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Southeast Asia forum

40 Days for Thailand/Laos/Malaysia. Time and Transport help!

Posted by hellfire2260 on 15/1/2013 at 07:04

Dear Travelfishers,

Me and my girlfriend are planning trip to SE Asia End from 26/02 to 10/04. We'll have exactly 40 days there. Below is the itinerary we put together and would like some advise if it's doable or not. We want to make the most out of our trip but not rush too much at the same time. We enjoy nature, sights and culture. Not interested in nightlife, drinking and big cities. Any comments welcome. I will post questions below itinerary.
* Are marked optional destination that we'd love to do it time allows.
Thailand:
1) Bangkog (Flying In)
* Kanchanaburi
2) Ayutthaya
3) Sukhothai
* Um Phang
4) Chiang Mai
5) Chiang Rai
Chiang KhongTHAILAND -> LAOS

Laos:
6) Huay Xai (The Gibbon Experience)
7) Louangphrabang
8) Vang Vieng
9) Vientiane
* Kong Lo Cave
10) Savanahket
11) Si Phan Don -4000 Islands
Nong Nok Khiene-> Trepeang Kriel LAOS -> CAMBODIA

Cambodia:
12) Kratie
13) Phnum Penh
14) Siem Reap
15) Angkor

Thailand:
16) Ko Tao
17) Ko Phan Ngan
* Ko Samui
19) Kao Sok National Park
20) Krabi
21) Ko Phi Phi
* Ko Lanta

Malesia:
22) Georgetown , Pulau Pennang
23) Cameron Highlands
* National Negra Park
24) Kuala Lumpur
25) Melaka
26) Singapore (FLYING OUT)

Main Questions:
1) Once we reach Vientiane is it best to travel to Savannakhet through Thailand or Laos?
2) Is Kong Lo Cave worth a detour?
3) What's the best way to get to Ko Tao from Cambodia? Frying would save a lot of time, but can't find any good value flights there (I am ready to pay £150pp).
4) Is that itinerary doable at all? Will we be rushing a lot with the time we have?
Thanks in advance for any comments. Dawid

#1 hellfire2260 has been a member since 15/1/2013. Posts: 3

Posted by somtam2000 on 15/1/2013 at 17:51 admin

Welcome to Travelfish David,

In my opinion that is a very ambitious timetable for 40 days. I'm just going to relist it with some travel times added to the first couple of countries in to illustrate my point, then will follow up with some suggestions + answers to your questions.


1) Bangkog (Flying In)
* Kanchanaburi ( about 2 hours each way from Bkk)
2) Ayutthaya (one hour from Bangkok)
3) Sukhothai (about 5 hours from Ayutthaya)
* Um Phang (full day each way, most likely with an overnight in Tak as the songthaews only go in the morning - I think)
4) Chiang Mai (About 5 hours from Sukhothai)
5) Chiang Rai (About 4-5 hours)
Chiang KhongTHAILAND -> LAOS

Laos:
6) Huay Xai (The Gibbon Experience) (day in day out)
7) Louangphrabang (Huay Xai to Luang Prabang takes 2 days
Vang Vieng (say 7 hours from Luang Prabang)
9) Vientiane (3-4 hours from Vang Vieng)
* Kong Lo Cave (approached from Tha Khaek, 5 hours from Vientiane) allow a full day
10) Savanahket (2 hours)
11) Si Phan Don -4000 Islands (6-7 hours)
Nong Nok Khiene-> Trepeang Kriel LAOS -> CAMBODIA

Cambodia:
12) Kratie (3-4 hours from Stung Treng (closest real town to the border)
13) Phnum Penh (6 hours or so)
14) Siem Reap (4-5 hours)
15) Angkor

Thailand:
16) Ko Tao
17) Ko Phan Ngan
* Ko Samui
19) Kao Sok National Park
20) Krabi
21) Ko Phi Phi
* Ko Lanta

Malesia:
22) Georgetown , Pulau Pennang
23) Cameron Highlands
* National Negra Park
24) Kuala Lumpur
25) Melaka
26) Singapore (FLYING OUT)


At the moment you have a list, included a wishes of 26 places in 40 days.

I'd pick Ko Tao, Ko Pha Ngan or Ko Samui. I'd choose Ayutthaya or Sukhothai, drop Chiang Rai and drop Savannakhet.


Your questions:

1) Direct bus from VTE to Savannakhet
2) Yes - if you have time. At this stage I don;t think you do.
3) See this story for the main travel options. we do have a Ko Tao specific one on the thailand blog - will find it later, in a rush just now :-)
4) No. It is too rushed.

