Southeast Asia forum

need advice on routing for 8-week trip Thailand/Laos/Vietnam/Cambodja

  • Seba

    Joined Travelfish
    28th April, 2009
    Posts: 54

    Hey everyone,

    I have a plane ticket in/out Bangkok from October 15th till December 15th, so that gives me about 2 months to discover SE-Asia. I've been reading a lot on this site, fora, blogs, etc. and I have come up with this routing:

    Bangkok => Chang Mai (via Ayatthaya en Sukothai) => Houay Xai (north-Laos) via Chiang Rai en Chaing Kong => Luang Prabang => Vang Vieng => Vientiane => Hanoi (/Sapa/Halong/cat ba) => Hué => Hoi An => Nha Trang => Ho Chi Minh City => Phu Quoc => Kampot/Kep => Phnomn Pehn => Don Det (via Kratie and Stung Treng) => Bolaven => Pakse => with airplane to Siem Reap/Angkor => Khao Sok =>Bangkok => south-Thailand islands => bangkok

    can anone give me advice on this routing? Are there any "dead legs"? do you think it is advisably for an 8-week trip? I'm planning to fly the legs Ho Chi Minch City => Phu Quoc ; Pakse => Siem Reap; and possibly Bangkok=>Phucket return if not enough time at the end

    lookinf forward to your opinions!

    #1 Posted: 28/4/2009 - 07:02

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  • somtam2000

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    Looks good -- my only suggestion would be to go from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and back, and then north into Laos -- that saves you needing to fly back later on from Pakse.

    Then, once done in Laos, overland to Ubon Ratchathani in Thailand, train to Bangkok and onwards south.

    #2 Posted: 28/4/2009 - 09:28

  • Seba

    Joined Travelfish
    28th April, 2009
    Posts: 54

    Hey, thanks for you reply!
    but...I'm planning to do Khao Sok as well, so logistically I would seem much more logical to fly from Pakse to Siem Reap, and then onwards to Battambang to make my way to Khao Sok?

    Your suggestion seems to imply that I'll make quite some detour (Pnomn Pehn-Siem Reap-Pnomn Pehn)+ I'll lose more time with the long ride from Ubon Ratchathani to Bangkok + I'll have to go from Bangkok to Khao Sok and back and then to the southern islands...

    or am I missing something?

    #3 Posted: 28/4/2009 - 19:37

  • Seba

    Joined Travelfish
    28th April, 2009
    Posts: 54

    oops, already found the mistake: google earth showed Khao Sok to be near Ko Chang, whilst in reality it's obviously on the southern peninsula...

    #4 Posted: 28/4/2009 - 19:59

  • Seba

    Joined Travelfish
    28th April, 2009
    Posts: 54

    hey,

    I've tried putting out the route and I have come up with the following:
    (coming 15 days short for a 60-day trip => see bottom):
    1,2,3 Bangkok
    4 Ayutthaya
    5 Lopburi (jumping on the overnight train to Chang Mai in the evening)
    6,7,8,9,10 Chang Mai (sidetrips to Doi Suthep, Wat Prathat, Mae Hong Sai, Pai)
    11 bus to Chiang Khong (via Chiang Rai)
    12 jumping on the early slowboat at Huay Xai
    13 arrival with the slowboat at Luang Prabang
    14,15,16 Luang Prabang
    17 bus to Vang Vieng
    18,19,20 Vang Vieng
    21 early bus to Vientiane
    22 Vientiane + evening flight to Hanoi
    23,24 Hanoi
    25,26,27 3-day tour Halong Bay
    28,29 Sapa
    30 back in Hanoi, jumping on the night train to Hué
    31,32 Hué
    33,34 Hoi An
    35 early minibus to Mui Né
    36 Mui Né
    37 Mui Né + jump on bus to Saigon
    38 Saigon
    39-40-41 3-day Mekong delta trip
    42 flight from Saigon to Phu Quoc
    43,44,45 Phu Quoc
    46,47,48 Kep/Kampot
    49 early bus to Pnomn Pehn
    50 Pnomn Pehn
    51,52,53 Siem Reap/Angkor
    54 early bus to Kratie (via Kompong Cham)
    55 Kratie
    56 early minibus to 4000 islands
    57,58,59 4000 islands
    60 early bus to Pakse
    61,62,63 Pakse (including What Pu + 2-day Bolaven plateau trip)
    64 travel back from Pakse to Bangkok (via Ubon Ratchathani)
    65-75 southern thailand (islands + Khao Sok)

