Take a long trip: Exploring South-East Asia's Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Indonesia

2018-11-05 06:30
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Padar Island, Komodo National Park, Indonesia

South African quick guide to Indonesia (Photo: iStock)

If you’ve decided to group all your leave days together (and even take some non-paid days off) in order to take a real, long (and well-deserved) break in 2019, let us get your planning juices flowing with this long-adventure trip ideas.

We’ve done a few and have tried to highlight some of the best reasons for doing this one. If you’d like to follow along on our travels, you can do so on Instagram or over on our blog.

Long Trip: Exploring South-East Asia's Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Indonesia

Best for: A cultural exploration of the East, with beautiful and iconic site-seeing.

Overview: Now this might seem like the place to go if you have just finished high school, and you need a gap year, but there are many ways to see this enchanting part of the world, so don’t write it off as a backpacker haven only. For us as South Africans, it was a welcoming culture shock. Each of South-East Asia’s countries have their own charm, and despite being so close to each other, offer something very different. The 

Now this might seem like the place to go if you have just finished high school, and you need a gap year, but there are many ways to see this enchanting part of the world, so don’t write it off as a backpacker haven only. For us as South Africans, it was a welcoming culture shock.

Each of South-East Asia’s countries have their own charm, and despite being so close to each other, offer something very different. The chaos of Hanoi in Vietnam contrasts the secluded beaches of Thailand, and the ancient spiritual city of Siem Reap in Cambodia, so you should find an array of activities and memories waiting to be made. The beauty of this part of the world, is that it is very affordable, and not much booking has to be done in advance, so you always have the option of changing things around if you want to stay somewhere longer.

READ MORE: Quick guide to Indonesia: Visa-free travel for South Africans

Spots you have to include on your trip:

1. Ubud in Indonesia. A green oasis on the island of Bali, this small town is full of life and surrounded by rice terraces and waterfalls. A visit to the monkey forest is also good fun – just watch out for your sunglasses, as the monkeys have learned to steal them in exchange for food ;)


2. Hoi An in Vietnam. An ancient town that comes alive at night, with thousands of lanterns dotted along its streets. We like to think of it as South-East Asia’s Venice, and it might be our favourite part of Vietnam.

3. Chiang Mai in Thailand. Our favourite city in Thailand, filled with a ton of beautiful cultural temples, and an Elephant Sanctuary where you can bathe with the elephants. It also hosts the annual lantern festival, so we highly recommend visiting during this time.

READ MORE: Quick guide to Thailand: Visa free travel for South Africans

4. Gili Trawangan in Indonesia. If you have a few days to get out of Bali, then make your way to this island by boat. It’s charming and has great snorkeling. We recommend staying on the sunset side, for obvious reasons. 

5. Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Seeing the largest religious monument in the world is something you will not forget. Give yourself a day to explore all the temples in Siem Reap, and make sure to enjoy a monk blessing at the Angkor Wat temple.

READ MORE: Quick guide to Cambodia: Easy eVisa travel for South Africans
 

What to know if you go:

Where to stay: In Bali, we preferred to stay in small B&B’s called “home-stays”. A family usually has a few extra rooms on their property, and they will look after you like one of their own. For Cambodia and Vietnam, there’s many small hotels to choose from, and in Thailand you may want to spoil yourself, as this part of the world has some of the best luxury hotels money can buy (including spa facilities, and who wouldn’t want to get a Thai massage in Thailand?)

Quick tip: Rent a scooter. It may seem daunting on some of the busy roads, but it’s a great way to get around. Just remember to bargain the price when renting one, as locals inflate the fee for foreigners

Best time of year to go: Springtime. February to April is a great time to go, as temperatures are lower, and rainfall is lighter (although if you’re planning to make it to the Yeepeng Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai, this normally takes place in November).

Paperwork: South Africans can travel to Thailand for up to 30 days, Visa-free, and the same applies for Indonesia. For Vietnam, South Africans will need a Visa (apply online to get a Visa Approval Letter beforehand, and then get your Visa stamped upon arrival at the airport). For Cambodia, you can obtain a 30-day tourist Visa upon arrival.

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