Southeast Asia forum

Yet another Indochina Newbie Itinerary Breakdown.

  • angfonz

    Joined Travelfish
    7th July, 2009
    Posts: 36

    I’ve been pouring over this site for weeks. Let me begin by thanking everyone that contributes to both the forums and the site – this resource is completely invaluable. With that said, I’m rather embarrassed at needing to ask itinerary questions, but I feel that my questions are rather specific and require a more human touch. Anyway, here’s the deal:
    So, the girlfriend and I only have 4 weeks off in between semesters. Having done several mad dash trips in the past, it would have been my preference to slow down this time. But, I grew up in SE Asia, and the girlfriend didn't. She wants to see as much as possible, and making her happy means she puts out. SO-
    The Facts:
    1. I convinced her that 3 countries are all we can do in a single month (30 Days).
    2. I broke down the itinerary into the "planned" day by day break down, to see if it fits. I obviously don’t plan on holding completely true to this plan.
    3. I'm over by a couple days, and I don't know what to cut out.
    4. I can’t find much information on travel between cities once I reach Laos - You'll see what I mean below.
    5. I want to keep Vang Vieng – Call it a throwback to my river floating days in Austin or whatever.
    6. I live on the beach already.
    7. All my travel times, unless specifically stated, are during the day.
    Questions:
    1. Are there any of my travel legs that can easily be done on a night train / bus to increase efficiency?
    2. Since I live on the beach do I need to go to Phu Quoc
    3. Can I skip Cantho or would ignoring the Mekong Delta be a huge mistake? Are there floating markets elsewhere?
    4. An organized tour from Kompong Cham across boarder to Don Dhet : How long does this take / how much does it cost?
    5. Boat from Don Dhet to Champasak : How long does this take / how much does it cost?
    6. Boat from Champasak to Pakse : How long does this take / how much does it cost?
    7. What is the most efficient way from Champasak to Vientiane ?

    Itinerary:
    Fly to KL – Overnight due to bad connection (D1)
    Hanoi – arrive morning (D2) and next day (D3)
    Tour to Ha Long Bay – (D4-D6)
    Overnight Hanoi – unless the tour ends early enough in the morning to not have to (D7)
    Bus to Ninh Binh – afternoon Hoa Lu (D8), Tam Coc next morning(D9)
    Train to Hue overnight – Citidel that afternoon (day10), Tombs the next day (D11)
    Bus to Da NangHoi An that afternoon (D12)
    Fly Saigon – Stay 2 nights (D13-D14)
    Fly to Phu Quoc Island – Stay 2 nights (D15-D17)
    Afternoon boat to Rach Gia then bus to Cantho – Sleep (D18)
    Cai Rang in the morning and then bus to Chau Doc then afternoon boat to Phnom Penh
    Phnom Penh – Stay 2 nights (D19-D20)
    Boat to Siem Riep – Ankor Wat for sunset (D21), and then other surrounding temples the next day + overnight (D22)
    Bus to Kompong Cham (Taxi if this route doesn’t exist) - Prasat Han Chey, Wat Maha Leap, The French watchtower, and Phnom Sray in random order over that afternoon (D23) and the next day (D24)
    Organized Tour across boarder to Don Dhet – NEED INFO HERE: How long does this take / how much does it cost? – 2 nights in Don Dhet (D25-D26)
    Boat to Champasak – Need INFO HERE: How long does this take / how much does it cost? See Wat Phu + overnight (D27)

    +++At this point I just want to get to Vientiane. I assume the route I have outlined below is slow / inefficient. Any tips?+++

    Boat to Pakse – NEED INFO HERE: How long does this take / how much does it cost? (D28?)
    Fly to Vientiane – Spend afternoon + next day (D29-D30?)
    Bus to Vang Vieng – 3 nights (D31-D33?)
    Return to Vientiane – Fly home (D34?)

    Thank you in advance!

