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Thailand, Cambodia, N Vietnam, need help on routing and airlines

Thailand, Cambodia, N Vietnam, need help on routing and airlines

Oct 7th, 2009, 01:10 PM
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Thailand, Cambodia, N Vietnam, need help on routing and airlines

I'm planning my first ever trip to S E Asia for three weeks in April. The only requirement is to meet up with our third traveler in N Vietnam for the last week when we will do Hanoi, Halong Bay and possibly Sapa.
During the first two weeks we would love to see some of Thailand (perhaps Bangkok and Chaing Mai or Chiang Rai), Angor Wat, and Hoi An and Hue.
I've had the most difficult time narrowing down the stops for this trip. Laos sounded wonderful; but, know I'm getting too busy. I live on the east coast and wonder what the best air route would be. Would love any suggestions. Thanks
Pawleys is offline  
Oct 7th, 2009, 01:36 PM
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Let's see, in two weeks, you want to visit Bangkok and Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai, Angkor Wat, and Hoi An and Hue... that's 5 stops in, at best, 14 days (usually two weeks ends up being less time as you lose a day or two in travel from the East Coast). Logistically, you may be able to do it, but I don't know how much you would enjoy it. You have a long flight to get to SE Asia, spending so much time on planes while you are there doesn't sound like fun to me. And in your last week, you are making three stops? Slow down!

From the east coast, you can fly either way around the world to get to Thailand. Bob, one of our regulars took Air France last year, with a stop in Paris, then on to Bangkok. Singapore Air, Thai Air, Emiriates, all are options as well as many more. Which alliance do you have frequent flier miles with? That can help you start to narrow down your choices.

Flying into Bangkok makes the most sense, given your itinerary. You'll want some time in Bangkok. Let's say a minimum of 4 nights (three full days). You'll barely scratch the surface, but it will give you a taste. Going to either Chiang Mai or Chaing Rai is a detour as there are no non-stop connection to Siem Reap for Angkor Wat. So you might want to start by cutting those destinations. From Bangkok you can fly Bangkok Air non-stop to Siem Reap. It takes three full days just to see the major temples at Angkor. If you are really interested in the temples, you'll want more time. (PIck up a copy of Dawn Rooney's book, Angkor, to study up and see how much time you want to spend.) So let's allow four nights (three full days) at Angkor.

From there, you can fly to VN. I believe you'll have to transit through HCMC to catch a flight to DaNang/Hue/Hoi An. Because Hua and Hoi An are close together, you may be able to make do with three nights in each place, which will give you two full days in each. That's 14 nights so far.

Next you'll fly to Hanoi. Hanoi itself is worth some time. Look carefully at your time there, as getting to/from Sapa takes time, even with the overnight train. There are no flights. Halong Bay would take up pretty much two full days, the long drive there, an evening and overnight on the boat, morning on the boat and the long drive back to Hanoi.

From Hanoi, you'd likely fly back to Bangkok to catch your flight home.
Kathie is offline  
Oct 7th, 2009, 02:10 PM
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One week is not enough for Hanoi, Halong Bay and Sapa although it is a pretty good time of year to go to these places. Bangkok on a first trip needs 4 days, at least. You need 3 full days in Siem Reap. If you get an early flight from Bangkok, one of your three days can include the flying day. Choose between Hoi An/Hue versus another destination in Thailand and you have a busy itinerary that will work in 3 weeks.

From the east coast, there are currently no direct flights to or from Bangkok and Hanoi. You'll have to go through Tokyo most likely to reach or leave from either of those destinations. Try kayak.com to look at the options. Bangkok will likely be your hub for this trip.
Craig is offline  
Oct 7th, 2009, 02:14 PM
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i live in boston and usually make bangkok my hqtrs for SEA...

lots of options for getting there from the east: ANA, Eva, Emerites, British air, luftansa, air france, united, delta (former northwest routes), air canada, american, korean, cathy pacific, singapore to name the most common... there is currently no direct flight....all require a stop over, usually a quick turnaround....narita in japan, hong kong, singapore, seoul.

kathie has gently told you that she thinks you have too much on your plate as outlined....i would go further....its nuts, you would not enjoy it... all you would do is move from place to place...

i personally would like to see you do two places in thailand, siem reap and one or two places in VN period...preferably one in vn--the north...

bangkok air is the best way to get to siem reap--its expensive... from there you could fly to VN, probably on VN airlines...

so you would want to do a split flight i think....into bkk and out of hanoi....if they up charge you too much then a r.t. to bkk having to fly back to bkk the day before you leave for home..