    my questions now is: where can/should I cut it back, in total 15 days?

    *are Koh Tao and Koh Pagnan not worth visiting during December, so should i only concentrate on e.g. Khao Sok/Krabi/Phi Phi, therby maybe cutting it back from 10 days to say 5 days?
    * maybe cutting back my stays at Bangkok, Chang Mai, Vang Vieng, Hanoi city, Mekong Delta trip, Phu Quoc, Kep/Kampot each by one day?
    * maybe completely forgetting about the Sapa trip
    *...?

    i know some people would advise me to save Vietnam for another time, but I'm coming from Westtern Europe and really wanna get as much out of it as possible, and I think this trip is still doable with a good balance of seeing as many things as possible whilst at the same time incorporating the most important stops?
    hey,

    I've tried putting out the route and I have come up with the following:
    (coming 15 days short for a 60-day trip => see bottom):
    1,2,3 Bangkok
    4 Ayutthaya
    5 Lopburi (jumping on the overnight train to Chang Mai in the evening)
    6,7,8,9,10 Chang Mai (sidetrips to Doi Suthep, Wat Prathat, Mae Hong Sai, Pai)
    11 bus to Chiang Khong (via Chiang Rai)
    12 jumping on the early slowboat at Huay Xai
    13 arrival with the slowboat at Luang Prabang
    14,15,16 Luang Prabang
    17 bus to Vang Vieng
    18,19,20 Vang Vieng
    21 early bus to Vientiane
    22 Vientiane + evening flight to Hanoi
    23,24 Hanoi
    25,26,27 3-day tour Halong Bay
    28,29 Sapa
    30 back in Hanoi, jumping on the night train to Hué
    31,32 Hué
    33,34 Hoi An
    35 early minibus to Mui Né
    36 Mui Né
    37 Mui Né + jump on bus to Saigon
    38 Saigon
    39-40-41 3-day Mekong delta trip
    42 flight from Saigon to Phu Quoc
    43,44,45 Phu Quoc
    46,47,48 Kep/Kampot
    49 early bus to Pnomn Pehn
    50 Pnomn Pehn
    51,52,53 Siem Reap/Angkor
    54 early bus to Kratie (via Kompong Cham)
    55 Kratie
    56 early minibus to 4000 islands
    57,58,59 4000 islands
    60 early bus to Pakse
    61,62,63 Pakse (including What Pu + 2-day Bolaven plateau trip)
    64 travel back from Pakse to Bangkok (via Ubon Ratchathani)
    65-75 southern thailand (islands + Khao Sok)

    my questions now is: where can/should I cut it back, in total 15 days?

    *are Koh Tao and Koh Pagnan not worth visiting during December, so should i only concentrate on e.g. Khao Sok/Krabi/Phi Phi, therby maybe cutting it back from 10 days to say 5 days?
    * maybe cutting back my stays at Bangkok, Chang Mai, Vang Vieng, Hanoi city, Mekong Delta trip, Phu Quoc, Kep/Kampot each by one day?
    * maybe completely forgetting about the Sapa trip
    *...?

    I know some people would advise me to save Vietnam for another time, but I'm coming from Wester Europe and really wanna get as much out of it as possible of this 2 months. So i think this trip would give me a good balance between seeing as much as possible whilst at the same time incoproating all most important stops...

    would highly appreciate all input regarding how i can it back by 15 days?

