Ultimate Three Weeks in South East Asia

Our ultimate 3 week itinerary would include the following: - 3 Nights in Hong Kong, - 3 Night Ho Chin Minh City (a side trip to the Meekong Delta or Hoi Ann would also be very worthwhile) - 2 Nights Bangkok - 2 Nights in Chiang Mai - 3 Nights in Luang Prubang, Laos - 3 Nights in either Phuket & Phi Phi Island or Koh Sumai - 3 Nights in Siem Reap Cambodia - - Final 2 Nights in Bangkok. Below are a few of the highlights from each of these destinations from the editors of Travelin10.com

Kamphaeng Phet 3 Rd, Khwaeng Lat Yao, Khet Chatuchak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10900, Thailand
The mother of unique Bangkok retail experiences is undoubtedly Chatuchak Weekend Market, Thailand’s largest outdoor bazaar. Known as Jatujak or simply JJ, it has 15,000 stalls spread over 35 acres and sells almost everything under the sun. This is the place to buy a Beatles cushion or shop for a new pet cobra or a hand-carved Buddha icon. With 200,000 people descending on the market every weekend, it’s best to come early, and perseverance can uncover a veritable treasure trove of collectibles ranging from beautiful ceramics and handicrafts to exquisite jewelry.
Hong Kong, Mong Kok, Flat 8, Ground Floor, Phase 2, Tsui Yuen Mansion, 2-20 Kwong Wa St, 廣華街2-20號翠園大樓2期地下8號舖, Mong Kok, Hong Kong
They are most famed for their mouth-watering BBQ pork buns and the queues of people that congregate outside their blink-and-you’ll-miss-it canteen. Welcome to Tim Ho Wan, the one of the world’s cheapest Michelin star restaurants. This is Yum Cha heaven, so if you need your fix you have certainly come to the right place. Seated in the 17-seat canteen the fast, hectic pace of the restaurant will keep you in the fast lane: have your order ready before you come inside, eat fast, and get out or watch as you get stared down by one of the grumpier ladies. Despite this fast-paced attitude the food is worth it. A full meal to feed three to bursting point cost less than AU$20/GBP£14/US$21 – and that’s with leftovers. BBQ pork buns are notorious for being overly sweet, so biting into Tim Ho Wan’s buns I was pleasantly surprised to be met with a beautiful sweet interior filled with soft pork pieces. The chiu chow-style dumplings were also beautiful; notorious for having soggy nuts, they had steamed these to perfection, with the crunch still intact amongst the soft exterior. Top picks? The famed BBQ pork buns, vermicelli rolls, turnip cake, and the chiu chow style dumplings. Delicious! -------- Details Tim Ho Wan Tsui Yuen Mansion, 2-20 Kwong Wa St (廣華街2-20號翠園大樓2期地下8號舖) Mong Kok, Hong Kong Other branches: * Sham Shui Po G/F, 9-11 Fuk Wing Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon * ICC Mall in Central (Shop 12A, Hong Kong Station (Podium Level 1, IFC Mall) , Central, Hong Kong
1 Expo Dr, Hong Kong
Treat your kiddies to a later bedtime while on vacation in Kong Kong by capping off the evening at the world’s largest permanent light and sound show. “A Symphony of Lights” has 44 buildings on both sides of the harbor lighting up in a synchronized dance of colored lights and laser beams at the stroke of 8 p.m. each night. Claim a spot at the Avenue of the Stars on the Tsim Sha Tsui side, or at the promenade of the Golden Bauhinia Square in Wanchai for the best views. You can also embark on a harbor cruise, or even a dinner cruise, onboard the aptly named Shining Star from the Star Ferry Pier in Tsim Sha Tsui to watch all angles of the show out on the open sea.
3號 Hoi Bun Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Hong Kong by night requires a view from the Avenue of the Stars. It affords the best views in the city of the city (albeit of the business/downtown part of the city). It can get dark up on the 2nd level where it’s chock-a-block full of tourist and locals enjoying a stroll and laser light shows (check the times).
Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong
Join throngs of locals on the five-minute ferry ride across Victoria Harbour between the Tsim Sha Tsui cruise pier in Kowloon, on the mainland side, and the Central Pier on Hong Kong Island (a slightly longer ride goes to Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island). This is not just any ferry: The historic green and white Star Ferries have been moving the masses back and forth for decades, with the origins of the company going back to 1880 with the service of a single steamboat, the Morning Star. Today, the classic wooden boats make the trip many times daily, and a ride provides a great view of the city’s famous skyline and a whiff of nostalgia to boot.
2 Sanam Chai Rd, Khwaeng Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, Thailand
If you only see one temple in Bangkok, make it Wat Pho: home of the largest reclining Buddha in Thailand. The 141-foot-long statue is an artistic masterpiece plated in gold leaf and inlaid with mother of pearl. You could easily spend all day wandering the grounds, looking at reliquaries, visiting the massage school, and admiring the 400 statues of Buddha in the outer cloister—each posed and sculpted slightly differently. Before you leave, drop some money in one of the 108 begging bowls (one bowl for each of the characters of Buddha). The money goes to maintaining the Wat and the gift will bring you good luck. That seems like a fair trade.
233 S Sathorn Rd, Khwaeng Yan Nawa, Khet Sathon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10120, Thailand
Thai cuisine, with its balance of three to four fundamental taste senses, may be complex but that doesn’t make it difficult to pick up the basics. Bangkok has a plethora of cooking schools, some of which are attached to renowned Thai restaurants such as Bo.lan and Blue Elephant. Blue Elephant is one of the most respected venues in the city and its tuition reflects its exalted status. Two courses are offered daily, with the morning session featuring a visit to a local market and the afternoon session including a detailed introduction to Thai ingredients. A homier option is Amita Thai Cooking Class. Classes are held in an antique canalside home and include an explanatory visit to the resident herb garden.
444 Phayathai Rd, Khwaeng Wang Mai, Khet Pathum Wan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10330, Thailand
Bangkok rivals Singapore for the title of the region’s shopping capital, and its selection of malls offer amazing scope and variety. Old stagers (in Bangkok terms anyway) include the MBK Center. Arguably, the city’s most famous mall, MBK boasts eight floors packed with over 2000 shops selling everything from clothing to electric appliances, cameras and mobile phones. Bargains can be had, especially on cameras and phones, but be prepared to negotiate hard. For a more upmarket shopping experience, head to newer malls such as Siam Paragon, Emporium and Gaysorn Plaza. The latter, in particular, positions itself as the city’s most high-end retail complex with international labels such as Louis Vuitton sharing space with emerging Thai designer brands such as Fly Now.
Chợ, Lê Lợi, Phường Bến Thành, Quận 1, Hồ Chí Minh 700000, Vietnam
Bến Thành market has been around Saigon in one form or another for over 300 years. At some points it neighbored bodies of water including a small lake. It is a monster, overwhelming at first. If you come to Saigon and you love to shop, this is the one-stop shop you are looking for. Personally nothing is more thrilling at Bến Thành than the art of “The Barter.” It’s a strategic game of wits of where you pit product desire against pocketbook ability and the house always wins. It’s not always easy, in fact it’s never easy. Hot, stagnant air ripe with the smell of fish and squid always seems to hang in the air right over that gift you can’t live without. You’re constantly walking that fine line between feeling like you got ripped off or feeling you’re further oppressing the local population. Bến Thành is the stadium packed with hundreds of thousands of pieces of clothing, jewelry, and art- and they’re all yours to play for.
Phu Hiep, Phu My Hung
After crawling through a few of the tunnels that have been somewhat expanded for tourists and seeing the displays of recovered bombs, people who were not involved in the Vietnam War (called the American War there) can get a feeling of the horror that occurred during those years. A system of 125 miles of tunnels became almost a complete underground city. The picture offered above is the delivery bomb of cluster bombs from the U.S. The Vietcong recovered many of these and other unexploded bombs and used them against South Vietnam and the U.S. It is a sad place but worth going for a better understanding of why the U.S. lost this war.
