Southeast Asia forum

Laos and Cambodia Trip - planning stages - comments appreciated!

  • Jacster

    Joined Travelfish
    6th August, 2006
    Posts: 18

    Hello all

    I am planning a 3-week trip to Laos and Cambodia in Feb/March next year and would really welcome any suggestions regarding my current travel plans.

    I'm keen to hear your views on whether this is the best route (bearing in mind I really want to see the highlights of both C and L in only 3 weeks!) and any alternative suggestions you may have...

    Is there anything you recommend adding to/removing from the plan?

    I'm particularly interested in any views on Sihanoukville - I love the idea of a couple of days at the beach, but this might be ditchable for more time in Laos? All views very welcome...

    Here's my plan at the minute...

    1 - LHR to BKK
    2 - BKK to Luang Prabang (flight)
    3 - Luang Prabang
    4 - Luang Prabang
    5 - LP to Vang Vieng (bus)
    6 - Vang Vieng
    7 - Vang Vieng to Vientiane (bus)
    8 - Vientiane
    9 - Vientiane to Phnom Penh (flight)
    10 - Phnom Penh
    11 - PP to Siem Reap (bus)
    12 - Siem Reap
    13 - Siem Reap
    14 - SR to Battambang (bus)
    15 - Battambang
    16 - Battambang to PP
    17 - PP to Sihanoukville (bus)
    18 - Sihanoukville
    19 - SKV to PP (bus)
    20 - PP to BKK (flight)
    21 - BKK to LHR

    I'm expecting that it will be cheaper for me to sort out the 3 one-way flights (BKK to LP, V to PP, PP to BKK) from Bangkok. Does anyone have any experience of this? I understand Bangkok Airways are the only carrier to run BKK to LP - are the prices very high from Bangkok travel agents due to this?

    Another option is flying Vientiane to Siem Reap, but I understand this stops off at Pakse and only runs every other day - anyone travelled this way and had any experience of it?

    I really appreciate any help or suggestions you can offer!

    Happy travelling! ;-)

    Cheers
    Jacs

    #1 Posted: 12/8/2006 - 07:56

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  • Jacster

    Joined Travelfish
    6th August, 2006
    Posts: 18

    Hello all,

    I continued to think and research after my initial post...another option might be...

    1 - LHR to BKK
    2 - BKK to Luang Prabang (flight)
    3 - Luang Prabang
    4 - Luang Prabang
    5 - LP to Vang Vieng (bus)
    6 - Vang Vieng
    7 - Vang Vieng to Vientiane (bus)
    8 - Vientiane
    9 - Vientiane to Pakse (flight)
    10 - Pakse to Don Khon
    11 - Don Khon
    12 - Don Khon to Kratie
    13 - Kratie to Phnom Penh
    14 - Phnom Penh
    15 - PP to Siem Reap
    16 - Siem Reap
    17 - Siem Reap
    18 - SR to Battambang
    19 - Battambang to PP
    20 - PP to BKK
    21 - BKK to LRH

    For those who've been there, which of the two options would you recommend?

    Really look forward to hearing your views!! ;-)

    Many thanks
    Jacs

    #2 Posted: 12/8/2006 - 09:08

  • marianwarren

    Joined Travelfish
    12th March, 2006
    Posts: 270
    Total reviews: 13

    Hi Jacs

    If you intend to fly 3 or more sections in Thailand/Laos/Cambodia check out the "discovery pass" from www.bangkokair.com. It's only available outside Thailand but is very good value. I intend to fly from BKK - CNX: VTE - PKZ: PNP - REP: The total cost of these flights individually comes to US$245 ... a discovery pass for the same flights is only US$160.

    Hope is of use

    Regards

    Marian

    #3 Posted: 12/8/2006 - 16:26

  • marianwarren

    Joined Travelfish
    12th March, 2006
    Posts: 270
    Total reviews: 13

    Hello again

    I forgot to mention with the discovery pass you only need to 'book' the first leg.

    Looking at your trip itineraries ... the first option seems very cumbersome ... it seems more efficient to visit SVK from PNP than from Battambang via PNP.

    With your second option (definitely more slip-treamed), why go back to PNP from Battambang when you are halfway to BKK. You could fly REP - BKK with a day trip to Battambang if you really need to go there or fly PNP - REP( 1 hour instead of a full days travel).

