Will be visiting Thailand (as well as Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia) in May.
Everyday I view hoards of identical travelling photos on facebook which all look like they were taken on the set of Shipwrecked. They may as well rename the country Gapyearland. I'm getting the impression that on arrival I'll bump into hundreds of fellow Brits and looking to get laid, tanned and out of their head for as little money as possible.
Whilst I'm not completely against hitting the tourist trail does anyone have any tips for lesser known places and something a bit different??
Just for the record, you are voting against: sex, beer, laying on the beach? I didn't think so.
It can seem like a conveyor belt of tourist if you stay on the well trodden paths. It is quite easy to escape the hoards in Cambodia. This guy has a list of thing to do that are not so well documented. Also take a look at what some tours offer. Just going to Ratanakiri will be an adventure! Or head down to Kep & Kampot. Not many tourists there. Most of Cambodia, apart from: Siem Reap, Phnom Penh & Sihanoukville is pretty wild.
In VietNam, I suggest you tour the Central Highlands. Say from DaLat, Buon Ma Thuot to Pleiku, up to Kon Tum. You can go with the 'Easy Riders', stationed in DaLat, or rent a bike and do it on your own. You will certainly be away from most of your fellow visitors. Or go climb Fansipan, VN highest peak. Won't be many fellow travellers bumping into you that day. Look at the map. VN's main tourist route is where the open tour buses stop. Then you choose to visit the rest of the country. Good Luck on your adventure.
In Vietnam, I'd suggest that you take a cruise at Ha Long Bay.. it's such a peaceful place...
but if you plan a SEA off the beaten track site.. fly to the Philippines and visit the Banaue Rice Terraces at the mountains of the Ifugao tribes.. then you can sidetrip to see the Sagada hanging coffins...
I would agree with vegasmike's tips on Cambodia. Places like Kampot, Kep, Kratie, Battambang, and further afield in Ratanakiri are well worth exploring. Siem Reap and Phnom Penh are positively polluted with tourists these days, but a lot of the other destinations are refreshingly less hectic.
I was in Burma/Myanmar in December and still think it's the most interesting of all the Asian countries. And nowadays, due to the fallout from the September protests/crackdown, there ain't many tourists. So almost anywhere you travel (even in mainstream destinations such as Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan) it feels like you are one of the only tourists in town. Plus, Burma is very safe, inexpensive, and the people are absolutely jewels.
GOT TO THE PHILIPPINES!!!! So much better if you want somewhere off the beaten track. over 7000 islands all with amazing beaches and not a westerner in sight!!!!! It is amazing there. You wont meet any western student backpackers as they are all in Thailand (which is a country i love). Go there, u will love it.
I haven't visited the Philippines yet, but right now I'm reading a great book by a British guy that lived on one of the remote islands there for a few years. It's called "Playing with Water" by James Hamilton-Paterson. Very well written and descriptive. He obviously loves the beach life and the people in the village where he stayed.