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Southeast Asia forum

5 weeks of travel that includes the Philippines - please help me plan an itinerary!

Posted by cguzzy on 17/12/2013 at 12:48

Hi there!

I will finally have the chance to travel to Asia in 2014 for about 4-6 weeks and I'm really excited! I've been looking up different travel itineraries that span over 5 weeks for inspiration, but it's difficult to find one that includes the Philippines. I suppose my circumstances are a little different, I shall explain:

I am Filipino but born in Canada, so I've only been once when I was young, with my parents. Next March, a family member will be turning 90 and some of my family members are planning to travel to the Philippines for the celebration. I'm finally done school, so now is my chance! My travel plans must include/start in the Philippines (I'll be going to the province of Marinduque for at least 3 days) but while I'm on that side of the world, I'd like to see as much as I can.

My initial thoughts are to explore the Philippines (Subic Bay, Palawan, Bohol, Borocay), Thailand (not sure exactly which cities) and Bali. My boyfriend will be joining me for a portion of the trip and we were hoping to volunteer in Tacloban for a few days if possible. Aside from that, I will travel with a friend or family member. I figured if I have time, I'll venture to either Cambodia, Laos or Vietnam, too. I know I can't see everything but not sure what is realistic. I'm quite uneducated when it comes to all this, and reading the forums can be a bit overwhelming, so I was hoping for guidance in my situation.

Can anyone suggest any itineraries for someone in my situation? I want to explore the Philippines and Thailand above all else, but since I'm open to suggestions, I don't mind substituting certain cities for others.

I appreciate all the help I can get!

Thank you,
Charlotte

#1 cguzzy has been a member since 17/12/2013. Posts: 10

Posted by cguzzy on 17/12/2013 at 13:16

By the way, not sure if it was clear, but I would be travelling mid-March to mid-April most likely. If not, then end of February to end of March and then my trip can end in the Philippines instead of start.

I want to do a mix of things: sightseeing, outdoor activities (hiking, swimming), relaxing, shopping (kept to a minimum). I don't want to completely avoid 'touristy' things, since I will be a tourist, but smaller cities with less hustle and bustle would make me equally happy!

Thanks again!
Charlotte

#2 cguzzy has been a member since 17/12/2013. Posts: 10


Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 18/12/2013 at 19:30

Try Krabi and Trang. With only 5 weeks I'd skip Bali.

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Posted by cguzzy on 19/12/2013 at 10:57

Thanks for the suggestion. I've done some research, and assuming I'll be in Asia for 5 weeks, I would split the time 3 weeks in the Philippines, 1 week in Bali and 2 weeks in Thailand. Some things I've read suggest that this is doable.

For Indonesia (Bali), I found the page here on Travelfish which suggests that in a week I see (as per my preferences):
-Kuta, Legian or Seminyak
- Ubud
- Amed or Pemuteran

And Thailand:
- Bangkok
- Surat Thani/Islands
- Koh Phangan
- Koh Phi Phi
- Ayutthaya
- Lopburi
- Chiang Mai/Chiang Rai
- Phuket

This is the result of cutting out some places, assuming I'll have to reduce it more, what could you suggest?

Thanks again!

#4 cguzzy has been a member since 17/12/2013. Posts: 10

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 19/12/2013 at 19:43

That is a lot for 2 weeks in Thailand. 8 places in 14 days is not realistic. You will be packing and unpacking all the time. You will see lots of airports and bus windows.

3 places is enough for 14 days.

General travel rule is 3 to 5 days per destination if you want to enjoy yourself. You lose half a day everytime you move so 1 to 2 days will not allow you to see much at all plus it will make you tired.

#5 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
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Posted by cguzzy on 19/12/2013 at 19:50

Well I figured it was unrealistic, I was more looking for advice about which cities aren't as "worth" it to see for a first timer to Thailand.

#6 cguzzy has been a member since 17/12/2013. Posts: 10

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 19/12/2013 at 20:02

I suggested Trang and Krabi already. Easy to spend 2 weeks just in those areas.

But it depends how much you like beaches. I love them.

Bangkok is good if you like big cities, temples, food and shopping.

That is plenty for 2 weeks.

If you want to see more skip Bali.

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Posted by mark666 on 22/12/2013 at 09:28

Congratulations on doing the first thing right. Traveling with a male friend and also meeting friends and family in the place your going too. This will make your experience 1000% safer and more fulfilling. So many airhead women strut off in pairs and either end up dead or seeing only a very touristy blur of the countries as that is all that safety allowed.

