Hello all -
I'm a novice (never been to Asia) and I have 6 weeks to see it all without killing myself from sheer exhaustion and would greatly appreciate your feedback.
My CURRENT itinerary
HongKong - 6 days ;
BKK - 4 days;
ChiangMai/Chiang Rai - 4 days;
LaungPrabang to Vientiane, Laos - 6 days;
KL - 4 days;
Langkawi - 5 days
Singapore-3 days (if I must drop a country, I would drop Singapore and allocate these 3 days elsewhere)
Indonesia - 7 days
HK(base) - 4 days
Yes - it is a lot - quite likely WAY too much. I'm also traveling on my own although I don't think that makes a difference. But if my interests are as follows - temples, beautiful natural scenes, animals (elephants/tigers), a few hikes/treks (easy tho) , the beach (I live in the Caribbean); fantastic food; great massages/spas and just truly capturing the essence of each country -- what would you recommend?
I also looking at the quickest ways to get between locations which will be mostly flights on Air Asia and a sleeper train here and there. Nevertheless, I am open to ideas and I will continue to do my research.
#1 Tai9250 has been a member since 25/7/2012. Posts: 10
You're right, it is a lot!! But on the bright side at least you acknowledge this and have provided some of your interests.
A few comments:
1) Is HK a must, seen as it is taking up roughly one quarter of your time?
2) I think Laos and Thailand would tick all of your boxes in terms of your interests. If HK is a must then do 2 or 2.5 weeks in each country, if it isn't then consider 3 weeks in each country. Presumably you can fly into Bangkok from somewhere near you (i.e. US).
#2 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 738
HK is a must at the beginning of the trip - I may be able to shave off a 2 days in HK at the end.
What is the difference between Thailand and Malaysia? I think I can get down to 4 countries - HK, Thailand, Laos, Indonesia or Malaysia? Does this still remain too ambitious? I need to continue you with my research but I think I use this as a guise to procrastinate and not proceed with booking the flights.
Thanks for your feedback.
#3 Tai9250 has been a member since 25/7/2012. Posts: 10
You're hilarious - clearly I'm looking at a postcard size map.
Hong Kong is a must because I'm looking at employment opportunities. The real tour starts from Thailand and I'm now considering Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore to get a both a city, beach, natural surroundings in the 6 weeks. Your thoughts? Doable -- diverse enough to get the full 'flavour'.
#5 Tai9250 has been a member since 25/7/2012. Posts: 10
Hi OP - I said Thailand and Laos because two countries is way more manageable than what you are proposing and also because they both tick your boxes.
Temples - take your pick;
Beautiful natural scenes - again, take your pick;
Elephants & tigers - Luang Prabang and Chiang Mai;
Easy hikes & treks - Luang Nam Tha, Muang Sing, Chiang Mai;
Beaches - Southern Thailand;
Fantastic food - Thai, obviously, but I think Laotian food is fantastic too (sticky rice, buffalo meat, pho, spicy salads etc).
I guess bear in mind that transport in Laos is mega slow and there are no trains, sleeper or otherwise.
When you get back home you will appreciate having spent some meaningful time in each country rather than just a few nights here and there before getting on yet another flight.
#6 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 738
Chinarocks - why Laos and not Malaysia? Is it because distance, similarity to Thailand, affordability. The slow transport in Laos did put me off a bit and that's why I felt the route between Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore via Asia Air (where possible) was more feasible and easier in some regards. I definitely want to spend meaningful time in each country but also cover as much ground whilst I'm there. I look forward to your thoughts. :)
#7 Tai9250 has been a member since 25/7/2012. Posts: 10
"KL - 4 days
Langkawi - 5 days
Singapore-3 days (if I must drop a country, I would drop Singapore and allocate these 3 days elsewhere)"
You are skipping all the Thai islands which are many and beautiful and make the country famous. I'd skip Singapore and KL, cut back Langkawi to 4 days. Add on Thai islands and mainland.
Laos to Krabi to Trang then go to Langkawi
Visiting Thailand and not seeing some islands is like going to the Caribbean and not seeing a beach.
Purely subjective opinion regarding Laos over Malaysia - and to be fair Malaysia is great too and ticks a lot of your boxes. Personally I just feel Laos is more authentic and untouched and will certainly give you everything you ask for bar the beaches.
#9 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 738
This is my first post on any internet site and it has been a fabulous experience - so I appreciate your feedback.
Revised itinerary ( you can slap me into reality if it remains too ambitious) -
HK - 7 days
Bangkok - 5 days
Chiang Mai - 7 days
Phuket / Other Islands - 7 days (need to research other islands and how to get around and what I would enjoy most doing. I'm a diver - any suggestions?)
KL - 7 days
Langkawi - 5 days
Singapore - 4 days
HK - 3 days (considering flying from Singapore to Miami)
Ok - what do you think? I'm narrowing it down I think.
#10 Tai9250 has been a member since 25/7/2012. Posts: 10
Much better but 7 days in KL is about 4 too many IMO, unless you have a specific reason for being there. Stop off in Penang for these 4 days - a great place, a melting pot of cultures with top notch, dirt cheap food.
You might also want to consider the Perhentian Islands instead of Langkawi - although do check the expected weather for your time of stay first.
#11 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 738
"The real tour starts from Thailand and I'm now considering Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore to get a both a city, beach, natural surroundings in the 6 weeks. Your thoughts? Doable -- diverse enough to get the full 'flavour'"
Those 3 nations + Hong Kong represent a developed and prosperous side of the continent, but the fact is that most of Asia is quite poor. If you really want to see all sides of Asia, you need to travel to Indochina, Indonesia, South Asia or rural Mainland China. It can't be done on one short trip.