    #1 Posted: 8/7/2009 - 01:29

  • Advertisement

  • angfonz

    Joined Travelfish
    7th July, 2009
    Posts: 36

    My wonderful MSWord formatting was lost in translation.

    Hope its still somewhat understandable.

    #2 Posted: 8/7/2009 - 01:31

  • BruceMoon

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

    angfonz

    You wrote "I’m rather embarrassed at needing to ask itinerary questions".

    I don't know why you should be embarrassed. What you've done is great: you've researched to find your enjoyments, you've put together a proposed itinerary, and you're asking specific questions.

    For those responding to these posts, it doesn't get much better than this.

    - - -

    So, you're travelling in/around December.

    A couple of points I've picked up on your proposed itinerary...

    "Train to Hue overnight – Citidel that afternoon (day10), Tombs the next day (D11)
    Bus to Da NangHoi An that afternoon (D12)
    Fly Saigon – Stay 2 nights (D13-D14)
    "

    The flights are from DaNang to Saigon. So, how much time do you really give yourself for Hoi An, and how and when do you connect to DaNang/Saigon?

    "Afternoon boat to Rach Gia then bus to Cantho – Sleep (D18)
    Cai Rang in the morning and then bus to Chau Doc then afternoon boat to Phnom Penh


    There's a quicker (and probably more enjoyable way to get from Rach Gia to PP... Rach Gia > Ha Tien > Kep > Sihanoukville > PP.

    Logistics: Given that you're coming into Rach Gia head for Ha Tien (about 1 hour) and stay o/n. Next day, wander across the border to Kampot, then to Sihanoukville an to PP.

    Go look on Travelfish about those places.

    "Boat to Siem Riep – Ankor Wat for sunset (D21), and then other surrounding temples the next day + overnight (D22)"

    The boat is US$150, takes all day, you see heaps of water, and when you can get out of your seat for a breather you get to see much more water, and then you've got to get to Siem Reap , book in, get a tuk-tuk to Angkor to jostle amongst the crowds to see a sunset - assuming there's no cloud. Mmmmm!

    A bus from PP - Siem Reap is 5 hr & US$12.

    "Bus to Kompong Cham (Taxi if this route doesn’t exist) - Prasat Han Chey, Wat Maha Leap, The French watchtower, and Phnom Sray in random order over that afternoon (D23) and the next day (D24)
    Organized Tour across boarder to Don Dhet – NEED INFO HERE: How long does this take / how much does it cost? – 2 nights in Don Dhet (D25-D26)
    Boat to Champasak – Need INFO HERE: How long does this take / how much does it cost? See Wat Phu + overnight (D27)"


    Given that your journey to this point is GO, GO, GO, TRAVEL MUCH, SEE BUGGA ALL, GO GO GO I suggest you come unstuck big time here. You are able to achieve the GO, GO, GO aspect in Vietnam because there is an efficient tourist travel industry servicing route demands there. But, in this neck of the woods, travel is not so efficient.

    "Boat to Pakse"

    I suggest this form of transport is a thing of the past!

    - - - -

    To some of your assumptions:

    "1. I convinced her that 3 countries are all we can do in a single month (30 Days)".

    I suggest you need to go back and do a lot more 'convincing'.

    As you have planned your journey, you're spending most time in transport (or waiting for same). If you have any respect for the romantic possibilities in your journey, slow it down. For me, do max 1 country.

    As I've said elsewhere so often, the travel part is costly, very taxing on mind and body, and makes one irritable. The itinerary you've proposed is an ideal way to challenge the basics of your relationship. If the two of you can pull this off without fighting along the way, and then staying together when you return home, you've got the potential for a great marriage.

    But, at the end of the day, if you want to spend so much time in transport vehicles or waiting areas, and so little time actually doing anything, then sobeit.

    - - - -

    To some of your questions:

    "1. Are there any of my travel legs that can easily be done on a night train / bus to increase efficiency?"

