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'The Plan', Vietnam & Cambodia March/April any thoughts?

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Oct 21st, 2011, 02:39 AM
  #1
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'The Plan', Vietnam & Cambodia March/April any thoughts?

So I've spent a 'full' day getting this sorted and I can't see too many issues with it (gulp).

We are only flexible as to our departure dates due to the dates of the cruise.

Departing either March 15th or 22nd.

Fly Brisbane to Bangkok via Melbourne (Jetstar B/class), where we will meet up with our friends.
1 x night Bangkok airport hotel.
Fly to Siem Reap with Bangkok airways (any thoughts on this airline?)
2 x nights to explore the area.
Start our 7 x night Mekong River cruise on either The Ms Amalotus or Ms La Marguerite depending on departure dates. (any thoughts on these cruises?
Disembark in HCMC & spend 2 x nights exploring this city.
Fly to Hanoi with Jetstar. 2 x nights to explore.
Overnight train to Sapa for 2 x nights staying at the Chapa garden boutique hotel.
Overnight train to Hanoi.
1 x night Halong Bay Cruise
1 x night Hotel (maybe airport hotel)
April 5th or 12th flights home with Singapore airlines.

So that’s it, love some critique and/or any additional suggestion.

We are all 49yrs old, well travelled. Love great scenery, awesome photo op's and local food.

Thanks as always.
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Oct 21st, 2011, 05:05 AM
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why do you need to go to melbourne - you are going backwards. what about other airlines that go direct Brisbane to Bangkok.
Have flown Jetstar B/class, and it is really not in the same league as the other airlines b/class.
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Oct 21st, 2011, 06:37 AM
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My comment is that you are in transit a lot for the sake of a day or so at certain destinations. I'm assuming that two nights means one full day in between, e.g., at Siem Reap. That hardly seems enough time there, or in Hanoi for that matter. But, I can see that everything is built around the 7 night Mekong cruise, which means you're committing half your trip to one thing.
Bangkok Airways is good, but consider Vietnam Air in preference to Jetstar.
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Oct 21st, 2011, 07:58 AM
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Two nights at a destination is a mere one day. That's certainly not enough time for Angkor nor enough time for Hanoi.

If you can't add a few days to your trip to give you enough time to enjoy all these places, then I'd suggest you do some cutting. It's easiest to cut either Sapa or Halong Bay (though cutting Halong Bay only gives you one more night somewhere).

Get yourself a copy of Dawn Rooney's book, Angkor: A Guide to Cambodia's Wondrous Temples. It will help you figure out how much time you'll need at Angkor. It takes three full days just to see the so-called major temples. If you are really interested in the temples, you'll need more time (we spent a week, could have used even more time). If you have little interest in the temples, then your one day may be enough for you.

Bangkok Air is a fine airline, and it's your only choice for flying from Bangkok to Siem Reap.
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Oct 21st, 2011, 08:30 AM
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My only comment is don't even consider staying at an airport hotel in Hanoi.
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Oct 21st, 2011, 09:50 AM
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Better Mekong cruise IMHO:
http://www.heritage-line.com/
but probably booked out.
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Oct 21st, 2011, 10:21 AM
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I agree with others that you need longer in Siem Reap.

And my experience in Halong Bay was meh, I'd give it a miss. Our weather was not nice so that was part of the problem but even if it was I don't think that long drive all the way there & back is worth it for one night. FWIW.
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Oct 21st, 2011, 11:11 AM
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Leslie, I agree with you, but I'm always hesitant to say so!
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Oct 21st, 2011, 11:50 AM
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That makes three of us.
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Oct 21st, 2011, 12:36 PM
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http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...ia-s-later.cfm

Crellston makes four.
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Oct 21st, 2011, 03:36 PM
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Thanks one and all. Bit disappointing...I'd hoped for one positive ah well, thats why I asked.

Yes we are aware going to Melbourne is going 'backwards' to go forwards. Most economical way to do it and it worked out for picking the others up. Fully aware that Jetstar b/c wont be a patch on other airlines, but for the cost it works well as we can take luggage without penalty and dh enjoys the extra leg room.

Maybe Halong Bay but not o/night?

As for Siem Reap, none of us are that into Temples (I know thats probably gonna get me slammed).

