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Help me plan our first trip to Southeast Asia!

Help me plan our first trip to Southeast Asia!

Nov 6th, 2019, 10:56 AM
  #21  
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 484
Thanks again for the support I am receiving which include the "friendly' banter I am reading regarding the weather!

Here's a possible itinerary : LAX- BKK and stay in Bangkok for 3 nights
Flight to Chiang Mai for 4 nights
Bus to Chiang Rai and stay for 2 nights
Travel by bus to Huay Xai for 1 night
Luxury boat cruise 2d/1 night to Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang for either 3-4 nights
Flight to Hanoi for 2-3 nights
Boat cruise to Halong Bay 2d/1 night
Travel down to Ho Chi Minh city for 10 days ( stop at Hue, Hoi An, Danang)
Ho Chi Minh 3 nights
Flight to Siem Reap 2-3 nights
Flight to Bangkok and back to LAX ( either staying overnight in Bangkok or not)
This has now become a possible 5 week trip. which we can manage.
allyboy is offline  
Nov 6th, 2019, 12:00 PM
  #22  
 
Join Date: Nov 2019
Posts: 1
Hello,

1. February-March is a good time to visit Southeast Asia.
2. I suggest you flying from JFK to Saigon (SGN) first, and leaving from Bangkok (BKK). Price for March, is around $440/person. JFK-SGN, BKK-JFK
3. I suggest you using China Eastern and stopover in China, it would save you a lot.
4. We have tours visiting Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand for 10 days. I'm sure you'll be able to visit a lot of places and enjoy your time there for one month.
5. Itinerary: Vietnam--->Cambodia--->Thailand (message me if you need more specific plan)
6. For Vietnam, if you are US citizen you can apply for an E-Visa, and it is valid for a maximum of 30 days for the purpose of tourism, it cost $25 and its usually processed in 3 business days.
For Thailand, you do not need a visa if you plan to stay for less than 30 days.
For Cambodia, single entry visa USD30+ USD6(processing charge)
For more info, visit the us travel advisories website,
7. We have local resources in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Feel free to contact us!
TourDeal is offline  
Nov 6th, 2019, 12:54 PM
  #23  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 10,255
I assume you're not into big cities, thus the only 3 nights in BKK? Given that you will be jet-lagged, 3 nights to me is a minimum amt of time for a huge city with lots to see and do.

Not sure what this means - "Travel down to Ho Chi Minh city for 10 days ( stop at Hue, Hoi An, Danang)" are you dividing 10 days among the 3 cities?

Could you move VN until the end so you could fly home from VN and not have to double back to BKK? Flip Cambodia and VN perhaps?

I just wanted to add my 2 cents on Halong Bay. I really enjoyed it -- we went on the Dragon Pearl and their junks go to Bai Tu Long Bay which was not crowded at all. Even with the less than perfect weather, its tunning and I'm glad you're going to see it.

Are you going in 2020?
yestravel is offline  
Nov 6th, 2019, 03:03 PM
  #24  
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 484
yestravel: It's not that I am not into big cities but from what Ive read ( and my son's experience there) Bangkok was not a place to stay for more than 3 nights. I am sure ( if needed I could add a day here).

Regarding traveling down from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh city: The plan was to spend 2 weeks in Vietnam with first visiting Hanoi and Halong Bay. I did read about the Dragon Pearl cruise which sounds wonderful and it too would add a day.

What advantages would occur if I moved VN and Cambodia and how would you do this exactly? What would be your choice of rearranging the itinerary?

And yes our plan is to leave late January and travel for 5 weeks arriving back in LA.

Thanks so much for helping me!
allyboy is offline  
Nov 6th, 2019, 03:25 PM
  #25  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 10,255
“What advantages would occur if I moved VN and Cambodia and how would you do this exactly? What would be your choice of rearranging the itinerary?”
i was proposing you fly home from VN instead of going back to BKK. How to order it would depend upon flight availability and fares. You could go from LP to Cambodia and then onto VN. Again the order in VN would depend upon flights.

In terms of time in BKK, it was really hot both times when we were there in January time frame. We tended to move slower than normal and take a/c breaks. So 3 nights which will give you 2 days to me is not enough time. Sort of like seeing NYC after a long flight in 2 days.
yestravel is offline  
Nov 6th, 2019, 09:26 PM
  #26  
 
Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 52
A lot of time spent in tranportation, but the programme is nice. No need to stay in Danang, beautiful scenery but big town without much to visit except the Cham Museum and Marble Mountain. Stay in very charming Hoi An 34 km south of DNG (you can ask your taxi to stop at the museum (samll) and the mountain on thh way to HA)
Larsay is offline  
Nov 7th, 2019, 07:48 AM
  #27  
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yestravel and lardy: Here's another plan for us: I eliminate traveling from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai and dropping traveling to Huay Xai and the 2d/1n boat cruise to Luang Prabang. Instead we fly from Chiang Mai to Hanoi ( take the cruise to Halong Bay or Cat Ba) . Travel down from Hanoi stopping off in both Hue, Hoi An and fly back to LA from Siem Reap. By doing this it will reduce the amount of travel, not double back to Bangkok but will result in NOT visiting Chiang Rai and taking the 2d/1n boat cruise. Any thoughts here?
allyboy is offline  
Nov 7th, 2019, 07:49 AM
  #28  
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Sorry typo : should have been Larsay! Typing too fast.
allyboy is offline  
Nov 7th, 2019, 09:46 PM
  #29  
 
Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 52
Originally Posted by allyboy View Post
Sorry typo : should have been Larsay! Typing too fast.
Especially that I am a thin person ha ha ha !

Excellent idea ! 2 days Hanoi, 2 days/1nt on board Halong, then, if you have the time, minimum 3 days in the stunning northern mountains. Then Hanoi-Hue by plane or night train, 2 days Hue, CAR He-Lang Co Lagoon-Pass of the Clouds-Danang Cham Museum-Marble Mountain-Hoi An and you end with a direct flight Danang-Siem Reap (THREE days minimum in SR)
Larsay is offline  
Nov 7th, 2019, 10:22 PM
  #30  
 
Join Date: May 2004
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Based on my take of your interests from what you have posted so far, I would be considering something like this:

Day 1 Hanoi
Day 2 Hanoi
Day 3 Hanoi
Day 4 Halong
Day 5 Hanoi
Day 6 Hue
Day 7 Hue
Day 8 Hue
Day 9 Hoi An
Day 10 Hoi An
Day 11 Saigon
Day 12 Saigon
Day 13 Saigon
Day 14 Ben Tre
Day 15 Ben Tre
Day 16 Can Tho
Day 17 Chau Doc
Day 18 Chau Doc
Day 19 Chau Doc
Day 20 Phnom Penh
Day 21 Phnom Penh
Day 22 Siem Reap
Day 23 Siem Reap
Day 24 Siem Reap
Day 25 Luang Prabang
Day 26 Luang Prabang
Day 27 Luang Prabang
Day 28 Chiang Mai
Day 29 Chiang Mai
Day 30 Chiang Rai
Day 31 Chiang Rai
Day 32 Bangkok
Day 33 Bangkok
Day 34 Bangkok
Day 35 Bangkok

You can either look at an open jaw ticket into Hanoi or Bangkok (or vice versa) or a return to either city and regional budget airline flights back to the city of departure ( just make sure you are there at least on night before).

Hanoi has a lot of sights to visit and ideally warrants 4-5 full days but a trip to Halong will take out a chunk of that, although with the new road it won’t take as long to get there. If going to Bai Tu Long then allow a two night stay. An alternative could be Ninh Binh - similar karst scenery but on land.

For travel within Vietnam, we generally use the overnight train. It is a fun way to experience Vietnam but recognise it is not for everyone! Budget airlines cost about the same and are pretty efficient. You could fly to Danang and get a taxi to Hue very cheaply. A taxi tour from Hue to Hoi An taking in the Marble Mountains and Hai Van pass would take 4-5 hours and cost $50 well worth doing!

For me at least, Hue is way more interesting than Hoi An but as they are only 3-4 hours apart, you could easily switch the days around to spend more time in whichever interests you the most.

To get to Saigon you would need to fly from Da Nang either with Vietjet or Vietnam Airways. I would go Vietnam Airways if there is not a big difference in cost.

Three nights in Saigon would give you enough time to see the main sights in the centre such as the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame, The Opera House, Jade Pagoda, and the War Remnants museum. The markets of Cholon are worth a look too but are a short taxi ride away.

Days 15-19 would take you through the Mekong Delta, one of my favourite parts of the country. You could either do it in stages independently as we did ( fairly easy to organise locally) or there are cruises such as Mekong Eyes that offer a variety of options. Either way you will get to experience some fantastic sights. Chau Doc is and especially wonderful place. And worth a couple of days as there is so much to see.

From Chau Doc there is a boat that will take you all the way into Phnom Penh. A couple of days there to explore and the a short flight to Siem Reap. I am pretty sure there are direct flights from SR to Luang Prang and again to Chiang Mai.

I like Chiang Mai but you can cover the main sights in a full day. Chiang Rai is more compact and, if you can, do try to be there on a Saturday night for the fantastic walking market. Far better than the one in Chiang Mai.

