The Asia Jaunt: The (Initial) Itinerary

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When I announced my plan to spend seven months in Southeast Asia, most people questioned why I’d want to spend so much time there.  Honestly, there is so much that I want to see in Southeast Asia that I could stay for years!

Here are the regions that I hope to visit on the Asia Jaunt:

Part I: Bangkok

Image: Rene Erhardt

I’ll probably stay in Bangkok for about a week after I arrive, adjusting to new rhythms and enjoying the city.

Part II: Northern Thailand

Image: fullmoon@midnight

I plan to spend a day in ancient capital Ayuthaya, then visit the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai (pictured above during the Yi Peng festival), where I hope to meet up with some travel bloggers!  Using Chiang Mai as a base, I’d like to venture to smaller towns like Pai, possibly Mae Hong Son, and Chiang Rai.

Part III: Northern Laos

Image: Joffley

I’m very excited about Laos.  Though I’m likely canceling the Gibbon Experience in Bokeo Province, I might do some trekking out of Luang Prabang (pictured above).  I cannot wait to go tubing in Vang Vieng (and considering that the town is full of cafes playing Friends and Family Guy nonstop, I think I’ll stay longer than planned)!  Next is capital Vientiene.

Part IV: Southern Laos

Image: -=KuBa=-

Southern Laos isn’t nearly as touristed as Northern Laos, which is part of what attracts me to it.  I would love to visit small villages where foreigners are a rarity.  I really hope to visit Savannakhet, then use Pakse as a base to trek out to the Bolaven Plateau (pictured above) and Tat Lo, then making my way down to Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands).

Part V: Cambodia

Image: Garion88

Like in Southern Laos, I hope to see much far off the beaten path.  I’d particularly like to visit Ratanakiri Province in the far northeast, then make my way down to Kratie and Kompong Cham.  I’d also love to visit the beaches of Sihanoukville, Kep and Kampot.

No matter what, I’ll be visiting Phnom Penh, Battambang and Siep Reap, seeing the temples of Angkor (pictured above)!

After Cambodia, I’m returning to Bangkok to meet up with several of my travel blogger friends around New Year’s!

Part VI: Northern and Central Vietnam

Image: mr clearview

After getting a cheap flight from Bangkok to Hanoi, I plan to take trips to Halong Bay (pictured above) and Sapa, home to hill tribes.  After returning to Hanoi, I set off to central Vietnam cities Hue and Hoi An.

Part VII: Southern Vietnam

Image: mr clearview

In the South, I will visit beach party town Nha Trang, inland nature paradise Da Lat, and the lesser-known beaches of Mui Ne (pictured above), ending in Ho Chi Minh City.

Part VIII: Southern Thailand

Image: flydime

The Full Moon Party is the one event I will not allow myself to miss!  I’ll be on Ko Phangan around that time.  It will be the low season on that side of the peninsula, so I’ll then make my way to the Andaman Coast, where I hope to sail around Ko Phi Phi and other islands, spending more time at Krabi (pictured above) or on Ko Lanta.

Below, check out the Full Moon Party:

Part IX: Malaysia

Image: khairilfz

Straight from the beaches of Thailand, I’ll make my way to the exotic island of Penang (pictured above), then head for the hills and tea plantations in the Cameron Highlands.  The great city of Kuala Lumpur is next.

Kuala Lumpur is the main hub for discount airline Air Asia, so I plan to use it as a base.  During one of my visits to KL, I’ll visit Melaka as well.

Part X: Sri Lanka

Image: robysaltori

Sri Lanka has captivated me for so long, and I’m so glad to finally visit!  After arriving in Colombo — or, more likely, Negombo — I’ll visit Anaradhapura and Polonnaruwa in the Cultural Triangle, then the hill town of Kandy.  I may drop by Adam’s Peak and Ella, then hit the south: Galle and the beaches of Unawatuna (pictured above), then returning to Colombo.

Part XI: The Philippines

Image: Storm Crypt

The Philippines has three parts for me: city, mountains, and beach.  The city is Manila, then I’ll leave to visit the Cordillera in the far north: the rice terraces of Banaue (pictured above) as well as the chilled out town of Sagada.  After returning to Manila, I’ll hit legendary party island Boracay.  After seeing pictures of it, I knew I had to go!  With visa restrictions, I’m limited to three weeks in the country.

