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How to get a quick taste of Thailand, Cambodia,Vietnam and Laos?

How to get a quick taste of Thailand, Cambodia,Vietnam and Laos?

Jun 6th, 2011, 10:26 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jun 2004
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How to get a quick taste of Thailand, Cambodia,Vietnam and Laos?

First of all, the last time I asked for assistance on the Asia board, I was able to plan an absolutely fabulous, interesting, easy trip. It does take awhile to feel familiar with the lay of the land geographically and logistically to make wise decisions, thus my request for help now.

Our son will be working in Sanya, China and will have two 12-13 day breaks to take trips. We would like to join him on one of them PERHAPS. He visited much of China a couple years ago and is now intrigued with the four mentioned countries.

My question is, since he is open to any itinerary, which combinations are LOGICAL, considering he would most likely begin his first trip from BKK, ( before showing up for work) ending it in Sanya. Then the second stint would LEAVE from Sanya, and also END in BKK, he assumes.

I have always wanted to get to BKK and the area, and can think of no better time to do so.

Places, among others, that are desired to be visited in two separate trips are
bkk
chang mai or Rai
siem Reap
PhonPenh
Hanoi
and maybe one chillout place/beach for a few days

I need your help in putting into a logical order these visits, or others you think can/should be done in such a short time. The logistics between countries has me a bit stumped. I am looking at Air Asia flights, which seem all reasonable. I have not read up enough to know if any of these places are normally transited to and from by land/bus or boat.

I also read somewhere that the Cambodian e-visa can only be used at certain airports, so in order to avoid sending passports to any embassy, it seems like visa on arrival or e-visas should be considered. Is this going to affect the logical way of getting from one place to another in a country in any of the instances, and if so, please help me avoid that.

I hope someone is very familiar with which way is easier to travel between these countries, or if really we should not even consider a certain part of an itinerary.

Thanks!
lincasanova is offline  
Jun 6th, 2011, 11:06 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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What a wonderful opportunity! You and your son can get a nice sample of these countries in two 12 day trips. As you have already noted, Air Asia has very reasonable fares and it makes sense to use them when possible.

Visas: you can get a visa on arrival at either Siem Reap or Phom Penh airports. For VN, an e-visa (which is a pre-arranged visa) can be used at either Hanoi or HCMC. A 28 day visa-free entry is granted to US citizens upon arrival in Thailand.

There are lots of ways to do this. I'd suggest one trip all in Thailand: Bangkok, Northern Thailand, beach and another in Cambodia/VN, consisting of Hanoi, Siem Reap and Phom Pehn.
Kathie is offline  
Jun 6th, 2011, 12:29 PM
  #3  
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Thanks kathie. I hope to tag onto the Thailand part. although it all sounds wonderful.
I will get my notes together and see what type of itinerary we can do, and bring it back here for "approval"!
lincasanova is offline  
Jun 27th, 2011, 12:59 AM
  #4  
 
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Hi Lincasanova
sound great that you are to travel to this region, i am thinking within 12 to 13 days is still enough to see all places you want, but a couple day for beach breaking i am afraid of, it might be hard, northern ThaiLan is no nice beach, Cambodia there is only Shianuok ville in south close to ThaiLan bay, north of Vietnam beach are not very nice compare to beach in central and southern. Here is my schedule suggestion. Spend few days in Chiang Mail for 3 days 2 nights, i think over here, most attraction is Ethnic culture, it is good for trekking and homestay vacation, then flight to Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. Spend couple night here, if your airplane land in morning you can contineu flight to Seam Ream in next day afternoon. What is the worthwhile to see here, torture center Toulsleng S21, royal palace, golden and silver pagoda, and killing field.. Seam Reap should another 3 days 2 night packages would be enough to explore Angkor temples, while you are here you also can take oneday short excursion to Tonlesap Lake, to get to know about what is real daily life of rural people who are living in villages and also floating on water of sea Tonle Sap lake. Day 7 we and your son depart for Hanoi. i think there is a good flight to Hanoi in the afternoon, but this one have to transit in Phnom Penh, land in Hanoi around 5 PM, Should spend one full Day city tour to explore the beauty charming of colonial city, then take Halong bay cruises for sleep over night on cruises, here would be very remarkable of entire your trip to Thai Lan, Cambodia and Vietnam.
take care and enjoy your trip
vietvisiontravel is offline  
Jun 27th, 2011, 03:28 AM
  #5  
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thank you for the suggestions. as we near the finalization of actual flights.. will ask for more definite itinerary logistics. I am not too concerned about the beach.. and will have to sacrifice something I know.
lincasanova is offline  
Jul 5th, 2011, 01:18 AM
  #6  
 
