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South-East Asia recommendations

Discussion in 'Asia - General' started by animalszoos, 17 Apr 2021.

  1. animalszoos

    animalszoos Well-Known Member

    29 Feb 2016

    I am planning a (likely solo) gap year type backpacking trip to South-East Asian countries (anywhere from Myanmar to Indonesia - perhaps a trip not too dissimilar to @Chlidonias or @LaughingDove 's adventures) in 2022 for a few months. The likelihood of its' occurence depends on the COVID situation, however I thought it was worth planning nonetheless.

    The trip will entail volunteering in addition to general travel. What are the best places for zoos, wildlife, nature and sightseeing in this region? I am aiming to see zoos, mammals and birds (mainly mammals, perhaps meaning spotlight friendly regions should be favored?) although am not sure which regions would be the most accessible/buget friendly/worth visiting/dense in the desired sectors.

    So far I have thought of Bornean Malaysia (Sarawak mostly) and Singapore as ideal locations - having lived in Borneo I know of these areas well but have not explored their wildlife/zoo potential.

    Would Indonesia be worth visiting? Sumatra has good volunteering opportunities but are there desired locations/zoos/wildlife that would make additional travel worthy? Also are countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia still worth visiting even though the potential of seeing mammals is lower than in other areas such as Borneo.

    I understand that the virus will inevitably dictate the plan, however I am open to and would be very thankful for recommendations of regions/itineraries/advice.
    amur leopard and MRJ like this.
  2. MRJ

    MRJ Well-Known Member 15+ year member

    29 Jan 2008
    Nothing wrong with planning a trip. I have at least half a dozen detailed itineraries on my computer put together over lockdown. I don't have the experience of @Chlidonias but am happy to offer some random thoughts.
    • Is Indonesia worth visiting? Of course but it is a vast country that has a great diversity of wildlife. Visiting Sumatra, for instance, will give you access to just a fraction of it.
    • Outside Singapore, I have not visited a zoo in South-East Asia that I would go out of my way to visit. Most range from poor to terrible. There are exceptions, zoos which are ok like the National Zoo in Malaysia and I liked Bali Bird Park, but nothing exceptionable. I'm not saying do not visit them, just don't plan your trip around them.
    • Overall Sabah seems superior to Sarawak for wildlife watching.
    • Serious mammal watching requires a greater investment than birdwatching, if you want to go very far past primates and squirrels. It is possible to see many species, including animals like clouded leopards but it is likely to be expensive. Search Mammal Watching - Mammal Watching for advice.
    • Volunteering. By all means but keep in mind that the organization is more likely to benefit from the fees you pay than any work you might do. There is nothing more available in Asia than cheap, unskilled labour. The demand for short-term volunteer positions has actually created a whole new section of the tourism industry - voluntourism. Valuable volunteers are people who come with needed skills and are prepared to commit substantial time.
    Last edited: 10 May 2021