2 1/2 weeks- Thailand, and Vietnam???

Old Jun 30th, 2012, 05:21 AM
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The drive is supposed to be long and grueling, although the roads may be completed at this time. With your limited travel days, IMO you would be wasting your time driving.

I agree that you should cut Halong bay from your itinerary. If you go to vn, Hanoi is a charming city and deserves more than a day.

Have you been to Bangkok ever? Would you consider going there in lieu of Hanoi? You will likely have to fly through Bangkok anyway in order to get Thai beaches and northern Thailand. We spent 8 days in Bangkok and didn't run out of things to see. There's a lot to do in vn also and you may be better off saving it for another trip when you will have the time to enjoy it.
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Old Jun 30th, 2012, 06:09 AM
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The drive between Bangkok and Siem Reap takes time - basically you'll use up a whole day (each way) of your already too short time in SE Asia. You cannot hire a driver all the way to Siem Reap - you'd have to be dropped of at the Cambodian border, walk across and get a new driver on the other side. There are also lots of scams for the unwary. If you have any interest in doing this, read all about ti at www.talesofasia.com

dgunbug has the right idea - choosing Bangkok, Siem Reap and the beach (cutting out Hanoi and Northern Thailand) will make the logistics of your trip easier.

Also, take a look at the Bangkok Air Discovery Pass. If you fly three legs on Bangkok Air, the Pass will save you a significant amount of money.
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Old Jun 30th, 2012, 06:28 AM
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Basically, you are choosing between spending your time in Vietnam with a trip to Siem Reap or Thailand with a trip to Siem Reap. Thailand is the obvious choice for the beach vacation. Bangkok, therefore, is the city for you to see this time.
Divide your time among the north and south of Thailand, Bangkok and Siem Reap. The order of things can be determined by travel arrangements, e.g., especially through use of a Bangkok Air Discovery Pass. See http://tinyurl.com/7vjm3dv
You'll have quite a time doing your planning using the Discovery Pass, but it will let you fly, e.g., from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Siem Reap, and Phuket at quite a savings. (This is how you get well acquainted with Bangkok on one of your trips through.)
So, e.g., if you decide to finish up your vacation on the beach before returning to NYC, see how you can route the rest of your trip with the fewest segments of air travel. Don't book any hotels until you have the flights nailed down.
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Old Jun 30th, 2012, 08:00 AM
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Gabi, For culture, temples, forest and elephants, I second Kathie's recommendation of the Anantara in Thailand's golden triangle area north of Chiang Rai - a magical destination with views over the jungle of the misty Mehkong and the hills of Laos. Besides the extraordinary elephant experience, you can hike to hill tribes, do market visits and cooking classes, take for longboat rides and even go on a day trip with a guide into Burma (not the "real" Burma, but a taste, if you venture beyond the border area).

We traveled there on two quick flights from Siem Reap through BKK to Chiang Rai, where a driver met us, took us to the Chaing Rai market and then to the Anantara. It was a very easy travel day, with great scenery.

FYI - You're getting great advice here, but many travelers on Fodors are much older than you and might have different travel tastes. You might want also want to check out www.afar.com
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Old Jun 30th, 2012, 09:11 AM
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but anantara's prices have gotten outrageous from all reports---at most it is worth $175.
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Old Jun 30th, 2012, 07:35 PM
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I think the Anantara is now all-inclusive for certain seasons - nightly rate covers meals, spa treatments and all the activities. I'm not defending the new policy, but it's a lot less than the Four Seasons Tented Camp down the road, which offers a similar elephant experience.
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Old Jul 1st, 2012, 07:36 AM
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if that is true and the food is decent, then it would be nice
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Old Jul 1st, 2012, 05:15 PM
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thank you everyone.
Any suggestions on what is a must in hanoi? Most of what i read is about places around Hanoi, but not particularly in the city.
i was inclined to drive to Halong bay and stay overnight in the cruise, but got a little discouraged by some travelers here. Is Sapa worth the drive? i would stay a night there.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2012, 08:43 AM
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Still planning on Vietnam, Gabi? Sapa is nine hours each way by train from Hanoi. You can also go by motorcycle. It takes ten hours. See http://wikitravel.org/en/Sapa
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Old Jul 2nd, 2012, 08:56 AM
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Yes WillJame,
either i go to hanoi (5 days , 4 nights) or choose bangkok + chiang rai (2 nights each place)

in addition to siem reap and koh phiphi.

whats ur opinion?
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Old Jul 2nd, 2012, 09:10 AM
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Gabi, if you had enough time to go to Halong Bay and spend a night on a junk, that would be fine, but previously, you just had a day trip from Hanoi, which is not worth it.

There is plenty to do in Hanoi itself - interesting walking (and ahopping) in the old quarter and around the lake, good food, the Ethnographic Museum, etc.

Choosing to go to Spa would basically take all of you Hanoi time. It's an overnight train.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2012, 09:30 AM
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thank you kathie.

this is what i'm thinking.
it will be busy... but i would like to see the most that i can... and then relax on the beach.

