International Vacation Ideas

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HornedToad
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International Vacation Ideas

Post by HornedToad » Mon Jul 02, 2018 12:23 am

Hi All,

Looking for some recommendations for International vacations for my wife and I. Next year will probably be our last time for major vacations for awhile so looking for good ideas.

We've already gone on most of the trips we had on our bucket list so now not sure what to splurge on next year. If you know the trips can be travel hacked with credit card points then that's a plus.

We'll have done the below trips after this year:
Maui (regularly)
Big Island
Fiji
Bora Bora/Tahiti
London + Paris
Italy + Spain
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Sydney + New Zealand + (1 day Seoul)
Vancouver and Whistler

We've been doing 1 tropical trip each year, 1 more touristy/historical trip (ala Europe) and then 1 of something else. Probably less interested in going back to Europe unless it's a very different experience than what we've already done. I'm also less interested in Asia (Japan, China, India, etc) from a general historical interest and the sheer distance travel distance but could be convinced.

Initial trip ideas without much thought into it:
African Safari
Seychelles or Maldives
Alaskan Cruise (wife isn't into cruises though unless maybe a small cruiseline)
South America somewhere (Costa Rica?)
Iceland maybe (I know I said no Europe and this is lower on the list)
I've heard of Madagascar as destination but don't know too much about it or how differs from other tropical trips.

Any ideas? What have been great trips you've gone on that you'd recommend.

*Edited per suggestion to add what we enjoy*

It's pretty open but generally history, food, fun activities and beautiful environment.

For our tropical vacation we like Islands with beauty, interesting food and activities. Zip lining, beach volleyball, ocean sports, etc. Something to keep active while primarily relaxing on the beach/pool with a book.

For the European vacations, it's been more historical sites and architecture, castles, etc. We like the walkability of European cities and having good food and just generally seeing more of the world's history.

We go to Australia/New Zealand later this year and that'll be more active sites with the glacier, Puget Sound, beautiful scenery and seeing animals.
Last edited by HornedToad on Mon Jul 02, 2018 12:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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whodidntante
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by whodidntante » Mon Jul 02, 2018 12:34 am

If you state what kind of activities you tend to enjoy, you might get better answers. Good job getting out and seeing the third rock from the Sun.

Topic Author
HornedToad
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by HornedToad » Mon Jul 02, 2018 12:42 am

whodidntante wrote:
Mon Jul 02, 2018 12:34 am
If you state what kind of activities you tend to enjoy, you might get better answers. Good job getting out and seeing the third rock from the Sun.
Good suggestion. Done in original post

pivoprussia
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by pivoprussia » Mon Jul 02, 2018 6:06 am

African safari or the Galapagos

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climber2020
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by climber2020 » Mon Jul 02, 2018 7:26 am

Been to Machu Picchu? There's a lot of interesting stuff to see around the rest of Peru as well.

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midareff
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by midareff » Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:05 am

Initial trip ideas without much thought into it:
African Safari Have done this twice.. first was to South Africa, Swaziland, Zululand, Victoria Falls and more. Excellent as it included about 6+ Safaris. Second was Kenya and Tanzania and was Safari intensive, also excellent. Did both with a tour company named Smartours.

Seychelles or Maldives Have not been so can't comment.

Alaskan Cruise (wife isn't into cruises though unless maybe a small cruiseline). We did both cruise and land tour with Princess. Everything was very nicely done.

South America somewhere (Costa Rica?) We toured Costa Rica with Caravan Tours. Also very nicely done and the experience for the money spent was excellent. We also went to the Panama Canal with Holland and had a great time. Excellent entertainment on the ship which you can't have on smaller ships. Cuba was an extremely interesting trip as well.

Iceland maybe (I know I said no Europe and this is lower on the list). Have not been so can't comment.

We have used Viking for cruises in Europe, Russia and the Ukraine with excellent results and experiences. Would recommend them highly for anywhere they go. You might get some ideas from my website as we are up to 42 countries now. www.martindareff.com

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lthenderson
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by lthenderson » Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:37 am

I've been to quite a few places all over the world and the ones that stick with me the most are the places I went where I was least comfortable going. They were the least like home and had few if any comforts from home.

remomnyc
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by remomnyc » Mon Jul 02, 2018 9:05 am

I second Machu Picchu. If you can, hike it with a group (glamping).

Add Berlin to your European cities to do list.

For tropical vacations, the Maldives and Seychelles are great if you're divers, but otherwise a snorefest. Costa Rica is lush and has a lot more going on. I'd rather go back to Greece, which could knock off both tropical and touristy/historical if you haven't been yet. How about Bali? Not sure if it's safe at the moment.