Sorry to be brief, gotta take kids to school! will add some more thoughts in in a bit

Cheers!

#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,498
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Posted by hellfire2260 on 16/1/2013 at 02:40

Thank you very much for your reply. Much appreciated.
Following your advise I will certainly drop the Chiang Rai, Savannakhet, Um Phang and Ko Samui (unless flying in). I know we'll still be rushing it, but this is just a draft. I am sure it will change along the way :)
I was really hoping that there is a way to bypass Bangkok and fly directly to South from Cambodia - that would possibly save us a day or two! But seems like going through BK is the only way!

#3 hellfire2260 has been a member since 15/1/2013. Posts: 3

Posted by MADMAC on 16/1/2013 at 21:36

26 locations in 40 days? It's insane. Sorry, but this means that more than every other day you are getting on some form of transport and going someplace. That means that most of your vacation will be spent sitting on a bus. Do you really enjoy buses that much? These aren't half hour bus trips. Many of them will take all day long, leaving you one evening in a place before getting on a bus the next morning.

#4 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by hellfire2260 on 17/1/2013 at 03:14

Thanks for you replay. This is exactly why I posted my question. Wd don't know what to expect. We've never been to SE Asia and have no experience. We only travel within Europe where with rented car we can easily see 2-3 things a day :) What would you suggest we cut off?
Obviously we don't want to spend whole holidays on the bus! Slightly updated itinerary below:

Thailand:
1) Bangkog (Flying In)
2) Ayutthaya
3) Sukhothai
4) Chiang Mai

Chiang KhongTHAILAND -> LAOS

Laos:
5) Huay Xai (The Gibbon Experience)
6) Louangphrabang
7) Vang Vieng
8)) Vientiane
9)) Si Phan Don -4000 Islands
Nong Nok Khiene-> Trepeang Kriel LAOS -> CAMBODIA

Cambodia:
10) Kratie
11) Phnum Penh
12) Siem Reap
13) Angkor

Thailand:
14) Ko Tao
15) Ko Phan Ngan
16) Kao Sok National Park
17) Krabi - Ko Phi Phi

Malesia:
18) Georgetown , Pulau Pennang
19) Cameron Highlands
20) Kuala Lumpur (Half Day)
21) Melaka
22) Singapore (FLYING OUT)

#5 hellfire2260 has been a member since 15/1/2013. Posts: 3

Posted by MADMAC on 17/1/2013 at 07:17

I would cut 4,000 Islands (which would be a hallacious bus ride from Vientiane). Cut Cambodia. If you really want to see Siem Reap, fly from Bangkok, stay for three days and return. Pick one Island. There's no reason to see four. Pick the one that seems to appeal to you most and enjoy some beach time. That should then be manageable. Still busy, but OK.

#6 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by somtam2000 on 17/1/2013 at 07:32 admin

You can fly Siem Reap to Ko Samui (via Bangkok) with Bangkok Airways. Overall flight time is about 4 hours but the cost is an eye-popping US$460 one way...

Re the pruned-back timeline:

There's no obvious flights in there unless you drop Kratie and 4,000 islands and fly Vientiane to Phnom Penh. That would save you two days of travel, but obviously you miss the dolphins etc. If I had to choose between Ayuthaya and Sukhothai I'd go with Sukhothai -- but you could do both I guess.

In southern Thailand, your suggested route is a common one, but if you don't plan to dive, I'd drop Ko Tao and just do Ko Pha Ngan.

In KL, if you are only staying there half a day, why stay at all? Am sure you could get a bus connection from Highlands straight through to Melaka .

Overall, it is still a very busy trip, particularly because the Gibbon X and overland to Luang Prabang will eat up a lot of time. I guess you could get a night bus from Vientiane to 4,000 islands, that saves a day -- and you can recover in a hammock ;-)

Now I'm going to point you to some further reading that may be of use:

Where to stay in Sukhotai
More still on Suk (3 stories)
Great places to stay in Georgetoen,Penang

How to get to the silly islands from Bangkok

And, last but not least:
Bangkok to SiemReap (you'll need to read it backwards ;-)

Sorry to keep suggesting you drop more and more, but as you're gathering, getting around is a bit different to Europe and sometimes it works out better and more enjoyable to slow down a bit, see a bit less but enjoy what you do see more.

Plus it gives you a good excuse for another trip next year!

Cheers

#7 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,498
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