Southeast Asia forum

10 weeks for Thailand, Laos, Vietnam & Cambodia

  • mlr

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd May, 2009
    Posts: 31

    Hi Everyone!

    Myself and my partner (both in our 20's) are planning a 10 week trip round SE Asia at the end of this year and would like to see what you think of the rough itinerary i have put together (with alot of help from this website)!?

    I would appreciate advice on the number of nights we are planning on staying in each place (too many/not enough) & also if i have missed out anywhere that we should go!?

    We travel quite regularly but this year we have to decided to just do 1 big trip!

    The first couple of weeks are quite fixed as i have already pre-booked accommodation, car hire, etc (i like being fairly organised) but after that we don't have any fixed plans until our accommodation in Phuket & flight back up to Bangkok at the end.

    The way it is working at the moment we will be spending Christmas in Hanoi & New Year in Hoi An, are these good places to be around those times?

    Also, i think we have now decided to give the Gibbon Experience a miss in Laos in exchange for doing Flight of the Gibbon in Chiang Mai, is this the right decision to make?

    So here it is:

    Flight from UK arriving in Bangkok on the 25th Nov at 07:00.

    Bangkok - Stay 3 nights at Navalai River Resort then travel onwards by early morning train to Kanchanaburi.

    Kanchanaburi - Stay 4 nights at the River Kwai Jungle Rafts then travel by early morning bus to Nakhon Pathom then onwards by train to Phitsanalouk.

    Phitsanalouk - Explore area then travel to Sukhothai by bus.

    Sukhothai - Stay 2 nights at Ruean Thai Hotel then travel onwards by bus to Sukhothai.

    Chiang Mai - Stay 4 nights (2 nights at Dream Catchers then 2 nights at The Castle) & collect hire car at 9am for travelling the Mae Hong Son loop.

    Don Inthanon National Park - Stay 1 night is surrounding area to explore park then travel onwards to Mae Hong Son via Mae Chaem, Ob Luang & Mae Sariang.

    Mae Hong Son - Stay 1 night then travel onwards to Soppong .

    Soppong - Stay 2 nights at the Soppong River Inn then travel onwards to Pai.

    Pai - Stay 2 nights then leave early to reach Chiang Mai.

    Chiang Mai - Drop off hire car at 9am then travel onwards to Chiang Rai by bus.

    Chiang Rai - Stay 2 nights & take a day trip up to the Golden Triangle then travel onwards by bus to Chiang Khong.

    Chiang Khong - Get Visa & cross over into Laos at Huay Xai.

    Huay Xai - Stay 1 night & arrange slow boat travel to Luang Prabang for next day.

    Huay Xai to Luang Prabang Slow Boat - Stopping 1 night at Pakbeng.

    Luang Prabang - Stay 2 nights then travel onwards by bus to Vang Vieng.

    Vang Vieng - Stay 3 nights & either do kayaking/bus excursion or just bus down to Vientiane.

    Vientiane - Stay 1 night then fly to Hanoi (pre-booked in advance)

    Hanoi - Stay 3 nights & arrange Ha Long Bay tour.

    Ha Long Bay - Stay 2 nights, 3 days then return to Hanoi.

    Hanoi - Catch the 23:00 sleeper train to Hue arriving at approx 10:45.

    Hue - Either stay 1 night or continue straight on to Hoi An.

    Hoi An - Stay 4 nights then travel onwards by train to Nha Trang.

    Nha Trang - Stay 2 nights then travel onwards by train to Saigon at approx 12:44.

    Saigon - Stay 4 nights & take possible day trips to Mekong Delta & Chu Chi Tunnels then travel onwards by bus to Phnom Penh.

    Phnom Penh - Stay 3 nights then travel onwards by bus to Siem Reap.

    Siem Reap - Stay 4 nights, explore Angkhor & area then travel onwards via Poipet by bus & then by train to Bangkok.

