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Old 01-09-2012, 06:55 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 45,512,050 times
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The ones I've been to:

Singapore - The stereotype is that it's very clean, orderly, modern. That it certainly is, but it's not completely sterile. It still has that Asian liveliness to it, with markets, ethnic enclaves.etc. It's a very green city as well, and the easiest to get around. Downtown is dominated by skyscrapers and most people live in HDB flats which they lease for 99 years from the government. It's kind of a seemingly utopian society on the surface, and people tend to get along, although you have a lot of stressed out, grouchy business types. Famous for it's hawker centres but also has a good range of fast food and western food.

Kuala Lumpur - Probably a step between Singapore and the more 'authentic' Asian cities. KL has a bit more 'grit', but still feels pretty modern, with many shopping malls and brand-name outlets. It has some excellent shopping - markets, cheap stores selling electronics etc. The food is arguably the best in Asia, with a diverse range of Malaysian, Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisine. Nightlife isn't bad, a bit less glitzy than Singapore and not as sleazy as the Thai cities.

Bangkok - Very spread out so outside the tourist precincts actually didn't feel that busy. Definitely not as sterile as Singapore, but in many ways feels modern/western with the freeway system, dominance of cars and high-rises. Thai culture still seems pretty strong, despite the influx of tourism, most people just getting along. To be honest quite an ugly city, in my opinion, and rather overrated in many ways. The street-food is probably the best out the first three cities. Nightlife is pretty good, it's not all go-go dancers, strippers and hookers, these are actually mostly confined to a few areas. The architecture, e.g. Royal Palace, Wat Arum, is pretty interesting.

Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon - Clean and modern, but definitely a very hectic, fast-paced, chaotic Asian city. Traffic is something else. Has areas of interest, like the markets, but other than that I found it a bit sterile, sort of in a communist-city way. Wide boulevards.etc. The main sites like the Post Office, Notre Damme Cathedral, Rex/Caravelle Hotel, Reunification Palace, were interesting but hardly unique.

Hanoi - Gritty, village-like, some remnants of French culture but overwhelmingly Vietnamese. Very much a city to explore - the Old Quarter is pretty interesting. Hoan Kiem lake provides a nice focal point for the city. Dirtier and grittier than HCM for sure, the palace, Ho Chi Minh's house were kind of interesting. I do like the alleyways etc that characterise the city. With the trees and gardens actually has a sort of French feel to it. Great street-food as well.

I haven't talked about the smaller cities. I've yet to visit Phnom Penh or Vientiane. They are much smaller, of course. Yangon would also be an interesting city to visit. Of the smaller cities, George Town in Penang and Hoi An are among my favourites. Charming old buildings, unique mix of cultures, the food.
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Old 01-10-2012, 08:13 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
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Hanoi is one of the very few large cities in the world I've ever actually liked. As a result, I go to very few big cities. Seoul is quite nice, Hong Kong was OK but disappointing, Bangkok never seemed like such a big city, but I didn't care for it much. Singapore was just OK. Katmandu pretty depressing, and Dhaka one of the worst places in the world.
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Old 01-10-2012, 08:53 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
Hanoi is one of the very few large cities in the world I've ever actually liked. As a result, I go to very few big cities. Seoul is quite nice, Hong Kong was OK but disappointing, Bangkok never seemed like such a big city, but I didn't care for it much. Singapore was just OK. Katmandu pretty depressing, and Dhaka one of the worst places in the world.
Yeah Bangkok is interesting. It's so spread out that nowhere was the hustle and bustle of traffic and human life all that concentrated. Maybe it was the flood, but I found much of Bangkok pretty sleepy. The only exceptions were the tourist precincts, especially at night. Ho Chi Minh, in contrast, seemed like miles and miles of activity: shops seemingly going on forever, markets everywhere, hectic motorbike-dominated traffic rumbling through the broad avenues.

Wonder why you found Hong Kong disappointing? Actually I was a tad underwhelmed by it the first time I visited it. The skyline looks great but at street-level it didn't blow me away.
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Old 01-12-2012, 01:00 AM
 
Location: City of Angels
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the tourist precincts? what parts of the city did you spend time in? bkk is just as crowded street-traffic-wise as any of the other cities on yer list. the main farang ghetto in town is lower sukhumvit but thats busy as hell so not sure what yer talkin bout. maybe you were staying in that backpacker place but thats not even central bangkok. thats like staying on staten island and saying nyc feels small.

by far the biggest city on yer list as well.
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Old 01-12-2012, 01:08 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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Originally Posted by foadi View Post
the tourist precincts? what parts of the city did you spend time in? bkk is just as crowded street-traffic-wise as any of the other cities on yer list.

by far the biggest city on yer list as well.
Stayed on Khao San Road spent a lot of time in the old city where most of the temples/pagodas are, royal palace, walked to the train station and Silom and Lumphini Park. Didn't really go on Sukhumvit road where a lot of the action probably is. Overall though, I found the hustle and bustle much more in HCM than BKK.
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Old 01-12-2012, 06:38 AM
 
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Yeah downtown BKK is far worse in terms of traffic than anywhere in Vietnam, at times it is a complete standstill except for the motorbikes.

KSR area is a nice place to stay though, they've got more and more mid-range hotels up there and is easy to get to most of the tourist sites by either just walking South or taking a water taxi. Last time we were there the next street up from KhaoSan was becoming as almost as much of a zoo in the evening, I forget name of that street.
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Old 01-12-2012, 06:40 AM
 
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Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
Katmandu pretty depressing, and Dhaka one of the worst places in the world.
I wholeheartedly agree with you on Dhaka, but please tell me about Katmandu.
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Old 01-12-2012, 08:27 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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Originally Posted by slackjaw View Post
Yeah downtown BKK is far worse in terms of traffic than anywhere in Vietnam, at times it is a complete standstill except for the motorbikes.

KSR area is a nice place to stay though, they've got more and more mid-range hotels up there and is easy to get to most of the tourist sites by either just walking South or taking a water taxi. Last time we were there the next street up from KhaoSan was becoming as almost as much of a zoo in the evening, I forget name of that street.
Have you been to Vietnam? I'm not talking traffic jams, I'm talking about how chaotic/busy the roads are. It's scary crossing the road in HCM.
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Old 01-12-2012, 08:51 AM
 
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Yes, I've been all over Vietnam. The crossing the road thing is a special challenge because of wide roads and the ratio of motorbikes, but for "hustle and bustle" downtown BKK is far more congested and busy.
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Old 01-12-2012, 09:17 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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Originally Posted by slackjaw View Post
Yes, I've been all over Vietnam. The crossing the road thing is a special challenge because of wide roads and the ratio of motorbikes, but for "hustle and bustle" downtown BKK is far more congested and busy.
I agree with the congestion. It's more of a problem in Bangkok and KL than Saigon or Hanoi. I think it's to do with the motorbikes in Vietnam - they just weave in and out. In Saigon they even use the footpaths as an 'express lane'! I also think that, since most Vietnamese don't work office jobs with regular hours, there's no 'peak hour.' It's always busy, but traffic is not funneled into certain times of the day. Pollution in Bangkok seemed pretty bad too, there was a light haze across the city. Not as bad as the Chinese cities, though. The worst I've ever seen.
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