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spending winter in South East Asia

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My DH and I are seriously thinking about spending the winter months (Jan - end of March) in South East Asia instead of Mexico. We are in our early seventies, like independent travel and would hope to spend time in Thailand, Laos (Luang Prabang), possibly Cambodia, and Vietnam. We would like to include down time at a beach location, but also want to take the opportunity to visit places like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hanoi etc. Our energy level is not what it used to be and bad knees rule out any serious hiking. I have done a lot of reading in guidebooks and also posts on the various forums. I guess what I would like to ask is if anyone else our age has made a similar trip, which mode of transport would be the most comfortable/advisable, and whether the sequence in which we visit the countries would make any difference. We like staying in private rooms in guest houses, and envision staying put in certain places for up to 2 weeks, may be renting an apartment or bungalow. We hope to use frequent flyer points and fly in to e.g. Bangkok and out of HCMC.

Thanks in advance for your help!

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