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Planning a year out: Give me Ideas and Inspiration!!!

Old 07-23-18, 09:10 AM
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zze86
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Planning a year out: Give me Ideas and Inspiration!!!

The SO and I are hoping to take a long overdue vacation in a year or so. She and I would both like to be able to do a bike tour, maybe 50-60 miles a day, something fairly relaxed. We're going to give it 3 weeks including travel time (plus a few days before and after to prepare/de-compress, so about a month off total). We are hoping to leave the U.S. but are not quite sure where we want to go/have differing parts of the world in mind. She would like to see Europe, I'm leaning towards multiple stops in Asia (Thailand, Laos and/or Japan).

She's leaning towards Europe mainly because she's concerned about infrastructure in Asia: she thinks Thailand has ALL gravel/dirt roads (I'm fairly sure she's right in that regards to Laos but I think Thailand is a bit more developed). She would also like to see all the old Greek/Roman cultural sites as well as WWII sites but agrees that Asia has just as much culture and history to see. Frankly, at the end of the day I will defer to her, lol.

If Asia, we would prefer to go during November/December since that is around the time of New Year's celebration which is big in SE Asia (not sure about Japan though). We are not sure when would be the best time in Europe, perhaps September/October?

My question to you guys/gals are:
  • Are there other places of the world we should consider?
  • Where have you been that you would recommend for relaxed touring? Recommend things to do, sites to see or stops?
  • When would be the time(s) of the year that you recommend to go (wherever that is)?
  • How did you get about? i.e. straight up biked everywhere or more spoke and hub using alternate travel to get to certain destinations)? How long did you stay at any one location? Are there alternative modes of transportation to get about (for say, if we want to move more quickly from one part of the country/continent to another)?
  • Anything that you would have done differently if given the chance?
  • What about souvenirs? Did you just ship stuff home?
  • Recommended travel books?
Pics and stories would be GREAT!

I guess I should define "relaxed". 50-60 miles a day is easily achievable for us. 100mi would be too frantic for my tastes. I am more of a rambler, while she tends to be more structured so striking a happy medium would be nice. i.e. while she is not opposed to outdoors camping, she would prefer to stay somewhere with a roof; I'd rather not be stuck trying to "race" towards a destination just to meet the schedule of an itinerary so am happy to carry outdoors gear along (hell, I have no idea if camping is allowed in any of these places).
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Old 07-23-18, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by zze86 View Post
...she thinks Thailand has ALL gravel/dirt roads (I'm fairly sure she's right in that regards to Laos but I think Thailand is a bit more developed)...

...If Asia, we would prefer to go during November/December since that is around the time of New Year's celebration which is big in SE Asia ...
thailand has excellent roads, but awful drivers. #1 globally in traffic fatalities.....and the count EXCLUDES anyone not expiring on the scene. die in hospital? not a traffic fatality.

china has been busy, busy, busy paving laos. currently building the high-speed rail from southern china to thailand. you will have paved roads.

new year in nov/dec???? you must be referring to the asia in the southern hemisphere where the coriolis effect plays havoc with the calendars. check online for "chinese new year golden week". consider millions of chinese will be using their newfound wealth to travel during golden week. 2019 will be first week of february.

Last edited by saddlesores; 07-23-18 at 09:31 AM.
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Old 07-23-18, 09:32 AM
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I'm partial to Japan having lived and bike toured there for many years. It's an incredible country with a rich cultural heritage that you can see expressed in everyday life. People are incredibly friendly and helpful towards foreigners. It's a modern country with great roads and miles of river paths. If you feel inclined you can wild camp pretty much anywhere. Very little crime and very little drug use means a stranger setting up a tent along the river is an opportunity to practice your English, not a reason to call the cops. Winter in Japan, from about October on offers fantastic weather for cycling. Days are crisp and clear usually. Obviously you'd need to avoid northern Japan during this time period. If you're not married to the end of the year for the trip, spring is also great and you could see the cherry blossoms.

I can't find it right now but there's a great book called something like the ten best bike rides in Japan. I rode most of them when I had the book and they're all excellent. With a Japan rail pass, or the new long distance ferry pass, you could make a trip taking in the major sites while stringing together multi-day tours in different areas of the country.

I could go on and on but I'll leave it there. If you want to know more about Japan specifically let me know.

