Here we are – a brand new year full of brand new plans and opportunities! 2015 was an amazing year – it was the year that I quit my job, we sold all our belongings and got ready for a life on the road. Taking off in July, we went on to visit six countries – Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and India – four of them brand new to us both.
Our plans to travel exclusively in Asia to start with are still in place, and now that we’ve been able to spend some more time looking into our destinations and what time of year is best for each, we have a bit more of a concrete plan.
So, without further ado…
1) SRI LANKA: Jan – Feb
After nearly two months in India, I’ll be travelling to the nearby country of Sri Lanka where I’ll be catching up with my friend Greg. Greg and I used to work together, and he is one of the most well-travelled people I know – upwards of 70 countries and counting. He’s heading back to Sri Lanka for the first time since 2005, so he and I will be travelling for a fortnight, before Mike flies over and joins up for a further two weeks.
2) JAPAN: March
We had originally planned to spend about two months in Japan, including some travel with friends, however unfortunately they’ve had to pull out and we’ve also re-assessed – Japan is a teensy bit pricey! So we’ve revised our plans from two months to about 3ish weeks. We are so looking forward to some time in a modern country, and a cooler change in the weather and to experience both the craziness and the tranquility that is Japan!
3) SOUTH KOREA: April
We’ll be heading to South Korea on one of Mike’s shorter breaks. We’ve only ever heard good things about South Korea, and with a friend of Mike’s living there it should be an awesome trip. Plus, I really really want to have my photo taken here….
4) MONGOLIA: May – June
Mongolia is the country we’re heading to that we know the least about, but are the most fascinated by – it’s the country Mike is looking forward to this year. Meeting real life nomadic tribes, exploring vast endless terrains, horse-riding and trekking – it’s going to be one incredible adventure in the great outdoors.
5) HONG KONG: June
Technically not a country, but a destination in it’s own right, we’re super keen to explore Hong Kong on one of Mike’s shorter breaks. It’s a city that fascinates us and one that will hopefully prepare us for our next adventure, being…
6) CHINA: July – Aug
China – the most populated country on the planet. To be perfectly honest this is a country where I’m a little concerned about how we’ll go – the language barrier scares the bejeezus out of me. We’ll definitely have to try our hand at some Mandarin here! There’s so much in this country we’re keen to see, from the bustling cities of Beijing and Shangai, to seeing pandas in Chengdu, the terracotta army in Xi’an and more off the beaten track locations like the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park (the inspiration for Avatar) and the Zhangye Danxia Geological Park (China’s ‘rainbow mountains’).
7) PHILIPPINES: Oct
We had planned to visit the Philippines in 2015 but re-assessed after realising that fitting it into a two week break for Mike was nowhere near enough time to do everything we wanted. So, we’ve moved it to a four week window in October this year. We’ll be able to explore much more of the country this way, and do so ahead of the peak season. Sun, surf, sand, beaches, waterfalls, paradise, trekking – it’s going to be beautiful!
8 ) TAIWAN, MYANMAR: Definitely will visit… unsure when…
Taiwan is definitely on our list for the year, with its kooky themed restaurants, night markets galore, exquisite cuisine, temples, waterfalls and gorges. We’ll likely visit on one of Mike’s two week breaks, but we’re just unsure when that will be – likely after China however that will depend entirely on how sick we are of Chinese food…
Myanmar was almost going to happen first up this year, right after Sri Lanka however flights didn’t really work in our favour. Now a ‘must-do’ stop on the typical backpacker South East Asia route (consisting of Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos), it’s a country we want to visit before it gets too busy and exploited by tourism. It might be one of the last stops of the year.
9) NEPAL, BANGLADESH, BHUTAN: Want to visit, but not 100% sure yet…
Nepal is a country that Mike visited in 2014, and absolutely loved. He wants to visit again and take me with him this time, however the main point of our visit would be to go trekking. As our fitness is not where either of us wants it to be at this point in time, we are thinking it might be a stop we put on the back burner for now to re-visit in a few years when we’ve been able to work on our fitness levels and have some more treks under our belt so we can really enjoy it (aka so I’m not two days behind Mike…)
Bangladesh – practically untouched and off the tourist map – is what makes this country so alluring. Once you start looking into what there is to see, your list of ‘must-dos’ grows very quickly! However due to the infancy of the tourism industry, this is a country that cannot be rushed – we’ll need ample time to explore it properly, and we’re not sure we can fit this in around the other big countries this year. There’s also been some political issues and some strife of late, so we’d rather wait until that’s well and truly over before visiting.
Bhutan is more of a ‘we should visit whilst we’re nearby’ country rather than one where there are lots of things we wish to see. Plus, there is a minimum tariff of US $250 a day per person – which whilst all inclusive is hugely expensive and is quite a chunk out of our budget. Its a maybe, maybe not destination at the moment – if we end up being nearby and we can get a cheap flight then we might visit for a few days – but thats all.
So that’s it! That brings us to the end of our Asian adventures! But wait… there’s more…
10) UK & ICELAND: Dec – Jan (2017)
Whilst we were planning to wrap things up in Asia around the end of November and head back to Australia for Christmas, New Year, etc etc whilst we planned our next move – we realised that once again Mike has a six week break from work over this period. We will head back to Oz for a time – but six weeks is also a precious chunk of time to not make use of….
So at this stage we are thinking (though not confirmed) to finally make our way over to the UK for the holiday season, but not before making a trip to Iceland. It’s Mike’s #1 destination and ranks pretty highly for me also, and we want to get there sooner rather than later – also to experience something completely different to Asia. We’ve been reading a lot of articles about the pros of travelling during Iceland’s winter and we’re pretty convinced it would be an unreal experience. Provided we can get some good flights, we have our fingers crossed that we’ll be able to end 2016 in a completely different way to how we started it.
NOW that’s it… our 2016 travel plans. It’s going to be a big, crazy year with some incredible destinations – ones that we really believe will challenge us on a whole new level.
Where are you going in 2016? We’d love to hear your travel plans! Tell us in the comments below, and if you have any advice for any destinations we mentioned above, please share it with us also!