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Thailand and Laos OR Vietnam in Laos

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Hey guys! I know this topic has been questioned already but I'd still love to hear about your opinions and own experiences.
I would like to go to Southeast Asia for one month this December and I'm torn between Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. I am traveling with a friend and we want adventure and scenery. I'm a photographer so I'm really excited to take pictures of the exotic landscape that will be unfamiliar to me while I'm there. Our goals are to see either the rock formations, islands, and floating village outside of Phuket, Thailand OR the rock formations and islands outside of Halong Bay, Vietnam. I'm not sure if there is a floating village there as well. We love to hike and cave kayaking somewhere would be awesome. I'd also like to ride on the back of an elephant.. maybe in Laos. Vang Vieng looks gorgeous but I'm not a huge party animal, but the scenery looks awesome and so beautiful and fairy-tale like from the pictures I saw. Any advice on scenic off the beaten path areas!? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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