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First Time to SE Asia

Chicago
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First Time to SE Asia

Dear Travel Veterans,

My job ends in January. Since I'll be newly unemployed, I decided to visit SE Asia in February. (smirk) Doesn't everyone travel abroad following a job lay off??

Could you please advise must do's and don't bother with per my tentative itinerary below? I'd be grateful for any guidance or recommendations you can offer!

Thanks,

Globe2

Fly into Singapore (2 days)

Fly/train/bus into Malaysia (3 days)

Fly/train to Thailand (10 days)

Ko Samui, Bangkok, Sukhothai, Chiang Mai

Fly to HCMC/Saigon (5 days)

Fly/train back to Singapore (1 day)

Fly home

Chicago
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1. Re: First Time to SE Asia

Just noticed the cost/tone of Ko Samui. Scratch that stop.

Poulton Le Fylde...
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2. Re: First Time to SE Asia

So basically 21 days covering 4 countries and 6/7 centres. Pretty ambitious, very tiring at an increasingly hot time of year.

Singapore is an excellent stop-over choice (we stayed recently in the Swissotel Merchant Court at Clark's Quay, which was good value for money in a great location.

3 days in Malaysia - where? It's a big country. Do you want island (for instance Penag or Langkawi), mainland (beach or cultural e.g Malacca) or city (can't beat Kual Lumpur - Ritz Carlton highly recommended) But 3 days is not very much allowing for transfer time.

10 days Thailand - now you've excluded Samui, your 3 centres are doable but you must be a culture/tour buff for your choices.

5 days HCMC/Saigon - can't comment as not been there, but agin 5 days is really only a snapshot.

1 day Singapore - if you cut out HCMC/Saigon, you could spend more time in Malaysia and/or Thailand, giving a more balanced and less stressful vacation and you could fly home from Bangkok.

People tend to underestimate just how big and diverse a region SE Asia is. With such an ambitious itinerary as the one you are thinking of you will be spending an awful amount of time in transferring between centres.

Jut my views for what they are worth!

You couldn't pick a better region for your enforced "retirement" though.

Enjoy!

Chicago
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3. Re: First Time to SE Asia

Thank you for sharing that observation! I have the same concern visiting so many cities/towns in a 3 week period. And you're right - it is exhausting. Yet this is how I've introduced myself to new countries/cities for years. Upon returning home, I can decide if and where I'd like to return for a subsequent visit.

I've heard good things about Malaysia - Kuala Lumpur, Panang, and Melaka. Across the board, friends/family prefer Malaysia to Singapore. The prospect of enjoying a bustling city, lounging on a beautiful beach, and hiking in the mountains can't be beat in my book. Singapore is simply a fly in/fly out location.

The flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai takes 70 minutes. Alternatively, an overnight train provides a nite's sleep and transporation w/o losing a day. Both options are very reasonably priced.

For a first trip, I opted for six days in Southern Vietnam to get a taste of this part of the country. I can't wait to visit HCHC and the surrounding environs. Then it's back to Singpore to catch a flight home.

asia
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4. Re: First Time to SE Asia

If you are in Singapore, go to Clarke Quay for the ambience. The closest MRT train satation is Clarke Quay station. You should also visit Orchard Road. This is the shopping belt in Singapore. Start from Plaza Singapura to Takashimaya...You can also visit the zoo or the Night Safari. YOu can take a trip to Sentosa for the musical foun tain at night. Check out the time schedule. Nearest station is Harbour Front. Then take a bus in. Visit the Esplanade and get a few shots there. You can see it near Marina Mandarin Hotel-close to Suntec City(Shopping there too). Try the local food like satay, chicken rice, fried quay teow and hokkien mee.

In Bangkok, go to Safari Park to see the anaimals roam free and to Marine Park to watch the shows.Take a ride on the tuk tuk but be careful not to get conned. Taxi rides are cheap. Suan Lum NIght bazatr is quite interesting. Cheap shopping will be at Platinum Mall-wholesale. Grand Palace should be interesting-haven't been there although been to Bangkok 3 times. Just came back recently.

