Photo: Street food Phetchaburi Soi 10, Bangkok.

Southeast Asia forum

Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos Advice for 51 day trip

Posted by Cyn343 on 10/3/2014 at 11:59

I will be traveling on my own to hopefully Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos... for 51 days!! i know it might be too much but...I've been researching my tirp for a couple of weeks now... and have been looking at several itineraries... reading as much as I can here as well as other forums and websites but I just want to do so much this is my first tirp outside of the Americas I have traveled through Central and South America...and live in North America so I'm super excited! I am intersted in seeing temples, taking a cooking class, learning about the local culture, I land in Bangkok on May 14th. below are my plans so far..any feedback would be greatly appreaciated!

May 14th Bangkok
May 15th Bangkok
May 16th Bangkok
May 17: Bangkok to Siem Reap
May 18: Siem Reap
May 19: Siem Reap
May 20: Siem Reap to Battambang (3hrs)
May 21: Battambang
May 22: Battambang to Phnom Penh (5hrs)
May 23: Phnom Pehn
May 24: Phnom Pehn
May 25: Phnom Penh
May 26: Phnom Penh
May 27: Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City (6hrs)
May 28: Ho Chi Minh City
May 29: Ho Chi Minh City
May 30: Ho Chi Minh City to Da Nang (Fly ) to Hoi An
May 31: Hoi An
June 1: Hoi An
Jun 2: Hoi An
Jun 3: Hoi An to Hanoi (Fly )
Jun 4: Hanoi
Jun 5: Hanoi
Jun 6: Hanoi
Jun 7: Hanoi to Halong Bay (3hrs)
Jun 8: Halong Bay
Jun 9: Halong Bay to Hanoi (3hrs) Hanoi to Vientiane (FLY )
Jun 10: Vientiane
Jun 11: Vientiane
Jun 12: Vientiane to Luang Nam Tha (Fly)
Jun 13: Luang Nam Tha
Jun 14: Luang Nam Tha
Jun 15: Luang Nam Tha
Jun 16: Luang Nam Tha to Huay Xai (4-6hrs)
Jun 17: Huay Xai
Jun 18: Huay Xai to Chaing Rai (2.5hrs)
Jun 19: Chaing Rai
Jun 20: Chaing Rai to Chaing Mai
Jun 21: Chaing Mai
Jun 22: Chaing Mai
Jun 23: Chaing Mai
Jun 24: Chaing Mai to BKK (Fly )-BKK to Ko Chang
Jun 25: Ko Chang
Jun 26: Ko Chang
Jun 27: Ko Chang
Jun 28: Ko Chang
Jun 29: Ko Chang
Jun 30: Ko Chang to Bangkok
Jul 1: Bangkok
Jul 2: BKK to LAX

#1 Cyn343 has been a member since 26/2/2014. Posts: 3

Posted by Grubert on 11/3/2014 at 03:12

That's a lot of nights you'll be spending in Phnom Penh and Hoi An, but then you may like them more than I did. In terms of the route it looks pretty good. As long as you keep your dates and plans as flexible as possible you're bound to have a great trip.

#2 Grubert has been a member since 21/2/2014. Posts: 57


Posted by MADMAC on 11/3/2014 at 04:00

"That's a lot of nights you'll be spending in Phnom Penh and Hoi An, but then you may like them more than I did."

This is funny. Grubert, you and I have hugely different tastes. You liked Savanakhet, I think it's crap. You didn't like Phnom Phen, I think it's a great place.

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

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 11/3/2014 at 04:12

I wouldnt.plan too much. Just sort out basics of visa and some flights.

#4 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 11/3/2014 at 04:13

Madmac, do u like chiang mai?

Cause i dont rate it at all while some people love the joint.

#5 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by MADMAC on 11/3/2014 at 04:43

Haven't been Leonard. With the exception of Bangkok, Ayuhdya and Pattaya - and Pattaya not much - I never leave Issan. Been to Savanakhet and PP and that's it. I like to ride all over Issan though. But I am definitely an Issan guy. If I never left Issan again I'd be OK with that.

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

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 11/3/2014 at 06:26

Im friends with a few expats who lived there for like 5 yrs and they r the same. They didnt travel around that much. People tend to do that when they settle in. Issan does have a good no bs atmosphere. I need to go back.

#7 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by Grubert on 11/3/2014 at 08:43

That must be the case Madmac, though my guess is many others will share your befuddlement, considering that I also adore Taiping and Ipoh. For what it's worth I rate Phnom Penh as my least favourite capital in the region (mind you, I haven't been to Jakarta and Manila). As for Chiang Mai, I completely concur with Leonard - it's only good for passing through.

