When I travel I like to meet the locals and experience their lifestyle. I prefer countrysides to cities and places where I don't speak their language because I am an exceptional artist of stick figures needing to use the bathroom.
To add to the list: Koh Lanta, island off the coast of Krabi. I spent 3 weeks there in a beautiful eco lodge on a small hill opposite the beach, my room overlooked the beach and the host told me that many a writer has come to stay with her. Google "Baan Rao Koh Lanta". The family are wonderful people who between them speak, Swedish, English, French and Thai. She is reasonably priced and has a full kitchen, down the road, 2 minutes walk there is a market there with fresh produce and street food to-die-for. I think you will enjoy it! :) about 8 years ago
Once you arrive, there will be no shortage of people offering you their services. I found it has been cheaper and more reliable to organise day-to-day activities upon arrival. Pre-organised tours are often overpriced and won't allow you the flexibility you need with teenagers. In Siem Reap for example, you can just hire a bike for 3 days and explore Angkor Wat on your own. Maps are plentiful everywhere, or your guide book will provide the factoids and maps you'd get from the average, run-of-the-mill guide. I have done both self-guided and guided, and my solo bike trip was more enjoyable and I saw more than most tours would allow. In Shihanoukville, all you need is a beach house. :) I say, go and try to organise it yourself and if you don't like it, it will not be difficult to then get a tour, guide or day trip organised. Tourism is their major drawcard, so it will be easy whichever way you decide. It's a beautiful place, you'll love it. Safe travels! :) about 8 years ago
I recommend Yunnan province. It is one of the most beautiful in China and I have done treks in the northern and southern parts. My favourite is in Xishuangbanna. You can trek close to the border of Myanmar, and stay with local tea growers and experience their lifestyle. The food in town (Jinghong) was a delicious fusion of Burmese, Thai and Chinese -- so chilly! I used chinatrekking.com to plan most of my trips around China. Safe travels! :) almost 8 years ago