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Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore: 5-week itinerary

A quick change of circumstances (principally leaving my job to focus on GoodBooker) allowed me to take a 5-week trip to South East Asia.

Following booking flights to Bangkok, the trip will cover northern Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore including one week in Malaysian Borneo. All of the accommodation has been booked through GoodBooker with a target price of £25 p.p.p.n, travelling as a couple (👍= on or below budget,👎= above budget). A link to each of the hotels I stayed in on my journey is included.

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Bangkok - Hanoi – Ha Long Bay –
Hoi An - Kuala Lumpur – Georgetown - 
Langkawi – Kota
Kinabalu – Kinabatangan - Sepilok - Singapore

Thailand: Bangkok

Starting a trip in Bangkok can be a chaotic experience, The Raweekanlaya Bangkok proved to be a nice escape from the city (especially after an opening trip night out). For an alternative rooftop bar to previous trips we went to Octave Rooftop Lounge and Bar on top of Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit

Vietnam: Hanoi – Ha Long Bay - Hoi An

Hanoi – Amazing bustling city with great street food and drinks

Recommendations:

  • Chopsticks great restaurant, reasonable prices
  • Train street (South of Hanoi Railway station to see a train pass through while drinking a beer)

Ha Long Bay - to explore the bay we chose a 3 day, 2 night tour with UniCharm Cruise. All food and activities are included in the price including kayaking, cycling, and hiking. The boat explored parts of the bay that were away from the normal tourist routes

Hoi An – 6 days spent here to relax, 3 nights next to the beach at Hoi An Beach Resort and 3 nights in the old town to eat, drink, shop and cycle

Things to do:

  • Tailored clothes shopping
  • Explore the stunning town on bikes (free at both hotels that we stayed)
  • Try as many restaurants as possible Morning Glory was a particular favourite
  • Hoi An Eco Cooking Class – highly recommend

Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur – Georgetown (Penang) – Langkawi – Kota Kinabalu – Kinabatangan river – Sepilok - Singapore

Georgetown - a small town with a lot of character on Penang island. Great place for food, drinks and street art; its the perfect size to explore on foot or bike

Things to do:

  • Drinks and food on Love Lane – highly recommend Holy Guacamole
  • Graffiti walks

Langkawi – beautiful, duty free island. Beaches, waterfalls and scenery are great and there is plenty to do at night with cheaper than usual drinks (for Malaysia). Recommend jumping down the rabbit hole staying at Dash ResortLangkawi for a quirky stay

Things to do:

  • Sky bridge
  • Snorkeling
  • Hire a scooter or car and explore the island

Kinabatangan River & Sepilok – next stop Borneo, to get our nature fix! With limited time we chose to spend a few days on the banks of the Kinabatangan river and 2 days visiting the sanctuaries of Sepilok. Sepilok Nature Resort was a lovely spot on a lake, 5 mins from the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre and the Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre and served up great food. Borneo Natural Sukau Bilit Resort, on the river included all food, 4 boat trips, night hikes, a visit to the local Bilit town plus transfers to/from Sepilok

Things to do:

  • Visit the animal sanctuaries, we recommend going to the Orangutan Centre for the morning and afternoon feeding sessions
  • The Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) was well worth a visit for a couple of hours – no monkeys spotted but a few hornbills and a huge scorpion

Singapore – to round our trip off we finished with 2 days exploring the metropolis of Singapore. Particular highlights were exploring the F1 track & pit lane, the light show at the Garden by the Bay, trying out as many hawker stands as possible, and drinks at Clarke Quay or Haji Lane. If the budget had stretched I’m sure a stay at Marina Bay Sands would have been amazing, if only for that rooftop pool and view!

Top overall trip tips:

  • Download the Grab app (taxi hailing) – cheap, quick to order a taxi and avoids any fare haggling! (Wi-Fi is available pretty much everywhere but if having cheap data would make booking some trips far easier)
  • Book tours and accommodation in Borneo as soon as possible – these filled up quickly and would be a huge shame to miss!!
  • Pack a steel water bottle, rain coat, mosquito repellent and a camera with a long lens for Borneo

Hotels

Location

Hotel

Nights

To budget?

Bangkok The Raweekanlaya Bangkok 2 👎
Hanoi MK Premier Boutique Hotel 3 👍
Ha Long Bay UniCharm Cruise 2 👎
Hoi An (Beach) Hoi An Beach Resort 3 👎
Hoi An (town) Bonsai Villa Hoi An 3 👍
Kuala Lumpur Corus Hotel Kuala Lumpur 2 👍
Georgetown Areca Hotel Penang 2 👎
Langkawi (1) Dash Resort Langkawi 2 👎
Langkawi (2) Shell Resort Cenang Beach Resort 2 👍
Kota Kinabalu The Palace Hotel Kota Kinabalu 1 👍
Kinabatangan Borneo Natural Sukau Bilit Resort 2 👎
Sepilok Sepilok Nature Resort 2 👎
Singapore Hotel G Singapore 2 👎

Transport

✈ Bangkok (BKK) to Hanoi (HAN)

🚌 Hanoi to Ha Long Bay return

✈ or 🚂 or 🚌 Hanoi (HAN) to Da Nang (DAD) closest airport to Hoi An

✈ Da Nang (DAD) to Kuala Lumpur (KUL)

🚂 or 🚌 Kuala Lumpur to Georgetown (Penang)

✈ or 🚢Georgetown (PEN) to Langkawi (LGK)

✈ Langkawi (LGK) to Kota Kinabalu (BKI)

✈ or 🚌 Kota Kinabalu (BKI) to Sandakan (SDK) closest to Kinabatangan & Sepilok

✈ or 🚌 Sandakan (SDK) to Kota Kinabalu (BKI)

✈ Kota Kinabalu (BKI) to Singapore (SIN)

✈ Singapore (SIN) to Bangkok (BKK)


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All photographs courtesy of James Daly

 

Jump down the rabbit hole
Dash Hotel in Langkawi
Gardens by the bay light show
Gardens by the bay light show
Close up to an Orangutan
Orangutan in Sepilok