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Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam trip report

Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam trip report

Jan 15th, 2005, 04:54 PM
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Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam trip report

Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam trip
4.5 weeks budget trip
First of all, heartfelt to the
Tsunami victims and survivors.
Thank you to Fodor's and message board members for helping us with our trip. Will try to post trip report in segments.

United Airlines to BKK.
12/8/05: Bangkok
Arrived late at night.
Grand Inn Hotel on Sukumvit 3, older mini hotel, lobby very small but Grand deluxe room large with comfortable king size bed and always hot water available. Approx $36 night, no breakfast. Next trip, might try Majestic Hotel on Sukumvit; Or stay at a service apartment for several months. Last year we used Priceline for ShangriLa Hotel.
Went to VSP Travel to arrange Vietnam Visa and get our tickets to Loas, Cambodia and Vietnam which we had booked previously. Bought 3 day Skytrain pass - it's good for 3 nights and 4 days.
Oriental Hotel for Lord Jim's buffet seafood lunch, approximately $25 per person.
Window shopped near Oriental Hotel and walked up Silom Street for more window shopping.
Walked up Sukumvit 3 to the canal to take boat to Grand Palace area.
The locals use the "speedy" boat, it goes very fast and you have to be very agile and quick to get off and on the boat. Otherwise, you'll miss your stop if you are not fast to get off the boat.
Tuk Tuk to Grand Palace. However the last stop to the Grand Palace is easy to get off the boat. It's the return that's tricky.
More store sightseeing, Emporium food market, Siam Square, MBK (got the Pink Christian Dior purse for a friend).
Dinner at Suan Lum night market and more night market shopping.
Finally got a Thai massage but next time will get the oil massage.
Again, took the "speedy" canal boat to sight see at National Museum, the went to old Siam shopping center to food court near Chinatown. Dinner indian food restaurant near our hotel and on to Patpong night market.
Took subway to Chatuchuk market. Lunch at Abyssina ethiopian restaurant near our hotel.
Breakfast at the Atlanta Hotel on Soi 2.
Taxi to Vinhamek mansion. Try to get there before 10:30 am as they have a show with dancers. Dress appropriately or if not, then you rent sarong cover and shawl but the rent money is returned. Rest of day went to see various service apartments as we may want to return for several months next year. Dinner at the Gallery across from the Ambassador Hotel.
Just a lazy day, seeing more service apartments, Grand President Hotel looks good - they have 3 hotels and you can negotiate the monthly price.
Lunch at Soi Polo Chicken, a local place but "it's famous" for the chicken.
Went to Sukothai Hotel for a look.
12/15/05 BKK to Chaing Rai, Wiang Inn

