Southeast Asia forum

5 month trip - rough route advice needed !

  • nickolt

    Joined Travelfish
    25th October, 2010
    Posts: 21

    Hello everyone !

    My boyfriend and I will be travelling to SE Asia and China this coming January. We have our flight booked into Manila, and out of Hong Kong. Our rough time frame looks like this;

    China - 5 weeks
    Phils - 3
    Viet - 3
    Cam - 2
    Laos - 2
    Thai - 4

    Now, does that look alright in terms of time ?

    Also, we are trying to figure out a rough route to follow. We don't intend to plan out every step of our trip this far in advance, (except the Phils because that is our first stop) however I would like to kind of make a rough map to follow.

    We will obviously have to fly out of the Phillipines into our next destination. Where do you think is best in terms of cost (cheaper!) and in terms of being time efficient. We obviously dont want to have to backtrack too much.

    We thought a rough plan would be to do Phils-South Vietnam-Cambodia-Thailand-Laos-North Vietnam-China.

    Do you guys think this would be the most time/cost effiecient? Please let me know as I am still a bit clueless about journey times etc around SE Asia.

    Thanks !

    #1 Posted: 28/10/2010 - 11:31

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  • caseyprich

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2010
    Location China
    Posts: 1234
    Total reviews: 53
    Places visited:
    At least 48

    It looks like a good trip, you'll be saving by what looks like no flights anywhere. I'm assuming you'll go into Laos from Northern Thailand and just do the North of Laos for two weeks of hiking and temple spotting - skipping the south, which is a fine choice considering you've got a lot to see. By the time you get into North Vietnam you'll probably still have 2 weeks of Vietnam scheduled time to go down to the central highlands and then back up to the North before entering China.

    Will you go into China through Sapa and check out Yunnan Province first? Spring will just be hitting and there will be a lot of cool things to see in Yunnan but beware the roads in the North during the rainy season - if you are going into Sichuan from Yunnan those plateau roads are known for accidents. In china - if you are doing some long distance train rides (at least one is recommended) realize that you can save time and only spend a little more money on websites like elong and ctrip for flights.

    The good thing about having 5 weeks for China is that you can alwas scrape a week away from it if you're really enjoying some place and still have a month for the country. Realize though that if you enter the mainland and then exit (even HK) you'd need a double entry to get back into the country.

    #2 Posted: 28/10/2010 - 12:54

  • svendj

    Joined Travelfish
    30th April, 2010
    Location Belgium
    Posts: 196
    Places visited:
    At least 32

    trip is fine and for time it's more then enough I think.
    But I would fly into BKK from the Philli's, go up trough Thailand, into Laos untill probably Luang Prabang and then down to Pakse en si pan don, into Cambodia for 2 weeks and then from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh and all the way up to Vietnam. then from Sapa on I would do as caseyprich says and go into Yunnan province (though go straight to Kunming as mengla and junjinghong don't have a lot to offer).

    Make sure you got a 3 month visa for china arranged, otherwise you're gonna have to backtrack a lot. If you can't manage to arrange that in advance I'd suggest to fly into HK from vietnam, arrange a chinese visa there (as you get 3 months for standards now, at least for me it was) and then go around china and back.

    #3 Posted: 28/10/2010 - 15:36

  • eastwest

    Joined Travelfish
    17th December, 2009
    Posts: 772

    There's a lot to be said for both suggestions but it might help if nickolt said something about interests.

    If it's just a general mix-of-everything type of trip I would be inclined to go with sven's alternative. Mostly because of nickolt's post in finance forum. That second itinerary gives you a bit easier control over your cash: spend your starting cash $ in Laos and stock up in Cambodia for your travel in Vietnam. It's a minor point but given the post in "finance" probably an important one for nickolt.
    If you don't fancy southern Laos you could always do a short flight from Vientiane to Siem Reap.

    However, what I like about original route is that the second beach part (I assume southern Thailand) doesn't follow directly after Phillipines. You might rush through the Thai islands if you've just come from some beautiful islands in Phillipines (I assume)

    choices, choices

    #4 Posted: 30/10/2010 - 13:08

  • nickolt

    Joined Travelfish
    25th October, 2010
    Posts: 21

    Yeah its defs a dilemna with the beach thing. I dont really want to do all the "relaxing" part of our trip in one big long stretch. You can only lay on a beach for so long right?

    Anyone else have any other suggestions. I've really been trying to figure out how to make this work.

    I'll give our interests and see if that helps. We defs want to see some beautiful beaches. We enjoy trying different foods, seeing/experiencing different cultural things, would like to see some cool temples, are not huge partiers but will defs have a night out on the town once in a while.

    Perhaps flying into HCM from the Phils, going down Vietnam, into Cambodia, then Laos, then into Thailand, make our way down south, backtrack to BKK and then take a flight to somewhere in China once we've got a route figured out there??

    Anyone know if flights from BKK to china are expensive ?

    I know I'm supposed to go with the flow, but the type A personality in me wants to know what we're gunna be doing !! haha

    Thanks for all the help so far everyone =)

    #5 Posted: 2/11/2010 - 11:25

  • eastwest

    Joined Travelfish
    17th December, 2009
    Posts: 772

    If you have the money for a BKK - china flight you've found the solution yourself if you start in Hanoi and travel down.

    If you need a cheaper regional flight (or even without) there may be an alternative:

    Start in PP (from phillipines), Cambodia. Go north to Angkor , Laos and enter northern Thailand and work your way down to the beaches which you will appreciate by then. Backtrack to BKK and then choose

    - hop a short flight to HCMC (VN) or PP. If you choose PP you can stock up on dollars and easily cross into HCMC, Southern Vietnam by bus (6 hours) and go overland to northern Vietnam and China. Southern Vietnam has some nice beaches as well. If you choose BKK-PP for your flight you can save some of Cambodia for your second visit. If you choose BKK-HCMC for your flight best to see everything of Cambodia on your first (and only) visit.

    - BKK - HCMC overland. Two tiring uncomfortable days if you're in a rush or take it easy and make some stops along the coast (Ko Chang, Sihanoukville (withdraw USD), Kep, Phu Quoc (vn)). If you choose to start in PP (from Phillipines) at beginning, go immediately to Angkor (and northern Cambodia) and Laos and you can save the cambodian coast for your 2nd visit on the way to HCMC. You will need to apply for visa again in Cambodia but that is no problem (only $20). That way you will visit Cambodia 2 times but it won't be backtracking.

    #6 Posted: 2/11/2010 - 13:00

  • svendj

    Joined Travelfish
    30th April, 2010
    Location Belgium
    Posts: 196
    Places visited:
    At least 32

    last info from eastwest sounds good as well.

    Flights from bkk to china. depends when you are flying. I flew from Beijing to BKK in late october last year and it's about 180 usd I guess. don't remember well. had a local flight in china from Kunming to Guangzhou as well for about 120 usd (which was a bit too expensive). Check out the deals from air asia as they got some really cheap flights for about 50 usd if you fly at a particular time.

    #7 Posted: 2/11/2010 - 17:22

  • nickolt

    Joined Travelfish
    25th October, 2010
    Posts: 21

    Oops, meant Hanoi then down south, not HCMC, thanks eastwest.

    I will look into how much a flight would cost from BKK to china, and then make the decision. Thanks for the help everyone, especially you eastwest. You've laid out some solid ideas !

    #8 Posted: 6/11/2010 - 10:12

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