Hi, my friend and I are planning two weeks in Southeast Asia and are having difficulties narrowing it down. Our tentative plan is to fly round trip from Chicago to Bangkok so we will need to end our trip back in Bangkok. We were thinking about spending a few days in Bangkok and the gulf of Thailand, flying to Phuket, for a few days, flying to Singapore for a few days, and lastly to Bali before heading back to Bangkok. The questions I have: these one way flights from Bangkok to phuket, Singapore, Bali, do we have to book them in advance or can we be spontaneous in case we like some areas more than others? Also, I am very interested in Vietnam, my friend not so much, is it worth spending a few days there and exploring the coast line? We are in our late twenties and would like a balance of culture, party, and exploration. We feel like the less places we go, the more we will get to experience. Lastly, just for a cultural indulgence, do opium dens actually exist in the region and are they more hush hush or widely known about.
Thanks for any advice
With two weeks, you don't have enough time to do all what you want. You are correct in this observation, "the less places we go, the more we will get to experience." Suggest you focus on Thailand for a good mix of "culture, party and exploration." There is a lot to see and experience.
If you're still determined to fly around Southeast Asia for two weeks, know that spontaneity can come at a cost. But fares still can be reasonable on some heavily traveled routes. To get the best fares on AirAsia, it's best to book in advance.
Some places in the world, including some you plan to visit, are popular with those seeking "cultural indulgences." Those "indulgences" are not so difficult to find once you're there. You're aware of the risks, aren't you? For example, involvement with illegal drugs is subject to capital punishment in the countries you plan to visit. Go online and check it out, including this link: http://goseasia.about.com/od/travelplanning/a/seasia_drugs.htm. Pleas by countries to save their citizens from hanging or the firing squad have met with deaf ears. Moreover, prisons in those countries aren't like those in the U.S.
Since you're Americans, check this link for advice on traveling in the countries you plan to visit: https://travel.state.gov//content/travel/en.html. It's wise to be informed. Good luck!
Two weeks. You want to visit 3 or 4 countries. (Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and maybe Vietnam.)
My opinion is that this is too many countries for only 2 weeks. Many tourists with only two weeks spend the entire time just in Thailand. Often tourists visiting Thailand do Bangkok, beach area, Northern Thailand (usually Chiang Mai) and return to Bangkok for a few days before flying home.
At the most, perhaps Thailand and one second country only. (Thailand may be bigger than you think!)
When will you be in this part of Asia? If close to Christmas - New Years holidays this is the most expensive time of the year to travel. Some hotels booked several months ahead of time. Some flights are also higher priced from North America too. Off season it is possible to book some flights within a couple days. Quite a few travel agencies in Bangkok. Look up this Air Asia website for sample prices for flights.
- Foreigners caught with dope can serve some serious time in prisons. Too much dope in your possession (making you look like a dealer/courier) some of these countries can execute you! Do some Google searches for this subject.
How is your budget for this trip? Lots of flights!! Singapore most expensive. My advice first - all 14 days just Thailand! Or Thailand and a one second country! Yes, Vietnam, in my opinion, is worth a visit but not if you include the other three places!
If money no problem stay longer and actually see more than just airports,
Some excerpts from the State Department Web site on Thailand:
"Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Thailand are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences under harsh conditions and often heavy fines as well. Thailand has a death penalty for serious drug offenses and has executed convicted traffickers. We frequently do not learn of the arrest of U.S. citizens for minor drug offenses, particularly in southern Thailand, until several days after the incident. If you are arrested for a minor drug offense, you may be jailed for several weeks while lab testing is done on the drugs seized with you. Pre-trial jail conditions may be more severe than prison conditions. If you are able to post bail during this period, the Royal Thai government will place your name on a watch list for Thai immigration officials because you are not supposed to leave Thailand until the legal proceedings are complete.
"Thai police occasionally raid discos, bars, or nightclubs looking for underage patrons and drug users. During the raids, they typically check the identification of all customers in the establishment and make each person provide a urine sample to be checked for narcotics. The police do not excuse foreigners from these checks, and they arrest and charge anyone whose urine tests positive for drugs. Customers can be jailed if they do not cooperate, and we are unaware of any successful challenge to the practice."
Random security and drug tests, Bangkok.
I have read about drug tests in some nightclubs and bars that younger tourists visit but this link below includes streets too.
Some of the checks in the Nana area the police are also looking for overstays and other illegal enterprises. (Some tourists from lesser developed countries don't return home when their visas run out.)
There's a popular saying in Las Vegas, "What happens here, stays here."
The marketers that helped coin that phrase note that Sin City has an emotional bond with visitors: "The freedom to do things, see things, eat things, wear things, feel things. In short, the freedom to be someone we couldn't be at home. And the freedom from whatever we wanted to leave behind in our daily lives."
It’s been a savvy, successful campaign, recognizing that many people want that freedom. But Las Vegas is one thing, unfamiliar territory is another. Weigh the risks. Sometimes freedom comes at a price.
A prison in the US will be like a luxury hotel compared to some Asian prisons.
Bang Kwang Prison, Bangkok.
If you want to do opium do it back home where you will probably get a slap on the wrist.
Just an observation: It's not surprising to see people seeking "cultural indulgences" of various sorts as you travel around the world. It's there; and I've witnessed a lot over the years.