Pls comment on rev. SE Asia plans

Old Oct 15th, 2009, 01:44 PM
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Pls comment on rev. SE Asia plans

Hi everyone,
Thanks to all for your initial comments. I've worked out what I think is my final itinerary, but still would like to tweak it if you think it needs it. This is for a 34 night trip...I'm in my mid-50's, husband is in mid-60's and it's our first trip to Asia.

Bangkok (from LAX on Cathay Pacific) March 31st....5 nights (Peninsula or Shangri-La?)

Siem Riep....4 nights

Luang Prabang....3 nights

Hanoi....3 nights

Halong Bay....1 night (Emeraude or Ginger?)

Hanoi....1 night

Mai Chau Valley (Mai Chau Lodge)....2 nights

Hanoi....1 night

Hoi An....3 nights

Saigon....3 nights (to see Cai Dau Temple)

Bali....8 nights (5 in Ubud area and 3 in Seminyak or Sanur)

May 4 return home

I really hate how the Halong Bay and Mai Chau valley breaks up the time in Hanoi...having to check in and out of a hotel just for a day. But, with the logistics, I don't see how I can avoid this since both excursions leave early in the morning and don't get back until about 5pm.

I previously talked about a beach in Thailand, but I REALLY want to see Bali, even though it's an extra long plane trip. I've given up Sapa for Mai Chau Valley for the convenience and less days. I could give up one day in Bangkok and add it to Luang Prabang, but thought I might need one day just for jet lag in Bangkok.

Haven't addressed hotels yet, so that will be the next investigation. We prefer atmospheric, luxury boutique hotels (but not the ultra-expensive) Please share all of your wonderful knowledge!
barefootbeach is offline  
Old Oct 15th, 2009, 01:55 PM
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Hi barefootbeach,
Your itinerary looks fine to me. Good of you for setting aside 5 nights for Ubud.
When you arrive in SEA in late March, you'll want to take it easy to acclimate to the heat and humidity since it's one of the hottest and most humid times of the year. So I recommend not trying to do too much at the beginning and it looks like you've already taken that into consideration with 5 nights for Bangkok.
Hope you'll be able to be in Luang Prabang for Pi Mai Lao (Lao New Year) which would/should be fun.
Anyways, have an excellent trip!
seagypsy is offline  
Old Oct 15th, 2009, 02:08 PM
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It looks good to me. I'd like to have another night in Luang Prabang... maybe cut one night from HCMC since you are oing there mostly for Cai Dau Temple.

It's true that your Hanoi time is chopped up, which is unfortunate, but I don't know that there is any way to fo ir differently.

Hotels: Bangkok - The Pen usually gets the vote here, but the Club rooms at the Shangri-La get great reviews as well.

Siem Reap - You have many options here. Hotel de la Paix is a favorite of many. Personally, I recommend against Raffles.

Luang Prabang - La Residence Phou Vao is just fabulous. However, the prices have become very high. See if it's possible to get a good rate there.

Hanoi - the favorite is the Sofitel Metropole

I don't have recommendations for the others. You'll be spoiled for choices on Bali.
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Old Oct 15th, 2009, 02:31 PM
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Other than your northern Vietnam itinerary (which seems unavoidable), everything looks good. Personally, I would do 4 nights LP and 3 nights SR but I'm not that into temples and I don't know how your travel time figures in. Hopefully your 5 nights in Hanoi also translates into 5 days as there is a lot to do. I am also glad that you are spending 5 nights in Ubud which was just right for us.

As for hotels, do a Grand Deluxe room at the Penn or the Krupthep Wing at the Shang. Breakfast at the Penn outdoors by the river is fantastic but often not included in the price while breakfast in the Shang KW is included but is indoors (good, but not as atmospheric).

The Sofitel Metropole in Hanoi is one of the best in SE Asia, especially if you stay on a Club floor.

The Ginger is one of 3 ships that are operated by the same company so look at the others also. The Emeraude is older and not quite as upscale. Also look into the outfit that operates the Valentine and the Indochina Sails ships - we went on the Indochina Sails 3, the newest and it was quite good.

We loved Hotel de la Paix in SR.
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Old Oct 15th, 2009, 03:34 PM
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I think the idea to cut one night in Saigon is good, because we probably can see some of the city in the first afternoon, and then take the trip to Cai Dau temple the next day. (We're skipping the Tunnels) Does anyone know of a good driver/guide to take us there?

However, when I add a night to Luang Prabang, which I would like to do, it brings me too close to the New Year, which I want to avoid due to the crowds (if we stay another night, we'd be leaving on April 13 for Hanoi, and I believe the New Year celebration is April 13-15th) How much of a hassle is this?

The other option would be to cut one night from Bangkok (to 4 nts), add it to LP and then we'd be leaving on April 12th.

