Southeast Asia forum

3 weeks SEA for first timers

  • jackieg

    Joined Travelfish
    17th April, 2012
    Posts: 5

    Please Help - My husbad and are planning a 3 week trip o SEA. I would like to see Bangkok - Angor Wat - KL and Borneo. Is this doable. I have read so many different blogs that my head is starting to pickle. Has anybody any suggestions as to a plan for me. would rather travel over land than fly if possible.

    All help welcome

    #1 Posted: 17/4/2012 - 07:55

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  • chinarocks

    Joined Travelfish
    17th June, 2011
    Posts: 684

    You probably don’t need me to tell you that those four locations are seriously spaced out and would require much expense in air fares and visa fees if you were to see each of them properly within a three week timeframe. My advice to you would be to focus on a country / region that you think you would enjoy the most and spend all of your three weeks there. You won’t need to move around as much, can travel on local buses and sample what the people are like, can spend a day or two here and there just kicking back relaxing around the markets and coffee shops. And you can still see many amazing sights as well.

    One of Thailand, Cambodia or Borneo could all work well for a 3 week stay.

    Finally, IMO there is nothing special whatsoever about KL. It is a nice Asian city with some good eating options and lovely people but no more than that.

    #2 Posted: 17/4/2012 - 08:16

  • jackieg

    Joined Travelfish
    17th April, 2012
    Posts: 5

    Thanks for your response. How about if I do Thailand and Camodia and leave Malaysia. Could it be done in 3 weeks. EG

    Fly into Bangkok and spend a few days here and then maybe travel to siam Reap for 3 or 4 days and then back to Thailand for 10-15 days. Maybe do a few trips from Bangkok - River Kwai is must for us and then onto Pattaya for a few days R&R at the beach. I have never been outside US and Europe so this is a whole new experience. Also we are usually very organised in our trips but i would like to be able to just float about for a bit

    #3 Posted: 17/4/2012 - 12:40

  • busylizzy

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    Yes, this feasible.

    Depending on how 'adventurous' yo are, you could consider flying BKK - Phnom Penh, bus to Siem Reap (6 hrs), then go overland from Siem Reap into Thailand, heading to Trat. From Trat, you can get to the eastern islands of Thailand (Koh Chang, Koh Muk). I would suggest Koh Chang/Muk over Pattaya, but I guess that depends on what kind of beach time you are looking for. (Pattaya will be full-on with lots of activity, bars, nightclubs where as Koh Chang will be more laid back.

    From Trat, it's then a 5-hour bus trip back into BKK (or a quick flight, probably quite cheap on Air Asia).
    Keep in mind that you arrive in Thailand overland, you will be limited to a 14-day visa exemption. You'll get 30 day exemption if you arrive at the airport.

    #4 Posted: 17/4/2012 - 18:10

  • SBE

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    Isn't Ko Muk a bit nearer Trang than Trat Lizzy? :-p

    Typo, she obviously meant Ko Mak (sometimes spelt Maak). Thai names are transliterated so the spelling varies... it can be a bit confusing for a newbie.

    Ko Kut (sometimes spelt Kood) and Ko Wai are also near Trat. You can do a search and see if they sound more your cup of tea than Pattaya. If you just want a nice tropical beach to relax on then there are far better options than Pattaya. The beach there is ugly and the water isn't too clean either. If you're looking for in your face naughty nightlife, bars, restaurants and shopping malls then Pattaya would be right up your street.

    If you'd prefer somewhere with an OK beach a bit nearer Bangkok and the airport then Ko Samet might fit the bill. It's not exactly pristine any more, got wall to wall bungalow resorts along all the beaches, but the sand and water are a lot nicer than in Pattaya.

    #5 Posted: 17/4/2012 - 20:37

  • caseyprich

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    Lizzy beat me to the punch - I 100% agree with everything she said (except for that part about Ko Muk instead of Ko Mak).

    Three weeks for around BKK, Angkor Wat, PP, then finish off with the Ko Chang Islands is a totally possible plan. I had 3 weeks a few years back and instead of going to Cambodia spent a week up in Chiang Mai, had plenty of time to relax on the beaches of Ko Chang/Ko Wai/Ko Mak. Start with a few days in BKK and the trip to Kanchanaburi for a couple nights (2) then the flight to PP for a couple nights, then on to Angkor Wat for the 3 day pass if you like and you've still got plenty of time to stop in Trat (I hear it is a nice town for a night) on the way over to a little island hoping around Ko Chang.

