Thailand, Cambodia ,Laos and Vietnam

Old May 20th, 2003, 07:41 AM
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Thailand, Cambodia ,Laos and Vietnam

Setting of for a two month adventure with a very special person and would be grateful if anyone could give me tips and advice on what to do, where to go, what to avoid, how to get about. first time travelling so a bit nervous, any advice would be very helpful.
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Old May 20th, 2003, 11:30 AM
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it depends on your budget and what you are used to...
use bangkok as a central point and venture out from there...air travel is fastest and almost as cheap as other modes except bus....
best to book hotels in advance if you are set on certain hotels...get a good guide book for each location and study it before you go...watch this web-site, although not much is happening at the moment---look back by topic or country to see what people have written in the past....

don't eat from street vendors to avoid sickness which will ruin your trip...

don't drink anything but bottled water...in the water line that is....

no salads ... no uncooked foods... no fruit that you can't peel yourself

you may need malaria pills for cambodia--- if you are going to siem reap you will need them...see your home doctor....see a travel specialist before leaving as much as 6 months in advance to talk about your current status and futrue needs---get everything up-to-date...

get visas before you leave---embasseys in washington dc
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Old May 20th, 2003, 01:02 PM
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Your budget is of first concern. Once you've checked some guidebooks determine if you want to travel budget, moderate or luxury, then you can work up a plan.
All guidebooks provide info on inter- and intra-country travel, dos & don'ts. But you have to find your interests in these countries. Get some maps so you have an idea where places are in relation to your mode of transportation, and how many times you have to get back to BKK to get out of there.
Do you want to do this all yourself or work with an Asian Tour Operator? There are some very good Tour Operators out there who with your input (likes/dislikes) can do the legwork for you and they're available at every level of expense you may want to spend.

Once you have an idea of what you want to see/do, where to stay, etc. then with specific questions, I'm sure posters gave provide advice, thumbs up/down, etc., and if you want can recommend Tour Operators.

As far as Visas are concerned, you get VISA on arrival in Thailand, but because you'll probably be arriving and departing from here, check the ,length of time you can stay on a "no fee" Visa, which I believe is less than a month, so contact their tourist office/embassy for specifics.
In Cambodia, we got our Visas on arrival for a fee of $20, but the amount keeps changing, again you'll have to ascertain length of time you can stay. These is also a departure fee when leaving Cambodia (was $15 when we were there).
As to Laos and Vietnam, I'm not familiar with their VISA requirements so naturally contact their embassies.
Remember, if using BKK as hub, everytime you leave you have a departure fee of 500 Baht (about $12USD).
 
Old May 20th, 2003, 08:40 PM
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i note the posting above about getting visas while in thailand....i do not have first hand knowledge, just second hand, but SEVERAL people have told me that lines can be long in bkk at the embassies and who wants to waste time in line when there is shopping to do, sites to see and places to go!!!...as far as cambodia is concerned...it is a bit of a night mare especially if you are near the back of the plane and it is hot as hell in the airport while you wait---get your visas before you leave home...so much easier....each one takes about two weeks unless your are near nyc or washington and can go in person....we were near the front of the plane, got into the airport area and right through...others who had to wait for visas were there for quite a while and it was not pleasant....why wait in line if you do not have to.....???
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Old May 21st, 2003, 04:12 AM
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I've been to Vietnam twice and can't wait to go back!! Stayed at The Orchid Hotel in Ho Chi Minh - can't remember address, but it's cheap - not luxurious.. Depends on your budget.. Make sure you visit the Cu Chi Tunnels and The Cao Dai Temple - both daytrips from Ho Chi Minh. If you're going North, Hanoi is a wonderful city.. But the highlight of my last trip was going up to the Sapa Mountains and visiting the tribal villages. It's a heavenly experience.. Oh, almost forgot - the best restaurant in Vietnam is The Blue Ginger in Ho Chi Minh.. Make sure you go there...

Have a wonderful time. I'm jealous..

