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Incredibly awesome extended once in a lifetime holiday ideas please

(48 Posts)
Lulabellarama Tue 14-Jan-14 13:26:43

Hi all,

My husband and I have decided that when we get a windfall in a few years time we'd like to take the children on a proper once-in-a-lifetime holiday. They will be 8 and 14 and the plan will be to both take a sabbatical and go away for the entire summer holidays, around 5 weeks.

The slight dampener is that the weather in two of our top choice destinations won't be great at that time of year (India and Thailand). So we're looking for somewhere exotic and beautiful, where we can immerse ourselves in the culture and history of somewhere new while having full scale adventures.

My researching has got me quite keen on Indonesia, specifically Bali and Sumatra. We could stop over for a couple of days either side in Singapore and/or Hong Kong. We could do beach-huts for some of the time, take trips into the rainforest or to the cities. Ride elephants and meet orangutans etc.

Does anyone have experience of Indonesia? Where else would you suggest? I'm open to any ideas although neither of us have a burning desire to visit Australia or Dubai.

We're prepared to spend around £20k I reckon. And yes, I know how fortunate we are to be able to even consider doing this.

Bonzodoodah Tue 14-Jan-14 13:30:42

Have you thought of Borneo? Beautiful rainforests with amazing wildlife (look up Mulu caves and Kinabatangan river), plus amazing beaches, delicious food ... LOVED it! Could couple it to a tour round Singapore, Peninsular Malaysia or Indonesia.

Lulabellarama Tue 14-Jan-14 13:43:32

Borneo will definitely go on the list.

I feel like such a novice at this, the only place I've been to outside Europe is Morocco so I'm really quite clueless about how far apart places are and where works in terms of visiting one place from another.

And you mentioned a very important point in your post - FOOD. There has to be great food, I've been slightly put off both Cuba and Costa Rica by reports that the food wasn't great.

Lulabellarama Tue 14-Jan-14 14:52:50

Any more suggestions?

CosyTeaBags Tue 14-Jan-14 15:00:18

I second Borneo! I've been twice, utterly fabulous. Went diving (you can qualify in 4 days), visited the Kinabatangan river, staying in an eco lodge, visited the Sepilok Orang utan rehabilitation centre, Mulu caves, Bako national park in Sarawak - you could even go and stay at a long house with one of the Sarawak tribes.

But if you have 5 weeks, you could do Borneo AND a bit more of Indonesia. I've been to Bali - it's tacky and touristy in some parts, lovely in other parts. I'd love to try Sumatra.

If Thailand is top of your list, go for it - what is the weather supposed to be like that that time of year? It won't be that different to Indonesia.

Again, in 5 weeks, you could travel through Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos if culture and people are your thing, it's wonderful

If wildlife is your thing - Indonesia / Borneo would be an excellent choice.

Sorry, a rather muddled post. I love travel, and would happily chat to you about it!

mummymeister Tue 14-Jan-14 15:15:33

go to south America instead. everyone goes to india and Indonesia and the like. try something completely different. Venezuela, chile,

Lulabellarama Tue 14-Jan-14 15:20:03

Borneo is definitely sounding like a strong contender and I like the idea of being able to do both countries.

I wouldn't say wildlife was MY thing particularly but I know my two boys would love it and this is as much about them as anything. I'm far more interested in the culture and natural beauty, which it sounds like I won't be lacking in.

SOuth America is also definitely still in contention, I just don't know as many people to ask about it. I'd happily take advice on which countries are worth the trip and which we can give a miss.

monopoly123 Tue 14-Jan-14 15:33:24

We spent 6m travelling around SE Asia with our children in 2011. We went to Singapore, peninsular Malaysia, Thailand, Borneo (Sabah), Bali, Lombok, gili isles and Hong Kong. May/June/July = Singapore, Malaysia peninsular
Late July/August= Thailand (damp and stormy but manageable, when it rains it rains for an hour and stops)
August/sept= Indonesia - dry, not humid and sunny
Sept/oct= Borneo - mixed, occasional downpours, mostly dry
Oct =HK - mixed

Have a look on and round the world experts for flight deals - they were doing a London to Istanbul to Kuala Lumpur, make your own way to Bangkok and fly home to London from there for around £500! Seat 61 will show you the potential train itinaries, would recommend the overnight from bangkok to Chiang Mai. If you book a flight like that you can use air Asia to hop around when you're there.

Lulabellarama Tue 14-Jan-14 15:37:04

That's fantastically helpful monopoly, thank you!

I'll have a good look around tonight. I love train travel so that sounds really interesting, and good to know that Thailand isn't out of the question.

monopoly123 Tue 14-Jan-14 15:41:35

Seat61 will give you lots of ideas. Have a look at air Asia too for flights in between, there's a few others that were really cheap.
Also for Malaysia have a look at aero line coaches - I think KL is one of the cheaper entry places and you can then coach up to Penang/fly from KL to all over the region. Now Burma has opened up I'd definitely be looking at going there! But I haven't researched any routes.

Eastpoint Tue 14-Jan-14 15:45:13

If you start in Bali you could visit other Indonesian islands & go & see the Komodo dragons in Flores. Your oldest will be able to get his PADI certification & you could go diving together. I think the diving in the Flores Sea is better than off the Great Barrier Reef.

Another option would be to do a safari in Africa - you could do part by camel, part by food & see the Great Migration. Your youngest son will be old enough to go on game drives.

EasterHoliday Tue 14-Jan-14 15:47:44

Ecuador and the Galapagos. You can do it on your budget if you wait and book your Galapagos boat once you're there. You take in beach, jungle, cloud forest, mountain, white water, colonial towns, all before you've hit the greatest place on the planet. You can walk around in teh hills on Baltra with WILD GIANT TORTOISES. it's amazing.

