Tips and ideas for 2.5 week trip to Asia

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Old Jan 21, 15, 3:11 pm
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Tips and ideas for 2.5 week trip to Asia

I'm looking to place a trip in the fall to Asia... but I'm having a little difficulty trying to narrow down places and ideas... and it's all a bit overwhelming.

I've got a decent about of SPG points... and have healthy balances in Marriott and Hilton (no Hyatt though unfortunately).

I would love the input of members as to ideas as to reasonable trip ideas.

Here are some I have thought up (all leaving and returning from NYC):

Japan > Hong Kong > Vietnam > Cambodia > Singapore

India > Thailand > Cambodia > Malaysia > Singapore > Bali

Japan > South Korea > Hong Kong > Bali


Do those sound nuts?

Is it best to trim it down and do less destinations and longer in each?

Or

the entire time in Australia...

India or South Africa??

Basically - i've got no idea and finding it hard to pin down.
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Old Jan 21, 15, 4:17 pm
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You could help us help you in a few ways:

1. Any general sense of what kind of trip to want? Tropical? Beach? Urban? Cultural? Some combination of two or more of these?
2. Must it all be on SPG points and other hotel points, or would you be open to spending some $$ for places outside beach resorts and big cities where hotel properties are hard to find?
3. Going alone?
4. Any specific time in the fall you plan to go? Weather can be quite different early and late in the fall, to the point where it can and possibly should affect your decision (particularly for resorts). For example, during the winter I'd highly recommend Thailand, but for much of the fall (as in much of SE Asia, though not Bali) it is the rainy season in much of the country.
5. How much previous travel have you done to Asia or other overseas destinations?

Whatever you do, I'd cut down your possible itineraries greatly, to a max of perhaps four or five place in one or two countries.

To help you start, here is a good site that provides monthly temp/rain averages for many places across the globe. Scroll across the numbers at the tops of the bars in the tables to convert centigrade to fahrenheit and mm to inches:

http://www.worldclimateguide.co.uk/

Having said all this, I'd say Japan is a fascinating culture and destination, with good Starwood properties in Tokyo (where there is a good Conrad Hilton), Kyoto and Hiroshima. And Bali could be a good, culturally interesting tropical destination with a variety of SPG choices and a very good Conrad - though better earlier in the fall before moving into the rainy season, and you'd need to spend some $$ inland in non-chain hotels to get a good feel for the culture and island, and don't expect great beaches.

Hong Kong is worth at least a few days as it is an interesting, scenic, diverse city, with a beautiful harbor dotted with islands and ferries.

If you can go really late in the fall, SE Asia becomes more of a worthwhile destination, weatherwise (and better for Hong Kong also), for the combo of culture and tropics, and also because the cost in SPG points or $$ is less than most other regions. Lots of good properties in Thailand, though Le Meridien in Siem Reap, Cambodia would be a great base for exploring the ancient temples there and my single favorite SE Asian destination is the beautifully and uniquely located Andaman Langkawi (in Malaysia), on the edge of both a jungle and a gorgeous bay, with lots of wildlife to explore. Again, check out the climate website to get a better idea of what to expect, weather-wise.

You'd gone farther afield than Asia, mentioning Australia and S. Africa. Australia would be the single easiest place to go if you don't have much overseas travel experience, with Sydney being one of the greatest, most beautiful places in the world and some SPG options in several places in the country. S. Africa is fascinating and beautiful, but I believe fewer SPG options and you have to keep your wits about you more at night (though it's well worth the trip).
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Old Jan 22, 15, 2:04 am
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Originally Posted by Thunderroad View Post
You could help us help you in a few ways:
1. Any general sense of what kind of trip to want? Tropical? Beach? Urban? Cultural? Some combination of two or more of these?
2. Must it all be on SPG points and other hotel points, or would you be open to spending some $$ for places outside beach resorts and big cities where hotel properties are hard to find?
3. Going alone?
4. Any specific time in the fall you plan to go? Weather can be quite different early and late in the fall, to the point where it can and possibly should affect your decision (particularly for resorts). For example, during the winter I'd highly recommend Thailand, but for much of the fall (as in much of SE Asia, though not Bali) it is the rainy season in much of the country.
5. How much previous travel have you done to Asia or other overseas destinations?
Thank you for a very nice first reply... I agree, I really left it all rather open didn't I?

