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Itinerary help - Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia

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Here's a real challenge for you! I'm going on a once in a lifetime trip to southeast Asia and am looking for some itinerary help. PLEASE don't tell me not to try doing too much because I'll be back - I probably won't. And I genuinely LIKE to travel fast (not insane, but more quickly than many here) - so please don't tell me I'll enjoy it more if I do. (Sorry if that sounds like a rude start - but that's the advice virtually everyone gives and we're not all alike - some of us really do like to see a lot in a relatively short time!) So for those of you still reading ... is this logistically doable and not totally insane for someone who wants to see as much as possible in three weeks?
Fly to Hanoi - 3 nights
Halong Bay - 2 nights
Hoi Ann/Hue - 3 nights
Saigon - 2 nights
(not interested in Mekong Delta)
Fly to Siem Reap - 3 nights Angor Wat
Fly to Bangkok - 4 nights
Fly to Chaing Mai - 2 nights
Fly to Phuket - 3 nights
Fly back to Bangkok - 1 night before flying for home

Specific questions - am I hitting the highlights? I'm interested in culture more than shopping - enjoy temples, museums, and soaking up unique ambience. I enjoy shopping for local-type gifts/souvenirs (but not for clothes, handbags, etc.). Am looking for as much variety as possible for the time I have available.
Are there any places I could skip and still see the best things? I'm thinking about cutting Ho Chi Minh - but how would I get to Angor Wat? Also, is there anywhere that's a must-see that I should do (even if I have to cut something else)?
And lastly - I've never been to Asia - can I do this trip on my own or would it be simpler to take a tour (although I haven't seen a tour that offers quite what I want - plus I need to travel fairly cheaply). Suggestions on how to arrange this so I'll at least have transfers at airports and touring help? Thanks so much!!!
(Have already posted this in the Cambodia section - thought I was also posting it in Thailand and Vietnam, but I didn't - so sorry if you've already seen this!)
AND after posting the original, I've been doing some reading and would love to figure out a way to include Sapa - ideas on that??

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    Just returned from Vietnam and Thailand; heading back to Vietnam at Christmas.

    Your itinerary looks very reasaonable to me; a couple of comments:

    1. I would keep Saigon (HCMC, to be politically correct) on your itinerary. I enjoyed Saigon immensely and particularly enjoyed the contrast between Ha Noi and Saigon (two very different cities).

    2. I think that it is a great idea to include a few days at the beach at the end of your trip. (That's something we often do, so that we go home rested and refreshed rather than exhausted.) However, I question going to Phuket. It's overbuilt and, frankly, you are going to feel as though you could be in any resort anywhere. Why don't you consider going to Krabi (just south of Phuket) or even going to a place such as the Pimalai Resort and Spa, a bit sout of Krabi, which is truly an extraordinary experience. Website: www.pimalai.com. (I understand that you want to travel relatively cheaply, but treating oneself to something slightly more expensive at the end of a trip can instill some wonderful memories as you are heading home.)

    Other suggestions:

    --there is a thriving arts community in Ha Noi and extraordinary artwork is a relative bargain; if you find an artist that you like, before purchasing in a gallery, have your concierge make an attempt to contact the artis (usually quite easy to do); artists do not have "exclusive" arrangements with galleries and purchasing directly from the artist can save you tons.

    --visit Craftlink in Ha Noi, near the Temple of Literature, which specializes in crafts of minority Vietnamese people and disabled people.

    --in Saigon, visit one or more of the shops operated by Michel de Albert: Celadon Green and Gaya are next door to each other and have extraordinarily beautiful lacquerware and other beautiful items such as spoons and other utensils made of horn; combine a visit to these stores with lunch at the fabulous Temple Club next door (great, great food in a beautiful place--and air conditioned; like most restaurants in Vietnam, it is not expensive.

    --do this trip solo, not with a tour, unless you really love group tours; it's very doable and you'll be able to set your own pace; if you really do like a fast pace, I seriously doubt that you are going to be happy with a tour.

    --use metered taxis to and from airports; don't use the private services that assault you as you walk out of the airport.

    --think about using car services, which are extremely cheap and allow you to cover a lot of ground; in Ha Noi I used a car owned and operated by the Metropole Hotel (best hotel in town); the half day rate is $25 US and that includes an English-speaking driver; you can easily burn up more than this getting in and out of taxis if you are going to places that are not walkable; the car also allows you the opportunity to leave things in the car when you are darting in to visit a temple, etc., and, if you are shopping, you can deposit your purchases in the car rather than carrying them.

    --take US currency with you; the dollar is widely accepted and welcomed, sometimes with a discount.

    Goood luck.

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    Im a trail blazer as well so I know know how it feels when people say you cant go too a sertain place for so and so a time period. hell I don't sit sipping coffee for 2 hours and lounge on a pool deck for 5 every day.. anyways.

    if you want the cultue may'be consider fitting in going too chang rai. and sticking around chaing may and vissiting a hill tribe. posibly stay the night in a village.

    all I have to say is that you going too have too take account some insane trafic in some cities and mostly your going too have to equate the south east asian scense of time and priority. things move slower.. getting served food takes for ever, and it comes one plate at a time.

    where are you comming from and have you bought tickets yet?

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