South East Asia 2013
Who's on this trip?
Solo female traveller planning a last minute trip before i start my new job in jan. I have ~ 30 days. I want to go to a few places in South East Asia. I have already been to Thailand and Cambodia. Bali is a contender- where else can I go? I like outdoor adventure activities, quaint town & culture exploration, love backpacking and staying in hostels, make friends along the way.
Suggestions will be very very appreciated
Trip Plan Details
recommended Langkawido drop by one of the most beautiful island in Malaysia; beaches, waterfalls, jungle trekking for the outdoor enthusiastic. Mahsuri's Mausoleum is a local lgend where she cursed the island to seven ... read moregeneration of infetile and poverty for wrongly accused her.
recommended LombokI'll never forget swimming in the crystal-clear waters off Lombok, stepping off pillow-soft white-sand beaches into light sea-green and aquamarine waters where schools of tropical fish swam past and ... read moresea turtles floated gently by. Forget Bali -- if you want a wilder, back-to-nature experience, come to Lombok.Recommended for:Sara Benson
Indonesia would be a great next place to visit for you, and if you're going to Bali, also try to hop over to less crowded Lombok.recommended LombokFor most, the island of Lombok means little more than the Gili Islands where tourists come via fast boat from Bali for some partying, a few days on the beach, and maybe a bit of diving. Sadly, few ... read moreventure off onto the mainland itself, which boasts some of the region's best sites, including Gunung Rinjani, Indonesia's 2nd-highest volcano, and Kuta Lombok, the tiny surf town on the south coast that anchors miles and miles of amazing coastline with tourists scarce to be seen. Getting around can be a bit of a hassle, so hire a motorbike in Senggigi and drive yourself -- you'll fast discover there's much more to this beautiful island than just parties!Matthew Crompton
Moreso than Bali, Lombok is a treat.
recommended Gili IslandsThe Gili Islands, off the northwest coast of Lombok, are as near to perfect an escape as any place on earth. The tiny sandbar islands have no motorized vehicles (you have to take a boat to get there) ... read moreand have unbelievable diving. Gili Trawangan (aka Gili T) is more of the lively, party-centric, backpaker-style scene, with cool bars and places to dance at night. Gili Air and Gili Meno are more quiet and better if you are looking to get off the grid and away from it all.
recommended Luang PrabangOne of my favorite towns in the world. Arrive by slowboat down the Mekong from north Thailand and arrive to soak in the serenity. While the town has definitely become a hotspot on the backpacker ... read moretrail, it maintains a lot of its laid back charm. Wake at sunrise to watch the monks parade through the streets in bright orange robes begging for alms (rice for the day), take a boat up the river to the amazing buddah caves, or just chill out with a cold beer lao to take in the sunset over the mekong.recommended Luang PrabangLuang Prabang is unfairly identified with (and often reduced to) its now far-too-touristy dawn Buddhist almsgiving ceremony, and that's a shame. Because while the sight of monks barefoot and in orange ... read morerobes begging rice may be an interesting ritual, there's vastly more to Luang Prabang than a one-off ceremony. For starters, the ancient city is gorgeous, with lavishly-restored wooden colonial houses, many converted into excellent guesthouses. More, it's an AMAZING food city, with excellent Lao and SE Asian cuisine, but also outstanding and inventive European fare. It's got an outstanding Hmong market with great fabric-crafts, and a wonderful night food market. The hilltop temples overlooking the city are gorgeous for a sunset, and -- best of all -- the city exudes the laid-back Lao charm and hospitality. One of my favorite places in the world, and not to be missed.Matthew Crompton
As is Luang Prabang. Don't simply reduce it to the almsgiving ceremony!
commented on this trip
Basically everything that Matt recommended is what i am recommending.
recommended Kuta, LombokKuta, Lombok (please not to be confused with the eponymous town in South Bali) is the Indonesia you've been looking for and have not found -- a whole coastline of empty white-sand beaches, sheltered ... read morebays, and turquoise waters, with great surf breaks for everyone from beginners to experts. There's none of the scheming from Bali, none of the crowds and douchey backpackers from the Gilis. The locals are genuinely nice (not want-something nice) and sincerely surf-crazy, eager to share a meal or show you an out-of-the-way surf spot. An Australian newspaper recently reported on the area's long-awaited boom with an article titled, "Waiting for the Gold Rush," but for now Kuta Lombok is one of the sweetest places in the whole of Indonesia.Matthew Crompton
And Kuta Lombok might not be off the map any longer, but it's a far cry from its boozy Bali cousin. Good luck! ^_^
recommended Mt. RinjaniAs a setting for a trek, Lombok's Mt. Rinjani is nothing short of stunning. A 3726m volcano rising like a monster from the pancake flats of the island's north, the strenuous 3-day trek around the ... read morecrater rim from Senaru to Sembalun takes in forest (and monkeys!), grassland, high mountain, and a picture-perfect crater lake with a baby volcano slowly building from its center. The final push to the summit is brutal -- an hourlong climb up a very steep slope of loose scree -- but reaching the top feels amazing, and you'll be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful trek in SE Asia. As a bonus, there's a natural riverside hotsprings that feels great for a soak midway thru the second day.Matthew Crompton
One of the world's best short hikes.