Bangkok is now a typical Asian megalopolis. Hot, polluted and very crowded but there are some amazing sights to be seen. You can easily spend several day up and down the Chao Praya river visiting the many temples and markets. It also has some amazing 5 * hotels at a fraction of the cost you would see in Europe or the USA. Worth splashing out at the end of what I am sure will be an incredible trip.
crellston is offline  
Nov 7th, 2019, 10:46 PM
  #31  
 
Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 52
And what do you do for 3 days in tiny Chau Doc ?
Day 4 and 5 Halong. One day only is an heresy ! Day 5 ; bus Halong-NIN BINH + taxi 8 km NB-superb Tam Coc (Halong Bay on Land)
Day 6 and 7 Tam Coc. Night of Dy 7 : trin direct Ninh Binh-Hue
Day 8 and 9 Hue
Day 10: superb car ride Hue-Lang Co Lagoon-Pass of the Clouds-Danang Cham Museum-Marble Mountain-Hoi An Hoi An
Day 11-13 : Hoi An ; afternoon 13 ; flight Danang-Saigon
Day 14 and 15 : Saigon
Day 16 ; superb excusion Cao Dai Templke of Tay Ninh + Cu Chi Tunnels
Day 17 : Bus Saigon-Can Tho
Day 18 : floating market of Cai Rang + bus CT-Cai Be + ferry CB-An Binh iland (stay in the excellent Phuong Nam Homestay)
Day 19 Ferry An Binh-Cai Be + bus CB-Chau Doc
Day 20 Speed boat CD-Phnom Penh
Larsay is offline  
Nov 8th, 2019, 07:41 AM
  #32  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,666
Originally Posted by Larsay View Post
And what do you do for 3 days in tiny Chau Doc ?
Hi Larsay. Do allow me to enlighten you. Firstly, with a population of over 150,000, few would describe Chau Doc as "tiny". It is a thriving town with a lot to see and do, both in the town itself and in the immediate vicinity.

The submerged forest of Tra Su is one of the wonders of the delta region. That alone is worth the trip, but for an excellent day out, it could easily be combined with a visit to Sam Mountain and it’s unique cave temples. There are some more details and lots of photos from one of our visits there in the Vietnam section of our blog @ https://accidentalnomads.com/category/vietnam/

Perhaps it wasn’t clear from my previous post but I was referring to NIGHTS in each location, not DAYS . Three nights will usually allow for 2 full days of sightseeing. Two full days in Chau Doc is an ideal amount of time IMO.

On the second day in Chau Doc I would suggest exploring the town, starting with a morning visit to one of the most dynamic, thriving markets in the delta followed by lunch (or a later dinner) at the excellent and atmospheric Victoria Chau Doc hotel. Excellent, if expensive ( for Vietnam ) Vietnamese/ French cuisine (they even have decent wine!)

In the afternoon hire a boat and guide for a trip on the Bassac river to visit some of the floating houses and fish farms to experience the Cham peoples way of life. After a boat trip, head across the river to explore the Cham villages on the opposite bank. A guide is helpful for these places, happy to suggest options if I can find the contact details.

If heading through to Cambodia it would be a real shame to skip through Chau Doc as you suggest.
crellston is offline  
Nov 8th, 2019, 11:56 PM
  #33  
 
Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 52
What a condescendence, as usual ! I am so happy that you "enlighten" somebody who has been living in and roaming Vietnam for now nearly 20 years and who has been 2 times in Chau Doc. Besides, your message did not mention Tra Su, which is not in Chau Doc ! As for you Victoria, thank you very much ! 80 000 VND fop a small bottle of Tiger beer was enough for me, in addition to reading that the buffet breakfast was 450 000 per person !

Last edited by Larsay; Nov 8th, 2019 at 11:58 PM.
Larsay is offline  
Nov 9th, 2019, 05:46 AM
  #34  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 10,255
I like Crellston's plan in general. He's been to several places that I have not been so I can't comment on those. I have a couple of different opinions from what he said. We took the overnight train from Sapa to Hanoi and I hated it. I found it uncomfortable and didn't sleep. I will agree its a way to mingle with the locals. We spent 1 night in Bai Tu Long and it was fine. Not sure why you would need the 2 nights. (Crellston, glad to hear the trip out to Halong Bay has been shortened. That I did not enjoy.)

I would read about Hue & Hoi An and see which appeals to you. We liked them both, but they are quite different. In Hoi An you can go to the beach if you like that. I agree to split your days depending upon which sounds more appealing to you. We had a driver that took us from Hoi An to Hue and made the stops that Crellston mentioned. It was a nice day. Some people take the train to do it.

Time in Chiang Rai with Jermsak is well worth the time in CR by itself. Jermsak's insights into the history and the area are fabulous. He offers many options for things to see and do. I wouldn't skip it.
yestravel is offline  
Nov 9th, 2019, 07:20 AM
  #35  
 
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Originally Posted by CounterClifton View Post
We found February to be warm (for us) but manageable in Thailand and Cambodia. We'd even lucked into some spotty rain periods at Angkor that helped cool things down. On the other hand, Hanoi was really nice in April so I imagine it could be considerably cooler than other SE Asian locations in February. Luang Prabang was at least 15 degrees hotter when we landed there on the same trip.

