Planning my upcoming trip: 5 months in SE Asia

My upcoming trip to South East Asia is one that I have been dreaming of for many years and the stars have finally aligned to make this happen. I have taken many trips around the world so far but this one is going to be different from any other trip that I have taken thus far. How do you ask? Well this time around I am only going to make general plans such as key places I would like to see and do versus planing a pretty strict itinerary as in the past. I have found that the more time you have to take a trip the better the experience because when you have a tight schedule for your trip it becomes more of a job than a vacation and who wants that!?

I plan on just picking out key sights in each country that I want to see but ultimately keeping my schedule up in the air day by day. I have only booked my first 4 days upon arrival in Bangkok at a hostel and then I will decide on the ground which direction to go. I plan on visiting all the key countries on the banana pancake trail along with getting off the trail as well. Here is the breakdown of my trip and what I plan to do while visiting each country.

China

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Yu Gardens, Shanghai
I only have a short 7 hour layover so I don’t have much time to explore the city. After doing a little research I found that I can leave the airport without having to get a visa for up to 72 hours as long as I have a connecting flight out. Check here to see you qualify.

Shanghai

  • The Bund- this waterside park has amazing views of the city and it’s a top site in the city. I’m hoping to get some great pictures of the city here!
  • Yu Garden- this Ming Dynasty botanical garden houses amazing period architecture and ponds that are supposed to be breathtaking. Hoping to see the amazing structures and get some great pictures here too.

Thailand

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The Coastline, Thailand
Bangkok- I already prearranged 4 days a hostel in the city and I have no idea if I will extend there or move on at the end of the 4 days. I guess it depends on how much I see in those days.

  • Buddhist Temples of Old Bangkok- I plan spending a couple of day exploring the temples in this area and snapping some pictures of it all.
  • Jim Thompson House- This American Ex-Pat’s house is an amazing home turned museum. Apparently it is a must see place in the city so I will go see what all the fuss is about.
  • Grand Palace & Emerald Buddha- The Wat Phra Kaew is the most revered temple in all of Thailand and houses the giant emerald Buddha. This is a cultural icon and a must see so off I go!
  • Floating Market- There are a few floating market’s in and around Bangkok so I want to visit a one or two and to capture it.

Chiang Mai- Here I plan seeing some sights and exploring the local area while relaxing a bit as well. I will probably spend a week to week and a half here.

  • Eat a Hundred Year Old Egg- apparently this is a thing so obviously I am going to partake in this! Just because I like eating bizarre foods!
  • Thai Cooking Class- I want to learn how to cook local cuisine!
  • Chat with a Monk- The monks in Chiang Mai have “monk chat” where they practice their English with curious visitors.
  • Snack on Insects- The markets present another opportunity to eat bizarre foods so I most definately will partake in this!
  • Muay Thai Boxing Match- I love watching MMA so going to see a Muay Thai boxing match is at the top of my to do list!
  • Visit the Elephant Nature Park- here in this elephant rescue you can interact with the elephants and even bathe them!
  • White Temple of Chiang Rai- This pure white temple is located about 2 1/2 hours north of the Chiang Mai is this pure white temple meant to represent purity. It is quite unique so I think it is worth the trip up to it.

Explore the Islands- There are so many islands in Thailand so I will just kinda get lost along the way and see which ones I end up at but there are couple that I plan to see for sure.

  • Koh Toa
    •  apparently this is one of the best places on earth to get scuba certified. It’s around 9800 baht so cheap by american standards and it usually includes accommodation. Not a bad deal.
  • Koh Phangan
    • Full Moon Party- I want to go experience the famous full moon party where 20,000 party goers decend on the beach in the town of Haad Rin. I plan on getting here a few days early because it books up quick!

Myanmar

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Bagan Ancient City, Myanmar
I plan to fly in to the country because so far it seems to be easier that way but that can change once I get on the ground. I plan on staying here for up to three weeks but again that could change once I get on the ground.

Yangon

  • Shwedagon Pagoda- This shrine in the capital is the center of Buhhdism and gleams in gold.

Bagan

  • Bagan’s ancient kingdom- These grounds are the size of manhattan and have thousands of pagodas.

Cambodia

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Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Siem Reap

  • Hariharalaya Yoga & Meditation Retreat- I plan on spending a full week at this off the grid retreat. Going through a digital detox while spending an hour and a half morning and night meditating and doing yoga will be quite a refreshing experience.
  • Angkor wat- This is obviously a staple of Cambodia and a must see on anyone’s list when visiting. I plan on spending a couple of days exploring the grounds because it is too large to explore in one day.
  • Ride horseback- I plan on exploring the city by horseback to see secluded temples the surrounding villages.

Phnom Penh

  • Royal Palace- apparently the king still lives here so maybe I can get a selfie with him!  If not I’ll check out the throne hall and also visit the Silver Pagoda that is ajacent to it.
  • Wat Ounalom- This temple is the headquarters of Cambodian Buddhism. So I want to check this temple out especially since it is FREE.
  • Cooking Class- I really want to learn the cuisine of the country’s that I am visiting so I will take a cooking class while here.

Laos

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Kuang Si Waterfall, Luang Prabang, Laos
This country is more expensive that it neighbors but that will not hinder my plans of visiting it. I plan on spending a week to two weeks in Laos before moving on.

Vientiane

  • That Luang- This temple is the most sacred monument in the country and it’s on its national seal. Coming in at 148 feet tall this should make for great pictures.
  • Wat Si Saket- This amazing little temple is adorned with more than 6,800 different types of Buddha’s.
  • Buddha Park- With more than 200 large statues this park is quite unique and picturesque. Should be quite amazing to see and take pictures of!

