We were asked a question this morning; about where we would recommend visiting for a month in Asia. Specifically Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. I got so jolly carried away with my answer, surprise, surprise! James suggested I turn it into a post. So here are our top places for a month in Asia.
Bangkok is an absolute must, at least 5 days here because the wats and the Grand Palace are fantastic. From there you can take a day trip to the wonderful Ayutthaya either as an arranged day trip or just catch the train up there and get a tour from a local tuk tuk driver. If you love history and ruins and are planning to go to Siem Reap in Cambodia this is fascinating to see and compare. You could also do a day trip to Amphawa floating markets.
When you are in Bangkok stay in a hotel on the river as there is so much going on along the river. If the budget allows the Shangri La or the Ramada Riverside are stunning. The public transport boats along the river are cheap and efficient and we loved travelling on them to the sights. Also for a birthday we did a dinner trip up the river on a rice barge and that was gorgeous seeing the temples at night.
Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai
After Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second city is a must see, smaller and moated and wonderful to walk around. From there do go up to Chiang Rai we absolutely loved the new temples they are building here, the White Temple is one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen.
Not sure what to say about the islands as many of them are overrun with tourists now. We loved Ko PhiPhi, when we went after the tsunami. It was mostly rebuilt but still quiet but I am now told it is very touristy. James’ take is, head for Krabi there are quite a few nice resorts on the mainland or if you want a more “wooden cabin by the beach experience” Koh Jum is worth looking at and an easy ferry ride away.
Cambodia we love but I would only recommend going to Siem Reap, if time’s short. You have to go out the Angkor Wat and the other temples, they are absolutely fantastic. You buy a pass which covers all of them for one, three, seven or ten days. One day is not long enough to see the temples, we would recommend at least three. All the hotels have tame tuk tuk drivers or taxi drivers to take you out there. The first day we did the inner circle, then the next day the outer circle. On the third day we got there for sunrise over Angkor Wat, it was so worth the early start!
Make sure you stay in a hotel in town so you can walk to Pub Street where all the restaurants, bars and shops are. Ideally stay along the river but in town definitely. We love Siem Reap, and the food and 50c ice cold beers are FABULOUS! Don’t normally rave about museums but the one there is excellent and explains the history very well.
We spent some time in Phnom Penh and got quite bored after a few days. Do not even think about visiting the coast line it is pretty hideous.
Hanoi and Halong Bay
Now in Vietnam we haven’t visited Ho Chi Minh and Sapa so we can’t comment about those. We have been told Ho Chi Min is extremely busy and that was enough to turn us off. We went to Hanoi and that was enough bustle for us and quite interesting and a great jumping off point for visiting Halong Bay.
James and I differ over Halong Bay. He loved Cat Ba Island (big island in Halong Bay) thought it was more real and less touristy whilst still beautiful. I utterly adored the luxury of a junk on Halong Bay we spent my 50th Birthday on the Halong Violet and it was exquisite and I would thorough recommend it for a romantic treat.
We did a two night cruise and on our day on Halong Bay we were taken onto a day boat and out to visit floating villages and did some kayaking. The food on both boats was to die for and the ratio of staff to guests was something like 20 staff to 12 guests. And really by Aussie standards not that expensive. Halong Bay is one of the most stunning places I have ever seen so which ever way you choose to do it you will love it. But do be warned cheaper boats tend to be party animal boats.
Tam Coc or Ninh Binh
Another place we loved was Tam Coc, sometimes known as Ninh Binh, this is like an inland Halong Bay. We had a wonderful day being rowed along the waterways by the local using their feet!
Hoi An on the coast is another must see. Beautiful old UNESCO listed village, you either want to stay right in town in a hotel or right outside on the beach, not half way! We made this mistake and it was a bore! If you like luxury beachside resorts there are quite a few excellent ones near here on the coast. You can easily travel to Hoi An for the day, all the hotels do transfers or taxis are very cheap. You can fly into Da Nang to visit Hoi An or get the train from Hanoi.
Another place we loved was Dalat up in the mountains which is a flight from Da Nang. It is the only cool place we came across in Vietnam and full of green houses growing beautiful roses and strawberries. There is a lovely Pagoda, steam train, old railway station and wonderful monastery you reach by a cable car ride here. Or you can take an easy-rider trip on a motorbike around the town, something an old biker might enjoy! But don’t be tempted by the wine it is foul! We gave it several goes!
Useful website for planning your trip rome2rio is an excellent site for planning how to get from A to B. You can select from flights, buses, trains etc. Another site is Skyscanner is excellent for flights and Agoda we found very useful for accommodation.
This is not really an itinerary for a month in Asia. It is a collection of ideas that we hope will help you to cover some of the really great places if you are planning a month in Asia.