Travel SOS: Bali, Thailand or Vietnam? Which spot is best?

Lisa-Marie is after some advice on how she should best spend three weeks in south-east Asia.

Where is best in south-east Asia?

Lisa-Marie is after some advice on how she should best spend three weeks in south-east Asia.


Q. Lisa-Marie
My husband and I are planning on taking a three-week holiday in July next year. We have decided we would like to spend our annual trip in south-east Asia this year but are having trouble deciding between Bali, Thailand and Vietnam. I have heard such great things about each of the three locations but would really like some advice on how to best allocate our time. Ideally, we would like to visit all three, but given that we are after a laidback holiday where we won’t be swamped by tourists, we are not sure if this will be possible.

We are also keen to wander around and explore on our own and meet some real locals who are friendly and not looking to take advantage of us at every turn.

A. These are certainly some tough decisions to make! If you are choosing to allocate time, you will certainly need to leave the most time for Vietnam, which is a much larger country with plenty of different sites to take in.

While you could easily spend a week in each location, we think you would be better off spending two weeks in Vietnam to get a strong feel for the country and to meet locals, who are extremely friendly and helpful. You could take a two to three-day junk boat trip in Halong Bay and a few days in Hanoi to mix things up.

We would then recommend deciding between Bali and Thailand for your remaining week in south-east Asia.

If pesky street vendors are something you are looking to avoid, that situation is probably a little worse in Bali than it is in Thailand, depending on exactly where you decide to set up base.

Phuket has some beautiful beaches and depending on your budget, some of the resorts have their own private beach. You are also able to hire a car at the hotel and explore the island.

On the other hand, if you decide you have enough beaches in Vietnam you can always spend some of your Thailand time in Bangkok. While there will be a lot of tourists in the country’s capital, the weekend markets and shopping areas are fantastic, and the food is sublime.

We hope you enjoy your trip whatever you decide on doing!

What is your favourite destination in south-east Asia? What would you recommend for Lisa-Marie’s three-week holiday?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    1st Dec 2018
    We are not into country “hopping”. We prefer to get an understanding of the country and its people rather than just visit sites. I would spend 3 weeks in Vietnam. Hanoi, Danang( Hoi An) and Ho Chi Minh are all very different. You can travel between them by train ( or plane if you wish). Hoi An would be my pick if staying in one place.
    Wherever you go you will evouncounter crowds in Juky unless you restrict yourself to lying on a beach at a resort. If that is the holiday that you desire come to North Queensland. It will be much less crowded although more expensive.
    1st Dec 2018
    Try Queensland in summer first. If you can stand the humidity consider south east Asia. If not don't go.
    Travellers need to appreciate that the oppressive humidity and heat will for most result in an expensive trip which they cannot wait to end.
    1st Dec 2018
    Try dressing more appropriately next time you go MICK.
    1st Dec 2018
    ... and don't drink the water....
    Nose Hair Bob
    1st Dec 2018
    Definitely Vietnam if you are looking for 'laid back'. Agree with all points made by Lorrainehk especially Hoi An. The most laid back place for me was Luang Prabang in Laos on the Mekong. In Thailand for laid back try Niharn or Rawai beaches on the southern end of Phuket. Most Asian cities are chaos, Bangkok traffic is horrendous, Phnom Penh out right dangerous. Out side the cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh beautiful. Always be aware which side the traffic goes, nearly got caught out a few times in Cambodia and VN.

    1st Dec 2018
    Tibet sounds good... not so warm, smelly or sticky.
    Karl Marx
    1st Dec 2018
    In all three countries there will be locals wanting to take advantage just because your a westerner. Westerners are looked upon as rich (even though by our standard we aren't). Tourist beware. Use booking sites for hotels, resorts that way the tourist price isn't used if you walk in off the street. When you shop especially at markets bartter or only buy items with a price tag. I found in Vietnam 10 years ago especially up north in Hanoi that some shops, especially those selling war & propaganda posters had 3 prices, local, tourist & American, guess who was charged the most. In SE Asia it's made yesterday & antique today lol.
    1st Dec 2018
    Bali is full of Drunk and unruly Ausssies
    Thailand is full Drugged and unruly Aussies looking for sex
    Communist run Vietnam with it lovely friendly small people is your best bet
    Karl Marx
    1st Dec 2018
    Miker, Your comment on Thailand is utter rubbish.
    1st Dec 2018
    Agree about Bali - remember an article a few years ago about it being the place where an Australian dies every 9 days? Also, they shot 2 Australians after keeping them in prison and getting reformed.
    Vietnam - heard they use human poo as fertiliser, hence consider that when you eat food there. Also, fish caught in the Mekong river is fed on human poo as the fisherman in houseboats use the river as their toilet.
    Thailand may be the best(in SE Asia, other than Singapore) - if you can avoid the sleazy areas, and only go to the expensive resorts.

