Some friends and I are planning a 6 week trip to SE Asia June/July. We've never been to Asia before. I've been trying to wade through the information but there are so many places we would like to go! We're looking for a good mix of things - nature, culture, beaches, cities. We only have the 6 weeks and are students so budget is not limitless, but we're happy to spend on good things. Thinking about flying into Hanoi and out of Denpasar with Singapore Air. This is sort of ordered list of things I'd like to do, the number of days for each place are in no way set:
----12 days Vietnam
Few days in Hanoi, Halong Bay, north part
Travel south by train. Hue. Some beaches.
Possibly down to Ho Chi Minh City & Mekong Delta.
----5 days Cambodia
Bus/boat to S iem Reap for Angkor Wat via Pnomh Penh
Fly Siem Reap - KL - Banda Aceh
---- 10 days North Sumatra
Ferry to Pulau Weh for beach
(Fly Banda Aceh - Medan or bus?)
Orang-utans at Bukit Lawang
Fly Medan - Yogyakar ta (if poss, have only found Medan - Surabaya so far)
----10 days Java
Fly Medan - Yogyakarta (if possible)
Few days in Yog, Day trips to Borobodur and Prambanan
Bus/tour to Mt Bromo & Ijen Crater
Boat to Bali
Treat ourselves to nice hotel or something?
Do you think this is possible? There is probably too much crammed in - what would you ditch? We don't mind going at a fairly rapid pace. I'm not sure about Sumatra, as the things we want to do are quite far apart. Was wondering about Lombok instead of Sumatra? I'm also not sure about the weather. Any advice or recommendations welcome!
Thanks : )
#1 Lettie2012 has been a member since 3/1/2013. Posts: 16
Also, do you think it would be possible to do a trip like this with a cabin-baggage-sized rucksack? Don't want to have to lug a bigger bag around and pay all the airline bag fees. I did 5 weeks around Spain with a cabin-baggage-sized rucksack, not sure if the bag sizes are different for Asian airlines though.
#2 Lettie2012 has been a member since 3/1/2013. Posts: 16
Hey - if you can travel lite I don't think you'll have a problem on most international flights I can fit my 35 L bag into the overhead as carry on. Might be difficult if take smaller regional planes.
I'd say 6 weeks would work if you cut out Sumatra - that will allow you to slow your pace down a little in either Vietnam/Cambodia or Java/Bali.
Yes, cutting out Sumatra seems sensible. Wish we had longer (and more funds)! We could get our flights home out of Lombok. Would this work for Indonesia? (In 3 weeks)
Fly Siem Reap - KL - Semarang
Boat to Karimunjawa Islands (as recommended on here)
(Bus?) to Yogya
(Fly?) to Lombok
#5 Lettie2012 has been a member since 3/1/2013. Posts: 16
For beaches I recommend Gili Air - better scene than the beaches of Lombok. Can you fly from Banyuwangi to Lombok? I went overland through Bali, it should have been a quick trip but a traffic accident caused it to last much much longer - ended up taking the speed boat to Gili Air the next day after spending a night in Padangbai. My trip was around 3 weeks and was just Yogyakarta (a week), Bromo, Banyuwangi and a long stay in Gili Air - so you should have time for this.
I similarly took a flight from Lombok to Jakarta for an international flight home, a good way to save time - very short flight.
possible? yes of course- times that it took 80 days to go over the world are long since gone.Enjoyable or even wise? agree with above-does not make much sense to me, certainly not if this is your very 1st Asia trip.
Small hint-if you cannot ''find'' direct flites-you can always go over with a change/transit somewhere-likely JKT=Jakarta.
Also-as you quote SQ as main airline- a SEA airpass might be worthwhile- old style travel agents know about such things.
Finally: seems to me you are in the hi-spending bracket. This site mostly specialises in low-budget bekpekker etc-though not exclusevily. Has also to do with a certain mindset- maybe tripadvisor or virtualtourist fora are more fitted for that.
#7 captainbkk has been a member since 16/2/2012. Posts: 472
I haven't only been to Bali, Java and Vietnam so I can only give you my advice on that.
12 days Vietnam is good, there are heaps of things to see around HCMC as well like the Cao Dai Religious center and the ChuChiWar tunnels. Otherwise 2 days are enough in HCMC itself for its markets and sights. Hanoi - 1 max. 2 days should be good. All in between I have skipped.
