I'm looking to take a 3 week trip to South East Asia in July-August. What I need help with is planning my route. The spots I would like to go are Laos (Luang Prabang, Vientienne), Vietnam (Sapa), Cambodia (Siem Reap). I'm very open to suggestions of different places but my main goals for this trip is to spend a half of the time trekking to a remote village, seeing lots of nature and hitting majot sight seeing spots like Angakor Wat and the other half of the trip to be very laid back, relaxing on beaches.
Any suggestions on a doable 3 week S.E Asia trip will be very much appreciated!
#1 giguerj has been a member since 6/5/2013. Posts: 7
If you really want to get into the thick off the beaten path the best bet may be to focus on just one area in 3 weeks. It sounds like you really want to see Siem Reap, so maybe just take a 3 week trip to Cambodia. You'll get to relax on the beaches of Cambodia and also find some very interesting hiking opportunities either in the Cardamom Mountains or up closer to the Laos border - be careful of unexploded ordinance though so you will probably want a guide.
The northern part of Laos requires a lot of travel time, as does getting around and exploring Sapa - plus I've not heard of too many beach highlights up in the north of Vietnam. You can get a lot of what you're looking for and a little deeper sense of the local culture and customs if you stay in just one country anyway, with a better chance of picking up some of the language, and 3 weeks is a really good amount of time to explore Cambodia.
3 weeks is a little tight as casey mentioned. If you try and fit all those areas in you won't have the proper time to get off the beaten path and explore/relax like it sounds like you want to do. Also the only way that makes sense to get around from each of those places is to fly which unfortunately is a little expensive(Laos and Cambodia not the cheapest to fly in/out of).
3 weeks in Cambodia would likely be good based on what you would like to do.
As mentioned you could check out Cardamom mountains or head in to the Mondulkiri/Ratanakiri provinces(didn't go but talked to a guy that really enjoyed it for getting off the beaten path and meeting locals etc).
For relaxing you can do either Kampot/Kep/Rabbit Island or Koh Rong(or all the above depending on what else you do).
Of course you can spend time checking out temples in Siem Reap, if you want can go check out Koh Ker, Preah Vihear etc.
Then there is Battambang, Phnom Penh and even Kompong Cham/Kratie that are decent enough for a day or two.
If you really feel like you would like to see more then just Cambodia then you could see less of it and fly to/from either Hanoi or Luang Prabang and see stuff there, you just won't be able to really see any of these places in really good detail and it will cost more. Guessing you have only 3 weeks available time off but for the way you sound I would try and get a little more time so you could see these places in more detail as it sounds like you would really like to do so.
I think I would like to see a little more then just Cambodia but I do not want to spend all my time travelling as well. Do you think a mix of Cambodia's site seeing spots/trekking and then going to south Vietnam or Thailand for the beaches would work? If yes, which country has the better beaches and which places are the must sees? Also, any ideas of how much I should budget for a trip like this?
#4 giguerj has been a member since 6/5/2013. Posts: 7
Thailand has probably the nicest beaches but requires flights to and from any of your other destinations. Cambodia is pretty much as good as Vietnam for beaches/islands to relax on.
You can easily go to southern Vietnam from Cambodia but realistically the sights/places aren't really that special as most of Vietnam's highlights are near the north imo.
If you want to see highlights from a few places you can do that instead but on your schedule you won't really be able to dig into the nitty gritty and go exploring like it sounds you kind of want to do.
What you could maybe do is fly to Hanoi, see Halong Bay, Sapa and maybe even go south to Paradise cave, Hue/Hoi An etc and then fly to Siem Reap and see the temples and might have enough time to fit in Phnom Penh. This will give you a lot more highlights to see but you won't have time to really just sit back and relax or go explore off the beaten path(maybe a tiny bit around Sapa but I don't consider that off the beaten path any more though). This would also add cost to your trip though as Vietnam is more expensive, you require an extra flight and visa etc.
Cost will really be determined by how you travel. If you are willing to sleep in mediocre fan rooms and/or dorm rooms and eat cheap then you can get by for around $30 a day excluding any bigger tours you go on, if you want to treat yourself a little more then $40-50 a day is more likely. Simply put the more places/countries you go to the more expensive your trip will be.