#8 Grubert has been a member since 21/2/2014. Posts: 57

Posted by Grubert on 11/3/2014 at 08:49

Well that was embarrassing! I completely forgot Bandar Seri Begawan.

#9 Grubert has been a member since 21/2/2014. Posts: 57

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 11/3/2014 at 09:27

What r your fav cities?

#10 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by MADMAC on 11/3/2014 at 14:15

My favorite city in SEA is Khon Kaen. My favorite city in the world is Augsburg Germany.

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

Posted by exacto on 11/3/2014 at 15:23

Cyn,

One of the advantages of flying is that it saves time and allows you to get from A to B quickly and comfortably. But the discount flights usually need to be booked well in advance, and having to be at a certain airport on a certain date and time cuts down on your flexibility.

Travelling by land gives you extra flexibility. You can roll into a place and move along when you are ready.

The longer the trip, the less I tend to plan in advance. You've got a nice 7 weeks to spend, so I'd do as Leonard suggests and just sort out the basics of your visas and a few flights.

By my calculation, you're planning to spend roughly 3.5 days at each location, and some of them aren't all that close together. I might figure out which places were most important to me along with which ones offered something unique that I wouldn't get at the other places, and use that information to streamline the itinerary a bit.

Having said all that, your itinerary seems feasible to me, although I can't speak to the Vietnam portions. Good on ya for getting away for such a good chunk of time. Most of us North Americans don't manage that nearly often enough. Have a great trip. Cheers.

#12 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,606
 Where has exacto been? 

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 11/3/2014 at 19:23

Im wondering why u left luang prabang off your list? Most like it.

I would choose that over chiang mai.

I would also add kanchanaburi.

#13 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by Cyn343 on 12/3/2014 at 15:12

Thanks for the advice everyone, I am trying to consolidate but it's so hard because I want to do so much... you should have seen my first list!
and I'm not sure why I left off Luang Prabang... but thanks for the tip! I will look into it as it does look interesting and I know it was on the list at one point...also looking into Kanchanaburi...
Thanks again everyone

#14 Cyn343 has been a member since 26/2/2014. Posts: 3

Posted by AbigailatPenhandInk on 13/3/2014 at 05:50 TF writer

Phnom Penh's a good place for a cooking class, and there's plenty of day trips you can take out of the city too. Think having several days in a city helps you to get more of a feel for it than a quick passing through. I've seen a post where someone said they spent a day in PP and didn't see what the fuss was about. How could you if you don't give it more than 24 hours?!

Allowing a few days will give you time to wander around away from the immediate tourist areas, relax with an iced coffee on the street, visit a local market ... and if you feel like you've spent enough time, just hop on the bus to HCMC! Or take the bus and boat combo - slower but more interesting.

#15 AbigailatPenhandInk has been a member since 9/11/2010. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 179
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Posted by MADMAC on 13/3/2014 at 15:32

"Phnom Penh's a good place for a cooking class..."

Am I operating at a different bod rate than everyone else here? Cooking class???

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

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 13/3/2014 at 19:55

Cambodian food is known to be bad. I would hope the highlight of any city is more than some cooking class.

#17 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by somtam2000 on 13/3/2014 at 20:11 admin

Khmer food is actually pretty good, though obviously/apparently not for everyone. As Abigail points out there are good cooking courses available in the capital, but there are also some excellent Khmer-focussed restaurants to try some of the local specialities. More generally it has a great dining scene which the NYTimes touched on recently with this piece.

Luang Nam Tha seems an unusual choice given most of the other places you are headed to - if you're planning to trek there, this piece (from a few years ago) may be of interest.

Cheers

#18 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,434
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Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 13/3/2014 at 22:30

Article focuses on european food incl fish n chips.

#19 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by MADMAC on 14/3/2014 at 12:51

In my limited exposure, I really did not like Cambodian food. But I found the people to be warm and engaging, the dance scene was small but pleasant, and the vibe of the city was cool. But a cooking class? That would be the last thing on planet earth I would do on vacation.

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

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 14/3/2014 at 13:26

Nothing wrong with cooking courses but a 1 day course you will learn stuff all and courses are held all over the world. It's not a real reason for going to a certain city unless there's some top chef and you are doing a multi day course. It did seem an odd comment for a country that isn't know for good food and doing a cooking course is not a highlight of a city. You can go to a tafe and do a 6 week cooking course.

#21 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148


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