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Our Asia Route


map of asia

After hours of extensive planning and moments of hair pulling frustration our Asia route is complete and we couldn’t be more excited about it. As I mentioned in a previous post there were a lot of factors to consider and a lot of information to take in. One important factor to always be aware of is some safety traveling tips in Asia.

From Sushi in Japan to the Rice Terraces of China (September – November 2012)

We are starting our trip in Japan – the farthest point from home on our journey and we will be moving closer to home as the trip progresses. While all of Asia remains uncharted territory for us, by starting in Japan we should be able to gradually immerse ourselves into this foreign culture. With tales of out of this world efficient transportation this should be a great introduction into Asia. Also sushi is our favorite food, but the decision wasn’t based on that…seriously. So as not to blow our entire budget right away we have to limit ourselves to a two week long visit.

With an overnight ferry carrying passengers from Shimoneski, Japan to Busan, South Korea, this is a natural next stop. With 10 days in South Korea we will travel from the port city of Busan northward to Seoul, hopefully mastering the art of kimchi making in the process.  From there we will fly over to Beijing, China (North Korea is not on the agenda this time around).

Since China is the largest country in Asia (and one with a pricey tourist visa) we decided to dedicate 6 weeks to catch a glimpse of cities, countrysides, and national parks. Given the communication barrier I already know traveling through China will be challenging, but that’s half the fun (we hope). While we don’t plan on using a coach trip in China, I would recommend it if you struggle with the language barrier

From Pho to Laksa (December – May 2013)

Starting in China we will also begin our extensive overland travel route, which will take us through South East Asia. Our first overland border crossing will be into Vietnam. Infamous Vietnam, of which I have read many travelers’ disappointed accounts, will hopefully surprise us with some locals interactions (I’ve already got my eye on a particular couchsurfer there) and an introduction to the national dish – pho.

We will snake our way through South East Asia, traveling in an S pattern (a backwards, sideways one to be exact), from the south of Vietnam into Cambodia (where we’ll bring in the year 2013). We plan to hit both the beaches and the cultural sights (along with a volunteer elephant sanctuary in the rural countryside). From there we will hop over to Laos where I’m looking forward to some off the beaten path trekking excursions. Next stop Thailand – though no visa is required an overland crossing only grants a 14 day visit, but we will maneuver around this by flying out of Bangkok over to Burma and then back again, (air travel grants a 30 day visit).

Burma I am particular excited for, as the country has seen minimal tourists over the course of the 20th century and is said to have maintained it’s charm (unlike the tourist exploitation other SE Asia nations have fallen victim to). Back in Thailand again we will have temples to discover, islands to become scuba certified on, and numerous cooking classes to learn the secrets to Pad Thai and other delicacies. We will hopefully leave Thailand with a bang – during the Songkram festival in mid April.

A train journey will bring us to the heart of Malaysia where three weeks should be enough time to gorge myself on Laksa all day long, among other sightseeing and hiking activities. We’ll stop by Singapore for a few days where we’ll stay with Dave’s coworker’s family who will hopefully give us some insider tips into the city.

Since most of the South East Asian countries provide affordable 28 days tourist visas, and with the low prices, we plan to spend around a month in each – though the overland route allows us to add or chop a few days here and there if we happen to fall in/out of love with a particular country.

Island Hopping Through Asia (May – July 2013)

Wary of the safety record of long distance ferries in this region, we’ll fly over to Indonesia to kick off our island hopping. We’ll spend a month exploring a handful of islands before jetting off to the Philippines for three weeks where we’ll barely even get a glimpse of the 7107 islands that comprise the country. Though traveling between the islands can get expensive we are hoping to strike some Air Asia airfare deals which can significantly lower flight costs. And who knows when we’ll find ourselves in this corner of the world again, so we want to at least get a glimpse of the region.

Hopefully these discounted flights will carry us over to Taiwan for two weeks, a country I know embarrassingly little about (which I hope to change).  Last stop in part one of our Asia route will be a hotel in Hong Kong. The metropolitan modern city which will send us off into Western Europe (after extensive research there seem to be a few main hubs which provide cheap flights from Asia into Europe – Hong Kong and Bangkok being the main ones).

Mid way into July 2013 at this point, we will fly over to Europe to escape the Asian monsoons and intolerable heat/humidity. To continue along the route follow along here.

Mount Everest to the Taj Mahal (November – February 2014)

Fast forward a few months and we are now in November 2013. With our desire to trek up to Mount Everest Base Camp in mind, we will fly from London to Nepal landing right at the end of the optimal fall climbing season – mid November (2013). Six weeks of active trekking (the Annapurna Circuit will follow Everest) later we should be in stellar physical condition to take on the testing travel environment which is India. Since we’ll be landing during the best weather month of January the heat shouldn’t be too intense as we dip into both the royal palaces, temples and cities in the North, to the relaxing and more peaceful backwaters of Kerala in the South.