So to give a little more focus:

1.) Although I hear there are some lovely beaches I would say I would have to err more towards cultural and city type of trip. If there's a beach within striking distance, so much the better.

2.) I am happy to use SPG points and OneWorld miles mainly... but also happy to put in some cash in places where that's simply not practical.

3.) I'll be travelling with Mrs G who has never been to this part of the world... hence the rather scattergun approach... but I would prefer to hone this down! She has been to India for a few weeks only.

4.) Plan is to travel for the last 2.5 weeks of November up to and including Thanksgiving 2015. Hows the weather then?

5.) Only previous Asia travel was Beijing and Shanghai which I loved... and that was for 10 days in total.
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Old Jan 23, 15, 6:54 pm
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I would definitely encourage you to visit Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan and Hong Kong if you've never really visited the APAC region extensively before. A good mix of lots of culture and cityscapes at all of those locations.

Travellers often find Singapore a bit sterile and soulless, and personally I liken the feel of the city to more to a Western country than anywhere in Asia.

Also depending on the dates you plan to travel, keep in mind Bali can be inundated with Westerners (Aussies) during Western vacation periods and school holidays.

Between November and Thanksgiving the weather should be ok, but expect there to be a few tropical rainstorms in all of your destinations as monsoon season begins.
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Old Jan 23, 15, 10:12 pm
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For someone new to Asia, I'd broadly break down your potential destinations into four groups (apologies for those who know Asia well enough to know that I'm massively generalising):
Tropical tourist destinations: Siem Reap, Vietnam, Northern Thailand and Bangkok, etc.
Island paradises: Langkawi, Koh Samui, Langkawi, Phuket, Bali (to a degree)
The Tigers: Hong Kong, South Korea (disclaimer: never been), Singapore
Japan: Just totally different and with lots of variety in it - Tokyo, Kyoto, the countryside, the islands, etc.

One idea would be to use something like Hong Kong as a hub/ arrival point (it's preferable to Singapore, IMO) and then hit 1-3 tropical locations, selecting from the "tourist destinations" and the "island paradises". You could then round off with a few days in Japan before heading off.

In terms of specifics, my own preferences would be:
- Do come to Thailand over the likes of Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia if you only pick one of these countries. I love the place (currently writing this from Koh Samui airport)
- Japan is amazing. I'd definitely include at least Tokyo and Kyoto (with the Bullet Train imbetween) if you can
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Old Jan 24, 15, 3:48 am
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You should go to Bangkok, Hong Kong and Tokyo for sure. Lots to see, eat and do.
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Old Jan 24, 15, 6:32 am
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Don't try to do too much.

In terms of weather, Tokyo is often lovely at this time of year, with sunshine, highs of 55-60 F (no need for an outerwear coat in the afternoon), and beautiful fall leaves.

OTOH, Hong Kong can be surprisingly chilly with day after day of cold rain IME.
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Old Jan 26, 15, 10:53 am
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
Don't try to do too much.

In terms of weather, Tokyo is often lovely at this time of year, with sunshine, highs of 55-60 F (no need for an outerwear coat in the afternoon), and beautiful fall leaves.

OTOH, Hong Kong can be surprisingly chilly with day after day of cold rain IME.
Chilly......somehow true for local people like me, but definitely not for people who are used to live in Europe/US. BTW after Chinese new year the last wave of cold air should be gone.

