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Beijing (Oct 23rd – Oct 27th)
I’ve put a side the last four days of my Chinese visa to explore Beijing. Leaving Dengfeng, I’ll fly from Zhengzhou to Beijing doing my best to dodge the rush hour on my way in. My main focus here is to act as a base to visit the Great Wall of China and gaze down the wall as far as the eye can see. I’m basing myself near Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden Palace so those I’ll explore on foot.
Hong Kong (Oct 27th – Oct 31st)
Easy entry into Hong Kong for a British citizen and a great jump point to get to Bangkok (just another Â£20 on my flight costs) mean I’ll have the time to visit this densely packed metropolis. I’ll try to make it to one of the beaches to do what real backpackers tend to do (sunbathe), check out many of the numerous parks and botanic gardens. Oh, and there’s a very cool Bruce Lee statue on Star Avenue I need a picture with.
Bangkok (Oct 31st – Nov 1st)
I intend to come back through Bangkok after completing the backpackers Thailand-Laos-Vietnam-Cambodia backpackers route, so really this bit of Bangkok is just to make my up to Chiang Mai via an overnight train.
Chiang Mai (Nov 2nd – Nov 12th)
I’ve heard many good things about Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second biggest city. Most of my time here will be spent living and volunteering for a week at the Elephant Nature Park.
Luang Prabang (Nov 15th – Nov 18th)
If I have time on route to Luang Prabang, I’m looking to spend a night in the tree tops close to the Thailand/Laos border as part of the Gibbon Experience. If IÂ think time is slippingÂ before leaving Chiang Mai, I’ll do a similar experience there as a 3 hour afternoon experience. Getting to Luang Prabang overland should be a journey in itself. I’m told a 2 day long tail boat ride is the way to go. Once in the town, I’ll try to find a place called Big Brother Mouse, a charity where you buy books and give/read them to local children.
Hanoi (Nov 18th – Nov 19th)
I’ve read that getting from Luang Prabang to Hanoi overland is a bit of a mission. Whilst I’d be ok with that if I had lots of time on this bit, unfortunately I don’t. Â£100 for a flight into Hanoi is too inviting for me.
Hoy An (Nov 20th – Nov 21st)
From Hanoi, I’ll make my way by train south to Hoy An, the historic port and sample the tailored made capital of the world.
Ho Chi Minh City (Nov 21st – Nov 23rd)
Again, by train, I’ll stay in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to see the mishmash of wooden pagodas alongside skyscrapers.
Phnom Penh (Nov 24th – Nov 26th)
Taking the Mekong Express bus, I’ll head across the border to Cambodia. In order to avoid messing around with dodgy border controls, I’ve got my eVisa in advance. The river side town of Phnom Penh will be a strange experience – seeing a Royal Palace, the Killing Fields and sampling the energetic nightlife of the town.
Siem Reap (Nov 27th – Dec 1st)
Hopping back on the Mekong Express, I’ll take it to Siem Reap, to spend 3 days in awe of Angkor WatÂ (that long is recommended everywhere I read).
Bangkok (Dec 3rd – Dec 6th)
Talking another bus through to the infamous Poipet/Aran border, then train to Bangkok in time for the King’s birthday celebrations. I’m told the streets will be filled with partying locals. There should be plenty of opportunities to see temples and modern sky trains.
Phuket (Dec 6th – Dec 7th)
After the King’s celebrations, I’ll head south to Phuket. I’d like to see some live Thai kick boxing and use the town as a jump off to Ko Phi Phi.
Ko Phi Phi (Dec 7th – Dec 12th)
At Ko Phi Phi, I’m looking forward to some great beaches and given it’s Dec (dry season), that should be the best time to go. The offer of learning to scuba dive here with so many schools is too good an opportunity to miss. A day trip to the beach from The Beach is clichÃ© but necessary.
Phuket (Dec 13th)
Taking a boat back from Ko Phi Phi, I’ll use Phuket as my airport to fly to Indonesia.
Bali (Dec 13th – Dec 18th)
I only have 5 days to spend in Indonesia, so Bali is my destination of choice. Although not the driest time of year, I intend to sample the beaches and head to the forests of Ubud.
Perth (Dec 18th – Dec 19th)
I wanted to fly straight from Bali to Melbourne, but flights were too expensive direct. After doing lots of research, I realised going through Perth solved the problem. Although the town seems more of a foodie or wine loving stop, I couldn’t pass the opportunity to stay a night there.
Melbourne (Dec 19th – Dec 21st)
From Perth, I’m taking a flight to Melbourne.Â I missed out on Melbourne in Jan so I want to visit it to see the cosmopolitan side to Australia. I’d like to have used the famous Greyhound coaches, but I’m pushed for time to make a 21st Dec departure.
Ayers Rock (Dec 21st – Dec 24th)
My number one attraction of Australia is to see Urulu (Ayers Rock). Squeezing this in just before xmas means 3 days and flights in and out with Quantas. Having two full days there mean I can take in a dawn and a sunset in view of the mysterious rock.
Sydney (Dec 24th – Jan 1st)
Leaving Ayers Rock on xmas eve, I’ll touch down in Sydney for xmas and new year on the beach. In London, I’ve always thought new years was a bit of an anticlimax, so looking forward to a very different outdoors new years experience here.
New Zealand (Jan 1st – Jan 15th)
Wasting no time after new years, I’ll leave Sydney on 1st Jan and fly to New Zealand for some adventure thrills. Although plans are still forming, I’m thinking one week on the south island doing some trekking, sky diving. Then after making my way to the north island, soak up the Maori culture.
Tokyo (Jan 15th – Jan 24th)
From New Zealand, I’ll fly over to Japan and spend just over a week here. I’d like to see the lights of downtown Tokyo and the beauty of Kyoto. Being a big sushi fan, I’ll probably add a couple of stone in weight whilst I’m at it.