Asia: my travel itinerary | Thailand, China and Malaysia


When I was little, I thought of Asia as a continent with very poor countries and barren landscapes.

Over the years, however, I have changed my mind completely. Ever since I understood what traveling really means to me, how integral it is to my life, the idea of a trip to Asia began to form. Now I cannot wait to visit this amazing part of the world!

To make this dream happen, I’ve started researching this destination, reading blogs and travel guides, jotting down any interesting details or relevant advice. And then it hit me: why not share my findings with you? I’m sure it’ll be helpful to everyone out there planning a similar trip!

This blog post is a work in progress. It’ll be updated, from time to time, as I plan my future trip.

On another note, I didn’t rely on or work with a travel agency for this itinerary 🙂 .

P.S. On trips like this one, you’ll need several currencies and it can be a bit of a hassle to keep up with the exchange rates. This is why I recommend that you download a dedicated app on your phone beforehand. The one I’ll be using it’s called ‘Currency’ for Android. The best part? It’s free.

FIRST STOP: BANGKOK (THAILAND)

This metropolis is what prompted me to start planning this trip. In recent years, the buzz around Thailand’s capital has been ever growing, so I don’t want to miss visiting it.

Must-see

  • Temples:
    • Wat Arun, with its imposing tower and steep hailstones (entrance ticket: 50 Bath).
    • The royal palace, the symbol of Thailand and the most important site in the city.
    • Wat Pho, known for its ‘reclining Buddha’ statue, measuring 46 meters in width and 15 meters in height, covered entirely in beautiful mother-of-pearl.
    • Wat Benchamabophit (opening times 8 am – 5.30 pm), known as the ‘marble temple’, built in 1899 and made entirely of Carrara marble. The temple is a combination of styles, blending European influences and Thai traditions, while its shrine protects a Buddha gold statue. Even more awaits the visitor just behind the temple, where 50 bronze Buddha statues line the courtyard.
    • Wat Traimit, a small temple known for housing the largest solid gold statue in the world.

It’s best to wear long trousers or skirts when visiting temples and to always have your shoulders covered. If you happen to forget this, don’t worry, it’s usually possible to rent large scarves just outside the temples. Shoes are left at the entrance.

  • Sukhumvit, Bangkok’s newest district, with a very large public park.
  • The markets:
    • The Thai street food night market in Sukhumvit.
    • The Damnoen Saduak floating market, about 100 kilometers from Bangkok. Though it’s undoubtedly a touristy spot, it still deserves to be visited. Aboard a longtail boat, you’ll cruise through the canals and the various sections of the market. Going even further, you’ll reach the real heart of the market. Here the locals still haggle and buy food cooked directly on the boats. It truly is a one-of-a-kind sight!
    • Chatuchak market, one of the largest markets in the world. Held during the weekends in a large indoor area, it hosts about 15,000 stalls selling goods from all across Thailand. If you like shopping, here you will find the cheapest prices, but you’ll have to haggle. Most of the goods for sale come from local factories or artisans and aren’t touristy souvenirs.
    • Pak Khlong Talat, a flower market.
    • The Maeklong railway market, built along a train track, with the train still passing through 8 times a day.
  • China Town, one of Bangkok’s most fascinating neighborhoods.
  • Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Siam. To reach Ayutthaya from Bangkok you can get the train from the Dong Muang station (about 1h30) or the buses from Mo Chit, which leave every 20 minutes. Once there, it’s best to take the ferry to the island, then rent a bike or a scooter. Alternatively, plenty of tour operators organize day trips for about €30 per person, including lunch.
  • Pang Pa, only a 30-minute drive from Bangkok. This former Summer residence of the Thai kings is a world apart from the capital’s chaos. Walking through the wonderful gardens, with their ponds and pagodas, is simply a bliss.

Must-try food

  • Duck
  • Noodles
  • Ravioli
  • Thai spring rolls
  • Thai red curry (made with coconut milk) and rice
  • Bananas and grilled cobs
  • Mango sweets

Things to avoid in Bangkok

  • Don’t exchange large sums at the airport, you’ll only need €50 for transport and other small necessities. The rates are much more favorable in Khaosan.
  • Don’t drink tapped water, only bottled water is safe to drink.

