South-East Asia trip: Overview

On our trip to South-East Asia in autumn 2017 my husband and I visited three countries – Singapore, Cambodia and Thailand. We slept in five different beds, took seven flights, and walked uncountable distances while exploring numerous cities and temples. It was another great trip, full of amazing unforgettable memories.

Itinerary:

Day 1 & 2:

First two days of our trip were dedicated to traveling. Our Singapore Airlines flight took off from Zürich in mid-day. Twelve and half hours later, we arrived to Singapore.

Merlion and Marina Bay Sands

From the airport we took a train shuttle to the centre of the city. Too early to check in to our hotel, we left our luggage there and went exploring. We strolled from Clarke Quai to the Marina Bay area, then we took a metro to Chinatown. After a casual walk around the streets of this fascinating neighbourhood, we again hopped on a metro and went to see the Little India. After a stroll through streets of another interesting Singapore neighbourhood, we returned back to our hotel in Clarke Quai area. Jet-lagged and tired from the long journey from Europe, we relaxed by the pool for the rest of the day.

Sri Veeramakaliamman temple in Little India neighbourhood

Day 3:

On third day of our trip we left Singapore for Cambodia. We flew directly to Siem Reap. After arrival to the airport, we were greeted by the hotel’s tuk-tuk driver who took us to our accommodation. After a quick dip in hotel’s gorgeous pool, we went to the centre of Siem Reap. We got lost in the streets of the town, observed the crazy party atmosphere at the Pub Street, did some shopping at the Night Market, and went for a dinner. Then we returned back to hotel to recharge batteries for the next day.

Gorgeous pink sky on our first evening in Cambodia

Day 4:

On our fourth day we explored the temples of Angkor Wat. We hired tuk-tuk driver through our hotel and he took us around the temples. We visited Pre Roup, East Mebon, Ta Som, Naek Prean, Preah Khan, and Phnom Bakheng. At Phnom Bakheng we attempted to see the sunset, but unfortunately, the weather didn’t collaborate. It was way too cloudy for us to see the spectacular sunset this place is famous for. Few hours later, we went for a dinner with friends who happened to be in Siem Reap at the same time as we.

Day 5:

Fifth day began very early in the morning as we went to see the sunrise at the Angkor Wat. We arrived to the temple in the dark, found our spot in the crowd and observed the sky got brighter and brighter, illuminating the majestic temple. Great experience!

Angkor Wat sunrise

After we saw the sun to rise over Angkor Wat, we strolled around the temple grounds. Then we went to see the Ta Prhom temple, also known as Tomb Rider temple. We both loved the scenery of trees overgrowing the buildings. After Ta Prhom, we went to see the Bayon temple, a temple with smiley faces. After lunch at one of the restaurants in Angkor complex, we returned back to our hotel where we chilled by the pool. In the afternoon, we went to the centre of the Siem Reap to observe water festival celebrations.

Bayon temple

Day 6:

Sixth day was the day we bid goodbye to Cambodia and travelled to Thailand. From Siem Reap we flew to Bangkok and from there to Chiang Mai in the northern part of Thailand. We arrived to our destination in the late afternoon. After check in to our hotel, we strolled around the neighbourhood we were staying at. We found a lovely food market where we indulged in delicious Thai Food.

Window seat view of Chiang Mai

Day 7:

We didn’t have any plans for our seventh day in Chiang Mai. After temple hopping in Siem Reap, we had enough of temples for a while and we wanted to do something different. Cooking classes we considered to attend were all fully booked for the day, so we spontaneously decide to check the Tiger Kingdom. What a mistake! We should have known better this is no rescue centre, but a horrible tourist trap. We regretted our decision to come as soon as we arrived there. Every single aspect of this establishment felt very wrong. We only saw two outer tiny cages with tigers and lions that can be seen for free. Animals inside them were way too docile and willing to sit quietly while guest tug at their tails and paws and posed for photos with them. Seeing those majestic animals living in such bad conditions and being treated without any respect broke our hearts. We saw more than enough suffering for a day and left without entering.