Part XII: Singapore

Image: williamcho

Singapore will probably be limited to just a few days, since it’s pricier than anywhere else I’m visiting.  But who knows?  Maybe the city-state will enchant me into staying longer!

Part XIII: Bali

Image: apla kai omorfa

Ah, Bali.  Of course, I have to visit the most touristed areas of Kuta, Legian and/or Seminyak, and the inland town of Ubud as well.  I’d like to see Lovina on the north coast if I have time.  And Lombok, the island east of Bali, has much I’d like to see as well: particularly Senggigi and the Gili Islands.

Next, I return to Bangkok once again to catch my flight home, and likely buy souvenirs for family and friends.

Part XIV: Korea

Image: bryanh

I’m flying KoreanAir, so why not build in a five-day layover?  I’ll visit Seoul, the DMZ, and possibly Busan.

From Seoul I return to New York…just in time to hit Vegas with my girlfriends!

The one thing of which I am certain?  This itinerary will change.  A lot.

One of the following will likely happen:

  • This pace may turn out to be too fast for me.
  • I might fall in love with a destination and want to stay longer.
  • I might get a cool job or volunteering opportunity.
  • I might meet some fun people I want to join…or a guy.  (This freaks me out.)

Of all the legs, I’m probably most likely to cut the Philippines, but we’ll see what happens.

So…if my itinerary is insane, now is the time to tell me so, readers!  What do you think?

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51 thoughts on “The Asia Jaunt: The (Initial) Itinerary”

  1. Looks like a great list. I wouldn´t worry about you packing too much in. Strikes me as 7 months is plenty of time for this trip. Envious of it — and might just meet you somewhere over there in 2011.

  2. Kate, I am so flipping excited for you. I know this is going to be an amazing 7 months, and I’m eager to see your pictures and read all the tales that are sure to happen! It sounds like a lot of stops, but it also sounds like you have a good idea of where to make cuts if you need to, and I’m sure spread out over 7 months, it’s probably plenty to keep you busy but not wear you out. I hope that you enjoy every bit of it and if you feel compelled to stay somewhere longer, that you do just that.


    1. Thanks so much, Shannon! Traveling solo is always a great chance to learn about yourself, and I hope to learn what style of long-term traveling style works for me…at this point in my life, anyway!

  3. What a fantastic trip, just reading of all the places you are visiting makes me want to see them all again. Enjoy!

  4. Sounds really good! With an average of two weeks per part, I think 7 months is a comfortable time to move along those places. Just be flexible and let things flow as you see fit and as the moment calls. How exciting! Looking forward to read your posts on the road! 🙂

  5. I feel sick with jealousy at this trip. I can’t understand why anyone would question you spending seven months there. I question myself daily as to why I am not living there. My favourite place in the world to travel. If you’re up for it, I’d hike Mount Fansipan in Sapa- an incredible, yet taxing experience. And try to fit in Koh Lipi on your way down to Malaysia in Thailand. Beautiful

  6. That is one packed itinerary! I’m so excited for you… I love that feeling when you know you’re about to do something that’s going to change your life entirely, and I know you have to be feeling that!

  7. Seven months eh? That’s amazing. Since you’ll be on the road for so long, your plan will certainly change a lot. Actually I’m pretty convinced that you’ll be gone longer than seven months and you’ll likely will have to change the flight. Seven months is a long time and who knows what will happen. Too bad you won’t be coming up to China. Where are you going to be January and February? I’ll be in Thailand and Vietnam.

    1. That’s crazy, Mike — I’m going to be in Thailand and Vietnam as well! Thailand for New Year’s, the Vietnam, then Southern Thailand…or maybe I’ll reverse Southern Thailand and Vietnam…

      Sadly, the flight is pretty much immutable, since I need to be home for a wedding, but the plan is to continue a life abroad! (Though I’m getting a bit scared about it, since ads are not coming in as fast as they did in September…time to create more sites!)

