We're planning a 6 month trip around South East Asia/Asia(our first long trip, and first time in Asia!), starting in February 2014.We're in our 50's, fairly active-we like the outdoors, and we're comfortablewithout all the comforts of home (e.g. we like kayak camping). We're guessingwe'll spend ~$50/day each (give or take). We'd like to see enough to have somesense of what a country's about, and see some of the major"must-sees"-but we'd rather spend a few days hanging out in some town getting to know it than a few days trying to sight see our way around some big city. We'd like to fit in a few weeks of meditation retreat, a few treks, and alot of seeing new places. I've come up with a tentative itinerary that I'dreally like some feedback on. I've tried to avoid high seasons and havereasonable odds of OK weather. I'm still working on fleshing out itineraries-trying to balance too much planning with toolittle-and knowing that things will change as we go!
Any comments would really be appreciated. Any suggestions ofchanges of sequence for weather/travel connection/pacing? Places we're crazy to miss? Thanks for all your ideas.
Kerala: 2 weeks: last week January, 1st week of February
Sri Lanka: middle 2 weeks of February
Burma: 3 weeks-last week of February,1st 2 weeks of March Yangon-Bagan-Kalaw-trekto Inle Lake-maybe Mrauk U
(maybe flip these around-Burma first, Kerala & Sri Lanka later?)
Cambodia: mostly Angkor Wat and a bit more-2 weeks end of March
Northern Laos: 3 weeks in April- Luang Prabang, Vam Ha (some trekking),Songkran is Apr 14-16 (any suggestions about where to spend it?)
Indonesia: 4 weeks-end of April-mid May-Flores and some of Sulawesi
Dharmasala: 1-2 weeks late May-meditation retreat (~1 week), around and abouttown
Ladakh: 3 weeks June: trekking (1 week), 2 weeks in Leh (at SecMol)
Northern Thailand: 3 weeks-mid June-early July-Chen Mai, trekking (Mae HongSun? Mae Sariang?), retreat (Ubon Ratchathani? Chiang Mai?)
Australia: 2 weeks end of July (visiting family)
#1 fernwood has been a member since 5/9/2013. Posts: 4
For Cambodia certainly check out Angkor Wat. However, if you really want to get off of the beaten travel path check out Banteay Chhmar. I really enjoyed exploring the temples in that area and exploring the countryside by motorbike.
Your Burma looks good. If you like Beaches consider adding Chaung Tha.
Chiang Mai is great for a larger city(not really that large either) and has lots to offer like trekking, white water rafting, elephant camps, tiger kingdom, cooking classes, spas and much more. One of the best places to do tours since they are good quality and very fairly priced.
I don't know about Songkran in Laos but guessing Luang Prabang is your best bet although it is likely more tourist oriented there. Just not sure how involved or invited you would be in some of the smaller towns. If you spend some time in a smaller place and meet some locals prior it might be cool to get a more local feeling but if you just show up somewhere the day before don't expect it.
A few brief thoughts on the Southeast Asia part of what sounds like a damn good trip
April is great on Flores and Komodo - we were there at that time this year, weather was excellent and not too crowded. Good timing there.
For the Laos portion, Luang Prabang is the most popular place for Pimai Lao, but you'll have a good time anywhere in the country -- Nong Kiaow could be a good fit.
Then a few links to some other material you may find useful:
Staying at a Thai monastery
Trekking in Nam Ha NPA (northern Laos)
Pimai Lao in LPQ in 1999 (old story!)
10 trekking locations in Thailand outside CM
#4 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,710
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Thank you all! mattocmd-your suggestion of Banteay Chhmar looks wonderful! I looked it up online, and it looks fascinating. I'm not sure I'm up for motorbiking it there (I've watched too many tourists in my own well paved city pitch over the handlebarsof scooters they've rented!) but it looks close enough that there have to bebuses or some way of getting there. It's definitely on the list. My husband's more of a beach fan than I am....will keep Chaung Tha in mind, and see if we're ready for some down time then.
Geer1-thanks for your comments about Chiang Mai-it confirms what I was thinking. I'm still a bit torn about starting a trek in Mae Hong Sun or Mae Sariang rather than Chiang Mai, but may find that sorts itself out when we get there. It's easy from here to say I wan tto be off the beaten track-we'll see how that holds up to reality, when the busses are uncomfortable, the language is a barrier and one of us has had stomach issues for the past week! Your point about not expecting to feel at home in afew days in a smaller village is one worth thinking about.
Somtam2000-your links are wonderful! Thank you. The trekking links sent me to another link that gave me solid pointers, whereupon I went back to the links you sent and so it goes, understanding increasing each time. Pimai Lao in Luang Prabang sounds fabulous (as Geer1 suggested, too-I love Travelfish!) Will try to be sure that happens. Retreat links are great-reminds me that it's probably a good plan to pre-arrange this part of things rather than simply showing up.
Does anyone have any ideas about the broad brush timeline of when to go where? I know things will change en route, but I'd like at least a tentative outline so we can plan a couple of periods of travel with our two twentysomething kids and a friend of ours. (They need to get time off, they have their own preferencesfor countries they want to see etc.) Thanks everyone!
#5 fernwood has been a member since 5/9/2013. Posts: 4