First time Asia travellers, some advice please!
Replies: 12 - Last Post: Feb 3, 2013 10:02 PM Last Post By: mooslie
Jan 31, 2013 10:20 AM
First time Asia travellers, some advice please!Hey Everyone, so me and my partner have decided we would like to spend 2 or 3 weeks in South East Asia, in October. Were very excited but to be honest we don't really know where to start with the planning eek!
I would love to go to Thailand and visit some of the beautiful beaches, so some snorkelling, treks, shopping etc however my partner has been to Thailand a couple of years ago and would rather go somewhere new. Now were thinking about the possibility of Vietnam, The Philippines or even Cambodia but were not sure which will provide the best holiday were after.
My partner would like to go diving, whilst I am very interested in snorkelling and beach time but saying that we would also like to do some rainforest treks if possible, and see some historic and cultural sites. We would like to see as much as possible in 2 or 3 weeks, is that enough time to get round the main places, or too much time in which we could maybe spend 2 weeks somewhere and a week somewhere else? Is Vietnam any good for snorkelling/diving? And whats the best way to travel within each country?
Being both students, we both have pretty tight budgets and want to get the most out of our money, but most of all get the best experience!
Does anybody know which country ticks the right boxes? Any experiences and opinions would be VERY much appreciated!! I will be investing in a few lonely planets to learn more about each place but I just wanted to hear some real life opinions!
Finally, is October a bad time to visit any of these places weather wise?
Thank you in advance for your help and experiences!
Jan 31, 2013 1:21 PM
1At the risk of stating the obvious, I guess Cambodia isn't great for a beach holiday as it doesn't have much of a coastline (that said, I didn't go to the coast that it does have, it may be beautiful - before anyone tells me off!). I did a bit of a whistlestop tour of Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam so my advice may not be the best, but I'd say maybe Vietnam based on what you said?
It has some lovely coastline, I've heard good for snorkelling/diving in places (although I've not been so I cannot back that up at all) and we did some great rainforest treks, up in the Sapa area (which was stunning) and also in Cat Tien National Park, where amongst other things we saw and heard yellow-cheeked gibbons in the wild. Cat Tien National Park was probably the highlight of my whole time in Asia!
We found it pretty easy to travel by bus around Vietnam although don't underestimate how big the place is - we did and regretted it.
Having said all of that, I loved Cambodia too, and it too could certainly tick your historical/cultural sites and rainforest boxes...
Hope some of that helps, I'm sure more seasoned travellers will be able to add fat better advice...
Jan 31, 2013 2:37 PM
2Welcome to Thorntree. My suggestion to help with your trip is to pick up tour brochures from your travel agent, or go online and get them. Certainly not to do the tour, but this will give you known itineraries and highlights of the country. If you find an itinerary that seems OK, then you will need to add some days, as with independent travel always takes some time to find a hotel or a bus to the next destination. Also with independent travel, you can linger at places that you enjoy and give little time to places of little interest. To me, Thailand is always a good starting point for backpacking around South East Asia, and then no problem popping over to Cambodia to see Ankor Wat. That should be enough for 3 weeks. You could easily spend a month in each of the South East Asia countries, and then that would only cover the highlights of each country.
Jan 31, 2013 9:24 PM
Jan 31, 2013 9:46 PM
Feb 1, 2013 7:25 AM
5Thank you all for your replies.
Yes I too have heard that the diving and snorkelling is pretty rubbish in Vietnam, and I also thought the beaches can't be that good in Cambodia compared with those in Thailand, however I don't know anyone who has been to Cambodia so I can't really say.
Personally, I get so excited when thinking about Thailand, with all the rainforest and treks up norther and the beaches and islands down south. But that I will need to discuss with my partner who would prefer to go somewhere new. I just don't want to return from Vietnam and wish I had pushed for us to do Thailand.
The idea of copying (or at least finding inspiration) from tour itineraries is a great idea! I did that when travelling Australia and New Zealand to avoid missing out on must sees!
What about the weather during October in Vietnam and Thailand?
Feb 1, 2013 9:30 PM
6My personal experience of travelling a lot in Vietnam and Thailand (and staying at 4-5 star resorts and hotels) is Thailand is cheaper. Service and English speaking at hotels & resorts in Thailand is on another planet to Vietnam.Thailand also believes in that thing, which is like hens' teeth in Vietnam, called "good Will".
Rainforests, beaches, snorkeling and diving in Thailand are also on another planet by comparison. Chang Mai has some great tree top tours in rainforests.
Feb 1, 2013 9:33 PM
Feb 2, 2013 1:52 AM
8Re #5 What about the weather during October in Vietnam and Thailand?
In northern / central Thailand, the rain will start to ease up and the temperature will also ease up. but there will still be a fair amount of rain on the beaches, maybe Koh Chang could be your best bet.
In Vietnam, less rain in the north, good trekking weather in the far north, still could be lots of rain in the centre, but getting better in the south.
Feb 2, 2013 11:05 PM
9October /November there is usually a lot of rain in the Nha Trang and central coast area and sometimes serious floods in Nha Trang.
Feb 2, 2013 11:06 PM
10As no2 wrote Bangkok is probably the best to start with(easier and cheapest to get there) and then you can easily hop to Angkor Wątków etc. Few years ago I did South Laos and Cambodia and just loved it. I enjoy taking time so it took me 7 weeks what probably most would do in 3 weeks. I just flew to Bangkok then a city near Laos, hoped to Paxi Laos and started from there. It was 4 years ago and both countries were very cheap. All accomodations I had iwere great and under 10 bucks. Also visited the coast including Rabbit island near Kep. Sinoukville might sound like tourist trap but Otres beach a little outside the village was fantastic. At that time paid about 5USD for a bangallow on the beach. Very laid back, Great swimming, you can take long walks along the beach. No comparison with the rest of Sinoukville which seems like a płace to stay away from. I love Laos. Actually I think you can't go wrong with SE Asia. Anywhere you go you gonna have great time.
Feb 3, 2013 2:14 AM
11Thanks for such helpful replies everybody!
After looking at some tour itineries, I think I could just about squeeze everything I would want to see in 3 weeks, including diving, rainforest treks and beaches which would be perfect.
A few rainy days in October I can cope with, but then would it best to do the North first and then head down south or the other way around?
I Will look into Koh Chang as well.
As for Vietnam, after a bit of research it seems the places well worth a visit would be
Ho Chi Minh City
and the Sapa Area
Have I missed any must sees here?
Thanks again for the advice, lonely planet forums are so helpful!
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