In India we will say farewell to Asia, and head back to complete part two of the Europe stretch (staring winter in the face for the first time in two years).

After a total of 393 days in Asia we should have enough tastes, smells, interactions, and experiences to last a lifetime but hopefully these memories will be keep us coming back for more.

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35 Responses to Our Asia Route

  1. What an extensive trip! I love that you named some legs of the journey by food 🙂 I love so many of these countries (including Vietnam), can’t wait to hear what you think about them!

    Edna June 13, 2012 at 5:09 AM Reply
    • Thanks for commenting! With food being such an important part of travel for me it was only natural to name some of the legs based on the national dishes of those countries! I love to cook and absolutely love Asian flavors so I am particular excited for all the ethnic dishes and delicacies! Great to hear that you enjoyed your time in Vietnam – with all the bad things we’ve heard we’re particular determined to have a good time there!

      Vicky June 13, 2012 at 7:52 AM Reply
  2. Love this route – it’s actually VERY similar to what Tony and I were initially planning, particularly through the China – Malaysia leg (though we’re not sure if we’ll make it to Burma). As you know, our travel plans have kind of shuffled because of our China visa situation, but we know we’ll find a way around it, likely hitting up Taiwan and the Philippines early on. I don’t know much about either of these places either EXCEPT that they look to have some GORGEOUS natural scenery and the food looks AMAZING as well.

    Question for you re: Japan – since you’re planning to take a ferry to Busan, are you going to buy that in advance, or try your luck with a one-way plane ticket into Japan and buy when you get there? I only ask because apparently airlines can be very strict about flying into Japan without proof of onward travel (though I do know some people who have done so).

    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) June 13, 2012 at 12:48 PM Reply
    • I definitely think adding Taiwan and the Philippines to the itinerary is a great idea as I too have read a ton of great things about both places. I’ve read a lot about the rice terraces outside Manila in the Philippines (Banaue rice terraces, Batad, Bontoc, Sagada) which I’m really excited for.
      In terms of onward travel from Japan, if it’s possible to buy the ferry ticket online from the US I think we’ll try to do that, especially since with Japan being so expensive we know we just can’t afford to spend more than 2 weeks there no matter how much we love it. I’ll definitely let you know what I find out though – already I’ve found that there are multiple ferry options – including both overnight and day ferries, and maybe even a fast day ferry. Hopefully at least one of those will allow us to purchase our tickets in advance so that we can avoid potential problems later on.

      Vicky June 13, 2012 at 1:02 PM Reply
      • Wow, this looks like an incredible trip. I’m going to have to follow you. I’ve spent a lot of time in South East Asia – never made it to Burma, the Phillipines or Japan though and I loved every second. I can’t wait to see your pictures! Please give Vietnam a decent amount of time, it’s a really good country to “Do stuff” in

        Izy Berry July 24, 2012 at 2:16 AM Reply
        • Thanks we keep hearing a lot about Vietnam (a lot of hate, and a lot of people saying to give it some time). Hopefully a few weeks will be enough!

          Dave and Vicky July 24, 2012 at 10:55 AM Reply
  3. I am leaving Mexico and moving to Asia in the fall and couldn’t be more excited. Your planning has given me a lot of ideas for the time I am based in Chaing Mai, Thailand.

    Jonathan Look, Jr. June 18, 2012 at 6:58 PM Reply
    • Glad to hear that our route has given you some ideas. From your site I saw that you are planning to travel for 10 years (wow!) and spend about a year in each country. I think this will be a great way to really get to know a culture, country etc. After going through the planning process even though we are allocating around a month to each country in Asia I am starting to realize that this is not even close to enough time!

      Vicky June 20, 2012 at 4:02 PM Reply
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  5. Nice itinerary! I’m glad to find Philippines here. Just send me a message before your trip here. The Pinoy Travel Blogging community will surely welcome you 🙂

    Micamyx|Senyorita July 16, 2012 at 2:06 PM Reply
    • Thanks for reaching out to us. We will definitely connect with you before we get to the Philippines – any and all advice/tips are greatly appreciated!

      Vicky July 16, 2012 at 2:28 PM Reply
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  7. Wow!! I think it is super interesting the amount of planning, and the lack of planning that different couples do. This is impressive, and I cannot even begin to imagine the amount of work you put into it… too awesome. Honestly, for us, our pre-trip planning consisted of “okay, we fly into London, let´s head up to Scotland, then book a flight to Liechstenstien (sp??) to visit friends. That should cover the first three weeks…. then what?” Although I love the spontaneity of our generally unplanned travels, there is no doubt it caused us to arrive in some places at some inopportune times (and in fact we missed the prime climbing season for EBC)… I guess my only advice would be to remain flexible… if you guys are loving Burma, and realize that you want to spend more time there, but have to cut out Taiwan… then do it, without an ounce of regret. We realized very early that you can´t see everywhere, so make the most of what you can see…

    PS. My other advice – dont miss out on Vietnam 🙂

    But I am serious, when I say…very impressed with your itinerary!!!

