SE Asia Plan: One Final Look, Please

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Jul 16th, 2013, 05:59 AM
  #1
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SE Asia Plan: One Final Look, Please

Well our grand 3 month SE Asia retirement trip has turned into a one month trip. Will be planning our 3 month retirement trip to South America next year. Yes, you guessed it, a bit more time chained to the desk.

This plan has been worked and reworked and has been complicated but blessed with a family meet up during our trip.

The final plan looks like this:

Bangkok - 5 nights
Siem Reap - 4 nights
Luang Prabang - 5 nights
Nong Kiaw - 2 nights
Muang Ngoi - 1 night
Oudoxmay - 1 night
Luang Namtha - 3 or 4 nights
Chiang Saen - 2 or 3 nights
Chiang Mai - 5 or 6 nights including ENP day
Mae Hong Son Loop - 5 or 6 nights
Bangkok - last night before 5:15am flight home next morning

Trip is Oct. 19-Nov.27
Flying wonderful new Air Asia flight Bangkok/Siem Reap, Laos Air Siem Reap/Luang Prabang, Air Asia Chiang Mai/Bangkok

Specifically looking for advice on the "or" portions. Siem Reap and Bangkok are finalized due to flights.

Appreciating any insight.
cindyjo is offline  
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Jul 16th, 2013, 07:38 AM
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For all the "or" I suggest you take the lesser option on all of them.

You're very quick to learn of the Thai Air Asia Siem Reap - Bangkok new routing!
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Jul 16th, 2013, 12:45 PM
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Overall this looks like a good plan.

Are you staying at the Anantara at the Golden Triangle near Cihang Saen? If so, stay three nights just to enjoy the resort.

For me, 5 nights in Chiang Mai would be too long, but I would recommend 5 rather than 6 nights.

Have a wonderful trip!
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Jul 19th, 2013, 11:50 AM
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Thanks Kathie and Hanuman. Will take your experienced advice re Chiang Mai.
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Jul 19th, 2013, 02:53 PM
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Looks like a good trip. Having done the MHS Loop twice, which I love, and and travelled extensively around Northern Lao, I would choose Northern Laos every time and extend my time there including the far north adding in Phongsali, Muang Sing, Ban Bountai etc. it really is the most beautiful part of SEAsia,

I love Chiang Mai, but 5 nights would be enough for most people. The MHS loop an be done in as little as 3 days but 5 is ideal, probably staying for 2 of those nights in MHS itself.
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Jul 21st, 2013, 05:46 PM
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Thanks, Crellston. I was hesitant to include Muang Sing, Phongsali,etc. secondary transportation difficulties. Would you choose that area rather than Chianf Dao to Chiang Rai loop? We have 7 days between Luang Prabang and Chiang Mai meet up.

The MHS,loop is a done deal as,we will be ending our time in Chiang Mai with 6 days before flying to Bangkok and then home.
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Aug 1st, 2013, 02:12 AM
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We spent three weeks in Thailand in February. I agree with Kathie about Anantara - we loved it - especially meeting the elephants. Here is our travel blog post about it, http://latitudeb.com/meet-the-elephants/. We also liked exploring the Chiang Sean area, http://latitudeb.com/golden-triangle-thailand/. Chiang Mai was nice too, http://latitudeb.com/chiang-mai-thailand/, but as others suggested, you may want to remove a night or two there and add it to Chiang Sean.
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Aug 1st, 2013, 03:10 AM
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Cindyjo, it really depends on your style of travel and whether you are happy to stay in less than luxurious hotels etc, in order to experience the less travelled and more pristine areas. Without a doubt I would prefer the far north of Lao to the trip from Chiang Dao to Chiang Rai but, as you point out, this does involve some more difficult travelling ( although nowhere near as difficult as it used to be a few years ago) go with a good guide/ driver and it will be one of the most rewarding trips you could take. That said, if both LP and CM are fixed, then you probably don't have enough time to do it justice.

On the MHS loop my fav. Places were MHS itself, Soppong ( ESP. The River Inn) and Mai Sariang. There are some nice places to stay in Pai, but IMO it has grown to be too busy in recent years. Doi Inthanon is maybe worth an overnight on the way back to CM if you have time.
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Aug 1st, 2013, 12:24 PM
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Loribarber1, thanks for sharing your experience, have bookmarked your blog. Coincidentally planning on staying at Viang Yonok if we end up doing Golden Triangle route.
Crellston, you can't imagine how much I would like to go further into northern Laos. With the plan as it is now (did I say final?) we are in Luang Prabang 4 nights and then 2 nights in Nong Khiaw and 1 in Muang Ngoi before going back to LP for 2 nights and then flying to Chiang Mai. We then planned to backtrack with a car to Golden Triangle Loop.
We have a possible 10-11 days before having to be back in Chiang Mai for Loy Krathong and meeting family. Would this be possible for seeing much of the area you are so fond of? Do you have a loop or trip plan through northern Laos that makes logistical sense to arrive in Chiang Mai on time?
Also wondering if you have a driver in mind? Would we need several drivers or will one be willing to take us through the whole Laos trip?
After our Chiang Mai stay we have 6 nights for the Mae Hong Son Loop. We plan on spending 2 nights in Soppong, 2 nights in Mae Hong Son and 2 nights in Mae Sariang. Then driving back to the airport in CM before our trip back to Bangkok for our final night before a very early departure back home.
Thanks for your response, you have reopended Pandora's Box!
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Aug 1st, 2013, 01:39 PM
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Sorry if I have complicated matters for you! It looks as though you would have enough time to go further north. I am currently in Bolivia about to set off into the amazon basin so sadly, I don't have access to my notes for drivers etc but , from memory, it would be relatively straight forward to extend your trip from Muang Ngoi up to Phongsali ( worth at least 2 days) and then go to Muang Sing ( again 2 days) nice hikes in both places and the minority villages are much, much nicer than anything you will find in Thailand. The people are very shy but very welcoming. I have some amazing memories of our time in that area. From there, it would be possible to head back south and, rather than return to LP, cross the border closer at Chiang Chiang Saen and do the Golden Triangle loop from there. I would cut some time from Luang Namtha. 10-11 days should give you enough time to do a decent loop of the area.

One time, we used a single driver and guide for the whole loop . Sorry, I can't recall who. Another time we DIY on public transport ( not recommeded if this is your first time!). I have heard good reports of Tiger Trails for this sort of trip. They are based in LP and have a web presence. Given time constraint it is definitely best to get an operator to arrange the loop for you ( not often I say that!)

Your MHS trip sound perfect! Soppong River Inn is good. Excellent food! Fern Resort is about 8 kms outside of MHS is the best there. Don't miss the jungle trek from the property, accompanied by their guide dogs ( if they are willing!)
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