Can I recommend buying the book by Mark Lindsay on the Philippines called Sugar Baby. It charts the adventures of a man in the 1990s traveling from Manila to Boracay. It may be interesting reading while on the bus or plane.

As to recommendations I think you have some good advice already about Thailand, especially about the time it takes to make the best out of a place. Bali, in my opinion is only worth a week, Thailand you need well... I lived there for five years and only scratched the surface. Yours is going to be a gawping tour, which is all you can do on backtracking holidays. So don't try too hard to get to the real place (you wont) and enjoy yourself. Phuket is a must as it takes in Kho Phi Phi (a days trip from Phuket). You can do The Beach thing as a tour. Kho Pangna for drugs and wild parties, bypass Kho Samui. Chaing Mai and Chang Rai are too far. April will be the hot season in Bangkok, water throwing festival etc. By hot I mean too hot, so get out of the city straight away. Two places are enough in two weeks.

I hope you enjoy the Philippines. It is where I would stay if you have friends and family.

Buy the book

#8 mark666 has been a member since 22/12/2013. Posts: 3

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 22/12/2013 at 15:31

It is Koh not Kho and Phuket is not a must. You can reach Phi Phi from Krabi more easily.

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Posted by cguzzy on 22/12/2013 at 18:13

Thank you both for your replies. I think I will only have 5 weeks and so, will have to cut out Bali. Too much travelling in a short time.

My destinations for the Philippines have been decided, more or less. Not sure how to decide for Thailand, I'll have to do more reading and ask around a bit more. A friend of mine suggested 7 days in the Islands, 4 days in Chiang Mai and 3 days in Bangkok.

Thanks again!

#10 cguzzy has been a member since 17/12/2013. Posts: 10

Posted by goonistik on 22/12/2013 at 23:06

I like Chiang Mai but I am not sure that it is worth the extra expense or trouble of going all the way up north just to visit it. Especially since you plan to visit the islands.

I suggest you visit destinations that are a bit closer to one another so you can avoid the wear and tear of traveling and/or the added expense.

Please note that Songkran falls on Sunday, April 13. The whole nation goes on holiday and traveling becomes a hassle and you will definitely need confirmed bookings for travel and accommodation. So I imagine that by April 11 going around will be more difficult. And since Songkran starts on a Sunday, I understand an extra workday will be added to the holiday. I just don't know if it will be Friday or Wed.

So you can do Bangkok for a few days. Ayuthaya can be done as a day trip from Bangkok, if that interest you.

Now if you have heart set on Chiang Mai, than please feel free to disregard my advice.

#11 goonistik has been a member since 7/1/2010. Location: Philippines. Posts: 563
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Posted by mark666 on 23/12/2013 at 04:13

Good. Sounds like you are getting there. North will definitely be cooler and maybe the right time to go in April.

PS it is kho not koh. Thai has about 100 letters in its alphabet and so any spelling with our 26 letters is open to debate. However, I would claim, speaking Thai as I do, Kho. Phuket is not everyone's choice as you can see, but given the short time it will have everything. If you do go to Krabi be wary of 'Dead Girl Beach'. (By the by, it is Boracay not Borocay).

#12 mark666 has been a member since 22/12/2013. Posts: 3

Posted by mark666 on 23/12/2013 at 04:47

Oh dear,

I just spoke to a Thai friend who worked on Phi Phi for ten years and I am told that the Thai's do not use Kho or Koh as a rule. They just say Phi Phi or Samui. If they do put the word 'Island' in front of the name they transliterated it as Goh or Ko. So there you go. They are aware foreigners spell it koh, less so kho, and they don't care either way as it is not there language (i.e. using roman alaphabet).

I am now interested in learning why you, as a Filipina, spelt Boracay with an 'O'. I have researched the name and as far as I am aware the word is spelt using the same alphabet and so the same confusion should not be present. Maybe the multiple local dialects spell it differently? Do you know the right Tagalog spelling?

#13 mark666 has been a member since 22/12/2013. Posts: 3

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 23/12/2013 at 06:13

Spelt Koh or Ko but pronounced more like Goh. At least the Thai person corrected you. Phuket they drop the Koh, probably cause it is so close to the mainland with connecting bridge.

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Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 23/12/2013 at 06:16

What is dead girl beach?

No foreigners spell it kho except for you. Have a look at every travel book.

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Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 23/12/2013 at 06:19

Chiang Mai is hot in April just like everywhere in Thailand. March to April is the hottest period.

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