For Java - I think you can cut the time here, 1 day in Yoga and 2 more for each day trip should be enough to see everything. Mount bromo is stunning, you will love it. I would plan 2-3 days to come from Yoga to the Bali (by ferry) with stop at Mt. Bromo. So all together 6 days in Java should be enough for you.
The 4 days you save here I'd recommend you to use for Bali. Bali is really diverese and you can easily spend 8 days here traveling around. Me personally didn't liked Kuta for it being to touristy and not 'real' at all anymore. If you want to party you should go here. Otherwise Ubud for cultural highlights and places like Lovina or Lalang Lingah to hang out and surf. (Latter for surfing, first one as hub to tours in the rice paddies or to go diving in the NP close bye).
If you want to read more about backpacker travel in Asia, check out my blog
Have a blast at your trip,
Ina from mytravelmadness team
#8 mytravelmadness has been a member since 4/1/2013. Posts: 2
@chinarocks - that's why I recommended cutting Sumatra.
Anyway, if just looking for a sampler, with something like 15 days you could do this if it was Hanoi/HalongBay- Hue/Hoi'an - HCMC and Delta with about 5 days in each of the major areas. I don't think that would be terribly rushed - not ideal, but it gives you a couple chances to spend two nights in an area if you're looking to see more.
As you said, possibly HCMC area, so you could fly form DaNang to PP if you'd like to spend more time exploring Sapa as well.
Thanks for all the replies!
I'm aware the itinerary was unrealistic, I'm just trying to get a feel for how to start planning. It's really hard & confusing to read about all these places from the UK and decide what to do/where to go.
Will definitely cut out Sumatra.
@CaptainBKK We are most definitely backpackers and not in the high income bracket! Haha. Not really sure how I managed to give that impression
We're all fairly poor students, but have saved up a fair amount for this trip. Just trying to pack a lot in because we don't have much time, and are unlikely to have much of a chance to do something again in the nearish future. We'll be going for the cheapest hostels etc. Perhaps (just looking at AirAsia) I've underestimated flight prices, but they seem pretty cheap (eg. £40 Siem Reap - KL + £9/cabin bag)
If you don't think that would be enjoyable, what would be? This is our first Asia trip, but we're pretty self reliant and have travelled in Europe and Central America.
We were advised to miss Thailand and Laos because of the weather then (although I'm unsure on that too) hence Vietnam & Indonesia. What about splitting it half and half - 20 days in Vietnam/Cambodia and 20 days in Indonesia (Java + island (Gilis, Bali or Lombok))? Cambodia I think we mainly just want to get to Angkor Wat - unless there are more good sights/stuff to do? So around 4-5 days.
That leaves 15 days for Vietnam. Sapa sounds good. We would like to spend quite a bit of our time in the North I think. Could nightbus/train down to Hoi An, then again onto HCMC and Mekong delta before crossing to Cambodia? We were recommended Phu Quoc but I guess that's too far south?
Apologies for my lack of knowledge, finding this pretty difficult!
#11 Lettie2012 has been a member since 3/1/2013. Posts: 16
Hopefully I can help. I agree with most of the people here. You should leave one destination out. Ten days roaming around one destination according to your itinerary is a bit tight. Transportation sometimes isn't as organized as you would think. Having said that, here are some considerations.
Sabang is beautiful (my notes here) and Banda Aceh is interesting (notes here). You can also see orangutans in Bukit Lawang and they say it's 2 thumbs up there but I haven't been there myself.
As for Java and Bali, 20 days would be optimal for your trip. It wouldn't be too much in a rush, but still full of fun. I would suggest you travel to Baluran which is on the main road to Banyuwangi (from Ijen). It's beautiful and dry in Baluran in the month of June/July. You get to see wild peacocks running around, snorkel and see great corals, and definitely get a healthy tan. It's easy to spend 20 days in Java and Bali since there's so many things to see. Oh, don't forget, it's advisable to climb Ijen at dawn so you can have a lot of time at the crater. Thing is, usually the sulphur gas comes up later in the morning. It doesn't always happen, it's more often later in the morning than earlier.
Personally, I think ending the trip in Bali is the way to go. Bali has everything and is the most convenient place in Indonesia. You can relax after an adventurous time around the country.
You guys are gonna have a great time!
#12 mumun_indohoy has been a member since 27/12/2012. Posts: 5
Strongly suggest that you search for>>>pPamela on this forumYou will find plenty of information on the Sumatra part(Bulit Lawang for the orangr utan and other interesting info)and other+accommodation and reliable contact
#14 leopang has been a member since 16/12/2012. Posts: 6
Thanks @mumun_indoh-oy for the advice!
