6 weeks in SE Asia

May 18th, 2008, 08:17 AM
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6 weeks in SE Asia

My boyfriend and I are planning a 6-week trip through SE Asia in July and August. We are hoping to visit Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. Though since it's monsoon season, it seems best to stick to the Gulf of Thailand side, yes? We'll be on a budget, with a couple of nice places thrown in. Any suggestions on order of visiting? We aren't going to plan it all out ahead of time, but want to get a general order that makes sense where we aren't jumping around too much. I think I'd like to end on the beach to relax a bit. Are four countries too much for that time period? Thanks!
Lucia78 is offline  
May 20th, 2008, 12:17 PM
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Lucia78 is offline  
May 20th, 2008, 12:42 PM
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Where are you coming from? If you are coming from North America or Europe, Bangkok is usually the least expensive city to fly into.

You have six weeks, so you can visit 4 countries if you wish, though there is no way to see it all. If you are on a budget, I'm guessing you'll want to travel overland rather than flying. For overland trips, I really recommend www.talesofasia.com for advice about Cambodia and I recommend the Lonely Plant site with the Thorntree forum for lots of good advice about overland trips.

You may also want to consider a few flights on low cost airlines such as Asia Air.

Give us more information about what you are loking for and we can be more helpful to you.
Kathie is offline  
May 20th, 2008, 01:03 PM
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Thanks a lot. We are coming from the East Coast of the U.S. We are on a budget, but would rather save time and fly between some places---though if it makes more sense to go overland that is just fine.

Here is what I was initially thinking. Does this make sense? I'm not looking to book the whole trip outright, just have an order.

Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai to Hanoi
Hanoi down the coast of Vietnam
Cross over into Cambodia-- Phohm Penh to Siem Riep
From Siem Riep I'm not sure if it makes sense to go back to Bangkok or go up through Laos. In Laos we wanted to visit Luang Prabang, Muang Sing, Si Phan Don, and Vientiane.
Then back to Thailand to relax on a beach before departing, thinking Ko Chang?

I am sure this is too much for 6 weeks. Can you help us pare this down and make sense of it. Thanks in advance!
Lucia78 is offline  
May 20th, 2008, 05:34 PM
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Here's my take on your itinerary:

US to Bangkok is easy - if you can, take the Thai non-stop from JFK. I'd suggest you spend a few days in Bangkok at the beginning and the end of your trip. You can fly to Chiang Mai cheaply on several budget carriers (Air Asia, Nok Air). From there, if you drove north, there is a river stop (sorry, I can't immediately remember the name of the town) where you can catch a boat to Luang Prabang, with an overnight in a village (there are inexpensive boats and very expensive boats, fast boats and slow boats). From there you could make your other stops in Laos then move on to Cambodia. I believe there are flights from Vientiane to Siem Reap. From Siem Reap, you can fly to VN or you can go to PP and then VN. VN is a large country, and you'll need to decide just how much you have time for. From there, to a beach - something on the Gulf side. End with a few more days in Bangkok.

So yes, you can do all that in 6 weeks, but do try to limit the number of stops you make so you have some time to experience each place.

The good news is that you are mostly making up your plan as you go, so you can be flexible and stay in a place longer if it strikes your fancy or move on if you are bored.
Kathie is offline  
May 21st, 2008, 12:42 AM
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Kathie's suggestions make sense both logistically and economically. It's expensive to fly into Luang Prabang. You can save some more money by going overland to Siem Riep from Pnomh Penh.

Leaving the beach until the end makes sense. You will be ready for some relaxation. The Gulf of Thaialnd will have the best weather.

Gpanda is offline  
May 21st, 2008, 01:33 PM
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You might want to consider the beach area in Cambodia. It's a lot cheaper and less touristy than Thailand.
pdupka is offline  
May 21st, 2008, 02:52 PM
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Since you want to visit both the south and north of Laos as well as the two major cities I would suggest a routing something along these lines.
Arrive Bangkok

Bangkok to Hanoi using discount carrier Air Asia

Make your way to Saigon

Saigon to Siem Reap - either by air, taxi or bus. The bus is much cheaper around $15 and takes 10hrs+ but only leaves on certain days. Taxis would be around $130 and require 2 changes.

Siem Reap to Phnom Penh by bus or taxi.

PP to Kratie by bus or taxi and then arrange transport to southern Laos thousand Islands (Si Phan Don) to either Don Dhet or Don Khon

Don Dhet or Don Khon to Vientiane

Vientiane to Luang Prabang by Air or bus

Luang Prabang to Muang Sing and then back to LP

LP to Chiang Mai by Laos Air

CM to Bangkok by Air Asia or another discount airline and then on to beach
Scotters is online now  
May 25th, 2008, 10:33 AM
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Thanks for all your assistance. Our plans have changed and solidified a bit, and would love your thoughts on the best use of our time now.