In Malaysia, go to Sunway Pyramid if you like shopping. Quite nice decor there. MidValley and KLCC is also good for shopping. Places to visit-Batu Cave or you can take a trip up to Genting Highl;ands. You can catch the bus up and a cable car after that. Genting Highlands has casinos and a theme park with rides. The weather is cool. You can book hotels thru the internet. Hotels heavily booked at peak periods. Nice place to stay and visit. Go to First World Hotel intoi the Theme Park to see the decor. It is free entrance for the indoor Theme Park. You pay for the rides only. Been there several times.

Torre del Mar, Spain
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5. Re: First Time to SE Asia

Since you don't seem to have a new job to go to immediately, I ondered why you had such a short holiday (missing the horrible weather back home). Hotels and the cost of living are dirt cheap in Thailand and an extra week there costs very little.

Not really that much in Malaysia. Kuala Lumpa I got bored of after a few days but Penaang Island isn't bad.

Have you booked flights already? AirAsia isn't too bad price wise. It should be noted the time travelling takes, getting to the airport, waiting a few hours, and another few hours getting out opf the hotel and to your hotel at the other end. Even a short trip can be a good part of a day wasted.

You are well into high season so book some hotels, unless you like wandering around from hotel to hotel carrying your luggage in 35.C+ heat, trying to find a room.

Singapore, Singapore
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6. Re: First Time to SE Asia

Hello - just was in Chicago a couple weeks ago - snow and shivering. :)

I also agree that you may be a little too ambitious in covering too much. If you are jobless, you may actually extend your time. Flying to SE Asia from USA is the expensive thing - otherwise accommodation, food, and regional travel can be quite cheap! So consider staying longer. :)

I am unsure when in Feb you are coming - I would recommend coming later than Feb 10 - as Feb 7-10 is around Chinese New Year and air tickets (especially Singapore) will be expensive and could be hard to find (as well as being generally more costly time in terms of accommodation).

I would suggest one change in your plans - I would strongly recommend leaving out Malaysia and put Cambodia (specially Angkor area - if you are there just 3 days) in its place. Unless you plan on coming back to SE Asia, the Angkorian temples are MUST SEES!

Singapore, Singapore
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7. Re: First Time to SE Asia

Oh to add about Malaysia - based on what you wrote later - I skim too much. :P

KL - nothing special really - especially if you are going to Bangkok. On a short and packed trip, I woulod give it a miss.

Penang - is OK, but cannot compare with the great beaches of Thailand - so I would also give it a miss as you plan some beaches in Thailand.

I do love Malacca - and would highly recommend it ..... if you have time. It may be tough to fit into your line of travel without sacrificing a day or two for traveling only.

Sydney, Australia
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8. Re: First Time to SE Asia

My thoughts on your itinerary.

2 day Singapore.

1 day KL-Malaysia

2 day Penang-Mal

3 days Langkawi Island -Malaysia

2 days Bangkok -Thai

5 days Phuket / islands- Thai

5 days HCMC/SGN

1 day Sing./ Sentosa Island.

Chicago
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9. Re: First Time to SE Asia

Thanks to everyone for the great suggestions! Three weeks is all I can spare for this trip due to obligations at home ... despite the Chicago winter.

Revised itinerary below. I've conceded the side trip to Malaysia (lol) and will leave that and Cambodia for the next visit. The plane ticket is purchased and hotel reservations confirmed in Singapore, Bangkok, Saigon.

Singapore - 2 days

Thaleh Ban Nat'l Park, Satun - 3 days

(hiking/parks)

Phuket - 3 days

Bangkok & environs - 3 days

Chiang Mai - 4 days

(elephant santuary/hiking/cooking class)

Saigon - 5 days

return to Singapore - 1 day, and fly home

Thanks to you all!

Globe2

Bangkok
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10. Re: First Time to SE Asia

A day trip from BKK to Karnchanburi is fun. People normally go to the Death Railway museums but my must visit list is Tiger Temple and hiking at the Erawan Waterfalls. You may do more research on these places. Plenty of information on the internet.