I am planning a trip to travel SE Asia next year, starting around March with my GF for 4 months. I would like to note that we have never back-packed or travelled for such a long period of time before.
We were hoping to travel to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. Starting in Bangkok heading via Ayuttahaya - Chang Mai - Chang Rai - Luang Prabang - Hanoi - Hue - Ho Chi Minh - Phnom Penh - Siam Reap - Kuala Lumpur - Parenhian Islands - Bandar Seri Begwan - Kuching - Singapore - Home.
I wanted a pretty comprehensive tour of the whole of Asia before settling down for a long term career so I wanted to complete as much as possible!
Aside from these stops we were pretty easy on where to go and what to see/do apart from a week long stay in an elephant Sanctuary that is a must for us!
A) Is this journey a sensible route?
B) Any suggestions on changes or activities to do?
Any feedback/help will be greatly appreciated, We want to travel right and hopefully your guidance will help!
Your itinerary is OK.
Since you're going to Brunei and Sarawak, is there any reason why you're bypassing Sabah? Also, Gunung Mulu National Park is worth visiting: http://mulupark.com/
There are orangutan sanctuaries in Sabah and Sarawak.
You can fly directly from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap (so you don't have to go through Phnom Penh); and from Luang Prabang to Hanoi. The usual route from Hanoi is to visit Halong Bay, return to Hanoi for Hue, Hoi An, perhaps Da Lat; and Ho Chi Minh City.
After Borneo, you can return to KL and continue down the peninsula to Penang, etc., before reaching Singapore.
It's cheaper to book flights with Vietnam Airlines inside Vietnam. Sign up at AirAsia.com to get information on its fare sales. There are two airports in Bangkok. DMK is the one served by AirAsia and other discounters. BKK is the other. AirAsia has extensive flights. For example, you can fly nonstop from DMK to LPQ. I book my AirAsia flights online using my U.S. credit card.
So continue to plot your itinerary with the Travellerspoint.com mapping tool. Then check flights and other forms of transportation. On some routes, it's cheaper to fly than to take surface transportation.
If you are looking for an elephant sanctuary, we did a lot of research about the ones around Chiang Mai, and found that most were not as humane as they make out, using pain to control and chaining them up at night.
The one that genuinely seemed to look after them well, was Elephant Nature Park, but they get booked up early, we were too late to book with them, and didn't trust the others enough after the reports we read.
There are doubtless other truly good ones around, (we only looked in Chiang Mai,) but I don't think they can all be taken at face value.
Have a great trip.
Thanks for the feedback!
Gunung park looks fantastic, would you recommend travelling to Sabah down to Surawak via Brunei?
Do you have a recommendtion for any of Orangutan Sanctuaries?
Thank you also for the helpful info regarding the flights in Vietnam!
Funnily enough, that is the park that we were looking at also! We wanted to go to a place that prohibited riding elephants etc.
Thank you for helpful info guys.
Your best bet would be to fly from Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Kuching (KCH), then to Miri (MYY) and Mulu (MZV), to Kota Kinabalu (BKI), then to Bandar Seri Begawan (BWN) and back to KL.
Sabah and Sarawak are parts of Malaysia, so those are internal flights. Brunei is an independent country. You tend to pay more for flights when crossing borders.
AirAsia, Malaysian Airlines and Royal Brunei Air serve the routes.
As for orangutan sanctuaries, there's Sepilok in Sabah and Semenggoh in Sarawak. Go online to check them out.
I've been to all of the places mentioned above; and used all three airlines in doing so.
Bako National Park just outside Kuching is certainly worth visiting (overnight) to see proboscis monkeys and silver leaf monkeys amongst other things. We flew into Kuching from Singapore. We took an overnight bus from Kuching to Miri then flew from there to Mulu and then back to Miri. From Miri we took a coach up into Brunei to BSB and stayed there a couple of nights before getting another coach to KK. This one was quite long but you cross in and out of Brunei twice and from Sarawak into Sabah and therefore get something like fourteen passport stamps in ten hours or so.
Semmenggoh was disappointing in December; it's fruiting season so the orang utans didn't need to come down for food. Sepilok on the other hand was brilliant.
Enjoy your trip!
If visiting Bako National Park, it's wise to wear sandals, as you might need to jump off the boat and into the water to get onshore.
Berner256 & Borisborough,
Thanks for the words of wisdom, how long would you recommend doing the borneo stretch of the journey? 1 month?
Three to four weeks would be fine. The latter would allow you to explore more.