    Bangkok - Arriving at approx 19:55, transfer quickly (if possible) to the Lomprayah bus (buffet ticket) at 21:00 for Koh Tao spending 1 night on the bus arriving at approx 08:45.

    Koh Tao - Stay 2 nights then travel onwards by Catamaran to Ko Pha Ngan.

    Ko Pha Ngan - Stay 1 night then travel onwards by Catamaran to Ko Samui.

    Ko Samui - Stay 3 nights & take a day trip to the An Thong Park then travel onwards early morning by boat & bus to Surat Thani.

    Surat Thani - Either arrange a package trip to Khao Sok National Park or do it independantly.

    Khao Sok National - Stay 2 nights, 3 days & explore park then travel onwards by bus to Krabi.

    Krabi - Stay 4 nights & do possible day trips to Phi Phi Islands, Ko Lanta & Ko Muk then travel onwards by bus to Phang Nga.

    Phang Nga - Stay 1 night & book "Sayan Tours" overnight trip for the next day.

    Phang Nga National Park - 1 day, 1 night tour with "Sayan Tours" returning to Phang Nga then travelling onwards by bus to Phuket.

    Phuket - Stay 2 nights at the Boomerang Village Cottages & then fly back to Bangkok on the 3rd Feb 2010 at 12:50 before onwards flight back to the UK at 20:30.

    Sorry for such a long post!!

    I look forward to getting some feedback!?

    #1 Posted: 3/8/2009 - 20:47

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  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6050
    Total reviews: 10

    It's reasonably well planned, but it's a lot of traveling with some long legs in there. Personally I don't like bussing all over the place. More than three hours in the bus and I've had it. But you seem to be up for it... you got a plan and it looks like you know what you want to do in general terms.

    #2 Posted: 4/8/2009 - 01:33

  • mlr

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd May, 2009
    Posts: 31

    Hi Madmac

    Thanks for your feedback! What would you advise cutting back on in order to do less travelling?

    #3 Posted: 4/8/2009 - 03:30

  • SBE

    Click here to learn more about SBE
    Joined Travelfish
    14th April, 2008
    Location Global Village
    Posts: 1921
    Total reviews: 5
    Places visited:
    At least 2

    I haven't been to ALL the places you'll be going and everyone's opinion is going to be different but here's my 5 cents.

    I think 4 nights in Kanchanaburi is going to be too long. I'd shave off at least one night but see how you feel when you get there.

    Friends of mine did the Gibbon experience just after it opened and they seemed to have had a great time. Apparently they had to use a zip line to get to the bathroom from their hut in the trees... that must have been interesting in the middle of the night after a few chang beers. I forgot to inquire how they got back to their treehouse afterwards.

    I've no idea what the "Flight of the Gibbon" in CM is like. I'd guess a somewhat less "authentic" setting seeing as it's in Chiang Mai ! If you don't do the Gibbon thing there then you could zap a couple of nights off CM too.

    You seem to know exactly where you'll be staying much of the time BTW...are you booking all your accommodation in advance? If so, that might be a major mistake. It means you won't have the flexibility to move on if you don't like somewhere (or stay put if you do). It's very easy indeed to do this in SEA, no need for strict schedules. Many GHs don't even take bookings, partly because they never know how long guests will be staying.

    Hmm you're doing the slow boat to Luang Prabang. Have you read this?

    http://www.travelfish.org/feature/119

    Here are some more pictures. This it's what it's like inside one (for two full days)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/8675349@N06/3721548389/in/set-72157621499857894/

    This is what they look like from the outside

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/8675349@N06/3722360286/in/set-72157621499857894/

    And this is what it's like when one hits a rock because of overloading and gets a ruddy great hole in the hull! ;-)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/8675349@N06/3721554781/in/set-72157621499857894/

    You seem to be fairly well heeled judging by the kind of hotels you're staying in etc so maybe you might want to consider flying to LP from Chiang Mai or getting a "posh" slow boat, if they still exist. That would save you a day or more too.

