Old Oct 18th, 2006, 08:11 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 6


My husband and I are planning our first trip through above countries. We will be traveling for 32 days (pretty well the entire month of November). My problem is trying to figure out how to get to the different places. We are flying in and out of far it looks like Bangkok will be easiest to start and end the trip. We are quite flexible (can switch the order of the countries and choose between north or south Vietnam). We can also fly (instead of bus) different places to save time. We are interested in the following:

Bangkok 2 days
Chang Mai 7 days (city, trekking, and cooking classes)

Siem Reap & Angkor Wat 4 days
Sihanoukville & Ream National Park 4 days

Vietnam (10 Days):
Ho Chi Minh
Chu Chi Tunnels
Meknong Delta
Cao Dai Temple
Mui Ne


Halong Bay
Perfume Pagoda

Beaches close to Bangkok for 4-5 days before flying out.

Would anybody be able to help me decide what route/order would be best to take to travel through the countries? Would you also be able to recommend beaches not too far away from Bangkok? Or, would it be better to take a ferry/bus/train further south (to Ko Tao, etc) if we have 4-5 days for beaches?

Thanks for any/all your help! Love reading the boards

Mia_Anna is offline  
Old Oct 18th, 2006, 09:28 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,900
Looks like you have a nice trip planned!

One thing I would like to recommend is that you spend more time in Bangkok! It is a city that would take weeks or even months to fully explore. I was there for 6 nights in Feb. I am heading back to SE Asia in less than 2 weeks and I will spend an additional 6-8 nights there.

Since you are planning on 7 nights in Chiang Mai you might also want to consider Chiang Dao Nest about an hour north of Chiang Mai. They do treks from there and they take very small groups. You may not see any other tourists.

It is a little slice of paradise! The bungalows have hot water showers and they are very nice. The food here is gourmet and wonderful!

We first spent a couple of days in Chiang Mai and then headed up to Chiang Dao. The scenery is breathtakingly beautiful!

With 4-5 nights at a beach in Thailand you can go almost anywhere so don't limit your options to just beaches close to Bangkok. You can actually fly from Chiang Mai directly to Phuket without stopping in Bangkok so Maybe first to Bangkok, then to Chiang Mai, then to a Thai beach.

From Phuket you can get to Ko Phi Phi, Krabi or Ko Lanta fairly easily.

Since you are including Cambodia, I recommend you buy a Bangkok Air Discovery Pass. The flight from Bangkok to Siem Reap is very expensive but this cuts down on the cost. This can be done through a travel agent here in the USA. You must give them your route and the tickets are mailed to you quite quickly.

In Siem Reap I highly recommend taking half a day to visit Tonle Sap Lake. It is the largest freshwater lake in SE Asia and it is teeming with life, both wild and human. There are floating villages.

You can get a driver for $20 USD a day or a driver and guide for $40 a day, including an unlimited supply of cold water. it is very hot exploring this area so drink lots of water!

I can't really help you much more with the order of your trip but I am happy to answer specific questions.

Please let us know your budget for accomodations so we can make some suggestions for you there as well.

I will also be traveling for 32 days between Thailand, Laos and Vietnam during this time! Maybe our paths will cross!

You may even want to try to attend one of the get togethers that are taking place in November. Do a search for "GTG" on the Asia thread and you will find the info.

Enjoy your trip!

eurotraveller is offline  
Old Oct 18th, 2006, 12:57 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,053
A couple of thoughts:

Overall, a good itinerary. I do think you need more time in Bangkok, and I'd subtract it from CM. Personally, I'd choose a 4 day/5 day split between CM and Bangkok.

Your plan in VN to fo either north or south is a good one. Persoanlly, I'd recommend north, but an argument can be made for the south, it's really a matter of preference.

Tamara has give you some good information.

It sounds like a wonderful trip!
Kathie is offline  
Old Oct 18th, 2006, 01:48 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 278
the trip looks great. i wouldn't add more nights in bangkok. a couple at the beginning and a couple at the end would be fine in my book. especially if you end your trip with a couple nights at the peninsula.

(the weekend market in bangkok is out of this world, so if you can be there on a weekend...)
alibi13 is offline  
Old Oct 18th, 2006, 07:56 PM
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Posts: 6
Thank-you so much for the information!

Chang Dao Nest looks amazing. Last night, I was looking at Pai, but it looks like Chang Dao Nest offers more of what we want! (Nature-y type place).

We are in Penang right now, so won't be able to get the air pass, but I found a super-cheap flight from Air France (of all airlines to) take me from Bangkok to HCMC, then a cheaper flight from Vietnam to Siem Reap and finish in Thailand again. (was able to compare flights on

We can spend anywhere from $10-$40ish on accommodation - we're backpacking. We would rather spend money on classes or trekking or other 'experience' things. Any accommodationo recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

We'll look into staying longer in Bangkok. My father-in-law lives in Penang so we will be in the area quite often. Probably easier to get to Bangkok on a short trip than many of the other destinations.

Thank-you, again
Mia_Anna is offline  
Old Oct 18th, 2006, 07:59 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 38
Hello -- we spent two weeks in Thailand and Cambodia last summer. Maybe it was the heat, but we struggled with Bangkok. It is absolutely amazing, and we stayed at the Penninsula, so we "took care" of ourselves. But be prepared to be slightly overwhelmed. Take it easy if you stay for a longer period and rest by the pool as much as needed. It is a magnificent city, we just tried to do too much too fast (4 days!)

