Some people get that warm, tingly feeling while performing on stage or before a “big game” or at a concert of their favorite band – I get it while obsessing over prices of flights 7 months from now. I LOVE to plan. Especially trips abroad. And while there is a plethora of information available to me from Lonely Planet to Wikipedia to the thousands and thousands of other travel blogs (all of which I’ve been pouring over every chance I get), I thought I’d go ahead and just ask you readers, whose opinion I value far more than the stranger’s on TripAdvisor!
I’d love to get as much input as possible on where to go, what to see, where to stay, what NOT to do, how to get there, etc etc, which is where YOU come in 🙂
A Little Bit About Us:
My boyfriend and I will be traveling around Southeast Asia for about 4 months. We love all forms of adventure, especially those involving nature, hiking or the ocean(namely surfing). We recently got SCUBA certified and are looking for amazing dive spots. We’re also traveling on a budget to extend our trip as much as possible. Crazy nightlife isn’t completely necessary, but we do enjoy drinking and bar hopping. We believe in eco/animal-friendly activities and generally being nice to Mother Nature. We’re interested in volunteer opportunities, possibly some short term teaching gigs, yoga retreats or just great studios/teachers, and other experiences to really immerse ourselves in the culture. Avoiding large tour groups and exploring on our own is preferable as well. And lastly, we LOVE to eat, so food suggestions are highly encouraged :).
Where We’ve Been:
We traveled to Bali in 2012 and saw most of the touristy things like Monkey Forest, Tegalalong Rice Terraces, white water rafting at the Telaga Waja River, Kuta Beach and Batubalan Temple. Bali was our only stop in Indonesia and then we were off to Thailand where we spent a few days in Phuket and toured Koh Phi Phi (including Maya Bay) and Phang Nga Bay (including James Bond Island). We stayed 2 nights in Bangkok and went to the Damnern Saduak floating market, Bridge over the River Kwai and Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi (I know. I’ve learned since then). After that, we spent 5 days in Boracay, Philippines and then went to Singapore for a couple days, which was way too expensive for us so we caught a bus to our last stop – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We barely scratched the surface of all of these countries, but I’m saying we don’t need to return to these specific tourist attractions or stay long at any of these cities when there are heaps more places we need to go 🙂
Where We Want To Go (in short):
See below a list of each country, followed with the cities/sites we’re thinking of visiting. Or, just skip all my babbling and leave a comment with your suggestions/expertise 🙂
• Chiang Mai: volunteer at the Elephant Nature Park (already booked), see temples, go hiking, learn some Muay Thai, see a cabarat ladyboy show. We’re already planning on staying here for the Songkran Festival, also!
• Thai Islands: Since we spent almost a week in Phuket + neighboring islands, we want to explore different areas. We want to get some diving in so we were thinking of hitting up Ko Tao. Any other suggestions? Similan Islands? Ko Samui? Koh Chang? Ko Wai? Koh Lanta? Which islands are a must see and which ones are skippable?
• Angkor: Ankor Wat and Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm Ruins aka Tomb Raider Temple, and downtown Siem Reap are all on our list.
• Kampot: Visit a pepper farm, take a day trip to Kep, day trip to Bokor National Park
• Phnom Penh: Visit the Killing Fields and learn a bit of history
• Sihanoukville: Beach and drinks, what else can you ask for?
• Sa Pa: Trekking
• Ha Long Bay (obviously): Cruises, kayaking, cave exploring, etc
• From Ha Long to Ho Chi Min: We want to kayak through the caves in Phong Nha Park. Heading down from Phong Nha, we were thinking of stopping in the Quang Nam Province to see My Son, then stop at Denang and then Dalat to visit the elephant falls and canoe in Lak Lake. Also along the way we want to stop in Hue to see the Hue Citadel, check out the view from Hai Van Pass and see the sand dunes in Mui Ne.
• Ho Chi Minh City: We definitely want to visit the Ho Chi Minh Museum and explore Dong Khoi. Any must do’s in the city?
• Phu Quoc: We’d like to do some diving in Vietnam and were thinking of going to either Phu Quoc Island or Nha Trang.
• Vang Vieng: Even though the tubing-party-scene is dunzo, I hear there’s still tons to do like going to the Blue Lagoon, staying at the Vieng Tara Villa because it looks absolutely STUNNING, touring caves, hot air ballooning (although I’ve read about the sketchiness), kayaking, rock climbing, etc
• Luang Prabang: visit the Tat Kuang Si Waterfalls, markets, temples/wats, caves
• Motorbike through the Bolaven Plateau (thank you Ava @ Be My Travel Muse, you’ve officially convinced me!)
• Vientiene: COPE Center for a history lesson, Buddha Park.. Do you think it’s worth it? Would you recommend coming here? I’ve read many blogs/reviews saying it was somewhat underwhelming.
Peninsular Malaysia + Islands:
• Penang: We’d like to explore the streets of Penang and see the colonial architecture.
• Langkawi: I’d like to check out some of the beaches here. Any suggestions would be appreciated!
• Taman Negara: Despite the warning of insects and leeches, this place seems like an amazing place to hike for a day or two.
• Climb Mount Kinabalu (ideally without staying in the lodge)
• Sipaden Island: SCUBA Diving
• Gunung Mulu National Park: trekking, exploring caves
• Palawan: I’m absolutely DYING to go to El Nido and stay at least a week (hopefully longer). The trek out here alone is going to take a couple days but I’m sure it will be SO worth it. We also want to go on a wreck dive (maybe in Coron) and were debating seeing the underground river.
• Bohol: Chocoate Hills, visit White Island
• Luzon: Hike Mt. Pinatubo, Manila, go surfing at La Union
• Java: hiking Mount Bromo (without a tour) in Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park, hiking Kawah Ijen (blue flames). Surfing in West Java at Turtles and Cimaja
• Lombok: exploring the Gili Islands, hiking Mt. Rinjani
• Derawan Island (Borneo): diving/snorkeling with jellyfish and sea turtles!
• Bali: Surf Kuta reef; spend at least a week doing yoga in Ubud
• Sulawesi: Dive in Bunaken
Check out my Southeast Asia Pinterest Board for other sites we want to see:
We most likely won’t have time for everything on the list, but we’d love any and all tips, opinions and advice! Thank you in advance 🙂
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