Sapa, yes it is only one full day in theory, but we will arrive before breakfast on day one, have a full day and don't leave 'till after dinner on the 3rd day. So we were hoping that would give us a taste.

sf7307 thanks for the airport hotel advice, we will use the time to see more of Hanoi and stay in the city.

dogster I will check out the river cruise site you sent me, thanks.

Thanks all.
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Oct 21st, 2011, 04:04 PM
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Going to Halong Bay without an overnight means you'll spend a whole day in a car driving to and from. If it's worth it to you to see Halong Bay, then I'd say it's worth staying overnight.

You are spending a lot of time in transit (not counting the cruise). Two nights each place means you are spending every second day traveling - often the whole day. For me that is way too much transit time for the amount of time I get to enjoy a place.
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Oct 21st, 2011, 09:55 PM
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Re-thinking Sapa although our traveling companion has her heart set on it, maybe they can go off and do that and we can linger in Hanoi.
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Oct 22nd, 2011, 12:39 AM
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Wow that is some itinerary!

I reckon that you will be spending around 50% of your time travelling without seeing a great deal. If "none of us are that into Temples" why bother with SR at all (unless you need to be there for your cruise)? Although Angkor IS spectacular

Sapa is great but two long overnight journeys in 3 days on quite rough rail tracks is likely to play havoc with your sleep patterns. I only went one way and didn't get a wink of sleep. That said the time you would have there is plenty to see the town and do a day hike out in the valley (highly recommended).

sf7307 has already highlighted my feelings re Halong bay and I would definitely give that a miss.

I doubt you will regret spending more time in Hanoi it is definitely a place to "linger". There is lots to see and it is sometime just nice to wander around absorbing the atmosphere of the place. If you want to get out into the country, there is some spectacular scenery in the Mai Chau valley which is easily reached from Hanoi and great for a homestay for a night or two. Not as dramatic as Sapa but it comes close -I actually prefer it to Sapa.
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Oct 22nd, 2011, 02:07 AM
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a good airport Bangkok hotel, is the Novotel. excellent.
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Oct 22nd, 2011, 02:17 AM
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AMAlotus is a good experience.. Very port intensive, not much down time, many places you would not be able to visit by land.. helpful staff, good food. Nice cabins and bath. Book a 200 number cabin or above.
We spent three nights in Siem Reap and really enjoyed visiting the temples, different from each other.
Love the Cambodian people too. Heavy flooding during our visits there and along the Mekong.
Hanoi deserves more time. Don't skip Halong Bay and spend the night on a junk.
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Oct 22nd, 2011, 03:23 AM
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Thanks all, boy there sure is some differing opinions. Love it.

Thanks millie2112, I'll check it out.

Happy Trvlr, thanks sounds great.

Yes we need to start the cruise in Siem Reap and yes we will spend our time there at Angor. When I said not 'into temples' I'm sure most of you understood what I meant was, we don't need to spend every minute of every day at temples.

Thanks all, much appreciated.
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Oct 22nd, 2011, 03:25 AM
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Actually, all the Mekong river cruises go to exactly the same places and do exactly the same thing. It just a question of style.

Here's a link to my fabulous Jayavarman story:
dogster5.wordpress.com/looking-for-jayavarman-home/

Use that company or not, either way, you'll get the idea.
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Oct 22nd, 2011, 11:25 AM
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Aussie, we were in Siem Reap for 4nights and 3-1/2 days. We only spent two of them visiting temples - one long day and one very long day. But we are also "temples lite" travelers - we like the overview, not the PhD! That said, while we liked Angkor, it was not even close to our favorite - that would be either Ta Prohm, then Beng Melea, and Bantay Srei, and Kbal Spean (not a temple, but a lovely hike to a riverbed containing ancient carvings). . Frankly, we've been back 7 months and I couldn't tell you one detail about any of the carvings or the history of the temples - we're more interested in the architecture and the archaeology, and the overgrowth, etc. (FWIW, the other 1-1/2 days were spent at the pool and poking around the town).
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Oct 22nd, 2011, 03:37 PM
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Terrific, thanks sf7307 & dogster. Departure dates are not locked in (this week hopefully) we may decided on one more day in Siem Reap, but either way we will make the most of our time. I love the "we like the overview, not the PhD!" comment, sums it up perfectly. I will have a look at your other suggestion re temples.
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