Last edited by DanBell; 07-23-18 at 09:33 AM. Reason: Typo
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Old 07-23-18, 10:26 AM
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start reading books on the history of where you are planning to go, right now..
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Old 07-23-18, 11:46 AM
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I found touring to be excellent in Thailand and Laos. The roads were paved and generally very good in both countries. For 3 months from Dec to Feb, the weather in northern Thailand & Laos is near perfect for cycling; it's far enough from the equator that temperatures are cooler during those 3 months, and it's also the dry season. (Central & southern Thailand and southern Laos are hot & humid all year.) It's usually pretty easy to find good quality accommodations in Thailand, and prices are a bargain for the quality. Food is delicious. The tourist infrastructure is less developed in Laos, but you can usually find guesthouses. In remote areas, they can be a bit primitive. Food is good but less varied than in Thailand. The roads in Laos generally have much less traffic than in Thailand (Laos is less densely populated and poorer). Major roads in Thailand usually had a decent paved shoulder, but I tried to stick to quieter roads. It was easy to take a bike on Thai trains to get to the north or to the border of Laos. I took my bike on some buses, too, sometimes easily, sometimes not so easily.

My first time touring in Thailand I did a nice loop starting and ending in Chiang Mai, but I took a bus to get both in and out of the city, to avoid busy roads. I went along the borders of Burma and Laos on that ride. Another time I took a train from Bangkok to the Laotian border, biked north and west in Laos, took a ferry to Thailand, biked some more in central and northern Thailand (and took one bus), and took a train back to Bangkok.

I've toured a lot in Europe, too. SE Asia is a bargain on the ground compared to anywhere in Europe, if cost is a consideration.
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Old 07-23-18, 11:59 AM
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if Your wife is partial to see Europe then take her to Europe. It's a win/win - happy wife = happy life ;-)
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Old 07-23-18, 01:30 PM
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Say 50 to 60 miles a day, take a couple days off each week for sightseeing, doing laundry, resting, etc. So you are at 250 to 300 miles a week, 750 to 900 miles total in three weeks. Not sure if you will see very much that way, you will see a lot of roads in between the sights but not sure about how many sights you can fit in.

You might see a lot if you rode the trains instead of biking from place to place. If you brought folding bikes that you could take on the train, you would have transportation where ever you stopped.

I am not sure if you would camp or do hostels or something else. If all indoors and no campground cooking, your luggage could be minimal.

I did two cycle trips in Europe with REI travel. They organized the logistics, provided all lodging and most of the food. That simplifies planning. I went a few extra days before and stayed a few extra days after for additional sightseeing on my own. And going there early certainly helped with time zone difference. There are several other organizations that do similar types of trips.

Cycling is an outdoor activity, depending on the sights, sightseeing may be too. This website gives you good info on average weather for various locations where you might want to go.
https://weatherspark.com/

Good luck.
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Old 07-23-18, 07:07 PM
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Been ln Southeast Asia since 2001, lived in Singapore, East Timor and Indonesia, been to all SEAsia countries save for Brunei, live now in Bali, and generally like SEAsia very much. With that preface let me share some comments

1. You and the wife need to read up on TODAY's Asia. You may find it far-fetched (ignorant is more like it), but there are asphalt roads even in Laos. Educate yourselves. SEAsia encompasses 11 countries, from glaciers to prime rainforest.
2. SEA is great, but I give the prize for bike touring in Asia-Pacific to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. These countries are where you should go. Check out of Tour-de-Taiwan and Tour-de-Korea threads this year on the Folding Bikes channel here.
3. You wanna go off the deep end in SEAsia, head to interior, mountain Sumatra or to eastern Indonesia. Very few facilities and mod-cons, though. You want great infrastructure, and mod-cons, see #2 above.
4. One year. Fly to Tokyo, bullet train to Sapporo, tour Japan from top to bottom, hop on ferry from Fukuoka to Busan, South Korea, bike across the country to Seoul, fly from Seoul to Taipei, tour Taiwan, fly Taipei to Hanoi, bike the interior highland road. Japan and Korea will be cold in Nov./Dec., though.

More to follow...