    #5 Posted: 29/4/2009 - 02:34

  • brucemoon

    Click here to learn more about brucemoon
    Joined Travelfish
    27th December, 2008
    Location Australia
    Posts: 1941
    Total reviews: 6

    Seba

    I'm sure you've read my sentiments elsewhere on Travelfish: people plan to spend so much time in the travel/sleeping mode and they give themselves next to no time to EXPERIENCE the places they 'flash' through.

    Well done for getting an itinerary together.

    The most important thing you've written (above) is "I'm coming from Wester(n) Europe and really wanna get as much out of it as possible of this 2 months".

    I ask you "what do you wanna get?" Is it transport experience, or a cultural experience?

    If the latter, may I suggest you print the above itinerary, stick it in your Lonely Planet SE Asia as a reference guide, and largely forget it.

    As soon as you hit BKK, you'll be in a totally different 'world'. Not only with tourists, etc., but also Asia.

    Most of your destinations comprise the Lonely Planet 'must see' places. They are on the western tourist circuit and probably not where you will get to really enjoy Asian culture, etc.

    To those that 'do' the massive move-stay-move feat (ie, spending much of their time around/in/on transport &/or accommodation), they 'rave' about such 'icon' places. But, they really only engage with other travellers doing the same 'feat'. And, all too often, their 'fun' is partying with other travellers in nightclubs.

    When you get a little off the beaten track, you start to encounter people who are NOT doing the move-stay-move / nightclub thing. They tend to seek out experiences rather than places.

    For example, Ayutthaya is on the 'map' because it is so very important to Thai people. As a religious ruin, it's culturally very important and to a traveller interested in religious ruins, worth the engagement. But, to most travellers, when compared to other religious ruins in the region, it's not so attractive. If 'good value' religious monuments interests you, I'd suggest you head for Buriram or Sukhothai.

    You appear not to have included Kanchanaburi in your 'list'. I suggest this is a very important place and you may be wise to (re)consider a visit there with an overnight (combine with an early morning visit to the floating markets).

    There are other 'oddities'. Some love Mui Ne , I don't. I think those that love the place are starved of beach access (I'm not). But, the reason I don't like Mui Ne is that it's an artificial place - it's merely a beach with an increasing number of resorts manufactured for westerners. Locals not in sell, sell, sell mode are pretty scarce.

    I also note 3 days for Halong Bay. For most, the maximum is 2 nights. And, you've given yourself 2 days for SaPa. Again, one night sleeper train there, one night at SaPa, and another sleeper train return suggests insufficient time there. As an aside, if you can plan to be in the area on Sunday - definitely go to the Bac Ha market. Many get the Saturday night sleeper, travel to Bac Ha to witness one of the most amazing markets you'll ever see, and then after lunch head to SaPa.

    Were you planning to do any trekking at SaPa, or (better) Bac Ha?

    I'm stunned that you haven't included Dalat or similar. Or, that you breeze through Siem Reap without giving yourself time to view some of the very worthwhile 'icon' temples.

    So, again, plan to take your time, and not rush.

    Plan to get yourself initially oriented with an itinerary, then use it only when you are prepared to move on. Plan also NOT to rush through SE Asia - and if you don't see everything, so what!!!

    May I be even more frank? If you look at the ALTERNATE options listed on the Travelfish 'Stories' page, I suggest you may just chuck the above itinerary out the door.

    For example, many go to Chiang Mai to do trekking (the Thai gov't has done a great job advertising this option). But, for many, the better trekking options are in Laos.

    Travelfish offers what I believe to be better Thailand trekking options at:

    http://www.travelfish.org/feature/138

    ----

    This is just a start. Look at the other 'stories' listed on the 'feature' page at:

    http://www.travelfish.org/feature

    And, if you do look and digest, I suggest you'll probably start to rethink the above itinerary.

    Cheers

    #6 Posted: 2/5/2009 - 09:20

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