    I did the kayaking thing from Vang Vieng. It's OK but it involved a lot of time bouncing about on dirt roads in the back of a pickup ... more time than you actually spend in a canoe perhaps, I can't remember exactly...but I'm sure the bus would have been quicker! They stopped for lunch in a gorge with rather high cliffs for lunch ... a great place for wanna be Acapulco divers. (No ER if you crack your head open on the rocks below however)


    I know ziltch about Vietnam but afterwards you say you want to go from Siem Reap to BKK via Poipet and get on the overnight Lompraya bus to Ko Tao that same evening.

    Don't even try that. You don't know how long in advance it's going to take to get across the border at Poipet. You will be knackered when you arrive in BKK and in dire need of a shower and a good night's sleep. Stay in BKK one night rather than immediately getting on an overnight bus and hanging around Chumphon in the dark till it's time for the ferry to leave for Ko Tao. Shave a night off the first three nights in BKK if necessary.

    #4 Posted: 4/8/2009 - 03:42

  • mlr

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd May, 2009
    Posts: 31

    Hi SBE

    Many thanks for all your advice & tips!

    Re the Gibbon Experience, initially i was really looking forward to it but the main reasons i am now swaying towards doing the Chiang Mai option (highly rated on Trip Advisor) are because of the following points: very mixed reviews of the GE and their staff, cost of the GE, travel time involved with the GE.

    I haven't booked all accommodation, just the 1st couple of weeks so that we could start the first couple of weeks with some relaxation & a little bit of luxury (we don't plan on staying in those standards of accommodation for the whole trip!;-)

    Re the slow boat, thanks for the advice on this, we're def not going to do that now & im going to look into flights from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang instead. That will give us an extra 4 nights to play around with!

    As we will have 4 nights in Chiang Mai would you recommend perhaps doing a day trip to Chiang Rai & the Golden Triangle from there?

    We will def stay 1 poss 2 nights in Bangkok now between the train from the border and the Lomprayah bus to the south.

    #5 Posted: 4/8/2009 - 04:33

  • BruceMoon

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

    mlr

    I was not going to comment on your itinerary - to me the whole focus is wrong.

    Too far, too fast through an amazing landscape, then much time spent doing relatively nothing in southern Thailand.

    Personally, if your focus is having a great time, then drop one of Laos, Cambodia or Vietnam.

    - - -

    The Gibbon Experience versus the Flight of thew Gibbon, definitely wrong move.

    If you haven't already, go see this post 1 and post 2.

    I gather that a few years ago, some were saying negatives, but I haven't heard for a while.

    - - -

    Kanchanaburi ...

    The resort is in the middle of no-where, sounds great. Sad that it won't be easy for you to go see the amazing and very moving monuments at Kanchanaburi & Hellfire Pass.

    4 days could be wonderfully romantic, or a drag (can't say).

    - - - -

    "travel onwards to Mae Hong Son via Mae Chaem, Ob Luang & Mae Sariang .

    Mae Hong Son - Stay 1 night then travel onwards to Soppong "
    .

    Is this in one day? ie. from Don Inthanon to MHS? If so, you'll have heaps of speeding tickets (if the cops can catch up to the low flying). I think I'd suggest an overnight at Mae Sariang at the least. Mae Sariang to MHS is pretty well one full day driving.

    - - -

    I'm not a fan of Soppong as its tourist central. Personally, I'd be considering staying a day longer at MHS. But, if you haven't pre-booked accommodation, you can take as you please.

    - - -

    Pai

    Please do the elephant ride - swim. There are several providers (as well as Thoms, who offer a great experience). Did you read this?

    - - -

    Chiang Rai ...