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Old May 21st, 2003, 05:16 AM
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rhkkmk - Sorry if you misunderstood, I wasn't talking about getting VISAs to other countries (Cam,Laos,VN) while in BKK.
I was referring to the Thai VISA that is given upon arrival as you present yourself at Immigration.
Yes, in Seam Reap, Cambodia - the terminal where you get your VISA is not air conditioned (fans only), it is hot and uncomfortable. But many people don't like sending off their Passport to various embassies and hoping they''re received, processed and returned in a timely manner. Of course, there's always FEDEX, but most embassies return VISAs via regular mail.
You also have to schedule way in advance if you're using the mail-to-embassy route, so you get them back in time for your trip. Sure airports can be an uncomfortable environment, but at least you have control of your Passport.
 
Old May 21st, 2003, 01:14 PM
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When I was in Siem Riep, you had to stand in line at passport control whether you had a visa or not. So, I don't think you will save any time or bother by not having your visa when you arrive.

I never took anti-malarial medication while in Siem Riep. The city is clear of heavy vegetation. I just used bug spray, and I was never bitten by anything. There is strong evidence that Larium can cause psychotic episodes. This was reported on 60 Minutes, the American TV show.

When in Bangkok, I would stay near the Chao Phraya. It is much cooler and it is very cheap to take the ferry to major tourist sites. You can also get to the Skytrain station on the river this way. (The Skytrain is gorgeous, cheap, and very efficient. It is a good way to get around.)

If you want cheap souvenirs while in Bangkok, hit Chinatown. I found silk purses here, 3 for $2. The same purses in the Siem Square Mall where $5 per piece.

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Old May 21st, 2003, 01:43 PM
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We stayed at the Peninsula while in BKK, right on the river. I don't think it ever gets cool or even cooler in BKK.

Sorry, it did cool down for about 5-minutes during a late afternoon downpour, but as soon as it was over, BKK humidity was "uglier, than ugly" - and living thru NYC summers, we know from "ugly HHH weather".

We rolled over in laughter when we saw the words "cooler" and "Thailand (BKK)" ttogether.
 
Old May 21st, 2003, 06:06 PM
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A note on malaria: Malaria is endemic in Siem Reap (and all of Cambodia). I'd suggest that you read the info at www.cdc.gov/travel to help you be informed before discussing this with your travel medicine physician.

As mentioned, Larium is associated with psychiatric side effects. Approx. one third of people taking Larium will experience some type of neuropsychiatric side effect, most commonly, vivid disturbing dreams. However, Larium is NOT an appropriate anti-malarial for SIem Reap. There is resistant malaria in this area, so either malarone or doxycycline are the apropriate anti-malarials the this area.

I did get bitten by mosquitos in SIem Reap, even though I used deet, worse long pants, and sprayed my clothes with pytherin. Indeed, the place I was bitten (at La Noria restaurant) they were even burning mosquitp coils under the tables.

Only by getting all the information and discussing this matter with your physician can you determine whether and which anti-malarial is best for you.
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Old May 21st, 2003, 07:04 PM
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we used malerone with absulutely no side affects....it is easy and only needs to be taken for a few days...it is expensive however, if it is not covered by your health plan---DON'T GO WITHOUT SOMETHING!!!!

i must disagree about the immigration at siem reap...there were two lines last december (02) when i was there....those with visas---you move right through and those without visas where the progress was much slower...

the peninsula is fabulous but at the top of the scale....we love to stay there for a few days, but we prefer the marriott resort and spa just down the river...its pool is simply the best in bkk and believe me you need it often as noted above about the heat....

