Thailand and...

Old Feb 16th, 2018, 11:05 PM
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Thailand and...

Hi All! - We are set to travel again and Fodor's advice has been a wonderful! Our trip to Croatia would never have been so awesome w/o your collective suggestions. So here goes with our next adventure.

My husband and I are going to travel with our 2 adult girls from Dec. 21 through Jan 6 to Thailand. Today my husband suggested we stay on longer once the girls head back to work (yeah retirement) and visit either Vietnam, Laos or Cambodia or combo of them.
My tentative plan - please let me know if it sounds doable and not a logistic nightmare. My girls are flying from Lax and JFK and our plan is to meet up once we arrive in Thailand. They would like to experience the New Year's Eve lantern festival in Chiang Mai.
So this is the idea and then some questions to follow:
Fly direct to Phuket and have travel arrangement to drive to Khao Lak 3 N 12/23-25
Pick up at hotel and transport to Elephant Hills Camp 2 N 12/26-27
Transport back to Phuket Airport and afternoon flight to Chiang Rai 3 N 12/28-30
Transport to Chiang Mai 3 N 12/31 1/1-2
Transport to Sukhothai but not sure how to go about that transportation wise. 1 N12/3
Transport to Bangkok 2 N 1/4-5
Girls fly home 1/6 We fly on to ...

So questions are - does this sound doable, and are there suggestions on good drivers/tour company or transportation from CR to CM to Sukhothai to BKK? I looked at the train for the CM to S - BKK portions but the schedules seems to limit any real time in Sukhothai. Should I just eliminate that stop?

After Bangkok for just the two of us I was thinking Luang Prabang, Siem Reap/Angkor Wat and maybe one of these or two Ho Chi Minh City or Ha Long Bay or Hanoi. Maybe a beach instead?
We figured an extra week or so to do this portion of the travel. We really like nature and beauty in addition to the temples, culture and history aspects of this trip.

Anyhoo, I realize many tangents here. But to add to it I am up for any must do things during these three weeks.
In advance I thank any and all thoughts you have!

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Old Feb 17th, 2018, 07:17 AM
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Post this on the Asia forum. You will find plenty of good information.
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Old Feb 17th, 2018, 09:52 AM
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Someone has already moved it to the Asia board.

Congratulations on the elephant park pick, looks good. Would Ayutthaya be a substitute for Sukhothai? You can do that as a day trip from Bangkok.

How long do you have for the second part of the trip? Luang Prabang can easily take two or three full days, and you can add a trip up the Mekong and maybe some hiking. I would want at least four full days for Angkor Wat, maybe five. I always think it's a pity when people go to Cambodia and only see Siem Reap, there is a lot more (of course the same is true of Laos). See this blog for other places in Cambodia:
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Old Feb 17th, 2018, 10:33 AM
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Thanks for referencing our blog Thursdaysd .

The first part of your trip looks fine to me. A nice amount of time in most places apart from Bangkok which I feel needs at least another night. Sukothai is a little problematic. There used to be flight between there and CM but I don’t think they operate any more. We dove ourselves from Sukothai to CM which was pretty straightforward (but we are used to driving on the left!) . You may find a driver who would take you there from CM and drive you around the temples (you would need transport there). Personally, I think it would simplify your trip considerably if you dropped Sukhothai, especially if you are going to Angkor which is a hundred times more impressive. Add the day save to Bangkok.

For your additional week, I would strongly suggest one country only.

In Cambodia, Siem Reap and Phnom Penh make a nice combination of city and temples. For riverine countryside, I would suggest a few days in Kampot.

For a week in Vietnam I would choose between the north - Maybe Hanoi + some time around Ninh Binh and the Mai Chau Valley ( not Mai Chau itself). Another nice combination, would be in the South. HCMC plus a trip into the Mekong Delta. 3/4 days respectively - plenty of photos and deatail of our time in these places in the Vietnam section of our blog that Thursdaysd linked above. If your feeling adventurous, then Pu Long NP and the Black River Valley are beautiful but accomodation is basic.

it is over ten years since we were last in Luang Prabang and it was getting over touristed then. I am not sure I would want to be there now. Perhaps other who have been more recently can comment. If you do choose LP, it only really needs a two or three days to see the town. You could perhaps combine with Angkor but that is a lot of temples and very little natural beauty.
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Old Feb 17th, 2018, 10:48 AM
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You're welcome, crellston.