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I'm not sure about flights form China, but as you are going to Bangkok anyway I suggest you look at the Bangkok Air voucher system. The rules have changed slightly since I used it in 2008. the current page is here: http://www.bangkokair.com/en/plan-yo...ry-airpass.php

Back in '08 I had to buy a minimum of three vouchers. It was still cheaper for me to do that than to pay the standard return fare from BKK to Siem reap. I had to book the third flight but I simply didn't turn up. I checked in advance, that wasn't a problem.

I wrote some reports beginning here: http://loraltravel.blogspot.com/2008/03/cambodia.html

Click on "newer post" to continue to later ones.

Cheers, Alan, Australia
Trav_Eller is offline  
Jul 5th, 2011, 07:02 AM
  #7  
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thanks!
lincasanova is offline  
Sep 1st, 2011, 08:01 PM
  #8  
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Now we have some dates and arrivals and departures.

arr. BKK and leave from Ph. Phem 12 days.

This is one trip and time frame.

I am thinking:

4 nights BKK ( we will be back at end of second trip and fly out of here)
fly with discovery pass to ???
fly to Siem Reap from ??? stay 3 nights
bus to Phon Phem
2 nights Phon Phem ( our son leaves from here to work)

Any suggestions how to tweek this itinerary or extend stays in one of the cities?

Unfortunately my son's free days have been reduced to 11-12 so it looks like this will be a little rushed since he already locked in his flights through his job. We just need to make the best of the time we have and what is already fixe and be happy with it!

Trip session 2 will begin two weeks later from Saigon and end in BKK.
11 nights total again

I am thinking about (but have not decided how much time to spend in each of the places):

-Hanoi 3-4 nights and the most interesting towns of the coast south of there coming up from Saigon ( by train?)
-fly from Hanoi to BKK
-see in BKK what we missed before, 1-2 nights

I am looking at the Discovery Pass and also Air Asia for the longer treks.

If you have any suggestions of how to maximize our experience in the area, please do so.
lincasanova is offline  
Sep 1st, 2011, 08:11 PM
  #9  
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I am trying to figure out how to include Luang Prahbang on either trip.
lincasanova is offline  
Sep 1st, 2011, 11:17 PM
  #10  
 
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If time is limited I would fly to Phnom penh ( unless you want to save a bit of money) I would cut one night from BKK at the beginning ( as much as it pains me to say it) and add it to SR, especially as you will be back in BKK later on. Has anyone mention Eddie at SEAtours ref flights? He sorted mine out for me when we went to Las and Cambodia and got me a great deal. I actually found that the vietnam airlines website quite good for booking my VN flights but I did use a TA in VN as well.

Your trip sounds amazing.
Smeagol is offline  
Sep 1st, 2011, 11:57 PM
  #11  
 
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Hi Lincasnova

Have a look at http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ they are a small group travel company with a lot of experience in these types of trip. I am not suggesting using them for your trip but if you use the "trip search" facility this will bring up a variety of tried and tested trips which will provide a good basis for you to plan. If you drill down to the itinerary and "trip notes section of each trip you will get a considerable amount of detail.

The Discovey pass and Air Asia offer a quick and cheap way of getting around the region and, with the time you have available are probably the best option but for me the best way of seeing a country is to travel overland as much as possible.

On your first trip staying in Cambodia is a good choice after BKK. I find Phnom Penh and its environs to be a fascinating city with some interesting sights, great food and places to stay. Siem Reap is really only worth it for Angkor and if you are really into temples etc. the it requires at least 3 full days (be aware that it does get VERY busy in high season) 2 full days in PP will allow you to see the main sights. As to adding in another destination then http://www.travelfish.org/ may provide some inspiration. http://www.talesofasia.com/ is also very useful for travel around Cambodia.