      1. I was supposed to be in Thailand as well for NYE but flights from where I am are a bit expensive. Not happy about that. Little sad really. Sounds like I’m meeting you on the road though at some point.

        Ah fair enough. Well you’ll figure it out. Keep doing what you’re doing and it’ll fall into place. Once the trip starts, thats when the traffic will really hit.

  8. I like that you planned the fact that you might just unplan every now and then. Dreamy Thailand! I hope you’ll have a nice time in modern cities in Malaysia and Singapour. Enjoy your trip, and please share everything with us 🙂

  9. 1 word only: jealousy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Haha, actually I’m BEYOND excited for you. Don’t listen to anyone else and just follow your wanderlust. Have the best freaking time ever.

  10. Wonderful itinerary! I would love to be able to go to Southeast Asia and be able to really take it all in. I just went to Asia for the first time to Bali for my pseudo-honeymoon. I loved it. I have more than enough posts about it on my blog. Granted mine was a very different trip than what yours will be. I’m hoping to find a way to go to SE Asia next year, so I will definitely be following your posts. Have a great trip!

  11. This is going to be epic! Can’t wait to read your updates from the road! Congrats again on taking the plunge. Thailand in particular looks completely amazing, you are going to have so much fun! I would be remiss in friend duties if I didn’t also say be careful, since we all want you in one piece after your fabulous journey.

    I am sad that the Gibbon Experience isn’t making the cut, I was so excited on your behalf for that! Was it because of the rainy season and the potential leeches?

    1. Thanks so much, Amy!

      I know, I was disappointed about the Gibbon Experience, too! It’s just that I’m going to be there in November, which will be very rainy, and after talking to a few people who did it during the rainy season, I don’t think it’s worth it. They had to throw out a lot of their clothes because they got so muddy, and there were rats scampering around their sleeping area at night. Eek!

  12. Ahhh Kate, I’m so excited for you! Your itinerary sounds awesome. But it’s good that you’ve acknowledged that it will probably change into something completely different along the way.

    I can’t wait to read about your adventures! Judging from all the places you’re hoping to go, it’s going to be amazing!

  13. Epic epic epic. I’m currently dying, DYING, of jealousy pangs. You’re going to adore Laos no doubt, it was my favourite part of my SE Asia trip. Tubing is the funnest thing in the entire world. The funnest. I went eight times, was like the old lady of the river by the time I finally took myself by the ear and dragged myself out of Vang Vieng.

    I did the Gibbon Experience and loved it, but they’re kind of disorganised and a lot of people I met bore the brunt of that – it’s quite a bit of cash for something hit or miss. And worse in the rainy season!

    Have a wonderful time, can’t wait to read all about!

  14. Haha – question you why you’d spend so much time in SEA? They’ve obviously never been – you’ll love it – but I’d be surprised if you make it all the way thru your itineary in only 7 months. Keep an eye on the weather and school holidays- like you don’t want to be in Bali during the Australian school holidays – and we had a great Xmas in Hanoi one year – but it was cold and too much snow to get to Sapa!

    Make sure you get off the beaten track – don’t stick with the “tourist” buses in Vietnam particularly – go on the local trains instead – you’re meet locals not other backpackers! I loved Laos – but skipped Vang Vieng because tubing is pretty easy to do most places in the world – and its quite expensive because of the silly prices backpackers pay (seriously true!)

    Have an awesome trip

  15. Amazing itinerary – I’m incredibly jealous. I’m starting in NZ in November and figuring it out from there, so I may follow in your foot steps eventually. Really looking forward to hearing all about it!



  16. Sounds like you’ve really thought this one out! So exciting to have such a tentative plan for 7 months – I’m sure it’ll be a blast.

    My plans are up in the air – sounds like we’ll have the chance to meet up in BKK at the very least. I don’t think I’ll be 7 months in SE Asia and am considering heading straight out of BKK to the South … whichever side is less prone to the monsoons.

  17. You’re definitely going to love tubing. Don’t forget about Koh Tao, it’s one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Ko Phangan is more a party place, nice to party on Phangan then retire to Koh Toa.

    Just a thought!