3 nights chiang rai and 2 nights siem reap, or the other way around?

Sep 26 NYC- Shanghai (meeting mom and sister)
Sep 27 Shanghai
Sep 29 Shanghai - Hanoi
Sep 30 hanoi
Oct 01 hanoi- Ha Long bay (night at the junk)
Oct 02 Ha Long bay - hanoi
Oct 03 hanoi - siem reap
Oct 04 siem reap
Oct 05 siem reap - bangkok - chiang rai
Oct 06 chiang rai
Oct 07 chiang rai
Oct 08 chiang rai - phuket - koh phiphi
Oct 09 koh phi phi
Oct 10 koh phi phi
Oct 11 koh phi phi
Oct 12 koh phi phi - phuket -bangkok
Oct 13 bangkok -NYC
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Old Jul 2nd, 2012, 09:46 AM
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You really need three nights both at the Anantara near Chiang Rai and in Siem Reap. Remember that three nights is just two full days. With two nights, you are only there one full day.

Any chance you can add a day or two your your trip?
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Old Jul 2nd, 2012, 01:02 PM
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Well, a person could do what you're proposing but in some respects it doesn't make sense. You're passing through Bangkok twice, but not taking time to stop and visit?
I've spent probably a week all-told in each of Hanoi and Bangkok. There's lots to say about both as places to visit. Given one or the other, probably most people on this forum would recommend Bangkok. Why are trying to squeeze in Hanoi but not Bangkok, or have I missed something?
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Old Jul 3rd, 2012, 03:22 AM
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I have been to both Hanoi and Bangkok and agree they are both wonderful. I still think it makes more sense to visit Bangkok given the limited time.

That being said, if you chose to go to Hanoi, I would still skip Halong as you will spend most of your vacation time either driving or flying. Why not soak up the wonderful atmosphere of Hanoi. We spent days just wandering the streets of the old quarter. There is plenty to see there. Also, remember that the heat is very oppressive and you will take things slower than you'd imagine.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2012, 12:41 PM
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I get it. Kathie, Will, dgunbug

So i' need to cut out destinations...

Maybe i just vut out chiang rai? Do u think i'm missing out much?
I would like to get some nature and more undeveloped places in my list..
Afraid w hanoi and bangkok will be just too much city...
Can i get this experience from Hanoi? a day in the green, seeing rice fields, local people.. Quiet
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Old Jul 3rd, 2012, 02:28 PM
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If you want time out in nature and undeveloped places, leave Chiang Rai in. You can take a day trip outside of Hanoi, but it isn't the same as staying somewhere out in the country. Also, you said you wanted to interact with elephants - The Anantara at the Golden Triangle will give you that opportunity. Take a look at the Ananrara and see if it is in your budget. If not, we can recommend other places in northern Thailand. I think, given what you are looking for, that you need to cut VN.

Fly from Shanghai to Bangkok, spend some time in northern Thailand, Bangkok and the islands. Logistically, it makes better sense and it gives you what you say you are looking for.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2012, 06:05 PM
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The last itinerary looks too busy even for me. But, I will look into the logistics of it. I would cut Chiang Rai or Hanoi. You really want at least 3 nights in Siem Reap.

Oct 3, looks like you have two options, according to Travelocity, too fly at an affordable price, $295, flying on Vietnam Airlines.

Depart Hanoi 9:50AM, stop in Luang Prabang, no plane change, arrive Siem Reap at 1:50PM
Depart Hanoi 5:10 PM, nonstop, arrive REP at 6:50 PM.

Oct 2 only has the 9:50 AM flight at that price and the nonstop apparently is not offered on that date. Thought you might go from Halong Bay to the airport that day, but no.

You won't want to get Siem Reap - Chiang Mai as those fares are over $400 and take 12 hours. Have to look at a ticket on Bangkok Air and another on Thai for that trip. Each of those tickets cost about $156. Say $316 for both and you would have to pad in some time for the connection. There are 3 options for departing Siem Reap and two connection options on Thai. Connection times between 1hr 40 minutes and over 7 hours.

Maybe 9:45 dep from REP, 2 hours 15 min connection, getting to Chiang Rai at 2:35. It's a five hour trip.

Maybe a different order would be better as far as airfare and travel times might be better: Hanoi, Chiang Rai, Siem Reap, and then Bangkok Air to Phuket.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2012, 06:11 PM
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Anantara in over $1000 a night.... is this their regular price?

for a real splurge i would pay max 500.
any other hotel that would provide similar experience?
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Old Jul 3rd, 2012, 07:21 PM
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Even at that time of the year? You might check some of the discount websites as well as the Anantara's own website. I understand it is now all-inclusive. The other place that offers a similar experience is the Four Seasons Tented Camp near Chiang Rai. It is probably twice the price.

Instead, you could go to Chiang Mai, stay outside the city and go to either the Elephant nature Park or the Thai Elephant Conservation Center near Lampang.
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