First trip to

Sep 24th, 2009, 03:12 AM
  #1  
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Posts: 48
First trip to

I am a 64-year old solo female traveller - fairly fit. I have approx. 56 days Feb/Mar 2010 to go to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar - starting point Bangkok from London. I need guidance on:

Route to take
Fly between cities preferable EXCEPT where to do so would mean missing out on wonderful scenic or historical sights on the way
Prefer to use local guides with car where appropriate
Visas - where to get them - any tips on procedure
How should I divide up the 56 days - am I trying to cover too much in time frame - if so, my preferences would be Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam - wuth BKK starting and leaving place
Would like a mix of guesthouses, and the occasional deluxe treat
My criteria: to meet the locals, not package tours except where safety is over-riding factor - use local guides
Interests: culture, history, scenery, meeting people and seeing memorable sights
Finally - the best/most reliable flights once I get to BKK and where to book them (UK or BKK?)

All advice would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks
Wonkyknee is offline  
Sep 24th, 2009, 06:48 AM
  #2  
 
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First of all, there is no need for package tours anywhere you are going. You can eaily do all of these countries as an independent traveller. You have 56 days (on the ground in Asia, I assume) and 5 countries you'd like to see. It is possible to see the high points in that much time, but I don't know whether that would give you what you are looking for. If you spend 10-11 days per country, you'll get a taste of each country. You might want to consider choosing one special place in each of several countries, then spending more time in a couple of countries.

So, for instance, you might choose to visit just Luang Prabang in Laos and just Siem Reap in Cambodia (I'd say a minimum of 4 or 5 full days each place) but spend more time in VN, Thailand and Burma. Or even choose one country to explore more thoroughly and hit the high points in the other countries.

There are reliable airlines in all of the countries. Air Asia is a budget airline that can fly you cheaply (but has restrictions you should consider, like no refund or re-ticketing if you miss your flight or change your plans). Bangkok Air has a Discovery Pass that allows you to fly much less expensively between places. You must buy the Discovery Pass from outside of SE Asia. You can book Air Asia and other local airlines, Thai Air, VN Air, etc online. The only place where flights are more difficult to book are those in Burma. (I know, I'm trying to do that now!)

Visas: you must have a visa in advance for both Burma and VN. In both cases, you can get them either in your own country from the embassy or consulate or you can get the visas in Bangkok (but it will take up some of your time while in Bangkok). For VN you can get a pre-aranged visa, which has a travel agency send you an email for the visa (for a fee), you use that to board your flight, then you pay a stamping fee to have the visa affixed to your passort upon arrival (by air only). No visa is needed for Thailand, you'll get 30 day entry when you fly in (and each time you fly in), you can get a visa on arrival in Cambodia ($25 last I did it, it may have gone up) and Laos ($30).

Do you have guidebooks yet? I'd suggest you spend some time with guidebooks for each country to help you choose where you might want to focus more of your time.

Thailand has excellent tourist infrastructure, VN is next most developed, then Cambodia, Laos and Burma all are still developing infrastructure.
Kathie is offline  
Sep 24th, 2009, 07:01 AM
  #3  
 
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Posts: 28,925
visa rules for a canadian are unclear to me so you would want to check with each country's website...i get mine from washington DC so you might get your's from your capital embassys...

56 days will work perfectly..

bangkok is an excellent central point to work from with good transportation options...

check out bangkok airways tour pass which will offer savings on flights to laos and cambodia and maybe even vietnam...

i have also used air france from bkk to hanoi in the past...

from CA to bkk i would investigate a number of airlines: iar canada of course, cathy pacific, thai, ANA, EvA, EMERITES, British air, air france, korean, japan, plus united, delta....

the sites along the route are often very secondary, so i would use flights for the most part...

don't overlook air asia as an alternative...always pay the extra for seat assignment which allow priority boarding...

get the ball rolling by choosing you overseas flight first and then you can fit in all the pieces around it...

choose your hotels carefully as they can easily make or break a destination for you...

have a budget in mind for hotels....3*, 4* or 5*, keeping in mind that asian 5* is often a huge bargain when compared with other international destinations...

get to the travel clinic near you early on to check what updates you might need for this travel....including malaria prevention (cambodia and other locations)... some shots need to be spaced out timewise...

get some plans laid out and come back here often and ask as many questions as you want....we are here to assist...
rhkkmk is offline  
Sep 24th, 2009, 07:08 AM
  #4  
 
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DUH--i somehow read canada instead of UK, sorry....
rhkkmk is offline  
Sep 24th, 2009, 06:36 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
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You might find this useful re- Thailand....

http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...g-thailand.cfm
khunwilko is offline  
Sep 24th, 2009, 06:49 PM
  #6  
 
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Perfect introduction for yourself! Don't forget your recommendation for the giant hat to keep the sun from burning your legs and scare away the insects. Or how about to based the Thai national holidays on when the bar open and closes....
Hanuman is offline  
Sep 25th, 2009, 01:43 AM
  #7  
 
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I'll just comment on Myanmar as I live here.

