Hi, I have posted my itinerary a couple of times and I have finally made a decision! I have cut out a lot from my original plan and I know that some may think I am still trying to cover too much but I really appreciate your opinion on this:
Dec 03 - Depart Lon-Bkk
Dec 04 - overnight at airport hotel
Dec 05- Fly to HCMC - 3 NIGHTS
Dec 08 - bus to Pnom Penh - 2 NIGHTS
Dec 10 - bus to siem Reap - 3 nights
Dec 13 - Fly to Luang Prabang where we will make our way to Vietiane via Vieng Vang (not sure of how many nights in each place and will play it by ear).
Dec 23 - Fly from Vietiane to Krabi via BKK and make our way to Koh Lanta.
Dec 23 - 7NIGHTS Koh Lanta/beach
Dec 30 - Fly to BKK - 3 NIGHTS Bangkok.
Jan 02 - Depart BKK - LON
Any advise is greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance,
#1 joanne1981 has been a member since 10/12/2009. Posts: 14
Personally, unless you have a particular reason to go to HCMC, I would drop it. You will have to pay for a Vietnamese visa, yet will only be in the country for such a short time. In addition you will have a long bus journey to Phnom Penh and then another, almost immediately, to Siem Reap.
Rather than that, I suggest flying straight to PP from Bangkok, then spending a bit more time in Siem Reap. (I'm sure you won't regret it). Or doing it the other way round -depending on how the flights look.
The rest of your trip looks really good.
I agree with both previous posts. Skip HCMC - Vietnam's amazing but to just spend a couple of days in HCMC will be expensive (flights and visas) and tiring, and will only give you a snapshot of life in a big city. If you really want to visit though, at least try and build in a couple of day trips out of the HCMC itself e.g. head over to the Mekong, the Cu Chi tunnels or Cao Dai Temple.
"I know people disagree with me - but I think 3 nights in HCMC and 3 nights in BKK is a bit much unless you want to use it as a base for day trips."
Given this itinerary - I agree I would drop Saigon. Too out of the way, which incurs time and expense. I don't agree on Bangkok though. The city has everything, great nightlife, and it's a lot of fun to hang out in. Lots to see in the day, fine dining and good party scene at night. It doesn't make sense to me to come to Thailand and not see BKK.
#5 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
a couple days in BKK is fine - but when you are getting away from maddening cities and traffic to see SEA i don't think it's the top part of the trip.
i currently live in shanghai, so BKK was not the experience i wanted when i went to Thailand. perhaps for some people it has a lot of wonderful flavor but the miles of tarmac and the sweltering streets in February (equal in temperature to shanghai in May) crammed with souvenirs and touts just reminded me of home.
follow this - i would always recommend that a traveler put a BKK stay at the end of their trip so that if they find some magical place they can extend their stay and BKK acts like a buffer-zone of a few days. as well, since it's a major international hub there is always a chance that you'll end up there again for a few days on some other trip.
i by no means am saying the city is without interest or without culture.
I agree with everyone who's said to drop HCMC. For what it's worth, I'd also be tempted to sack off PP & spend longer travelling between places. I know it's tempting to fly everywhere when you've only got a month, but I think it would be a shame to miss out on trying some of the local transport methods. Train journeys especially can be a nice way to spend a day - much more scenic and leisurely.
Personally, I'd consider:
Fly into BKK > day's rest > overland to Siem Reap > 5 nights in Siem Reap (3 days at temples & 1 day in town) > Fly to LP > 4 nights in LP > 2 nights VV > 2 nights Vientiane > cross border & train to BKK > Fly to Krabi > (Pick up the remainder of your itinerary from here)
The above is 17 nights to Krabi as opposed to 20 nights on your itinerary above, so there's an extra 3 days to play with. I spent 7 months in the region several years ago, and found that time seems to turn to treacle in Laos and it's very easy to get waylaid without meaning to, so these days would probably go there! Alternatively, if you've got the money, you could always fly from Vientiane to Chiang Mai, spend a couple of nights there then get the train down to BKK.
I'm just about to embark on a 5wk trip to the region (very similar itinerary as it happens!) so I know what it's like trying not to squeeze too much in while not wanting to miss anything out! I can't believe you're already settling on a final itinerary already if you're not going until December tho...!!! :o)
#7 ZPeppiatt has been a member since 12/4/2010. Posts: 38
Thank you all so much for your input. I am definitely going to drop HCMC. Originally we were hoping to do Hanoi and Halong Bay but cut it out due to lack of time so we though at least we should try and see HCMC but after thinking about it, everyone is right!
We definitely want to got to PP as we have some friends staying there so that is a must. I would have loved to a do a bit of overland travel but due to not having too much time, we have decided to fly quite a lot. My husband would much prefer to do overland travel as he hates flying on small planes - do others think it would be feesible to do more overland?
Regarding having time in BKK, we have been before but we thought it would be a realy nice place to celebrate New Year and hope to do a few things we missed out on last time.
I know I have planned out final itinerary really early but due to travelling over Christmas, prices of internal flights and hotels are expensive so am trying to pre-book as much as I can in advance :)
#8 joanne1981 has been a member since 10/12/2009. Posts: 14
Regarding timings for overland travel, based on ZPeppiatt's route plus a trip to PP (then flying PP to LP if you can), it's something like this:
Bangkok to Siem Reap - about 8 hours (a day basically)
Siem Reap to PP - about 5 hours
LP to VV - 4 - 6 hours (minibus is quicker than big bus)
VV to Vientiene - about 2 hours
You can get from Vientiene to Bangkok via a short bus journey and then an overnight train, but it makes more sense to fly if you're connecting to a flight to Samui.