Okay, yet another suggestion (trying to find something the three of us can agree on, if I had my way I think I would do just Indonesia!). 6 weeks = 42 days, but we can only get a visa for 30 days in Indo on arrival. So, what about spending those 12 other days in Thailand?
We could fly into Bangkok and do this itinerary https://www.travelfish.org/trip_planner/one-week-phimai-khaoyai. It would be a bit rushed, but the second part of the trip would be a bit slower. Then on the 13th day fly Bangkok - Java (Yogya if poss). That leaves us 30 days to do Java, Bali and the Gilis at hopefully a slower pace. Then fly home from Bali.
Or maybe we should go for the 60 day visa for Indonesia?
What do you guys think?
#15 Lettie2012 has been a member since 3/1/2013. Posts: 16
Seems as though you might have answered your own questions...The above itinerary seems more efficient and definately doable. Flight in and out of BKK for your first two weeks and the rest in Java, Bali and Gilis. Why not? Save on travel time, transportation costs and might be more enjoyable leaving parts of it open rather than trying to 'just see things'.
42 days just in Indonesia...yup. I spend almost 6 weeks in java alone last year - but I prefer to move pretty slow. If you do not pre-arrange a 60 day visa then simply extend it at one of the immigration offices. It does cost a bit (250000IDR) and 3 trips back and forth - if you do it on your own. I haven't done this with an agency - my bahasa is decent enough - but I believe they cut out much of the travel. There are recent posts regarding this in the Indonesian forum.
My advice - just don't rush it. Chill out. Try not to over plan it. Pick 1 or 2 places in Thailand, 1 or 2 in Java, 1 or 2 in Bali, and 1 of the Gilis. If you manage to see more - great! Let life fill in the rest of it for you. Don't be disappointed with what you don't get to see...take the time to appreciate what you do see.
Have a great trip.
@tyler - Thank you for the advice! I'm going to sit down with the others and try and choose between those options (so would sort out the visa before we go if we decide on 6 weeks indonesia). I found some decent price open-jaw tickets - flying into Bangkok or Java and out of Bali or Lombok. Just got to decide which flights to book.
Just wondering what you thought of Java? Any particular good/bad bits? How did it compare with Guatemala & El Salvador? (noticed on your profile you'd been, I went the year before last)
#17 Lettie2012 has been a member since 3/1/2013. Posts: 16
I'm going to disagree with everyone here and say it is easy to do North Sumatra, Central/East Java and Bali in 24 days if you are flying in between some of the destinations. EASY. North Sumatra in 10 days? Plenty of time. Yogya and Bromo in 10 days? More than enough. Bali for 4 days, might want more.
North Sumatra is certainly worth a visit as is Bromo. And Bali? Well, it's great too. Fly into Medan, do the things you want including seeing orangutan and Lake Toba. 10 days done. Fly from Medan to Jakarta and then Jakarta to Yogya. Spend a couple of days in Yogya, go up to Dieng Plateau, then take the tour from Yogya to Bali via Bromo and even Ijen if you feel like it. That will be about 8 or 9 days. Then you still have a nearly a week in Bali.
If you skip Sumatra, what are you going to do? If you skip Sumatra, I would then suggest spending more time in Java. Fly into Jakarta and do then typical backpacker route to Bogor, Bandung , Garut, Pangandaran, Yogya, Dieng, Bromo, Ijen Bali. That's about 3 weeks of travel. Cut Garut and Bandung and you save a few days.
Whatever the case, 24 days in Indonesia gives you plenty of time to see a lot of things. Just at a faster pace than what many would ideally recommend.
Thank you @mooball for the reply It's so difficult deciding! Still undecided whether it will be 42 days in Indonesia or 30 days in Indo + 12 Thailand.
Our main priority right now is deciding where to fly in and out of. We really want to book international flights this week. We can fiddle with all the details later. I think Sumatra might be a bit difficult to do on this trip, have to save that for another time I guess. How long would you give to work East from Yogya to Lombok without flying? Would it make more sense to go the other way?
#19 Lettie2012 has been a member since 3/1/2013. Posts: 16
What about this?:
---Fly into Lombok (2.5 weeks)
Gilis (4 days) beaches and intro to diving
Climb Rinjani (4 days) the longer trek
Rest & explore island a little (3-4 days)
Boat trip to Flores via Komodo (4 days) (safety??)
