Southeast Asia forum

35 days BKK/camodia/vietnam/laos highlights nov-dec, whats the best route?

  • lauralenny

    Joined Travelfish
    5th October, 2013
    Posts: 4

    Hi folks

    I have just spent the last 2 days reading as much on this forum (and others) as i could and I have to admit I think Im more confused now than I was before!

    To set the stage, myself and my boyfriend are travelling for 6 months starting this November and hoping to fit in south east asia along the way. We arrive into BKK (4 days with day trip to bridge over river kwai) on the 17th november and plan on travelling from there through cambodia (7-9 days) vietnam (12-14 days) to laos (7 days). Hoping to finish up in Chiang Mai and fly from there to the thai islands (not included in the 34 days dont worry!) for Christmas.

    The main piece of advice I would like to ask is re what direction of travel we should go in. Originally we planned on starting through cambodia from BKK to vietnam up the coast from south to north with a trip to Halong bay then over to Laos and on to Chiang Mai. Having seen other posts on this forum I have done a little day by day below....

    1 BKK
    2 BKK
    3 bridge over river kwai day trip from BKK
    4 BKK
    5 BKK to siem reap
    6 SR
    7 SR
    8 SR to battambang
    9 Battambang to phnom penh
    10 PP
    11 PP
    12 PP to Ho chi minh
    13 Mekong delta day trip
    14 Ho chi minh
    15 Ho chi minh to Mui ne
    16 Mui ne
    17 Mui ne to Hoi an
    18 Hoi an
    19 Hoi an to Hue
    20 Hue
    21 Hue (overnight to Hanoi )
    22 Hanoi
    23 Halong Bay
    24 Halong Bay
    25 Hanoi to Vientiane (fly)
    26 Vientiane
    27 Vientiane to Vang Vieng
    28 Vang Vieng
    29 Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang
    30 Luang Prabang
    31 Luang Prabang
    32 Luang Prabang to Huay Xai
    33 Huay Xa
    34 Huay Xai to Chiang Mai
    35 fly chiang mai to phuket

    My problem now with this is that supposedly after lots of reading the weather in Halong Bay / Hanoi isnt very good at this time of year (mid to late December) so we were wondering if we should mix it up.

    Finally Ill get to my questions.

    Would it be worthwhile flying straight from BKK to Hanoi and doing Halong Bay a little earlier (around the 21 november) or should we just skip it altogether on this trip and give ourselves more time elsewhere? The schedule above looks jam packed. What is the weather like in Hanoi / Halong bay at this time of the year? I love the sun and swimming and dont think I want to do Halong bay if I cant make the most of it in this regard I would rather come back at a different time.

    IF we do this and work our way down south we would pretty much be doing the same stops but I cant work out how to then get us from Cambodia (siem reap) to Laos? Thoughts on this? The flights are super expensive and the overland travel seems to be prohibitive as well.

    Or should we continue with original plan and cut Hanoi altogether and just finish at Hue. if this is the case is it easy to get from Hue to Laos?

    With regards beach resorts in Vietnam is Mui Ne worth a visit or should we go to Sihanoukville in Cambodia instead- if the weather would be better there?

    Do we need to spend a night in the Mekong or is a day trip from Ho Chi Minh city ok?

    All thoughts / suggestions / critiques welcomed. I expect I know what some of your thoughts will be already with regards trying to fit too much in. Im already afraid that is the case and am wondering if we should try and cut out some places along the way.

    Thanks in advance and also for all the advice I have already garnered from other peoples requests!

    Perhaps we will meet some of you along the way.


    Laura and Ross

    #1 Posted: 5/10/2013 - 11:12

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  • Tilapia

    Click here to learn more about Tilapia
    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Canada
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    At least 113

    Can't help you with your Vietnam questions, but I would say that going to Kanchanaburi on a day trip just to see the bridge isn't a good use of time IMHO. I think it is better to go (by train from the Thonburi station on the west side of the Chao Phraya River) and stay there for a night or two at one of the nice guest houses on the river. The bridge is best seen early in the morning before the bus loads of package tourists arrive (and make no mistake ... they will arrive by the dozens), and then use the rest of your time to check out the town and countryside, both of which are quite nice. The countryside on the west side of the river is great for cycling.

    I'd also add a day onto Angkor and get the 3-day pass. If you're going to fork over the cash to fly there, why not stay a bit longer and see more of the area? It's worth it.

    Have a great trip.

    #2 Posted: 5/10/2013 - 12:17

  • travellings-

    TF writer
    Joined Travelfish
    23rd March, 2010
    Location Vietnam
    Posts: 679
    Total reviews: 11
    Places visited:
    At least 87

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    I'll chip in on the Vietnam leg then...