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Old 07-23-18, 09:21 PM
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https://en.eurovelo6-france.com/leurovelo-6

very enjoyable route, although in France, knowing some French is a big advantage.
the eurovelo route, in France anyway, is well signed, is nearly always on very quiet bike paths, foot paths or very quiet rural roads, predominantly follows rivers and canals and so is mostly flat.
good infrastructure for tourists, ie b+b's, hotels, camp grounds.
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Old 07-23-18, 11:20 PM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
if Your wife is partial to see Europe then take her to Europe. It's a win/win - happy wife = happy life ;-)
Indeed--& Asia will still be there for the next big tour. While I'm fairly comfortable on busy roads, the EuroVelo routes seem pretty attractive, nice to avoid traffic stress.
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Old 07-24-18, 04:34 AM
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I'd suggest going to Europe ... Europe is great + your wife wants to go there.

Now where in Europe would she like to go?


As for "We are not sure when would be the best time in Europe, perhaps September/October?" ... you'd want to be careful about places closing down. We toured in that time period too, and at times found we were being chased by season closing times.


Now, if you would really prefer travelling between September and December, there's always Australia. Springtime in Australia is nice. But with 1 month, you'd have to pick a focal point, as you would with Europe too.

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Old 07-24-18, 05:21 AM
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I agree. September and October is very nice in Maine but if You go anywhere above southern Europe you will get more opportunity for nasty weather and places closing down literally immediately after kids go back to school.



Originally Posted by Machka View Post
I'd suggest going to Europe ... Europe is great + your wife wants to go there.

Now where in Europe would she like to go?


As for "We are not sure when would be the best time in Europe, perhaps September/October?" ... you'd want to be careful about places closing down. We toured in that time period too, and at times found we were being chased by season closing times.


Now, if you would really prefer travelling between September and December, there's always Australia. Springtime in Australia is nice. But with 1 month, you'd have to pick a focal point, as you would with Europe too.
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Old 07-24-18, 07:22 AM
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Starting in France early mid june is nice, weather wise generally, and bonus of campgrounds being not busy yet and air fares not at highest prices. Hotels and b+b s not overly busy also.

This year there was more rain than usual beginning of June, but finally stopped by getting close to mid June.
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Old 07-24-18, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
I agree. September and October is very nice in Maine but if You go anywhere above southern Europe you will get moI're opportunity for nasty weather and places closing down literally immediately after kids go back to school.
I've had excellent weather in September in several countries north of southern Europe. I even had decent weather in mid-October in central Europe, but the odds for good weather in western and central Europe are much better in September. IMO, June & September are the best months for touring in western & central Europe, factoring in weather, crowds, & traffic.
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Old 07-24-18, 09:40 AM
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I Google precipitation averages for a given location and also compare them to my home location to get a better perspective.

Originally Posted by axolotl View Post
I've had excellent weather in September in several countries north of southern Europe. I even had decent weather in mid-October in central Europe, but the odds for good weather in western and central Europe are much better in September. IMO, June & September are the best months for touring in western & central Europe, factoring in weather, crowds, & traffic.
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Old 07-24-18, 09:48 AM
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I don't know Asia at all, but Europe is very dense on culture and different cultures. 100 miles of cycling won't always get you in a different country, but most likely into a different region with different food, customs, history and architecture. America is really on a different scale to Europe, distances are different here. .

Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
I agree. September and October is very nice in Maine but if You go anywhere above southern Europe you will get more opportunity for nasty weather and places closing down literally immediately after kids go back to school.
You can always get unlucky, but in general you can count on the South-East of france for sunny weather in spring and summer, the Atlantic coast is unpredictable but on average good in the South and just unpredictable in the North. Spain, Italy, Greece can get really hot, especially away from the coast.

I agree with you and Machka that late in the summer or early autumn you can feel like you come to a party that has already finished, especially in France where everybody goes on vacation and back to work again at the same time. That's just a different vibe than when the locals are still celebrating the summer or the spring.
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Old 07-24-18, 10:43 AM
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I toured for several weeks in SW France last September. Nothing was closed for the season. It was still advisable to make reservations 1 or 2 days ahead of time for the more famous caves in the region. Temperatures were more comfortable and traffic was much less than it would have been a month earlier.

As for SE France, particularly the Cote d'Azur, I wouldn't go near it during the summer months because of the crowds and traffic.
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Old 07-24-18, 11:08 AM
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If doing "Europe", I'd probably choose a single country, or perhaps two countries. It would be hard to see all of France in 3 weeks. Or, Italy or Spain. That would also allow you to concentrate on learning a bit of your target language and culture if you wish.

You might try to look up some local sporting event schedules.

Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, Vuelta a España, or even something more local like a bull fight somewhere in Spain or the palio di Siena. Or... Carnival in Venice, although that might be a bit early in the year.

