Southeast Asia forum

Itinerary........Two Months. Where to start?

  • Catex1980

    Joined Travelfish
    13th September, 2010
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 5

    Hi myself and my partner intend on arriving in Thailand in mid November. We intend to stay in asia for nine weeks. Works sorted, moneys sorted but now we feel that with time on our hands we should see more of south east asia than just Thailand alone. We do want to spend some time chilling on the beach but also we really want to get a taste of the culture and the people. Obviously we'll be spending christmas and new year away so want that to be extra special. Do you recommend Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos as part of our itinerary (not necessary all 4!) ? Want it to be a pretty relaxed trip but with some fab experiences.What itinerary do you recommend? Any info would be appreciated guys!!!! Thanks

    #1 Posted: 13/9/2010 - 04:22

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  • Tilapia

    Click here to learn more about Tilapia
    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Canada
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    Burma is a fantastic country to travel in. The best of Southeast Asia, in my opinion, with regards to sites, atmosphere, and people. The food is good, but not as good as in Malaysia or Thailand, and travel is not always the most comfortable ... but it's worth it.

    Also think that Laos is a more travel-friendly and accessible country than Cambodia, but that might have changed since I was there (in Cambodia, that is).

    #2 Posted: 13/9/2010 - 21:14

  • Danyelle

    Joined Travelfish
    13th September, 2010
    Posts: 7

    Hi guys,

    I can offer no suggestions but myself and my husband are also going to Thailand for 8 weeks at the end of November and in the same position... Want to relax but would be such a waste not to travel around... I will be following your blog to get idea and if I come up with any I will let you know.

    Good Luck!

    #3 Posted: 13/9/2010 - 22:50

  • Danyelle

    Joined Travelfish
    13th September, 2010
    Posts: 7

    Hi guys,

    I can offer no suggestions but myself and my husband are also going to Thailand for 8 weeks at the end of November and in the same position... Want to relax but would be such a waste not to travel around... I will be following your blog to get idea and if I come up with any I will let you know.

    Good Luck!

    #4 Posted: 13/9/2010 - 22:50

  • Danyelle

    Joined Travelfish
    13th September, 2010
    Posts: 7

    Hi guys,

    I can offer no suggestions but myself and my husband are also going to Thailand for 8 weeks at the end of November and in the same position... Want to relax but would be such a waste not to travel around... I will be following your blog to get idea and if I come up with any I will let you know.

    Good Luck!

    #5 Posted: 13/9/2010 - 23:20

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 2410
    Total reviews: 47
    Places visited:
    At least 98

    We had a similar chunk of time back in 2006. It was my wife's first visit to southeast Asia too, so we did a large clockwise circle through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and then back to Thailand for our beach time at the end of the trip. You might consider something like this:

    First two to three weeks in Thailand exploring Bangkok and surrounds and then working your way north and eventually over to Laos. Emphasis might be Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Ayutthaya and/or Sukhothai, Chiang Mai .

    Two to three weeks working your way down Laos and then crossing into Cambodia. Emphasis might be Luang Prabang , Vientiane , and Pakse (incl Bolevans Plateau) and 4,000 Islands.

    One to two weeks in Cambodia to enjoy Angkor Wat, Phnom Penh and perhaps some beach time.

    Cross back into Thailand for last two weeks of serious beach time either along the eastern seaboard (Ko Chang and Ko Maak, for example) or head south for the myriad of other islands. Just remember that if you cross back into Thailand by land, you'll only get 15 days visa exemption at the border.

    There is a fair bit of moving around in this itinerary, but hopefully not too much, and logistically, it is a workable path. But don't take my word for it. Check out some of the suggested itineraries and compare your particular interests with descriptions of different places to see what seems most interesting to you.

    You might also work in a flight or two, such as Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang or Vientiane to Pakse to help cut down on the time you spend in transit. Hope that helps. Regards.

    #6 Posted: 14/9/2010 - 01:07

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6377
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    I always recommend working up the Thai side of the Mekong, south to North, then crossing into Laos and working back down on the Laos side. Starting in Ubon Ratchathani and then going to Khemmerat and working north, one short day at a time. Spending a little extra time in Mukdahan, That Phanom and Nakhon Phanom until you hit Nong Khai and cross, then going to Vientiane and Luang Prabang before working your way south on the Laos side again. On the Thai side, you'll see almost no tourist and not all that many westerners period. Except for the temple at That Phanom (the oldest Chedi in Thailand - but not visited much at all by western tourists) and the Hoi Chi Minh house at Nakhon Phanom (and possibly Pu Phra Thoep in Mukdahan) there aren't all that many sites to see - but you will definitely get to see and experience how normal, rural Thais live. The only word of warning - people here don't speak English, bring a phrase book with the Thai writing in Thai!

    #7 Posted: 14/9/2010 - 11:24

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
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    I actually did a big chunk of the Thai side of the Mekong River last January just as MADMAC suggests and had a really interesting, relaxing time. I wouldn't normally recommend it for a first trip to Thailand, but if you are looking for that off-the-beaten-path experience as MADMAC suggests, you'll find exactly what you are looking for in northeast Thailand. The down side is that there isn't much of an infrastructure for western travellers, so transportation, finding a room, and even getting a meal will be a bit more work (but more adventure as well). The up side, apart from really great bargain prices on just about everything, is that you'll find genuinely friendly folks who aren't jaded from years of contact with tourists.