    I don't think so. Above, I've commented on the Hoi An - Saigon link. That appears to be fly, so there aren't any other apparent night links.

    "2. Since I live on the beach do I need to go to Phu Quoc"

    Short answer, NO.

    Long answer, again no, as there are good beaches all along the VN coastline. Some are very touristy, others less so.

    But, spending time at a beach can be very relaxing and (sometimes even very) romantic. While I'd suggest other beaches have much to offer, if you delete the Laos (and possibly Cambodia) legs, then for your relationship with your partner some time at Phu Quoc could be all you'd hope for and more.

    "3. Can I skip Cantho or would ignoring the Mekong Delta be a huge mistake? Are there floating markets elsewhere?'

    Skipping a place is never a mistake, its a result of trading off time travelling to see places and spending time IN places to enjoy what they have to offer.

    The Mekong Delta is vast in area, and on the 'tourist trip route' the time spent travelling between Siagon & Chau Duc is largely 2 LONG days inside a bus/boat with about 2 hours sightseeing.

    The floating markets are interesting, in a sort of way, but are not a patch on the Bangkok option. Essentially, they are a sightseeing novelty to break up a bus trip.

    - - - -

    So, I'd be suggesting NO to Laos, spend more time on a slower journey in Vietnam, more time relaxing and enjoying some fun, and I'd probably keep the Phu Quoc option for a romantic 'excursion'.

    Hope this helps

    Cheers

    #3 Posted: 8/7/2009 - 08:12

  • angfonz

    Joined Travelfish
    7th July, 2009
    Posts: 36

    Thanks for your quick reply, Bruce. As to the reason for my reservations about asking for itinerary help - I feel that with this wealth of information at my fingertips I should have been able to find the answers myself!

    Anyway, as per your suggestions I have butchered my itinerary down to something more manageable. Key sections cut out are anything south of Ninh Binh in favor of a flight straight to Phnom Penh . I've heard fantastic things about central / southern Vietnam, so perhaps that area warrants me coming back another time to do something other than race through it.

    Anyway, here she is:


    1. Fly to KL – Overnight due to bad connection (D1)

    2. Hanoi – arrive morning (D2) and next day (D3)

    3. Tour to Ha Long Bay – (D4-D6)

    4. Overnight Hanoi – unless the tour ends early enough in the morning to not have to (D7)

    5. Bus to Ninh Binh – afternoon Hoa Lu (D8), Tam Coc next morning(D9)

    6. Fly to Phnom Penh – Stay 2 nights (D10-D11)

    7. First morning bus to Siem Riep – Arrive afternoon, check into guesthouse. Ankor Wat for sunset (D12), and then other surrounding temples the next day + overnight (D13)

    8. Morning bus to Kompong Cham (Taxi if this route doesn’t exist) - Prasat Han Chey, Wat Maha Leap, The French watchtower, and Phnom Sray in random order over that afternoon (D14) and the next day (D15)

    9. Organized Tour across boarder to Don Dhet – 2 nights in Don Dhet (D16-D17)

    10. Boat to Champasak – See Wat Phu + overnight (D18)

    11. Bus to Vientiane – Spend afternoon + next day (D19-D20?)

    12. Bus to Vang Vieng – 3 nights (D21-D23)

    13. Return to Vientiane – Fly home (D25)


    Does this look a little more manageable?

    #4 Posted: 8/7/2009 - 10:30

  • BruceMoon

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

    angfonz

    Just a comment/suggestion or two...

    - - -

    Tours from Halong Bay tend to drop pax off about 5pm (+/- an hour). So, 8-9am minivan pickup day 1, a little after midday onto boat, night/s on water, near midday back to wharf, minivan to Hanoi, arrive hanoi app 5pm.

    In case you're interested, the night train goes through Ninh Binh, so theoretically you could arrive back from Halong Bay, have dinner, catch the (9pm I think) night train for an hour(ish) to Ninh Binh.