Italy tends to shut down in August. That could well have benefits for inland bike touring, but it would also mean some tourist attractions could be closed.
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Old 07-24-18, 11:43 AM
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I personally would prefer Europe at this point at 30 miles a day. Time to freshen up for dinner and with 3 weeks stay here or there for a few days. Germany is supposed to have good cycling infrastructure. The Rhine river route or I believe forest trails through the ardennes maybe border with france, yeah I played a bunch of panzer general. With that much time too you could get some more urban experience along the Rhine, small towns elsewhere and have time for a major city as well. I might take 2 trains to get the mix and leave from a different place than i started.
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Old 07-24-18, 01:56 PM
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The problem here is that you're starting us off with just a minimal of a clue as to what you're going to do. I would narrow it down further, and then ask the questions because there is so much info out there already on the some of the questions you're asking. Try reading previous posts on this site, LP, crazyguyonabike, etc. Don't know where you got that the SE Asians' new year is at the end of the year - certainly not. As already pointed out, it's always in the beginning months of our new year, usually the end of January or February. As for your time frame, you're telling us three weeks, but you make it sound like you believe you'll be able to see six months' worth. Certainly not. Three weeks is what you'd spend on one country or region. Otherwise, you're spending too much time on trains, planes (during the trip) or automobiles. If you want to see more than a country, you'll need to set aside more time. Otherwise, pick one country, maybe two if small, and go from there. Asia will definately be cheaper, but I've never toured it, so can't comment. Have biked 21 countries in Europe and will say that overall, France is the best country to bike. Also, don't forget to train your bodies before the trip.
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Old 07-25-18, 12:28 AM
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Thanks for the thoughts so far all. I am definitely in the early stages, and confess to complete ignorance of traveling outside of the US thus wanting some perspective on the matter. It is nice to get all the various feedback. Just reading blogs and travel logs, I'm sometimes not sure how much of the information they are curating.

The idea is to do a bit more research, decide in a month or so and then really start planning routes, stops and do our homework including history and language. Ideally, I'd like to know enough to ask intelligent questions when hiring a tour guide in some of the bigger cities/more touristy places.

@saddlesores - that is a scary statistic. Not sure if I want to chance that.

@DanBell - We read about the Shimanami Kaido route and really wanted to try that. It looks amazingly awesome. Have you ridden that? Looks like it could be easily ridden in two days with plenty of detours and sight seeing along the way. Probably head to Hiroshima and from there try to hit up as many castles as possible. Would also like to head up to Gunma perfecture for some tofu and go down Mount Haruna (aka Mount Akina for you Initial D fans, lol).

@fietsbob - definitely a must!

@axolotl - Laos sounds more satisfying (and safer) than Thailand. Less traffic is always good. Probably fly in to Laprabang and head south towards Vientianne while detouring towards Phonsavan then cross over to Nong Khai Thailand from there. I think

@PedalingWalrus - truer words have never been spoken. But again I think it is a lot of ignorance on our parts

@tourist_in_MSN - that helps put it in perspective a bit. I think looking for a cycle touring company to help with logistics wouldn't be a bad idea. It would probably help ease the SO as well.

@Abu_Mahendra - I think that is the whole point of this thread...shine some light for the self-confessed ignoramous. I appreciate the advice but you can save the condescending attitude. Thank you for the two suggested threads, I will check them out.

@djb - France, along with Italy and Greece are definitely on the shortlist. Those VeloEuro routes seem like they would be perfect for getting comfortable traveling outside of the US.

@Machka - Thanks for observation on the timing. Down under does not seem like a bad idea either. I hear New Zealand has awesome fly fishing opportunities, just gotta sell it to the SO...

@CliffordK - Good point. Hitting up more than that may be too hectic for my tastes

@travelinhobo - I have not been sitting on my butt just waiting for replies. I've been trying to read up a bit more, find more blogs and resources while sitting on my butt. I know, its probably exasperating for you more seasoned travelers to get someone who has asking you all the questions, but sometimes we don't even know what to be asking.
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Old 07-25-18, 01:54 AM
  #22  
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[QUOTE=zze86;20468008...

@Abu_Mahendra - I think that is the whole point of this thread...shine some light for the self-confessed ignoramous. I appreciate the advice but you can save the condescending attitude. Thank you for the two suggested threads, I will check them out.
...[/QUOTE]

i think you invited most of it with the comments about Thailand having all gravel roads, and Laos probably fitting that bill. I am American, and found it objectionable enough. One can only imagine the offense taken by someone actually from those countries. If you ever make out to here, you'll actually see how far out the comments were, particularly the one about Thailand. Good luck to you. Over & out.

