We planned our wedding in exactly 6 months. For our honeymoon, our preparation time will be 15 months. Some might say we don’t have our priorities straight, but really a wedding is a one day to weekend event. Our “honeymoon” is an adventure to discover food, culture, people, and possibly a new place to live. We shall see….
Where Do We Want To Go?
We chose Asia because (1) we hadn’t been there (except for my brief visit to Thailand to raise clouded leopard cubs) and (2) we love the food. Asia spans almost half a world with over 16 different countries, so deciding where to go wasn’t easy. From a list of over 20 cities we wanted to visit, we have narrowed it down to 8; Seoul, South Korea; Hong Kong; Macao; Shanghai, Ghangzhou and Chengdu, China; Hanoi, Vietnam and Halong Bay. Japan will have to be a trip of its own, and we have high interest in Penang and Singapore, but the travel time is too much. Next time, and then we can throw in Bali to the Southeast Asia expedition.
Are Visas Needed?
This was one of the main reasons we didn’t take our honeymoon within the first few months of our married life. We can travel in Hong Kong and South Korea for 30 days without a visa. For Vietnam, we have to apply for our visa at a Vietnam Embassy, and it will be stamped in our passports when we arrive. Mainland China is more difficult. The process can take 3 months to get a visa, and I still need to change my passport over to my married name to match my credit cards and driver’s license. I will keep you informed as we go through the process, but here’s a quick rundown of some Asia country requirements:
No visa needed for 30 days: Macau and Thailand
No Visa needed for 90 days: Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea
Visa issued upon arrival for a fee (usually $25-30): Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Maldives, Nepal
Must apply in advance: China, India, Vietnam
What Time of Year?
My availability would either be in the summer or December and January. Looking at all the places we were interested in, we discovered that summer temperatures were brutal. Some of the places will be cold, but some of the more Southern places will be comfortable. Supposedly, Hong Kong has clear views from Victoria Peak in these later months.
How Much Time Do We Have?
Unfortunately, I am still bound to the corporate world. Two weeks definitely is not long enough especially since we have to travel from the East Coast of the United States. Six weeks would be perfect, but at the moment, that might be stretching it. We are definitely going for 3 weeks and maybe we can extend it to 4 depending on the financial situation by that time.
Budgeting the Costs:
This isn’t a weekend trip. The flights will be hefty, and accommodations could eat up a lot of our budget. And then there are the activities we want to do. I want to go to every Disney Park in the world eventually, and Disneyland Hong Kong and Tokyo are the last two I need to check off my list. We are looking forward to street vendors, but there are a few high end restaurants we wouldn’t mind dining at. Taxis, trains and inter-country airlines are another big expense.
How Many Miles and Points Can We Use?
Luckily, we do have SkyMiles with Delta and Starwood points for some of our hotel stays. We are comparing using points versus paying cash for each. In Hong Kong, it’s more cost effective to stay at another brand of hotel, and in Seoul we discovered the Starwood properties aren’t anywhere near where we would want to be. We might use SkyMiles for the big trip over and then pay for the smaller hop flights or vice versa. Obviously, a lot of research has to done to get the best deal.
Another factor is when to pay. The big flight has to be paid well in advance, but if we can pay for most of our hotels before we leave plus some of the bigger activities (like Halong Bay Cruise), then payment over a few months is easier to stomach than a big chunk at once. Once we are over there, we don’t want to have to worry about every dollar or dong we are spending. This is our honeymoon, after all. We want to enjoy every minute of it!
More to come in the next few months….