Sarawak is really quite big. It’s the largest state in Malaysia but also the most sparsely populated. This poses the question: how long should you spend in Sarawak? The answer really depends on what you want to do in Sarawak and how much money you have.
If you’re after a see-the-rainforest experience and only want to visit the most popular and easily reached national parks, then you’re looking at around a two-week stay. This would include a few days at Mulu, a few days in Bako and day trips to Niah Caves and Lambir Hills – doing all the activities that take at most one day. Interspersed between your rainforest, you could also fit in a few days in Kuching and then a couple in Miri. Two weeks is a little bit short and to save on time, you’d likely have to fly everywhere rather than take the bus, but Sarawak is definitely doable in this amount of time.
However, if you have the luxury of time, I would say that four weeks is the perfect amount of time to spend in Sarawak. With four weeks to play around with, you’d be able to spend a large chunk of time relaxing in Kuching, soaking up the colonial charm, actually do some of the longer (and more expensive) treks at Mulu, watch numerous relaxing sunsets at Bako and most excitingly, visit some of the lesser-known national parks, such as Batang Ai, Simalajau and Logan Banut.
Of course you can take the option of staying longer than four weeks, which would mean being able to delve deeper into the Sarawak interior. Travelling into the interior is pretty easy as there is a rural air service; it’s when you want to travel around within the interior that time and money become problems. It is quite possible to hitch rides in the interior on the back of logging trucks or passing Hiluxes as long as you aren’t sticking to a rigid timetable as you may be waiting for hours or even days to find transport going in the direction that you want to travel. If money is no object then you can charter yourself a 4×4. These are really expensive, at around 300 ringgit for a three-hour journey – as a general rule, you’re looking at 100 ringgit per hour.
Where to go, how long to stay there, where to go next, east or west, north or south? How long have you got? How long do you need? Itinerary planning can be almost as maddening as it is fun and here are some outlines to help you get started. Remember, don't over plan!
Burma lends itself to a short fast trip with frequent flights thrown in or a longer, slower trip where you don't leave the ground. There isn't much of a middle ground. Ground transport remains relatively slow, so be wary about trying to fit too much in.
Roughly apple-shaped, you'd think Cambodia would be ideal for circular routes, but the road network isn't really laid out that way. This means you'll most likely find yourself through some towns more than once, so work them into your plans.
How long have you got? That's not long enough. Really. You'd need a few lifetimes to do this sprawling archipelago justice. Be wary of trying to cover too much ground - the going in Indonesia can be slow.
North or south or both? Laos is relatively small and transport is getting better and better. Those visiting multiple countries can pass through here a few times making for some interesting trips.
The peninsula is easy, with affordable buses, trains and planes and relatively short distances. Sabah and Sarawak are also relatively easy to get around.The vast majority of visitors stick to the peninsula but Borneo is well worth the time and money to reach.
So much to see, so much to do. Thailand boasts some of the better public transport in the region so getting around can be fast and affordable. If time is limited, stick to one part of the country.
Long and thin, Vietnam looks straightforward, but the going is slow and the distances getting from A to B can really bite into a tight trip plan. If you're not on an open-ended trip, plan carefully.
This is where itinerary planning really becomes fun. Be sure to check up on our visa, border crossing and visa sections to make sure you're not trying to do the impossible. Also, remember you're planning a holiday -- not a military expedition.