My best friend and I will be flying out to Bangkok for 10 weeks from the end of august/ start of September before heading on.
We have looked at the suggestions on this website and others, read the travel guides and looks at numerous maps and the other threads on here BUT the more I read the more confused I get!! I know what you want to get out of the experience is a very personal thing BUT what Itinerary would you suggest basing plans around? would your ideal route be? or routes that you did and loved?
Any suggestions would be helpful, thanks
#1 Iwanttogetaway has been a member since 17/4/2011. Posts: 4
We'd be glad to help, but you haven't given us much information to go on. Are you planning on spending the entire 10 weeks in Thailand, or were you thinking of including Laos and Cambodia in that time, for example.
Also, what kind of experience do you seek? History, temples and ruins? Full-on party zone? Nature adventure? Off-the-beaten-track travel? Beach bum? It also helps to know what kind of cash you have to spend - bare bones budget, flashpacker, etc.
One important tip for now is to work out your visa strategy ahead of time so you don't have to scramble to extend a visa or change your plans once you have arrived. For example, you can get a 60-day Thai visa before you arrive, a 30-day visa exemption if you arrive in Thailand by air, but only 15 days if you arrive by land. You can usually get a 30-day visa on arrival for Laos and Cambodia, but you'll need to have cash on hand ($35 range usually) to pay for it.
The late August/early September timeframe will also mean lots of rain in some parts of Thailand, but not so much in others. Use the animated Thai weather map to help plan your route. It is at: http://www.travelfish.org/weather_fish.php
Anyway, hope that helps and let us know which countries and what type of stuff you want to do. Cheers.
Sorry, right we would like to do Thailand, Cambodia and Laos in that time.
Thank you for the weather map, I will check that out, and the via advice, I had previously read about how that worked and we planned on getting either the 30 day or 60 day visa prior to travel (plan dependent) and then getting the Laos and Cambodia visa's on the borders!
A combination of historic ruins and temples, beaches, some nature adventure and also parties would be great (were 21) although we don't want to restrict ourselves to just the 'tourist spots'. We would also like to do volunteering in this time and have looked at a number of companies, but do you have any recommendations to go about that?
Budget wise as cheap as possible would obviously be ideal however we can afford to not cut corners if to miss out, but have no qualms about being in basic accommodation etc.
Thanks again, hope this is a little more helpful
#3 Iwanttogetaway has been a member since 17/4/2011. Posts: 4
It's worth digging around the site a bit....lots of stuff is a bit buried. Have you seen this?
Lots of itinerary ideas in there which would suit a classic wish list like yours.
As for volunteering... well the more reputable organizations usually want a minimum commitment of 6 months and people who have proper qualifications and skills...doctors, engineers, qualified teachers and the like. It's useful if you speak the local language too...makes it easier to communicate with refugees, street kids and orphans etc who generally don't speak a word of English.
Bear in mind that you also may need a work permit to volunteer... even if you receive no payment... and getting a work permit usually involves vast quantities of paper work and a special special visa. You don't need a company though. It's highly unlikely you'll find one which offers to sort out a work permit for you and they will also no doubt charge you rather a lot of money.
If you really want to do something, schools in rural areas are often quite happy to have English speaking tourists come and help kids practice their English on an informal basis. Just go and ask a likely looking school if they'd like you to come and give a hand while you're there. Dress conservatively... it's unlikely they'll say yes please if you don't.
There's a volunteering section on the forum too BTW....might be worth having a look at that.
I'm planning pretty much this trip although I'm getting the 30 day entry (I'm on a frayed shoestring!!)
I have 10 weeks also
Anyway if it helps here's my rough itinerary
(when I say day I mean a sleepover as well or overnight travel depending on the distance etc)
Bangkok 2 days
Kanchanaburi 1 day for the 'death railway'
Ayuthaya 2 days
Sukhothai 1-2 days
Chaing Mai 4 days trekking and the likes
then to the border- Huay Xai in Laos
3/4 days doing the gibbon experience (including getting there and back)
travel to Luang Prabang 2 days by long boat
Luang Prabang 3/4 days
Vang Vieng for tubing! (unsure on days here 3?)
Vientiane 2 days
then back through the border and do 24 hours approx (if lucky!!) overland to Chumphon to get to Koh Tao, Koh Pha-Ngan, Koh Samui
(now this seems silly but I want to be there for the Full Moon Party! http://fullmoonparty-thailand.com/)
then kick back to soak up the sun, island hop, dive and recover! for 6/7 days
back to BKK overnight for a flight (booked for visa purposes) BKK to PP
PP 2-3 days
Krati 2 days
(here it gets foggy and im just going to decide when i get there but if time/$$ allows from PP i might do HCMC for a few days and then... )
Sihanoukville 3-5 days
Battambang 2 days
Siem Reap 4-5 days
and finally back into Thailand with what ever time is left as the days are only a guestimate, and u never know where u might stay on longer/shorter etc
Its quite ambitious and I reckon i'll skip some things once out there but that itinerary leaves about 7 days spare for days on the road etc etc
My route is also dictated by visas as once you leave Thailand when u return you only get 15 days (but if u a get multi entry visa then u should be fine *don't quote me check it for sure)
so thats why there is a little bit of back tracking
anyway hope it helps a little bit for ideas
#5 superlaur has been a member since 19/4/2011. Posts: 4
Thanks for your advice SBE, we will look into that!
