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View Poll Results: What are your favorite countries for travel in Southeast Asia? (Pick up to 3)
Brunei 0 0%
Burma 1 3.33%
Cambodia 2 6.67%
East Timor 0 0%
Indonesia 8 26.67%
Laos 2 6.67%
Malaysia 6 20.00%
Phillipines 8 26.67%
Singapore 9 30.00%
Thailand 13 43.33%
Vietnam 7 23.33%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 30. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 12-31-2013, 04:00 PM
 
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Thinking about a trip to Southeast Asia and thought I'd start something to hear some more experienced travellers share their thoughts.

I've included a poll(pick up to 3 countries), but please add any comments about what you like most about those countries and what places or attractions are your favorites. Or share any amusing travel ancedotes or stories about places you've gone in the region...
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Old 12-31-2013, 06:14 PM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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I picked Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. I've been to those three plus Vietnam in SEA.

Malaysia - cultural diversity (Malay, Chinese, Indian), best food (with Thailand a very close second), most westernised/English speaking, best for nature (forests, mountains, coast, caves (e.g. Niah/Mulu)) - also best preserved national parks like Taman Negara, Kinabalu, where one can see a lot of fauna, pretty easy to get around, reasonably safe. Traffic is comparatively orderly (by Asian standards). More expensive than other parts of SEA but still pretty affordable (i.e. good hotels for $30 a night and a meal for $2 not uncommon). KL is pretty modern, has some huge shopping malls, go to Penang, Malacca for rustic charm, Ipoh, Taiping for more Chinese culture and the east coast for Malay culture. Local Bornean culture in East Malaysia.

Singapore - Clean, modern, but not boring like some make it out to be. Great food, super easy to get around (MRT), tons of shopping, attractions like Sentosa (inc Universal Studios), Marina Bay/gardens by the Bay, the zoo, Jurong Bird park, Little India, Clarke Quay, Chinatown, Bugis, Geylang.etc. Nightlife is more sophisticated and 'first' world and more expensive.

Thailand - Great food (cheap, but avoid tourist-traps), great place to just have fun, relax, and be pampered (massages). Bangkok has a lot of big shopping malls like KL, as well as a lot of familiar chains, whereas some rural areas are still very foreign. Hedonistic nightlife (and cheap sex if you're into that), although some areas are a bit sleazy. Thai architecture and culture, Thai hospitality. Buddhism is very visible, with many wats (temples) and monks in saffron robes. Good place for eco-tourism, trekking in the north. Lots of nice beaches of course. The king is greatly revered.

Vietnam - Still a newer, emerging destination. More 'intense' and less tourist-friendly, traffic is crazy (scooters and motorbikes mostly but crossing the road can be hair-raising). Very little public transit, all motorbike taxi/taxi/cyclo. Very hectic, busy, but exhilarating. You'll be hassled a lot by touts.etc. Great cheap food. Feels like a small, tropical China. Still very rural, with quaint scenes of paddy fields and old ladies in conical hats, or girls in ao dai riding bicycles. Even the villages feel busy. Top sites are Hoi An, Sapa, Cat Tien, Phong Nha-Bang Khe, Ba Be lake.etc. Hanoi old town is quite historic, as is Hue. Saigon is a big, modern city. Like China one of the most capitalist feeling countries on earth despite being technically communist. You'll see the image of Uncle Ho and the sickle and hammer everywhere. Beaches with lots of Russian tourists. Very few people speak English, even hotel staff generally speak basic English.
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Old 01-01-2014, 05:28 AM
 
Location: Eindhoven, Netherlands
10,422 posts, read 12,414,360 times
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1.Thailand
2.Philippines
3.Vietnam
4.Indonesia/Malaysia

6.Singapore
7.Laos/Cambodia

9.Burma
10.Brunei
11.East Timor
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Old 01-01-2014, 07:15 AM
 
Location: American Expat
2,189 posts, read 4,714,600 times
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Nobody can tell you...more info!!

How much you want to spend? Keep it reasonable or got lots of money to spend? What you generally like? Culture, party, or something else ?
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Old 01-01-2014, 07:58 AM
 
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia
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I'll add more for postman

Philippines - an exotic place but can be not to exotic (no Thai\Cambodian style temples, attraction mainly Spanish), not very touristy as compared to some of its neighbor and also very visible western influence mainly from the Spanish and American. Manila the capital have tonnes of huge shopping mall, though getting around can be pretty dangerous and doesn't really have that much of an attraction. Many decided to get out from the city for some of the very best beach and natural wonders like bohol padi field, mountains etc etc. Very cheap too compared to Thailand or Indonesia and is not that complicated to get around actually as many are able to communicate with you in English and are very friendly. If you are into colonial history i would advise the superbly beautiful town of Vigan, not quiet far from Manila and are very well preserved.