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Nate79
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by Nate79 » Mon Jul 02, 2018 10:09 am

If looking for a tropical vacation we have been to Costa Rica twice now and just love it. There are a couple of Costa Rica specific threads on here in the last few years that you can look for recommendations and ideas.

coalcracker
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by coalcracker » Mon Jul 02, 2018 11:10 am

I've traveled a ton. Here are a top 3 for you:

1. Patagonia. Never been to a more beautiful, wild place (although I haven't been everywhere :wink: ). Torres del Paine and hiking on the Perito Moreno Glacier were highlights, but the whole region is a highlight. Could combine with Buenos Aires (we did).

2. Southeast Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia). Food is fantastic overall, locals are friendly, and there many excellent beaches and some historical sites (Angkor Wat).

3. Nepal. Cheap, beautiful. No brainer if you like hiking.

Bon Voyage!
cc

investor997
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by investor997 » Mon Jul 02, 2018 11:33 am

I visited Vietnam and Hong Kong earlier this year. Both were fantastic albeit for different reasons. Highly recommend both.

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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Mon Jul 02, 2018 11:36 am

Quebec City in the winter. Snowmobile guided tours for day trips. If you ski, Mt Ste Anne.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

stan1
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by stan1 » Mon Jul 02, 2018 11:42 am

Berlin for history.
Vietnam and Angkor Wat. Maybe Thailand too if you plan a two week trip.
If you go to anywhere in Africa including Madagascar with a tour make sure you research thoroughly. The people I know who have had the most satisfaction were very active and used a private guide in the parks.
Nepal/Tibet/Bhutan

WhiteMaxima
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by WhiteMaxima » Mon Jul 02, 2018 12:12 pm

For Europe
Italy + Spain+Portugal
Prague, Budapest and Vienna

Asia:
China, Japan, plus Thailand

You would need at least two weeks for each vacation.

jodydavis
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by jodydavis » Mon Jul 02, 2018 12:48 pm

Two suggestions:

1. SE Asia (Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Bali, etc.) - I know you said you weren't interested in Asia, but here's an attempt to persuade you: it is way more different than the places you have been. The food and culture are amazing. It's super inexpensive, with lots of points hotels. If you like historical sites, there's Angkor Wat, Bagan, Borubudur, temples everywhere. Also there are terrific beaches (e.g. Bali, Thailand), so you could combine culture/food/beach. That said, it is a long flight, especially if you are on the east coast.

2. S. America (Peru, Central America, etc.) - relatively shorter flight, and no jetlag. Lots of history, with a strong european flavor from the colonial influence. Tons of churches, ancient sites, great food and culture. Machu Picchu is amazing. Also lots of great beaches. Costa Rica is nice if you like wildlife. I might suggest Belize, with time at a jungle lodge (with maybe a side-trip to Tikal), and then time on the coast for beach/scuba/etc.

Have fun!
J.D.

njdealguy
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by njdealguy » Mon Jul 02, 2018 1:41 pm

Certain parts of Mexico perhaps such as the area between Cancun & Playa Del Carmen? (as unsafe as it may sound, I do think most of the east side, particularly the Yucatan Peninsula is relatively safe). From there a good day trip could be to see Mayan ruins and the Chichen Itza. I also havent been to but have interest in some day visiting the heritage city in the central part of the country San Miguel De Allende.

Besides that can also suggest Japan (Tokyo/Mt Fuji/Kyoto, tons of culture to see), India (Taj Mahal/Delhi/Rajasthan), and also suggestions previously made about South American countries to which I would add Argentina as an option.

delamer
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by delamer » Mon Jul 02, 2018 1:57 pm

We did a Baltic cruise last year. Nice to go somewhere coolish in our summer.

St. Petersburg, Berlin, and Stockholm were the highlights. St. Peterburg was another world; fascinating history and architecture. I would not do it solo though even if you prefer a land tour to a cruise. Group tours get preferential treatment at most sites. Not go mention the language and alphabet barrier.

GR8FUL-D
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by GR8FUL-D » Mon Jul 02, 2018 3:04 pm

Based upon the list of places you & your wife chose to vacation in the past, it would appear that we enjoy many of the same things.

I, too, love islands (Maui & Kauai are two of my favorites) but I was slightly disappointed in Costa Rica. I didn't find it much cheaper than USA, and overall didn't think the food was that great. Maybe that's why one rarely sees Costa Rican restaurants outside of Costa Rica??

I agree with others that Southeast Asia (especially Thailand, Vietnam & Nepal) are amazing destinations--very exotic, great food, safe, and inexpensive. However, due to long flights, I wouldn't recommend SE Asia unless you had at least two weeks vacation. Bali is great but touristy.

If you like diving, the reefs around Cozumel are excellent, but it's not a great "beach" destination. Yes, areas of Mexico are dangerous, but Cozumel is absolutely safe, multiple major cruise ships arrive there daily. A 20 minute ferry ride away (on the mainland) are Playa del Carmen & Tulum, which despite a recent drug-related shooting, remain very safe areas with great food & shopping options. Both are excellent beach destinations, especially so if you enjoy the all-inclusive resort-style vacation. I do NOT recommend Cancun.

