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DeepBluesDude Mar 28th, 2003 07:07 AM

First time to Asia
Off to a great start already, I didn't mean to submit that last post yet... Anyway, I'm planning on going to Asia sometime next year for two weeks. I'd like to hit Thailand (Bangkok, Ayutthaya and maybe an island), Cambodia (Angkor Wat) and Vietnam (Saigon and one or two other places perhaps). I'd like to keep my iternerary flexible - is it possible to find decent hotel rooms upon arrival, or do I need to book in advance? For flights from Thailand to Cambodia and Vietname, can I book them when I get there, or do I need to do that in advance also? Any tips on getting airfare cheap? Is two weeks enough to at least do a preliminary tour of the three countries? I'm probably going to travel solo, and I'd like to keep my trip flexible. Finally, any thoughts on places in those countires that are must see, or are there other countries I should consider instead (Thailand is definitely going to be my launching point)? Sorry for all the questions, I'm a novice at international travel and would very much appreciate any insights from the experienced travelers on this sight.

rhkkmk Mar 28th, 2003 07:59 AM

you have bitten off a lot for just 2 weeks...remember you lose 2 days just getting there.....i would concentrat on thailand and one other place, either angkor or one place in viet nam...<BR>if you can arrange your flights through a bangkok travel agent you will save lots....look on the web for a list....i like them in vn....they have an office in bkk...prices vary greatly....i usually have my air all set before leaving home, but with so few people travelling at the moment it might not be a problem....bangkok air is great to angkor, but expensive (everything connected with angkor is expensive), but it is worth it of what you see....requires minimum of 2.5 days of touring but 4 would be better, even if you move fast...also the best thing is to have a driver and a guide---$20/each per day...willl save you loads of time---its hot and the distances are too far to also need the a/c in between places...<BR>thailand...we love bkk and have spent 5 trips there...lots to do and at all price ranges...we love the marriott resort and spa on the river...4* at about $85-125/ pool in town..there are many cheaper places too if you want to be closer to the &quot;action&quot;...a/c is a must....ko sumui gets great reveiws but i have not been there time...hua hin is 2.5 hours south of bkk and a nice quiet sea side place...your choices all depend on your interests.....

Kathie Mar 28th, 2003 08:20 AM

I agree that you have way too much you'd like to do in two weeks. I'd suggest a maximum of three places in that time period, two places in Thailand (Bangkok and a beach resort) and Angkor. I'm suggesting Angkor instead of VN becaus you can go to Angkor and experience the temples in, say, 5 days. You may want to book your flights in and out of Siem Reap in advance at The seats do sell out, and the price is the same no matter where you buy the tickets. You can get seats to one of the beach resorts either once you are in Thailand or on the internet. Most airfares are the same on the internet as at Bangkok travel agents. There are some exceptions, but it isn't like the old days of cheap tickets in Bangkok..

Marilyn Mar 28th, 2003 06:26 PM

Will add to Kathie's post that if you go to Angkor you don't &quot;need&quot; to visit Ayutthaya -- especially if you want to see a variety of sights.<BR><BR>Also, time of year you are going? Cambodia is staggeringly hot in the spring and summer. Best time to go is between November and January, but that is also the most crowded.<BR><BR>There are lots of nice hotels in Bangkok and Siem Reap for about $50/night. AC, breakfast included, good location, etc. Do, however, spend the money for a car and driver at Angkor. Maybe you can hook up with some other travelers and share the cost if need be. You can easily self-guide with one of Dawn Rooney's books. I recommend getting it in advance so you can plan your time well.<BR><BR>When you get closer to planning the trip, you can email me specific questions at [email protected]. Also, a search on this site will turn up posts on inexpensive hotels in Bangkok and Siem Reap.

