Hi, long time lurker, first time poster.
I've spent about the last two weeks of my life ingesting Travelfish and the conclusion I'm rapidly coming to is that I should just do a tour.
Let me explain.
This is a once in a lifetime experience for me. I will not be able to return to Asia again and I have four weeks to see and soak up all it has to offer.
I want to see Angkor, I want to eat Laksa in Penang, I want to see a sleazy show in bangkok (without getting ripped off), I want to go to a Moo Party, I want to go trekking, I want to see Halong Bay and I want to see the monks in LUang Prabang.
Yes I know there are a lot of wants there...
But my need is I need to fit this into four weeks, and it doesn't matter how I crunch it, it seems a tour is the way to go.
Brucemoon, before you digress about seeing fewer places, travelling slowly etc, please don't. I read many of your posts (really I have, it did take a long time ha ha ha) and I thank you for them, but my situation is rather unique (don't ask please) and so i'm saying this is what I want to do.
So, yes, sorry, just getting to my questions now, if YOU (not just you bruce, but others too please ;-) had four weeks to cover four countries taking most of the highlights, ignoring the cost issue, would you do a tour?
I want to see more than what I listed above, but basically I'm looking for the highlights. I iunderstand the slow travel thing, but I can't do it, so logistics and convenience wise (obviouslty I will be needing to fly a bit) am I better to do a tour or plan it out solo?
and also Thanks to Somtam and whoever else you have workign with you on this site. I found it by accident, and it's an awesome awesome resource. Thankyou so much :-)
#1 james99 has been a member since 4/7/2009. Posts: 2
"I want to see more than what I listed above"
Can you post a list of what you want to see? Then people can tell you how to do it on your own and you can compare it with what tours offer.
TF can give you an idea of accommodation costs but basically you need to look at a decent map and the Air Asia site and compare how much it would cost if you did it all by yourself. How comfortable are you about travelling on your own without a tour guide?
And why will never be able to return to Asia again? Do you have a terminal illness? Are you emigrating to another planet? You said not to ask but as money seems to be no object it's hard to understand why you need to do *everything* in just four weeks.
I think the short answer is yes. Given the circumstances you describe, I think I would also choose to do a tour. I have done tours in Australia, Turkey, and Baja California with pretty positive results.
My personal preference is to travel independently, particularly in southeast Asia where I've travelled quite a bit and the infrastructure supports independent travel. However, if I were looking to visit Peru and Bolivia and Chile, for example, and had limited time like you do, I'd certainly at least look at a tour as a possible option.
The best part about tours, apart from them taking care of all the details, is that they have taken me to quite a few out-of-the-way places that I would have have reached travelling independently.
I imagine your challenge might be to find a tour that visits all the places you want to go. Did you already have something in mind or are you still searching? Perhaps you could string a few separate tours together, then pick up a few of the easier-to-reach highlights like Luang Prabang or Angkor Wat on your own. Sort of a custom hybrid.
When are you going anyway?
Hope that helps. Cheers.
"I will not be able to return to Asia again and I have four weeks to see and soak up all it has to offer.
Here, you suggest two competing items: things to see and experiences to soak up.
Things to see.
As SBE suggests, listing the places you want to see would really help.
Also, as exacto indicates, you are going to be hard pressed to get one agency to DO all four countries, let alone go to the places you want to visit.
That said, if you set out a list of places you want to visit, organise them according to an itinerary, it's quite possible that with the assistance of BOTH AirAsia and Bangkok Airlies' Discovery Pass you may be able to achieve your goal.
Why don't you list THE places you want to SEE, for a rough itinerary, and re-post here.
There is no doubt you'll be able to SEE a good number of the places on your WISHLIST, but as you've noted from my comments elsewhere, you'll be spending much time waiting for buses/planes/taxi's, etc., or in transit.
Things to do/experience.
This is where the whole travel bit comes unstuck.
One can't just go to some bar and get a taste of the experiences described on these pages, or elsewhere. All too often, the experiences you read about come about BECAUSE you've spent time in an area and become sort of traveller savvy to sussing out the right places.
For example, soaking up the sun on a quiet beach in SE Asia is delightful. But, that experience REQUIRES being at a place without hordes of others, being there on a nice sunny day (ie. not raining, etc.), being there at the right time of year when the ocean is just oh so perfect, finding a beach that has a nice array of food/beverage options, but not too many.
At some time in your planning process, I suggest you are going to have to face the fact that seeing versus color=blue]experiencing will be a major compromise.
As far as compromisegoes, only you can choose.
Thanks for the points. I'm going in November. I'll put some more thought into the places I really want to see and will checjk with Air Asia.
#5 james99 has been a member since 4/7/2009. Posts: 2
That's great. Don't forget the Discovery pass (type this into the 'Search Travelfish' box up above in the grey section. Link to the pages.
Also, it may pay you to set a new post rather then re-submit here. That way, everyone will see it come up and can choose to respond.
James99 I am experiencing a similar dilemma!! I have a max of three weeks, I have an idea of the places I really want to see, I will be traveling alone on my first ever trip to SEA - but I cant quite find a tour that goes EVERYWHERE I want to go. Its quite frustrating.
I have been trying to plan an independent trip but that is also proving difficult. I am unsure whether to wait until I am in SEA to book domestic flights, and I am not terribly comfortable with not having confirmed reservations/bookings for transport and accommodation.
Being very indecisive is also not helping my cause!
I'll keep an eye on this post - Good luck to you ;)
#7 Intrepid82 has been a member since 21/4/2009. Posts: 33
"I have been trying to plan an independent trip but that is also proving difficult. I am unsure whether to wait until I am in SEA to book domestic flights, and I am not terribly comfortable with not having confirmed reservations/bookings for transport and accommodation."
The cool part of coming to southeast asia is, in my view, not the sights but the place. Nightlife is distinct and entertaining. People are friendly - smile at someone and they smile back! It's nice and hot and funky... women are fine. Bruce described it as just "being here", although his preferences are dinstinctly different from mine we share this basic outlook.
The idea of racing around to see some old building to temple or whatever holds no appeal to me at all.
MADMAC - Thanks for that - your comments are encouraging if I do happen to go it alone (which is infact what I am leaning towards). Mind you, the temples are a big part of my reason for going to SEA (particularly in the case of Angkor Wat). The idea of being herded around busy tourist centres is not very appealing at all!
I am very tempted to simply book my flight there and just play it by ear, but I am afraid that not planning ahead could lead to wasting time and money - and missing out on certain things/places.
#9 Intrepid82 has been a member since 21/4/2009. Posts: 33
"I am very tempted to simply book my flight there and just play it by ear, but I am afraid that not planning ahead could lead to wasting time and money - and missing out on certain things/places."
Again, it depends on what you want to do. You are right that if you plan well, you can hit as many spots as possible - you will see a lot. But as Bruce says, you will experience litte.
For me culture is about people and language. I prefer to spend my time learning local language and getting to know individual people.
The Japanese approach is to race from site to site, getting pictures and moving on. They will see a lot - but they will not actually meet or get to know any people where they are with that approach (my German friends used to joke about it in Germany).
I'm not denigrating people wanting to do this. But it's a question of priorities. I've lived here for two years - have not been to hardly any of the tourist attractions or sites like Angkor Wat. I am more interested in talking with my friends here, taking a bike ride out to NKP or Yaso to see my in laws. I've always been this way.
So I guess it comes down to what you really want out of the trip. Do you want to do or see? If you want to do, then you see less. If you want to see, then you do less.