Hello people! If anybody can give any advice whatsoever to me it would be much appreciated as i'm a newb to travelling.
Basically im heading off to Southeast asia on the 13th of july, arriving in bangkok on the 14th. I plan on spending about 3 weeks in Thailand, possibly a week in Laos and around 2 weeks in Vietnam. The only things we are definitely doing will be Full moon party, visit to Phiket and Phi Phi, Tubing in Laos just gonna wing it after that!
The plan is to end in Ho Chi Minh city after 5 weeks and move on to australia for a year.. I have my visa for thailand and australia sorted but nothing else set in stone. Can anyone advise on the best ways to travel to laos and on to vietnam, best place to cross the border, where/how to get visa's for Laos and Vietnam or even just recommended places to stop along the way and interesting things to see.
Thanks in advance!
#1 bigperm178 has been a member since 25/6/2011. Posts: 6
Every single question you have has been answered 10 times over in threads all over this site, Thorn Tree, Travellerspoint, and even easier, Lonely Planet's South East Asia on a shoestring. I suggest looking at it, and deciding what you want to do in each place first. What is best to cross depends on where you are. There are only a few places to cross outside of flying. You can do a search on Thai/Laos border crossings for example, find out where they are by looking on your LP guide map, having some idea of where you want to go in Laos, THEN we can say, try this or that. We can't plan your trip but give us some info so we can HELP you plan your trip.
Many general questions like this don't get bothered because they are too general. There is no BEST in any of your answers. There is only what someone decided to do based on THEIR logistics of location and desired destination.
Check out the itinerary planner found here: http://www.travelfish.org/trip_planner/
You will find it useful to find out the best routes to take, the usual destinations, and an indication of distance and travel times between destinations. It's a good starting point...
Also - you can get a Laos visa at the border on arrival ($30-ish, depending on nationality). You have to apply ahead of time for a Vietnam visa 'approval' letter. You can do that on various online websites (dig around on TF to find the links). You pay about $20 (or was it $30?) and they send out a letter of approval in 2-3 days time that you print out and take to the airport.
'Winging' it is great idea and one that we normally suggest, but if you are only going for only 5 weeks and have a flight to catch, you should at least have an outline of your plan (ie 2-3 days here, 2-3 days there), understand the distances/travel times involved to keep you on track.
I'm not sure how the Vietnam pre-arrival approval letter (made that one up) works for overland crossing - I think its only good for airport arrival. So, if you're going to cross overland it may be better to get a Visa in advance for Vietnam and have a rough estimate of when you're going to cross over so that it has a valid date.
"Possibly a week in Laos" [emhasis added] will go by much quicker than a week if you want to go overland to Vietnam. However, with just a week you can do a few nights in Vientiane , a few nights in Vang Vieng, and a few nights in Luang Prabang and then fly from LP to Hanoi . My math has you at a 6 week plan and a 5 week schedule, so you're going to have to speed up the Thailand leg of your trip if you want to overland into Vietnam.
The best place to cross if you decide on overland would probably be just east of Sam Neau which is close to Hanoi. There is the option of a 24 hour bus direct from Luang Prabang to Hanoi (though I think the 24 hours is an initial departure time from Vientiane and you just jump on in LP). That would be a better option with a 1 week limit in Laos - the fastest way to get to Vietnam without flying.
Thanks for that completely useless reply Thomas922. I'm sure there are plenty more places that I could have found the info I was looking for too but I prefer to personally ask questions and get conversations going with people rather than just reading other peoples conversations like some forum voyeur.
Thanks busylizzy and caseyprich. Would you say if i stopped in bangkok for a few days it would be easy to get a vietnam visa sorted?
Good point about the time problem in Laos, its probably gonna mean 2-3 days in Luang Prabang and then just slowly make the way across to Hanoi.
Can you recommend whether or not i should have my flights out of Vietnam booked before i leave home or would they be cheaper booking them from an agent somewhere over there?
#6 bigperm178 has been a member since 25/6/2011. Posts: 6
And you were also advised to look at the itinerary planner on this website..Casey gave you his version of your trip instead of you giving us an idea which someone might find better...and the best place to cross depends on where you are. You may have read about the Gibbons Experience for all we know and need to get there from XX place. The more you give the more you get. Hmmm what's interesting to see in SE Asia? Nothing in a book or pics on this site made you say wow? That looks cool let me ask is it worth it. Maybe you think I was harsh ..in that case sorry but people ask the same question everyday. I wanna travel what do I do? A Google search for how to get a Vietnam visa would have you almost there. I have recommendations for a certain brand of toilet paper on the road too but...like I said help US help YOU plan your trip. Or at least them. Good luck.
Whats the best brand in 3 ply bro?
#8 bigperm178 has been a member since 25/6/2011. Posts: 6
I have to admit I am sympathetic with Thomas' position here. The big thing is knowing someone's preferences. I mean, you sound like you want to party. Why not just go to Pattaya and have a great time. World's party capital.
#9 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Dont get me wrong, i do want to party but more so i want to see things that cant be seen anywhere else in the world. Have some once in a lifetime experiences. And do things that I will be telling stories about in distant years.
