I haven't really done any travelling overseas and I'm looking to travel solo to SE Asia for around 4 weeks at the end of August-early September. I haven't really got a clue at planning for this trip and haven't even got a starting point. At the moment I think I would like to visit Malaysia (esp east Malaysia/ Borneo island), climb Mount Kinabalu and also the Pinnacles. Also would be good to visit Singapore, West Malaysia, then into Thailand and Cambodia if possible.
As I have mentioned above, I haven't got much in the way of travel experience, but even I have realised by reading the various travel blogs posted here that 4 weeks isn't a lot of time to be visiting so many countries, so what I'm looking for is any suggestions in regards to travelling to this region from New Zealand, e.g. where is a good starting point, is it easier to land in Kota Kinabalu on west of Borneo Island and then work my way to the west, or the other way by landing in KL or Bangkok and then travel to the east?
Also, I've always been an "organised" person and would like to plan most (if not every) details in advance, so I'm just wondering if it's possible to plan everything for the entire 4 weeks in advance, or would it be easier to just go with the flow once i'm in the region? I quite like the idea of just go with the flow but worry about arranging things at short notices esp regarding travel.
I'm sorry this is all rather vague, but I'm really clueless at the moment and apart from a strong desire to travel seriously overseas for the first time, I have not much concrete ideas so any idea would be much appreciated.
First of all, this is a very very well troden route and there really is no need to plan anything other than having a general idea where you want go and maybe how long it should take. If you grab a travel guide like Lonely Planet, they will give you many options for accomidation and you can just show up in each town and check out a few places. It's really that simple. For booking buses and trains, in all my travels in Asia I've never booked anything more than a day in advance and I've never come across a full bus or train. So no problem, book as you go. Worst case senario is that you have to spend one more day than you planned in a place.
The only thing that you'll want to book in advance is flights. Ive never been over to Borneo so i can't help you with the best options for flying, nor where to fly from. I suspect thought that KL would have the most options.
Two concerns with this route:
1. weather. You'll be heading over during the rainy season. West Malaysia and Thailand are fine during the rainy season - maybe a little inconvenient at times, but you can still travel. I'm not sure about Borneo. Maybe it's fine, but I recomend checking that out for sure.
2. I think you are doing too much in 4 weeks. There is enough to see just between Singapore and Bangkok to keep you busy for 4 weeks let alone attempting to add Cambodia and Borneo. I would say do Malaysia and Borneo as you want, head to Thailand for the beaches and then up to Bangkok. From Bangkok visit a few towns in the area like Kanchanaburi and Ayyathya. That will probably take up most of your time. If not, then head up north to Chaing Mai for 5 days or so. Unless Angkor is something that you really must see, I would say leave it for a trip where you have time.
So I think what you have to do now is head to a book store and start looking through some guide books.
i just visited borneo last week. it is an excellent place would highly recommend it. If you are starting of from NZ, I would recommend you to either start from KK (Kota Kinabalu) and work your way by land into Malaysia then to Thailand and maybe fly back to Singapore from Bangkok and then back home. Though this depends on your time.
Or you could start from Singapore, then to JB from where you can get cheap flights to KK etc.,
Kinabalu is a tough climb, so you might want to keep that towards the end of the trip (I was totally sore for the next 2 days). But it is definitely do-able. Give Malaysian borneo about a week, you can visit the Abdul rehman islands and maybe Sandakan for the Orangutans and also do a river cruise to spot wildlife. If you are into diving, some of the world's best diving sites are around the place as well. Bangkok and Chiang Mai are must see in Thailand, absolutely gorgeous. Singapore, I would recommend 2-3 days given your schedule and there are a lot of good beaches in Malaysia (Melaka, Tioman, Langkawi) and Thailand (Krabi, Phuket) depending on how your schedule is.
Good luck planning the trip. Planning is half the fun, or if you are the impulsive kinds, travelling around with a LP is good as well. Good luck and do give a shout if you wanna catch a drink in Singapore=)