This is all just a rough sketch, but so far i'm planning:
Japan: 1.5 weeks
Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos: 2.5 weeks
Malaysia: 1 week
But i'm not sure when is the best time to visit, especially the SE Asia region. I read monsoon occurs around end of the calendar year, but should I even be worried about that?
If anyone could shed some light it'll be great!
The monson you are talking about only applies to the eastcoast of the Malaysian Peninsula (not to be confused with east malaysia, which is Borneo). From end of november to February is a bad time to visit that part, although Kuala Lumpur and the westcoast of the peninsula are ok.
This is the best time for a visit to the rest of Southeast asia, like Thailand and southern Vietnam. Northern vietname can get cold during dec-feb, especially in the mountains.
Japan is still ok in november I guess, not too cold and the heat is gone as well.
Anyway, apart from weather I would suggest you send the total 5 weeks in Southeast Asia alone and skip Japan and Malaysia. 4 countries in 18 days is a bit too much.
hmm i think you may be right. I might leave out japan, and do it on a separate trip. But I'll still give malaysia a visit, maybe cut down from a week to a weekend instead.
Right now i'm thinking of heading there during August.. I don't mind the heat and little bit wet, but not soaked if it happen to rain non-stop while I'm there.
I think you have not thought this through properly . Its a huge distance with what time you have . Vietnam alone will take you a month at least .. I think you should concentrate on 1 country with what time you have you will have a better experience .
Okay after reviewing the plans, and talking to some people i've been there, this is what i've come up with:
5 weeks, 2 countries - Thailand and Cambodia
So far i'm thinking of covering:
and Phnom Penh
any other recommendation of where I should visit?
5 weeks is perfect for Thailand and Cambodia. You've definitely made a wise choice to limit your trip. Your first itinerary was simply impossible.
Other places that I would recommend besides what you mentioned:
Koh Tao for a more relaxed Island than the two you've chosen. Koh Lanta if you want even more relaxed.
Around Bangkok, Ayathaya is worth checking out for the history. However, since Angkor is similar in many ways, it's advisable to space these two visits so you don't get templed out. Kanchanaburi is also near Bangkok and also worth checking out both for the history and to relax on a floating hotel on the river side.
The most obvious highlight that you've missed is the whole North of Thailand, primarily Chiang Mai. After the islands Chiang Mai is Thailand's premier tourist destination for it's temples, jungle hikes, cooking courses, and loads of other activities. It's also a starting point to other nice destinations such at Pai. Another great place to visit if you haven't gotten sick of ancient temples is Soukathai which I think is better than Ayathaya despite (or maybe because of) being less popular.
I recommend you try get in vietnam too, i did cambodia, vietnam and thailand over 6 weeks... heres what i suggest
Bangkok - 2 nights, phuket 4 nights, koi samui/koh phanang 6 nights ( make sure to get in a full moon party). That uses up 12 nights leaving you 22 nights, take over night buses thru vietnam and u will see so much but you're pretty much hopping on a bus every 2 days. Spend 10 or 12 days in vietnam and you've got 10 days left. Leave saigon for penom phenn, 3 days will suffice there (killing fields, royal palace s21 prison etc). head up to siam reap, get in temples of ankor, and genocide museum, not much else to do up there but good night life. That still leaves u with 4 days or so, maybe try laos? Hope this helps, Happy Travelling
Wow Johnny D, thanks. That's almost the itinerary I was looking at, but thinking it was crazy.