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South Asia Trip Help!

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hey everyone,

I'm leaving on Tuesday to do a trip through South Asia.

I've got 54 days to travel, so there's plenty of time to see many things, I hope.

I'm flying into Bangkok and I'll stay there for a few days, then move on. Ideally, I want to see all of Thailand, as well as what I can of Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar.

I've picked up the "Lonely Planet" guides just to see about dangers, fees, etc.

But, if anyone has any advice for me on ANY of these areas, I would be extreeeeemely greatful!

Or even better would be if any of you are LIVING in any of these countries and wouldn't mind showing a foreigner around a little bit.

I'm travelling alone and I'm very green to that part of the world, so I'm a little nervous --- but SOOOO excited!

Thanks everyone!
post #2 of 10
Give me a call when you reach Vietnam, PMed you my phone number.
post #3 of 10
That's a lot of ground to cover in 54 days. I will assume you're backpacking, but some of this is applicable regardless.

In the main, my best experiences have been those off the tourist path. I try to immerse myself in the ordinary life of the place I am visiting rather than attending the tourist sites (museums, monuments, etc.). That doesn't mean you avoid those things, just don't turn your trip into a hop from one attraction to the next. I want to be more familiar with what morning is like in the places I have been, rather than what a statue meant.

One book I would suggest is Mark Cocker's Loneliness and Time, which gives a nice overview of hardcore British travelers from the early twentieth century. This reading assignment may seem unrelated compared with a LP guide. However, as a decentered approach, it may give you some ideas about how to frame your experiences. Much of what you witness in Asia will blow right over you. Other things take years to settle.

In Rangoon, if you want to start off on a good foot, I suggest taking lunch with the monks at the Mahasi Meditation Centre. They eat at 10:30 a.m. Show up a little early:

No 16, Sasana Yeiktha Road, Bahan
Rangoon 11201 Burma
Telephone: (+95) 01 541971, 552501

In Phnom Penh, the FCC is a good place to watch the rivers connect:

http://www.fcccambodia.com/phnom_penh/

In Bangkok, the New Joe House off Khao San Rd. is as good as anywhere to get started. Clean rooms, AC, slows your shock to the weather.

Safe travels.
post #4 of 10
There is some good surfing there. Though I hear Charlie don't surf.
post #5 of 10
I found this site while searching for a Pad Thai recipe. Even though the site promotes a tour guided by its webmaster, it has good info on Thailand. Good luck and have fun. http://www.thaifoodandtravel.com/index.html
post #6 of 10
Sounds like fun, lucky bastard. I spend alot of time in Thailand so I can offer a few pieces of advice; I wrote this email to a friend of mine who went to Thailand for 2 weeks last year so you can pick and choose what you think you might like if you only want to spend a few days there:

Quote:
If you have roughly two weeks in Thailand, a good way to spend your trip might be:

3 days in Bangkok
3 days in Pattaya
4-5 days in Phuket
2-3 days for a trip to the River Kwai

You don't want to spend too much time in Bangkok as it is pretty loud, dirty and fastpaced. Then again, you need to be there for a few days to see the Grand Palace, the Golden Buddha, Reclining Buddha, etc. and take a trip down the Chao Praya River. If you want a crazy nightlife atmosphere and are not squeamish (i.e. you don't mind being hit on by transvestites), then you can stay near Patpong, which has the most notoriously famous nightlife of just about anywhere in the world. Keep in mind, however, that alot of the hotels near Patpong cater predominantly to gay men, so make sure and look it up on the internet before booking! Patpong also has an insane night market featuring just about every counterfeit item imaginable.......

From Bangkok, you can get your hotel to schedule you a limo van to take you to Pattaya, which is about 2 hours south and will only cost you about $25 for the ride there. In Pattaya, there is a huge street called "Walking Street" that is for pedestrians only and has hundreds of restaurants/bars/clubs, etc. This is also a great place to sit on the beach and you can schedule boat trips to nearby secluded islands where you can relax and drink rum in coconuts. Pattaya also has the beautiful Nong Nooch tropical gardens, etc. There are several great hotels in Pattaya; basically just stay in any of the large ones (there are several: Sheraton, etc., etc.).

Whilst returning to Bangkok you can schedule a trip to go to the River Kwai. Each tour is different as some may take you through the the Floating Market (which is north of Bangkok) while on your way to the River, whilst others may include other things. Here are examples:

http://asiatours.net/thailand/tours/RK-RS102.html
http://www.numberonebangkok.com/erawan.html

The trip is generally from 2-3 days long and doesn't really need to be booked far in advance. Your best bet would actually be to inquire at your hotel's front desk as they can usually always organize this kind of stuff for you.

Lastly, I would recommend flying to Phuket (approx. a 1-hr. flight = $120) which is where Thailand's most beautiful beaches are (and some damn beautiful Scandinavian women......don't know why, but they love this place). From there you can stay on the main island, or take the 2-hr. ferry out to the Phi Phi islands and stay on a beach hut for a few nights, which cost under $10 a night. There is tons of info. online about Phuket and it is very easy to book a hotel there. You might also consider Koh Samui if you want somewhere beautiful but with less tourists, but again, you have to fly there from Bangkok. Thailand is extremely civilized as South East Asia goes and there is no need to worry about giving credit card numbers, etc. over the phone to hotels as it is a very safe country with very little crime. Most hotels, however, can be booked online through various travel sites. Let me know if you have any other questions!

I might also add, that depending on what you are into and how much time you want to spend on a bus you could always head up north to the lush jungles around Chiang Mai.
post #7 of 10
here's how you see thailand - 5 days in bangkok, then take a bus east (east, yes, east) to trat. stop off on the way in chantaburi, maybe in sattahip or pataya, spend a night in trat, and then go to ko chang for a week. this is an island that is what the western islands were 30 years ago. then I would cross into cambodia, see angor wat and make your way to matt.

have fun.
post #8 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by funk_soul_brother
Ideally, I want to see all of Thailand, as well as what I can of Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar.

I'd be interested in your report on Myanmar. How easy is it for Westerners to get in there and how are they welcomed?

I'm going to be in Shillong briefly in January, which is but a hop away from Myanmar, although I wouldn't be going this trip.
post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlanC
I'd be interested in your report on Myanmar. How easy is it for Westerners to get in there and how are they welcomed?

I'm going to be in Shillong briefly in January, which is but a hop away from Myanmar, although I wouldn't be going this trip.


talk to JA, he spent more time there than any westerner I know.
post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlanC
I'd be interested in your report on Myanmar. How easy is it for Westerners to get in there and how are they welcomed?

I'm going to be in Shillong briefly in January, which is but a hop away from Myanmar, although I wouldn't be going this trip.

If you don't have a layover in Bangkok on your way to Assam, fetch a visa through the post in Washington:

http://www.mewashingtondc.com/Requir...ist%20Visa.pdf

Ten years ago you traded US$300 to FECs at the airport and then sold those on the black market downtown. Pretty straightforward transactions.

Myanmar is the most welcoming of countries I have visited in SEA. If you need further details, let me know.
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