Planning for Travel to Southeast Asia

SE Asia, Myanmar

Schwedagon Pagoda Myanmar, photo Steve Volz

Some friends taught in Myanmar (formerly Burma) a few years ago, but we didn’t get a chance to go and visit them. They’re going back this fall, and we’re determined to take the opportunity to get there this time! So next summer, we’re off to southeast Asia.

This brings on a good news/bad news scenario for us. The good news is, we have about five weeks to spend in SE Asia. The bad news is, we can’t figure out where to go! There’s SO much to see and do in SE Asia that it’s really overwhelming. I’m not exactly complaining about this problem, of course, because it would be pretty ridiculous to complain about a five week vacation in any scenario, but as far as travel planning goes, this might be the most challenging trip we’ve ever planned.

SE Asia, travel planning

Our new giant SE Asia map!

Aside from seeing Myanmar, one of the reasons we’ve always wanted to travel in there is to do some snorkeling in what’s supposed to be one of the best underwater areas of the planet. Visiting Bali and snorkeling around the Liberty Wreck are on the list of possibilities, and so’s Semporna in Malaysian Borneo. Both of those suggestions came from our friend Miranda (author of one of our most popular posts ever) who’s been to southeast Asia 8 times!! Another possible snorkeling spot is the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia.

SE Asia, travel planning

Planning out our calendar!

Our friends want to meet us at the Green Hill Guest House in Sumatra before we meet up in Myanmar (where we might see orangutans in the wild!!), so we’ll probably be heading there. It looks beautiful and jungle-y there. Lush and green. Did I mention we might see orangutans?!?

Then just a few weeks ago, another friend now living in Singapore posted about visiting Langkawi Island, Malaysia, on her Facebook page and said it was fantastic, so now I want to add that to the list.

But then there’s Thailand and Cambodia and Laos and Vietnam and the Philippines which we haven’t even touched — all of which have so much to offer. So many choices!

We’ll keep you posted on our plans for this trip, but if you have suggestions, we’d love to hear them! Or maybe you could just plan the whole thing for us?!? Enjoy planning for your next travel adventure, whether it’s for a week or a weekend.

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5 thoughts on “Planning for Travel to Southeast Asia

  1. I am so envious. Because of work and family I cannot make it to Myanmar this Fall when our friend Janice is going. Everyone says Vietnam is amazing and I fear it will get more and more crowded as the years pass. But all your other spots sound great too. What a tough decision.

  2. Myanmar is an amazing country, you will love it! Everyone is very very friendly and the scenery is spectacular. If you’re needing inspiration for a travel route, I crossed the border from Thailand (it was much cheaper to fly in to Bangkok!) and then visited Hpa An, Bago, Yangon, Bagan, Kalaw, Inle Lake, Hsipaw, Mandalay and Naypyidaw. This took a month and I think worked really well!
    I’ve also visited Malaysian Borneo (as well as the main land), if you want any more advice! I would definitely recommend a trip to see the Orangutans! A once in a lifetime experience.
    Happy travels, all the best! 🙂

      • Certainly! 🙂 I would definitely recommend the trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake! You can do 2 or 3 days, and there’s loads of tour operators that organise these in Kalaw. The trek is a great way to see the country side, it’s spectacular seeing the lake from afar as you descend towards it. You can also have a night stay in a Monastery on the way and try some Betel Nut!
        Where you stay on Inle Lake is very budget dependent! There’s some beautiful resorts on the lake, but these are more expensive. If you’re going for budget most people stay in Nyaung Shwe, which has access to the lake and is a lovely place to stay; there’s plenty of hostels/ guest houses and nice restaurants there!
        As for activities in Inle, a day tour of the lake on a long boat is a must! Aside from that i’d recommend hiring a bike and visiting the winery and the hot springs. There’s also a ton of lovely cookery schools on the lake, most of which include an early morning trip to the market to buy ingredients.

        There’s plenty to see in Mandalay also! Everything is quite spread out though, so lots of people offer taxi/ motorbike tours to the main sights. We hired a motor trishaw with driver for 25000 MMK (aprox. $20) for the day, and i cannot recommend this enough! Our driver was called U Myint Htoo and was stationed on the corner of 37th and 82nd street (Mandalay uses a grid system), maybe he is still there, he was a great tour guide! On most tours you’ll visit Mandalay Hill, Amarapura, Sagaing, Inwa and the U Bein Bridge (ask to be at the bridge for sunset, it is beautiful!).
        My other recommendations for Mandalay would be to eat at the Shan Ma Ma buffet (Super cheap and really delicious and authentic Burmese cuisine), and to see a show by the Moustache Brothers!

        Hope this helps! If you have any more questions feel free to ask 🙂

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