Indonesia - beautifully diverse country, a large sleeping giant that is known for its exotic island Bali, but definitely wouldn't be on top. Its many islands are populated by hundreds of various ethnic group so most of the islands would have its own characteristic and influence of local ethnic tribes (he arab replicas in Sumatra, tribal papua, very charaterized java and bali), also apart from Bali its not that touristic. Most of the cities are pedestrian unfriendly so getting around would mostly requires you to hire drivers to see most of its attraction. Streets are mostly chaotic and terrible, scooters and car decorate its sight unsightful and dirty street. Infrastructure wise is ok but to actually travel all around the huge country would require lot of effort since its a country mainly formed with islands, which also can be an advantage since that would mean more virgin beach around. Amazing pre-Islamic ancient temples and site are mainly in Java, surounding its cultural capital Yogyakarta and its living influence is obviously Bali. The capital Jakarta is utterly terrible chaotic city, similar to Manila it offers mainly shopping and nightlife. If you are into colonial buildings, Dutch colonials influence are very visible in Java and the capital, also Medan in Sumatra.
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Old 01-01-2014, 12:46 PM
 
Location: University City, Philadelphia
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I have been to all the countries mentioned except Vietnam, Brunei and East Timor.

For me the most interesting was Thailand, but tied for second place is Cambodia (Angkor Wat!) and Myanmar (Bagan!).
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Old 01-01-2014, 02:02 PM
 
2,845 posts, read 3,935,604 times
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Malaysia has probably the most interesting mix of peoples, foods, and cultures. It includes major numbers of the three leading Asian races (Malay, Chinese, Indian). The food scene is truly great. Singapore has a similar mix, but is too expensive IMHO (and experience).
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Old 01-01-2014, 10:55 PM
 
Location: Czech Republic
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goshio22 View Post
I'll add more for postman

Philippines - an exotic place but can be not to exotic (no Thai\Cambodian style temples, attraction mainly Spanish), not very touristy as compared to some of its neighbor and also very visible western influence mainly from the Spanish and American. Manila the capital have tonnes of huge shopping mall, though getting around can be pretty dangerous and doesn't really have that much of an attraction. Many decided to get out from the city for some of the very best beach and natural wonders like bohol padi field, mountains etc etc. Very cheap too compared to Thailand or Indonesia and is not that complicated to get around actually as many are able to communicate with you in English and are very friendly. If you are into colonial history i would advise the superbly beautiful town of Vigan, not quiet far from Manila and are very well preserved.

Indonesia - beautifully diverse country, a large sleeping giant that is known for its exotic island Bali, but definitely wouldn't be on top. Its many islands are populated by hundreds of various ethnic group so most of the islands would have its own characteristic and influence of local ethnic tribes (he arab replicas in Sumatra, tribal papua, very charaterized java and bali), also apart from Bali its not that touristic. Most of the cities are pedestrian unfriendly so getting around would mostly requires you to hire drivers to see most of its attraction. Streets are mostly chaotic and terrible, scooters and car decorate its sight unsightful and dirty street. Infrastructure wise is ok but to actually travel all around the huge country would require lot of effort since its a country mainly formed with islands, which also can be an advantage since that would mean more virgin beach around. Amazing pre-Islamic ancient temples and site are mainly in Java, surounding its cultural capital Yogyakarta and its living influence is obviously Bali. The capital Jakarta is utterly terrible chaotic city, similar to Manila it offers mainly shopping and nightlife. If you are into colonial buildings, Dutch colonials influence are very visible in Java and the capital, also Medan in Sumatra.

Yes Philippines is different because of not having temples or buddhism feel that you get from most countries in Asia. I believe it's what makes the Philippines unique.
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Old 01-02-2014, 12:25 AM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermosaa View Post
Yes Philippines is different because of not having temples or buddhism feel that you get from most countries in Asia. I believe it's what makes the Philippines unique.
Malaysia is dominated by Islam, an Abrahamic religion, but has more Chinese and Indian influence with a lot of temples. The Phils still has Chinese temples, though. Indeed isn't the oldest Chinatown in Manila?
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Old 01-02-2014, 01:50 AM
 
3,644 posts, read 9,000,180 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Postman View Post
Malaysia is dominated by Islam, an Abrahamic religion, but has more Chinese and Indian influence with a lot of temples. The Phils still has Chinese temples, though. Indeed isn't the oldest Chinatown in Manila?
Most Chinese in the Philippines are Catholic. They may still have small temples and shrines though. I know there's a big Taoist Temple in Cebu, but that's the only big one I know of
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