I recently spent 6 weeks in Peru, and with the exception of Lima (WAY too much traffic) I have nothing but exceptionally good things to say about the country. The food is fantastic, the people are super friendly, with the exception of Lima it's very safe, it's relatively cheap, and quite exotic. Yes, Machu Pichu is beautiful, but Cusco, Pisac, and Sacred Valley are all HIGHLY recommended. Plus there is the Amazon rainforest experience.

I've never been, but I hear very good things about Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina, & Serbia.

Ilikesparklers
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by Ilikesparklers » Mon Jul 02, 2018 3:11 pm

Favorites:
1) Morocco
2) Nepal (seeing the sunrise over Everest was amazing) and Northern India. It's a short flight between the two countries, so if you go to one country, you might as well hop on over to the other. You'll probably really appreciate your life in the US when you return.
3) Basque region of Spain
4) Turkey

I've been to Iceland, Costa Rica, and Alaska. All nice places, but I'm not eager to return to them. I've never been on a cruise and they don't appeal to me, but if you choose Alaska, I would add a land component to your trip and visit Denali National Park.

I'd love to go to Tanzania and see the Great Migration and Mt. Kilimanjaro. I'd also love to go to South Africa and Patagonia.

Tulum has nice beaches, so if you want a beach vacation, that's a good option. I'd return to Tulum for sure. Holbox island is cute too. You could rent a car and drive between Tulum and Holbox (you need to take a ferry to get to the actual island). Fun trip.

mak1277
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by mak1277 » Mon Jul 02, 2018 3:31 pm

Switzerland, without question, is my favorite of the places I've been.

pejp
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by pejp » Mon Jul 02, 2018 3:43 pm

Iceland is a fantastic country, although it would make more sense as part of a larger trip. You wouldn't need more than a few days there.

I know you said you're not as interested in Asia, but Japan is an amazing country. Tokyo is easily one of the greatest cities on earth, and the trains run so incredibly efficiently and on time, that you can really travel around a large part of the country without much effort. The people are incredibly hospitable, and the food culture is simply amazing. I'd say Japan should be part of everyone's bucket list.

HongKonger
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by HongKonger » Mon Jul 02, 2018 3:48 pm

Self drive safari/tour through Namibia.

Cambodia/ Laos/ Myanmar.

Georgia/ Armenia/Azerbaijan.

Jim85
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by Jim85 » Mon Jul 02, 2018 4:02 pm

Just back from Ireland. People have tried to talk us into it for years. Finally went and loved it. Not as exotic as some of the places above but is a good time. Always pictured rolling green hills but coastal areas have much more dramatic scenery. Just have to get used to driving on the left, with a stick shift and tight roads with no shoulders. Somehow our rental survived.

jminv
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by jminv » Mon Jul 02, 2018 4:13 pm

I would do the African safari to Kruger South Africa area (can recommend thorny bush game reserve) and combine it with trip to Vic falls Zambia side (though you can get Visa on arrival called the kaza univisa in both zim and zam to do both countries and take taxi over bridge for night in Zim). There’s a lovely cruise on Zambian side (better than zim side) and you can walk to the edge of the falls from an island in the middle which is a thrill if you’re into that kind of thing. I’m not usually and it was still fun. They provide drinks and lunch on the island at the end and then take you back by boat.

Iceland is up there on my most memorable trips but it is overrun with tourists now even in remoter parts. It’s not like it was just a few years ago. They’ve had a major increase in just a few years, was incredible when I went for a second time more recently. Still, it’s a lot of fun to drive around the island. Keep in mind prices for hotels and food are high.
Last edited by jminv on Mon Jul 02, 2018 4:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.

02nz
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by 02nz » Mon Jul 02, 2018 4:15 pm

Safari in Africa is a great idea. Lots of places to do it in; I've been to a reserve near Kruger, as well as Madikwe, which is near the border with Botswana. I'd recommend both, but especially Madikwe. Elsewhere in South Africa, Cape Town is, despite many flaws, an amazing place. Spectacular setting and great food at very reasonable prices.

Another poster suggested the Balkans, also a good recommendation. Great scenery and seafood in Croatia and Montenegro, Albania if you feel like really getting off the beaten path.

OP mentions planning on going to "Puget Sound" in NZ - I'm guessing this was meant to be Milford Sound. Truly spectacular, definitely don't miss.

marielake
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by marielake » Mon Jul 02, 2018 4:27 pm

Been to Costa Rica twice. Take a look at Bosque del Cabo for rest and relaxation. Pricey, but worth it.

