Where to begin?

Old Nov 1st, 2011, 05:37 PM
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Where to begin?

I have the opportunity to connect with friends( who will be there for 4 months) in SE Asia in January 20112.Their itinerary is flexible, and they will meet me wherever it works best. I would like to make the best of four weeks to see some of Thailand, Bangkok, Vietnam, Cambodia and Lao. I love traveling solo but also want to spend about half my time with them.

I am completely open at this point, but am thinking to fly into (and returning from) Bangkok about mid-January.

I am wide open to ideas and itineraries. I am a spunky, fit "over-60" (just!) woman, I am open to doing a fair bit of walking (getting my orthodics in order!)but not into hiking/ trekking nor 'roughing it". I do not need first class anything, just clean and safe accomodations for a single female traveller; am very open and adventurous when it comes to new experiences, food and people...but not naive nor foolish (I did learn a thing or two in 60 years!). I have done lots of travelling, Peru, Africa, Europe but never solo. I think I need some encouragement as my very conservative home-body of a partner is happy for me to travel with my friends but he is not convinced I should be travelling solo through countries where English is not spoken .
I am not wealthy but do not have to rough-it. Accomodations could be a nicer class of B&B, or clean respectable hotel, I will travel with a suitcase, not a backpack. I am ok to travel on domestic airlines or trains.
A few things I think are must-do's for me: 1)see the highlights of Bangkok
2) Elephant conservatory in Lampang Province
3) Siem Reap
4) finish off the trip with a few days on beaches before returning home
5) anything interesting, creative, different. ...
6)...and one must-not-do: spend a whole lot of precious time in hoards of tourists(yes, like myself) other than the (must-seeès)
I would be grateful to any and all suggestions including a rough itinerary.
Looking forward to all your ideas...help me spend my time and money!
Ellgie is offline  
Old Nov 1st, 2011, 06:30 PM
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What a wonderful opportunity for you! This part of the world is remarkably safe for a solo woman traveler.

You have a good start in your thinking about this trip. I note than three of your four must-dos are in Thailand. And Thailand is a great place to start for someone who has not been to this part of the world. The infrastructure is well-developed and many of the people you have contact with will speak English.

So far, I have on my destination list for you Bangkok, Chiang Mai (to access the Thai Elephant Conservation Center), a Thai beach, either something in the Phuket area or at Hua Hin, and Siem Reap. Since this is a part of the world that rewards slow travel, I'd add just one more destination. My recommendation would be Luang Prabang, Laos.

For air travel look into Bangkok Airlines Discovery Pass. The flights to/from Siem Reap are expensive, and the Discovery Pass can save you some money. You have to fly at least three legs on Bangkok Air, and you might well fly more legs, if you opt for Luang Prabang.

You will need visas for both Cambodia and Laos, but these can be purchased on arrival.
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Old Nov 1st, 2011, 07:10 PM
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first of all, there are no worries about travelling solo, many of our members do this frequently as women.

your trip will be significantly enhanced by choosing your hotels carefully. tell us an approx. amount you wish to spend per night.

the discount airlines frequently mentioned here are a good way to get around the area: air asia, bangkok air.

bkk is a fab city and you must spend a min of 5 nights there. you can do it all by yourself or use one of the driver/guides spoken of here: tong and rat come to mind. they will simplify your travel experience.

hua hin by car, or krabi, khao lak, phuket or koh samui by plane are the best beach locations

come back to us with more specifics and we will be glad to help you
rhkkmk is offline  
Old Nov 1st, 2011, 08:49 PM
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I second Kathie on adding Luang Prabang to your itinerary. It is an amazing, walkable village/town with great restaurants, wonderful b&b style hotels, beautiful temples, lovely people. We used the Discovery Pass to fly BKK to Laos, then Laos via BKK to Siem Reap -- but another way to structure it would be (if I had the time you do, I would think about this): BKK, trip to Siem Reap, then to Luang Prabang, a 2 day river trip up the Mekong on a teak riverboat, with an overnight in a lodge half way that looks nothing less than idyllic -- here's the web site: http://www.luangsay.com then time in Chiang Rai (Golden Triangle), then the Elephant Conservancy/Chiang Mai before ending in a beach town in Thailand.

If you do the Luang Say trip -- I want to see tons of pictures -- we had seriously thought about that for this year. Also, if you remotely like spa treatments -- some of the best I've had in my life were in Siem Reap and Laos -- there some specific techniques that are definitely country specific, and the treatments are really reasonable compared to the West -- even at very nice resorts.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2011, 02:35 PM
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I would like to add what I felt was a very important piece of advice from Elainee.

"Make sure every person has two empty facing pages in their passport. Cambodia is very strict about that. I didn't and was keep in passport control for more than an hour and finally they let me in because the people were there from my hotel (Raffles) and they knew what to do to get the officials to sell me a visa. It did cost me extra. People have been put back on the plane for this."

As a matter of fact I sent my passport to the state dep't this afternoon requesting additional pages. I can't imagine being turned away...

Elainee if you happen to see this, thanks again : )
kikiv is offline  
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