Getting from the airport to Bangkok city

  • The subway (underground train)

Bangkok airport is very large and consists of 3 levels. The subway is located at the lower ground level. Here you can get a ticket to the Phan Tip station, which costs €1 and will get you to the city center. If you are staying in the Khaosan area, you’ll need to take the boat to cross the river (15 cents).

  • Taxis

In Bangkok, taxis are generally cheap but check that the taxi driver has a meter, otherwise, he will ask you way more than he should.

  • Tuk-tuks

You will not find them at the airport, but they abound in the city center. Always haggle for a lower price.

Practical tips

  • Pack light, you’ll want plenty of space in your suitcase to bring back souvenirs!
  • Get a traveler sim card which includes a mobile data plan. Wi-Fi is incredibly slow otherwise. They can be purchased at a Seven Eleven or at an internet cafe (easily found everywhere).
  • Seven Eleven convenience stores should be your go-to shop, they sell almost everything and are open 24/7.
  • One of the best ways to avoid Bangkok’s crazy traffic jams is to take the River Express, a ferry-boat service along the Chao Praya. The one-day ticket (valid for 24 hours) costs 50 Bath (about € 1.30) and can easily take you to piers close to all the main attractions.

Where to stay in Bangkok

  • The area close to the Khaosan Road is fairly cheap and it’s easy to get around from here.
  • Away from the city’s chaos, accommodations along the river can also be quite cheap. Thanks to the ferries it’s easy to get around from here as well.
  • The Phra Athit area (near Khaosan). The ferry boat stop is only 10 meters away.
  • Siam Square, the business center of Bangkok, with modern shopping malls and Thailand’s most exclusive boutiques.

SECOND STOP: KRABI (THAILAND)

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Getting from the airport to the city

The most convenient way is the bus, which takes you to Ao Nang in about 40 minutes. If you’re staying in Railay or Tonsai you’ll need to take a longtail boat to cross the sea (it should only take a few minutes).

Must-see

  • Railay

An imposing cliff divides the turquoise sea in 2 bays: Railay West, spectacular but crowded with tourists and Railay East, less popular but more authentic, with lush vegetation flanking the beach.  

  • 4 Island

A small archipelago comprising of 4 small islands, about 30 minutes from Railay. White sandbars, stunning cliffs, palm trees and mangroves can all be found here. The most famous of the 4 islands are Koh Poda and Chicken Island. The last one gets its name from an odd rock formation resembling – you guessed – a chicken!

  • Hong Island

A little further away, this island is a true paradise. Its clear waters are perfect for snorkeling, but you can also rent a kayak and explore the beautiful lagoon by boat.

  • Phi Phi Islands

Probably the most famous Thai islands, with azure waters and white-sand beaches.   

The Tew Loy Bar (Railay Beach) comes with high praise. It’s right by the sea and it’s got an outdoor kitchen, where they also organize cooking classes. The highlight of Tew Loy is a wooden tree platform on a branch over the water. Here you can comfortably sit on cushions and sip a drink, while the sun sets over the Andaman sea before you.  

Thailand island hopping advice

  • Don’t choose a boat based on price. Cheaper often means slow and overcrowded. Rather than enjoying your time ashore, you’ll end up wasting time at sea.  
  • It’s best to try and find other people to split the cost of a private longtail boat or to take the fastest tourist boat.

THIRD STOP: HONG KONG (CHINA)

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Getting from the airport to the city

  • The subway (underground train)

It only takes 21 minutes to reach the city center and you can easily get a ticket at the airport stop. If you plan to use the subway a lot, it may be best to purchase a ‘Tourist Pass’ directly on arrival.

Where to stay

  • Kowloon area

Must-see

  • The iconic ‘Peak’ cable car takes you 400 meters above sea level where you can admire a spectacular view over the city from the ‘Sky Terrace’. Mornings are best (around 9 am) and a return ticket will only cost you 65 HKD (approx. €7.70).
  • The ‘Mid-levels’ escalator is the world’s longest escalator. It takes about 25 minutes to cover its entire length (800 meters). When planning your visit, keep in mind that the escalators go downhill (from Mid-Levels to central Hong Kong) between 6 am and 10 am and uphill between 10 am and midnight.
  • Ocean Park, located south of the island of HK, is a giant theme park that attracts visitors from all over the world. There is a reproduction of a coral reef, a panoramic cable car, dolphin shows, and you can even venture through the rainforest on rafts. The day ticket for the park, however, it’s quite pricey: €50.
  • The IFC (International Finance Center), the second tallest skyscraper in HK which also houses a large shopping center.
  • The Heritage, a shopping landmark in Hong Kong, with boutiques, traditional restaurants and shops.
  • Don’t leave without trying the local street food, the spicy crabs especially. The best area to try them is along Temple Street, close to the ‘Jordan’ station.
  • Take a harbor cruise to admire Hong Kong from a different perspective and take in its breathtaking skyline from the water.
  • Catch the daily light show at 8 pm, which combines lights, music and narration. It’s free and it never fails to convey the essence of the city.

