Southeast Asia forum

Thailand or Laos?

  • konnan101

    Joined Travelfish
    31st March, 2011
    Posts: 18

    If you were on a two month long trip to SE Asia, from May to July, with the first 4 1/2 weeks being spent in Vietnam and Cambodia, how would you spend the last 3 1/2 weeks?

    Would you rather spend the last 3 1/2 weeks of the trip doing just the Thai islands and Bangkok (4-5 days in Bangkok) or would you rather split it up and spend ten days doing Luang Prabang and the gibbon experience, and then then go to the Thai Islands and spend the last two weeks on the islands and in Bangkok?

    I would be flying from Chiang Mai to Ko Samui, and staying on Ko Phangan and Ko Tao if I end up doing only 2 weeks in Thailand.

    #1 Posted: 4/4/2011 - 20:54

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  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6062
    Total reviews: 10

    I wouldn't go to Vietnam at all, I would go to Laos (Vientiane, Luang Prabang and VV) and then head to Thailand and spend most of my time in Issan and Bangkok - now that you asked.

    #2 Posted: 5/4/2011 - 01:15

  • Thomas922

    Joined Travelfish
    1st July, 2007
    Location Global Village
    Posts: 346

    You really need to decide how bad you want the Gibbon thing. There are tons of places to see monkeys and do zip lines around the world but of course there is only one Laos. How much time will be spent without other foreigners and how much really sucking in some local experiences? 3 plus weeks on the beaches is just a party really unless you hit the non touristy parts of some islands to...zip line and see wildlife!
    So if you are going to soak in some locals then 10 days on the beach is fine to end the trip.

    #3 Posted: 5/4/2011 - 11:05

  • caseyprich

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2010
    Location China
    Posts: 1148
    Total reviews: 53
    Places visited:
    At least 48

    I personally think 4 - 5 days in BKK is a bit overkill at any one time, and I love Laos. Doing a few nights in LP, then a few nights heading through Northern Laos and into Thailand is not a bad idea. If you go overland into Thailand via a visa on arrival you'll only have two weeks in Thailand anyway.

    There is also the option to fly from Cambodia to Thailand so that you get a longer visa - then you could fly into Chiang Mai and spend more time in Northern Thailand before working your way down South - saving an internal flight in Thailand in exchange for the international from Cambodia to Chiang Mai.

    #4 Posted: 5/4/2011 - 15:07

  • konnan101

    Joined Travelfish
    31st March, 2011
    Posts: 18

    So let's say I completely change my trip. Instead of spending so much time in Vietnam, instead, I spend about a week or so, seeing Hanoi and Halong bay at the start, then fly to Chiang Mai and spend four days or so in Chiang Mai, cross the border into Huay Xai, do the gibbon experience, slow boat it to Luang Prabang, maybe see Vang Viang (could be a bit too much of a party to stay there, but could be fun and beautiful). Then fly from Vientiane to Phnom Penh , then Phnom Penh to Siem Reap to see Angkhor Wat, then fly from Siem Reap to Bangkok, to do Bangkok and the Thai Islands for 3 weeks or so.

    Less time in Vietnam, more time in Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand.


    Or...I could totally switch everything up, and go Tokyo to Kuala Lampur (I will be in Tokyo for the first 7 days of this trip regardless of what itinerary I choose)...fly to Kuala Lampur...cause this is really the absolute cheapest flight out of Tokyo to SE asia...and then do Kuala lampur to the Thai Islands, hang out on the Islands for two weeks, from there fly to Chiang Mai, and do the leg south all the way through Laos to Cambodia, see a lot more of Cambodia, then bus it over to Bangkok to hang out in Bangkok for a few days before my flight home on July 26th.

    Anyways, I think I am just confusing myself...might be trying to plan this trip way too much

    #5 Posted: 5/4/2011 - 20:05

  • caseyprich

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2010
    Location China
    Posts: 1148
    Total reviews: 53
    Places visited:
    At least 48

    If your gut idea was to spend all that time in Vietnam I don't know why you should go against that now. A lot of people (including myself) like to end with time on the islands as it is a nice way to relax after a lot of bus rides and hiking. I have a lot of trouble commenting on these new itineraries because they carry such a disonance to the original, which I respected for your decision to spend over a month in Vietnam and Cambodia. Perhaps look at climate patterns first and then go with your gut.

