Can you comment on my itinerary?

Jul 18th, 2009, 01:43 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 32
Can you comment on my itinerary?

We are planning two weeks from November 14-28 in SE Asia. Our must-sees are Luang Prabang, Angkor Wat, and Hanoi. The original plan was to see those sights and some of Central Vietnam (Hoi An, Hue) but after doing some research, it seems that the weather will not be good at that time to go to central or southern Vietnam. With just visiting Hanoi, LP and AW, we had a little extra time so we considered overland travel for some part of the trip but have ultimately decided against it. We have now considered adding Bangkok. Does this itinerary seem like way too much to do in 2 weeks? I have read many posts on this board and realize that we would get a better flavor of the countries by seeing fewer things and perhaps traveling overland but with such a short trip, I don't know if we want to worry about the difficulties of overland travel. We have never been to any of these countries but plan to return so even if this is a short trip to Bangkok, we will probably be back.

11/15 arrive Hanoi 22:35
3 full days and 1 partial day for Hanoi and Halong Bay
11/19 depart Hanoi at 18:35, arrive Luang Prabang 19:25
2.5 days in LP
11/22 depart LP at 15:40, arrive Bangkok at 17:40
1 full day and 1 partial day in Bangkok
11/24 depart BKK at 18:45, arrive Siem Reap 19:45
2 full days and 1 partial day at Angkor Wat
11/27 depart SR at 19:35, arrive Phnom Penh at 20:30.
11/28 spend day in PP, fly back to US at 20:25

Any thoughts? Thanks so much in advance.
AliceL is offline  
Jul 18th, 2009, 02:23 PM
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By my count, you have 13 days (I haven't counted 11/15, as you arrive at 22:35). Frankly, I think 3 destinations are perfect for 13 days! And you are trying to fit in 6 places (Halong Bay, just for an overnight still counts).

As you figure this out, don't count the "partial" days, as what you'll have time to do is very limited (remember checking in and out of hotels, getting to the airport at least 90 minutes before your flight, then on the back end getting through immigration and waiting for luggage before heading off to a new hotel and checking in. I wouldn't go to any destination for one day. Ok, Halong Bay overnight makes sense but Bangkok for one day? It's my favorite city in the world, but in just a day you'd feel overwhelmed and frustrated.

I think you need a minimum of 3 full days in Hanoi (4 nights) 3 full days in Siem Reap (4 nights) and 4 full days (5 nights) in LP. You add in your overnight at Halong bay, and that's all the time you have.

I think you'd be disappointed if you followed your itinerary, as you wouldn't have time to do and see the things you've said are important to you. Asia is best experienced at a slower pace.
Kathie is offline  
Jul 18th, 2009, 06:20 PM
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Kathie is absolutely right, you will just be frustrated and not really see anything with your present schedule.

Halong Bay as I understand it is really two days and 1 night. The trip to the boat is several hours starting in the motning, then you return around noon the following day.
That leaves you very little time for Hanoi that has so many sights and much to see.

Where I differ from Kathie is that I think 2 1/2 days are enough for Angor Wat unless temple ruins are something that you are very keen on.

Luang Prabang deserves at least 4 full days if not more in case you want to take a day trip up the river. Bangkok takes a long time to clear customs and the the drive into the city.
To attempt it in one day is going to be very disappointing.

Don't forget the jetlag and climate change that affects how fast you move and how much you can absorb. It is hot and humid at that time of year.
Nywoman is offline  
Jul 18th, 2009, 06:20 PM
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An extra day in Luang Prabang would be better.
Vientianeboy is offline  
Jul 19th, 2009, 02:36 AM
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On our last trip we had 5 full days in Hanoi plus 2 more for Halong Bay. Nywoman is correct in that if you do the Halong Bay with an overnight, it will take almost 2 full days. I would not try to do Halong Bay as a day trip. You could probably get by with just 3 full days in Hanoi if you had to.

2-1/2 to 3 days (3 nights if you arrive early AM) in Angkor is plenty unless you really like to visit temples.

