Where should we go in Asia?

My husband is in the Air Force, and we’ve been stationed in Okinawa for about 8 months now (we’re here for 4 years). While we’re in Asia, we want to travel around the area. We’ll probably get 6-8 trips in before we leave. What do you recommend?

Some notes:

We don’t have kids, so that makes things easier.

We’ve “roughed it” before (crappy hotels, third world countries, etc) and are fine with that. However, when we were in Peru I was mercilessly hounded by the men everywhere we went, and that bugged the shit out of me. So if I could avoid that, it would be a plus.

We’re scuba certified.

Beaches are good, but we have plenty of them here, so great beaches isn’t huge for us.

We love to hike.

We speak English and a bit of Japanese. That’s about it.

So, where would you go? Where have you been? What should we see? Thanks!

I have a bunch of friends that are currently serving in Japan. Their favorite destinations are Thailand and Vietnam. Both of those countries are absolutely beautiful. Phuket in the Philippeans is a good scuba diving destination, as well as Guam. (You could probably catch a weekend MAC filght to and from Guam fairly easily.)

Have fun and explore. Eat on the economy as much as you can.

Oh, and if you can get me a bottle of Habu Sake, let me know! :wink:

Thanks for the advice. I could get you a bottle of Habu Sake, although why anyone would want a dead snake in their liquor is beyond me. If you have a burning desire for some, though, I could arrange it.

Go on the Everest Trek in Nepal. Start in Jiri and hike all the way in. Don’t just fly to Lukla like most people do. The trek ends at Kala Patar, a great viewing point for Mt Everest. Its at about 18,000 feet. Don’t be afraid to go in winter. That’s when I was there and the weather wasn’t bad at all and you’ll have the trail to yourselves. Hire a sherpa: he’ll act as a translator, guide and porter all for a very small price. They need the work; don’t feel sorry for them.

If you really want to get off the beaten track, I can attest to Maluku, the Spice Islands of eastern Indonesia, as being a great place to visit. AMAZING diving, birdlife, wonderful, welcoming people, fascinating cultural heritage (like neolithic stone boat monuments) and no other tourists. The Banda islands in particular are known for their wonderful diving, and even snorkelling, as the water is warm, clear and shallow.

Fins magazine

Phuket is an island in Thailand, not the Philippines. usar_jag may be thinking of Boracai?

Thailand and Vietnam, first choices for beaches and scuba. Thailand is a good “in” to Asian developing countries as it’s so developed already, and has many conveniences. Vietnam is poorer but still fantastic to visit, but scary driving. Very little hassle for accompanied women in either country.

Koh Tao is the no. 1 dive spot in Thailand, though Hin Daeng near Phi Phi (off Phuket) is also fantastic. In Vietnam the diving isn’t tremendously developed, and is a trifle expensive, but I saw a few dive shops in Nha Trang and Hoi An - the latter village, by the way, is a wonderful destination.

Also, do consider China. It’s vast and perplexing and fascinating, with a pretty good infrastructure. You can get a three month visa over the counter in Hong Kong, and lose yourself in the country on the trains.

And as Mangosteen says, if you want to travel a lot further west, trekking in Nepal is unbeatable, but don’t go at the moment, for climate reasons: best time is the spring, and keep a close eye at the current political situation there.

Corrected a big mistake with a small mistake - it’s Boracay.

Phuket is ok. Not the nicest beach though and it’s extremely touristy. However, it’s fun because there is alot of activity. You can definitely slum it there if you wanted to and have a great time. Rent a motorbike on the main beach and hit the less populated beaches too.

Since you’re not big on beaches, hit Bangkok and take a day trip to Ayutthaya. The temples and ruins are beautiful.

I’ve been to BKK 4 times and I still haven’t done everything I wanted to. The mass transit system in BKK is efficient. Get a hotel within walking distance to a stop and you should be good.

Haven’t been to any beach in Vietnam… but I would stay away from Hanoi. The city closes at 12mn and there isn’t much to see. The lake and pagoda are overrated. But you can buy art of the street. There are galleries everywhere. I struggled a bit as not many people speak English here. There’s no mass public transport so you have to cab it wherever you go.

Nice city, lots of art. Good nightlife as well. Very cosmopolitan. Skip Sentosa. The man-made “sand” hurts your feet. English is widely spoken. Two to three days should do it. Subway is efficient.

Hong Kong:
HK is a must on my list. They can really put on a show! Lots to do and this city never closes. Lots of shopping (but beware of Nathan Road electronics shops). English is widely spoken. Stay a few days. Mass transit is efficient.

Hong Kong with Portuguese roots. It’s got a lot of Vegas casinos too. It’s an hour ferry from Hong Kong so this can be a day trip or an overnighter. English is not really spoken so much here. If you stay in the city center (this island is tiny), you can walk to most places.

Kuala Lumpur is pretty nice and cosmopolitan as well. It’s predominantly Muslim but I didn’t really notice any overtly Muslim traditions. English is widely spoken. A couple of days should do it. I walked to where I needed to go but it was easy to get taxis anywhere. I didn’t try the mass transit system here but it looks modern.

I’ll be going to Langkawi in a week and can only post about that in January though.

Live here so I don’t have a lot of outside perspective. Hate to bag on my own city but Manila is pretty dull (which is why I’m always travelling to other cities in Asia). Sadly, we don’t have a lot to do here so everyone just hits the many resto-bars for entertainment. Mass transit is not very good or accessible. Take a cab.

Having said all that, there are trains and low cost carriers that can take you from Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Singapore, KL and Langkawi for very cheap. Check Tiger Airways and Air Asia for flights. There are trains and buses to most destinations in the Malay Peninsula.