    Check on www.seat61.com

    - - -

    I doubt you'll get to Kampong Cham without backtracking to PP. And, a taxi will cost big time.

    So, an alternative to think about...

    You can fly HaNoi - Kuala Lumpur then Kuala Lumpur - Siem Reap (both with Air Asia). Yes, I know you have to stay overnight at KL (can be fun). But, by doing this, you'll arrive directly in Siem Reap and then do your thing, and then travel to PP, then to Kampong Cham. Time wise, I don't think it'd be any different, and I doubt if you booked now the price would be much different. But, there are some wonderfully romantic restaurants (and great disco's) in the Bukit Bintang area of KL. That might impress your partner.

    - - -

    I not sure about a boat from Don Dhet to Champasak. You may end up using a bus.

    - - -

    Otherwise, it's looking a heap better to be a really enjoyable sojourn.

    Cheers

    #5 Posted: 8/7/2009 - 11:12

  • angfonz

    Joined Travelfish
    7th July, 2009
    Posts: 36

    I know that starting in Hanoi is sort of silly as far as trip organization goes, but there is a reason for it. The Ho Chi Minh mausoleum takes his body back to Russia starting in early September. Our travel dates are August 20th to September 20th (weird trimester school) and I would really like to have an opportunity to go and pay my respects to a man so prolific/terrible (depending on where you are from).

    That flight option does seem the best, considering its half the price to fly twice the distance. Are there any budget carriers that rival air asia's price that run through Bangkok? We are already doing an overnight in KL on the way there, and the way back - and the girl likes floating markets ~

    #6 Posted: 8/7/2009 - 12:38

  • BruceMoon

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

    angfonz

    There are many low cost carriers doing BKK.

    There's a website called:

    www.AirNinja.com

    And it lists most of the low cost carriers operating in SE Asia.

    Try that site for whatever legs you want to fly. Just be careful that the flight you want leaves from the correct BKK airport (there are 2, and quite a distance away).

    Cheers

    #7 Posted: 8/7/2009 - 13:14

  • BruceMoon

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

    Oh

    and if you are using AirNinja for KL, Jetstar uses a different terminal to AirAsia (there's a shuttle bus between the 2 that costs about 50cents).

    Cheers

    #8 Posted: 8/7/2009 - 13:16

  • angfonz

    Joined Travelfish
    7th July, 2009
    Posts: 36

    Some last questions (maybe):

    • How long does it take to get from Kompong Cham on one of the organized tours? I can’t find any information on them.

    • How long is the bus ride from Don Dhet to Vientiane? I assume long, but I’d like to know something more concrete.

    • Don Dhet doesn't -really- appeal to me, but it sort of sits as a necessary transition point from Cambodia to Laos. In the border crossing section of this website it says:

    "There are two ways to cross this border -- as an organized package (Don Dhet or Don Khon to Stung Treng / Kratie / Kompong Cham / Phnom Penh -- and the reverse) or to do it independently. It is FAR easier and less expensive to do the actual border leg as an organised trip"

    Do you think its possible to organize one of these trips through Champasak instead? I've never been to Laos and really have no idea.

    Is that too much travel for just two days in Champasak? Everything I've read says that it’s amazing. BUT, it seems like a long journey from Kompong Cham and a long trip to Vientiane.

    #9 Posted: 8/7/2009 - 16:33

  • BruceMoon

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

    angfonz

    The level of detail you want is beyond me on this one.

    The sheer distance between the various places, coupled to very slow transport means much time inside transport (rather than out there enjoying yourself). But, then again, sometimes there are no viable alternatives.

    Again, on this others will have to help.

    ps. maybe if you transpose your last 'post' as a new one within the Laos thread, you may get more answers.

    Cheers

    #10 Posted: 8/7/2009 - 19:26

  • Advertisement

  • BruceMoon

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

    angfonz

    Sorry, I should have said to also post on the Cambodia page.

