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Introducing the Grand South East Asia Tour

View South East Asia Grand Tour 2023 on Grete Howard's travel map.

This trip comes with the longest and most painful gestation period in the history of Howards’ Travels. Initially conceived in 2019 for travel in 2020, the year that saw unprecedented restrictions on travel as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Postponed to 2021, we found that some of the destinations had still not opened up after their lockdowns, so once again the trip was deferred for another year. 2022 was to be the year it all happened, but conditions were still far from ideal to try and put together such a complicated multi-destination trip, so the planning was once more shelved for another year.

Fast forward to 2023, and we have a delivery date of 6th September. Today. Gulp.

Here is a bit of a background story: I wanted to go to Sulawesi in Indonesia, whereas David's destination of choice was the Philippines. We decided to combine the two, to save on the long and expensive flights to the Far East and keep our carbon footprint as low as possible while still enjoying travel. The idea then snowballed, as one by one more places were added to the itinerary, until we ended up with an eight-week trip covering eight countries.

This is the outline:

3 nights in Doha
2 nights in Singapore
14 nights touring Sulawesi (Indonesia)
3 nights Bali
7 nights touring East Timor
2 nights Bali
17 nights touring the Philippines
2 nights in Brunei
2 nights in Kuala Lumpur
2 nights in Kuwait


We have never partaken in such a long and complicated journey. While we are very used to our trips being full-on, this takes it all to the next level, and I have to admit that I am a little nervous about it all – as well as incredibly excited, of course.

The planning has been a bit of a nightmare, as although we have used an agent for the bulk of the bookings, with 17 flights, 31 hotels, and eight different entry regulations (and currencies), there are still so many things to sort out and keep track of. It's not until I try to create a folder with all the paperwork in chronological order, that I realise quite how much work it has been for our agent (Undiscovered Destinations) and their local teams. I am in awe. There is no way I would have been able to put together such a complicated itinerary on my own.

We always like to take some cash when we travel, but with eight different currencies, it becomes quite a pile of bank notes!

We start the journey with a stop at our favourite service station on the way to Heathrow: Greggs at Reading.

It's a Howard tradition to stop on the way to the airport for one of Greggs' legendary sausage rolls

I am also rather partial to their caramel custard doughnuts

Today we are not going to the airport, however, but staying overnight nearby, as we have an early flight tomorrow morning.

Premier Inn, Bath Road, Heathrow

We enjoy a drink in the room while we chill before dinner. I love their signature purple light.


The bathroom features an unusual shower, out of the 50+ Premier Inns we’ve stayed in over the years, this is a first.


Thyme Bar and Grill

We pop down to the hotel restaurant, which is off the light and airy atrium, for dinner. Both David’s mixed grill and my katsu curry are very enjoyable.

Katsu curry

This may be David's last cider for eight weeks.

We chat for a while with the couple at the next table, who show great interest in our upcoming trip.

It's always nice to finish a meal with a cappuccino, and Costa does a particularly nice one

Back to the room, and it is time for bed. We have an early start tomorrow. The bed is very high, and on wheels that move much too easily on the floor, making it rather dangerous. Each time I sit down on the edge of the bed, it moves a few inches away. If I am struggling at 6’1”, I can only imagine the difficulties a short person would have. Surely it wouldn't take much to put some caster cups or something on it.



Posted by Grete Howard 14:43 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged planning heathrow doughnut cider cash currencies cappuccino pandemic trip_planning donut undiscovered_destinations premier_inn covid covid_19 grand_south_east_asia_trip greggs spending_money sausage_roll greggs_sausage_roll thyme_bar_and_grill katsu_curry bed_on_wheels

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OMGosh what a trip!!!!!
I am more than eager to read about your adventures to come that's for sure!!!

by Ils1976

Thanks for your comment Ils, I will work on it as and when I can - I have som much going on in my like right now. (not complaining :) )

by Grete Howard

hahaha, I understand ... don't you worry, I have patience! :) :)

by Ils1976

This is going to be a fantastic adventure to follow and I'm sure will add to my already too long wish list, as most of these places are new to me!

by ToonSarah

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