IsisMnroe is offline  
Jan 15th, 2005, 06:21 PM
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12/15/05 Chaing Rai
PDA Hilltribe museum and then took 1 hour cyclo tour of the city
dinner at Chaing Rai night market, catfish. Purchased a rose floral arrangement for about $1.50 for my hotel room. It's amazing! Shopped at the night market and got my fingernails painted with flower design.
Two day tour: 3500 bht per person for two days or about $24 per person per day
12/16/05 Tour to various hill tribes
Long Neck tribe, Anka?
Dinner at the local food court, Tempura, 3 shrimp, mushroom, various vegetable for only about a dollar.
12/17/05 Tour to various hill tribes
Yao Ahka Lahu Padong
Wat Phakaew? Wat Rong Sun Khun, the white temple.
Food festival just outside of Chaing Rai, my husband didnt go with me so I took a taxi. Great food. How on earth would I get back? Asked a security guard how to get a taxi and he took me back to the hotel on his scooter and refused payment. Nice people everywhere.
Hope this is not too detailed.
IsisMnroe is offline  
Jan 15th, 2005, 06:42 PM
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Next day:Chaing Rai by bus to Chaing Mai
Food court at Chaing Mai for lunch.
Shopped on Thae Pae street, went to the stores I bought from last year and was remembered by store owner.
Anchient House for dinner.
Suriwongse Hotel overnight.
Next day: walked around Aruwan market, went to Riverside Hotel for tea, might stay there next time but then would take tuk tuk to get to night market.
Whole Earth restaurant for lunch.
Afternoon, Loa airline flight to Laos, Luang Prabang, flight was delayed for about 4 hours. And we almost missed the flight because we were reading and didn't hear the flight being announced and because we thought we would see people go through the ticket area but there was a side door and another area where they departed on a bus to the airplane but we just made it. No more reading at the airport for me.
IsisMnroe is offline  
Jan 15th, 2005, 07:03 PM
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12/19/05 Laos, Luang Prabang
4 nights at Sala Prabang Hotel across from the Mekong River. Thank you to the board for this recommended and centrally located hotel. $50 a night.
We were unable to get a river view but other people said they had first floor river view room but it was too noisy with people walking on sidewalk so they opted for a back room. Best to try to get a riverside room on the 2nd floor.
Was very happy with the hotel, breakfast across the street, outside with view of the mountains and river, felt like being in Shangri La.
12/20/05 Luang Prabang
Went to the Royal Palace, bought tickets for the Apsara dance show for that night, walked up Mt Phousy.
Lunch at a local restaurant on the Mekong River, fish salad and a wonderful seaweed appetizer called taipan.
Apsara dance show that night, front row tickets.
Le Elephant Restaurant for dinner.
Next day:
Meking river cruise/tour, Pak Ou cave, Nam Thip lucky restuarant. Husband ordered fish and we saw a young man go to the river, pull out a fish on a string and go back to the restaurant - it was his fish to be cooked. Got the boatman through the hotel, approximately $20 for the both of us, and we tipped. But I think you can get it for less if you booked it on your own. It's $8 for Pak Ou Cave in morning and then in afternoon the waterfall and it's a tour with several tourist. The plus for private tour, is you can take all the time you want to tour a place or to shop. I believe the plus to take a tour with several people is to intermingle with other tourists and trade travel stories. Next city will book a tour with other tourists.
Next day: Tuk tuk to waterfall.
Booked this through the hotel. Never again. Better to book an air conditioned car. Felt quesy and dusty in the tuk tuk. But the waterfall and sightseeing with hill tribe very enjoyable. Always bought something from the children or from the adults. I don't mind people asking me to buy, I love to shop and felt if you go to their village and take pictures, it's good to reciprocate and buy from them.
Enjoyed the beautiful night market, also ate at the night market, vegetarian table. Wasnt able to leave Luang Prabang without the beautiful silk wall hanging with elephant and naga design.
12/23/05 Luang Prabang to Cambodia Siem Reap

IsisMnroe is offline  
Jan 15th, 2005, 07:28 PM
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Cambodia, Siem Reap for two nights.
12/23/04 Mandalay Inn, $20 per night
Centrally located in town. Clean.
Kulien Restaurant for buffet dinner and Apsara dance show. Dance show about 1 1/2 hour and very enjoyable with live music and beautiful dancers.
Bought that day CD of Idochine with Catherine Deneauve as I wanted to see it before we went to Vietnam. I asked a restaurant if I could see it on their TV and they said yes, I asked how much and they said you tell me so I offered $1 but they had video so I was referred to the next door restaurant with a CD TV. It worked!
And they were very gracious and brought me gratuitous tea but I had also ordered a shake. Then people around me started to watch the video. Patrons, workers, taxi drivers. I didn't realize the movie was going to be 3 hours long. The other restaurants around us started to close. I was wondering if I should leave. This restaurant kept open and then more patrons came to eat because the restuarant was still open. Wonderful, beautiful scenery in the movie. Wonderful people in Cambodia. When I walked by the restaurant the next day, they wave and say hello to me. Movie ended at 12 midnight.
12/24/05: started tour at 5 am to see sunrise at Angor Wat. I'm a little tired with little sleep.
Angor Thom
Ta prom
Angor Reach restaurant for lunch.
Finished tour about 2 pm as we were beat and dusty. You do a lot of climbing and walked on dirt roads.
Just beautiful
but one day of touring temples was just fine.
Dinner at Kmeher Kitchen restaurant near the market. Great food!
Can't remember if I got this recommendation from this board or from the Chowhound message board. But thank you anyway!
We give to the street people at the markets and to the amputees who play musical instruments at the temples.
12/25/05 More shopping at the old market and got two statues for a friend.
Then Vietnam airline to Hanoi, Vietnam in the afternoon.

