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Budget influencing Thailand, vs, Burma, vs Vietnam

Budget influencing Thailand, vs, Burma, vs Vietnam

Mar 20th, 2012, 06:42 PM
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Budget influencing Thailand, vs, Burma, vs Vietnam

My friend and I have just started planning a trip to SEA in Dec/Jan. We will pick 2 countries and spend about 12 days in each country. We are looking at Thailand, Burma or Vietnam but open to other suggestions. Interested in culture, architecture and food. I see posters encouraging Burma.
Are there significant cost differences to consider? We would most likely stay at 3 star hotels with breakfast and eat in good but reasonable places in the evenings. We would like to hire a guide and/or driver from time to time. What are some ballpark cost estimates for 12 days in either of the above countries? Some posters quote hotel and dining costs but what about the in-country flights for instance in Burma and Thailand?
I know there is a lot of variablity in the request but I would love a few imperfect budget ideas. Our jumping off point would be Bangkok.
serasera is offline  
Mar 20th, 2012, 06:47 PM
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Are you planning on traveling around whilst in Thailand or just staying in Bangkok? I have just returned from 2 weeks in Vietnam also, staying in a 3 star hotel there would be very basic. We intially booked a 3 star hotel but unfortunately the standard was very low and we heard this was the case in most of the country. If you have the budget, Id pay to stay in even 4 star if possible and I highly recommend some where with a pool. Its so hot over there and always nice to head back in the afternoons to a clean air conditioned room and a swimming pool!
Little_Miss_Flighty is offline  
Mar 20th, 2012, 08:40 PM
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Have been to all 3, and just returned from Burma and Thailand.
We loved Burma, I posted trip report under Myanmar the other day. Used Santa Maria Tours for an 11 day tour which cost $3000 for 2 people including 6 internal flights, all hotels (4 star),guides drivers, transfers, breakfasts. I believe that Santa Maria prices are very competitive,perhaps a bit cheaper than other Burma tour companies. Just loved Inle Lake and the beach at Ngapali.

Thailand is my fave for beach resorts especially Khao Lak. Here a decent beachfront hotel is $70 (Nang Thong Bay Resort). Evening meal in the town cost about $15.00 for 2 and very good food. Thailand does very well for tourism with good accommodation, restos, transportation etc. For example with Air Asia you can fly return Bangkok to Phuket for about $100 taxes in. They also have a good bus system. Stayed at a hotel near Bangkok airport for $29 and it was just fine, this included 2 way transfers in a nice van, and breakfast - Thong Ta Resort Suvarnabhumi.

As for which to choose you might as well toss a coin, they are all great. Thailand and Burma work well together because of proximity with good flights Bangkok to Yangon (Air Asia).
Food is probably better In Thailand and Vietnam. For Vietnam my feeling is you are better in the 4 star hotels and that internal flights are more costly. All 3 have amazing culture and for architecture I would give the nod to Thailand and Burma in consideration of the temples, and in Thailand the palaces. You must visit northern Thailand, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. Good Thai dance shows can be found in the north and Bangkok and are a great cultuarl heritage.You may want to consider Siem Reap Cambodia, a short flight away from either Thailand or Vietnam and as for architecture it has the most fantastic collection of ancient temples just outside the town.
You will just have to return to do the one you miss this time !

Bon Voyage. Christo.
christo is offline  
Mar 21st, 2012, 02:20 AM
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Posts: 12,269
Thailand provides best budget travel value/comfort for me
kohtao.com foe beach dive Lotus Resort $14/nt
seat61.com/thailand cheap transport theangkorguide.net
some Cambodia is great too.Vietnam and Burma also great transport costs tend to be higher quality infrastructure not as good a little dodgier and scammier for me. Check consular advisories.Pay only with CC. asiarooms.com agoda.com 2 of my favs for lodging everywhere.

Have fun!
qwovadis is offline  
Mar 21st, 2012, 05:51 AM
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Burma is unique and is just opening up to tourism. If you want to go to Burma, let an agent book for you, as you'll save a significant amount of money. Burma probably has the fewest scams of anyplace in SE Asia - the only one I've heard of is the money changing on the streets where kyat bills might be double-counted. But it has had little enough exposure to tourism that visitors are not yet seen as merely sources of money. If you choose Burma, you'll need to start your booking process soon. Since credit cards are not accepted in Burma, you will likely be asked to wire a deposit to your agent (visa Thailand, typically) eventually. Many of us have done this and it is fine. Despite Qw's warning above, you cannot use credit cards in Burma. I'd suggest you rad the last dozen trip reports on Burma to help you decide. While you will also want a guidebook - Lonely Planet is the only option as this point - some info is already out of date (money changing info).

