I traveled to Asia during May and June, 1997. My itinerary took me first to Singapore (where I visited longtime friends who had moved there), then on a guided tour of Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan. I spent a few extra days in Bhutan, then returned to Nepal for a one-week trek in the Khumbu Region. I then spent about two days in Bangkok, Thailand (basically a long stopover), then continued on to Japan, where I spent about a week in Kyoto and the neighboring city of Nara.
On this page, I collect some of the resources I used to prepare for the trip that I would recommend to others.
The Bhutan-Nepal-Tibet tour, and the week trek in Nepal, were organized through Geographic Expeditions of San Francisco. The tour I took is called the "Himalayan Kingdoms" tour. I was so pleased with Geographic Expeditions and its arrangements that I later used them to arrange my trip to the Middle East. They would be the first company I would call for any future travel to Asia (and many other places).
I stayed in only two hotels on this trip that I would consider true standouts. The first was the Hotel Yak & Yeti in Kathmandu, Nepal. Part of the hotel is a converted palace. The rooms are comfortable, there are several restaurants on the premises, a casino for those who want to try their hand at gambling, and a business center where you can go online and send/receive e-mail. The hotel is centrally located and the inner courtyard (with swimming pools) makes a wonderfully quiet respite from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu. I highly recommend it, but it's not cheap.
The second hotel was the Siam City Hotel in Bangkok. The hotel is a modern skyscraper and does not offer much in the way of cultural charm, but the rooms are excellent, there are several restaurants on the premises and the staff is very friendly and helpful. For a hotel of this class in a major city, it was also something of a bargain (though by no means in the budget category).
It is always a good idea to check the U.S. State Department's Travel Warnings & Consular Information Sheets early on in your travel planning. You can learn which countries require entry visas and whether there are any safety warnings that apply to your intended destinations.
Another important web site to check early in your planning is the Travelers' Health page maintained by the Centers for Disease Control. They have up-to-date information on infectious diseases for all areas of the world, plus information about required and recommended vaccines.
Some countries in Asia require Americans to obtain entry visas. When you have decided which visas you will need, you can either obtain them yourself through a country's embassy or consulate or, for a fee (that I think is well worth it) you can have Zierer Visa Service, Inc. endure the bureaucracy on your behalf. I have used them several times over the years and have always been satisfied. During my 1997 visit, it was possible to get entry visas to Japan, Nepal, Thailand and Singapore at the airports on arrival (but it is always best to check the latest information). Visas for Bhutan and Tibet were arranged by Geographic Expeditions (see above).
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