Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia in June

Old May 16th, 2015, 09:21 AM
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Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia in June

We are in the beginning stages of thinking about a trip to S.E. Asia in June, 2016. We have to go in the summer as my husband is a teacher so the earliest we could leave would be around June 7th. If I'm reading prices right and we could keep hotel costs to around $100-$150 night average we could probably swing up to 3 weeks.

Our interests are history/nature/food and culture - we care less about nightlife and adventure (in our fifties so long treks or rock climbing are not for us, but would enjoy snorkeling or easy kayaking, several hour hikes).

Initial itinerarythought:
4 nights Bangkok
3 nights beach resort

Question One: I gather the Western gulf is the best that time of year - or is a beach town wasted in June?
3 nights Chiang Mai
3 nights Siem Riep
1 week in Myanmar - maybe including a river cruise

Question Two - while on the map Chiang Mai and Siem Riep look close to each other I gather the only way to get from one to the other would be to fly back to Bangkok - can this be done in a day (getting from one to the other)?

Question three: how safe/easy to use is air travel in that region?

All advice and insights would be most welcome. Thank you in advance.
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Old May 16th, 2015, 12:26 PM
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Air travel in SE Asia is easy, safe and cheap.

But you are trying to do too much. You will lose half a day to most of a day each time you change locations - think of from the time you check out of lodging in one place until you check in at the next place. So four nights somewhere is just three full days.

If you want a beach location, the Gulf of Thailand (rather than the Andaman Sea) is where you want to be.

If you have an interest in Angkor, get a copy of Dawn Rooney's book, Angkor: A Guide to Cambodia's Wondrous Temples. It takes three full days just to visit the major temples. If you are really interested, you'll want more time (we spent a week there). You can get from CM to SR in a day, but as you note, you have to change planes in Bangkok. You will want to make sure you are arriving and leaving from the same airport in Bangkok for these flights.

I wouldn't try to do Myanmar in a week, and certainly not if you plan to include a river cruise.

Your first task is to decide which destinations are most important to you. This is an area of the world that rewards slow travel. If you move too fast, you'll miss what is important. I think you have two trips worth of destinations on your list. I'd opt for 10 days for a first visit to Myanmar. And do think about your level of interest in temples - I don't necessarily recommend both Angkor and Myanmar in the same trip. How many temples can you visit before you get temple fatigue?

You might find our travel photos to be helpful: www.marlandc.com
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Old May 16th, 2015, 01:37 PM
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Wow Kathy, your pictures are amazing (as is your uploading to internet ability - a growth edge for me). I had to laugh...when I took my kids to England years ago the local guide we worked with gently suggested to me that I had too many castles on my itinerary to which I replied, "too many castles, say it ain't so!"

so too many temples hunh - say it ain't so. seriously you have an excellent point.

I suspect I'm trying to crowd so much in knowing that this may well be our only trip to the region.

so if you had to choose, and it was June - would you include some time at the beach or is that a waste in June...and are Angor Wat and the temples in Chiang Mai much of the same or totally different. I am fascinated by the idea of visiting the elephant reserve near Chiang Mai

I really appreciate your advice - the Fodors print guide makes it all look so easy.
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Old May 16th, 2015, 02:25 PM
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Personally, I'd skip the beach. Myanmar is an amazing place and I'd put it at the top of my list (and plan for a good 10 days). The temples in Chiang Mai are quite different from those at Angkor or Bagan. I'm personally not fond of Chiang Mai, though many people love it. Don't go there for temples - the big temples in Bangkok are more striking examples of "working wats" IMO. If you want to interact with elephants near CM, choose the Elephant Nature Park. Most places in SE Asia with elephants treat them very badly. All the places you see reviewed on Trip Advisor are to be actively avoided.

I'm a real temple fanatic and could visit both Angkor and Bagan in the same trip, but I'd rather divide it into two trips, I think you'll get more out of it.

So if you have 14 nights, I'd opt for 10 nights in Myanmar and 4 in Bangkok. If you find you love SE Asia, you'll be back. I think it is more important to have a full experience of the places you visit than to visit so many places it is all a blur.

Next trip go to Angkor and to Luang Prabang, Laos.
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Old May 18th, 2015, 07:14 AM
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I highly recommend Angkor, but you would need a few more days there to really see it all. I only had 3 full days there my first go-around and it was not enough! (I didn't know of Fodor's/Fodorite's knowledge at that time!)

I'm headed to Myanmar this week (eeep!) for 15 days, and already know I'll most likely need to return for more time
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Old May 18th, 2015, 07:16 AM
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Also, I wanted to mention, on my last day in Yangon, I upgraded to what I believe, is a really lovely hotel, and as it's the low season, a room including breakfast is $125/night, so unless you're looking at 5 Stars, I think your budget for hotels is quite reasonable
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Old May 18th, 2015, 08:33 AM
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Hey, needmore, have a great time in Myanmar. I'll look forward to your report when you return.
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Old May 18th, 2015, 10:01 AM
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Thanks Kathie!!
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Old May 18th, 2015, 07:30 PM
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Thanks Kathie and Needmore...this is all so helpful. I'm curious Kathie why you prefer Myanmar to Thailand...and if one did do 10 nights in Myanmar how would you allot the time? And Needmore, have a great trip - I look forward to reading your trip report.
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Old May 18th, 2015, 08:44 PM
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Laura, I've been to Thailand more than 2 dozen times since the 1980s. I like Thailand, Bangkok is my favorite city in the world. But Burma was essentially cut off from the world for 50 years. So visiting Burma was, and to some extent still is, time travel.

For a first trip to Myanmar, I'd recommend 4 nights at Bagan, 4 nights at Inle Lake, 2 nights in Yangon. Your interests and needs are likely different from mine, so a different configuration might work better for you.

You might find it useful to look at our two sets of Burma photos, 2009 and 2011 at www.marlandc.com
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Old May 20th, 2015, 07:46 PM
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Thanks Kathie, I really do appreciate all your advice (and love your photos). I think we need to sit with this for a little - I am definitely sold on wanting to visit Myanmar and Thailand, but am wondering if it might make sense to wait for a time in our lives when we can visit when the weather is more felicitous and less wet. I'm thinking it might not make sense to go on our "trip of a lifetime" and spend it all soggy and hopelessly hot. but then again, maybe we will chance it. Thanks all./
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Old May 21st, 2015, 05:58 PM
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I wouldn't worry too much about the rain in June. It will pour sometimes. Usually for a short period and then its fine again. Also when ever you go its likely to be hot. Myanmar is changing rapidly so I'd recommend going sooner rather than later. I agree with Kathie, Inle lake and Bagan are 'must see' places.

If you go to Cambodia you can get very nice accommodation with pool for a lot less than $100 - $150 a night. Therefore you might be able to stretch to a couple of extra days.
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