Itinerary advice for Southeast Asia

by Aaron Wichert
(Vancouver, Canada)

Question: I will be arriving in Bangkok on Feb 7th and going to the full moon party on the 19th. I will be traveling for 9-10 months and wanted to go south after the party to Malaysia, then Java to Bali for the first of April. I was wondering if you had any tips on places that I should stop and see in between these dates? I was going to head to the Philippines after Bali or is there more good stuff to see east of Bali?

After the Philippines we were going to head back to the main land to do Laos, Vietnam, Northern Thailand, Cambodia, and if money and time permitted it Bangladesh and India? Does this sound doable and any tips. We will be staying in budget hostels and trying to take mostly local transport with minimal flights and tourist buses?

Thanks for any help you could give, I know there is a lot of questions here.

PS: Your site has been the best site in terms of information that I have visited in the last year while researching my trip. The only thing I would add would be small maps of the countries highlighting the town that each page talks about.
Keep up the awesome work!

Thanks again

Answer: Thanks Aaron! I will consider the small maps :-) First of all, if your trip is doable. I'm not sure what kind of tips you're looking for... but I'll try my best :-D

Basically you'll be visiting 9 countries (included India and Bangladesh) in 9-10 months, so you have over a month in each country... That sounds pretty doable to me. I spent 4 months in 4 countries, and I felt like I still had all the time in the world. Southeast Asia and India is pretty cheap when it comes to food, accommodation and transport. Just have in mind that it'll take you a lot more time to travel around when you take the local transport, and few flights.

So an itinerary suggestion:
--> Start in Bangkok
--> Malaysia
--> Bali
--> Fly from Bali to the Philippines
--> Fly from the Philippines to Hanoi in Vietnam, travel all the way down to Saigon, then cross the border to east Cambodia
--> Border cross from northeast Cambodia to south Laos
--> Travel all the way from south to north Laos
--> Border cross from north Laos to north Thailand
--> Back to Bangkok

--> Fly from Bangkok to Dhaka
--> Border cross from Bangladesh to India
--> HOME

As we see on this itinerary, you'll be border crossing a lot. You have to fly between Malaysia and Indonesia (unless you're taking the ferry), Indonesia and Philippines, Philippines and Vietnam and Thailand and Bangladesh (4). Can you afford 4 regional flights?

If you have a small budget I would reconsider Bangladesh and India because of the distance and costs. You can save more money if you stay longer in the other countries mentioned. Maybe stay 1 more month in Malaysia?

I spent one month in Malaysia (2009) and I could have stayed there for another month without getting bored! If you're traveling from place to place, and from country to country -- it actually cost more money than you think! (even if it's local transport) So budget-wise it's better to stay at a place for as long as you can manage, then move on.

Or visit just India, and not Bangladesh?

India is a huge country, and there's so much to see there! If you're not planning on visiting India in the future again, I would spend more time here. The other day I was looking at my itinerary for my India trip which is due in Feb 2011, and it seems like I don't have enough time to visit all the places I want, and I have 2 months in India! ;-)

Where to go between those dates (between Feb 7th and Feb 19th I assume). I would at least stay for 4 days in Bangkok (maybe visit temples, watch a muay thai fight, shopping, snake farm, take a boat up the river, eat at food stalls) before you head south to the full moon party on the 19th. After Bangkok I would just go straight to the islands of Koh Tao, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Samui, and go island hopping, or stay one week on one of these islands!

PS: Remember to book accommodation in advance because of the full moon party.

If you're keen on visiting other places than just islands, you can maybe take a couple of days in Kanchanaburi (tiger temple, river kwai) -- only a short bus trip from Bangkok.

On your way to the islands, you can stop by Cha-am and spend 3 days there -- a charming small town with more Thai tourists than foreign tourists. I actually liked it there! :-)

Good stuff east of Bali? I haven't been to Bali, so can't give any personal recommendations. I'll post this on my Facebook page and see if anyone has any tips for you :-)


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Dec 27, 2010
Thank you
by: Aaron

Thank you for the quick response. The itinerary that you supplied makes a lot more sense then the one I was picturing. The flights shouldn't be a problem. I just didn't want to take any unneeded ones. Thanks again for all the info and a great website. And hopefully I'll hear from you or others on the going east of Bali.

Dec 28, 2010
Do not miss Lombok
by: Ning

Bali is the most popular place in Indonesia, but Lombok is much more beautiful than bali, the island is near bali tho. try to google it :)

Jan 17, 2011
Hi Aaron
by: Anonymous

Hi Aaron i see your arriving on the 7th Feb Im arriving in Bangkok on the 8th Feb if you fancy meeting up ive got the same plan to get to the full moon party by the 19th. Ive not booked anywhere to stay for the first night yet have you? let me know if your interested. Meghan

Jan 17, 2011
Let me know
by: Aaron

We will be staying in a hotel for the first couple of days(don't know which yet) as I haven't seen my gf in 3 months. I think we will be staying in BK for 5 days then busing down the coast stopping in 1 or 2 towns for the night along the way. I'm planing on being koh phangan by the 14th to make sure we get a room. I've tried to book online without any success, which I think is for the better as I've heard the online prices are inflated to what they will take for walkin bookings. Send me an email after you have settled in.

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