Luang Prabang

I plan on spending a few days in the city which itself is UNESCO World Heritage site. I will use this city as a base camp to explore the surrounding area as well.

  • Explore the city- this city is full of french architecture and the highlight of the country.
  • Kuang Si Waterfall- This is hailed as one of the nicest waterfalls in all of Asia. Naturally one should go and see it.
  • Pak Ou Caves- These limestone caves are filled with thousands of Buddha images and sits 15 meters above the Mekong River about 2 1/2 hours north by boat.
  • Phu Si Hill- I want to climb this hill and watch the sun set over the Mekong Delta. The panoramic views should be quite incredible.

Huay Xai

  • Slow boat up the Mekong- I plan to take the 2 day slow boat down the Mekong river to Luang Prabang. This is how backpackers have gone up the river for decades so I want to keep the experience alive.

Vietnam

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Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
I plan on buying a moped in Hanoi and riding it south for several weeks making stops along my way to Ho Chi Minh city. This should be one epic adventure by moped!

  • Ha Long Bay- I will spend a couple of days by boat in this famous bay snorkeling and exploring the area.
  • Cu Chi tunnels- these tunnels were used during the Vietnam war by the Viêt Cong and it immerses you into how brutal the fighting conditions were. Also I hear they let you fire AK-47s in the tunnels to really allow you to feel what it was like fighting in them.
  • Tour the Mekong Delta- I plan on spending a few days exploring the beautiful scenery and surrounding villages.
  • Explore Hanoi- I plan on seeing the highlights of the city and get lost in the streets for a few days before moving on by moped south.
  • Explore Hi Chi Minh- I plan to spend a few days here exploring the country’s largest city and spending some time in the Ben Thanh Market.
  • Hoi An-  Here I plan to relax for an uspecified amount of time and see the famous historical homes.
  • Phong Nha-Ke Bang- I hear that he caves here are stunning. It also has Hang Son Doong cave which is said to be the largest cave in the world and its beauty is awe inspiring. Obviously I must visit this cave!

Malaysia

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Cameron Highlands

Located 130 miles north of Kuala Lumpur and is the highest region in mainland Malaysia. This cool lush green highland is a welcomed break from the busy city centers and offers plenty of outdoor activities.

  • Visit a Tea Plantation- As the tea capital of Malaysia this should be a nice relaxing opportunity to see the start to finish operation on a the plantation.
  • Visit a Butterfly Farm- Not quite sure what you do on a butterfly farm but it sounds interesting and worth a visit!
  • Climb Gunung Brinchang- At the top you get panaromic views of all of the cameron highlands which should be an amazing opportunity for pictures.
  • Do Some Jungle Trekking- With 14 jungle routes heading out of Tanah Rata there will be plenty of opportunity for some adventures!
  • Robinson Waterfalls- I’ll use trail number 9 to reach these serine falls.

Kuala Lumpur

  • The Petronas Twin Towers- These towers have a connecting bridge that is 1,500 feet in the air! It’s an iconic spot in the capital city that I’ll have to visit.
  • Visit Sri Mahamariaman- This Hindu temple sits on the edge of Chinatown and is the country’s oldest temple.
  • Go up Menara Kuala Lumpur- As the world’s fifth largest building the sights at the top should be quite amazing!
  • Batu Caves- These huge caves house a giant Murugan Statue and the caves themselves are supposed to be quite magnificent.

Singapore

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Gardens by the bay, Singapore
  • Thian Hock Keng Temple- This is a gorgeous temple built by the best craftsmen of the day with the best materials around in 1840. This will be a great opportunity for some photo ops!
  • Tiger Sky Tower- I’ll head out to the Island of Sentosa to see this tower that comes in at 450 feet and while there hit up the Underwater World Aquarium.
  • Explore Chinatown- While exploring the area I will stop by the Sri Mariamman Temple.
  • MacRitchie Reservoir Park- I want to visit this little piece of nature in the middle of the urban sprawl. The treetop hiking path should be quite the experience!
  • Garden’s by the  Bay- These magnificent gardens in the heart of Singapore are stunning and cannot be missed. Plus they make for great photos!

Indonesia

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Komodo National Park, Indonesia
This country and its 13,000 islands will make a great escape from the mainland of Asia. I hope to spend several weeks to a month exploring all it has to offer.

  • Ubud Monkey Forest- On the island Bali, this nature preserve house an amazing temple complex so it will make a great day trip while staying on the island.
  • Komodo National Park- As the only place in the world where you can see wild Komodo Dragon lizards I must go and see this! Obviously take some rad pictures as well!
  • Jakarta- As the capital and largest city in the country I will spend a few days exploring it and especially the old quarters architecture.
  • Explore Hindi Prambanan- This magnificent shrine stands at 150 feet and makes for great pics!
  • See the orangutan’s in Sumatra- As these animals are gravely endangered I want to see them before it is to late.
  • Relax in Bali- I want to spend a few days relaxing and surfing in this famous destination.

Final Thoughts: Did this Inspire you?

I have been waiting a long time to take this trip and wanted to share this excitement with everyone. I do want to stress that this is not a guide or anything but rather my ideas of where and what I want to do written down. I still have to figure out the what route I am taking to each country and what exactly I will be doing. For the most part though I will be freestyle traveling for the duration of my trip. So pretty much I will just go where my heart desires and hope I hit these wonderful places along the way.  I find that the best adventures are the ones that are not planned. My goal of sharing this with you was to inspire you to get out there and follow your dreams and explore the world. Whether it be for a weekend, a week, a month or longer go out and explore the world and share it with all you encounter!

Also, be sure you checkout my travel gear page to stock up before your trip! Everything I posted I personally use while traveling.

Disclaimer: All photos courtesy of google images. 

If you have any questions or comments please share below!

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