The temples around Angkor Watt are just amazing. Definitely get a driver and guide for each and every day of your stay there. We went to all the sites near the town, with a guide the whole time. His knowledge of the history was impressive. But equally (and surprisingly) incredible was his LIFE. In our short visit there, I came to cherish the Cambodians for what they have been through in the last 20 years and their hope and optimism in the face of horror.

The boat trip to the lake that someone suggested is absolutely worth it.

We had the driver take us out another ruin about 1 hour from Siem Reap called Beng Melea. It has similarities to Ta Prohm near the city, except that it is more of a ruin, and far more mysterious. Also, there was basically no one there when we went. The drive is worth the trip too. It quickly turns to countryside when you leave Siem Reap, and seeing this was both beautiful and kind of awesome.

You're going to have some decisions to make there about giving money to everyone who asks, and many people do. I asked my guide how to differentiate, and he said in general the Cambodians don't want their little children to grow up as beggars. So giving money for begging children is not necessarily optimal. He said if someone has lost a limb or something and they are begging, they clearly need the money. He also said that rather than begging, the Cambodians children are now selling things. This is a way of "legitimizing" their activity. So if you want to buy something to "help," it's okay.

Again, the Cambodians are some of the most amazing, wonderful people I have ever known. Soak it all in, including their more recent history, which is both horrifying and inspiring. You'll see it everywhere.

Lastly, we spent 6 days in the Golden Triangle at the Anantara resort. This resort is stunning, but we were hardly ever there. We rented a car the whole time and drove all over the place. The Queen Mother's villa is beautiful, and do not miss Wat Doi Tung if you go there.

This area of Thailand is relaxing, beautiful, and a surprisingly easy region to travel around in an Avis rental car. We also walked over the bridge for a day to Mynammar. This proved to be far more interesting than we expected. The market town in Mynammar has lots of junk, including junk Rolexes. But lots of people will offer to take you on a tour of the local sites. This is safe. At first we were wary, but we figured since we were there, we might as well take the trip. It ended up being amazing. It's only 2 hours, and you don't go far, but you get a real dose of how exotic, and also troubled, this country is, and also how beautiful it is. The Burmese, like just about everyone in this part of the world, were lovely, including the border guards!

I think in hindsight we liked Cambodia more than Thailand for exoticism, people, and sheer emotion. Thailand is unquestionably lovely, and far more "first world" than I expected, particularly in the countryside.

I hope you have a marvelous time.
mikedparen is offline  
Old Oct 18th, 2006, 09:04 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,100
When traveling to Siem Reap note that in the first week in november there is the
water festival and it may be difficult to get good accommodation unless you have already booked. I would therefore suggest that you go to Vietnam first.

Instead of flying to Bangkok from Penang and then on to Hanoi or HCMC, you could fly from Kuala Lumpur. The connections are better here than in Bangkok and the fare will be cheaper. On Malaysia Air it would run between $280-300 depending what city. If you choose Hanoi then you could fly on discount airline Air Asia for around $164.

From Vietnam there are flights to Siem Reap by both Vietnam and Siem Reap Airlines.To get to Sihanoukville you can take the bus to Phnom Penh ($9) and then then another to the beach town. But I would spend at least one day in the capital.

Since the beaches here are just as good as those close to Bangkok, I would skip the Thai ones and spend more time in Bangkok and up north. That is unless you really want to see the better Thai beaches further south. Or you could spend several days visiting the delightful towns of Kampot (Bokor mountain) & Kep for a day or two, that are a few hours drive from Sihanoukville.

Ream National Park Is great. When I went there were no facilities to stay. You had to arrange a guided tour, such as a jungle walk or a boat trip, through the park ranger. Things may have changed by now.

From Sihanoukville back to Bangkok you can either take the land route (boat to Koh Kong, moto to boarder, minibus to Trat and bus to Bangkok - all in one day) or bus back to PP and take an Air Asia flight to Bangkok and then on to Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai.

Scotters is offline  
Old Oct 20th, 2006, 09:11 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 6

I was happy to be going to Cambodia, and the descriptions you two have given has me even more excited! We have cut-out the Thailand beaches (can do that another time since it is so close to Penang) and added more time in Cambodia. I will definitely spend at least 3.5 days in Bangkok to check out the city.

We found our flights/buses/ferries (my own research and your help gave me the routes for over 50% less than what I was quoted by a travel agent).

I found a pretty cool massage school that we will check out and a cooking class we'll test. I'll make sure to post reviews when we get back!
Mia_Anna is offline  
Old Oct 21st, 2006, 06:39 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 28
Hi Mia Anna,

My wife and I did a similar trip to yours last year. A couple of tips that I can give you are.
1. The place to stay in Siem Reap is the FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS CLUB referred to as the FCC Tel (855-63) 760 280 Pokambor Avenue. The location,accomodation, food and service are excellent. The web site is
You will require a driver / guide and I would recommend John Teng who speaks fluent English and has a wonderful knowledge of all the temples and the Siem Reap area. Many of our friends have used John as a driver / guide and found him to be one of the most sincere people they have ever encountered. His email address is [email protected] just mention that you were referred by Mark & Chris from Australia. You will love Angkor Wat and Siem Reap.......cheers mark
zulu is offline  
Old Oct 27th, 2006, 12:53 AM
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Thanks Mark! Sounds good to us - I love knowing a guide that other people have used. We'll be sure to post reviews later!
Mia_Anna is offline  
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