3 weeks in Asia, from 25/12... planning starts today - Help!

Travel Forums Asia 3 weeks in Asia, from 25/12... planning starts today - Help!

Page
  • 1
  • 2
Last Post
1. Posted by Eeeeeeeeeek (Budding Member 4 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Hello all,

I'm heading to S.E Asia for the first time, and despite my desire to plan this trip from a couple of months ago, my girlfriend had refused to come with me, right up until today.

So now I'm feeling more than a little overwhelmed by the planning that I need to do!

I had presumed that aside from sorting visas, it would be possible to go with the flow and spend 3/4/5 days in a country, and try to pack in as much as possible in the 3 weeks.

I've since learned that some countries (India being one) need to see you have an onward flight booked, and this means that planning becomes even more necessary!

What I'm hoping for, is as much guidance as possible in way of logistics, regarding any visa difficulties (I'm British, by the way), important things to be aware of/avoid/plan for, as well as any guidance on things to see, suggested routes to make it cheaper/more time efficient, and generally anything you think a newbie traveller would benefit from knowing!

Aside from trying to cram in as much as possible in the 3 weeks, I'm fairly flexible on how long to stay in most places - also, open to extending it to 4 weeks if needs be.

Things we would like to do: learn to scuba dive, see sites, check out some spiritual retreats, party on New year's Eve, mix up nature, beaches, and some cool city experiences.

Target budget for two people is £1000 per week - with flights to Asia/to Britain separate.

I originally sketched out an itinerary based on around 45 days travel time, so clearly the following can't all happen, but the original rough plan was to visit the following places for the corresponding days.

Goa 5/7 days
Sri Lanka 4/5 days
Kuala Lumpur 3/5 days
Phuket Thailand 3/5 days
Singapore 3 days
Bali 3/5 days
Phillipines (Boracay or Palawan) 3/5 days
Borneo 3 days
Vietnam 3/5 days
Cambodia 3/4 days
Return

The above is a minimum of 33 days - more like 36/37 allowing for flights.

I'll post my own thoughts on how to cut this down below, but as said, any suggestions on how this might not work, please let me know! Or, if there is a way to cut this down to minimise issues/travel logistics, that too!

Goa 3 days
Kuala Lumpur 1.5 days
Singapore 1.5 days
Bali 3/4 days
Phillipines 3/4 days
Vietnam 3 days
Cambodia 3 days
Thailand (Phuket most likely) 3/4 days

That is a minimum of 21 days, but fine for this to increase 2/3 days to allow for some of the time flying.

Would missing any of the above destinations make the trip particular less hassle? Is there a better order to do it? If kept roughly in that order, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, or Bali are most likely to be the location for New Year's Eve - any pros or cons to those choices on that particular night? Anywhere better to be instead?

Any suggestions and advice massively appreciated!! :)

2. Posted by Eeeeeeeeeek (Budding Member 4 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

And one of the things that threw a spanner in the works with this, was the discovery that India require the flight out of the country booked before arrival - so that derailed my plans to keep this as a rough plan and book flights whilst out there.

So any knowledge about other countries that have this policy very much appreciated!

3. Posted by Peter (Admin 6631 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Aside from India's rule about requiring an outbound ticket, booking flights a couple of days before a trip is also generally a very expensive way to go about things.

The best deals on flights are almost always months in advance.

Now, about the itinerary. Why all the different countries? You could easily spend 3 weeks in just one of those countries. You'll totally exhaust yourself and pay a lot more for this trip than if you just cut it down to something much more compact. For 3 weeks, I wouldn't consider more than 2 countries. Of your options I'd be most drawn to Vietnam/Cambodia.

Have a good think about where you want to go and where prices will be reasonable in that period. Bali in particular goes up in cost hugely over the Australian summer holiday period.

Finally, once you make a choice don't worry about where you could have been, or what might have been if you were somewhere better. Just enjoy wherever you are. :)

4. Posted by Eeeeeeeeeek (Budding Member 4 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Thanks Peter

Do any of the other countries have the same rule about onward travel?

Would booking the return flight to the UK likely get me around such issues?

Appreciate costs of flights will be higher if booking short notice. I'm allowing £1000 per week, between 2 people, which would have thought is still on the more luxurious end of the budget for SE Asia? Think I read that £1000 per month for a couple should be enough to get by?

Hear what you are saying about limiting countries... Me and my partner are both happy with flights of 3/4 hours, but beyond that is a bit of an ordeal for us - would prefer to try and see the highlights of as many countries as possible in that time, as it may be some time before we decide to venture so far afield again.