Thailand has excellent infrastructure and is easy to travel in. (thought I wouldn't recommend that you use Qw's $14 a night as a reference point) VN is rougher around the edges, and there are more traps for the unwary. Travel agents in VN will take more research, as there are many "clones" - agencies with the same name that are unrelated.
Kathie is offline  
Mar 21st, 2012, 06:16 AM
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Christo...I read your great Burma trip report. I think I want to follow in your footsteps. I sent an email to Santa Maria Tours. And your budget info is very helpful. I like the flexibility of independent travel vs a tour group but have trepidations. I like the idea of a tour operator in the vacinity.
Little_Miss_Flighty_I read your great Vietnam trip report and I'm thinking it may be better to save that one for another trip and give it more time.
I have a friend who lived in the Chaing Mai area for a year so I'm hoping she will be able to give me good advice about Thailand. I'm guessing cost-wise it will be somewhat similar.
I'll keep reading the posts as I plan.

My friend will be flying from the west coast and I will fly out of NYC. The best price on both coasts seems to be China Air and surprisingly about the same travel time (min 21 hours)(gulp).

Thanks for your responses.
serasera is offline  
Mar 21st, 2012, 06:20 AM
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Just a word to disagree with Miss Flighty's (and Christo's) advice against 3-star hotels in Vietnam. The number of stars taken by itself doesn't tell you much and shouldn't be used as an indicator of quality. After all, the acclaimed Elegance Hotels in Hanoi are all three stars.
We stayed in the 3-star Blue Diamond in HCMC and found it was very good in many respects. Notice that it ranks #34 in the TA ratings, higher than either the Elegant or the Rex, both of which Miss F stayed at.
WillJame is offline  
Mar 21st, 2012, 09:54 AM
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If the Hanoi Elegance Diamond is indeed three stars (and I think it is -- everyone always says "5* service in a 3* hotel"), it's true, you can do no better for the price.
sf7307 is offline  
Mar 21st, 2012, 01:57 PM
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we had excellent luck with 3* vn hotels.. cost $65-110. incl breakfasts and taxes... go with it..

i find vn to be the cheapest of the 3.

vn flts were about $100 o.w. thailand from $100-150. o.w.

i prefer 4* hotels and above in thailand..

burma is unique in every way..
rhkkmk is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 02:35 PM
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rhkkmk... Thanks for your reply but vn flts? Does that mean Vietnam flats? And what is o.w.?

"Burma is unique in every way." So if you had to choose between Vietnam and Burma which would you choose?

Thank you.
serasera is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 03:01 PM
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Bob's cryptic reply means VN flights, 100-150 one way.

For me, there is no contest between VN and Burma: Burma!
Kathie is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 04:31 PM
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Ahhh and so o.w. means one way. Thanks.
I need to talk my friend into Burma and out of Vietnam.
Still waiting to hear back from S.M. travel agency.
serasera is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 04:54 PM
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Vietnam will change only in the way that everywhere(your location for instance) changes in the next 5 years. Burma will change an incredible amount over the next 5 years. I met one person in Burma who said Burma reminded her of Thailand and other SEA places from 20 years ago. I changed a flight 4 times and not one penney did it cost to do so. I had a doctor come to the hotel room to see me - $10.00. The western habits are not yet there - but I would bet that they are within 5 years. I never saw bus tours of 30 folks there - but I imagine they are there this year or are on the way.
wintersp is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 05:13 PM
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Yes, wintersp is so right that Burma is changing rapidly now. I was in Thailand almost 30 years ago, and I'd say Burma might be where Thailand was 50+ years ago in terms of development. The bus tours have started in Burma, but there still aren't many. If you are interested in Burma, go as soon as you can.
Kathie is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2012, 06:16 PM
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I too recommend Burma as a better choice now for the above reasons. Both Burma and Vietnam are great travel destinations for me and the core reasons for that will likely not change. However other conditions can change but very fortunately in Burma's case the political events now occurring are very positive and the country is now poised to end it's isolation and re-enter the mainstream of the world. There is a great window of opportunity now to see it before it gets too busy or affected by tourism. Fortunately there is a good travel infrastructure there now, hotels etc. although some conveniences are lacking.

Like I said before just do Vietnam next time !
Bon Voyage. Christo.
christo is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2012, 11:26 PM
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If you click on my name you can see my trip report to Burma and i have most of the costs listed.
live42day is offline  
Mar 25th, 2012, 05:33 PM
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Thanks. I've printed it out! Haven't read it yet but appreciate your help.
serasera is offline  
Mar 25th, 2012, 06:05 PM
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Check out the today's (Mar 25) edition of the New York Times. The Travel section has an article about Myanmar. It's online at http://tinyurl.com/7gjougq
The same section has pieces on Vietnam, Laos, and Japan.
WillJame is offline  
Mar 25th, 2012, 06:12 PM
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I was very disappointed in the NYT article on Burma. Unfortunately, article has one glaring inaccuracy (it maintains that there is a VOA, when there is a pre-arranged visa or a visa in advance) and some glaring omissions, like the need for local currency as well as US dollars.

Frankly, you'll get better info from the many recent Burma reports here.
Kathie is offline  
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