Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos

Old Feb 20th, 2019, 08:35 AM
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Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos

We're taking a 19 day tour starting in Hanoi and ending in Luang Prabang. Flying to Hanoi from San Francisco, CA and thinking of flying from Luang Prabang back to Hanoi and onto SFO because it's a lot cheaper than flying from LP to SFO. We want to use the airline sites instead of a discount site because I understand if something goes awry, it's better to have a ticket directly from the airline (is this info correct?). A few airlines fly these routes and I wanted input as to which airline is the best in reliability, customer service, etc. We are a retired couple and want to make this special trip as smooth as possible. Any suggestions are welcome.
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Old Feb 20th, 2019, 09:24 AM
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What's your full proposed itinerary?

Less = More, so 3 countries in 19 days is pushing it more than just a little bit.

Reliability often relates to the weather rather than the airline. Schedules change regularly too. The earlier you book, the greatr the chance that the scheduled times will change.

Last edited by LancasterLad; Feb 20th, 2019 at 09:27 AM.
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Old Feb 20th, 2019, 11:44 AM
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By "a 19 day tour" I take it to mean a package tour of some kind? Though I too think it sounds rushed, if it is an arranged tour and logistics are taken care of by a tour company. it would likely be less of a problem. The exchange for that may be not having a choice of itinerary but I realize it's worth the compromise for some.

What airlines, specifically, are you considering? You might also look into flying to Bangkok from LP, rather than Hanoi, to check prices on flights home.
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Old Feb 21st, 2019, 11:48 AM
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My immediate thoughts are similar to MmePerdu and would consider an open jaw ticket say into Hanoi and out of Saigon or Bangkok. Flights into Luang Prabang are only just beginning to open up in terms of completion. For some reason HAN-LP always seems to be more expensive than Bangkok to LP or even Saigon to LP. It may help other to help you if you posted your itinerary, there may be some routes or options that haven’t occurred to you.

I agree that it is nearly always better (and usually cheaper) to book directly online with the airline. You are kept advised of changes, can generally check in online, choose seats get boarding cards etc. Some agents like Expedia sometimes offer this but 90% of the time it is easier and cheaper to book direct.

As far as airlines are concerned, I am a great fan of Air Asia, having used them dozens of times all over Asia Vietnam , Korea, Japan, Indonesia. Very punctual reliable, cheap if you book in advance and an excellent service. Vietnam Airways are pretty good as are Bangkok Airways. Which ones you use largely depends on which routes you fly as they obviously don’t all fly the same routes.

One thing I would suggest is that you ensure that your spend your first and last nights in the acities of arrival and departure.
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Old Feb 21st, 2019, 12:05 PM
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Just another point of agreement, I too am a fan of Air Asia, as well as routes & pricing have found their customer service the best. Compared to all airlines, not just the low cost carriers. I don't consider the others if I can fly with them.
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Old Feb 25th, 2019, 11:19 AM
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Thank you, everyone for taking the time to answer my question.

We are taking a private tour so everything (lodging, meals, flights, transportation, guides) will be completely taken care of. We can change the itinerary if we wanted, staying in some places longer or shortening other stays, but since we've never been to that part of the world, it's hard to know where to add, shorten or delete. Their itinerary: Han Oi for 2 nights (if we return to CA from Hanoi, we can stay an extra couple of nights), Halong Bay and overnight cruise, Hoi An for 3 nights, Hue for 1 night, Ho Chi Minh for 2 nights, Mekong Delta area for 2 nights, Phnom Penh for 2 nights, Siem Reap for 2 nights, Luang Prabang for 3 nights. If you have any suggestions where you would change the itinerary, I am open and thankful to have then. And we can add a couple of nights to our itinerary if we wanted to (Hanoi to Luang Prabang)

Flying to Bangkok or Saigon would be back tracking since we'll be starting in Hanoi, down to the Ho Chi Minh area, onto the Pnnom Penh area and ending up in Luang Prabang, so I think that a round trip to Hanoi would be best (with the present itinerary) And I was reminded that we are Delta members, so I think we'll take DL to and from Hanoi if the price is reasonable so we can accrue some miles.
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Old Feb 25th, 2019, 12:43 PM
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Two nights only really allows one full day for sightseeing so, with that in mind, I would definitely add a night to Hue. one full day is needed to see the Imperial Citadel and a couple of the tombs, both very worthwhile and are usually combined with a trip on the perfume river up to the pagoda.

Hanoi is worth at least 3-4 days, so if you can add a day or two I would do it there. 3 nights is enough to see Luang Prabang which is very small. You could get around it in a day and spend part of one day at Pac Ou caves, Kuang Si waterfall or around the villages across the river.

One full day in Phnom Penh will be sufficient to cover the main sights such as the National Palace, Tuol Sleng, The Killing Fields and the central market. The Russian Market is overrated IMO.

Depending on flight times, you could have 1-1.5 days in Angkor, enough to see a handful of the major temples. if you really like temples/antiquities add more time there. Many people would say that is nowhere near enough time but when we took my in laws there for their wedding anniversary they were more than happy with that amount of time.
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Old Feb 25th, 2019, 12:46 PM
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Remember that two night in a place is just one full day. One night in a place is 0 full days, just a couple of hours one afternoon and a couple of hours in the morning. So I don't recommend one night stays, especially in SE Asia where travel glitches can make transit from one location to another much longer than you anticipate. And two nights in a place is just one full day.

IMO, 2 nights is not nearly enough for Hanoi, which has much to do and see. I'd add at least a couple of nights to that. And adda night to Hue so you can see the major attractions.

You have just two nights in Siem Reap. If you have little interest in the temples, that may be enough, but if you have some interest, you would want at least three full days just to see the major temples. If you are really entered in Angkor, your would want even more time. Do look for Dawn Rooney's book, Angkor: A Guide to Cambodia's Wondrous Temples. This will help you prepare for Angkor and may help you determine how long to stay

SE Asia is a fascinating part of the world. It rewards slow travel. If you move too fast, you will get little out of your short stays in each country, and it will all be a blur. Three countries in 19 days is trying to cover too much territory in too little time.
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Old Feb 26th, 2019, 01:01 AM
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Originally Posted by crellston View Post
Two nights only really allows one full day for sightseeing so, with that in mind, I would definitely add a night to Hue. one full day is needed to see the Imperial Citadel and a couple of the tombs, both very worthwhile and are usually combined with a trip on the perfume river up to the pagoda.

Hanoi is worth at least 3-4 days, so if you can add a day or two I would do it there. 3 nights is enough to see Luang Prabang which is very small. You could get around it in a day and spend part of one day at Pac Ou caves, Kuang Si waterfall or around the villages across the river.

One full day in Phnom Penh will be sufficient to cover the main sights such as the National Palace, Tuol Sleng, The Killing Fields and the central market. The Russian Market is overrated IMO.

Depending on flight times, you could have 1-1.5 days in Angkor, enough to see a handful of the major temples. if you really like temples/antiquities add more time there. Many people would say that is nowhere near enough time but when we took my in laws there for their wedding anniversary they were more than happy with that amount of time.
After the horrors of the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng, the Russian Market is handy for a bit of down-time, shade from the unrelenting heat. Also a few decent places to eat around there.
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