    #6 Posted: 5/4/2011 - 21:03

  • konnan101

    Joined Travelfish
    31st March, 2011
    Posts: 18

    I agree that to abandon Vietnam is maybe going against my original gut reaction, but I also had not consider Laos as much of a travel destination...Vietnam and Thailand do not require having done a lot of research to consider as destinations in SE Asia....A few weeks ago, before I had a few 12 hour, call-less shifts (I work ems, no calls = me in front of a computer or a book for hours), I had considered Vietnam, because it is such a well known place in the states, and because I didn't really know much about anywhere else in the region. Now though, having looked into it more, it still sounds incredible, but perhaps saved for another time. It seems to me that while Vietnam may be incredible, it would stand to be a trip on its own, that might be more enjoyed when I am a little older.

    Anyways, being a 24 year old guy, I feel like trekking and adventure sporting through Laos, partying and relaxing in Thailand, and sight seeing everywhere, but particularly in Cambodia, would be pretty worthwhile, and would be timed appropriately for where I am right now in my life....I love hiking (and scenery), I love adventure sports, I love food, I love to go out at night, and I love to be exposed to culture and history....pretty much in that order, and I think Laos might give me more of that than Vietnam...hmmm, though Vietnamese cuisine is one of my favorites...

    But yea, I'm probably going to change my mind five or six more times, two of which will be when I am actually over there...I think this is pretty much just me being bored at work and thinking out loud at this point.

    #7 Posted: 5/4/2011 - 22:18

  • konnan101

    Joined Travelfish
    31st March, 2011
    Posts: 18

    haha, just to complicate things, these are the three itineraries I have made for myself during the last month or so...These are by no means set in stone, and I very much so intend for it to change once I am actually over there...These are more like mock trips to help me figure out which general trip I would rather go on.

    ITINERARY without Laos:
    -5/20 Friday - Leave Charleston, Travel to LA
    -5/23 Monday - Leave LA, Travel to Tokyo
    -5/24 Tuesday - Land in Tokyo 7pm
    -6/2 Thursday - Leave Tokyo, Travel to Hanoi
    -6/3 Friday - Arrive in Hanoi early AM
    -6/8 Wednesday - Leave Hanoi early, Travel to Cat Ba
    -6/11 Saturday - Leave Cat Ba, Travel to Hue
    -6/13 Monday - Leave Hue, Travel to Danang
    -6/15 Wednesday - Leave Danang, Travel to Hoi An
    -6/18 Saturday - Leave Hoi An, Travel to Nha Trang
    -6/21 Tuesday - Leave Nha Trang, Travel to Ho Chi Minh
    -6/25 Saturday - Leave Saigon, Travel to Phnom Penh
    -6/28 Tuesday - Leave Phnom Penh, Travel to Siem Reap
    -7/1 Friday - Leave Siem Reap, Travek to Bangkok
    -7/5 Tuesday - Leave Bangkok, Fly to Ko Samui (Ko Samui, Ko Tao and Ko Phangan)
    -7/18 Monday - Leave East Islands, Fly into Phuket (Phuket, Ko Phi Phi, Ko Yao, Ko Lanta)
    -7/26 Tuesday - Leave Phuket, Fly to Bangkok AM
    -7/26 Tuesday - Fly home out of Bangkok PM (~9:30pm)
    -7/27 Wednesday - Arrive in Charleston