We are flying Thai airways from JFK to BKK on July 7 and returning August 14. So we now have 5 weeks, instead of 6.

Things we definitely want to do:
short trek in Northern Thailand or Northern Vietnam
cooking class
relaxing beach with good snorkeling
Angkor Wat
River boat down the Mekong

What would you recommend now with 5 weeks, during this time of year? This is my trip between work and law school, so I'd like to relax a bit at the end.

We are still interested in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, but if that is too much than we would like suggestions on what to drop.

We prefer being outdoors, natural beauty, over big cities.

Lucia78 is offline  
May 25th, 2008, 10:48 AM
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A few thoughts:

For a trek, if you want to be off the tourist trail, I'd recommend Laos. You can arrange a trek in Luang Prabang. I know a number of people who have done treks in the area.

Cruising the Mekong: there a a couple of options to consider, depending on how much time you want to devote to this. A short cruise would be from the Chiang Rai area in Thailand to Luang Prabang on LuangSay, a two day, on night trip. If you want more time on the river, consider the week-long Pandaw cruise between Siem Reap and the Mekong delta.

For beach time, consider somewhere in the Gulf of Thailand - Koh Samui or Koh Samet or Koh Chang, for instance.

Cooking class: you can take a cooking class almost anywhere. So you don't need to plan your itinerary around it. Someone here reported on a cooking class in Luang Prabang, and there are many well-known cooking schools in Chaing Mai and in Bangkok.

You will have to make decisions on what you want to cut from your wish list. Decide which activities and destinations are most important to you, and we can help with the logistics.
Kathie is offline  
May 25th, 2008, 11:57 AM
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Koh Tao would be good for your beach time.

VERY good info here
LeighTravelClub is offline  
May 25th, 2008, 04:50 PM
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With only 5 weeks I would make some of the following changes to what I had suggested above.

From Saigon take take a 3day/2night Mekong river cruise to Phnom Penh.

Taxi From PP to Siem reap

Skip the thousand islands in Laos and fly directly to LP from Siem Reap

Do go to Muang Sing in Laos and do your trekking here rather than in Chiang Mai. Have a look at this site

You could take the 2day/1night boat from LP to Chiang Rai but in my opinion it is overpriced and not worth it. Better to fly directly to Chiang Mai
Scotters is online now  
May 25th, 2008, 07:16 PM
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In your opinion, what are the not to be missed parts of Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia....keeping in mind that it is monsoon season when we are traveling. I'm having a hard time to figuring out what to eliminate!

Lucia78 is offline  
May 25th, 2008, 07:39 PM
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Lucia, not knowing what you are interested in and where you've been before makes that question very hard to answer. My favorite places may not be places you'd like.

That said, a brief personal list would include:


Siem Reap for the temples of Angkor

Luang Prabang, Laos


I'm not fond of Chiang Mai, so would prefer to go to the Golden Triangle area.
Kathie is offline  
May 26th, 2008, 12:54 PM
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We've never been to any of these countries. My boyfriend has been to Borneo and Malaysia. I've been to India and Bangladesh. We have travelled a fair bit in Africa and my boyfriend in S. America.

I know it's a difficult question to answer, but we are really at a loss for what we should definitely fit into these 5 weeks.

For instance, the thousand islands in Laos sounded cool, but would require us to visit both Northern and Southern Laos and we aren't sure if it is more worthwhile to only visit the North of Laos... Similarly, not sure if it's worth it to go to a beach in the Gulf of Thailand, or end on a beach in Cambodia before heading back to Bangkok for our return flight.

We don't want to bite off more than we can chew. So any guidance folks have on where is best to visit with 5 weeks in July/August would be great. If that means cutting out one country, then ok, we'll go back there another day.

We just want to experience the diversity of the landscapes and people, and have time to soak it up. Thanks!
Lucia78 is offline  
May 26th, 2008, 01:44 PM
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Have you purchased guidebooks for each of these countries? If not, I recommend that you do. None of us can come up with the right itinerary for you. Only you know what strikes your fancy. There is no "right" answer to your question, only what works for you.

You are also welcome to take a look at our photos at www.marlandc.com They cover a number of places in that area.

Kathie is offline  
May 26th, 2008, 06:55 PM
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Yes, we have about 6 guidebooks...which is why I'm asking the question here about what people think are not to miss areas of each country. I could easily spend 3 months in these countries, and since that isn't possible, I figured I'd see what people on this forum feel aren't not to be missed.

My list of places to go is just too long....
Lucia78 is offline  
May 26th, 2008, 07:23 PM
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Well, I gave you a brief personal list. I hope it's helpful.

You might also find ideas by reading some of the many trip reports here.
Kathie is offline  
Jun 19th, 2008, 03:16 PM
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Do you have a company recommendation for the boat trip from Saigon to PP?

Also, have you used that tour company that you linked to in Muang Sing?

Lucia78 is offline  
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