Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Asia
Reload this Page >

Struggling with SE Asia Itinerary for November

Struggling with SE Asia Itinerary for November

Old May 21st, 2016, 01:40 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,034
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Struggling with SE Asia Itinerary for November

I've been thinking for months about a trip to SE Asia in November (first half), but am struggling to get my mind settled on an itinerary and have had limited time to research. We are an active couple (50 and 60) and love great food, culture (but not tons of museums), and hiking/outdoors stuff. Will have 12 nights on the ground...I know that ideally would probably mean 3 locations, but I'm willing to move a bit more and/or miss a few things and am focused on likely 4 spots for this trip. This will be our first trip to SE Asia, but we are experienced travelers (China, India, Peru, Argentina, Africa - TZ and SA, over a dozen trips to Europe, etc...). I feel ok in sorting the planning...but am hoping for some thoughts/insights from others here to help me finally choose a general itinerary to work with...I've been jumping all over the place on this one and need to commit!

I was originally planning on Vietnam alone or with Siem Reap, but that included time in Hoi An/Hue. The more I read, it seems that the first half of November may not be a great time for Central Vietnam. Thoughts?

Assuming that we skip Central VN, I am toying with a few thoughts and roughly 3 nights in each spot although a bit flexible on that - I know many folks say 4n for REP, but we don't feel we need to see all the major sights there. And, while I love the IDEA of Halong Bay, I am not sure we have time and keep hearing mixed feedback on it. Is it a "don't miss?"

Ideas: Hanoi, Luang Prabang, Siem Reap, HCM. OR, something like Hanoi, Siem Reap, Song Saa (or other Cambodia beach stay or river trip of some sort), HCM. I think we'd like something like Sapa, but I'm concerned will be too chilly by then? Have also toyed with Thailand but hubby has been to BKK and we are likely to pair that with Myanmar/Burma on another trip.

I'd appreciate any input! Thanks!!
fun4all4 is offline  
Old May 21st, 2016, 02:00 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,283
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you have 12 nights on the ground in SE Asia, I highly recommend you choose not more than three stops. SE Asia is a place that rewards slow travel (not that 4 nights in a place truly qualifies as slow, but at least you'll have the time to get a flavor for a place).

You have discounted the idea of spending 4 nights in Siem Reap, saying that "we don't feel we need to see all the major sights there." But with just three full days there is no chance you'll be able to see all of the major sights there. It's your trip and you can opt to spend as little time as you want in each place, but please do your research first - Dawn Rooney's book, Angkor: A Guide to Cambodia's Wondrous Temples can give you a sense of what you do want to see/do/experience there. Angkor is truly one of the wonders of the world.

I agree that Halong Bay is not a "must" Indeed, with your limited time I'd avoid it. It's a 6 hour drive each way, and I expect you will want to spend your time in a different way.

If you are considering a river trip, consider a Pandaw cruise on the Mekong between HCMC and Siem Reap. There are other cruise lines offering cruises in SE Asia, but Pandaw is the only one I'd recommend. They have cruises in Burma/Myanmar, but I'd suggest you wait until you have done a land visit of Myanmar. They also have a cruise in Laos that looks great. I've only been on one of their cruises in Burma and it was a fabulous experience.

I think your suggested itineraries move too fast - you'll miss way too much. Remember that while some transfers from one place to another are pretty efficient, others will take most of a day. So three nights in a place is a mere two days. None of us ever see "everything" but do enough research to know what is important to you.

If photos are helpful to you, take a look at our photo site, www.marlandc.com You can choose which places you want to look at: Angkor, Hanoi, Luang Prabang, etc.

Happy Planning!
Kathie is offline  
Old May 21st, 2016, 02:13 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 2
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I think 12 nights on the ground in Southeast Asia allows for enough time to capture the flavor of the region and likely make you keen on returning for a longer stay and include Myanmar (Burma) before it changes beyond recognition as the grand site it once just a few years ago.

I first visited Angkor at Siem Reap in 1970. Yes, it has changed since and the best tip that I can provide to you about your visit there is to avoid arriving on a Friday through the weekend. Junkets are planned for tourists from Singapore, Thailand, China, Taiwan, etc., and the heaviest flow is on the weekend.

I think that two full days at Angkor will satisfy, if you are not joining a group of travelers who will certainly cause delays of one kind or another.

Early November is not the time to be in Central Vietnam, so you will miss both Hoi An and Hue.

My suggestion would be to arrive Saigon, fly to Siem Reap and then directly up to Luang Prabang, Laos. You will have to wrestle with the flight skd a bit, however, it should work out fine. While in Saigon, go up the Mekong Delta to Ben Tre and glide the backwaters in a small sampan.

If all you have is 12 days, then I suggest spreading it across those three venues.

Wonderful environs. Travel safe and happy.
RobertKenyon is offline  
Old May 21st, 2016, 05:45 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 8,139
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
With 12 days to play with I would be inclined to just stick with one country, two at the most. It is a great time for Cambodia, Laos and northern and southern Vietnam (but not the central region - unless you really like rain!)

Traveling from one country to another is, realistically going to use up a day in travel each time which would take out a significant proportion of your travel time. In particular, getting to from/ Laos is not always convenient and usually expensive.

