My boyfriend and I are planning a 12-24 month round the world trip to India, Southeast Asia (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam), China and Australia and are looking for some advice (see full thread at http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=2313235&messageID=20803511#20803511). We're planning to leave mid Sept. and visit the destinations in the above order, starting with India.
We're planning to fly into Bangkok from Chennai at the beginning of February 2014 and then explore Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam by overland journeys until end of May 2014, when we want to cross into China from Vietnam.
Using Travelfish as a guide, I have created the itinerary below, in the approximate order we want to travel (I'm only planning a rough itinerary as we want to stay flexible).
We're interested in culture, landscapes, wildlife, national parks, cuisine, beaches, some hiking (not trekking), adventures, photography.
1st & 2nd wk Feb - Southern Thailand: Ko Tao, Ko Pha-Ngan, Ko Samui, Krabi, Phuket, Ko Phi Phi
3rd & 4th wk Feb - Northern Thailand: Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Sukhothai, Chiang Mai, Lampang (Elephant Conservation Centre)
1st & 2nd wk Mar - Northern Laos: Huay Xai, Pakbeng, Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Vientiane
3rd & 4th wk Mar - Southern Laos: Tha Khaek, Savannakhet, Pakse, Champasak, Si Phan Don/Four Thousand Islands
Apr - May (4 weeks) - Cambodia: Banlung, Kratie, Sen Monorom (Elephant Valley Project), Phnom Penh, Siem Riep, Battambang, Sihanoukville, Kampot, Kep
May - Jun (4 weeks) - Vietnam: Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon, Mui Ne, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue, Halong Bay, Hanoi, Sapa
Are there any additions/omissions you would recommend? Any changes to the route?
Any tips and advice would be greatly appreciated - both general travel advice for South-East Asia and specific info about regions, cities, attractions, transport, accommodation etc.
Many thanks in advance,
Nicole & Stu
A couple of quick points -
You're packing a lot into each month (9-10 destinations in most places) which will be a fairly strenuous pace to keep up for months. Your opening 2 weeks in Thailand especially sounds like hard work: 6 places in a fortnight! Remember each time you move on, you're likely to lose at least half a day to travelling from place to place and sorting out accommodation, so that would leave you only one and a bit days in each destination - doesn't sound relaxing to me....
In general, you may well find that you need to slow down from time to time, to give yourself a breather. If you're limited on entry and exit dates (by limits on the 30 day visa-exemption or visa-on-arrival, or by the entry and exit dates on your Vietnam visa - which you'll need to pre-arrange) you may find you have to skip a couple of your planned destinations. The other option is to stay longer than a month in some places.
On your Thailand route, Lampang is actually on the way from Sukhothai to Chiang Mai, so it makes more sense to visit Lampang before Chiang Mai.
Have a great time!