Loy Kratong festival decorations

Broken-hearted we then went to the Chiang Mai old town where had our first (and most delicious) pad thai in Thailand. Then we went to see some of the smaller less popular temples and had the most relaxing Thai massage. In the evening, we joined the celebrations of Loy Kratong festival in the old town. The day that started pretty bad, ended rather well.

Wat Ratchamonthian temple

Day 8:

On the eight day, we went to visit the elephant sanctuary. We were afraid the scenario of the previous day will repeat, but fortunately it didn’t. We had a great time feeding the rescued elephants, bathing and walking them. This was definitely the highlight of our trip.

Day 9:

The next day it was time to leave Chiang Mai and head to the south to spend few days on the beach. We flew to Krabi airport from where we travelled to Ao Nang by bus – it was quite an adventurous journey, but we arrived to Ao Nang safe and sound. We found our hotel, checked in, then we went out exploring the town.

Ao Nang swordfish statue

Day 10:

On the tenth day, we took a long-boat shuttle to Railay, where we spend the day relaxing at the beach.

Day 11:

Our plan for eleventh day was to visit one of the small islands off the Krabi coast, but unfortunately we slept too long, took too much time for breakfast and arrived to the pier long after the last of the longboats to those islands already left. As hiring a longboat just for two us was way too expensive, we went to Railay again.

Phra Nang beach

In the evening we went for a dinner. On our way to the restaurant we spotted fish spa and we decided to give it a try. It was super uncomfortable experience, but I’m happy we did it. Now, I won’t wonder how does it feel every time when I’ll pass such spa.

My first (and most likely last) fish spa experience

Day 12:

On the twelfth day we spent the lazy morning by the hotel’s pool, then we attended the 5-island sunset cruise around 5 islands, we booked a day before. We sailed along the dramatic Krabi coast and islands. We stopped at the few spots where we snorkelled and paddle boarded. On the last stop of the cruise we swam with the bioluminescent plankton which was really special and unique experience. The visibility on the snorkelling spots wasn’t great, but we still managed to see plenty of colourful fishes. Despite the cloudy and rainy weather, we had a nice time. Unfortunately, without the spectacular sunset this area is famous for.

My first (and most certainly not the last) paddle boarding experience

Day 13:

On the thirteenth day we left Ao Nang and returned to Singapore. For our last night we’ve treated ourselves and stayed at the famous Marina Bay Sands hotel where we enjoyed the amazing views over Singapore skyline from the infinity pool.

Marina Bay Sands infinity pool

Day 14:

After a morning workout with a view in hotel’s gym and another dip in the infinity pool, it was time leave the hotel. We left our luggage at the hotel storage and went to see the Gardens by the Bay. Then we went to the Sentosa Island. After a stroll around the island we decided to visit Universal Studios. We had a lot of fun riding all the rides and rollercoasters. Time flew by and way too soon it was time to leave. We returned to the Gardens by the Bay to see the evening light show. After, we picked our luggage and headed to the airport. Exhausted from the eventful day, we were able to sleep through the most of our flight to Zürich.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS:

I loved Singapore and Cambodia, but I must admit Thailand didn’t impressed me much. What I loved the most about Singapore was it is such an interesting blend of modern and traditional, while Cambodian temples simply blew my mind. Thailand was on the other hand nice, but I couldn’t really fell in love with it. I’m not sure why. Most likely because, the places we’ve visited were developed to the extent they had lost its authentic charm, but were still not developed enough to be achieve different kind of allure developed cities and areas usually have. Maybe we just didn’t visit the right places, I don’t know. Despite Thailand being my least favourite country from this trip, I liked it enough, I would give it another chance in the future.