FOURTH STOP: SINGAPORE (MALAYSIA)

Singapore isn’t just a shopping destination: there are beautiful temples and gardens, vibrant neighborhoods, glamorous quays and impressive skyscrapers.

Must-see

  • The botanical gardens

74 hectares of lush greenery. The main attraction is the National Orchid Garden, with wonderful lakes and plants from all over the world. Good to know: the gardens are open from as early as 5 am and close at midnight, visit at the beginning or at the end of the day to avoid the crowds.

  • Gardens by the bay

With its 101 hectares, it is home to flowers and animals from all over the world. However, the Supertrees are the main attraction. These are tree-like structures that dominate the Gardens’ landscape with their imposing heights. At night, the Supertrees come alive with a dazzling light and music show.

  • China-town

Here the traditional Chinese shops are in stark contrast with the skyscrapers behind, making this a fascinating neighborhood to visit.

  • Zoo and Night Safari

Both are known as two of the world’s best zoological attractions.

  • The Marina Bay Sands Resort

The largest casino in the city and a shopping mall so large that it even has its own canal, which you can navigate by gondola. Not to mention the boat-shaped structure, perched atop three huge skyscrapers, housing the world’s tallest rooftop pool.

  • Clarke Quay

Nightlife is what this party hub of Singapore is really famous for. Go after dark but only if you’re ready to party all night long 😉

  • The Little India neighborhood
  • The Arab quarter

Thanks to the readers’ recommendations, this post’s contents are always improving. So, a big THANK YOU is in order for your invaluable contributions!

I’m certain that this will be my itinerary for my upcoming trip to Asia and I hope it’ll be yours too!

SECONDA TAPPA: KRABI (THAILANDIA)

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Dall’aeroporto di Krabi in città?

Con un comodo bus pubblico si arriva al porto di Ao Nang in circa 40 minuti.

Se soggiornate a Railay/Tonsai è possibile raggiungerle solo via mare, quindi da Ao Nang prendete una Long Tail e in pochi minuti sarete a Railay/Tonsai.

Cosa vedere assolutamente?

  • Railay: una lingua di terra con un minuscolo paesino. Ha due versanti del mare: da una parte la Railay West (più turistico e con la baia più spettacolare) e dall’altra parte la Railay East (più spartano e autentico)
  • 4 Island: è un piccolo arcipelago composto da 4 isolette a circa una mezzoretta da Railay, lingue si sabbia bianchissima, scogliere a picco, palme e mangrovie. Le più famose sono Koh Poda e Chicken Island , famosa praticamente per il nome, dato da una roccia che ricorda un pollo.
  • Hong Island: è un’isola un po’ più distante, ma un vero paradiso. Il mare è meraviglioso, acqua trasparente, migliaia di pesciolini, è possibile affittare un kayak e fare liberamente delle escursioni fino alla vicina laguna. Se è possibile andateci in orari contro corrente.
  • Phi Phi Island, le isole simbolo paradisiaco del mare thailandese.

Nella spiaggia Railay mi è stato consigliato di andare al Tew Loy Bar che ha una bellissima piattaforma sull’acqua , una cucina all’aperto dove è possibile effettuare corsi di cucina su richiesta. La cosa veramente unica è una piccola pedana sospesa su un albero dove un tavolino basso accoglie il tuo drink al tramonto.

Consigli sulle escursioni?

  • non scegliere l’imbarcazione che viene a costare meno perché sono molto lente e carichissime di persone e questo vuol dire trascorrere la maggiorparte del tempo negli spostamenti.
  • cercare di trovare altre persone che vogliano dividere il costo di una “long tail” privata altrimenti prendere la barca turistica più veloce.

