in the beginning of April this year, my girlfriend and me would like to go to Asia for 2 weeks (14 or 15 days). The problem is we can't choose a destination because it all seems great. We are doubting between Bali/Lombok, Cambodja, Thailand and Sri Lanka.
We would like to travel around (any kind of transport), do some hikings, do some snorkelling, etc... a typical backpacker trip. Our budget is at maximum €2500.
We're from Belgium, so a flight will take approximately 20h to get there. Taking this into account, I think the time aspect is quiet important.
What can you guys recommend us?
For example: I think Thailand is really worth it, but is this possible in 2 weeks? I know, even one month wouldn't be enough, but is 2 weeks enough without having a feeling we missed a lot.
If there are other countries you really would like to recommend me, shoot!
Thanks in advance!
Sri Lanka would be my pick of those for the sights, the welcome, and two weeks is about perfect to get round the sights and have some beach time. But, we went by minibus + driver to tour round, I don't know how easy it would be to backpack independently.
2 weeks is a good amount of time in Sri Lanka - we had 13 days and managed to see a lot of the highlights. I didn't think the beaches were anything like as good as those in Thailand though, so if that's what your looking for then I'd choose Thailand or even Cambodia. The snorkeling is better in Thailand too from my experience. Thailand would be fine for 2 weeks - in that time you could take in a lot of the highlights and some beach time too if you wanted it. Bali is lovely but I haven't been to Lombok so I can't advise much there.
Sri Lanka is obviously closer to fly to, and there would be less jet-lag than going to Thailand/SE Asia.
In Sri Lanka we travelled by a mixture of train, bus and a private driver who was really good; if you want his details send me a private message. We found Sri Lanka surprisingly expensive though and not nearly as good value as Thailand and the rest of SE Asia.
I didnt like Lanka. The men can take "2 wives" and have that mentality and smoking is banned anywhere outdoors which is putting a law down for the sake of it in my opinion.
Lankan woman cannot drink or smoke as it is a bad reflection on their men.
Oppressed in other words.
Colombo is also filthy and I didn't find it too cheap either.
I also went to Nagambo, Hikkadua and Kandy.
Temples, temples and more temples... Templed out after a few days.
Pinnawala elephant orphanage is good but a bit sad as they've got the elephants like performing seals.
Cambodia is fab though. Siem Reap was great and Phnom Penh great. Angkor Wot in the north and the Killing Fields in the South. Heartbreaking
Fairly cheap too. $2.50 for a pina colada. About $5 to eat in a decent place. Thailand ok but I enjoyed Cambo more
Isn't it funny how different people can love or hate a place for some of the same reasons. :-)
A smoking ban's a plus point for me. I found the Sri Lankans friendly and seemingly happy, they'd talk to us and you'd be waiting for them to ask for something but it never came; they were just glad we were visiting. I liked the blend of Buddhism and Hinduism in the temples, found it more interesting than SEA.
Cambodia, on the other hand, I found the people a bit scammy and hassley, came away feeling westerners were treated as walking cashpoints.
OK, thanks folks!
Thanks for the replies.
We've chosen Cambodia to go too It was mor a random choice, I think every country has it's own strenghts.
What do I really need to see in Cambodja (except the famous ones like Angkor Wat)?
If you're heading north beyond the main Angkor sights, the Land Mine Museum on the road to the Banteay Srey temples is worth a stop - http://www.cambodialandminemuseum.org/
We hung around Siem Reap for 4 days over the Christmas and loved it. Night life was buzzing and we went up in a hot air balloon on Christmas day over the rice fields and watched the sun go down. Also did all the Angkor Wot stuff.
We took a 5 hour boat trip then down the Mekong River to Phnom Penh. We had googled this and found really bad reports. We found no problems with it. Quite a bit to see along the way, floating villages and scenery was lovely. Tropical trees that I had never seen before. If you do it though, put lots of sunblock on because the boat goes really fast and with the breeze, you don't realise how hot it is. We all suffered with sunburn then for days.
Also, take food and drink with you because nothing is sold on the boat.
We spent another 4 days in Phnom Penh. It takes a day visiting the S21 prison and Killing Fields... which is horrendus.
We also spent a day in a tuktuk. He will take you around all the sights for $12 and wait for you to go in and look around then you pay at the end. Temples, Royal Palace etc.
Then the next day, we got a tuktuk to take us out into the countryside to a buddist monestry and sat in a service etc. Then at the end, the monk reads your fortune!!
The last day, we all had a go of eating happy pizzas (google it) and it put us all in bed by 6.00pm!! I'll say no more!!
We had flights booked after that to go to Bangkok so we didn't even make it to Sihanoukville.... The beach resort and island.
It was a country I would really recommend and would visit again.
Still a bit 3rd worldish, but lots of nice bars and restaurants to escape to
As for Sri-Lanka, it is a pretty country when you get out of the towns but I didn't like the oppression side of it. Laws for the sake it it.
Also, meant to be the king of cups of tea. I love tea and didn't get a decent cup all the time I was there!!