Thanks superlaur, thats just the kind of response I was looking for! A lot of that is on my 'to do list' though it does keep getting bigger by the day... Tubing and full moon party as extra are a must, I have heard mixed report on fmp but want to experience it for ourselves thanks again,given us even more food for thought- hope you have an awesome trip!
#6 Iwanttogetaway has been a member since 17/4/2011. Posts: 4
Err I think the Cambodia bit is more than a little foggy if visas are indeed dictating your itinerary superlaur!
1.Go to Cambodia, pay for a 30 day VOA. Spend 4-5 days there visiting Phnom Penh and Kratie.
2. Leave Cambodia and nip off to Vietnam for a side trip to visit HCMC for a few days. Pay for a 30 day visa to Vietnam. (I don't think they do VOAs in Vietnam so you'd probably have to arrange that one in advance)
3. Return to Cambodia. Pay for another 30 day VOA. Stay a further 12 days (max) in Cambodia and visit Sihanoukville, Batambang and Angkor Wat.
A bit more tweeking is in order methinks!
We were looking into Vietnam, I didn't realize that about the Visa's, thank you very much. It does seem as though it would be worth doing as we are so close! How much time do you think would be needed to explore some of Vietnam?
#8 Iwanttogetaway has been a member since 17/4/2011. Posts: 4
I would add one thing, a recurring theme here on travelfish. Going from place to place takes time. A lot of people want to be "travellers" but either don't want to or can't take the time that requires. To get from place to place here often takes full days of uncomfortable travel. Meaning each time you relocate you need to factor that time lost into your itinerary. A lot of people list x number of days at y places, but forget the days it is going to cost them to get from one point to the next. They think of movement in terms of western infrastructure and distances and don't plan for the longer time frames (not to mention the discomfort that often entails). So as you start thinking about moving from place to place, make sure you keep inmind the time that will cost you. The more places you add, the more time you lose - simple math really.
And as SBE alluded to - I would pretty much forget about volunteering. That requires more time than you've got. A lot of people are well intentioned in this respect, but for the most part they don't have the skills or time that is actually needed in this neck of the woods. This isn't Africa.
#9 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
SBE, fair point but that's why its foggy. By visas dictating I mean more time wise as I can't return to Thailand more than 15 days before I want to leave again which means I may have to spend a little more time in Laos.
Going to HCMC for a couple of days is mega money $50 ish for Vietnam visa (plus 3 days waiting whilst its processed because u can't get a VOA in Nam), then its $20 again to get another VOA at the Cambodian border. plus expenses whilst there and the return journey.
madmac. ur on the mark with that, travelling does take up time (I once took a trip from Nepal-India that took 4 days not 1 due to a collapsed bridge) but my trick is to leave 7-10 days unaccounted for, then the unexpected over lands etc are covered and also to take over night trains/buses if possible that way u save on a nights accommodation and a days travel which in my eyes is a waste.
And my plans are always a maybe or would like because u know what its like when u get to places that u just NEED an extra day in. other places lose their importance.
Iwanttogetaway, as mac says be prepared for the nasty trains and bus journeys that wipe ur energy if uve not travelled before these can be a bit of an experience and will leave you knackered. but they do get easier. When u once gasped at the thought of 6 hours on the bus u'll be like, 'oh its only 6 hours!!!'
#10 superlaur has been a member since 19/4/2011. Posts: 4
How much time do you think would be needed to explore some of Vietnam?
It depends! It's not an easy question to answer. If someone asked you the same question about your country what would you say?
In that TF trip planner that I mentioned earlier (which I implore you to read for ideas) they say 10 days to 2 weeks is a minimum for the two Vietnam itinerary suggestions there. They also give approximate bus train times between different places.
Apart from Thailand you are going to have to fork out money for visas. The visas will give you the right to spend 30 days in a country. You have 10 weeks...trying to see too many countries is going to be both expensive and tiring.
Why not chose just three countries and divide the time between them...say 3 weeks in each and a week to mess about with if there are hitches or if you want to stay longer somewhere.
Also, don't want to put a huge damper on things but it's monsoon season in much of SE Asia at that time of year. Exacto pointed you to the TF weather map for a very good reason. Be sure and check out the weather where you planning on going as well.
Roads in the more rural areas may be muddy, flooded or blocked by landslides which can significantly impact on bus journey times. Think about whether it'll actually be fun playing about on jungle ziplines in the pouring rain. Are prepared to do a 5 hour walk to get to the Gibbon Experience if the roads are impassible? I presume you read this bit on their website under "Important Information"
In rainy season our tree houses are hard to reach! Depending on weather our cars may not be able to take guests the full way into the reserve.
[ulist]In bad weather, please be prepared for a 5 hour walk to reach the canopy infrastructure![/li][/ulist]
Personally I don't think going down the Mekong on a VERY overcrowded and uncomfortable slowboat for two days would be much fun in the rain either.... I thought Pakbeng (where you stop overnight) was rather a muddy rat infested hole even when it wasn't raining!
But up to you... just some of things that crossed my mind that you need to think about too when planning a trip.
"Iwanttogetaway, as mac says be prepared for the nasty trains and bus journeys that wipe ur energy if uve not travelled before these can be a bit of an experience and will leave you knackered. but they do get easier. When u once gasped at the thought of 6 hours on the bus u'll be like, 'oh its only 6 hours!!!'"
Here I am now living here for four years, and each time I have to get on a bus (like next week) I say "****, here I go again" right before boarding. Midway through I can't wait to get off. I despise them. Hope it's better for you.
#12 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957