- The Gibbon ExperienceBokeo Nature Preserve, Laosrecommended The Gibbon ExperienceThe ziplining adventure in the cloud forest of NW Lao's Bokeo Nature Preserve is a delight. Guided by local people (don't expect much in the way of English) you'll hike thru the forest heights, ... read morewherein you can clip in and sail across stretches of virgin jungle held in by just a climbing harness. Sleeping at night in a tree house on the edge of nowhere, and served tasty Lao food, there are few experiences in the country more memorable. Highly recommended, even if you'll likely never see those elusive gibbons.Matthew Crompton
And this is nothing short of fabulous.
recommended Muang NgoiThe tiny riverside town of Muang Ngoi (also known as Muang Ngoi Neua, or Muang Ngoi 'north', to distinguish it from the district of the same name), might just be the sweetest place in the whole of ... read moreLao, and possibly mainland SE Asia. Situated on the banks of the muddy Nam Ou river, and only accessible by boat, it's a place with no cars, internet, or electricity, save that supplied by generators from 6-10 each night. Laid-back, pastoral, supremely cheap, and incredibly beautiful, it's a great place to go tubing or kayaking on the river (not just a booze-fest like Vang Viene), hiking in surrounding countryside, or exploring the karst-limestone caves dotted around the town. Likewise, it's an amazing place to kick back in a hammock and do nothing at all. In nearly 8 continuous months on the road thruout South and Southeast Asia, Muang Ngoi remains in my top 3 favorite places: not a place to be missed.Matthew Crompton
This spot is genuinely special.
recommended LaosBeautiful, undeveloped, laid-back Laos, with its fabulously kind and welcoming folk, may just be the sweetest country in SE Asia. Each and every place I visited in the country qualified as a ... read morehighlight. It's fantastically cheap, with great food and lovely countryside, but it's the supreme goodness of its people that set it apart. Spend a week letting the slow rhythm of its rivers transform you, eating copiously and well, and talking to people who give the lie to the title of Thailand as the 'Land of Smiles': Laos is 100 times more friendly.Matthew Crompton
Hi Krishnaja! Personally, I'm not a huge fan of Bali, though there are some things to recommend it. Laos however is more than worth your time.
recommended Yangon (Rangoon)Myanmar (Burma) is one of my all-time favourite places to visit. It feels like you’ve entered a time warp straight into the ‘innocence’ of the 1950s. It’s filled with history, ancient monuments and a ... read morephotographer’s dream destination. What struck me about Burma was the people. It was so easy to chat with them. I made friends with a blanket seller on the boat and she invited me back to her house. When I was watching the sunset in Pagan, a little girl came over and gave me a butterfly brooch as a present. Here are the main places to visit for first time visitors of Myanmar Yangon Swhedagon Pagoda - The beautiful golden stupa dominates the city. This is not to be missed. Spend a morning or afternoon here, just taking in the atmosphere. Bogyoke Aung San Market - Pick up beautiful tribal weaves (they make great cushion covers) monks slippers, puppets. Mandalay Much of the old city of Mandalay was burnt down. Visit the temple on Mandalay hill. Take a boat trip from here to Pagan. There are boats geared for tourists but I took the local ferry and made friends with the Burmese passengers. A great way to travel. Pagan A plain covered with two thousand stupas and pagodas. Rent a bicycle and hop from stupa to stupa. Take your time here. The sunsets are magnificent. Spend at least 2 days here. The Burmese form of Bhuddism has evolved to include the worship of nat spirits (in short, the worship of lost souls) Look out for Nat Pwes (Nat Festivals). There are lots of kids hanging around the stupas. I always bring a whole stash of pencils / colouring pens for the kids as presents. Inle Lake Stay on the lake. When I was there, you can stay cheaply on a simple floating accommodation on the lake. These days, there are quite a few luxury options. Locals row the boats with their legs. Visit the jumping cat monastery. Sit and chat with the monk while you watch their pet cats jump Get to know the locals: You will feel out of place wearing pants here. Everyone wears a longyi and you should try wearing one too! The kids and ladies rub tanaka ( a yellow powder made of ground bark) on their faces as a natural sunblock. The patterns they make on their faces with the tanaka can be really beautiful. One advice before you go there: read up about it, especially the history. Norman Lewis wrote a very good book on Burma: Golden Earth - Travels in Burma. Mingalaba! (Hello and Goodbye in Burmese)muddy toddlers
See my review on Myanmar. I felt so safe traveling there because the people were so nice. It's really something special. It's off the beaten track.
- Uncle Tan Wildlife CampLot No. 1 Mile 14, Jalan Sepilok, Sandakan, Sabah, MALAYSIArecommended Uncle Tan Wildlife CampUncle Tan runs a reputable business of wildlife viewing trips out of thier B & B near Sandakan. Package trips take visitors from there to the the Kinabatangan River to view the wildlife from boat and ... read morehikes through the jungle. Lodging is in simple huts in the forest. The Kinabatangan is not entirely wildlife paradise. There are many pockets of secondary jungle here, but in between, massive oil palm plantations have been planted. The areas were completely logged out during the last few decades and in many places you can see the plantations from the boat. But for wildlife viewing this may actually be a good thing because the animals are pinned into narrow corridors on each side of the river and that makes them more visible from the boat trips.Stephen Bugno
Wildlife viewing on a riverboat ride is just one of the things besides snorkeling/diving, hiking, and beaches to do in Sabah.
recommended Kota KinabaluKK is a nice, modern coastal city in Sabah with excellent dining options, a great night/fish market, and an ideal jumping off point before exploring the rest of Sabah, Borneo. Also base for exploring ... read morethe nearby islands, which have some good beaches and snorkeling. Also has some good budget accommodations.Recommended for:FoodiesStephen Bugno
You could start your adventurous exploration of Sabah (Malaysian Borneo) here.
commented on this trip
Hey there! Carol Driver has a great guide to backpacking destinations...http://www.gogobot.com/off-the-beaten-track-backpacking-destinations-carol-driver. Hope that's helpful!