Again, I welcome all of your helpful insights.
barefootbeach is offline  
Old Oct 15th, 2009, 04:08 PM
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I can recommend the Villa Maly in LP and 3 that I have enjoyed in SR are La Residence, Shinta Mani and the Victoria Angkor(fantastic saltwater pool).

It sounds like a great trip!
moremiles is offline  
Old Oct 15th, 2009, 05:57 PM
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do you agree with Craig that 4 nights in LP and 3 nts in SR are better than vice versa?
barefootbeach is offline  
Old Oct 15th, 2009, 06:52 PM
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How interested are you in the temples at Angkor? It takes three full days just to see the so-called major temples. If you have even a moderate interest, I would think you'd want three full days. We're really interested so spent a week and would have enjoyed even more time. But some people get "templed out" and need less time. Studay up on the temples so you know whether you need three or four nights. Dawn Rooney's book. Angkor is considered the definitive resource. You are also welcome to take a look at our photos:

Now we also spent a week in Luang Prabang. We like to go places and spend enough time to soak up the atmosphere.
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Old Oct 15th, 2009, 07:28 PM
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If it we're me, and it's not, I'd cut one night in Hoi An, a small place that's easily done in 2 days (even 1) instead of Saigon. But I love big cities and I loved Saigon.
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Old Oct 15th, 2009, 08:20 PM
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Kathie, Thanks for sharing your photos....I can see there is so much more to see than we'll have time for. I will get that book as a reference.

LAleslie, You're probably right about cutting one night in Hoi An, but then I wonder if it's worth the trip for just two nights. And, if we have any clothes made (not a main objective), then I'd need the time for fittings. We aren't crazy about loud, big cities so I don't think I'd add a night in Saigon. Yet, to cut down on the flight hassle, it might be worth cutting Hoi An completely and adding a night in LP and Saigon.
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Old Oct 15th, 2009, 10:00 PM
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I'm not a big Saigon/HCM fan, but Cao Dai Temple was one of my all time favorite sites in Asia -- for architecture, for religious pageantry and for downright weirdness.

In Ubud I like Kayumanis, Uma Ubud. Como Shambhala is an extraordinarily beautiful environment with focus on wellness, but I wouldn't stay there all five nights as it's an ordeal getting in and out of it.

If you want to see another part of Bali I'd suggest Puri Ganesha Villas in Pemuteran North Bali. Spacious, charming villas. Very good food, peaceful atmosphere. It's a long drive (3.5 hours from the airport and about the same to Ubud) but you go through some spectacularly beautiful scenery. Not much of beach on the north coast but the snorkling is good.

I like the long big wave beach in Seminyak a lot and always stay at the Legian Seminyak. Well designed rooms with big balconies overlooking the sea, lovely serene grounds, excellent service. The location couldn't be better for restaurants, shops, spas. The Samaya, next door, seems nice but I haven't stayed there myself.

There are also zillions of rental villas in the area. If you go with a villa just be careful to get a personal recommendation as the quality and surroundings are difficult to judge from the (always) beautiful websites.
marmot is online now  
Old Oct 16th, 2009, 08:03 AM
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Thanks marmot, I had earlier looked at Uma Ubud and it looked nice. I'll check out the other recommendations.
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Old Oct 17th, 2009, 05:41 PM
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How important is it to see Hue, in addition to Hoi-An? I could do 2 nts in both Hue and Hoi-An and cut Saigon to 2 nts.
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Old Oct 18th, 2009, 07:30 PM
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Hi barefoot,
If it were me, I would sacrifice one night each from Hoi An and Saigon to spend some time in Hue. Hue is the seat of the former imperial city so it's well worth a visit.

It's about a half a day's transfer between Hue and Hoi An and there's some really beautiful strecthes in between. You might even visit the Marble Mountains in between Danang and Hoi An.

Hoi An is a small town so most of the sights are easily visited within a day and you can even rent a bike to ride out to Cua Dai (not to be confused with the Cao Dai sect) Beach. I don't think you need to worry about skipping My Son, the Cham temples south of Hoi An since you'll have visited Angkor at Siem Reap (Khmer) which is much grander.

Anyways, hope it all works out well for you.
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Old Oct 19th, 2009, 08:04 PM
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Thanks seagypsy,
I was torn between staying longer in one place (Hoi An) for less travel hassle, and seeing more of the country. You've convinced me to see Hue also, and Saigon sounds like a good place to cut.
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Old Oct 20th, 2009, 05:09 AM
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Yep, Hoi An is one of those places where it's easy to hang out and rejuvenate the batteries from traveling.
But you can take a vacation from your vacation after your trip. ;~)
But I hope you'll find Hue worth the shortened time from Hoi An and HCMC.
seagypsy is offline  
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