My favorite European trip (for culture, food, beauty, people) was Turkey, but I'm not sure I'd go back for safety reasons. We went to Cappadocia, Istanbul and Cirali. It was all an adventure.

Alaska is magnificent. Major decision was to do cruise or land trip. We went with 2 weeks on land that included Juneau, Gustavas, Denali, Whittier. We did lots of one day cruises to glaciers and even a helicopter ride with glacier landing over Denali. Hope to go back someday

Last trip (Oct 17) was to Southeast Asia (Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia). Somebody above recommended Myanmar. I really wanted to go there and had booked a week, but dropped it for ethical reasons. We spent over a month and covered too much territory; something like 12 flights and 15 hotels. My favorite countries were Vietnam (beauty) and Cambodia (temples at Angkor Wat). Everyone raved about the street food, but we played it safe and ate in restaurants. I regret that decision. I will return one day to eat street food!

Alf 101
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by Alf 101 » Mon Jul 02, 2018 4:48 pm

Among the questions for the OP is whether you enjoy camping or "glamping", and what level of smooth -- or unsmooth -- sailing are you comfortable with in your travels? This is in no way meant as judgemental, rather to help suggest good fits.

If you like things well arranged, many guided trips are available to the Galapagos and African safaris. Many have recommended seeing Machu Picchu, and there are outfitter trips that combine this and the Galapagos in a combined 2-3 week expedition. We're heading to the Galapagos later this summer and chose not to do that -- the wildlife of the Galapagos islands our big draw, and we wanted more time on the boat. Still either route is an excellent option.

For an African safaris, you should consider what animals you dream of seeing in the wild, and the country you most want to visit. Kenya, Tanzania, Botwana, and South Africa are among the most traditional places; Uganda if you want to see mountain gorillas. The OP mentioned Madagascar; we looked at that once, but recall that the airfare was markedly more expensive, at least at the time.

The OP seemed less enthralled with Asia -- where I've had the best trips of my life. SE Asia is a bit of a haul; Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam work well with a backpacker approach. I will second the recommendation for Japan. It's not such a long flight from North America, and checks many of the stated boxes -- culture, history, scenery, and food.

If you want to hike, Torres del Paine, Nepal, and Himalayan India are all great options -- if you enjoy trekking and camping.

Central America is an easy trip from North America. Costa Rica has rain forest, cloud forest, beaches, and well-developed tourist infrastructure. Belize is pretty easy, but get out of Belize City. Panama is interesting too, but get out of Panama City. I think this is a good region for a short, less structured trip.

As for cruises, this not my thing. But I have been a little tempted by some of the high Arctic trips -- places like Svalbard, Greenland, Baffin Island, and parts north. This could be worth considering.

Lastly, if you would consider Europe, check out Poland, and the former Yugoslavia. Slovenia and Crotia are both beautiful.

Good luck in New Zealand too, though it's hard to go wrong there...

Topic Author
HornedToad
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by HornedToad » Mon Jul 02, 2018 10:43 pm

Thanks for the responses. It was very helpful!

I think we like the idea of Southeast Asia (Nepal + others) and/or an African Safari depending on PTO availability/cost/etc.

My wife is a little worried about medical in some of these destinations as she has a pre-existing condition. It's relatively well managed but more of a just in case. How real is that concern in these locations that are generally less advanced?

What would you add to Nepal for a two week trip? We generally like staying a little longer in each place vs. constantly moving but with 2 weeks seem could hit 2-3 countries. Probably from the list of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam? For whatever reason, We generally have less interest in Bali and India and the above also looks great.

To answer some of the questions that have come up: we're less interested in backpacking but like hiking and sightseeing. Haven't done much glamping but open to it. When we travel to new countries we've liked hiring a local tour guide to take us around for a day or two to understand the city/island and learn about it.

For going on an African Safari, is a week doable or also should really look at 10-14 days to make it worthwhile?

We'd try to do Greece Islands + Switzerland and South America sometime in the near/distant future as they seem easier to get to and more accommodating when we have kids.

Appreciate the help and suggestions.

coalcracker
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by coalcracker » Tue Jul 03, 2018 8:53 am

HornedToad wrote:
Mon Jul 02, 2018 10:43 pm
Thanks for the responses. It was very helpful!

I think we like the idea of Southeast Asia (Nepal + others) and/or an African Safari depending on PTO availability/cost/etc.

My wife is a little worried about medical in some of these destinations as she has a pre-existing condition. It's relatively well managed but more of a just in case. How real is that concern in these locations that are generally less advanced?

What would you add to Nepal for a two week trip? We generally like staying a little longer in each place vs. constantly moving but with 2 weeks seem could hit 2-3 countries. Probably from the list of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam? For whatever reason, We generally have less interest in Bali and India and the above also looks great.

To answer some of the questions that have come up: we're less interested in backpacking but like hiking and sightseeing. Haven't done much glamping but open to it. When we travel to new countries we've liked hiring a local tour guide to take us around for a day or two to understand the city/island and learn about it.

