South East Asia - tips

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In short Probably and deservedly the World's most popular destination for the budding traveller. Easy to get around, generally friendly and good value for money.

Also, compared to the Muslim countries and India, SE Asia is comparatively easy to get along with for women. Consequently, very few travellers have never been to Thailand or any of the even better neighbours.

Highlights Lots. Lots. Seriously, lots. Personally, I prefer to avoid the most touristy parts of Thailand and spend my time in the surrounding countries.

For "original people", Northern Laos, Yunnan (China), Burma and Sulawesi / Flores (Indonesia) are the places to go to, along with western Papua (formerly Irian Jaya), also Indonesia. Papua is truely one of the weirdest places on earth with lots of fantastically photogenic "warriors".

Further west, the Tanatoraja of Sulawesi is famous for the funeral rituals. Also, the southern Filippines (Mindanao) actually contains some pockets of interest; the T'Boli being one of them.

For ruins and monuments, South East Asia is a gem, equal to South/Central America. Bagan (Burma), Borobodur / Prambanan (Java, Indonesia) and, in particular, Angkor (Cambodia) shouldn't be missed. For "live temples", Swedagon (Yangon, Burma), Chiang Mai of Thailand and all of Luang Prabang (Laos) are close to perfect. Spend lots of time there :-)

For having a good and relaxed time, Chiang Mai (Thailand), Luang Prabang (Laos) and Ubud (Bali, Indonesia) are truly great and among the best places on easth to do nothing. Just relax, and enjoy life.

Finally, for animals, South East Asia is far behind Africa, however, a couple of true gems should be enjoyed: The Komodo dragons (lizards) of Komodo and Rinca (Indonesia) and the orange orangutans of Borneo and Sepilok. For the latter, go for epilok (Malaysian Sabah) og Bukit Lawang (Sumatra).

Check HERE for photo samples.

Slide show: From Borneo to Sulawesi.

Article: Malaysia fishing and Borneo Drinking.

Places to avoid Not really, however, Kao San may drive you crazy if you're not in "backpacker mode". Still, after six or more months away from home, you get kind of film-starved and Kao San will easily fulfil your needs - and a few beers to go.
Seasons For most of the region, the European winter is the best. The summers (May to Sept.) are often unbearable hot and/or wet. The exception is Indonesia south of the Equator, where the best season is the European summer.
Do's and don'ts Generally very relaxed everywhere. Be careful in Aceh, North Sumatra, and parts of Peninsular Malaysia where Muslim rules still apply.
Visa For most Europeans only to China, Burma, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Some of the you get on the border; the remaining ones are easy to get in Bangkok.
Value for money Excellent, although your urge to go diving, hiking and mountaineering may easily destroy any budget. Despite being much more expensive now than 30 years ago, Indonesia may still top the value-for-money list (20 USD/day is quite common), however, Burma and Cambodia are not that far behind, while Thailand is getting more expensive. Malaysia is the most expensive, but still cheap by western standards.
Others Don't worry, be happy. Apart from Peninsular Malaysia, SE Asia is likely to be the easiest part of the tropical world for single women travellers.

 

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