I'm starting to think about my next trip, and I want it to be in South East Asia. I realize I listed 4 countries to do in three weeks, so those are really just suggestions. I am not married to any one/two, and my travel style is usually to go to one country for a whole month - but my time is scarce and I only have 3 weeks to work with. So I'm appealing to my community of travelers to help me focus - what would you do and where would you go if you only had 3 weeks in December/January? I'd also be open to the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
It would help if you gave us what is your arrival city. Also what are your interests: beach, culture, sports, historic, etc. Also budget. Then we can try to help with a route.
Thanks for your response! I am trying to keep my trip as cost effective as possible but I would absolutely spend money on intra and inter-country flights so as to maximize my time. I know nothing of air pass deals out there, but I'm thinking of doing December 14 - January 6.
I'm going to be dive certified, so it would be great to get to a beach where I can dive, and also relax for a few days and just eat the local cuisine. I love culture and history, am not so into sports (except for MMA - totally into that). My perfect vacation would be a mix of culture/adventure and beach time. I love hiking and exploring, but again - since I have limited time, I would prefer to not spend days on buses.
Is this helpful? Thanks again for all of your input!
Oh sorry - I'm leaving from LAX so could really enter anywhere, but would probably start in Thailand/Bangkok.
[ Edit: Edited on 14-Mar-2012, at 10:18 by rpcvleah ]
One of my best discoveries in SE Asia has been Luang Prabang, Laos (I'll be there over Thanksgiving) - a really neat, laid back area with a beautiful town, great food and places to stay (from $12. up) but no diving. It does have a great waterfall where you can swim and jump off a log into crystal blue water. The only downside is that it's expensive to get to by air - you can also get there by boat from N. Thailand or bus.
3 weeks won't give you enough time to see much beyond Thailand (the best diving in the Islands) and one other destination, and the holidays won't exactly be cheap (high season prices). I'm not a diver, so I can't tell you where to go in Thailand. Just checking Travelfish - they seem to like Turtle Island (Ko Tao) quite well.
The East Sea (S. China Sea) is not a great place to dive because the water is not real clear.
[ Edit: Edited on 14-Mar-2012, at 11:32 by Daawgon ]
You are going in high season. Many places will be full plus they jack up their rates. Thailand (TL) is just chock full of tourist from Nov-Feb. If you can go a different time frame, I suggest that.
With just 21 days, I suggest a week in Chiang Mai (CM) area, trekking, rafting, historic sites, then 2 weeks on the beach/diving. There are overnight buses from BKK to CM, saves 1 night accomm. and you get in early am. Best time to find a room. Or fly: Air Asia, Nok Air have several flights/day: BKK-CNX. Book in advance and airfare is not much more than the bus. Air or bus back to BKK.
Now some beach time/diving. Koh Tao is one of TL top dive destinations. You can also take the ferry over to Koh Phangan, Samui if you want to see different islands. Another option would be the Krabi side for beach/diving. Koh Phi Phi has beautiful beaches and diving. Railay Beach has great beaches & swimming as well. There are also dozens of lesser know beaches and islands. Here is just one.
Good luck with your planning.
Hi Leah.High season at that time of the year is only in the northern hemisphere[Thailand etc].I think you should fly into Bangkok and go direct to Luang Prabang[Laos] as recommended above.Then back to Bangkok and Air Asia to Bali only for a stopover on the way to Lombok.Lombok like Luang Prabang is a gem:Not so many tourists,fantastic diving small idilic islands,wonderful walking, a small tourist center[Senggigi]with cheap hotels[we stayed at Beach Club] and fantastic restaurants[one I remember was Taman}.Then you should fly via Jakarta to Ckarke [Phillippines]and get a taxi to Subic Bay.again fantastic diving great beaches and fairly quiet.Get an airport transfer to Manila Airport and fly home.You will miss all the tourist traps and will see the pick of reasonably accessible destinations.And will go home with photos and stories of great places most of your friends won't have heard of but will want to go next year.If your travel agent says the above can't be done or will cost a fortune contact Flight Center and look up the Air asia site.Have a great trip