We had 2-1/2 days in LP but we felt we needed one more day.

The flights and connections are tricky. At some point you will probably be connecting through Bangkok so I can understand the temptation to spend time there. I can't imagine spending anything less than 3 full days there.
Craig is offline  
Jul 19th, 2009, 05:41 AM
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You should take an overnight trip to Halong bay.
You can consider my reference program as followings:
15 Nov: Arrive in Hanoi. You can catch the taxi at the airport to downtown (35mins and rate is US$15/ trip, you should catch Noi Bai taxi for cheapest rate, or you can catch Jetstar bus: 20,000VND/ per person)

16 Nov: Hanoi city tour
Recommended sites: Ho Chi Minh President's house, museum. Temple of literature- first university of Vietnam. Museum of Ethnology- display the daily life's items of 54 Ethnic minorities in Vietnam; watch Water puppet show or Ca Tru traditional song....

17 Nov: Hanoi- Halong overnight
Visiting the bay and overnight on board.

18 Nov: Halong- Hanoi
You will check out the boat at 11h30 and drive back Hanoi. The distance is 160km but it will take you 3.5hours.

19 Nov: Hanoi- Luang Prabang
As I remember, there is only 1 flight per day (operated by Vietnam Airlines and Laos Airlines).
Free in Luang Prabang.

20 Nov: Luang Prabang city visiting

21 Nov: Luang Prabang visit- boat cruise to visit Pak Ou Cave.

22 Nov: Luang Prabang- Bangkok
Fly to Bangkok. Free day in BKK

22 Nov: Free day in BKK

23 Nov: BKK- Siem Reap
There are many flights per day. You should take the earliest flight so you will have more time to visit Siem Reap with complex of wat.
visit Angkor Wat in the afternoon, watch Sunset.

24 Nov: Siem Reap visiting
Angkor thom
Bakeng Hill

25 Nov: siem reap visiting
(as I know, in Siem Reap, they sell the admission fee for 1 day and 3 days, so you should spend 3 days to visit complex or angkor)
In my opinion: you just need 1 day to visit Phnom penh. Luang prabang and Siem Reap need more time to visit. Surrounding Hanoi, there are many beautiful sites; you can spend more days.

Another option: with 13 days, you can visit whole Vietnam if you take BKK off the program.

If you need any assistant or information about transportation and accommodation or other information, pls. let me know. I am pleased to help you as a friend.

Vietnam_guide2009 is offline  
Jul 19th, 2009, 06:19 AM
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A word of warning on Hanoi - some sites are closed at mid-day and others are closed on Mondays or Tuesdays, so you have to plan accordingly. Also, if you want to see Uncle Ho lying in state in the Mausoleum, be aware that it is only open in the morning and not every day.
Craig is offline  
Jul 19th, 2009, 06:35 AM
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Also i think Uncle Ho goes off for a re-touch in Russia during November/ early Dec
Smeagol is offline  
Jul 19th, 2009, 06:38 AM
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Note that Vietnam Guide is a tour operator who will pack everything into your itinerary possible without regard to experiencing or enjoying a place.
Kathie is offline  
Jul 19th, 2009, 07:01 AM
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Hi Alicel for only 02week with four countries it really too short, i have been to only Vietnam and Cambodia and here what we would to suggest.

NOV. 15- Hanoi arrival. Lodging Quoc Hoa Hotel

NOV. 16- Hanoi full day city tour.

NOV. 17- Hanoi Halong Bay overnight cruise with Emeraude

NOV. 18- Back Hanoi and relax

NOV. 20- Fly Hanoi to Luang Prabang.

