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2 months in Asia - advice?

post #1 of 169
Thread Starter 
Y'alls,

Taking a vaca to SE Asia (I can be convinced to try something else in the vicinity as well). The parameters I am working under:

- cheap
- more "new experience"-oriented than "wine, dine, and club"-oriented
- interesting cities are good but am particularly interested in beautiful scenery/nature

So: any advice you guys can give regarding some can't-miss spots in the area would be great. You know, stuff that you wouldn't miss for the world and are glad you experienced. If you have any advice on cheap international travel (buses/trains) for these countries, that is also a help. I just don't want to burn a lot of money on this trip. Any tips on good, clean, safe hostels or other places to stay are also appreciated.

Thanks in advance. I'll be away from SF for a while but hopefully will have a lot of interesting stories to share when I'm back. I won't forget you guys! And it's a welcome respite for all of you from my incessant dumbness.
post #2 of 169
Go to Pattaya!
post #3 of 169
I would use Singapore or Bangkok as a hub and travel from there. Lots of low cost carries and easy trips to Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, etc.
post #4 of 169
Quote:
Originally Posted by cchen View Post
I would use Singapore or Bangkok as a hub and travel from there. Lots of low cost carries and easy trips to Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, etc.

Go do some diving in Vietnam and hang around relatively large cities in the region.
post #5 of 169
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by amerikajinda View Post
Go to Pattaya!

Is this the place white creeps go to hit on ladyboys?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cchen View Post
I would use Singapore or Bangkok as a hub and travel from there. Lots of low cost carries and easy trips to Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, etc.

Makes sense. I plan to fly into Bangkok.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuuma View Post
Go do some diving in Vietnam and hang around relatively large cities in the region.

Any details on specific stuff or locations to check out that you particularly liked?
post #6 of 169
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuuma View Post
Go do some diving in Vietnam and hang around relatively large cities in the region.

Why would you dive in VN? It's awful.

You dive in Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia (esp East Malaysia) and Thailand.
post #7 of 169
Quote:
Originally Posted by m@T View Post
Why would you dive in VN? It's awful.

You dive in Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia (esp East Malaysia) and Thailand.

Maybe he should go to VN and take over for your nonexistent night life lately...
post #8 of 169
Thread Starter 
Mat will you take me out for dinner??
post #9 of 169
Are you going to Asia for the first time, might consider Japan, not cheap when compare to South East Asia, but Hokkaidō is beautiful as far as nature scene is concerned (also considerably cheaper than Japan mainland). Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province, China is also a great choice. My parents just went there, and they promised me it looks just as good as these pictures (as I have always wondered if they were photoshopped to a large degree).

http://www.xutour.com/picture/2007-3/2007326222941.jpg
http://blog.roodo.com/cts-china/4a82ac9a.jpg
http://www.mjjq.com/data/2006/%BE%C5...%CF%C469_1.jpg

As with all thing in China, find a friend who can speak chinese or local tour guy you can trust, otherwise you can be sure that you will get ripped off at every turn for being American.

Or if you want a bit venture, inner Mongolia or Xinjiang is also great, might not be the best time if you're going in summer though.

If you you still want to go to South East Asia, then I would say Thailand (phi phi island, yes I know lots of tourist, but still beautiful beach), Indonesia or Vietnam. I don't see much point of going to Singapore if you want to see nature.
post #10 of 169
Laos and some of the smaller Indonesian islands
post #11 of 169
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by clee1982 View Post
Are you going to Asia for the first time, might consider Japan, not cheap when compare to South East Asia, but Hokkaidō is beautiful as far as nature scene is concerned (also considerably cheaper than Japan mainland). Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province, China is also a great choice. My parents just went there, and they promised me it looks just as good as these pictures (as I have always wondered if they were photoshopped to a large degree).

http://www.xutour.com/picture/2007-3/2007326222941.jpg
http://blog.roodo.com/cts-china/4a82ac9a.jpg
http://www.mjjq.com/data/2006/%BE%C5...%CF%C469_1.jpg

As with all thing in China, find a friend who can speak chinese or local tour guy you can trust, otherwise you can be sure that you will get ripped off at every turn for being American.

Or if you want a bit venture, inner Mongolia or Xinjiang is also great, might not be the best time if you're going in summer though.

If you you still want to go to South East Asia, then I would say Thailand (phi phi island, yes I know lots of tourist, but still beautiful beach), Indonesia or Vietnam. I don't see much point of going to Singapore if you want to see nature.

