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3 week SEA Itinerary

Old Dec 28th, 2016, 04:52 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 4
3 week SEA Itinerary


I am planning a 3 week trip to SEA in Nov/Dec and would like to get feedback our loose itinerary.

We want to focus on Thailand and include some neighboring cities of interest, here is our must see list:

- Bangkok
- Chiang Mai
- Phuket (or nearby island)
- Siem Reap

With almost 3 weeks how many days should we allocate for each city?

Also we are flying from NY which does not have direct flights to the above cities. Should we add a 1 or 2 night stay in a layover city?

Clstraveler is offline  
Old Dec 28th, 2016, 05:12 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I don't recommend a layover. It really doesn't help you to adapt to the new time zone. Your best bet in dealing with jet lag is to get to your final destination time zone as soon as you can, and adapt there.

To prepare for your time in Siem Reap, get a copy of Dawn Rooney's book, Angkor: A guide to Cambodia's Wondrous Temples. This will help you determine how much time you want in Siem Reap. It takes three full days (4 nights) just to see the major temples. If you re only moderately interested in the temples, that may well be enough time for you. If you have a special interest, you will want more time.

I'm not a fan of Chiang Mai, though I consider Doi Suthep a must-visit. Think about what you want to do/see there. If you are spending a day/night at the Elephant Nature Park or if you are planning on driving the Mae Hong Son Loop, you will want more time. But if you just want to se the city and a few temples, you can easily do that in three days.

I could (and have) spent weeks on end in Bangkok. But for a first-timer, I'd suggest maybe 5 days. You will want to visit some of the major wats plus the Grand Palace, maybe the Jim Thompson House and the Suaan Pakkard Palace, perhaps the Prasart Museum, depending on your interests. You'll want time to sample some of the wonderful food.

A stay at the beach can be as long or as short as you want. Decide what kind of beach atmosphere you want: busy and energetic or quiet and isolated. There are lots of options, and you will need to do some research to decide.

Happy planning!
Kathie is online now  
Old Dec 28th, 2016, 10:55 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,924
Different people cope with jet lag differently. I agree with Kathie, a layover would do me no good whatsoever, for others it may work. Which way you fly may also be a big factor.

As a starting point I would suggest:

4 Bangkok
6 Chiang Mai (& the north - see below)
4 Siem Reap
6 Phuket
1 Bangkok (possibly)

Six days is a long time just for Chiang Mai city as the main historical centre is quite compact. If you are happy self driving, I would suggest renting a car and driving the Mai Hong Sorn loop. Happy to provide further detail if this is something you might consider. Chiang Dao is a great side trip if you like hiking, caves and countryside (some great food too!) and is only a couple of hours drive. Likewise, Chiang Rai is often neglected in favour of its larger neighbour, CM. Some photos of CR on our blog .
If you do visit CR try to schedule your time to include a Saturday night as that is when they hold a terrific "walking market". Much nicer that than the ones in CM.

I suggest you leave the beach until last as you will doubtless need a rest after battling the crowds at Angkor! Good you are going now as they are virtually doubling the entrance fees on 1 Feb next year.

I would usually schedule the night before departure in the city of departure. Do bear in mind when booking flights that Bangkok has two airports. Most international flights depart from Suvanubarmi, many internal/local flights go from Don Muang.

Great time of year to be travelling in the region BTW!
crellston is offline  
Old Dec 29th, 2016, 05:04 AM
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Thanks for the great insight!

I have heard mixed reviews on Chiang Mai however, we are considering traveling in November 2017 for the Yee Peng festival for which we would spend more time in CM then if we travel in December.

Our primary intentions for a northern Thailand visit are to enjoy elephant treks and nature hikes however, we would prefer a central base that allows us the freedom to walk into town for markets and restaurants/bars at night. Would Chiang Rai be a more suitable option?

Kathie - Can you recommend the best area/hotels to stay in Bangkok?
Clstraveler is offline  
Old Dec 29th, 2016, 06:32 AM
Join Date: May 2004
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Before setting out on an elephant trek, have a read of this

Elephant Nature Park near CM is your best bet. You probably need two nights there to make it worthwhile. Book well in advance.

As indicated in my post above, the walking market in CR is far superior to that in CM which is really packed and full of tourist tat! Very colourful thought. CM is the place for bars and restaurants and has some of the best food in Thailand. CR is far quieter in terms of bars and restaurants than CM.

The hiking around CR is arguably much better than that around CM. Te only place I can think of near CM is a short hike from Doi Suthep see details.
crellston is offline  
Old Dec 29th, 2016, 07:06 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Crellston, Thanks for informing the OP about the issues of elephant treks.

Clstraveler, In Bangkok, I highly recommend you stay along the river. It gives you great access to the major wats along the river via public water taxi, and the area along the river is slightly less hot and the air clearer than in the canyons along Sukhumvit. If you can give me an idea of what kind of place you'd like to stay and your budget, I can offer ideas.

Note also that what is called Yi Ping in CM is called Loy Krathong elsewhere. It is celebrated all over Thailand in only slightly different ways. So if you can be there at that time of the year, you can celebrate it anywhere. (I like to be in Bangkok for Loy Krathong) If you want to walk to markets and restaurants/bars at night, you want CM. CR doesn't have a lot - it might be way too quiet for you. I like the CR area more than the CM area, but it doesn't offer much in term of restaurants and bars.
Kathie is online now  
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