NOV. 21- Luang Prabang

NOV. 22- Luang Prabang

NOV. 23- Fly Luang Prabang to Bangkok

NOV. 24- Bangkok

NOV. 25- Fly Bangkok to SR (should find the morning flight), pm visit temples. Lodging Tara Angkor Hotel

NOV. 26- Visit temples

NOV. 27- Visit temples, depart SR at 19:35, arrive Phnom Penh at 20:30. Lodging The Pavilion (very nice pool room)

NOV. 28- Visit Palace, pagoda, national museum, Tuol Sleng Museum and market, fly back to US at 20:25

Happy holiday

Daniel77 is offline  
Jul 19th, 2009, 09:58 AM
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Thank you so much for all the advice. It does seem to be the consensus to stay longer in fewer places. It is a hard decision for us because from past travels we know that we don't like to be in a place for too long. On the other hand, it wouldn't be fun to spend the whole time in airports and going through customs.
AliceL is offline  
Jul 19th, 2009, 01:01 PM
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One other question. I am willing to take Bangkok out of the trip but is it possible to fly from LP to SR? I thought it could be done on Bangkok Airways with a transfer in Bangkok but the website didn't let me do it. Would I have to book two separate one way tickets?
AliceL is offline  
Jul 19th, 2009, 04:40 PM
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It looks like Lao Airlines has a flight from LP to SR, QV 513 and 869. We'll be flying them the reverse direction next March, SR to LP.If you get a Discovery Airpass from BA you can fly on Lao Airlines. You don't need to go through BKK.
susiesan is offline  
Jul 19th, 2009, 04:43 PM
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Thanks Susiesan. I was trying to avoid Lao Airlines because I had read that they aren't the safest airline. That is why I was considering flying via Bangkok on BA, if it exists.
AliceL is offline  
Jul 19th, 2009, 05:11 PM
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if you decide on bkk for a nite or two, look at plaza anthenee hotel for that period....great location and lux hotel with a pre pay price of only 3300 B for that time frame...look on for that rate...

i would drop halong bay personally....i would add a day in SR if you love ruins.....and one day in LP
rhkkmk is offline  
Jul 19th, 2009, 06:13 PM
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"Thanks Susiesan. I was trying to avoid Lao Airlines because I had read that they aren't the safest airline. That is why I was considering flying via Bangkok on BA, if it exists."

Where and when did you read this? This is very dated information. Laos Airlines has had a maintenance contract with a French firm for some years and is one of the better regional airlines.
Vientianeboy is offline  
Jul 20th, 2009, 05:13 AM
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I just want to share my experience in tourism in Vietnam and Indochina. It is just for reference.
You can take the flight from Luang Prabang to Siem Reap but as I know, it is not daily. You should check with Laos Airlines. I don't think that it is unsafe. It is the fastest way to reach SR from LP. Moreover, there are some political problems in Thailand. There are many people have to cancel their trip to Thailand.
Vietnam_guide2009 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2009, 05:40 AM
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As far as I know Lao Airlines is a very safe company. I am flying with them in October.

The Discovery pass is a great deal if you can manage 3 legs with Bangkok airlines, Lao Airlines and Siem Reap Airlines. The fare LP to SR is $257 on Lao Airlines. Discovery Pass cost $60 for domestic fares and international $100
Nywoman is offline  
Jul 20th, 2009, 07:22 AM
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Lao Aviation (the predecessor of Lao Air) was unsafe. It flew Russian and Chinese planes, had poor safety and training, etc. The new Lao Air, as mentioned, is much better with newer planes, etc. I would not take any flight using the old Chinese or Russian planes, nonetheless. Those planes are only used on a few domestic routes.

Remember than VN guide is a tour agent/guide in VN, and apparently has his own reasons for telling you "There are many people have to cancel their trip to Thailand." While the Bangkok airport was closed for a week or so last November, there are not current problems affecting tourists. If it works for your itinerary, there is no reason to avoid Bangkok.
Kathie is offline  
Jul 20th, 2009, 11:19 AM
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I read about Laos Airlines being somewhat unsafe in the newest edition (mid 2007)of Frommer's Southeast Asia. I then did a little internet research and found some of the information you mentioned about not flying the Russian planes which are mostly on interior routes. It still didn't feel totally safe which is why I tried to find out if I could take Bangkok Airways. I just checked the flight on Lao Airlines and it looks like the flight is on an ATR, which I think is a French-made plane so it should be ok. Thanks for all the help.
AliceL is offline  
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