Lulabellarama Tue 14-Jan-14 15:55:50

Is it weird that I'm excited just about researching this holiday? I know I've got PLENTY of time but I'm getting really carried away. Some amazing ideas here. Tonight I'll have a look into Ecuador, a safari and everything seat61 has to offer.

Still really keen to hear about South America if anyone has advice? I like the idea of stopping over in North America en route and/or maybe spending a few days on a Carribean island.

How about Brazil, has anyone been?

EasterHoliday Tue 14-Jan-14 16:01:52

Brazil is huge and bear in mind your timing may make it Olympics year for Rio in which case crank up the costs of all the internal flights massively. Great fun though of course. I can heartily recommend Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. Peru - jungle, cloud forest, Nazca lines, Cusco the Inca trail and Macchu Picchu. On to Lake Titicaca and into Bolivia - La Paz, salt plains at Uyuni, down into the Atacama desert in Chile to watch the stars at night. Done all of that apart from Uyuni and the desert - and long to go back and rectify the omission! a proper cultural, natural history ADVENTURE.
and instead of a carribbean island, why not stop at the glorious carribbean beaches in Colombia on the way? Cartagena... or maybe Venezuelan party beaches?

Lulabellarama Tue 14-Jan-14 16:09:42

That sounds incredible Easter, it's definitely going on the list to research. I am definitely hoping for adventure.
I think we're looking at 2017, so will miss the Olympics. That sounds so far away but when you're planning something so huge it's hard not to want to get started straigh away.

monopoly123 Tue 14-Jan-14 16:26:53

Easterholidays - your posts are giving me itchy feet! Sounds amazing!

Creamycoolerwithcream Tue 14-Jan-14 17:40:08

I have taken my DC to south America and to South Africa for normal length holidays and would recommend both places if you like nature, activities beautiful and diverse places. I'd love to go back to each place for a longer period of time.

Creamycoolerwithcream Tue 14-Jan-14 17:43:38

Lulabellarama I visited Brazil in 2012. We visited Rio and then flew to Iguassa to see the falls and stayed on the Argentian side in the rain forest.

Bonzodoodah Wed 15-Jan-14 20:32:53

I mentioned Borneo ... loved it and went on my round the world trip from Bali, Singapore, Malaysia, Borneo then Thailand. look at the Perhentian islands for snorkelling with turtles boo tropical fish! But then you could add on a trip to Cambodia and see Ankor Watt ... I'm gutted I didn't go when I was there.

But if you look at South America I'd second Peru! Loved it there... Nazcar lines where amazing, plus the Inca Trail, Lake Titicaca, Inca burial sites ... and then could go on a trip down the Amazon. Need yellow fever jabs for that though and I didn't have time.

Bonzodoodah Wed 15-Jan-14 20:39:50

OR ... South Africa. Autumn is great as it's Whale Season at Hermanus ... can see whales breaching from the shore!! Vineyards, delicious food, penguins, daft train rides, table mountain, then drive your own safari in the Kruger National Park. we saw LOADS and loads of fabulous wildlife. Then gorgeous scenery in the gold mining hills, ... Maybe could then fly to Madagascar? On my wish list! would love to see lemurs!

PotatoPolly Wed 15-Jan-14 20:43:25

what about a long cruise? you could squeeze in loads of countries that way, although I do appreciate you'd only be scratching the surface in each.

perhaps start with a weeks cruise, see some places in depth and finish with another weeks cruise, round australia and NZ or something?!

Creamycoolerwithcream Wed 15-Jan-14 20:45:24

I was also going to suggest slotting a cruise in or an amazing train journey.

GreggsOnLegs Wed 15-Jan-14 20:45:51

Use trailfinders, they are fantastic, have great knowledge of the world and are very reasonably priced, with lots of amazing holiday options.
You'd get a round the world ticket with plenty of change with your budget.

Lulabellarama Thu 16-Jan-14 14:05:32

Thanks for all of your input, it's much appreciated.
I've been disappointed by the number of places that are ruled out by the time of year. We don't mind a few tropical storms but we don't want to risk washing out days on end, or having the kind of weather where you might need a warm cardi smile

My list at the moment is:



I think we'll have to do another trip, maybe once the boys are out of school to all the places I've ruled out, particularly India and Sri Lanka.

ShanghaiDiva Fri 17-Jan-14 09:43:03

Thailand can be wet in the summer, but Bali is hot. I was in Phuket in July 2009 and we only had one day where it rained all day but I think this was pretty unusual.
Bali - recommend Ubud - avoid Kuta - it's awful!
Borneo - July is hot and dry. Sarawak is fantastic and Kuching is much nicer than Kota Kinanbalu. Food is great and you can see orangutans, go kyaking and visit longhouses.
Cambodia - also wet season. December - Feb is the best time to travel there. It is just amazing - Angkor Wat, great food - not too spicy and because of the French influence you can always find something that children will eat, travel by tuk tuk, great temple and lovely people. No malaria in Cambodia.
Hong Kong - consider breaking journey here for Disneyland, Ocean Park, peak tram, star ferry etc. It is hot and humid in the summer but doesn't usually rain all day.
Singapore - great zoo and the Night Safari is excellent.

Air Asia operates out of KL and flights are cheap. We flew from KL to Hong Kong last year (4 of us) for about 350 pounds and the flight is around 4 hours so it was a good deal. Also consider Scoot - it is a Singaporean low cost airline and Jet Star for travel around Asia.

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