Agree to someone mentioned about using HK as hub, lots of cheap tickets on sale all the time, flying with best airlines (CX/JL/NH/BR/QF/SQ.....these are all way better than other airlines), but of course....hotels in HK is not cheap because of mainland Chinese (strongly recommend you avoid landing HK during mid-late Feb, if you haven't book anything I'm afraid you'll have to sleep on the street :P )
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Old Jan 26, 15, 10:03 pm
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If you are into culture, do this bounce in 2.5 weeks:

1) Beijing - 3 days 2 nights (must sees - Great Wall, Forbidden City)
2) Tokyo - 3 days 2 nights (must sees - Tokyo Imperial Palace, National Museum)
3) Taipei - 3 days 2 nights (must sees - National Palace Museum, Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, Sun Yat Sen memorial Hall, Taipei 101)
4) Hong Kong - 3 days 2 nights (must sees - Victoria Harbor, The mountain PEAK, the tram)
5) Chengdu - 3 days 2 nights (must sees - Panda base, Zhuge Liang house, traditional Szechuan change-face show)

That's 15 days, I would say those are good jumps to get a taste of Chinese/Japanese culture
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Old Jan 27, 15, 1:28 pm
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Originally Posted by Cathay Boy View Post
If you are into culture, do this bounce in 2.5 weeks:

1) Beijing - 3 days 2 nights (must sees - Great Wall, Forbidden City)
2) Tokyo - 3 days 2 nights (must sees - Tokyo Imperial Palace, National Museum)
3) Taipei - 3 days 2 nights (must sees - National Palace Museum, Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, Sun Yat Sen memorial Hall, Taipei 101)
4) Hong Kong - 3 days 2 nights (must sees - Victoria Harbor, The mountain PEAK, the tram)
5) Chengdu - 3 days 2 nights (must sees - Panda base, Zhuge Liang house, traditional Szechuan change-face show)

That's 15 days, I would say those are good jumps to get a taste of Chinese/Japanese culture
With all due respect, the idea of cramming all of those places into 15 days (on a VACATION) is completely nuts.
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Old Jan 27, 15, 1:41 pm
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Originally Posted by moondog View Post
With all due respect, the idea of cramming all of those places into 15 days (on a VACATION) is completely nuts.
Not really if you are only visiting 1-2 places per day, that's how I arrange our family trips. It's not as cram as you may think.

Of course if one wants to visit 3-4 places per day, then yes, it's nuts.

But really, when I go to a city I only want to view the best highlights. For example last time I was in Beijing really all I wanted to do was Great Wall (one day), Forbidden City (one day), and squeezed in Imperial Garden that was next to Forbidden City. I went back to Beijing many years after to visit the "other places", and really, nothing special.
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Old Jan 27, 15, 1:47 pm
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Originally Posted by Cathay Boy View Post
Not really if you are only visiting 1-2 places per day, that's how I arrange our family trips. It's not as cram as you may think.

Of course if one wants to visit 3-4 places per day, then yes, it's nuts.

But really, when I go to a city I only want to view the best highlights. For example last time I was in Beijing really all I wanted to do was Great Wall (one day), Forbidden City (one day), and squeezed in Imperial Garden that was next to Forbidden City. I went back to Beijing many years after to visit the "other places", and really, nothing special.
Then you might as well join a tour group to see the highlights. If today is Tuesday, this must be Hong Kong.
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Old Jan 27, 15, 2:41 pm
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My advice? Don't use your "decent amount of SPG points" for hotel stays - use them to get to/from Asia in J/F.

On vacation? Stay at unique places (read: non-corporate-centric hotels).
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Old Jan 27, 15, 3:00 pm
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Originally Posted by pricesquire View Post
My advice? Don't use your "decent amount of SPG points" for hotel stays - use them to get to/from Asia in J/F.

On vacation? Stay at unique places (read: non-corporate-centric hotels).
I would somewhat disagree. Especially for relatively inexperienced international travelers, it can be good to use an American chain hotel in a developing country. There can be fewer problems with standards and things (like AC) working with some recourse when things go wrong, staff are more likely to speak English, and there can be higher standards of hygiene and food safety. This matters most in China (especially in Chengdu) and least in Japan of the list in post #9.
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Old Jan 27, 15, 5:20 pm
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
Then you might as well join a tour group to see the highlights. If today is Tuesday, this must be Hong Kong.
No, because tour group will wear you out with needless shopping stops, and all day schedule at pathetic restaurants. Leisure traveler don't need to out sightseeing all day long. Spend half a day, rest half a day and enjoy the hotel.
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