DeepBluesDude Apr 15th, 2003 08:19 AM

Thanks to all for the good advice. I've done some further research and I'm adjusting my plans, but I've a couple other questions. I'm going to blow off the beach/island thing this time around and will drop Ayutthaya from the itinerary. Because It's still a long time before I'll be going (about a year), I don't know how airfare will change. I'm thinking of flying into Bangkok, staying 2 or 3 days and flying into either Phnom Penh or Siam Reap (any thoughts on which is cheaper/easier?). I'm planning on three days at Angkor, then a trip to Phnom Penh (or the opposite, depending on which airport I fly into) where I'm planning to see Tuol Sleng and the Killing Fields. After a couple days there, I'd like to fly into somewhere close to Ha Long Bay or into Laos for the last couple of days (I realize I'm not leaving a lot of time to get off the beaten track, but I want to get a quick overview to plan future trips that will be more in depth), with the return flight from either Vietnam or Laos instead of backtracking to Bangkok. Is this still too much for two weeks given that I'm planning to fly everywhere as opposed to land transport? I'm thinking I'd go during the rainy season to cut down on crowds and reduce expenses as I've heard that it typically rains for only a few hours each day (is this true, and how much difficulty does the monsoon season really pose?). Will it be way more expensive to fly into Thailand and out of say Vietnam as opposed to roundtrip from BKK? Lastly, I'm trying to find the guide by Dawn Rooney for Angkor - Amazon has a book by Dawn Rooney called Orchid Guides Angkor Observed: A Travel Anthology of Those There Before - is this the right one? Thanks again for putting up with all my questions and educating an unexperienced would-be-traveler.

Marilyn Apr 15th, 2003 09:42 AM

DeepBluesDude, I can't answer many of your specific questions but will address the ones I can.<BR><BR>First, you are wise to spend a few days in Bangkok when you arrive. This will give you a chance to get used to the time change. Frankly, Bangkok is so hectic that we enjoy it more a few days at a time, split between the beginning and end of our trip.<BR><BR>Next, I don't think it matters whether you go to SR or PP first. I could argue it either way. PP is a LOT more intense, worse poverty, more aggressive beggars, so it might be better to go to SR first so you have a chance for a bit of cultural acclimatization before the big city. Also, when you go to the museum in PP you will have a better understanding of the sculpture if you have already visited Angkor.<BR><BR>As for your arrival and departure cities, I think you will have to check with the airlines. Depending on which one you are using, you might be able to get an open jaw fare into Bangkok and out of somewhere else. Maybe orgy7 can jump on this thread and add some advice -- he is very well traveled in SE Asia and seems to know a lot about the best air routes/fares. If you do have to backtrack to Bangkok, it's not a very long flight, but you will have to get into Bangkok the night before you fly home, most likely. There are some decent hotels near the Bangkok airport which might be convenient. A search should turn them up.<BR><BR>Lastly, that is not the Dawn Rooney book you need for self-guiding, although it is her latest and an interesting one. You need something called &quot;Angkor: An Introduction to the Temples&quot;. There have been at least 4 editions, so you should be able to find one used at amazon or powells.

DawnRainbows Apr 28th, 2003 11:10 AM

DeepBluesDude -

I went on an extensive trip through these areas about 3 months ago and here is my take on the situation.

My experience is that yes, the airfare if you fly into BKK and out of Vietname is more expensive than a rountrip through BKK. In addition, if you do a roundtrip through BKK you will have the option to use priceline and hotwire and you could save a few hundred dollars on the airfare.

Personally, I did not care for Bangkok much. I preferred Chiang Mai, however, considering the length of your trip you may not want to detour that far north.

There are several flights every day to both Cambodian locations and there are also lots of flights going between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. If I were you, I would buy that intra-Cambodian flight at a travel agency in BKK so you don't have to worry about getting a seat later. Those flights are usually full; the flight should be about $65. Don't worry about the flights being full between Thailand and Phnom Penh, but if you are flying from Thailand to Siem Reap, then I would buy that tix before I left the US.

I support your decision to see North Vietnam as opposed to the South. I would fly into Hanoi and then go on an overnight trip to Halong Bay.

I still think you are doing quite a bit in two weeks. If I were you, I would only go to Vietnam and Cambodia, but I am a little biased in the fact that I did not like Thailand much. I think a week in Cambodia and a week in Northern Vietnam would be more suitable for the time that you have. I did something closer to what you descibed in your first message over the course of 2 months.

Good luck.

orgy7 May 7th, 2003 01:16 AM

look it's oficial you are tackling way too mcuh.. and this comming from the guy who travels too 14 countries in europe in 10 days.. the prob.. in south east asia is that scedualls mean nothing and everthing is done in it's slowest possinel manner..just o ordering a whopper and getting your food weill take half the day...
if your like most of us who have been too south east asia ... youi will return if's the last thing you ever do..

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