While I find Thailand to be quite beautiful, I have never met such generous people as those I've met in Vietnam (a developing country).
I must be honest I do want to experience Asia; however, I really only want to explore the very best breathtaking beaches because I live in barbados which is gorgeous. So what are you recommendations as I would hate to think "Barbados is better than this"?
Then I am a city girl (I'm from NYC) - I love to shop although I know I have to control myself so I also want the best of markets and a bit of city life as well. I'm trying to find that perfect balance and to be honest, it's not until I started this convo. that I realised what I was looking for.
I think my itinerary offers both but as for the beaches - I'm looking for the very very best. And does anyone recommend the moonlight party in Koh Phangan. If so, I'll build into the itinerary - 29 Sept.
#14 Tai9250 has been a member since 25/7/2012. Posts: 10
Below is the itinerary - I think it's shaping up based on the recommendations and feedback. Keep them coming though - I'm seeking that perfect blend of city, beach, natural escapes, with fantastic shopping, nightlife, and more....
Stop 1- Hong Kong 11-Sept
Stop 2 - Bangkok, Thailand 18-Sep
Stop 3 - Chiang Mai, (Chiang Rai) NORTH Thailand 23-Sep
Stop 4- Phuket/ Tao/ Ko Samui 29-Sep
Stop 5 - Penang . Malaysia 8-Oct
Stop 6 - Langkawi, Malaysia 13-Oct
Stop 7 - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 17-Oct
Stop 8 - Singapore 24-Oct
So next step - any recommendations on hotels? And do you recommend booking hotels in advance? And if so, in what locations? I'm open to bed and breakfasts; smaller boutique hotels and for my bday (October 5), I'd like to treat myself in Penang at a very very nice hotel and spa.
#15 Tai9250 has been a member since 25/7/2012. Posts: 10
"Keep them coming though - I'm seeking that perfect blend of city, beach, natural escapes, with fantastic shopping, nightlife, and more...."
Perfection doesn't exist.
I do think that both Phi Phi and Ko Hong have spectacular beaches and are worth visiting. Phi Phi is overdeveloped around the pier area of Ton Sai but a day tour there gives you the snorkelling/beauty aspect of the island.
Some of the scenary around Phang Nga is spectacular as well. Phang Nga is the bay area between Phuket and Krabi. The kayaking at Thalen Bay and Bor Thor thru mangroves is very good. The crystal lagoon and hot springs at Khlong Thom is a good day out.
see this for ideas
"I'm looking for the very very best."
I'd drop off Singapore and KL then. Singapore is a pleasant enough city but there's no wow factor. Just another city really and it's not cheap anymore. Hotels are double the price of Bangkok and shopping isn't cheap either. KL is less interesting.
I'd add on Kanchanaburi west of Bangkok. Nice area for a couple of nights. Erawan waterfall has 7 tiers and is great for a swim around levels 3-5. You can do a river raft plus elephant trekking, visit war museums, thai villages.
As for shopping you can do that all over Thailand but in Bangkok the MBK shopping centre is good as well as pratunam area plus Jatujak/Chatuchak weekend market which is best visited by skytrain and go 9am because 12-3pm it's very hot.
I really do think HK, Bangkok and to a less extent Chiang Mai will give you enough of a city fix.
Ok - there's a definite consensus on skipping KL and Singapore. In that case, how feasible is it to add Indonesia to the end of the trip? I would be able to allocate 10 days and choose 2 islands that best appeal to me. I feel like I have sufficient time in Thailand and Malaysia.
Any recommendations. By the end of the trip, I'd want to slow down and just take in the experience, reflect and have a really nice wrap up to an awesome journey.
#18 Tai9250 has been a member since 25/7/2012. Posts: 10
Work with me Leonard (do note, I love your feedback, it's been fab) -- I do want to see quite a lot but I think 10 days in Indonesia at one hotel touring nearby sites, beaches, bars, and restaurants and just vegging out is feasible. No? I will make another trip without a doubt but I feel a pull to Indonesia as the final stop. :)
I actually plotted the my destinations on a calendar and it's full on so I'm going to cut back quite a lot and send more time in a few places versus hopping on and off of planes, trains, ferries, and buses. I have to appreciate that I have to lug my bags around and I'm dreading that. But I could not have gotten here without the feedback.
This maybe the final iteration (although I know me and I know this is going to change)
Sept 12- 19 - Hong Kong (can't shorten)
Sept 19 - 26 - Bangkok
Sept 26 - Sept 30 - Chiang Mai (this seems a bit short so need to consider all that I want to do and allocate enough time)
Sept 30 - Oct 11 - Phuket and neighboring islands (ANY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TWO BASES TO REMAIN WHILST ISLAND HOPPING. I don't feel like changing accommodations every other day)
Oct 11 - Oct 16 - Penang
Oct 26 - Oct 20 - Langkawi (I may forego Penang and send the time in Langkawi)
October 20 - October 29 - Bali
I don't feel like I've integrated enough city life. But I feel better about the itinerary. I appreciate I'm not seeing everything because I just don't have enough time but I think I've gotten a bit of everything.
Do you agree?
#20 Tai9250 has been a member since 25/7/2012. Posts: 10
It's hard to know what to include/leave out when you haven't been there so I understand.
All I can do is offer ideas based on what I liked and what I think may interest you.
You've got 2 weeks of cities at the start. That should be enough.
CM - Book an overnight trek for days 2/3.
Phuket 5 nights then Krabi 5 nights. Visit Phi Phi and Hong on day trips.
LC1 - You're a star. I will take your recommendations on board and give it go. Cheers!
#22 Tai9250 has been a member since 25/7/2012. Posts: 10