To see the acknowledged 'highlights' you would need a minimum 8 nights and 4 flights. If you can spare it .... spend as much time as possible here - it'll be your favourite country amongst those mentioned. Two weeks would be a good introduction.

You'll need some help to book flights and an agency will discount 3 - 5 star hotels to prices below what you could obtain yourself. I can recommend a Yangon agency if you need it.

As for regional flights i'd agree that Bangkok Airways and Air Asia will be useful .... but don't book 2 Air Asia flights for the same day - they don't connect so if the first is delayed and you miss the second you have no recourse with them.
anotherlostsoul is offline  
Oct 8th, 2009, 02:54 PM
  #8  
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Anotherlostsoul - I like the idea of 2 weeks in Myanmar - can you tell me about flights? If I fly from Bangkok and head north what would be the best place to book flights and places to stay? You refer to an agency in Yangon - it would be helpful for me to have this contact. I would like to go from Myanmar to Luang Prabang - is this possible or do I have to return to Bangkok and start from there?

Kathie - very useful info - thank you. Have you been successful with booking your flights? If so, where did you do them.
Wonkyknee is offline  
Oct 8th, 2009, 03:16 PM
  #9  
 
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Hi Wonkyknee,

There aren't any budget carriers that fly into Laos but Lao Airlines does offer discounted fares from time to tme, as they are presently until the end of the month.
They may do so again in early March as they did this past year.
But if you want to visit Laos sooner, then Air Asia And Nok Air at least does offer a budget flight from Bangkok to Udon Thani which is only an hour away from Nong Khai and the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge spanning the Mekong River which would bring you in 20 minutes to Vientiane, Laos' capital.
But Lao Airlines also offers a not too expensive flight between Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang, Laos, running about U$135, oneway if you're going to be in the Chiang Mai area or in northern Thailand.

If you need any assistance on planning a Lao visit, ask away and I'd be happy to help you if I can.
seagypsy is offline  
Oct 8th, 2009, 03:35 PM
  #10  
 
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Wonky, I finally (just today) have confirmed flights in Burma. The only way I found to do it was through an agent in Burma. I used Santa Maria in Rangoon and they were very responsive. Google them. Of course, you can't use a credit card, so I'll be carrying in cash to pay them for the tickets when I get to Rangoon.

If your next stop is Laos, you'll still have to go back to Bangkok (via Rangoon) to catch a flight to Luang Prabang.
Kathie is offline  
Oct 8th, 2009, 04:08 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
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Hello again, wonky,

I need to correct myself less there's some misleading on my part. I should have said that there aren't any budget carrier flights between Thailand and Laos at the present, BUT Air Asia does offer the budget route of Kuala Lumpur-Malaysia and Vientiane.
Sorry about the mistake and hope this correction is clear enough in a timely fashion.
seagypsy is offline  
Oct 12th, 2009, 12:19 PM
  #12  
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Thanks for all help so far. I have found a good flight from London to BKK on 30th January - back on 29th March. I now need to get flights sorted as follows:

BKK to Rangoon - internal flight from Rangoon to Mandalay - boat to Bagan - flight to Inle Lake
Rangoon back to BKK
BKK to Hanoi
OVERLAND to Saigon
Flight from Saigon to Phnom Pen
Flight from PP to Siem Reap
Flight from Siem Reap to Luang Prabang
LP back to BKK

I have decided to allow 2 weeks for Burma
2 weeks for Vietnam
1 week in Cambodia
4/5 days in Luang Prabang
2 weeks approx in Thailand

What is the best way to travel from Hanoi to Saigon and most important places to stop along the way - fancy Halong Bay and Hue??

Best place to get my visas for Burma and Vietnam?? UK or BKK?
Wonkyknee is offline  
Oct 13th, 2009, 09:14 AM
  #13  
 
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In Vietnam; Hue suffered terribly in the war... there's not much original history left to see. Halong Bay is lovely - I recommend you take a trip there. Hoi An is also worth a stop as is the ex-DMZ area. Travel by rail.

The Yangon agency contact is [email protected]. You / they may have to rearrange the itinerary to work around flight and boat schedules ... boats in particular may not run daily.

You should get your Myanmar visa in London no longer than 3 months prior to your landing date in Yangon.

If you're heading to Luang Prabang after Myanmar, you'll have to travel via Bangkok. Try Bangkok airways.
anotherlostsoul is offline  

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