TERZA TAPPA: HONG KONG (CINA)

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Spostamenti da/per aeroporto:

  • Acquistare un biglietto dagli uffici della metropolitana: la Metro porta al centro di HK in 21 minuti;
  • Nel caso in cui si voglia utilizzare molto spesso la metro, conviene acquistare sin da subito la “Tourist Pass” da 1 o più giorni.

Zona consigliata dove dormire:

  • Kowloon

Cosa vedere ad Hong Kong?

  • Il “Peak“, uno storico tram che va dai 28 metri (stazione Garden Road) ai 400 sul livello del mare per godere di una vista spettacolare su tutti i grattacieli della città. Preferibili le corse mattutine (9-9.30) e il costo di a/r+ accesso alla terrazza panoramica “Sky Terrace” è di 65HK$ (circa €7,70).
  • Il “Mid-levels escalator” che, con i suoi 800 metri di estensione, è la scala mobile più lunga del mondo e collega i vari livelli cittadini del centro. Il percorso dura circa 25 minuti ma ricordate che: dalle 6 alle 10 del mattino si muove in discesa e dalle 10 a mezzanotte in salita. 🙂
  • Ocean Park, situato a sud dell’isola di HK, è un gigantesco parco tematico che attrae uristi da ogni parte del mondo. Vi è la riproduzione della barriera corallina, una cabinovia panoramica sulla baia, spettacoli di delfini, la scoperta della foresta pluviale a bordo di zattere e i simpatici panda, simbolo del parco. Il biglietto giornaliero per il parco, però, costa circa €50.
  • l’IFC (International Finance Centre), secondo grattacielo più alto di HK e grande centro commerciale.
  • The Heritage, una grande hall all’aperto contornata da ristorantini tipici e negozi.
  • Assaggiare il “granchio” (la zona migliore è quella nei pressi della stazione “jordan” con colore verde)
  • Fare l’escursione sul mare nella baia di Honk Kong
  • Assistere allo spettacolo di luci serali che si tiene ogni giorno ad Hong Kong  alle 20:00. Lo spettacolo consiste nella particolare illuminazione di 44 grattacieli e monumenti che si trovano ai lati di Victoria Harbour, le cui spiagge sono un’attrazione molto famosa. Attraverso l’illuminazione interattiva e uno spettacolo musicale, viene mostrata la vitalità e il glamour della vista notturna di Hong Kong, creando uno spettacolo meraviglioso intorno a Victoria Harbour.

QUARTA TAPPA: SINGAPORE (MALAYSIA)

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Singapore non solo shopping, ci sono templi , quartieri etnici, giardini, il quei, i grattacieli

Cosa vedere a Singapore?

  • I giardini botanici: 74 ettari in un’oasi di tranquillità. L’attrazione principale è il National Orchid Garden, poi ci sono laghi e piante meravigliose da tutto il mondo e la foresta pluviale. I giardini sono aperti dalle 5 del mattino fino a mezzanotte, questo vi sarà utile se vorrete evitare la folla.
  • Gradens by the bay, con i suoi 101 ettari, sono sede di fiori e animali provenienti da tutto il mondo. Ma, l’attrazione principale dei giardini è rappresentata dagli splendidi Supertrees, superalberi, un gruppo di strutture luccicanti alte 50 metri, che abbagliano di luci e musica ogni sera.
  • China-town dove è possibile ammirare i due volti della città: le tradizionali botteghe cinesi sotto i grattacieli simbolo di modernità assoluta.
  • Zoo e Night Safari sono conosciute come le due attrazioni zoologiche più belle del mondo.
  • Il gigantesco Marina Bay Sands Resort che presenta il più grande casinò della città e un centro commerciale così grande, da avere addirittura un suo canale sul quale poter navigare in gondola. Per non parlare della struttura a forma di barca, arroccata in cima ai suoi tre enormi grattacieli, che ospita la piscina panoramica più alta del mondo.
  • Clarke Quay è la destinazione numero uno per gli amanti di party e feste pazzesche (andateci dopo il tramonto, solo se il vostro cuore può reggere il colpo).
  • Little India
  • Quartiere arabo

Grazie a TUTTI VOI  questo articolo sul mio viaggio in Asia si espande sempre più.

Sono certa che sarà il mio vademecum per il mio prossimo-vicino-imminente viaggio in Asia e spero possa esserlo anche per voi! 😉

Valentina

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