I'm looking for suggestions on how to spent 2 weeks of holiday in Asia. I'm mostly interested in art, history and culture. Don't care for beaches and partying at all. I would prefer to travel in an area where there is a significant muslim population.
With those criteria, what would be a decent initiary? Spending 12 days without needing a holiday after the holiday? I am mostly looking at China, Vietnam and Malaysia. So if you had 12 days in these countries, how would you spend them? And what would be the best time to go?
I know I can't see everything. Just fishing around for ideas right now.
Everyone thinks of Bali as being just beach, but there's fabulous art and culture there and certainly unique. Darn view Muslims in Vietnam!
Looked at Bali. While some of the cheapest flight tickets are within my budget the flight times are really forbidding. 16-26 hours from Frankfurt FRA plus the 10 hours from my home to get to FRA airport . And all that for a 14-day holiday. Taking off travelling time I would have essentially 10 days in Bali. I guess I'll wait until next year when I can get 3 weeks off.
Any other suggestions? I am fine with 10-14 hour flights to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, etc.
BTW, I know there aren't any muslims in Vietnam. It just happens that I am interested in the country and it seems more manageable in a short timeframe than giants like Indonesia or China.
[ Edit: Edited on 12-Dec-2009, at 13:22 by t_maia ]
With 12 days in Vietnam you could concentrate on the North and visit Hanoi (a great city), Halong Bay, Sapa and Hue. In Malaysia you could do Kuala Lumpur, Melaka, Taman Negara and the Cameron Highlands but the latter 2 places are more about scenery and trekking rather than art, history and culture so I'd probably choose Vietnam out of those 2 countries. I only spent 6 days in China and visited Shanghai and Hangzhou - both are worthwhile.
Another option for getting to Bali would be to fly to KL and then get a cheap flight with Air Asia into Denpasar. You could even go into Eastern Java from Bali and visit Mt Bromo and Borobudur. Ubud in Bali is particularly great for art and Hindu culture.
Go to Philippines and then stay in Mindanao. There are a lot of muslims there and there are a lot of museums and culture/historic places that you can visit. surely you will have a great time there although I don't know about the security of the place now as it tends to get dangerous specially when the election for the new president is coming up. I heard there has been some massacre of innocent people and media in Maguindanao...
Seems to me that you're not too familiar with the places you're considering? There is a vast difference between the lifestyle in Singapore and that of Vietnam for instance. Surely you want to consider cost and your comfort? I always go to Vietnam because it's inexpensive, it's exotic, and I genuinely like the people there. I'm sure that China has more to offer when it comes to history or art. The museums I've been to in Vietnam are crude but interesting. I agree with Bex76 about Hanoi (I could easily spend 2 weeks in that city, and not go outside of the city limits even once.)
If you want a more refined destination, Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur might be your place. Indochina is quite poor but changing fast. It's really up to you.
2 weeks would be a great amount of time to see all the highlights of Vietnam.
If you're looking to stick to the Muslim areas you could probably do Singapore, Malaysia and Southern Thailand. Ko Yao Yai for example has a strong muslim population.
Thanks for all the replies so far.
I guess I'll look closer at Vietnam and Malaysia then.
You are right, I am not too familiar with places I am considering. The farthest east I've been is Isfahan in Iran. I can find Vietnam and Malaysia on a map and I've watched TV documentaries and read books. But I don't know nearly as much about travel in South East Asia as I know about travel in Europe and the Middle East.
So far it looks like I will get time off work in November and in June, 14 days each. Any suggestions what would be the better time for one of the two countries?
Is there a chance I could cover the highlights of Vietnam in 10 days or is the time spent travelling between places just forbidding?
FYI, I don't need that much comfort, I've slept in train stations and airports in Europe and in super-cheap hostels in Egypt where I had to share my room with cockroaches as big as the rats outside. So I don't think anything Vietnam or Malaysia can throw at me will shock me in the slightest.
The reason I prefer to travel in Muslim countries is because I am Muslim myself. In non-muslim countries I always have problems finding adequate food. This includes in my own home country where I speak the language. Travelling in a non-muslim country with a big language barrier buying food will be big problem for me. Even rice with veggies can be a problem if some alcohol or vinegar is used to flavour the food in some way. By travelling in places with a significant muslim community I can easily avoid these complications.
Any further suggestions? Thanks in advance.
India is also an option
Large number of Muslims are scattered all over the country and the cities of Delhi, Lucknow, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Agra and the state of Kerala has large number of Muslims. Food will never be an issue here, you only have to be careful of hot spices
In 2 weeks time, u can very easily cover the essential highlights of the North like Delhi-Agra and some of the cities of Rajasthan !!
India? I am still a bit traumatised from my "Iran in 7 days" blitztrip in 2006, I am not sure I want to tackle India in 12 days! I know I would be biting off far more than I could chew. I fully intend to visit India one day, but I think I will go when I have more time for it.