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SE Asia Trip Ideas for November/December 2012

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My sister and I are planning to spend roughly a month in SE Asia. This will be our first trip to Asia. We have visited Europe, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean Islands. We're currently thinking Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and possibly Vietnam. We'll probably spend 10 days in Thailand, 5-7 days in Cambodia, 5-7 days in Laos and maybe a couple of days in Vietnam. We're also interested in doing some volunteering while we're there. We have someone to stay with and show us around in Laos. Any suggestions for the other countries is greatly appreciated. I've already read about some of the suggestions provided in other postings.
When traveling from country to country, which is the best method of transportation? Plane or Train?
Vietnam is the only country that requires you to get a tourist visa prior to arriving? Was this an easy process?
What airlines did you use? We'll be flying roundtrip from LAX to BKK.

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