5. Posted by Peter (Admin 6631 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Flights of 3/4 hours are one thing. You also have to allow getting to the airport, checking in, etc.. By the end of it, that 4 hr flight is your whole day pretty much gone. If you do that every 3 days you're giving up a quarter of your trip on travel time. Unless this is a box-ticking exercise I don't see the point.

You won't see the highlights of any of those countries in that amount of time per country. You'll just be scratching the surface of places, getting a little taste here and there. To mind, it's much better to find one place properly and see it fully. The world is a big place. Don't stress out about what you aren't seeing. It's impossible to see it all. What matters more is that you are enjoying yourself.

Does that £1000 include flights? If you are taking two flights a week, I personally think you'll struggle at that cost. To get an idea of how much prices go up during the Christmas holidays, have a look at this article Admittedly it's looking at family holidays, but I can't see it being much different for backpackers / couples. 120% markup in Bali (ouch!), 77% markup in Goa, 72% markup in Singapore.. you get the picture. School holidays is an expensive time to travel.

Have you checked accommodation prices / availability for your dates yet? The only way to know is by doing the numbers. Most of it you can cost out online pretty easily.

[ Edit: Edited on 12-Dec-2018, at 16:22 by Peter ]

6. Posted by Andrew Mack (Respected Member 576 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Check the price of your main flights out and back.
Away from Xmas I'd expect LHR to BKK to be between £500 and 600 but around xmas it's around £1k.
Xmas is high season.

I agree with Peter that you could easily spend all 3 weeks in any one of those countries and still leave knowing you haven't seen the country properly.
No allowance for jet-lag (everyone gets jet-lag occasionally) or sick/exhaustion day.
The high heat change can really knock it out of you.

Goa is 'India Lite' (or the costa del india). really nice but the most non-indian part of india.
Phuket is the most expensive place in Thailand and is jammed over the xmas holiday.
Singapore is expensive, although a fair portion of the expat community leave over xmas…. but it's still jammed.
I could go on, but really, one country or two at the most, and know that you'll still only be scratching the surface.

[ Edit: Edited on 12-Dec-2018, at 16:24 by Andrew Mack ]

7. Posted by Peter (Admin 6631 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Flying on Christmas day will work in your advantage though.

I did a quick check and found prices in the low £500 range on Emirates, Qatar, Air China return to BKK.

8. Posted by Andrew Mack (Respected Member 576 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Quoting Peter

Flying on Christmas day will work in your advantage though.
I did a quick check and found prices in the low £500 range on Emirates, Qatar, Air China return to BKK.

Yes, I hadn't taken that into account, but I can't see anything quite that cheap because the return journey is still a busy time. so £572 was the best decent flight (no more than one change).

Eeeeeeeek, try playing with Skyscanner or Kayak (or one of the other flight search engines) to get an idea of the flight prices and durations.
Some of the places you've suggested aren't near the main country airport. So you're likely to either pay a premium for the flights direct, or be limited in the number (or days) of the flights or you'll have a few hours transfer at the main airport to the airport close to your destination.

9. Posted by Peter (Admin 6631 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

The cheapest one I found (Emirates) did involve a 17h stop in Vietnam on the way there - £522 through BudgetAir.

The more reasonable option was Qatar Airways - £531 through SkyTours (only 1 stop in Doha)

Both flying out on the 25th, returning 15 Jan

Didn't check luggage fees, etc.. that could drive it up a bit.

[ Edit: Edited on 12-Dec-2018, at 16:58 by Peter ]

10. Posted by Eeeeeeeeeek (Budding Member 4 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Thanks all

I've seen flights on Xmas, for £550 each, though I can't remember to which of the destinations it was.

I'm expecting it to cost about a grand each way. If it came in a grand over budget, between there and back, it's not a big concern. Hoping to keep the whole trip to £5k or below, but if it goes over, it goes over.

My girlfriend and I have been discussing and she thinks you all speak a lot of sense, and so, we have compromised - less countries, but more time 😂

It's now looking as follows:

A week in Bali/Gili Islands - have a friend with a dive school in Gili, so hope to learn there

A week in Philippines - covering 2/3 of the islands

A week spent in Vietnam - hit a couple of the cities and a couple of the beaches.

A week spent between Phuket, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur - figure the latter two a cab would be an option and take like 2 hours? Phuket seems like it would only be around 3/4 hours including airport check in and exit? Singapore and Kuala Lumpur just want to have a wander around, so think a day, a night and breakfast there is likely enough, leaving 4 days in Phuket.

Cutting down on the flights, what is a decent budget for renting apartments like air BnB? Would £750 a week be comfortable for a couple?

Thanks again for all help!