Not sure I'm clear on the city/stopover question, NYC or LAX. Assuming it would be best to choose the shortest, cheapest route out of the US that would pair well on a ticket with your chosen carrier for the trans-pacific segment.

Airlines - we usually prefer an Asian airline that isn't Chinese (to be frank). Singapore as mentioned and Cathay Pacific are both head and shoulders better than the US carriers, IMO. Even EVA and Thai are an improvement over the N. American based options in terms of comfort and service. We found that they usually won on price too, but you never know.

All 4 countries are probably doable if you can accept that you're not going to see all of any one of them in the one week you allocate to it. But if you decide on sticking to one area and one planned out route in each place, sure, that can be done. But breaking it down, will you enjoy trying to see Chiang Mai, Bangkok and the southern beaches of Thailand in the 1/4 month? I wouldn't because it seems like a lot of effort relocating. Bangkok by itself would be perfect for a week.

Not sure where to end but Bangkok seems like a logical place to start because it probably has the most inbound flight options. Siem Reap (Angkor) is well connected to Bangkok. And it looks straighforward to fly to Saigon from there. Luang Prabang I know is pretty easy and cheap to get to from Hanoi but possibly also from Angkor. May want to get back to BKK or SGN for your final city as HAN, REP and LPQ airports are not well connected to the US and may reduce your options. (actually HAN is just a quick connection to Hong Kong where Cathay is hubbed but as many times as we've connected or done layovers in HK, I'm not sure I would just now).

I'll stick with the logistics questions but visa and vaccine info is pretty readily available already. We don't tend to use tour companies ourselves but I know there's a very popular guide for Angkor that is recommended here often.
"Airlines - we usually prefer an Asian airline that isn't Chinese (to be frank)."
That is true unfortunately though two Chinese airlines do rate well. Per Skytrax Hainan is in the top ten as a 5* rated carrier and China Southern has improved a great deal now rating 4*s. EVA is actually a 5* rated carrier as well as is Thai.

https://www.worldairlineawards.com/w...airlines-2019/

Last edited by jacketwatch; Nov 9th, 2019 at 07:55 AM.
jacketwatch is offline  
Nov 9th, 2019, 08:12 AM
  #36  
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Thank you again for all of your help, however, I must say that I am not enjoying the negativity that is apparently going on between a few of you. This forum is set up to help and guide one another in a positive manner. It's not a question of who is right and wrong nor who has the most knowledge in the areas discussed. While I certainly appreciate all of the info that is coming my way I wish that we could all agree to disagree! There is just too much bickering going on in this world and that is why we choose to travel. End of lecture! Now let's get back to offering me help because frankly I need all the help that I can get.
allyboy is offline  
Nov 9th, 2019, 08:46 AM
  #37  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
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Originally Posted by allyboy View Post
Thank you again for all of your help, however, I must say that I am not enjoying the negativity that is apparently going on between a few of you. This forum is set up to help and guide one another in a positive manner. It's not a question of who is right and wrong nor who has the most knowledge in the areas discussed. While I certainly appreciate all of the info that is coming my way I wish that we could all agree to disagree! There is just too much bickering going on in this world and that is why we choose to travel. End of lecture! Now let's get back to offering me help because frankly I need all the help that I can get.
If you will be in Saigon I can refer you to an excellent tour guide who we used his prices are very reasonable and he used to teach English at school there so his command of the language is excellent.
jacketwatch is offline  
Nov 9th, 2019, 10:03 AM
  #38  
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Thank you jacketwatch and yes we would be interested in your suggestion for a tour guide!
allyboy is offline  
Nov 9th, 2019, 04:55 PM
  #39  
 
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Originally Posted by allyboy View Post
Thank you jacketwatch and yes we would be interested in your suggestion for a tour guide!
[email protected]om.
His name is Nguyen Tri Dung.
We were part of a group of around 10 from a cruise stop. He picked us up in port and we were all pleased with his services. The first stop was the terrace at the Rex Hotel for refreshments, on him. Lunch was on him too or part of our fee which was around $110.00 for both of us for a full days tour.
jacketwatch is offline  
Nov 9th, 2019, 08:52 PM
  #40  
 
Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 52
Well, then , 2 days Along, 2 days Hoi An et 2 days Chau Docthough marvelos Hoi An is better in 3 days) , with visit of Mount Sam (forgotten by Crellston) and Tra Su,; but certainly not 3 days with all the superb things to see somewhere else !
Larsay is offline  

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