IsisMnroe is offline  
Jan 15th, 2005, 07:41 PM
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great report iris...looking forward to hearing about hanoi...

which serviced apartment is your favorite and why....how have the prices been running per month??
rhkkmk is offline  
Jan 15th, 2005, 08:11 PM
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Vietnam, Hanoi
Salute Hotel - deluxe room $30 a night
Room spacious with sofa and good breakfast, eggs, bread, fruit, coffee and juice drink. Hot water for bath/shower not available all the time; I think it's on a timing device. Also hot water runs out too. It's on a shoe street and I would stay there again. Or try another hotel near Hang Gai street, the silk street. But any location in the old quarter is good as everything is walking distance.
That night they had a street faire, I think it's only on Fri Sat Sun nights.
12/26/05 Hanoi
Used the Lonely Planet walking tour recommendation of the Old Quarter and it's a fun walk, see the different streets of shoes, travel tour companies, lamps, hats, clothes, etc. Each street has their own line of type of product. Store fronts a very narrow as they are taxed by how wide it is.
Ate at Cha Ca La Vong, only has one dish. Read in the guide it's the place to be and be seen.
That day found out about the Tsunami and felt heartbroken about the victims and for the local people living in that area. Will help with donation.
Next day: Walked through the French quarter. Tried to find Hoa Sua restaurant but did not find it that day.
It's address is Hoa Sua, 28A Rue Ha Hoi, Hanoi, not at another address we found in the guide book, even the taxi cab driver took us to the old address.
At lunch at Queu Vue (or however you spell it), local place, great food.
Ate again a Cha Ca La Vong, 14 Cha Ca St.
Next day:
Ho Chi Minh mausoleum
Army Museum
Brothers Resuarant - buffet lunch
Husband went on scooter to airforce museum and I went to shop.
Dinner - street food, some rice dish with chicken, etc. Very good, lot's of locals eating.
Next day:
Halong Bay tour. Enjoyable day, good lunch. About 8 people and a child.
An Italian couple had booked a train ride from Hanoi to Hue, private cabin and gave them the money, but they found out they were booked on economy and very not very happy. And they had no hotel room booked that night in Hanoi as they thought they had a private cabin on the train that night but since they thought it was not safe they chose not to go economy on the train.
The morale to that story is if you are going to go on a train, book it on your own. Another person who we =met at a museum who lived in Vietnam did not recommend train ride even if it's private cabin.
Says 3 people to a cabin so if it is two of you, and another person books it you have someone else in the same cabin.
Also said a 12 hour train ride with hole for toilet not good. We had already booked airtravel through Vietnam.
Next day:
History museum, husband took picture of me and some high school children became very animated and happy and they took pictures with us.
Revolution Museum
Lunch at Indochine Restaurant, wanted to see the Vietnamese outfits of the restaurant workers. Went to Ipanima store to see the purses. It's near the Idochine restaurant.
Husband went his own way and I went off to explore and finally found the Hoa Soa restaurant and had chocolate mouse and coffee.
Bought ski hats for the "kids", their grown up now.
It's now the day before New Year.
Heard some music playing on the street, went to see it, they were rehearsing for New Year. Great show, lot's of entertainers. And great people watching, people and family on scooters, buses going by trying to get through the street.
Here's a tip: Lot's of shopping in Hanoi, beautiful silk items; remember if you see it and like it, buy it as it is like a new pair of red shoes, you may never see them again!
The following day we have 6:30 am flight to Hue.
IsisMnroe is offline  
Jan 15th, 2005, 08:25 PM
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Hue - Dong Toi Hotel - $25 a night
It's in a good location with nearby restaurants and some shops.
It's cold and sometimes rainy in Hue but we do not care.
Citadel - sightseeing - it reminded me of scenes from Kill Bill.
Fodor's book - used that book for sightseeing in Vietnam as it provides the top sightseeing places with a star.
La Thien restaurant for lunch - it's in the Lonely Planet Food book. Deaf mute owner, very personable and I thought he was quite loud and animated, even if he didnt speak, made you feel at home. He gave my husband his bottle opener that he makes with a wood stick and bolt and showed us pictures of people who have his bottle opener with Paris, Switzerland, and many other countries. We shall send him pictures of us in our home state with his bottle opener.
Dinner at Am Phu.