วัดพระธาตุดอยสุเทพ Tambon Su Thep, อ.เมือง Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand
On every trip, I try to ride my motorbike up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a beautiful temple on the top of the mountain just outside of town. The view of the Chiang Mai valley is breathtaking on a clear day. I go to the shrine in the back of the temple and receive a blessing from the presiding monk. —Andy Ricker
Luang Prabang, Laos
Aimed primarily at tourists, the Night Market sets up each evening along a few blocks of Thanon Sisavangvong. Lining both sides of the street, with a section down the middle, stalls offer a plethora of souvenirs, from cotton shopping bags and handicrafts to silk scarves, brightly colored lamps, and silver jewelry. There are also food stalls on the side streets, offering a place to refuel between purchases. Even if you’re not in the mood to buy anything, strolling up and down the market aisles is a pleasant, interesting way to pass an evening.
Pub Street Area , Mondol 1 Village 284, 2 Thnou St, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
While cute souvenir shops and even haute couture boutiques exemplify the changing face of the retail scene in Siem Reap, the city’s famous Old Market remains a heady hub of traditional trade and commerce. Located right in the heart of town, Psar Chas is amply stocked with lots of things that you might want to buy—as well as plenty of things you probably do not. That said, perusing the labyrinthine aisles full of silverware, silks, handicrafts, spices, stone carvings, and other assorted ephemera is worth a couple hours of anyone’s time. Stay calm and haggle politely with a smile on your face, and you’re sure to find a bargain or two.
Old Market Bridge, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
The Passage is a lively pedestrian street in the heart of the Old Market District of Siem Reap lined with restaurants, pubs, hotels and galleries. I highly recommend the restaurant Chamkar for its Cambodian-French style vegetarian dishes that omnivores will love as well.
Better known as the Tomb Raider Temple since its starring role in the Hollywood movie of the same name, Ta Prohm has at least as much star quality as Angelina Jolie. Cloaked in dappled shadow and locked in the embrace of the vast root systems that are still reclaiming it for the jungle, the temple is arguably the most atmospheric ruin at Angkor Archaeological Park. Construction on Ta Prohm began in 1186 C.E.; it was built in honor of the mother of King Jayavarman VII. Modern-day visitors are not permitted to climb onto the crumbling galleries of its 39 towers due to safety concerns. Nevertheless, picking a route around the various structures, close courtyards, and narrow corridors sprouting with lichen, moss, and creeping plants is one of the most enthralling experiences at Angkor.
Angkor Archeological Park, Angkor Thom, Krong Siem Reap 17000, Cambodia
Giant stone faces greet visitors as they enter the Bayon complex. This ancient Khmer center houses over 200 of these serene faces, with theories they were modeled after the bodhisattva (enlightened being) or the Bhuddist king, Jayavarman VII, who built the city center.
38 Nguyễn Ư Dĩ, Thảo Điền, Quận 2, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh 10000, Vietnam
Arriving at the Deck Saigon, a restaurant in District Two on the Saigon River, is often one of the highlights of an evening here—many customers come by boat directly from District One to dock right at the restaurant’s waterside steps. Drawing a mix of expats, locals, and tourists, this restaurant is partially set on a riverfront deck (hence the name); it’s been open since 2008. The menu is pan-Asian, while the breezy interiors include solid wooden chairs, creative lighting, and plenty of fresh flowers. Vietnamese ingredients are used in dishes like Phu Quoc prawn rolls and regional soft-shell-crab tempura—but foods sourced globally include French foie gras and New Zealand lamb.
10 Đặng Tất, Tân Định, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam
Recalling Saigon’s past, Cuc Gach Quan offers fine Vietnamese fare in a cozy setting that re-creates the home of the owner’s grandmother—a French-colonial house with worn, wood-plank floors; retro furnishings; warm lighting; and a floating staircase to connect the two levels. It’s grown in popularity ever since Brad and Angelina ate here in 2011, but the menu continues to focus on Vietnamese dishes while following the approach summarized in its motto: “Eat green, live healthy.” Expect menu items such as fresh spring rolls with shrimp, crispy sea bass, and fantastic homemade tofu fried with chili and lemongrass.
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