    ITINERARY with Laos and Vietnam:
    -5/20 Friday - Leave Charleston, Travel to LA
    -5/23 Monday - Leave LA, Travel to Tokyo
    -5/24 Tuesday - Land in Tokyo 7pm
    -6/1 Wednesday - Leave Tokyo, Travel to Hanoi (Late pm) (connect in Kuala Lampur)
    -6/2 Thursday - Arrive in Hanoi (Early am)
    -6/6 Monday - Leave Hanoi early, Travel to Halong Bay
    -6/10 Friday - Leave Halong Bay, Travel to Hoi An
    -6/14 Tuesday - Leave Hoi An, Travel to Nha Trang
    -6/17 Friday - Leave Nha Trang, Travel to Saigon
    -6/20 Monday - Leave Saigon, Travel to Phnom Penh
    -6/22 Wednesday - Leave Phnom Penh, Travel to Siem Reap
    -6/25 Saturday - Leave Siem Reap, Travel to Luang Prabang
    -7/2 Saturday - Leave Luang Prabang, Travel to Huay Xai by boat (2 days)
    -7/3 Sunday - Arrive in Huay Xai
    -7/4 Monday - Gibbon Experience (2 nights)
    -7/6 Wednesday - Leave Huay Xai, Travel to Chiang Mai
    -7/9 Saturday - Leave Chiang Mai, Fly to Ko Samui (Ko Samui, Ko Tao and Ko Phangan (Sunday, July17th is full moon party))
    -7/23 Saturday - Leave Ko Samui, travel to Bangkok
    -7/26 Tuesday - Fly home out of Bangkok PM (~9:30pm)
    -7/27 Wednesday - Arrive Newark (7:30am)

    ITINERARY without Vietnam:
    -5/20 Friday - Leave Charleston, Travel to LA
    -5/23 Monday - Leave LA, Travel to Tokyo
    -5/24 Tuesday - Land in Tokyo 7pm
    -6/1 Wednesday - Leave Tokyo, Travel to Chiang Mai (Late pm) (connect in Kuala Lampur)
    -6/2 Thursday - Arrive in Chiang Mai (Early am)
    -6/5 Sunday - Leave Chiang Mai early, Travel to Huay Xai
    -6/9 Thursday - Leave Huay Xai, Travel to Luang Prabang via slow boat
    -6/14 Tuesday - Leave Luang Prabang, Travel to Vang Viang
    -6/17 Friday - Leave Vang Vieng, Travel to Vientiane
    -6/19 Sunday - Leave Vientiane, Fly to Saigon
    -6/22 Wednesday - Leave Saigon, Travel to Phnom Penh
    -6/24 Friday - Leave Phnom Penh, Travel to Battambang
    -6/27 Monday - leave Battambang, Travel by boat to Siem Reap
    -6/30 Thursday - Leave Siem Reap, Fly to Bangkok
    -7/2 Saturday - Leave Bangkok, Travel to Sangkhlaburi or Kanchanaburi (Sangkhlaburi sounds better)
    -7/6 Wednesday - Leave Sangkhlaburi, Travel back to Bangkok
    -7/7 Thursday - Leave Bangkok, Fly to Ko Samui
    -7/7 Wednesday - Arrive in Ko Samui (See Ko Pha Ngan, and Ko Tao mostly)
    -7/20 Wednesday - Leave Ko Samui, Fly to Bangkok
    -7/21 Thursday - Leave Bangkok, Travel to Ko Samet
    -7/26 Tuesday - Leave Ko Samet, Travel to Bangkok, Fly home (late PM)

    I have had a few boring days at work if you cannot tell....

    #8 Posted: 5/4/2011 - 22:33

  • caseyprich

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2010
    Location China
    Posts: 1148
    Total reviews: 53
    Places visited:
    At least 48

    Laos has a strangely sporadic night life. Some places like Tad Lo will be very mellow for a few straight weeks and then the locals will throw an all night dance party at the temple. With what you've described, I'd say that Laos would be a great part of your trip. There are places in Southern Laos that gather all those things together - 4,000 islands for the travel scene, Champasake for history and a relaxed time by the Mekong river, and motorbiking the Bolaven Plateau for adventure and natural sights. So one possibility could be to work overland from Vientiane to Pakse (a long bus ride that you could break up with a night in Savannakhet) and to save time skip the Bolaven motorbike trip but cehck out Champasake to warm you up for Angkor Wat, stay a few nights in Si Phon Don (4,000 Islands) before going into Cambodia overland. From there you could still go down to PP for a couple nights and then work your way over to Battambang and then Siem Reap. This may take too much time, but its something to day-dream about.

    #9 Posted: 6/4/2011 - 05:54

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