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Bangkok, Luang Pranang, Hanoi

Old Jul 18th, 2012, 01:42 PM
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Bangkok, Luang Pranang, Hanoi

Hi Fodorites I have been trying to plan a trip for December over the holidays to Asia. I thought of Bali, Vietnam, and now a combination of some if not all. Can you give me your input which I always treasure!
Basic Itinerary for 10-11 days:
Day 1 fly JFK to Bangkok
Day 2 Bangkok
Day 3 Fly to Luang Pranang
Day 4 Laung Pranang
Day 5 Laung Pranang
Day 6 Fly to Hanoi go immediately to Indoneshine Sails for a junk ride in Halong Bay for 2 nights 3 days.
(Day 6, 7, 8 on the Junk)
Day 8 Hanoi
Day 9 Hanoi
Day 10 Hanoi
Day 11 Depart to New York

Does this sound like a reasonable trip or would it be better to visit Siem Reap and Phnom Penh or spend more time in Laos? Unfortunately our time is somewhat limited as you can see! Would love to hear your input! Thanks so much!
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Old Jul 18th, 2012, 03:00 PM
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It really depends on your interests -- if it were my trip, I wouldn't spend 3 out of 11 days on Halong Bay, and I'd spend more time in Bangkok. Not sure how to answer your question.

Are you more interested in natural scenery (Halong Bay), laid-back towns (Luang Prabang), bustling "international cities" (Bangkok), bustling smaller cities (Hanoi)?

On our trip, we did (not including traveling to and from the US)4 days Hanoi, 1 Halong Bay, 2 Hue, 2 HoiAn, 2 HCMC, 4 Siem Reap, 4 Hong Kong. If I had more time, I would have liked to have visited Sapa and/or Mai Chau.
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Old Jul 18th, 2012, 03:06 PM
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Be aware that day 1 to fly from JFK to BKK is actually 2 days. 2 full days in LP is a short amount of time - we had about 2-1/2 days and that was not enough. Not sure if you should plan on the junk ride right after your flight - what if it is delayed? You do not need two days on Halong Bay - one is definitely enough. The more days in Hanoi, the better. Have you been to Bangkok before and are thus not spending time there?
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Old Jul 18th, 2012, 03:19 PM
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With your limited time choose one or two destinations. Craig is right that if Day 1 is leaving JFK, you'll arrive on Day 3.

I also agree that two nights on the junk with your limited time is overkill - unless that is the most important part of the trip for you. In which case, I'd narrow the trip to Bangkok and Hanoi/Halong.

Or choose Bangkok/Luang Prabang. Trying to squeeze in three places with your limited time will mean you don't really get an experience of the place.
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Old Jul 18th, 2012, 04:03 PM
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I have been to Bangkok before....during the Tsunami. Thank you for your advice about Hulong Bay, they do have a shorter trip which I will consider. I want to do Hue, Hoi an, and HCMC but I am now thinking it might be better to do Luang Pranang and less time in Vietnam because of the weather during that season. At another point all I was doing was spending time in Vietnam. Is this what I should do even though it is high season and the weather isn't great?
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Old Jul 19th, 2012, 01:32 PM
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sf7307 if you had less time what would you have narrowed down from your trip? I have been to Bangkok and Hong Kong. I did want to see hue, hop an, halong bay and now Luang Pranang has totally peaked my interest! Siem Reap does not totally pull me but others have said its amazing and a must see. I know I am trying to plan too much but as I said I have heard that the weather in December in Vietnam is not great and it is obviously peak season.
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Old Jul 19th, 2012, 02:35 PM
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Ok are you a ruins/temple person- do you like to spend hours going thru ruins in the heat and humidity- if yes then Angkor Wat is your cup of tea- a number of fodorites swear you need 2-3 days to go thru them all. Now if you like to browse thru such places spend a few hours and then become, shall we say, templed out then maybe you should skip this venue.
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Old Jul 19th, 2012, 02:59 PM
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I think I will skip it I like temples but a few hours should be enough. So would you just do Laos or Vietnam or both? We like food, architecture, shopping, nice hotels if that helps. We enjoy the culture and watching or experiencing the lives of different people and how they live. I live in NYC so a bustling city is not necessarily what I am looking for but a bit of that is okay. We spent some time in Bangkok and it was fun for a couple of days visiting temples, flower market, the river, getting clothes made and of course the market. It's all exciting and wonderful actually.
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Old Jul 19th, 2012, 03:29 PM
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Choose one, either Laos or VN. In part, your decision may hinge on where you can get reservations. The Xmas/NY holiday are the absolutely busiest time of the year in SE Asia.
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Old Jul 20th, 2012, 03:15 AM
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If I was to choose and get reservations for Bangkok/Laos besides Laung Pranang where would you suggest to go. I heard about kayaking to a village for a couple of nights and Ventiemme ? but that it is not really worth it. Any suggestions that are great?
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Old Jul 20th, 2012, 12:14 PM
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imo, i would do vn only and have a wonderful trip at a less rushed pace..