As for you second trip to Vietnam, the train is a great way to travel but I really wouldn't go the whole way from Saigon as it takes too long. Having done similar trips before my choice would to spend at least a couple of days in Saigon then maybe fly to Da Nang, in itself a not particularly interesting place, but from there you can get the train to Hue which is one of THE most spectacular train rides in the world as it winds through the marble mountains, along China beach. Hue is the old imperial capital, has lots to see and is definitely worth a few days. Hoi An is very quaint and picturesque and reasonably accessible from Hue. From there I would fly to Hanoi, arguably the most fascinating cities in Asia. I would be inclined to spend the balance of time there with maybe a side trip to the Mai Chau valley (about 7 hours from the city) for a taste of rural Vietnam - some photos on my blog:
http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blo...42/tpod.html#_

It is hard to include LP on either of these trip in the time you have available although there are regualr flights from BKK so adding a couple of days from there would seem teh most likely option but I do feel this would make your trip too rushed.
crellston is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2011, 02:32 AM
  #12  
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I will have two weeks on my own between trip one and two ( if I go for this entire time frame). I just feel there is a lot of criss-crossing since I am tied to his arrival and departure cities. Maybe we will split up near the end or beginning of one of the trips.. might make more sense so I can fit in L.P. without back tracking so much.

Thanks for transport suggestions from Saigon. I have read talesofasia.. and will look into the other websites. I did see the note about the TA and will proceed to contact them once I have a better idea.

So, any suggestions where to go after BKK before Siem Reap, or should I just add nights to S.R. or P.P. area?? And do you mean to fly between S.R. and P.P? The Mekong Express is only 6 hours.
lincasanova is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2011, 02:45 AM
  #13  
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the intrepidtravel website is a great tool. thanks.
lincasanova is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2011, 04:01 AM
  #14  
 
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I would add nights to PP & SR rather than add a further destination. SR for the temples and Tonle Sap PP for markets, food, shopping and recent history.

I would not fly between SR and PP. The bus journey is not particularly picturesque but when you factor in check in times, tranfer to and from airports etc., the time saved really isn't that much. I would advise taking earplugs with you unless you are really into Cambodian pop music as the music can be played at exceedingly high volumes! (at least that was the case the last time we did the journey.
crellston is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2011, 07:20 AM
  #15  
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thanks for the suggestions. will start working on all this.
lincasanova is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2011, 08:56 AM
  #16  
 
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I agree with crellston, add the extra days to your Cambodia destinations rather than adding another destination.
Kathie is offline  
Sep 4th, 2011, 06:25 AM
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lincasanova-
Another option to get between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh is by private car. It cost us about $70 and took about 4.5 hours door to door last year. The Mekong Express boat trip has issues of its own.

As for the VN portion, we did Hanoi-Hue-Hoi An-Saigon-BKK in about the same time frame in 2009. We didn't take the train but instead a couple of short flights within VN and one private car transfer between Hue and Hoi An.

If you click on my name, you'll find my trip reports for Cambodia and Vietnam in the last 2 years.

Have you decided what you will do with our time in the middle? Why not go to Laos then? Or, if you have any interest, stay in Siem Reap and volunteer with www.theplf.org, a favorite here on the Asia board and of mine!
Kristina is offline  
Sep 4th, 2011, 06:51 AM
  #18  
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I thought the Mekong Express was a bus. I am not interested in any boat travel for so many hours.

Yes, if I do this whole trip, my time in between will definitely be spent volunteering somewhere.. ( I am writing places) with a short jaunt somewhere, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. I have not yet bought any tickets, so, soon, when I make these decisions it will all fall in place.

I did see that a flight or two would be a good idea due to the distances along the coast in VN.

I will now go look up your reports. I may have already read them! Thanks for all the tips.
lincasanova is offline  
Sep 4th, 2011, 09:20 AM
  #19  
 
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I don't know that this would fit in with your plans but one option would be to get the bus from PP to Kratie, a quiet little riverside town close to the border with Laos where you can cross over to Si Phan Don (4000 islands). A combination bus/boat ticket is easily arranged at any guesthouse in Kratie. This will get you to Don Khong a laid back island in the Mekong with some nice places to stay. From there it is a 2-3 hour bus ride to Pakse which is good for air or bus connection to Vientienne or Luang Prabang. Southern Laos itself is worth exploring with Wat Phu a smaller unrestored temple complex similar to Angkor.
There are a few photos of the area on our blog
http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blo...ai/1/tpod.html
crellston is offline  
Sep 4th, 2011, 09:43 AM
  #20  
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All good info. As this is totally foreign to me, I am listening to everyone. Soon I hope to know if I can go, if my husband is coming with me, if we are going for the full 6 weeks or a portion of it.

To nicely complicate" things I have two good friends and a relative who have suddenly moved to Singapore I would like to stop and see, although I have already spent plenty of time there, so it will just be a social visit. Should be a really, really great trip no mater what!

Thanks for all the suggestions.
lincasanova is offline  

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