#10 bigperm178 has been a member since 25/6/2011. Posts: 6
I'm all for asking personal questions and getting the conversation going too, but there is a difference between that and asking others to plan your trip for you. Because of that, I have to admit that in this case I'm sympathetic to Thomas' position as well.
Remember too that when you ask a question you are also asking people to donate their time and effort and expertise to respond. The questions I'm most likely to answer are when folks show that they've taken their own time and made some effort to figure out the options and are now just looking to fine tune their choices.
Georgia Pacific has a Northern Quilted brand that is good!
Actually most supermarkets in the US (I don't know other places) have little choices in 3 ply but the Northern Quilted is good. All jokes aside James my man you will wish you had some after scratching up your arse in SE Asia!
Water under the bridge dude, or in this case toilet. I apologize if I was too harsh. Wasn't the first time... probably won't be the last. many of us didn't have so much help starting out and we see things a little different. Do your thing!
VV in Laos definitely sounds like a good choice for you. Party place, but getting there and leaving there will bring you to some decent places to check out. I would recommend leaving from Bangkok and going to Khon Kaen and hit up the university quarter for a night or two. Loads of bars, loads of Thai kids wanting to practice their English - great place for someone like you to cut his teeth. Then head further north to Nong Khai, chill there for a day and look around (detail available here on travelfish) and then on to Vientiane. Check that out and hit VV and then on to Laung Prabang. Take your time. no need to rush.
#13 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
i really like that khon kaen suggestion. first, head south and do the phuket and phi phi thing. then back through bangkok and up to khon kaen and eventually nong khai. then across the bridge into laos for a few days in vientiane and a visit to the legendary beer lao brewery. then on to vang vieng, luang prabang, and over to vietnam. that's a great mix of beach, fun, river views, and local atmosphere. if you want to add some culture, throw in a stopover in ayutthaya on the way to khon kaen. this trip is really shaping up nicely. sounds great.
I apologize too Thomas, I might have been a bit of a cunt! Im just stressed out, its my first time properly flying the roost!
Cheers lads, Khon Kaen sounds like a great place to go, i think a stop there is definitely on the cards.
I was thinking of taking the slow boat to Luang Prabang. Just because it seems like something out or a war movie and an unusual experience. But is it worth losing a day or 2 on it?
I read about Ayutthaya a while back and it looked interesting so i said that if i was in the general area i was going to stop there, but if not i wouldn't mind.
Random question. I was told that you cant get big sizes in shoes in asia. I had planned on bringing one pair and buying what i need over there. Any suggestions?
Also I want to shoot some guns while i'm away, just because the gun laws are so strict here and I want to see what a machine gun is like. I found a place near bangkok but it was pretty expensive. And someone told me that its much cheaper and easier in Vietnam. You guys know anything about that?
Thatnks for all the help.
#16 bigperm178 has been a member since 25/6/2011. Posts: 6
It is cheaper in Vietnam and Cambodia, but the cost it takes to get there (not to mention the time) negates the savings, so unless that's on the planned road, I would forget it. Shoot while your in Bangkok.
#17 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Lot of hot women in Issan too!
#19 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Jeniekrag is right about Isaan. A few people on this site plug the area frequently, and I'm one of them. If you want to do something different, off of the tourist trail, where you'll get a good dose of wonderful people, beautiful scenery, fantastic food, low costs, and great memories, then this is the one of the best parts of the country to hit.
However, I would suggest that rather than going to Khon Kaen, that you head to Loei, then head up another 40 km to Chiang Khan. From there you can follow the Mekong River east to a place called Sangkhom where there is an excellent bungalow operation (Buoy's Bungalow) that is worthy of at least a few days for hammock-swinging. From Sangkhom you can continue in the same direction to Nong Khai which is also a great place for a couple of nights, and the point where you can hop the border into Laos. Check these places out on Google Earth and you'll see that it is a great route that makes sense (not saying that any others here do not make sense ... they do ... this is just more scenic in my opinion) and that is very doable.
There are lots of ways to get to Loei. I think for a first-timer that a good way would be to take the train to Phitsanulok , go and check out Old Sukhothai for a couple of days, then take a bus back to Phitsanulok and then another to Loei (about 3 1/2 hours). If you left Sukhothai in the morning you could be in Chiang Khan by mid-afternoon. It's much easier than I just made it sound.
Another option would be to take the overnight train to Nong Khai from Bangkok. While there you could rent a motorbike and then ride west along the river to Chiang Khan, with a stop in Sangkhom, then loop back south and through the hills to Pak Chom and then back to Nong Khai ... then head into Laos.
Just some other options to digest. There are loads of ways to get from Point A to Point B in Thailand and the best one is going to be the one that works best for you, your time, your budget, and your thoughts on what you want to see and do.
I would also recommend Nan. It's not on the way to anywhere, to be honest, but it's worth the detour.
Jeniekrag and Tilapia and i suppose Rasheeed! That is some brilliant advice! They're types of places I would definitely like to see. I had a quick look but im definitely gonna study them and start making a rough draft of places im definitely gonna go to.
Thanks very much especially Tilapia.
Another question, any recommendations of where to go deep sea fishing? Another thing i want to do!
#22 bigperm178 has been a member since 25/6/2011. Posts: 6