Fly Labuan Bajo - Denpasar
(This would be the most expensive part, after that we'll be more budget)
----Bali (1 week)
Ubud, temples, volcanoes, rice terraces, culture etc, trying to stay away from the super touristy bits.
Maybe a bit of nightlife.
Bus/ferry to Java
---2.5 weeks Java
East Coast national park, Ijen, Bromo (by bus)
Train Surabaya - Yogya
Borbodur & Prambanan
Work our way to Bandung for flight home.
(If we end up with spare time on Java could try to fit in Karimunjawa islands?)
What do you think? Any suggestions/recommendations? I haven't worked the details, this is just what we're hoping to do. I feel like it's missing cultural things a bit.
Thank you very much, everyone who has replied. This forum has been really helpful!
#20 Lettie2012 has been a member since 3/1/2013. Posts: 16
I reckon that itinerary sounds good. Fly into KL from wherever you are and fly out of there too. The rest will be Air Asia and just one lion air flight from Labuan Bajo to Denpasar.
I found some flights with Singapore Air, flying into Lombok and out of Bandung, Surabaya or Jakarta for around Â£600. Layover in Singapore, then I think it's Lion Air from/back to there, but all booked on the Singapore Air website. Does that mean we don't need to worry about connection times and luggage? Or if one flight is late does that mess everything up?
#23 Lettie2012 has been a member since 3/1/2013. Posts: 16
Probably best to stick with Singapore, super efficient airline. Also by just sticking to Indonesia in the summer also means you'll have the best weather, being south of the equator it'll be winter, cooler and not too hot. I was in VN once in July, very HOT.
BOAT TRIP to Flores and Komodo will be fantastic, find one you can live aboard.. It's safe.
I would reconsider climbing Rinjani, I think it's loose lava gravel, up 3 steps slide back 2 type of climbing.
Ask a lot of questions from other travelers. M good luck
#24 Jujupang has been a member since 10/1/2013. Posts: 1
Do you think the connections will be okay? ie. if Java- Singapore is late, will the look after us and get us on the next plane?
I was just asking about the safety of the boat trip as I read a big discussion about one that sank....
Rinjani - just the views look amazing and I would love to climb. But will read a few reviews.
#25 Lettie2012 has been a member since 3/1/2013. Posts: 16
Re Rinjani, we've a feature on climbing Rinjani here. It's hard, as the third to last photo nicely illustrates
#26 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,651
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I would assume paying a premium and getting a connection on the Singapore airlines website would make things smoother. That is, if you don't make the connection, they would reschedule you. Why not ask them?
As for boat safety in Indonesia... Less people die in boats than on the roads. But still lots of people die. Just try to make sure you have life jackets and then hope for the best. You'd have to be pretty unlucky to go down in one.
@somtam2000 - I've read that already and it hasn't put me off! I like a challenge [img]smileys/smile.gif[/img] (great site, by the way)
@mooball - Will do. I think it might be cheaper as well? once you add in things like bag charges for AirAsia
#28 Lettie2012 has been a member since 3/1/2013. Posts: 16
Air Asia is usually cheaper than Singapore Airlines but not always. Lion Air is often cheaper than Air Asia and includes baggage allowance. Up to you I suppose!
I went to Indonesia last year late august and 4 weeks. I also wanted to do a lot, but in the end I took 1 day at the time.
I roughly had the same plan as you regarding Indonesia, but in the end its better to choose 3-4 things you must to and go for these oterwise its going to bee too much travel and strees.
The weather was perfect, no rain and no rough seas.
Spent the first 3-4 days in Bali, Sanur . Found a hostel called Big Pineapple Backpackers, really nice and very cheap. Met a lot of travellers there. But Sanur is a very laid back town, not much to see, but a good base as you are away from the very very touristic and crazy Kuta, which is only 30 min from sanur by taxi. Kuta is good for partying, go to skygarden, 4 stories and free drinks/food for tourists with free entry and very good music.
Did a day trip to Kintamani, with some stops at temples, coffe plantations and some very touristy rice paddies. But it was a nice trip.