i also would skip halong bay or at best i would spend only 1 night there--it takes a 1/2 day to get there from hanoi too..

hoi an is fantastic and a great place for a slow pace..

haNOI can easily take 3-4 days to aabsorb
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Old Jul 20th, 2012, 01:45 PM
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Bob, We liked Laos more than VN, bur both are worthy destinations.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2012, 03:29 AM
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You could easily spend a few days in Luang Prabang. I spent 3 nights there in between going in and out of Hanoi and really enjoyed it. Our hotel was fabulous a bit outside of town (La residence Phao Vao) I think you mean Van Vieng for tubing. A lot of backpackers stop there. We did not leave LP but some people we met enjoyed Vang Vieng.
Just whatever you do don't plan on doing a day trip (not that you have mentioned it but i'm just saying...) to Halong Bay from Hanoi. We had no choice due to scheduling issues but to do Halong Bay in day....4 hours of driving each way for 2 hours on a boat. Not recommended.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2012, 07:13 AM
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La Residence Phou Vao is really lovely. If you want to go to Luang Prabang at that time of the year, you need to make reservations NOW. Many places will already be sold out. We spent a week in Luang Prabang and enjoyed every minute.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2012, 09:50 AM
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>>

Ditto!!
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Old Jul 24th, 2012, 02:57 AM
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One additonal thing about La Residence Phou Vao - it's a great hotel with a small and beautiful pool....but when we were there a few loud families overtook the pool. I think this hotel attracts families. Luckily us and the other couples who wanted a quiet time complained and the parents were nice enough to comply, but if you want to relax in LP over xmas, kids could be an issue.
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Old Aug 10th, 2012, 11:11 AM
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Kathie what did you do for the week in LP? You said you loved it. A week isn't too long?
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Old Aug 10th, 2012, 12:42 PM
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A week wasn't too long for us at all. We walked in town, visited most of the wats (including those outside the town center), chatted with monks, had long, lingering lunches on the balcony of the Villa Santi, took a boat trip to the Pak Ou caves, spent one day outside of LP visiting the two sets of waterfalls and a Hmong encampment celebrating their new year, spent half a day at the weaving co-op talking with weavers and buying their wares, walked up Mt. Phousi and chatted with a Laotian English teacher there...

We swam every afternoon in the lovely pool at La Residence.

LP is a place to slow down and absorb the atmosphere.

BTW, when we were at La Residence, there were no children at all. So I don't know if tansmets had an unusual experience in that regard or if we did.
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Old Aug 10th, 2012, 01:52 PM
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We just spent 2 weeks in Vietnam last Dec. (Christmas) with our teenagers. We had a fabulous time. We did HCMC/Mekong, Hoi An Hanoi/Halong Bay. We did a one night trip on Halong Bay - would have loved to do two nights if the weather had been better, but with iffy weather I think that one night is probably ok. We loved Hoi An - did street food tour, bicycle tour and cooking class.

Not sure what you mean about it being high season. I guess because it was Christmas time, but because the weather in the north wasn't ideal we did not find it too crowded. BTW, we didn't find the weather too bad. Hot in HCMC and Mekong but cooler in Hoi An and Hanoi, but not too bad. Just not warm enough to be at the beach in Hanoi or swim in the water in Halong Bay.

Here is a link to my trip report:
http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...-and-junks.cfm
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