For going on an African Safari, is a week doable or also should really look at 10-14 days to make it worthwhile?

We'd try to do Greece Islands + Switzerland and South America sometime in the near/distant future as they seem easier to get to and more accommodating when we have kids.

Appreciate the help and suggestions.
Most of the hiking in Nepal will be what they call "teahouse trekking," meaning you hike for generally half a day (5-6 hours) and they stay in a small village hotel, i.e. teahouse. We did a 12-day trek to Annapurna Base camp, with a guide plus a porter for our big bags. The hiking was moderate depending on your fitness level, although we did feel the altitude near the high point of 15,000 ft. It was gorgeous there. Annapurna is very well known but still a distant second in popularity to the Everest base camp treks.

Given the loss of 1-2 days each way for the flight and internal travel time, you realistically have 12-13 full days of travel at your destination. There are shorter itineraries to be had in Nepal, but getting into the rhythm of a longer trek was quite a lovely escape from the typical western culture. Where we hiked, the only way to get around was by foot or helicopter (this may also be relevant for your wife's condition).

Another note about Nepal: Kathmandu can be a somewhat unpleasant shock to the senses. It's very crowded, dusty, and loud. We did a day tour but were happy to leave.

I have traveled in the other countries you list in SEA. In order of tourism infrastructure, I would rank it Thailand>Vietnam>Cambodia(Angkor wat region)>Rest of Cambodia=Laos.

Thailand, IMHO, has the best beaches and food but will probably be the most expensive. High end resorts can charge $1000/night for your own butler and plunge pool. However, you can still do mid-range luxury and budget accommodations for quite cheap.

Vietnam is beautiful too with great food history related to the war.

Laos is landlocked if you are looking for beaches, but has beautiful areas around the Mekong, particulary Luang Prabang.

I've only been to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, but freinds have visited Phnom Penh and were pleasantly surprised. Cambodia's beach resort areas are supposedly up and coming.

If it were me, I'd probably choose either Nepal or 1-2 locations in SEA, but not all of that in a 2 week trip. Have fun, and prepare for a bit of culture shock in these countries!

Alf 101
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by Alf 101 » Tue Jul 03, 2018 10:05 am

I've enjoyed my time in Nepal, and can recommend it, but you go there to trek. Kathmandu can be interesting, but if you haven't spent much time in Asia, I could see how it might be a little jarring on your first trip. I also feel like you really haven't seen the country until you've spent time in the hills.

Now it is the developing world, but there's a good amount of tourist trekking activity, but you're still a bit out there. You'd need to get a few shots, and carry some basic medications (e.g., antibiotics, Immodium), and plan on being self-sufficient. Generally you carry a light pack (e.g., sleeping bag, rain gear, change of clothes, warm layer), and can stop to stay and eat at one of the many tea houses you find along popular routes. This isn't luxury, but comfortable. Here's hoping you like dal baht though.

The most popular routes are probably Annapurna and the Everest Base Camp. You drive to the start of the Annapurna Trek; it used to be a three week trip, and was when I did it, but in recent years the road was extended, so now it's more like two. I found it a nice sampler of different parts of Nepal -- villages, ecosystems -- and easy walking. If you go counter-clockwise, like most people, the elevation gain is reasonable.

For the Everest Base Camp, weather permitting, you'd ideally fly to Lukla (around 9300'), then hike soon after to Namche Bazaar (around 11,200'). This is why you'll want to give yourself 2-3 weeks, and not be tied to too tight of a schedule. Taking a moderate rate of ascent, and an occasional acclimatization day when needed, are key.

I didn't have a guide, but did talk to some of the guides along the way, to get a better sense of where to stay along the route, and basic culture and etiquette. And I traveled light -- add a water bottle to my list in parentheses above, and that was it. At the end of the day of trekking, I would wash up and change into my other clothes. I wash up and change into these every night, which I saw the guides do too. I think finding a guide could be a little tricky, as everyone in Kathmandu may try to sell their services too you, regardless of their experience. I'd be curious how others approached this.

Trekking in Himalayan India is also excellent, and quite a bit different. Here there is no real tea house system, and you would need to go with a large footprint approach -- guide, cook, horses for gear. This would be more expensive, and rarer, but is worth looking into. Both Uttarakhand and Ladakh offer probably the best Himalayan options.

I traveled through other parts of SE Asia earlier in life, when I had more time than money. Thailand is nice, and not all that challenging -- Asia Light, I've heard some call it. Generally you'd start your trip flying into Bangkok, and could go only as far as northern Thailand, or any of the neighboring countries. This would be where you want to study what you really want to see -- beaches, ruins, temples, food. If you only have 1-2 weeks, you'll need to pick and choose.