    Cheers

    #11 Posted: 8/7/2009 - 19:56

  • angfonz

    Joined Travelfish
    7th July, 2009
    Posts: 36

    I think I have this nailed down. Anyone see some huge flaws in my planning? I've left in the dates, if anyone is going to cross paths with my girlfriend and I - let me know.

    1. Fly to KL – Overnight due to bad connection (D1) (22/8)

    2. Hanoi – arrive morning (D2) (23/8) and next day (D3) (24/8)

    3. Tour to Ha Long Bay – 3 days 2 nights (D4-D5) (25/8-26/8)

    4. Return to Hanoi, then take night train to Ninh Binh (D6) (27/8)

    5. Ninh Binh – Tam Coc next morning, afternoon Hoa Lu (D7) (28/8). Bich Dong the next morning, train to Hanoi (D8) (29/8)

    6. Evening flight to Bangkok – Stay 2 nights (D9-D10) (30/8-31/8)

    7. Morning flight to Luang Prabang – Stay 4 nights (D11-14) (1/9-4/9)

    8. Bus to Vien Vang – Stay 4 nights (D15 – D18) (5/9-8/9)

    9. Bus to Vientiane - See city in the afternoon

    10. Night bus to Pakse – (D19) (9/9)

    11. Bus to Champasak – See Wat Phu + overnight (D22) (10/9)

    12. Bus to Don Dhet – Stay 2 nights (D21-D22) (11/9-12/9)

    13. Bus to Siem Reap – Stay 3 nights (D23-25) (13/9-15/9)

    14. Bus to Phnom Penh – Stay 3 nights (26-28) (16/9-18/9)

    15. Afternoon flight to KL – (D29) (19/9)

    16. Fly home from KL – D30 (20/9)

    #12 Posted: 11/7/2009 - 22:44

  • angfonz

    Joined Travelfish
    7th July, 2009
    Posts: 36

    Oh, the weird Bangkok for 2 days part is due to needing to connect through there for a flight. Figured I'd hang out for a day rather than just hang out in the airport.

    #13 Posted: 11/7/2009 - 22:46

  • BruceMoon

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

    angfonz

    Far too much time at Vang Vieng. One full day there will be more than enough.

    Personally, I'd spend a little more time in Vientiane. Another made some suggestions on this (refer #3):

    http://www.travelfish.org/board/post/laos/6799_laos---some-observations-from-3-weeks-there

    What are you planning for Phnom Penh? This is important because this is one place I'd find difficult to 'just hang out' and so would suggest you flesh out an itinerary for PP. You may only need 1 full day there.

    Siem Reap for 3 nights = 2 full days. The Angkorian passes are 1 day or 3 day ++. There has been much discussion on Travelfish about how much time is/is not needed.

    I know you need to 'fashion' dates for air travel (to book cheaper flights) but there is merit in having a day or more 'up your sleeve' to adjust if you need it. Thus, if you can book a flexible flight to BB, you can choose to use it at the end, or spend a day or more in BB.

    Cheers

    #14 Posted: 12/7/2009 - 06:35

Have questions? Jump to our menu of forum quicklinks

Add your reply

Your reply

Check this box if you want to be notified of replies.

Please be familiar with our user guidelines before you post. Thanks!

Businesses planning on plugging their guesthouse / hotel / karaoke bar should read our "Addition guidelines" very carefully.

You need to be logged in to answer an existing post on the Travelfish forums. Please login via the prompts just above and refresh this screen -- before writing your post -- and you'll be in business.

Possibly related discussions Replies  Views  Latest reply
Newbie needing Itinerary Help! ... By VanessaL on 11 Jun 2011 3 1827 15 Jun 2011
Advice on newbie's itinerary! ... By rebeccafarrent on 2 May 2009 16 1959 7 May 2009
7 Days itinerary in Cambodia For a Newbie ... By donadoni on 22 Mar 2012 2 2918 1 Apr 2012