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copilot Oct 23rd, 2005 07:27 AM

Thailand/Vietnam - help w/ 6 week itinerary
My husband and are planning a possibly once-in-a-lifetime adventure: 6 weeks in Thailand and Vietnam, with a stop at Angkor Wat. Fodorites have given us indispensable advice in the past, so I hope you can provide some thoughts on our potential itinerary.

For some background, we are mid-30's and mid-40's. Our only previous travel to Asia was 2 weeks spent in Malaysia earlier this year (and we couldn't wait to get back!) In Malaysia, we especially loved Penang, Melaka, and Cameron Highlands - we love exploring the nooks and crannies of cities and small towns, but like to see small villages and the countryside as well, and like to get a bit off the beaten track. Due to a recent knee injury, we can't do any hiking or trekking, unless it's from the back of an elephant. We want to see as much as we can, and normally pack a lot of adventures into a day, but we don't want to be packing/unpacking our bags every day to move to a new hotel, and we like to spend a few days in a place so we have time to really explore all the back streets. Wedo want to spend some time relaxing, and plan a few days here and there on the beach, but not more than that. And we're much more into eating at a hawkers stand for a few cents and finding inexpensive treasures at local markets and flea markets than dining in fancy restaurants and shopping for clothing, jewelry, etc. Hope this gives you some idea what we are looking for in a vacation. I've just begun planning, but with the help of the many postings on this site, and a few guidebooks, here are my initial thoughts:

Day 1 - Arrive BKK
Days 2-6 - BKK
Day 7 - Fly to Chiang Mai
Days 8-9 - Chiang Mai
Day 10 - Chiang Mai, Elephant Sanctuary
Day 11 - Fly to Mae Hong Son
Day 12 - Mae Hong Son
Day 13 - Travel to Chiang Rai (car/driver?)
Days 14-16 - Chiang Rai
Day 17 - Fly (via BKK?) to Phi Phi
Days 18-20 - Phi Phi
Day 21 - Travel Phi Phi (via BKK?) to Angkor Wat
Days 22-24 - Angkor Wat
Day 25 - Fly to HCMC
Days 26-27 - HCMC
Days 28-29 - Trip to the Mekong Delta
Day 30 - Fly (via HCMC) to Nha Trang
Days 31-32 - Nha Trang
Day 33 - Travel to Hoi An (by bus?)
Days 34-36 - Hoi An
Day 37 - Bus from Hoi An to Hue
Day 38 - Fly from Hue to Hanoi
Days 39-41 - Hanoi
Days 42-43 - overnight trip to Halong Bay
Days 44-45 - Hanoi, w/ maybe a day trip to Ninh Binh
Day 46 - Depart Hanoi to BKK to home

Please let me know what you think - are there places I should add, leave out? I'm also interested on thoughts regarding transportation. I don't want to spend too much time in airports; we'll fly when it's a long distance, but I'm also fine with using air conditioned coach-style buses, or a car/driver when it's more convenient and would give us a taste of the countryside or let us stop at little towns along the way. Let me know what you think - we appreciate any advice you can offer.

rhkkmk Oct 23rd, 2005 09:21 AM

you need one or preferably two more days at siem reap...especially with the knee situations...3 full days is the minimum, imo...

also feel you might want at least one more full day in hanoi itself...

i would like to steer you away from street food in thailand and cambodia and also are possibly looking for trouble if you don't...

glorialf Oct 23rd, 2005 10:11 AM

BOB-I think you read her itinerary wrong. They have 3 full days in Siem reap and 4 days in Hanoi.

I think your itinerary looks great.

laurieco Oct 23rd, 2005 10:32 AM

I agree with Gloria, this looks like a wonderful trip with a good amount of time in each place. With a knee injury, I doubt you will be doing a lot climbing at Angkor so 3 full days there is enough.

Kathie Oct 23rd, 2005 10:43 AM

THis looks pretty good to me. It's too much moving around for my taste, but given what you've told us about yourselves, it appears to meet your preferences.

A couple of things to check on: getting to and from PhiPhi is likely to be a full day ordeal from Chaing Rai and to Siem Reap. Frankly, I don't know how else to change the order of places that you are visiting, but I wanted to flag it for you so you can see what the connections will be like.
You might also consider that your transits thorugh HCMC take up a lot of time. I don't know if it would be possible to go from Siem Reap to HCMC and immediately on to the Delta or not, but it would mean that your time wouldn't be as chopped up.

Basically, I'm talking about the details that I'm sure you'll iron out as you begin to firm up your plans.

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