Hey there! I know this type of post has been done a lot, and I have got lots of great info reading others' threads, but I figure that there is no definitive answer to this type of query as it is always going to be specific to the person asking.
Because the region is so vast and I can't visit everywhere, I would like to give details of my proposed trip and my interests so that I can gain advice from people who have travelled around SEA before to help me figure out where I should go etc. I see lots of helpful members on here offering advice so any you can give me is greatly appreciated :)
I fly into Bangkok on June 1 and will fly home (Ireland) out of Singapore on September 1. I am travelling solo. I will have around US$6000 in my bank account to do me during the trip (after paying flights and vaccincations, but before visas). I have not done any extensive research or calculations regarding my budget, so if I'm under-budgeting then please let me know.
I intend on eating street food, staying in clean accommodation with fan (backpacker, not flashpacker - but maybe the odd night in somewhere nice). I'll drink a beer or two most days I would say, and have a skin-full the odd night too (maybe once a week). I'd like to be able to pick up some clothes and gifts etc if I find things I like.
I have an idea of the route I will follow - pretty much the typical loop. After a few days in Bangkok, I'll head south first of all to Ko Tao to get my diving qualification (FINALLY!) I figure it's best to do this at the start so that I can dive wherever during the rest of the trip. I have been wanting to dive all of my life so in my mind this is the highlight. After Ko Tao I plan to head back to Bangkok and begin heading north, spend a few weeks in N Thailand, head into Laos for a couple of weeks, then into Vietnam for maybe 4 weeks (north to south), then into Cambodia for a couple of weeks, then down to the southern Thai islands to chillax and hopefully have time for diving in Malaysia and see Kuala Lumpur and a couple of days in Singapore before flying home.
I would like to have a trip filled with varied experiences, and do not just want to lay around on the beach drinking beers. I love nature and love visiting places of exceptional natural beauty, especially rivers and coastal areas (don't we all). So it's important for me that I get to see the best SEA has to offer in this respect. I realise that the region is very well travelled and full of tourists. Like most people, I don't like feeling like I'm part of a flock of tourists, but I realise I can't be missing out on some of these touristy highlights, as they are popular for a reason. However, I would love to learn of less-travelled places where I can find hidden gems (again, don't we all).
The types of things I would like to do:
*Learn about the local culture, so I'll visit a temple or two (but not a million of them).
*See beautiful beaches and coastal areas (but don't need to see them all).
*See beautiful rivers, lakes and mountains.
*See amazing sunsets, sunrises, photo opportunities etc.
*Dive and snorkel in the most amazing places (I have dreamt of diving all of my life, and even have a Marine Biology degree, but just haven't ever got around to diving). I want to dive with whale sharks, reef sharks, turtles, exotic fish, coral reef etc.
*Get an opportunity to sample the local way of life by engaging with locals in their daily environment, not in a touristy environment.
*Meet like-minded travellers and have great fun, conversation, parties, make friends etc.
*Hike, jungle-trek etc. (I want to stay fit and healthy so every other day or two I'd like a good hike [img]smileys/wink.gif[/img])
*I am particularly interested in learning about the history of the region and visiting sites of significance relating to war, museums etc.
*Eat the best food!
*I love wildlife so would love opportunities to see as much biodiversity as possible (but do not like animals being held in captivity).
*Watch a live Thai boxing fight!
I'm very open to new experiences and would like to leave SEA having had a life-changing experience. I know I've listed typical things but I would also like to have less conventional experiences which may shift my perceptions and lead to who knows what. Based on the route I'm intending on taking, and my interests, have you any places you think I should visit? Any recommendations? Or should I re-think my route? What about my budget?
I'm not asking too much, am I? :-p
#1 Maran has been a member since 11/3/2014. Posts: 15
Sound like a good trip, my advice would be it doesn't make sence to travel donw to koh tao just to dive and then go back up when your going back that way anyway. I have dived in Koh Tao and its was crowed and murkey. People say its the nicest place but its not. My advice would be to do the course on a different island like Koh Lipe or Lanta. Also because Laos is landlocked there is no diving and you could always do the diving course in Vietnam or Cambodia and just do a fun dive on Tao if you really wanted to experience that. The diving is Malaysia is supposed to be awesome, iv not dived there but I also know that it is seasonal so look that up. I also don't know where you will find whale sharks at that time of year its something that needs to be reaearch. That was my dream on my recent 7 month trip and I still didn't dive with any. Cebu in the Philippines is a definite but I went there and it was awful. Diving in Indonesia (the gili islands is nice if you get chance, I know is not on your trip) :)
Also if you get time, you can get flights for around Â£10 from Singapore to medan (Indonesia) there are orang-utans in Bukit Lawang, maybe not for long as there are endangered. The treks there are really good and a highlight of my trip.
Hope you have a good time :)
Any interest in adding a supported bicycling tour to your itinerary? I will be in the region for all of June and July and am looking for a cycling partner as the tours in my budget have a two person minimum. I've never traveled in the region before but American friends have told me that biking tours were the highlight of their trips.
My schedule is flexible and I'm open to tours in a variety of locations, any duration from 7 to 15 days. Let me know if you're interested and I'll give details about some of the tours I've looked into.
If not, have a great trip!
Hey Hannah. Thanks for the offer but I've actually postponed my trip so that I can stay in New Zealand for longer. So I'll be doing my 3 months in Asia from sept-dec.
Have a great trip!
#4 Maran has been a member since 11/3/2014. Posts: 15
Given what you wrote I would consider going to the following places:
I would go to Phimai in Korat. These Khmer ruins are far less visited than others (although also smaller and less impressive). I included a link:
I would also spend a night or two in the university quarter of Khon Kaen. Here you will have ample opportunity to mingle with young Thais many of whom will speak passable English. The neighborhood is kind of cool and funky as well. Very urban though.
Wat That Phanom. This temple has one of the oldest chedis in Thailand, and while a major tourist destination for Thais, there are hardly any foreigners there (if we don't count Lao). Included a link for this one as well:
I also really like Nakhon Phanom. You can visit the small Ho Chi Minh museum, the restaraunts and nightlife around the Vietnamese clock tower are fun too.