    Firstly, I wouldn't recommend the stop off in Mui Ne, mainly because to then get to Danang requires a lengthy bus journey or a slightly shorter but still lengthy bus journey followed by a 9 hour or so train journey. Given your limited time, that's a lot of travelling for just one day in Mui Ne. So you could instead fly from HCMC straight to Danang, for Hoi An and then Hue. Of course, that doesn't address your desire for sun and swimming because the weather in Hoi An isn't likely to be beach weather, so I think you need to reconsider how important the sun and swimming part is for you on this part of your trip. If it's important then perhaps skip Vietnam all together on this trip - as you've said you could come back - and go straight from Cambodia to Laos. Both countries will have far better weather at that time of year than the centre and north of Vietnam.

    If, however, you really want to at least dip your toe into Vietnam, you could concentrate on the south and either travel by land, via the Mekong, from PP to Ho Chi Minh then fly to Vientiene from HCMC.

    Hanoi / Halong will likely already be a bit chilly by end November (not guaranteed - sometimes it's still lovely and warm and sunny) so changing your route won't make a huge amount of difference - although if you could get here early November that should still be nice. Hanoi's not a bad place to be in winter at all, but no, you probably wouldn't want to go swimming at that time of year.

    #3 Posted: 7/10/2013 - 00:53

  • amnicoll

    Joined Travelfish
    10th January, 2005
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 597
    Total reviews: 6

    direction will not make a huge ammount of differance.

    Do not understand the battambang side trip seems a waste of time

    Why not go through the Mekong from PP to HCM perhaps via sianoukville and or Kampot/kep

    #4 Posted: 7/10/2013 - 07:16

  • lauralenny

    Joined Travelfish
    5th October, 2013
    Posts: 4

    Thanks so much for the replies guys.

    Amnicoll - is battambang not worth seeing? We have actually decided to cut it out... I really want to go to sihanoukville but my boyf isnt keen.. Is it easy to get across the border via the mekong delta?

    travellingsarah - thanks so much for the reply!is there anywhere you would suggest for beach weather in vietnam? my boyf really wants to spend more time in vietnam rather than cambodia but id like to do sihanoukville... im happy to compromise if there is somewhere i might get the weather!? also have decided to skip halong bay altogether and do it another time. frees us up for other places... are you a vietnam vet? anywhere you would recommend we dont miss? do we need to do both hue and hoi an? what about da nang?

    have reworked my itinerary below (yes i left mui ne in just as a reminder i would like more beach time) ... any more thoughts?
    Thanks again! L
    1 BKK
    2 BKK
    3 BKK
    4 BKK
    5 Bkk to SR (?fly)
    6 SR
    7 SR
    8 SR to PP
    9 PP
    10 PP
    11 PP to shianoukville
    12 Shianoukville
    13 Shianoukville
    14 Shianoukville to Chau Doc
    15 Chau doc
    16 mekong to HCMC
    17 HCMC
    18 HCMC
    19 HCMC to mui ne
    20 Mui ne
    21 Mui ne to Hoi an
    22 Hoi an
    23 hoi an to Hue
    24 Hue
    25 Hue
    26 Hue to LP (fly)
    27 LP
    28 LP
    29 LP to VV
    30 VV
    31 VV
    32 VV to vientiane
    32 vientiane
    33 Vientiane

    #5 Posted: 7/10/2013 - 09:19

  • lauralenny

    Joined Travelfish
    5th October, 2013
    Posts: 4

    also tilapia (does that name come from lake tilapia? i spent some time there volunteering, love the fish!) thanks for the comments... will listen to what you said re kanchanburi. not sure about 3 days in angkor, i think i might get a bit bored. i do love to see it, but i like to fly through things like that... i think if we get there and love it we could always spend extra time!

    #6 Posted: 7/10/2013 - 09:21

  • amnicoll

    Joined Travelfish
    10th January, 2005
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 597
    Total reviews: 6

    It is not so much that Batambang is not worth seeing (there are some nice places out of the city that require 1/2 day trips) but the time you are going to spend travelling compared with the time to see anything.

    I would personally spend a day less in Sianoukville and move on to Kampot for a night and then from there cross via Kep (or overnite in Kep) to Ha Tien - there are many posts on this site and on the lonely planet one and the trip is not difficult

    You can quickly and easily pick up a vietnames visa in Sianoukeville by the way

    #7 Posted: 8/10/2013 - 05:05

  • theloner

    Joined Travelfish
    7th October, 2013
    Posts: 116
    Total reviews: 3

    Wow! Are you guys trying to win a race or fill your passports with stamps ? I would take at least 50% of your ideas off the list. But if you really enjoy running yourself ragged go for it. This is very typical of most travelers here. Following everybody else like cattle and making a marathon of it. But please be my guest and try out your idea. I would suggest you stay at Khao San Road , the full moon party, Koh Samui, Koh Phi Phi, Pai, so you will have a true Thai experience.

    #8 Posted: 9/10/2013 - 00:47

  • Tilapia

    Click here to learn more about Tilapia
    Joined Travelfish
    21st April, 2006
    Location Canada
    Posts: 1478
    Total reviews: 15
    Places visited:
    At least 113

    Hi Laura,

    Not from the lake, but from the fish. I didn't know there was a Lake Tilapia, but I'm not surprised.

    #9 Posted: 11/10/2013 - 08:01

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