    In addition to the places MADMAC suggests, I'd recommend a stop in Bueng Kan to break up the bus ride between Nong Khai and Nakhon Phanom, and a stay in Sangkhom and more specifically at Bouy Guest House with it's huts and porch hammocks on a bluff overlooking the Mekong River. It is about as far away from Monday morning as it gets.

    #8 Posted: 15/9/2010 - 02:59

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6377
    Total reviews: 10

    Exacto
    I agree, it's trickier to get around in these parts mostly due to the language issues. But I have to say my son came here and had no problems at all, even before he learned the language (he liked it so much, he decided to stay and is now a student at Khon Kaen university and was elected class president yesterday).

    Reference Bueng Kan, any specific recommendations there. I'd like to take my chopper from NKP to Nong Khai and stop somewhere along the Mekong - Bueng Kan looks like a good stop over point.

    #9 Posted: 15/9/2010 - 10:29

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location United States
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    I first lived in Khon Kaen for 4 months back in 1985, and it still holds a special place in my heart. Khon Kaen University was there, but it wasn't much more than a collection of buildings compared to what it has become now. What an exciting place to be for your son.

    Anyway, I wrote up a trip report shortly after I visited Bueng Kan in January 2010, so hopefully the notes I took will help you. You can read the review of the place I stayed and one other here:

    http://www.travelfish.org/board/post/tripreports/9692_bueng-kan--thailand--january-2010-

    There didn't seem to be much night life, even compared to That Phanom, so you might just have an early night so you can save it up for Nong Khai, which, as you know, has quite a bit more happening.

    Should be a great ride. Sounds perfect. Cheers.

    #10 Posted: 15/9/2010 - 12:25

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  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6377
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    Good write up man. I appreciate it. I left a response in the trip report section.

    #11 Posted: 15/9/2010 - 14:46

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6377
    Total reviews: 10

    And yes, it is a great opportunity for him on a myriad of different levels. I'm really impressed with how well he has integrated socially and linguistically. He knows he's getting a rare oportunity, and he's making the most of it. Lives cheap too - I can't afford to maintain him high on the hog.

    #12 Posted: 15/9/2010 - 14:47

  • Catex1980

    Joined Travelfish
    13th September, 2010
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 5

    Huge thanks for all your information. I have to say though the more information you get the harder it is as spoilt for choice! A rough itinerary is to arrive in Bangkok and then either travel North possibly along the Thai border crossing over to Laos to do the more 'touristy' must see spots before following the border to Cambodia. Cambodia really appeals. OR heading NE from bangkok towards Nakhon Ratchasima, travelling down towards Cambodia (Angkor, Phnom Penh, Battambang.......plus smaller places in between so our entire trip isnt the tourist trail!) However, the difficulty is that christmas and new year falls five weeks into my nine week trip and I was thinking about spending this time on one of the thai islands. Unless anyone else recommends somewhere else?Please do as it might solve our problem. We don't want to spend all our time on the road so don't want to be too restricted with time. But, if we do go to one of the isalnds we then have three weeks left so what would be best to do with that time? Sorry complete novices! All your advice is appreciated

    #13 Posted: 18/9/2010 - 02:59

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6377
    Total reviews: 10

    If it were me, I would honestly treat New Years and Christmas as just another day, and not try to work your itinerary around them. No, that's not real romantic, but no matter where you are here, if you are from Europe, it ain't going to feel like the season to be merry here - at least not in that way. I live here, so yes for the sake of my little girl we have a little Christmas tree and give presents and she goes to a Chrstian kindergarten where they do a little Christmas show... but if it weren't for her, that celebration would be gone. And i manufacture that myself. If it weren't for my daughter I wouldn't even do that.

    #14 Posted: 18/9/2010 - 10:30

  • busylizzy

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location New Zealand
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    "If it were me, I would honestly treat New Years and Christmas as just another day, and not try to work your itinerary around them. "


    I couldn't agree more, MM. It just aint the same, esp if you are from the northern hemisphere. And I can almost guarantee that once you are in the midst of your travels, you will barely even remember that it IS Christmans.


    However, if you are looking for a Christmasy atmosphere, you might be better off in the bigger cities, anyhow. HCMC was running amok with drunken Santas and mini-skirted Santa Helpers on scooters last year. Christmas trees and manger scenes all throughout Vietnam.


    My suggestion is that if you want to celebrate it, buy some nice prezzies for yourselves along the way, and go out for the most unusual Christmas dinner you can find, wherever you are. It will make for an interesting story for the folk back home.

    #15 Posted: 18/9/2010 - 12:30

  • Catex1980

    Joined Travelfish
    13th September, 2010
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 5

    That's a great suggestion. I suppose its getting out of this mindset as come christmas no matter where we are it will certainly be a unquie day!Plus it means that we save money as accommodation in the more poopular/christmassy areas is much higher.

    #16 Posted: 18/9/2010 - 15:20

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6377
    Total reviews: 10

    HCMC was running amok.......... and mini-skirted Santa Helpers on scooters last year.

    Hmmm, maybe Saigon is the place to be. This certainly sounds merry. Ho ho ho.

    #17 Posted: 18/9/2010 - 23:36

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