The balance between time and cost is always a factor. In my experience in the developing world of Asia, things do not run with peak efficiency --the expression "First World Problems" starts to have some truth, as the simple -- getting from point A to B, for example -- prove not to be so much so. If the time you have available, and your wife's medical concerns, are an issue, it's worth exploring going as part of a guided trip. I know friends who have been happy with both G Adventure and Intrepid Travel, and both have reputations for responsible travel -- using local guides and services, putting money into the communities, etc. National Geographic Adventures seems more high end, very professional, but more expensive.

If nothing else, looking at some of these tours online, and some of the accompanying photos, can really help focus in on what to see.

Shallowpockets
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by Shallowpockets » Tue Jul 03, 2018 10:32 am

You say this will be your last major vacation for a while. With that in mind, as others have said, go to SE Asia. You have to go. Go to Thailand. Nothing wrong with that. You could spend your whole time just in Thailand.
Keep this in mind. Others may say go to Thailand, and to Cambodia, and to Vietnam, and to Laos. This is my feeling on that. If you spend only a day or so here and there in other countries, you mentally think you have been there and cross it off your list for the future. Thus you narrow your world of possible trips. Pop over to Saigon for a couple days and you may not consider "going back" to Vietnam, because you have already "been there".
Let's say Thailand. You got Bangkok, Chang Mai, Phuket, and others. But if you spend three days in each of those, that is nine days. Add your travel time. So does not seem like you could run out of Thailand things to do in your timeframe. A lot of people hate Bangkok. But only if they have been there and seen it. It is a city full of things to do. Many day excursions you could take. But, hot, real hot and sticky. And crowded, traffic, noise. That's part of its charm.
You owe it to yourself as a traveler to go to Asia. Who knows when you could go again.

Alf 101
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by Alf 101 » Tue Jul 03, 2018 11:25 am

I'm going to heartily agree with that last post. Thailand is a great option -- food, history, culture, scenery -- and sometimes you really lose out in travel by spreading yourself too thin.

I found myself in Bangkok after my first trip to Nepal, with no particular plans. I was completely entertained to wander around for a few days though -- wander through a market, catch a water taxi, and see how long it took me to find my way back to my hotel. I went to the muay thai matches and sat in the cheap seats. And after a lot of dal baht, I asked the hotel about good places to eat, and ate a lot of street food too.

Three days each in Bangkok, Chang Mai, and points south (e.g, Phuket, or other beach), plus travel time to and from home, should be about the length of a good trip. If you're looking at doing an African safari in a week, or as long as 10-14 days, this really limits your options in Nepal, and risks making a trip through multiple countries kind of a check-the-box affair -- more seeing and less experiencing.

This would be a worthy destination, easy enough to get to and get around, and give you a good taste of SE Asia.

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HornedToad
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by HornedToad » Tue Jul 03, 2018 11:39 am

Thanks for the responses.

We would do 14-15 days total in SE Asia. And then Africa would be a separate trip for 1-2 weeks.


I agree with philosophy of staying longer in each location and seeing more. That's what we've done in the past as well, while balancing seeing "enough" when in the vicinity. I was mainly trying to see if it's more just Nepal or Nepal + another country or whether there's more of a recommendation for Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, etc. If we did a hiking style trip we'd probably hire a guide for it.

I'll need to do some research on the various countries before deciding but this has really helped us narrow down the options and focus our efforts.

Thanks

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mclovin
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by mclovin » Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:01 pm

HornedToad wrote:
Mon Jul 02, 2018 10:43 pm

For going on an African Safari, is a week doable or also should really look at 10-14 days to make it worthwhile?
My wife and I did a 7 day 6 night safari at two separate conservancies and that was sufficient as we saw a ton of animals. I would recommend checking out conservancies/private reserves to avoid crowds in a national park. We did the Porini Camps in Kenya and they were outstanding. We were also allowed to off road in the conservancy, but not in the national park.

There are also safari options in Nepal at places like Chitwan National Park, although you can't stay in the park after dark.

My wife and I have been to Nepal and India. The lack of infrastructure in Nepal can be challenging. For example, there was one main road in Nepal to get where we needed to go and it closed for large chunks of each day for repairs. In either location I would recommend a good guide/tour company. Trinetra Tours in northern India is one of the best companies that we ever used.

coalcracker
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by coalcracker » Tue Jul 03, 2018 12:06 pm

Deciding where to take an exotic vacation is a great "problem" to have :D . You'll have a memorable experience no matter what you choose.

My wife and I spent 3 weeks in Nepal and India as our last trip before kids, about 5 years ago now. If you could swing a 3-week trip, a trek in Nepal and some time at the beach in Thailand would, I think, be pretty fantastic.

