to the Thai border at Huay Xai / Chiang Khong and onward to Chiang Rai or Chiang Mai, or down to Oudom Xai, Pakmong, Nong Khiaw (on the Nam Ou river) and Luang Prabang in Laos. That's a good starter anyway. It might also be possible to take a boat from Jinghong to Chiang Saen in Thailand down the Mekong. I did this on a cargo boat a few years ago, but you would need to check current status in Jinghong. Try asking at Mei Mei Cafe, they know everything.
I've done that route into Laos - but from my own experience and reviews by others would note Xishuangbanna is considered by most people coming from China and into SE Asia - a little bit of both without the best of either. Personally I like it, but think of it as a good spot to go if I can't make it down to SE Asia, or as part of a Yunnan trip. If exploring most of SE Asia could probably give it a pass.
However, if lunarangelic has not been to Yunnan yet, then I'd recommend diverting some time and budget to Dali/Lijiang from Kunming and then doing as Captain_Bob says.