    Ultimately, Australia is the best for good, clean, safe holidays - see the other article today, which only lists a few of the many wonderful places here.
    1st Dec 2018
    Yes, I was wrong about Thailand, it should have read, 'full of drugged and drunk unruly Aussies looking for sex. Sorry about that.
    Karl Marx
    1st Dec 2018
    miker, You're still posting utter BS & rubbish. If you want drunk, drugged Aussies looking for sexy plenty of those sleazy places in Australia & just about anywhere in the world. If that's what you want then you'll find it, obvious that's your cupa.
    There are thousands places in Thailand that cater for families, couples & individuals without the sleaze.
    It's obvious that you haven't experienced the world apart from going to the drunken bars & red light districts.
    It's also obvious that you know squat about Thailand.
    1st Dec 2018
    I stated an opinion to which I am entitled. You disagree 1984, fine
    You go further though with the personal insult, typical of someone
    who cannot cope with a different opinion. I have travelled extensively
    in South and East Asia working, spent real time in Thailand for example,
    time to observe and consolidate the opinion I expressed.
    By Cupa, did you mean Cuppa?
    Karl Marx
    1st Dec 2018
    No personal insult at all, just making an observation on your post as your comments about Thailand are untrue & false.
    I can cope with a different opinion but object to narrow mind views as yours. I agree there is a drinking & drug problem in areas of thailand with red light districts but so does Australia & nearly every other country. But there is a lot more to Thailand than you portray with you "opinion"
    Like you I have travelled extensively around the world & I'm currently in Thailand but not in the touristy areas at the moment so I feel more than qualified to comment on you post
    2nd Dec 2018
    miker, you are talking rubbish because I live in Thailand and I don't drink and I am married to a Thai and the area that you are talking about would be the size of any suburb of any capitol city in Australia. It is quite clear that you have never traveled around Thailand or you would not brand a country the way that you have. Yes, I will brand many Australians that come here to only go to one area as drunks and druggies after sex but I can get that in any capital city in Australia, but get away from those areas which is quite clear that you have not done and Thailand is much the same as Australia except that I find the people and the culture a lot better than it is in Australia. Going by what your opinion is, it is quite clear that you were only looking for drunken Aussies with the drugs and sex workers and not interested in the real Thailand. That is my opinion of your post.
    3rd Dec 2018
    Hi Miker,
    I think you must be referring to some of the beach areas in Thailand.
    Go north, to areas like Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai to find the quieter, less touristy places.
    1st Dec 2018
    Never been to any of those places. I would never go to Bali for a start.
    How much of Australia have many people not even seen?
    To be well travelled would be great but too late for us health wise and money wise.
    I don’t agree with the money part that Australia is dearer. You have a budget and stick to that. You choose what and where you can afford. Road trips with or without a van are not as expensive as flights overseas. No overseas holiday can be achieved under a grand but you can do that in Aus.
    To each his own but some places are not a good idea for elderly people especially.
    1st Dec 2018
    Bali does not attract me, too commercialised. Thailand I can live without, too polluted, and the last time I was in Vietnam (circa 1969) I made a vow never to return. I prefer domestic holidays but if going overseas NZ looks appealing as does east coast of Canada.
    1st Dec 2018
    And, of course. cruising.
    2nd Dec 2018
    Yes, Eddy, NZ is good. We have been twice years ago though!
    Cruising is good for elderly people as well. It is not cheap though!
    Tasmania is a bit like NZ with an English feel to it.
    We moved from Qld to Vic years ago and spent the first few years acting like tourists and Victoria is tiny compared to other states. Imagine if we investigated every inch of our own state for a start.
    3rd Dec 2018
    I have lived on and off for several years in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I would recommend it as a place to visit. The people are delightful, the food is amazing, and there are lots of exciting places to visit.
    3rd Dec 2018
    I love all three countries I have been to 'Vietnam twice, Thailand three times and innumeral times to Bali. They all have their charms.

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