    Skott - Get Up & Globe July 20, 2012 at 5:33 PM Reply
    • Thanks Skott – I think it’s important to note that Vicky has a severe case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), and that’s what’s really driving this itinerary. I’m just along for the ride. 100% with you on the spontaneity aspect, you have to make time to do something totally by the seat of your pants. We’re buying our ticket into Japan and maybe a few after that out of necessity to show an exit plan, but most of this stuff is still TBD. The itinerary is there to provide the necessary structure to make sure we see the majority of the places we want and do the majority of the things we want. At the end of the day, from reading your blog, I never would have had any idea you guys didn’t have a plan.

      Dave and Vicky July 24, 2012 at 1:50 AM Reply
      • Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying this plan is a bad thing at all. The important thing I think is just to make sure you are allowing yourself the flexibility should you find yourself wanting to change the plan.

        For us, some of the most enjoyable moments were the “now where do we go?” moments. In Liechtenstein we were literally deciding between virtually every county in Western Europe. In Bangkok, we knew we wanted to get over to South and Central America, but were open to Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay, Guatemala, Costa Rica, anything really. Five days later we were on a plane.

        Regardless, this IS an outstanding itinerary and you will have a pretty damm fine Asian Adventure!!

        Skott - Get Up and Globe August 4, 2012 at 10:55 AM Reply
        • I think once we get on the road we’ll probably significantly adjust our travel itinerary – based on the places that we fall in love with or hate. With the time we have now to plan along with great internet connections available to us I wanted to do some research in advance and figure out the general places we want to see in each country and have an idea of some of the sights. Dave is actually concerned that I have not come up with a plan for each city we’ll be visiting – which I had to tell him would have been absurd! We are incredibly excited for Asia especially since we have never been so whether we follow the itinerary or not I think we should have a great time! Thanks for commenting Skott!

          Vicky August 4, 2012 at 12:17 PM Reply
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  11. A big suggestion I have for you and all new long-term travelers:

    Make peace with the fact that you won’t be able to see everything you want to see. You won’t see even close to everything you PLAN to see. You’re going to miss big things. Things that mean a lot to you. Know that. Embrace that. And remember that you have your whole lives ahead of you.

    This is a VERY ambitious itinerary and I commend you for dreaming big, but most people won’t be able to maintain traveling at this pace for this long.

    I spent six months in Southeast Asia last year (4 weeks each in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Indonesia, plus a few days each in Malaysia and Singapore and 2 months in Thailand) and I would have loved to stay even longer.

    When you start to feel the burnout just stay somewhere for awhile! Nothing wrong with that at all.

    Hope you guys have a FAB U LOUS trip! Will be watching.

    Adventurous Kate August 23, 2012 at 6:07 PM Reply
    • We’ve heard that from a lot of travelers and I have no doubt that they know what they’re talking about. At the end of the day we’re going to set our goals and whether or not we reach them is going to be a matter of how we’re feeling on the road. I’m so torn, I really just don’t know…

      Dave August 23, 2012 at 6:23 PM Reply
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  13. Your site is fantastic. I’ve been to my fair share of places in the world, hopefully many more in the near future, but your site has so much to offer I feel like I’ve been missing out until now. Good luck in your travels!

    Scott Mallon August 28, 2012 at 6:37 PM Reply
    • Thanks so much Scott! Hopefully our blog will only keep getting better and better with the travel stories we share!

      Vicky September 5, 2012 at 11:28 AM Reply
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  20. I liked the parts of Vietnam I went to. I based myself on HCMC and took myself off to towns in the Mekong Delta just by myself on the bus/ferries that the Vietnamese take. I particularly liked a little town called Ben Tre.

    I’d love to go back and do it by bike or motorbike.

    The only disappointment for me was Phu Quoc Island. The sea was gray and rough. Maybe it’s better at other times of year.

    The advice I got prior to going was that the South was friendlier than the North and less hassle by touts/over charging.

    30traveler October 27, 2012 at 6:03 AM Reply
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  23. I hope you guys are considering to visit my country, the Philippines soon. I envy you for being able to travel to many places 🙂 Must be a rewarding experience,never mind the hassles or glitches. If you come by here in my country, try our best dishes, like lechon (roast pig) and green/ripe mangoes. Whoooaa! 😀

    Ria Dancel July 7, 2013 at 10:01 AM Reply

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