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SE Asia for a month - What have I forgot?

SE Asia for a month - What have I forgot?

Jan 1st, 2019, 12:59 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 19
SE Asia for a month - What have I forgot?

We leave Feb 15 for Hong Kong and then Bangkok, Siem Reap, a Mekong River cruise, Hoi An, and Hanoi after that. I made the first reservation for this (the river cruise) last July and now everything is booked when it comes to travel and accommodations. I think I do, anyway. Our itinerary looks like this.

Hong Kong - 4 nights then fly to...
Bangkok - 4 nights then bus to...
Siem Reap - 3 nights then xfer to river cruise...
Mekong Cruise - 7 nights then xfer to HCMC airport...
Hoi An - 4 nights then fly to...
Hanoi - 5 nights w/overnight Ha Long Bay cruise then fly home.

It's a lot of moving parts. All the reservations are made so now I'm nailing down the details of each transfer, making sure I know who's responsible for getting us from/to airports and the like. I'm also waiting on Vietnam visas by mail. This situation is complicated because we're not entering Vietnam by airport. It appears that we don't need visas for Hong Kong and Thailand and that we'll get one at the border with Cambodia. I've got some 2x2" passport type photos on hand.

Now I'm looking at details about things we might want to do. We aren't checklist tourists at all, don't care for most museums & stuff. We like to wander around and eat and talk and take pictures. We will probably do much of the most famous tourist kind of stuff like Victoria Peak and the Giant Buddha and Angkor Wat. I think I'd like a day trip to Hue from Hoi An and a private driver doesn't look out of reach.

The big question mark is the river cruise. Looking forward to that the most. It's easily the most expensive part of this trip but with the least available information about what we'll be seeing.

This is a map of the vacation. The circled numbers are the number of nights in that location.
SE Asia for a month - What have I forgot?-seasia-2019-04b.jpg
heySkippy is offline  
Jan 1st, 2019, 05:04 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,294
Looks like a very nice trip! If your are unsure as to what you will be doing and seeing on the river cruise then surely it would be best to ask the tour company?

We have travelled the route from Saigon to Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, albeit independently by land and boat, rather than a cruise, several times. We have usually taken several weeks but stayed a few nights at various places along the way. There is a lot to see and I imagine that seven days on the river will involve you stopping off at numerous places along the way.

Highlights in Vietnam included the area around Chau Doc - Tra Su submerged forest, Sam Mountain Etc., Ben Tre, Cai Rang floating market etc. Some of these , notably Chau Doc are on the Bassac River rather than the Mekong though. Also, if you are cruising all the way from SR then I think part of the cruise would be on the Tonle Sap? If so, there is a lot to see around Battambang and indeed Phnom Penh.

Some details and photos our travels in most of these place can be found in te Vietnam and Cambodia sections of our blog @ https://accidentalnomads.com just click on the destination tab and go to the relevant country.

It sounds as though you have already sent off your passports to your local Vietnamese emabassy? Probably, too late know but if not, it would be quicker and cheaper to apply for an evisa online .

Hue can be done as along day trip from Hoi An, but there is so much to see there and it does take a while to drive there from Hoi An that I would consider, splitting your time there. The direct drive takes a couple of hours but you may like to visit the Marble Mountains and Hai Van Pass along the way which are worth while and with stops would take 4-5 hours. A one way trip with private driver should cost $50_60 US.

In Hue itself, the main sights of a cruise on the Perfume River, the Imperial City and a couple of the imperial tombs ( very much worth your time) would take one very full day.. visiting the sites indepndently by bike, or by a day tour is very easy .Hue also has some of the best food in Vietnam.

Hoi An is quite small but very, very busy .you could cover the sights in the old town in a day. A trip out into the countryside would be nice, as would a visit to My Son. I am not usually a fan of on eor two night stays anywhere but I do think you would miss a lot by spending all four days in Hoi An.

Finally, is there a reason you are bussing between Bangkok and Siem Reap? That is a long old trip by bus!
crellston is offline  
Jan 1st, 2019, 05:53 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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I agree that Hue deserves more time than Hoi An. Much more atmospheric, and hopefully less crowded.

I did Siem Reap to Bangkok overland back in 2004. Car and driver to the border, and bus to Bangkok. Took pretty much all day, but the road in Cambodia should have been improved by now. Don't know what the current situation is, but back then taking a tourist bus from Bangkok could leave you open to scams at the border. There's also a train to the border. Have you considered flying? I didn't think the trip was that scenic, but I'd already done a fair amount of on the ground travel in the area.

Ah, a quick search turns up some more recent info: https://www.travelfish.org/transport...kok/bangkok/84
thursdaysd is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2019, 02:33 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2014
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I chose the bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap for a couple reasons, mostly because flying sucks. There is what appears to be a very modern bus (Giant Ibis) making the trip in 8 hours, so that's what I booked. Got us in the front row behind the driver.

I didn't send our passports to the embassy, but instead did it online.

I hadn't really considered Hue as a replacement destination for Hoi An, but I'll look into it a bit deeper. We have 3 full days, so I had figured one day to wander around Hoi An and two days for day trips with one being to Hue and the other to be determined. Maybe a beach day, maybe inland.
heySkippy is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2019, 05:49 AM
Join Date: Mar 2014
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The roads in Cambodia might have improved, but the driving definitely hasn't. Fast roads = more nasty accidents. Then there's the weather conditions.

The trip from Bangkok to Siem Reap ain't a right lot of fun. But a great way to reach the border at Aranyaraphet is to get there by 3rd Class train from Bangkok. Two trains per day, one early morning, and the other early afernoon. A ticket cost about 50 baht for the 5 hour trip! Then once you've completed the Border formalities at Poipet, get a taxi to Siem Reap, and insist the driver doesn't drive like a madman.
LancasterLad is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2019, 05:58 AM
Join Date: Mar 2014
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Giant Ibis is a good bus company. The depot is on the outskirts of Siem Reap.

Do your home work for Hoi An and there's plenty to occupy your time imo. Hiring a push bike ain't a bad idea, driving conditions aren't too scary so neither is cycling.
LancasterLad is offline  
Jan 6th, 2019, 02:58 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2014
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Vietnam visas have arrived. There is literally nothing left that I *must* do before we leave.

I do want to flesh out wish lists of things we might do along the way. I'm pretty sure we're sticking with Hoi An.
heySkippy is offline  
Jan 6th, 2019, 05:50 PM
Join Date: Sep 2017
Posts: 67
Ninh Binh is worth a visit after Halong Bay.
DinHo is offline  
Jan 6th, 2019, 11:20 PM
Join Date: Mar 2014
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You mentioned you are sitting right behind the driver on the bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap. They are definitely the best seats if you want to feel part of the action going on on the roads. It can be quite scary, and never a dull moment!

At the Border crossing at Poipet make sure you have your wits about you. Be focused, and never talk or take advice from anyone who tries to help you. as there'll be a scam involved.
LancasterLad is offline  
Mar 31st, 2019, 03:52 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2014
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Well, we completed this trip exactly as planned, so yay us.

The land crossing from Thailand to Cambodia was awful. We walked across the border and it was hot, smelly, with rats in the streets, that sort of thing. The river crossing from Cambodia to Vietnam was a non-event. The boat's crew made double extra sure before we ever departed that everyone would be able to pass the border.

I did buy a crocodile skull in Bangkok that caused me some anxiety as it went through one customs checkpoint after another until I got it home safe and sound, but that's all over now.

There are things I would do differently next time, but I can't say I forgot anything. This trip was the product of months of planning. Fun stuff.
heySkippy is offline  

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