    It's always the $/time equation. What experience are you after?

    I love the planning ... anticipation is sometimes better than the actual journey!

    Regards

    Marian

    #4 Posted: 12/8/2006 - 19:22

  • steviej

    Joined Travelfish
    18th March, 2006
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 265
    Total reviews: 2
    Places visited:
    At least 32

    Hi Jacs,

    A mate of mine has just come back from a 10 month trip which included Laos and Cambodia, which is a bit of a bonus as I'm planning to go next March-April. He reckoned Vang Vieng was a little bit of a let down after his visit to Luang Prabang.

    So..........................

    Apparently Lao Airlines are to start flights from Luang Prabang to Pakse from the end of October (this year).
    Check these out:
    http://www.laoairlines.com/schedule.htm
    http://www.travelfish.org/board/post/laos/640_Laos-Flights/0.

    So you could spend a few days more in LP or head to Si Phon Don for those extra days.

    What dates do you go??


    Anyway, whatever you do, ENJOY!!!


    Chill
    steviej
    ___________________________________

    Who wants Fat Hair...........................

    #5 Posted: 12/8/2006 - 22:03

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 2392
    Total reviews: 47
    Places visited:
    At least 98

    Jacs,

    Hi. Our Travelfish host Somtam2000 regularly suggests that less is more on these southeast Asia trips, and I agree with him. Both of these potential itinerarys you've listed are very aggressive, meaning that you'll be spending more of your time travelling and/or waiting for the bus, plane, etc., and less time actually doing the stuff you came to see. Plus, a tight itin like this doesn't give you much of a margin of error in case you hit a snag along the way.

    The three weeks you have for the trip seems like a lot when you sit down to plan, but once you arrive, you might discover that it isn't nearly as much time as you think.

    In any case, I'd suggest simplifying your itinerary a bit so you can spend more time in great places like Luang Prabang. Perhaps you'd want to limit yourself to five or six places, which is still quite a bit to see over three weeks. Something like Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Vientiane, Siem Reap, and Phnom Penh might work for you.

    Stevie has a good point that some folks feel let down by Vang Vieng after visiting Luang Prabang, and opt to give it a miss. We enjoyed our overnight stop in VV, and felt that the bus ride from LP to VV was the most scenic we'd ever experienced. Still, should you give VV a miss and fly directly from LP to VTE, that might give you time to stop off in Pakxe instead.

    Also, good advice from Marian on the Discovery Pass. It includes Bangkok Airways and its shadow company Siem Reap Airways, as well as Lao Airlines. That will cover much of the routes you are taking and help make getting from place to place more affordable. As Marian says, the air pass is only available outside of Thailand, so sort it out before you depart. Look into Air Asia for the Phnom Penh to BKK leg of your journey too as an inexpensive option. Regards.

    #6 Posted: 12/8/2006 - 22:41

  • Jacster

    Joined Travelfish
    6th August, 2006
    Posts: 18

    Thank you all so much for your replies! Much appreciated ;-)

    There's some really great advice here which has led to a bit of a rethink...

    Marian - I hadn't checked out the Discovery pass, but have just looked it up online and this is absolutely the deal for me! Thanks! ;-) I had previously ruled out flying Siem Reap to Bangkok as I understood the price to be in excess of $200 (Bangkok air monopoly!), hence why I had opted for the less convenient PP to BKK. With the discovery pass I'll make Siem Reap my last stop and fly from there to BKK.

    Exacto - I completely agree about the aggresive itinery. I was in Vietnam in April and ended up staying longer in Hanoi, ditching Hue and skipping onto Hoi An cos I'd tried to pack too much in - you'd think I would learn!!

    Stevie - I'm not expecting much from VV beyond floating down the river in a tyre. I know - totally typical backpacker thing to do, but I recently went white water rafting in Scotland and loved it, so very much looking forward to that... If it's possible to arrive by bus from LP, go tubing and then leave next day, I'd happily cut VV to one night.