It's New Year's eve and walking back to our hotel, we found a bar called Hawaii.
Went to the bar, about 11 musicians and singers and had a great time, hostess very welcoming.
Next day:
Hue market. Bought some peanut candy with something like toffee. Sesame candy too.
Went back to La Thien for lunch.
River tour in afternoon - Duc Tomb (this again reminded me of scenes from Kill Bill) and Pagoda.
An Tao Restaurant for dinner. Got some beef wrapped in greens. Tasted great. Recommended by the waiter.
Next day: Hue
Market in the morning.
Booked a driver to take us Hue to Danang
cost $40.
IsisMnroe is offline  
Jan 15th, 2005, 08:32 PM
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Danang - Royal Hotel 2 nights
Royal Hotel not centrally located but close enough. I'm a walker.
My Khe beach restaurant for dinner.
It's formerly called China Beach.
Husband got fish for dinner and again it's fresh fish. Can see the fish swimming in their tank. I got abalone.
Great food but seemed like isolated area because they are putting roads on China Beach. Why in front of beach, why not in back of hotel? Found shells on the beach.
Next day: Danang
Cham Museum - got Apsara statue.
Bamboo restaurant for lunch. fish, and fried shrimp. No one but us there for lunch. Fried shrimp great!
Husband went on on motorbike to see where he had lived before but it was fenced off. Also he saw another military museum.
IsisMnroe is offline  
Jan 16th, 2005, 02:34 AM
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Great report. Sounds very well planned with plenty of space for spontaneous occurrences.
Gpanda is offline  
Jan 16th, 2005, 10:16 AM
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Next day: Danang to Hoi An, booked car about $25 including tour of Marble Mountain.
Marble Mountain - the tour person went with us to Marble Mountain and he spoke good English, provided history and easy way to get around.
Also stopped on the way to a cemetary.
Hotel: Ving Hung 1 - stayed in the "Michael Caine" room where Quiet American was filmed. It was my favorite hotel on this trip. No amenities but I love antiques.
Went to the market and looking for lunch. A young girl recommended restaurant Hoi An Hai San, D64 Bach Dang Street and we had won ton, white roses and another dish, husband had a beer or two and I had a juice shake and it was very very reasonable $6 to $8 I think; it was like eating at a fine dining restaurant.
As we left, the young girl had waited for us and wanted to take us to her aunties cloth shop. So we followed her, it was a little walk but we did because of her recommendation had been so good. When we got there I told the lady that I had some clothes I wanted copied and made so they arranged for some young girls to take us on a scooter back to our hotel and take us back again with the clothes. I did. We also gave them some clothes for laundry and they arranged for us as well.
We had one men's short with ball bag ($10), capri silk pants $7?, simple dress with no zipper $10, dress with zipper $14. Next day got dress fitted and pants were wonderful so I got 4 more made in different colors, patterned silk and solid colors. It may not all be silk as I did not want to dry clean. This material is washable by machine and no iron. I was very pleased.
It's located in the Cloth Shop market, called Nguyen.
I had other clothes made, silk top $10, sport skirt.
If you are hard to fit, bring your favorite clothes and they will copy it for you; otherwise they have pattern books and you pick what you like.
Best to stay 3 days or more if you want clothes made.
Dinner: Cafe de Armis
Ice Cream: Tam Tam cafe
Went to Dance show on the next street for 40 dong. But it's on the same ticket that you buy for 5 tourist spots (museum, merchant house, etc) so buy that ticket first. Show was enjoyable as it also had live music.
Next day:
Back to Hoi An Hai Son for preset lunch.
Too much food for lunch. It's about $8 for the preset lunch.
Small dinner at Van Lu, 87 Tran Phu for cao lau, famous noodle dish made with well water.
Next day: rented motor scooter
Went to Cua dai beach and Victoria Hoi An Hotel, took pictures with the elephant.
That day in Hoi An, they were shooting a movie, a famous Thai young lady. She was riding a bicycle with flower baskets. I rushed back to hotel to get the camera. Got pictures of her. She walked down the street and stood in front of an antique door and let people take pictures of her in her beautiful Ao dai (Vietnamese national dress). It has pants with an overdress with slits up the side. I must say, in Danang, the young high school girls wore ao dais, all in white. They looked so feminine wearing the ao dai and riding their bicycles.
The Thai actress was also staying at the Ving Hung1 hotel.
Dinner: Van Lu restaurant. Great again!
Next day: Saw another dance/music show at 10:15 am, this is about 20 minutes and they tell people about the night show they have which is about 1 hour long.
