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Trip Report Bruce and Marija go to Southeast Asia

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This was, I believe, the fifth time we planned a winter trip to Southeast Asia, if you don't count the elaborate preparations for the sailing of the mythical Love Boat. Previous trips vaporized but this one actually came to pass. Our itinerary was:

Bangkok (1 night at the Novotel Suvarnabhumi)
Siem Reap (4 nights at the Grand Hotel d'Angkor/Raffles)
Luang Prabang (3 nights at Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel)
Hanoi (4 nights at the Metropole)
Hue (2 nights at La Residence)
Hoi An (2 nights at Life Heritage Resort)
Saigon/HCMC (3 nights at the Majestic)
Bangkok (5 nights at the Peninsula)

Arrangements: :

We bought Bangkok Airlines Discovery Passes to fly between Bangkok and Siem Reap (Bangkok Air), Siem Reap and Luang Prabang (Lao Airlines) and Luang Prabang and Hanoi (Lao Airlines). The cost of the pass was about $500 per person (15,270 THB). Getting the pass was incredibly easy. I emailed reservation@bangkokair.com, outlined the flights we wanted and then once they responded (within a day), I sent the credit card info. No phone calls, no hassle. Vietnam Air is not part of the Bangkok Airlines pass so we couldn't use it for Vietnam. We returned from HCMC to Bangkok's Don Mueang Airport with Air Asia which we booked on our own. The Air Asia tickets were about $100 pp. including taxes and other fees.

The Vietnam segment of our trip was booked through Tonkin Travel. Tonkin booked hotels, air, pickups and transfers, a driver and guide for Hue and an all day trip to the Mekong Delta from HCMC. They were easy to work with and the only problem we encountered was that the pickup to the airport in Hanoi was late, probably because traffic around the Metropole was worse than usual due to the visit of the Argentinean president. I'm sure we could have gotten back and forth from the airports on our own cheaper but it was worth it to us not to have to negotiate with taxis at each airport. Tonkin accepts credit cards with a 3% penalty which we preferred to carrying a large amount of cash.

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