i suspect that you are on a limited budget, but i may be wrong, so most places on the river will be out of your budget, unfortunately...check them out however, especially for a treat to yourself
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Old May 21st, 2003, 07:38 PM
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I agree that malaria is endemic to Siem Riep, but to the natives. These people largely get malaria from sleeping without misquito netting at night. Yes, malaria is very serious, and I personally know a couple who DIED from the disease after spending 6 MONTHS in the bush in Africa. However, your chances of coming down with malaria from a few days, sleeping in a hotel with air conditioning/screens on the windows, in Siem Riep, are nil. If you have to take anti-malarial medication because you will be full of worry, then do so. But, Siem Riep is not backwater some people may think. I am sure in about 3 years, you will be seeing a McDonald's near the Central Market. If you have any doubts, just visit Grand Hotel D'Angkor and watch the L.A. fashionistas walking around the lobby in their Jimmy Choo sandals and Chanel sunglasses.
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Old May 21st, 2003, 08:42 PM
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A place doesn't have to be a backwater in order to have malaria. The mosquitos that spread malaria bite from dusk until dawn. If you will not be outside (remember that many restaurants are not enclosed) between dusk and dawn and are sleeping in an air-conditioned room, then you are not at risk for malaria. Thousands of people bring malaria home to North America or Europe from their travels in (Mostly) Africa and Asia each year.

Neither Jimmy Choo sandals nor Chanel sunglasses offer protection from malaria.

Please make your decison about whether to take anti-malarials based on all the available data, not on rumor or innuendo.
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Old May 27th, 2003, 01:09 PM
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Just a bit of advice on places to visit. In Vietnam, I greatly enjoyed taking a boat tour of Halong Bay. These trips can be easily arranged by any travel agent or hotel in Hanoi. Also I found the city of Hue in central Vietnam to be very charming and close to many tourist sites in the area (Royal tombs, DMZ, etc.). In Cambodia definitely spend at least a few days visiting the temples of Angkor outside of Siam Reap. We flew into Phnom Penh and had little trouble quickly obtaining a visa on landing there. Although very depressing, the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Prison Museum in Phnom Penh are worth visiting. From there we took a 5 hour boat trip up to Siam Reap. If the weather is agreeable, this is a very pleasant trip and highly recommended, as you can sit on the roof of the boat. Otherwise it would be a bit cramped and dreary. Also we went at the end of the wet season (October) and this trip may vary or be impossible at other times of year. As for Thailand, I would definitely consider using Bangkok as a hub for your travels due to it's convenience, but try to stay in the city as little as possible. I know a few people who love the place, but most (including myself) have found it to be too polluted and chaotic with some of the world's worst traffic. The ruins at Ayutthaya are beautiful and easily accessible from Bangkok, but pale in comparison to Angkor. Koh Sok National Park is a beautiful rainforest retreat in the south, and the beaches around Krabi are simply amazing. Try finding one that requires a boat trip to get there, to find a peaceful car-free resort. Hope that helps plan your trip!
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Old May 27th, 2003, 02:06 PM
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I had no problems eating food from street vendors in Thailand (hot food). I had no problems with fruit or salad either (except the durian took some getting used to). But bottled water is a must.

Be sure you have appropriate clothing for visiting temples (pants or long skirt, preferably long sleeve shirt, short sleeve is OK, no singlets).

If you dive, then you definitely should not miss out on the fantastic diving in SE Asia!

There are various medicines and vaccines you can take, talk to your doc.
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Old May 27th, 2003, 04:01 PM
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Plan, plan, plan. Use the InterNet to explore every destination, this and other guide book web sites.

If you are visiting Cambodia or Laos (and some of the wilder parts of VietNam) check on the medical precautions you require (especially malaria - use the prophelatic type).

Get your visas before you leave - avoids complications of missing documentation or proof of who you are (in case someone with your name left a bad record) - for VietNam there is one web site that has everything including visa tips, application forms, etc (http://www.wompom.ca/vietname/index.htm).

If you are from Europe or Australia, take your low-band GSM telephone (the type with a small plug-in card) with you as you can buy prepaid cell service and maintain contact with home - in VietNam you even have international access to SMS/TXT and InterNet e-mail.

But first, plan, plan, plan - it's often the most exciting part of any journey.

(If you are going to be just married, make sure your documentation and visas are in the right (maiden) name!)
///
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