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42 thoughts on “South-East Asia trip: Overview

  1. Elena says:

    Hi Urska! Amazing photos! It’s been really good to read this post. We visited Thailand last year. We’ve been to few places (Krabi one of them), and I also didn’t feel in love with the country. Maybe I’ll also give it a second chance at some point, but not any time soon 🙂 Singapore and Cambodia sound like exciting options for exploring Asia. Thank you for the post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Edwin Tan says:

    Most western tourists like Thailand and Bali. But these places are rather over commercialized. But if you go to the right places you can still find the charm in them though.

    Like

  3. AndysWorldJourneys says:

    i didnt know enough about tigers when I went to Tiger Kingdom. But now it seems obvious they must be drugged up to the max. 😦 despite that the guesthouse run by a genuine couple we stayed at recommended it. I feel pretty much ashamed that i went and partook in photos with the tigers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Urska - Slovenian Girl Abroad says:

      Oh yes, I think many tigers were drugged or must have had some brutal training. It is not natural for them to be so submissive. 😦 Sad to hear your hosts recommend it, but don’t worry, we all make mistakes. More important is, that we learn from them. 😉
      BTW, hope you’re having awesome time in India!

      Like

  4. Alison says:

    Wow, that’s a big trip! I’ve been to Singapore and I totally agree with you regarding the blend of old and new, plus Little India is amazing. I’ve heard similar comments to yours about Thailand. I think it’s been overdeveloped and become too touristy. That is so sad about Tiger Kingdom! 😦 Oh and the fish spa! Hahahaha, I’ve had one before, it is soooooo uncomfortable!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Tamara says:

    Wow, what a trip!
    The only Asian “country” I’ve visited was Singapore, and it was just a stopover on our way to Australia, but I liked it and would definitely go bak.
    Sorry about the tiger experience in Thailand, luckily the elephants, the food and the massage made up for it.
    All in all it sounds like a wonderful and unforgettable experience.

    Like

  6. Kristin says:

    I haven’t been to Thailand yet, but as I love the food so much, it is for sure on my list. I have a special place in my heart for Singapore and love to visit there whenever i can.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Urska - Slovenian Girl Abroad says:

      Thank you. 🙂 Sky wasn’t completely clear and locals said it was rather cold for this time of the year. Perhaps all this affected the colours of the sky? I don’t know. I’m just glad we got to experience sun rise over Angkor – it really is a memorable experience. 🙂

      Like

    • Urska - Slovenian Girl Abroad says:

      Yes, we had a great time in SE Asia. 🙂 Many people love Thailand, you might love it as well. 😉 I would definitely recommend Singapore and Cambodia. Even though Siem Reap is very touristy, it is a must if you want to see some amazing temples. 😉

      Like

  7. fifi + hop says:

    I appreciate your honest review as I haven’t been to any of these countries before. I do love Thai food, and wanting to visit Thailand based on that alone! But first and foremost for me would be the temples in Cambodia. Thanks for linking up with #farawayfiles

    Liked by 1 person

    • Urska - Slovenian Girl Abroad says:

      Thank you! There were things in Thailand I really liked (food, for example), but the overall impression about the country just wasn’t as good as with Cambodia or Singapore. Though, my husband loved Thailand, but wasn’t too keen on Cambodia. It’s very subjective, I guess.
      Thanks for hosting #FarawayFiles!

      Like

  8. oregongirlaroundtheworld says:

    What an amazing trip! Love the time lapse from Angkor Wat and the happy smiling faces of Bayon Temple. I have never been anywhere in this part of the world and would love to explore. You did an amazing amount! Thank you for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

    Like

  9. Clare Thomson says:

    I’m always wondering what those fish spas feel like too! What an amazing trip, Urska. I was so sad to read about the tiger experience. How awful. At least some of your other experiences on this same trip made up for that. #FarawayFiles

    Liked by 1 person

    • Urska - Slovenian Girl Abroad says:

      Thanks for your lovely comment Clare! Fish spa is such an uncomfortable ticklish feeling – I didn’t like it at all! For the tiger experience, I regret we’ve decided on it. But we’ve learn from our mistake and I’m sure we’ll double check on every animal related activity in the future. You’re right, the rest of the experiences made up for that. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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