I was last in LP in early 2011 and I was saddened by the changes since my first visit in 2002 and even my return in 2004. Too many tourists, too much disrespect for local customs. I doubt I would go back. However, if you have never been it could still be a worthwhile stop, but I would not make it the only place in Laos, just as I would not make Siem Reap the only stop in Cambodia.
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Old Feb 17th, 2018, 01:04 PM
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Thank you moving my post to the Asia thread! We are flexible with time for the 2nd part of the journey and was thinking 7/8 N on that end. I think Siem Reap is a must stop and were we to stay 4 N I think we could see much of the area. Suggestions on how to spend that time would be appreciated.
From there it is such a toss up where to go next! I will look into the Phonom Pehh and Kampot. I know nothing of this area. I spent all this time figuring our Thailand and was surprised that he was a go to add on this part of the trip.
HCMC looks appealing too, and to compare BKK to it might be interesting.

I think I will forgo Sukhothai and add the day to BKK.

Kinda want someone to jump in my head and say this is what you want to do for the next part!!

Any suggestions on known tour companies/drivers or experiences in any of these locations would be great.

And thank you for investing your time into my trip. I appreciate all the help and will read the various threads in the Asia forum. I also will read your link from your trip - thank you for sharing it!!
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Old Feb 17th, 2018, 02:49 PM
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Pick up a copy of Dawn Rooney's book, Angkor: A Guide to Cambodia's Wondrous Temples to help you plan your time in Siem Reap. She says it takes three full days (meaning 4 nights) just to see the major temples. We spent a week and would have enjoyed even more time, but we are temple fanatics.

No need for a tour company. Your hotel can arrange a driver (and a guide, if you wish). We used the Dawn Rooney book as our guide.
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Old Feb 17th, 2018, 09:16 PM
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If you want something truly different, go to Mustang, the former Kingdom of Lo in a remote part of Nepalese Himalayas . I have not been there but a friend has just returned. He spent 2 weeks there and said it was an amazingly spiritual experience in a Tibetan (although Mustang is part of Nepal now) way of life and culture that is has changed little for hundreds of years. The last part of the journey to Mustang is by jeep over dirt roads. My friend is in his mid 70's so the trip is do-able.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2018, 03:52 PM
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Continuing on to Cambodia and Vietnam

Hi again - So Thailand has been framed out, tickets bought, hotels procured - 3N BKK, Fly to Chiang Rai 3N, driver to Chiang Mai 3 N, Fly to Surat Thani, 1 N Khao National Park, 1 N Cheow Lake, 4 N Beach
Suppose to fly home then, but thought came this far...
So now plan is to add on Angkor Wat 4 N, fly to Hanoi area 5 N and do Ha Long Bay 1 N/2D somewhere in the middle of that, and then fly home.
So what I have is 2 full days in Hanoi, 2 full days in Ha Long Bay and 1 and 1/2 days before flying home. What I am trying to decide being mid January when we are there if it is worthwhile to go to Sapa - Fransipan Mountain and do the cable car. Would get to see the country side on the ride in, do the cable car trip, visit the town of Sapa and then a late return to the hotel. Downsides could be a cloudy overcast and or rainy day when there, a long drive - upside gorgeous view if the day is clear.
Any suggestions of what could take the place of that? Also hotels in the Old Quarter vs the Dinh District or any other local for that matter? I do have Marriott or Sheraton points that could pay for the stay, though most rates seem inexpensive and could save them for a more expensive city.
Oh and if anyone has stayed in Siem Reap would you suggest being in the heart of town or a little ways out. Can't decide between the two options. Would be touring the temples and visiting the waterfall and Phnom Kulen area in the day.
: )
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