you might find that air france would work as i think their bkk flights fly on to vn so you might be able to tag along there with a stop in bkk....

please remember that you will be very tired upon arrival in bkk...it will take you a full day or more to get your footing again....plan for a down day on day one and even part of day 2...
rhkkmk is offline  
Oct 8th, 2009, 11:53 AM
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Thanks so much for your ideas. Now comes the hard part, cutting. After reading about all these exotic places I want to see them all. To compound matters, I much prefer the countryside to the cities. I would rather see Chiang Mai than Bangkok and Sapa than Hanoi.
I'll digest all of this and work on it some more.
Pawleys is offline  
Oct 8th, 2009, 12:14 PM
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If you are looking for the countryside, Chiang Mai isn't it. It's a huge, sprawling city. While you can access the countryside from Chiang Mai, if countryside is what you are after, you have the wrong itinerary.

However, itineraries that are more countryside are logistically more difficult. So stop and decide what is most important for you to see/do/experience on this trip.
Kathie is offline  
Oct 8th, 2009, 12:21 PM
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Based on what you've said, maybe Laos is the place for you. The small city of Luang Prabang would be a good base for exploring. Laos has some of the most beautiful countryside in SE Asia. The logistics of traveling in Laos are a bit more complicated but it might be worth it for you.
Craig is offline  
Oct 8th, 2009, 12:37 PM
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This is simple. You have two weeks before N. Vietnam. Three locations would be best. It allows time to enjoy each place. Bangkok is magical and the best place to fly. Pick two other places and book the flights.
Gpanda is offline  
Oct 8th, 2009, 01:28 PM
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Hi pawleys and everyone else,

Yes, it's very difficult to cut out destinations since all the places you've listed are quite popular.

Another factor is that you're arriving in SEA during the hottest and most humid period too but the PLUS side is that you'll be able to celebrate the lunar new year's (though no longer really on a full moon since many of the SEA countries have switched to a western calender of celebrating their new year's in mid-April).

As rhkkmk pointed out, you will be very tired after flying half way around the world, so I would also highly recommend keeping Bangkok in for at least a full day's recovery before moving on but there's a lot to see in Bangkok which could easily eat up 2-4 days (not counting your recovery day).

May I recommend making Angkor/Siem Reap a priority since it's really a wonderful complex and imo, one of the man made wonders of the world. I would highly recommend a set aside of 3-4 days for this archaeological ruins.

Then from Siem Reap, Lao Airlines and Vietnam Airlines both offer a direct flight for Luang Prabang (with Lao less expensive) should you decide to visit and I'd recommend 3 days too for this area though there are picturesque smaller rustic riverside towns about 4 hours away that would also make for a wonderful relaxed getaway, too.

Then from Laung Prabang you could fly either Lao Airlines or Vietnam Airlines for Hanoi and 8 days should suffice for the Hanoi-Halong Bay-Sapa/Bac Ha axis.

If possible, rhhkmk's recommendation of a 'split flight' or 'open jaw ticket' would be ideal to fly back out to home to the USA from Hanoi (again most likely with a connecting hub of Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul, or Tokyo/Narita) but if it proves too expensive for this option, then you could fly Air Asia back to Bangkok for a less expensive round-trip ticket.

Hope this helps and have a great first trip to SEA. You might find yourself being bitten by the sea-bug.
seagypsy is offline  
Oct 11th, 2009, 01:45 PM
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What great suggestions! It sounds like Chiang Mai might not provide the experience I'm tying to acheive. Maybe Bangkok (4), Siem Reap (3), Luang Prabang (3); central Vietnam (4)and then N. Vietnam for the last week to 8 days.

Do any airlines fly from Luang Prabang to Danang?
Pawleys is offline  
Oct 11th, 2009, 02:59 PM
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Hi Pawleys,

Unfortunately not. Some years back, at one point, Bangkok Airways used to offer a SEA 'heritage' flight route that included Bangkok, Siem Reap/Angkor, Hue, Luang Prabang, and Sukothai but due to lack of demand had to abandon that package.
If Lao Airlines were smart, they would occupy that niche since they are strategicly well located to do so. Maybe in the future as part of an expansion. Air Asia may yet recognize this opening, too.
So you're stuck with having to fly Luang Prabang to Hanoi via either Lao Airlines or Vietnam Airlines, and then fly or sleeper train down to Hue or Danang/Hoi An.
seagypsy is offline  
Oct 11th, 2009, 04:03 PM
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For low cost airlines within Thailand try: NokAir.com or AirAsia
jet2dresq is offline  

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