A littl info on Bangkok's Sukhumvit Road, one of the largest streets in the world, first built in 1936.

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Old 07-25-18, 07:18 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by zze86 View Post
The SO and I are hoping to take a long overdue vacation in a year or so. She and I would both like to be able to do a bike tour, maybe 50-60 miles a day, something fairly relaxed. We're going to give it 3 weeks including travel time (plus a few days before and after to prepare/de-compress, so about a month off total). We are hoping to leave the U.S. but are not quite sure where we want to go/have differing parts of the world in mind. She would like to see Europe.
Still curious ... has she indicated which part of Europe she'd like to see?



"In terms of land mass, the United States and Europe are similar in size—the United States is 9,833,000 square kilometers while Europe is 10,180,000 square kilometers"
https://www.tripsavvy.com/so-just-ho...anyway-3971019




So "seeing Europe" in 3 weeks would be like me saying I'm planning to cycle 50-60 miles a day at a relaxed pace to "see USA. Your question to me would likely be ... which state are you most interested in.


Do you want to go to an English-speaking area? Then maybe the UK might be the place to go. Do you have a bit of another European language? Then maybe that country might be the place to go. Or maybe the idea of going to a country where you don't know the main language appeals to you!

What kind of weather conditions do you prefer? There can be a big difference between northern Europe and southern Europe, coastal vs. mountain.

Do you want a heavily populated area or more remote? Very hilly or somewhat flatter? Is there something historical or touristy you want to see?

Are you event people ... would you go to a place because there's a cycling event there you'd like to participate in?

Do you want to be in an area where there is alternate transportation, like trains or doesn't that matter to you?


These are more along the line of the questions to ask this far out.
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Old 07-25-18, 10:33 AM
  #24  
DanBell
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Originally Posted by zze86 View Post
We read about the Shimanami Kaido route and really wanted to try that. It looks amazingly awesome. Have you ridden that? Looks like it could be easily ridden in two days with plenty of detours and sight seeing along the way. Probably head to Hiroshima and from there try to hit up as many castles as possible. Would also like to head up to Gunma perfecture for some tofu and go down Mount Haruna (aka Mount Akina for you Initial D fans, lol).
I have ridden Shimani Kaido. It's a beautiful ride and there are lots of possibilities to extend the tour. Shikoku is one of my favorite places to tour in Japan. The coast is beautiful there and the central part is about as remote as you can get in Japan (aside from areas of Hokkaido, of course). With ferries you can connect back to Honshu to visit Hiroshima or jump across to Kyushu quite quickly from there. In fact my favorite bike tour in Japan was island hopping around the small islands of Kyushu. Absolutely beautiful.

There's a Japan Rail pass that would allow you to jump around the country easily using high speed trains, but there's also a new ferry pass for the long distance ferries that would be cool (but would eat more of your trip time).

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2018/07/20/travel/new-ferry-pass-offers-alternative-long-distance-travel/#.W1GCfNgzbJM

If you really want to save, there's a ticket called seishin jyuhachi kippu which gets you five twenty-four hour periods on any non shinkansen trains. Last time I bought it it cost right around $100. Using that the two of you could go from Tokyo to Osaka for example for two of your five stamps on the pass. It would take nine hours, and all on local trains, but it's a cool and cheap way to see the countryside and get around. Last time I bought it this ticket cost ¥11,500 and can be used by multiple people, while a single non-reserved seat on the shinkansen from Tokyo to Osaka was about ¥13,500. A week on the JR rail pass is about ¥27,000 for one person last I checked but that includes shinkansen. Time versus money...

*All prices are from memory and a couple years out of date so obviously double-check this yourself.
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Old 07-25-18, 03:11 PM
  #25  
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Thailand is indeed dangerous if you cycle down the major highways, but on the local roads you'll be pushing to see anything beyond the occasional moto with family on board. There's also the fact that Thailand has rediscovered cycling, and bike paths can be found going down the east coast, and, a touch bizarrely, at Suvarnabhumi airport. But - and there's always one - Machka makes a good point re language. You simply will not find English spoken outside the major cities, excepting the hotels and homestays.

If this is your first big trip then I'd do France, Germany, then north to Denmark, which will probably be the highlight of your trip.
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