    I'd only spend 2 nights maximum on your first arrival to BKK and then get heading on as you can always arrive a couple days early to get your flight back and soak the city up a bit more. d

    #6 Posted: 17/4/2012 - 21:25

  • busylizzy

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    Muk, Mook, Mak, Maak... same same but different! Sigh.. I usually look them up to make sure I get the right one. Have been to both but can't keep them straight in my head!
    Casey is right, too. Trat is a very nice town to hang out in for a couple of nights, although if trying to get to the islands, you'll probably limit it to one night. Had my best ever massage there when I asked her to be careful with my badly injured ankle (after having a bad fall into a hole when I wasn't looking where I was going). Instead of avoiding it as I asked, she spent a lot of time working on it - and it was as good as new when I left!

    #7 Posted: 17/4/2012 - 22:56

  • SBE

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    Er just to clarify, I didn't word my last post at all well. Sorry, I didn't mean to imply I thought you were a newbie Lizzy, quite the contrary! What I meant to say was it might be a bit confusing for the OP. Because it's her first time, many of the Thai place names are probably completely unfamiliar to her. I had visions of her googling Muk and scratching her head a bit!

    The night food market in Trat is good too.

    Incidentally to get across the border overland you have more than one choice. Poipet is the closest to Siem Reap but it's got a bad reputation for scams. I haven't used the Pailin border crossing but it's nearer Trat and it might be a bit easier doing it there.

    #8 Posted: 18/4/2012 - 03:27

  • busylizzy

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    No worries SBE - I didn't take your post the wrong way, I knew what you were meaning! :-)

    #9 Posted: 18/4/2012 - 05:15

  • jackieg

    Joined Travelfish
    17th April, 2012
    Posts: 5

    thanks everyone for your time to reply - much appreciated. Can you let me know about hotel bookings.
    I plan to fly into bangkok
    2 nights Bangkok - hotel will be prebooked
    Fly or overland to SR 3 nights SR - hotel will be pre booked
    last 2 nights back in Bangkok
    Its the bit in between i am not sure about. If I leave SR and head back to bangkok and start there for my travels i would like to see Kanchanburi and spend a few nights on a beach somewhere. If i jsut travel about and rock up someplace how easy is it to get a hotel? My biggest worry is that i will not be able to get somewhere to stay if i dont prebook
    Also what would be my budget per day for a decent hotel and food whilst in Thailand - we are not party people or big drinkers but would like to see a lot of sights

    thanks for your help and please bear with me - i am new to this way of travel - it scares the life out of me but also excites me no end and cant wait. BTW it will be march or nov we hope to travel

    #10 Posted: 18/4/2012 - 07:08

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  • SBE

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    -When you first arrive in Thailand you'll be given a free 30 day stamp (because you arrived by air).

    -As mentioned by lizzy, when you come back into Thailand overland from Cambodia you'll only get a free 15 day stamp.

    If you go straight to Cambodia after only a couple of nights in BKK you'll be wasting the 30 day stamp and, depending on how long you stay in Cambodia, you may find your 15 day stamp isn't quite enough to cover the rest of the time you'll be spending in Thailand.

    Why not follow casey's suggestion and go to Kanchanaburi first, before heading off to Cambodia? It's not far from Bangkok and is easy to get to. Stay there a couple of nights then back to Bangkok and fly to Phnom Penh. While in Phnom Pehn you could maybe visit the killing fields and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21 Prison) before heading up to Siem Reap by bus.

    Then a few days in Siem Reap checking out the ruins. You've got enough time to take a day off to relax and do something else if you feel like it...no need to pack in all the temples in just three days. If you do you'll be totally templed out by day three.

    When you're done with the temples head to the border. You could spend a night or two in the less touristy town of Battambang before crossing the Pailin border back into Thailand if you want.

    Then off to Trat... relax on one of the Chang islands or do some island hopping if you prefer. It's very hard to spend just a couple of days doing R&R on Thai islands....you'll almost certainly want more time than that.

    Then back to Bangkok and home.

    Not too rushed you can always modify your itinerary and do something totally different once you get there. You'll probably be amazed how easy it is to change plans on a whim ... as long as you don't set things in stone by pre-booking all your accommodation before you go! Neither of your proposed times are high season so don't stress about having to sleep on the street, it just won't happen. Booking the first two nights is a good idea though. You'll be jet lagged in a strange country, but I wouldn't bother booking anything else before you leave, too constraining.

    If it were me I'd chose November over March. March is the hottest time of year and the conditions in Siem Reap will be very hot and dusty, not optimal for walking round temples all day taking pictures. November is just after the rainy season (in theory) so it'll be cooler and the countryside more lush and green.

    #11 Posted: 18/4/2012 - 15:09

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