My boyfriend and I have just yesterday booked our flights for our trip in March. We are flying to bangkok, and once there we have 4 months to do as we please, and we have been thinking Thailand, Borneo, possibly Cambodia, possibly Laos...but are still open to ideas. At the end of that 4 months we fly from singapore to Cairns, and we are there for a month. We fly from Sydney to Tokyo, where we have 6 days, and then home.
So with the flights booked, but the time in between fairly blank, we would love to get any recommendations, what to avoid, places to stay, must-sees etc that you can offer for all the above places, including SE Asian countries to fill our 4 months there.
Thanks very much.
All of the what to see, what to miss etc would depend on your interests, what you are hoping to get out of your trip etc. It's a shame you couldn't have had Tokyo at the beginning of your trip, because late March/early April is the best time to visit there for the wonderful Cherry Blossoms, but then any time would be good.
When in South East Asia you shouldn't miss Vietnam as that has got some of the nicest places in the world. A definite must not miss place there is Halong Bay. That is a really beautiful area of Vietnam. If you are travelling on a budget you should do what I did. Get a cheap Air Asia flight (best booked in advance) from Bangkok-Hanoi. Then after seeing Sapa and Ha Long Bay, get the open tour bus from Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh City (the option that goes via Nha Trang) and stop at all the available stops for a minimum of one day but usually more. If you stay in Nha Trang you should do the island hopping day tour which was dirt cheap and really nice and relaxing. After you reach as far as Ho Chi Minh City spend a few days there and purchase one of those cheap 3 day 2 night Mekong Delta tours available at any tourist shop that goes to Phnom Penh/Cambodia. This involved seeing the floating market and the genral life on the Mekong Delta. It is a very nice cultural experience. Once in Phnom Penh then head to Siem Reap, then go to Sihanoukville (can be got to in a day from Siem Reap but is a very long day on the buses). Then after Cambodia head across to Laos.
In Australia given you only have one month, you are going to be extremely limited and might need to buy a few internal flights on Jetstar or Virgin Blue to see more places. You certainly wouldn't have time to see Uluru unless you got a Qantas flight to Ayers Rock airport (which is an extremely expensive domestic flight). Seeing the Sunshine coast region of Queensland (including the Whitsunday region) is a must if you want a relaxing type holiday with plenty of nice scenery. Almost all tourists to Australia go to Sydney, but I personally find it very over rated and more like America than Australia. A trip to Melbourne is a must to drive (or get a tour) along the Great Ocean Road. If you are in to nature then Tasmania is a great place for a holiday and is very cheap to get to (not so cheap when you get to Tasmania though). I think that for a trip as small as yours to Australia Tasmania is probably best left for another time when you could allocate at least 1 and a half weeks as it isn't really a place that you can do any sort of justice in a 3 or 4 day stop.
In Japan 6 days is soooo little. Try and get yourself down to Kyoto even if only for 1 1/2 days. It is really nice there and has a lot of fabulous temples especially the Golden Temple which makes for a great photo. You'll certainly be rushed off your feet in only 6 days and will miss a lot. I spent about 14 days and still was rushed but did cram a lot in.
Have a great trip.
[ Edit: Edited on Oct 1, 2007, at 6:08 AM by aharrold45 ]
Wow, a lot of useful stuff there, thank you very much. Exactly what i was hoping for.
In reference to Australia, although having not been there, we're not especially bothered about Sydney either. We're satisfied with a few days there before getting our flight out. A month isn't long I agree, but as staying there is considerably more expensive than SE Asia, we had to limit the time we could spend there. I would be really interested in going to Tasmania, but that and a few other things i think are simply too much for our time-frame unfortunately.
We were offered a few options of short stop-overs to do on the way home and we chose tokyo, and it is a real shame that we cannot be there longer. I am still very excited about a whirlwind taster of Japan though!
Much more info welcome.
Well if you are spending time in Bangkok and making that an outlet for the rest of SE Asia then I would also suggest taking in Penang in Malaysia. Your money will go a long way in that country and Penang is not known as the food capital of SE Asia for nothing. Everyone speaks English, accomodation is cheap and food as I said excellent. Get down to Batu Ferringhi, the resort strip and have fun eating your way along the strip and buy some excellent copies of big names in shirts, blouses etc. If you want to go to Borneo instead then would suggest Kota Kinabalu which is the best kept secret now of travel in SE Asia. Some wonderful accomodation, absolutely breathtaking scenery and fairly easy to get to. You should be in Australia during our winter and I would think it would be wiser for you coming out of the warmth of SE Asia to stick around Cairns and perhaps go over to Darwin. Beautiful weather at that time of the year that corresponds with SE Asia and Darwin is now the backpacking mecca for incoming tourists. Get to try Mindil Beach markets which every Thursday night attract 10,000-12,000 just sampling the food, the weather, the ambience and of course being right on the water's edge.
I suspect you'll find a lot to do around Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef, and it won't disappoint. You could easily spend four weeks there. (NOTE: ask the Aussie members about swimming in the sea at that time of year - I think it's jellyfish season).
Don't write off Sydney though. My partner isn't a 'city' person, but she loved it. Having said that, maybe cities aren't what Australia is about. I'd recommend the Whitsundays if you can get that far, and Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. The sunshine coast is good for a quieter time.
We did 4 days in Tokyo and 3 in Hiroshima. Japan is so expensive we couldn't really afford to stay longer. I can recommend Sawanoya Ryokan (www.sawanoya.com) in the Ueno district of Tokyo - particularly friendly to foreigners, yet an authentic experience too. Keeps the cost reasonable as well.
Hiroshima is a very ordinary place really, but with an extraordinary place in history. It's not going to blow your socks off visually but the peace museum will. We spent five hours in it and even our kids didn't get bored.
If you're looking for somewhere in Asia a little less frenetic where you can take a bit of a break and have some down-time, try Brunei. Four months in Asia is a long time to be continually on the go and we found that three days in Brunei was enough just to slow down the pace a bit. There's still enough to see and do so that you don't feel you're wasting your time and it's an easy trip from Kota Kinabalu in Borneo.
As for Australia, if you're not fussed either way on spending heaps of time in Sydney, you could spend ten days or so in Cairns area then fly to Brisbane and spend 10 days or so tripping around the Sunshine and Gold Coast before spending a few days in Sydney. The weather in Queensland (Brisbane,Cairns) will most likely be better than New South Wales (Sydney) in July if you're looking for warmer weather and blue skies. Max temp in Cairns in July is prob 25 degrees, Brisbane prob 20-22 degrees and Sydney 15-20 degrees.
Advice for Cairns: The best diving is probably from a boat of a pontoon on the reef rather than from any of the islands. I was disappointed with the snorkelling from the islands because it all appeared to be a bit trashed by people standing on it. Get the Kuranda Skyrail (big chairlift thingy) to Kuranda and take the train back or vice versa.
Advice for Brisbane: Spend a day on the City Cat and go up and down the river for a good overview of Brisbane. Take day trips or over night trips to the Sunshine Coast (Mooloolaba is the most tourist orientated part of the Sunshine Coast, as well as Noosa) or south to the Gold Coast and hire a surfboard and take some surfing lessons at Surfers Paradise. Byron Bay is a nice day out as well.
If you are into sport, DO NOT MISS a Rugby League game between Brisbane Broncos and whoever at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane - up to 50,000 crowd, and very tribal - awesome!
Dont miss Vietnam.. the highlight of our SE Asia trip!