Cambodia - I have visited Angkor three times over the last 20 odd years and confess I have enjoyed it less each time. Last year, we took my in laws who really wanted to see it, and found it much too busy and effectively overrun with large tour groups. They did however, really enjoy it. I do believe it is possible to fit in the highlights of Angkor in a couple of days (unless you REALLY like temples). 12 days would be sufficient to fly into SR, get the bus or boat to Battambang for a couple of days thence to Phnom Penh (one of my favourite cities in SEA) from there it is but a couple of hours to the wonderful riverside town of Kratie and from there a short hop to one of the southern coast islands, or maybe Kep.

Vietnam - Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City both have a tremendous amount to offer both in the cities themselves and the surrounding areas. You could "top and tail" the country, flying into Hanoi and out of Saigon. From Hanoi, rather than go up to Sapa, you could do some hiking/ homestays around Ninh Binh , Mai Chau and the Black River valley. From Saigon, a two or three day trip into the delta would be wonderful at that time of year. As mentioned above, Ben Tre is worth considering as is Cai Rang and, especially Chau Doc (you could even include the latter in a trip from Saigon through the delta to Phnom Penh. Forget about Halong Bay, it isn't worth the time and effort of getting there.

Most of these areas are covered in some detail with lots of photos in our blog from our trip around Asia for most of last year https://accidentalnomads.com - just click on the destination drop down for the individual countries.
crellston is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2016, 11:57 AM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,034
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks, all! Lots to think about. Love all the pics, Kathie and CrellstonI've been reading pretty much since I posted, and still having a hard time choosing. I'm so interested in all of it, and SE Asia is such a long trip for us from the mid-Atlantic, it is hard to give anything up. I know it will be a while before we can return.

I think we will drop Luang Prabang and plan that in combo with Thailand (such as Chaing Mai)another time. I know I would love it, but seems to make sense since I have to drop something. Giving up on beach idea also, I think, since DH doesn't care about that. But, really liking the idea of a few days on the river if we can somehow make that happen. Thinking now of Hanoi to Saigon...maybe up the river (3 n version probably from PP, unless someone tells me the southern part of the river option is better than the northern??) and ending in Siem Reap. Fly home from there.

Kathy, you mention Pandaw as only you'd recommend, but why not Heritage or Aqua Mekong?

Still a work in progress, to be sure.
fun4all4 is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2016, 12:34 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,034
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Or...do as RobertKenyon suggests and go with SGN, REP, and Luang Prabang. Although not sure I want to tackle 3 countries. And it seems like it is good to see/experience Hanoi and Saigon to get some feel for VN?
fun4all4 is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2016, 01:39 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,283
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
There is not a wrong answer to which places to visit. I'm sure you would enjoy any/all of these places.

I do agree with you that it seems unwise to visit three different countries in your limited time; better to choose one or two countries. Which place is your highest priority?

Why Pandaw? I've cruised on Pandaw. When I did a lot of research on river cruises in SE Asia, it always came out on top. They have the longest experience of offering cruises in SE Asia and have ships built specifically for river cruising in SEA. I just looked at Aqua Mekong and they are MUCH more expensive than Pandaw - like 4+ times the price. Aqua Mekong looks lovely - but not at that price. Heritage looks ok - it was the other cruise line we considered. When we took our Pandaw cruise we were the only people on the ship who had not previously crushed with Pandaw. It seems that Pandaw may well be addictive. Several people had been on 4 Pandaw cruises. The Pandaw ships have the shallowest draft of the ships cruising in the area, so they can go where others cannot.
Kathie is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2016, 08:23 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 1,465
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I endorse Kathies recommendation of Pandaw. We've been on two cruises with them. In March 2011 from Siem Reap to HCMC over 7 nights we saw countryside, Phnomh Penh highlights and a had couple of days in the delta region. It was a great mix of culture, ruins and interacting with local people.

If you start in REP, you could take the cruise, perhaps spend another day or two in HCMC then fly to Hanoi before flying home.
sartoric is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2016, 07:15 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 5
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hello! Question - why is Hoi An not a good idea in early November?
seemakp is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2016, 08:09 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,283
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Central VN (Hoi An, Hue, Da Nang) typically has torrential rains in November. There is often flooding severe enough to cause loss of life.
Kathie is offline  
Old Jun 13th, 2016, 05:30 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 1,509
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Keep in mind in your planning, that changing countries or sometimes just another city in the same country, takes a lot of time. It is not like Boston to DC.where you can hit the ground running in 2-3 hours. Don't book your connecting flights too tight, as thing are not quite as punctual as other places.

Heat and humidity also slow you down a bit. This won't be your last trip to the area...
kmkrnn is offline  
Old Jun 30th, 2016, 09:41 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 305
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We have been sailing with Pandaw since 1999, on the Irrawwaddy, Mekong,Rajang and last December the upper Mekong through Laos, our 5th journey with this company. Another Burma voyage planned in 2017.

There's a reason people return. Almost everyone aboard any voyage has been aboard another. A most unique way to travel the backwaters of Asia with interesting fellow passengers.
mareeS55 is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
adhock
Asia
22
Aug 1st, 2019 09:21 AM
LeslieC
Asia
7
Mar 18th, 2013 05:12 AM
Addie_Lansdown
Asia
11
Nov 14th, 2010 04:52 PM
sueblue
Asia
33
Oct 12th, 2009 08:01 PM
hkmessick
Asia
6
Jan 21st, 2007 08:03 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:10 PM.