We might try a return trip to SEA this winter with kids (ages 5 and 2) in tow. I've no doubt they would have fun there, it's the flight(s) that give me nightmares.

cc

jodydavis
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by jodydavis » Tue Jul 03, 2018 3:38 pm

HornedToad wrote:
Mon Jul 02, 2018 10:43 pm
My wife is a little worried about medical in some of these destinations as she has a pre-existing condition. It's relatively well managed but more of a just in case. How real is that concern in these locations that are generally less advanced?
Since no one has addressed this yet, let me take a quick stab at this. You definitely should do your research, figure out insurance, and also determine ahead of time what you will do if a medical issue arises. You do not want to be in a position where you are trying to figure this out on the fly in an emergency.

My sense is that, in many (though not all) of these countries, it's possible to get high quality medical care (close to US standards), but it will depend very much on who you know and what contacts you have. Wealthy individuals, expats, and others will have access to high-quality care, and in some cases there may be a good deal of medical tourism. But the key is knowing how to get access to it, as opposed to going through the general medical system. This is based on the experience of some family members of mine who have had acute medical issues abroad. Others will no doubt be able to give more guidance on this.

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ResearchMed
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by ResearchMed » Tue Jul 03, 2018 4:23 pm

jodydavis wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 3:38 pm
HornedToad wrote:
Mon Jul 02, 2018 10:43 pm
My wife is a little worried about medical in some of these destinations as she has a pre-existing condition. It's relatively well managed but more of a just in case. How real is that concern in these locations that are generally less advanced?
Since no one has addressed this yet, let me take a quick stab at this. You definitely should do your research, figure out insurance, and also determine ahead of time what you will do if a medical issue arises. You do not want to be in a position where you are trying to figure this out on the fly in an emergency.

My sense is that, in many (though not all) of these countries, it's possible to get high quality medical care (close to US standards), but it will depend very much on who you know and what contacts you have. Wealthy individuals, expats, and others will have access to high-quality care, and in some cases there may be a good deal of medical tourism. But the key is knowing how to get access to it, as opposed to going through the general medical system. This is based on the experience of some family members of mine who have had acute medical issues abroad. Others will no doubt be able to give more guidance on this.
I'd suggest considering travel insurance, perhaps including medical or not, depending upon how your regular health insurance coverage works overseas.

If you start the insurance within 10-20 days of the FIRST deposit, then many plans don't exclude pre-existing conditions (either for medical care of costs of cancelling/interrupting trip, and "interrupting" can be more costly than cancelling in some cases).
There is at least one insurer that will cover pre-existing conditions if the policy is started within 24 hours of final payment (defined narrowly, obviously), but it's not quite as good coverage as the other policies started sooner.

AND consider MedJetAssist. This kicks in when someone is more than 150 miles from home (for USA based members) and is admitted as an inpatient at a hospital (not ER, not Observation).
At that point, you can call MJA, and basically, say, "take me to the hospital of MY choice" (perhaps your regular hospital or perhaps a specialty hospital elsewhere).
They'll do it with a nurse and business class if that's sufficient, or a full medevac air ambulance, etc.

We keep the annual policy, as it then covers us for the regular business trips and to friends/family/etc., and we take more than one big trip per year anyway.

Contact www.TripInsuranceStore.com
We learned of them from www.CruiseCritic.com (where there is LOTS of good travel info that isn't cruise-specific, like air, insurance, and location sub-forums in particular).

CALL them. Don't rely upon trying to read online summaries and think one can compare the fine print, etc.
No extra cost to the traveler (the insurer pays the commission).
They can also help with claims IF needed.

Our policies through them are usually with Travel Insured, and all of our claims (including two large ones) are with TI. They paid promptly, with no nonsense, which is what matters, after all!
They also sell MJA. There is a discount for AARP (or is it AAA? :shock: ).

We both have assorted "pre-existing conditions" so it's critical that we get this type of coverage.

Good luck!

RM
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totallystudly
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by totallystudly » Tue Jul 03, 2018 4:30 pm

Let me dissuade you from going to Alaska. I went there on a cruise and I was bored to tears.

Shallowpockets
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by Shallowpockets » Tue Jul 03, 2018 4:38 pm

Your wife's health should not be in jeapordy in SE Asia as related to medical care if she can get to a hospital in any of the large cities which are only more or less an hour flight away.
Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur.
This because I had advocated for Thailand in an earlier post.
Personal experience with this is S.O. Had a stroke in Laos on a bus and I had to get her somewhere and that was Bangkok. Superlative hospital. I picked it out of a guidebook. Bumrungrad hospital. Funny name, but on par with the best you might ever see in the USA.
Preexisting conditions you have to read the fine print. Check your credit card also for what they cover.
Yesterday bought World Nomad insurance for Africa, so I am real tuned into all the ins and outs of travel insurance. And it is still a bit confusing.