    The other thing is Battambang - it is sort of like Hue when I went to Vietnam - be good to see it but ditchable if necessary. I really like the idea of a day trip from Siem Reap! ;-)

    OK, here's the edited version...(using Discovery pass)

    1 - LHR to BKK
    2 - BKK to LP
    3 - LP
    4 - LP
    5 - LP to Vang Vieng
    6 - VV to Vientiane
    7 - Vientiane
    8 - Vientiane to Pakse, onward to Don Khon
    9 - Don Khon
    10 - Don Khon
    11 - Don Khon
    12 - DK to Kratie
    13 - Kratie to Phnom Penh
    14 - Phnom Penh
    15 - Phnom Penh
    16 - PP to Siem Reap
    17 - Siem Reap
    18 - Siem Reap
    19 - Siem Reap
    20 - SR to BKK
    21 - BKK to LHR

    Flexibility - possibly lose 1 night in Vientiane and/or 1 night at Don Khon and/or 1 night at Siem Reap (very likely if I love LP as much as I think I will!).

    Stevie - dates are still a bit fluid, but thinking of something like 24 Feb to 16 March...ish... When are you going?

    Thanks everyone for all your help and advice - This itinery is much closer to being realistic. The discovery pass will make it more affordable for me too!

    Many, many thanks
    Jacs ;-)

    #7 Posted: 13/8/2006 - 08:08

  • steviej

    Joined Travelfish
    18th March, 2006
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 265
    Total reviews: 2
    Places visited:
    At least 32

    'ello Jacs,

    I'm looking at leaving the Sunny UK on the 21st March until 21st April. Roughly the same route but adding the Mekong Delta and Phu Quoc.

    You'll have to give a summary of your trip when you get back :(

    #8 Posted: 13/8/2006 - 19:23

  • Jacster

    Joined Travelfish
    6th August, 2006
    Posts: 18

    Cheers Stevie - seems like we'll miss each other! Pity. :-(

    I'll be keeping a blog while I'm away - If I'm travelling a similar route to you but a couple of weeks earlier, I could send you the link nearer the time? Would this be helpful?

    Thanks again everyone for all your help!

    Cheers
    Jacs ;-)

    #9 Posted: 14/8/2006 - 16:53

  • steviej

    Joined Travelfish
    18th March, 2006
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 265
    Total reviews: 2
    Places visited:
    At least 32

    Yep, that'd be great........................



    chill
    steviej

    #10 Posted: 14/8/2006 - 17:19

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  • nielsvanbee-
    rs

    Joined Travelfish
    16th August, 2006
    Posts: 1

    Hi Jacster, I've read it all and must say I'm getting jealous... I did that route 3 years ago while I was travelling through asia.
    Try to visit Don Det (In the four thousand Islands) in southern Laos. It's a nice stopover on an island without running water. It's cosy there!

    Note that SR - BKK is quite a long and exhausting trip. I'd advise you to do it in two days... The road from SR to the border was hell. I don't know if it still is. Stop in Aranya Prathet, take a cheap hotel and relax.

    Ok, take it easy! Enjoy! -Niels (Holland)

    #11 Posted: 16/8/2006 - 20:34

  • Jacster

    Joined Travelfish
    6th August, 2006
    Posts: 18

    Cheers Stevie - will get the link to you nearer the time.

    Thanks Niels. Great to know you enjoyed the trip - I'm really looking forward to it - and got some great help on here to make my itinery better. ;-) Thanks for the tips!

    This is a fantastic board!!! ;-)

    #12 Posted: 17/8/2006 - 02:41

  • duncan

    Joined Travelfish
    17th August, 2006
    Posts: 1

    Hi Jacster - in my view you're squeezing too many stops into your journey - and you're going to be spending too many days sorting out transport and accommodation and making those bumpy rides. In Siem Reap one can easily spend three whole days seeing Angkor Wat temples and still not be templed out. What was memorable for me in Siem Reap was the opportunity to teach kids at a local language school, Savong's School - a real blast for them and for me and a chance to connect with locals. I thought I wouldn't cope - language barrier anyone? - but the teachers and the students made it easy. The experience helped me get inside Cambodia and not just be a spectator with a camera. Just awesome.

    I look at your schedule and i think, woah, slow down a little - plan a second journey. Stop and smell the roses...or the orchids in this case. Yeah, and I'm envious too. Have a great journey.

    #13 Posted: 17/8/2006 - 03:36

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