Ask the Experts: Where shall I spend summer?

This week’s question to the pannellist was wholly unexpected, and required our Experts to think a little more outside the box. But could they deliver?

As always, if you want to see your question posed to the panel, you can email the Experts your question for them to consider. You never know, you could find it featured right here on the STA Travel Blog in the near future!

So, back to this week’s conundrum, brought to you by Ash from Gloucester.

I have 10 weeks off in the summer (I work in a college), but before you think I’m old, I’m only 23! I’m looking to spend my summer abroad somewhere, but on a tight budget. I’m hoping to leave around the 21 June, and return by the end of August. I wouldn’t mind a beach holiday in Thailand somewhere, as I have never been, or something which incorporates some sort of safari? What can you recommend? Ash from Gloucester

10 weeks off over the summer! That’s the perfect gig to blend your travel ambitions.

But with such a wide variety on offer in Thailand, and safaris on offer throughout the world, can our Experts conjure up something special for Ash, and make his summer one to remember? Let’s find out…

Kim at STA Travel Dundee decided on…

With 10 weeks to play with, there’s no reason why you can’t have it all Ash! There is no comparison — I’m gonna say Africa every time! The end of June is perfect for mid-Eastern Africa; the ‘Great Migration’ is about to start, the weather’s awesome, the culture’s unique and to some people’s surprise, you’ll also find some of the most gorgeous beaches in the world.

As you have 10 weeks, I’m going to suggest something a bit different in Camp Kenya, where you can stay for 1 to 3 months as a volunteer, working with communities and conservation. On a budget it’s a winner, as all of your accommodation and meals are included, as well as transfers, 24hour in country support, game viewing and a Mombasa beach stay. That sounds like one amazing summer to me. What do you guys think?

Mark at STA Travel Belfast continues…

Hi Ash, thanks for your email. Emirates have some cracking fares into Southeast Asia that will allow you to fly into one city and out of another, it’s what we call ‘Open Jaw’.

You could spend a few days in Bangkok checking out temples and markets, and then take an overnight train down to the islands. Depending on your budget, fares range from £8 for a 3rd Class seat up to £35 for a sleeper carriage, and the journey takes around 11 hours to get down. Once in the islands, you’re spoilt for choice. Personally I’d go to Koh Lanta, and try and avoid the Koh Phangan Full Moon Party area.

Koh Lanta, Andaman Sea

Koh Lanta's famous red skies are a treat | Photo by Steven W. Belcher

Malaysia, and Kota Kinabalu are stunning and definitely worth considering, too. Sipadan Island is the place to head if you are into surfing or windsurfing, and there are cheap internal flights with Malaysian Airlines and Tiger Air.

There are volunteer projects in Thailand and Malaysia, teaching English and helping out in elephant orphanages. Some of these allow you to stay for free board and food in return for your time. We have some volunteer projects in Borneo too, where you can work with orangutans.

Whichever option you choose, I would definitely recommend making an appointment at your local branch, which I guess is Oxford or Bristol, to come and chat with one of us.

Heather at STA Travel Nottingham concludes…

If you’re on a budget Southeast Asia sounds like a great idea, as it offers great value for money both in terms of flights and what’s available to do there. The famous beaches in Southern Thailand are great for relaxing, learning to dive and, of course, the Full Moon Party! With two months, you could see a good amount of the area.

Perhaps head into Cambodia and see the temples of Angkor Wat, and work your way through the Mekong Delta, before heading up through the beaches of Vietnam, which offer a great contrast of architecture, great food and beautiful beaches.

vietnam portraits

Immerse yourself in Southeast Asia's Mekong Delta | Photo by Dave_B_

From here, you can head in Laos and through to the north of Thailand; the cultural hub where you can trek with the hill tribes, or learn how to cook the perfect Massaman curry. Consider an organised trip, such as the Bangkok to Hanoi Adventure or Indochina Discovery, which we currently have some great deals on!

Thanks as always to our Experts. Now it’s your turn! Take the place of our Fourth Expert, and lay down your own experiences about Indonesia; or email us a question of your own for consideration.