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ResearchMed
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by ResearchMed » Tue Jul 03, 2018 4:45 pm

Shallowpockets wrote:
Tue Jul 03, 2018 4:38 pm
Your wife's health should not be in jeapordy in SE Asia as related to medical care if she can get to a hospital in any of the large cities which are only more or less an hour flight away.
Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur.
This because I had advocated for Thailand in an earlier post.
Personal experience with this is S.O. Had a stroke in Laos on a bus and I had to get her somewhere and that was Bangkok. Superlative hospital. I picked it out of a guidebook. Bumrungrad hospital. Funny name, but on par with the best you might ever see in the USA.
Preexisting conditions you have to read the fine print. Check your credit card also for what they cover.
Yesterday bought World Nomad insurance for Africa, so I am real tuned into all the ins and outs of travel insurance. And it is still a bit confusing.
I just looked at World Nomad, and found under what is NOT covered:
"Any expenses that relate to a pre-existing medical condition".

So that's out for us, and apparently for OP.

RM
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MJS
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by MJS » Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:04 pm

[quote=coalcracker post_id=4000026 ti
Nepal. Cheap, beautiful. No brainer if you like hiking.
[/quote]

+1. History, architecture, gardens, hiking, food, and you'll be helping people recovery after the 2015 earthquake.

WhiteMaxima
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by WhiteMaxima » Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:16 pm

Praha, Czech Republic
Budapest, Hungary
Vienna, Austria
Venice, Italy
Barcelona, Spain
Istanbul, Turkey
Athena, Greece.

You can buy a Euro Rail Pass and visit these countries, Kids travel free.

Theseus
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by Theseus » Tue Jul 03, 2018 5:22 pm

I wrote a mini trip report last month. You might enjoy something like this. It is active enough but still have most creature comforts and a different way to see parts of Europe.

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=250772&hilit=report

Fortune
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by Fortune » Tue Jul 03, 2018 8:37 pm

If you want variety in one country, go to India (South India, Western India, North-east, Delhi, Agra, Jaipur). You can get beaches, amazing architecture, wild life, hiking all in one country, with one visa fee. Suits all budgets too!

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oldcomputerguy
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by oldcomputerguy » Wed Jul 04, 2018 6:01 am

HornedToad wrote:
Mon Jul 02, 2018 12:23 am
For our tropical vacation we like Islands with beauty, interesting food and activities. Zip lining, beach volleyball, ocean sports, etc. Something to keep active while primarily relaxing on the beach/pool with a book.
I don't know if this would be to your liking, but my go-to destination for relaxing on the beach has always been Sandals South Coast in Jamaica. It's set in the middle of a 500-acre nature preserve, and every room in the place faces the ocean. They do have beach volleyball, water skiing, and scuba diving, but no ziplining.
"I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people; and if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you." (Aaron Sorkin)

marielake
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by marielake » Wed Jul 04, 2018 6:53 am

The time of year you travel will make a difference in where to go in Southeast Asia. I found Fodors.com travel forum to be a really helpful resource. You can read trip reports and ask specific advice from seasoned, well-informed travelers. The folks on the SE Asia forum are passionate about the region.

I wouldn't choose too many locations; decide on your theme--beach, culture, temples, big city and then decide. There's a lot of travel time involved when moving around. We went in and out of Bangkok about 4 times--you need to give yourself 2-3 hours at airport and an hour to get to airport, when arriving in other countries, you need to get visas which takes another hour. We did too much for a month long stay. In a do over, I would skip Laos, go to a better beach (we were in Phuket and Khao Lak) and eat street food. As soon as I can find a willing travel companion, I will return. Most folks I know are too skittish to travel that far.

Prices are very reasonable. We averaged $100/night for a hotel room, for rooms which ranged from $68/night (Siem Reap) to $175 (Phuket). Some were 5 star hotels. Meals were as low as $2 (Hanoi). Tour guides and driver were relatively cheap--$60 in Siem Reap; $120 in Bangkok. Flights were very inexpensive.

I found SE Asia to be far more advanced than I had anticipated. I was told they had some the best hospitals in the world; fortunately we never needed to find out. We also purchased trip insurance in case we needed medical evacuation.

Traveler
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by Traveler » Wed Jul 04, 2018 9:57 am

A few suggestions:
Greek Islands
Iceland (I was appalled that someone suggested you only need a couple days there - I spent 12 days driving around the entire island and loved every single day of it)
Argentina (Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls, Patagonia, although I haven't been to Patagonia)
Japan (not sure why you're opposed if you haven't been)

All of these depend on which part of the year you plan to travel.

fasteddie911
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Re: International Vacation Ideas

Post by fasteddie911 » Sat Jul 07, 2018 7:38 am

I can only speak to Iceland. To me it reminded me of Big Island, a raw undeveloped land, but just bigger and more of it and less lushness. It seems more like a place to just enjoy the beauty, and a little lighter on activities and history.

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