  18. You forgot Shanghai and Beijing. You have got to go to these places. And Ulaan Baatar. Nepal an/dor Tibet

    I think too many Americans forget about Mongolia.

    They all head to the same places in SE Asia. You gotta see the exotic. If you want really out there, I’d suggest Myanmar. Everything else has become a bit cliche

        1. I don’t know what country you’re from Christina but I can tell you for a fact that it does NOT cost $20 for a visa into China. It is $140 and you MUST get it at the country of residence. This is for all Americans. A visa approval process must be completed IN the United States for Americans and most other nations as well.

          I’m going to have to defend Kate… Mongolia is actually free for Americans while all other nations pay however it’s a bit out of the way from where Kate’s other destinations are. Burma is on another level for political and personal reasons for many so expecting many people to put it on their list is hard to come by even for the most seasonal traveler. Next, most of the world has been discovered. There’s no right or wrong way to travel so if SE Asia is what she wants, then it will be. I’m in China right now and I have actually seen more Americans than most other foreigners working and traveling here. Not as many backpackers in general in China than SE Asia. Still though, equally as amazing no matter where you go.

  19. Having never been to SE Asia – how is the language barrier for an English-only speaker? I’m certainly willing to do my best to pick up as many phrases as possible – but just wondering what level of language you experienced travellers have and how you think I’d find it?



    1. I speak a very little Bahasa which covers Indonesia and Malaysia – but no khmer, Vietnamese or Thai (they are tonal and difficult) -I am also illiterate in Khmer and Thai. Frankly the level of English in all these countries is astoundingly good – but it helps to bring the right attitude and patience – a lot of tourists think they are being misled when they are just being misunderstood – learn to speak slow, clear and simple English – you will do fine. I try to learn the basics: please, thank you, hello, goodbye, more beer!

    2. you can get by anywhere with just English. No Language Barrier from India all the way east to China. You only need the local language if you really want to learn about the culture, do business, and go to really rural areas out of the way. If you are here for just tourism, no need.

    3. Thanks Lissie and Christina! I’ve just booked the first let of my trip (Chicago->Auckland) for 1 month from today! I’m sure I’ll eventually make my way up SE Asia as well – glad to know that the language won’t keep it from being an amazing experience 🙂


  20. Looks like a great itinerary. I’m getting really excited about Asia and hope to go there soon. Really want to take myself out of my comfort zone, and I think Asia will do just that.

  21. Wow. Seven months & you’re seeing all that? I’m impressed. I’ve been in Southeast Asia for 7 months & I’ve managed to hit only 5 countries and 2 of those countries (Taiwan & Singapore) are just itty, bitty countries. I’m a slacker. Can’t wait to see you in Chiang Mai!

  22. Awesome itinerary… very jealous! We’re desperate to get to a full moon party at some point and get stuck into those buckets!

    As carlajune says, don’t skip the Philippines. If possible, spend less time in Manila and get over to the islands of Cebu and Bohol. Both are beautiful places!

  23. i think that this is fantastic..just reading through some entries, really stirring up debate !
    I just got back from a short trip staying with a mate in Phuket..scuba diving off Phi PhI Island, did my open water with my friend Matty, ex navy diver working out of Karron Beach…knows his stuff and the Island. I only had time for 9 days but had a ball. Absolutely love the place and will follow your adventure for ideas..I i would think old Burma would very interesting with the British influence of architecture lost in time..Cambodia and Laos, Vietnam it’s an amazing place!

    good luck and don’t hook up with a bloke!! you’ll meet some one at the wedding haha

  24. Just seen your comment about this itinerary changing a lot. I never made it to a full moon party either. But I had a friend who was in Thailand at the same time and all she seemed to do was party. Our holiday photos definitely looked more interesting. I recommend you give Malaysia another go. I found it much more chilled out and much less touristy than Thailand – and Tioman was paradise.

  25. Great article. We are about to embark on 6 months around SE Asia and trying to get some idea of a good itinerary. I’m sure a lot of it will change once we hit the ground. Definitely keen to check out some of those cheap south Cambodian beaches 🙂
    Top 5 in Asia for you? or at least the second favourite place, you spent time in?

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