Took a day trip to Ubud, very cultural city, and got into a fight with a monkey in the Monkey forest
Wanted to go for a live aboard to Flores, but found an Island- Kanawa Island on the edge of the national park. planned to stay 5 days, but ended up staying 10, really really nice island with diveshop and the best coral, diving I have seen for a very long time. went trekking on both Komodo Island and Rinjani, did snorkling and diving almost every day. Beeing on the edge of the Np meant we were the first to arrive at the various dive/snorkeling spots. The dive shop on the island is run by a brit and a swede, very professional.
Flew in an out of Labuanbajo with Lion air, booked through Perama Tours 100$ R/T
Went back to Bali stayed in Kuta for 3 days, all out partying, escaped back to Sanur, same hostel. Did a day trip to Lovina, stopping by THE rice field to see on Bali, Jatiluwih. Forget about the others and insist you wan to go there, it is a bit of a hassle, but well woth the travel, it is picture perfec and huge and no tourists. Also went but the Gitgit waterfall, beautiful.
The last part og my trip I went to Gili islands. Stayed on Gili T for 2 nights, in a place called woodstock highly recommended.
Went to Gili Meno and stayed in Paradise bungalows, very rustic but also very psycedelic. having bon fires on the beach with the locals drinking barcardi
And all I wanted to do was
1. swim with Mantas- Check
2. See the komodo dragons- Check
3. see a rice field- Check
But in the end I got so much more just going with the flow
Hopefully you can use some of the above for inspiration and most places can be found on google
Have a nice trip!!!
#30 travellingpoul has been a member since 10/1/2013. Posts: 6
I agree with Mooball...
This can be done... but you should get a little more mission oriented rather than kinda floating from spot to spot.
I myself am planning on going to Singapore Sumatra(trekking in Ketambe) back to KL for a few days...Then off to Laos (Luang Prabang and Nong Khiaw)then up the Mekong cross over to Thailand to spend 4-5 days in Chiang Mai...I'm doing all of that in a month.So ,when I say mission oriented...I really mean think about what you'd really like to do in each area.Give yourself a small amount of wiggle room and take into account delays in travel.I'm sure there are lots of not misses in lots of areas but come back down
to being practical...It is far better to pick something close to your heart and go with that and leave other options out.For me this meant skipping Toba and the Islands of Sumatra,so that I could actually do some great hiking in the jungle in Ketambe...It's a trade off for sure
But in the greater spectrum of things...I can live with my choice because it's something I really want...not something I just want to check off a list.
Flying in KL and back out is a great idea...I got a great deal on Singapore so that's worth a look too.
I have been to Indonesia a few times so if you need any advice...message me directly I can let you know my take
Fly into KL from there to Krabi...that lets you see and stay at Railay, Phi Phi and other Andaman Islands...give that a week+
Fly back to KL and then across to Medan(Sumatra)From there you can easily go to Lake Toba ,Bukit Lawang or trekking in Ketambe
like I'm doing...give that a week+
Fly back to KL and then on to Bali.. from Bali you can arrange travel to Bromo and onwards to Jogjakarta...giving you "Day trips to Borobodur and Prambanan" ...give that 2 weeks
Back in Bali you can then cross over to Lombok trek Rinjanni and chill on the Gilis for a few days...a week
all leaving you with about a week or less in Bali
The math works...the trip would be awesome
>>>Fly back to KL and then on to Bali.. from Bali you can arrange travel to Bromo and onwards to Jogjakarta...giving you "Day trips to Borobodur and Prambanan" ...give that 2 weeks
Bali to JogJakarta is back tracking ,longer distance
This is better>>From KL fly to Surabaya then to Mt Bromo
Or KL to JogJakarta then to Bromo
Then JogJakarta to Bali
#33 leopang has been a member since 16/12/2012. Posts: 6
Actually hub to hub travel is usually cheaper Leopang,at least from my experience...Though I have not recently checked the difference between flying from Medan to Surabaya It also had the dual purpose of leaving and coming back to Indonesia which allowed for a 30 day VOA...a quick check on Kayak has $42 dollars one way to Surabaya from Medan and $144 from Denpasar to KL...RT from KL to Denpasar is a little more expensive @$250 RT...with the added advantage of of being able to easily book transportation to Bromo from Bali.So yes Leopang...you are correct about the price,but since the route I took from Bromo to Yog took us near Surabaya there will be back tracking no matter what at least for half of the distance and with out the Visa issues...granted you will have to pay twice the departure tax
Have booked flights into Lombok and out of Jakarta! Just need to get visas now.
Thanks for all the help and suggestions!
#37 Lettie2012 has been a member since 3/1/2013. Posts: 16