Thanks clee, some gorgeous shots in there. I only have a couple of acquaintances in China and I doubt they would be able to join me for long. How hard is it to find a tour guide in some of these areas who will not rip me off himself? I am very interested in these places but how far off the beaten path are they? Is it days of rail travel just to get there (the ones in China that is)?

I have been to Tokyo, but I am guessing transport to Hokkaido would be quite expensive given distance. Also I don't know what the cheapest way to get from Japan to mainland Asia would be...and I am thinking of avoiding planes. Not that I can't afford it, I just don't want to blow money needlessly since I am in no hurry to make my way around.

Thanks for any additional details you can provide. PM can work if that's more convenient for you!
post #12 of 169
Quote:
Originally Posted by m@T View Post
Why would you dive in VN? It's awful.

You dive in Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia (esp East Malaysia) and Thailand.

There's one good spot and yes he can dive in a couple of place in the region. Just a pretext to visit VN, there's not 10000 things to do there...
post #13 of 169
Quote:
Originally Posted by clee1982 View Post
I don't see much point of going to Singapore if you want to see nature.

worth going for the food
post #14 of 169
All these things are pulling out of memories, haven't been back to Asia for 2 to 3 years (from Taiwan here).

China..., well, the options are
1. you get ripped by the tour guy, so he make sure you don't get ripped by the locals, or at least not as much
2. you get ripped by the tour guy, AND ripped by the local
3. you don't get ripped, sorry, that only happens in lala land,

all right I am exaggerating, don't get discouraged, as Jiuzhaigou Valley is one of those place I would go myself when I get the time. I would say some kind of surcharge somewhere is almost inevitable for tourist, just to what degree.

To answer your real question, there are tour guys that you pay for take you around for 1 day (which might not quite work, too short), or the ones you hire from the start (at least for the particular area). I would go for the 2nd route, you definitely need more than 1 day, you would also need their car/van anyway (so really tour guy+driver, sometimes all in one sometimes not). The last time I checked, it's freaking hard for foreigner to drive in China legally without going through a lot of hassale.

Maybe some of the guys from Mainland China can clarify for me, but that has always been my impression and experience (even the in state guys rip the out state guys in China). On another note, even if you do get ripped it is still decently cheap compare to other places, just negotitate it down when they say something that you think is ridiculous. When I was in China the first time (as a kid), my father's usually tactic is, 90% off everything the guy ask (street vendor, sight scen, but not ticket though, those things are posted). It has been getting better by a lot these years (last time there was in 2006/7, but was mostly in the cities), haggling on price still exists to a very large degree.

Now on the other note, if you want to do some backpacking trip, then Taiwan might not be a bad idea, I would not stay for 2 month though, 2 weeks should be enough, I can give you ideas on those ones pretty quick. I am certainly more familiar with my own home town.

I have no idea what's American's experience in the more rural part of China, City is city everywhere (though all have its own charm), but rural area is different, not that it is dangerous, it's just different. It's much harder to get by with English (not that it's easy to get by with English in the first place). You should find the trip quite interesting if you go to somewhere remote.

By the way, I am pretty sure you find a package to Hokkaido from the States (and might just try your American Express card service for that matter). As to Jiuzhaigou Valley, hum, lots of travel agency in Taiwan/Hong Kong does that, but from the States, absolutely no idea.

P.S. are you going alone with girlfriend or a few close friends?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MetroStyles View Post
Thanks clee, some gorgeous shots in there. I only have a couple of acquaintances in China and I doubt they would be able to join me for long. How hard is it to find a tour guide in some of these areas who will not rip me off himself? I am very interested in these places but how far off the beaten path are they? Is it days of rail travel just to get there (the ones in China that is)?

I have been to Tokyo, but I am guessing transport to Hokkaido would be quite expensive given distance. Also I don't know what the cheapest way to get from Japan to mainland Asia would be...and I am thinking of avoiding planes. Not that I can't afford it, I just don't want to blow money needlessly since I am in no hurry to make my way around.

Thanks for any additional details you can provide. PM can work if that's more convenient for you!
post #15 of 169
Hum, didn't know Singapore is konwn for its food, at least no among Asian circle. It is certainly interesting and lots of fusion with Indonesian/Thailand food, but I am not sure if I would just go to Singapore for the food.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cchen View Post
worth going for the food
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