Try coffee the Vietnamese way. Stainless steel pot on top of the cup. Boiled water is poured into the steel pot and coffee drips down. You can buy the pot in the markets. Get the stainless steel pot, not the aluminum pot.
Please excuse my rambling, typos but if I don't write this now, it will never get done
IsisMnroe is offline  
Jan 16th, 2005, 10:26 AM
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Next day: Ho Chi Minh City
Hoi An (car $10) to Danang Airport to Ho Chi Minh City
Rex Hotel - 3 nights $68 a night
Booked a deluxe room and I had wanted a room looking out at the square but
they put us in the back of the hotel. It did not have the crown lamp so I went back and they let me look at another room, in the middle looking at the court restaurant and
it was underneath the restaurant 5th floor but it was larger and much nicer with vanity table and chair so we took it. It also had a balcony. There are weddings held in the court yard on the nights we were there but it ends at 9 pm so it was quiet after that and we were out till at least 9 pm some nights. A person who incidentally from my home town was at the reception desk overheard my converstion and since his suite was on the same floor as my new room he offered to let me see his suite which was about $118, a very large room with king size bed, another room with twin beds and also a sitting room. Don't know where he got this great rate!
Arrived afternoon,
walked downtown, very brief window shopping as was with husband
Dinner at restaurant #19. Had the recommended cuttlefish dish.
Next day:
Cholon market
More shopping downtown.
Back at the Rex hotel found more fruit, lychee and also a coconut shell drink.
For dinner wanted to go to
La Bibliotech restaurant - asked our hotel to make reservations and they said no need.
So when we took taxi to that restaurant we found out it had been closed for two years!
This restaurant recommended by Lonely Planet food book.
But since I had gone back to the Cholon Market that day, I found out they close at night and
the street outside the market is set up with tables with tablecloths. So this is where we had dinner.
Wonderful dinner too.
Next day:
Chinatown market. Great people watching place. Watch the young men carry items on their back down the stairs. How do they do this, they are very thin.
More different fruit in the room at the Rex.
Dinner near the market again. Crab spring rolls, shrimp cane, pork in hot pot.
Opera: Orchestra and Swan Lake ballet.
Rex Hotel roof bar for drinks, good band.
Back to Rex Hotel - our room did not smell right. Called the hotel desk. Got to see another room in back. Moved again. Bed very hard but on 5th floor with view of roofs and sky and had balcony.
Rex Hotel was fun, bought Rex Hotel coffee cups and dishes. Even though some things were not quite right with the room(s), when asked, they always found another room for us.
IsisMnroe is offline  
Jan 16th, 2005, 10:39 AM
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HCMC to Bangkok
Last night of the trip:
Returned to the Grand Inn.
Couldnt find my ticket for my stored bag but the bellperson knew who I was and went to get my bag, I just described the bag. Everything in the bag.
Dinner: A local seafood place, has different restaurants with tables outside. Shrimp salad, fried calamarie, fried shrip. Food good! The green curry was a little spicy.
Next morning we are returning home.
IsisMnroe is offline  
Jan 16th, 2005, 10:45 AM
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Forgot to write that at Halong Bay tour trip, another couple told us we were seen the day before at Cha Ca La Vong restaurant. I got a chuckle out of that since I had read in the guidebook, Cha Ca La Vong restaurant is the "To be and be seen restaurant"!

It was an enjoyable trip.
The people are welcoming and charming.
We want to return to Southeast Asia.
IsisMnroe is offline  
Jan 16th, 2005, 11:11 AM
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re: service apartments
The contact person at President Park Group is "Pink". Her e-mail address
[email protected].
I'm still looking for the sheets of prices for the President apartments she gave us.
IsisMnroe is offline  
Jan 17th, 2005, 02:10 PM
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Re: Service Apts
Grand President 2004 rate:
Topaz Studio, 26 sqm 30,000 bht
Executive Studio, 32 sqm, 38,000 bht
Royal Suite, 50 sqm, 66,000
Grand Suite, 60 sqm, 70,000
Subject to 10% service charge except for monthly rates
inclusive of utilities charge, daily cleaning of room and linen service 4 x wk.
The other two President hotels has different rates, one has wooden floor, looks nice, the other is older but more room. These two are on street that has very very narrow sidewalks
IsisMnroe is offline  

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