Southeast Asia forum

1 month trip to Thailand/Laos/Vietnam/Cambodia

  • Nixxypie

    Joined Travelfish
    27th April, 2011
    Posts: 55

    Hi myself and a friend are travelling around South East Asia from 10th Aug - 10th Sept. We have a plan of where we want to go, and we were going to organise it all when we got there except for a few internal flights that we need at the end. We were going to try and be flexible with our dates but obviously if we book the flights we need to be at those places by a certain time.

    This is our plan:
    2 night in Bangkok
    Bus to Kanchanaburi for 1 night
    Sleeper train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
    5 nights in Chiang Mai
    Somehow get to Laos for 3 or 4 nights
    Somehow get to Hanoi for 1 night
    Ha Long Bay for 2 nights
    Fly from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City for 1 night
    Bus to Cambodia for 3 or 4 nights,
    Somehow get back to Bangkok
    Fly to Krabi for 5 nights island hopping
    Fly to Bangkok for 2 nights before flying home.
    We have 4 spare nights to play with, which I was thinking of saving in case it took longer than expected to get from one place to another or if we enjoyed somewhere and wanted to stay longer.
    To anyone who has been, do you think we're spending enough time in each place? We have thought about only going to a few places and staying longer, but we've decided we'd rather get a taster for everywhere so that we can see as much as possible in our limited time and can go back to our favourite places in the future. We're student nurses who qualify this summer, and after a tough 3 years of training with only 7 weeks off a year (compared to other students here!) we just want to get away and enjoy ourselves before entering the world of work for good.

    Does anyone know the best way to get from Laos to Hanoi? The only route I can find apart from flying is a 24+ hour bus which although is cheap, takes a whole day away from our travels when we only have 32 to start with.

    Does anyone know if there is a train from Cambodia to Bangkok? Looking online it seems to suggest the trains have stopped in Cambodia so you need to get a bus to the border then a train to Bangkok and they suggest having a night in between, but we don't really have a spare night!Our other options include travelling the first part of the route, but from Laos going down into Cambodia, back to Bangkok then flying from there to Hanoi and back again.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated as our plan and ideas seem to be changing daily because of transport! Money is a slight issue but if flights are going to cut off hours from our travels they're definitely going to be worth it. Thank you.

    #1 Posted: 27/4/2011 - 16:49

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  • Tomhamish

    Joined Travelfish
    19th April, 2010
    Posts: 21

    it is not possible to do what you are planning in one month! you don't seem to be allowing for the days you will spend on the road....... there are so many holes in your itinerary i don't know where to start, sorry to be so blunt.

    #2 Posted: 27/4/2011 - 20:16

  • Tomhamish

    Joined Travelfish
    19th April, 2010
    Posts: 21

    it is not possible to do what you are planning in one month! you don't seem to be allowing for the days you will spend on the road....... there are so many holes in your itinerary i don't know where to start, sorry to be so blunt.

    #3 Posted: 27/4/2011 - 20:20

  • Nixxypie

    Joined Travelfish
    27th April, 2011
    Posts: 55

    We have allowed time for travelling, which is the first day at each destination, plus the 5 spare days and nights we have allowed for delays. We are following a route offered by a lot of tour operators in the UK, but have chosen to arrange it ourselves because it will work out cheaper than paying the £1,000 the tour companies ask for. The tours with those companies include local trains, local buses and one flight between Laos and Hanoi, so if they sell this tour on a daily basis I don't understand how it couldn't be possible for us to arrange it ourselves and get onto the same transportation. The biggest problem we are going to face is with it being August/September the rains may make our travels more difficult, but when we booked the travel agent claimed that monsoons were not a problem in the places we were visiting!

    Thanks for your advice though and I will discuss it with my friend to try and cut a country out. Which countries would you recommend are a must see?

    Thanks.

    #4 Posted: 27/4/2011 - 21:00

  • Tomhamish

    Joined Travelfish
    19th April, 2010
    Posts: 21

    the problem is that busses are often late, or full, borders sometimes close. And what happens if you get food poisoning (fairly likely) and you don't want to leave your hotel room for 2 days? you may then miss your bus to your next location and it has a knock on effect.

    also are you planning on booking all your internal flights before you go? if so you cannot afford to get delayed half way round for 2 days because you will miss your connection. if you are not planning on pre booking flights then you may be forced to wait if the route is busy.

    I guess what i'm trying to say is that there is a very very very small chance that everything will run smoothly and perfectly and your itinerary will work like a dream, but this is south east asia, not europe, the transport routes are just not as efficient, and if you get delayed by 2 days on 2 occasions then your itinerary goes down the drain.

    i definitely think a better idea would be to cut out at least one country and have more time to enjoy yourselves than to be on the road constantly! personally i would cut out laos and you could fly straight from chang mai to hanoi, but thats just me.

    im sure these UK travel companies have ways round all the problems i have mentioned above, maybe they don't use public transport and hire mini busses that run of a perfect timetable, i don't know, but independently trying to do Thailand/laos/cambodia and vietnam in 1 month using public transport is almost not possible, and if it is just achievable then it will be so rushed that it wont be enjoyable...

    hope this helps

    #5 Posted: 28/4/2011 - 00:43

  • Tomhamish

    Joined Travelfish
    19th April, 2010
    Posts: 21

    http://www.travelfish.org/travel-planning/less-is-more

    also this may be useful

    #6 Posted: 28/4/2011 - 00:55

  • Nixxypie

    Joined Travelfish
    27th April, 2011
    Posts: 55

    Thanks so much for your help. Do you know if it is cheaper to book flights in advance or just when we arrive? Airasia has a few promo flights on their website which I doubt will be available in 15 weeks time, and I'm worried flights will sell out.
    Thanks again.

    #7 Posted: 28/4/2011 - 02:18

  • Nixxypie

    Joined Travelfish
    27th April, 2011
    Posts: 55

    Also is there a direct flight from Chiang Mai to Hanoi ? I've done a search on a price comparison website and it says there are no direct flights, the quickest flight is via Bangkok but takes 9 hours, otherwise it takes 18+ hours stopping at other places.

    Another option would be getting the sleeper train back to Bangkok from Chiang Mai then flying from there to Hanoi the following day, which might work out a bit cheaper.

    #8 Posted: 28/4/2011 - 03:06

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