    Personally, much of the 'golden triangle' (hype) doesn't warrant the effort. I'd keep the hire car for another day or so, and instead of rushing to Chiang Mai, I'd deviate thru Fang to Tha Tom. I'd actually not go to Don Inthanon for the time you are suggesting (its OK as a day trip, only IMHO), I'd use that time to go visit Chiang Dao, then buzz up thru fang to Tha Tomand on to the Doi Sam Sao Noi area (stay Mae Salong - this place only speaks Chinese language & very very pretty) then down to Chiang Rai before hitting Chiang Mai.

    I'd then leave the hire car, and take the 5 hr VIP bus to Chiang Khong.

    I'd drop the slow boat trip (as SBE suggests) - it's a crap way to spend 2 days as ther are better boat options around.

    Here, I WOULD do the GE.

    - - -

    To this point in your journey you've so far adopted a rather leisurely approach to travel - the hire car saves so much travel hassle.

    From this point (ie Laos) on, you are going far too fast and not giving yourself time to enjoy (go see my view here.

    I suggest you are setting yourself onto a travel merry-go-round where you start losing your sense of 'being' - you BECOME the transport seat warmer!!!

    2 nights (ie 1 day) in Luang Prabang is not enough, 3 nights (2 days) in VV is OK (for the length of trip you are doing).

    If you do the GE, then I suggest bus to Lunag Nam Tha (I'd also suggest staying here a day or more) then on to OudomXai to LP. I'd sugest possible options, on the journey, but you appear hell bent on seeing much and experiencing little.

    At Luang Prabang, I'd suggest taking the boat to Nong Khiaw or Muang Ngoi (one day) & the bus back to LP the next - or stay and trek for a day at Nong Khiaw or Muang Ngoi before going back to LP. Much better boat trip!!!

    - - -

    It suprises me that you are not including a trip to SaPa (go read what I wrote about SaPa here).

    Also, one day at Hue is a waste of time. The iconic buildings are speard out, and need 2 or 3 days to see. But, Hue has much much more to offer than iconic buildings.

    As far as Hoi An - Nha Trang, the cheapest and perhaps most time efficient way to travel this route is by overnight sleeper bus.

    I wont comment on the rest in VN - other than to say - too far too fast.

    - - -

    What attracts you to Phnom Penh for 3 nights (2 days)? Many achieve the grim reminder in the am, and a tour of the glad-assets in the arvo. hence, 1 day.

    - - -

    4 nights at Siem Reap is not enough. You'll see elsewhere on Travelfish why you need a minimum of 4 days.

    - - -

    To me, the southern Thailand part is far too structured. yes, make the plans, but keep them in the back pocket as a guide 9and that only).

    - - -

    Again, you are trying to see far too much in the first part of your journey. Aside from getting carted around the place, you'll actually not see much at all.

    I'd revisit the whole itinerary, and slash out parts that will give time, and then travel between a lesser number of places and stay at these for longer.

    Personally, if your focus is having a great time, then drop one of Laos, Cambodia or Vietnam.

    Cheers

    #6 Posted: 4/8/2009 - 07:06

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6050
    Total reviews: 10

    OK, from my perspective (and I'm an outlier here), four days anywhere is barely long eonugh unless it's some piece of shit village. I like provincial cities, I like provincial nightlife. But I speak passable (though poor) Thai - which probably influences my attitude on that subject some.

    I agree with Bruce it's a lot of traveling. But you're young, so it might not drive you apeshit like it would Bruce and I (we're old). If you think it would, take Bruces advice and cut some travel time. Also remember the more you travel, the less you experience (unless sitting in a crappy bus for endless hours is "part of the experience" - which it is - the bad part).

    I like the fact that you kind of know what you want to do at each destination but have left some time over for doing nothing. I love doing nothing.

    #7 Posted: 4/8/2009 - 12:18

  • mlr

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd May, 2009
    Posts: 31

    BruceMoon

    I was just sitting waiting for your response as i have spent alot of time looking through this website and knew that you would probably have plenty of feedback on my itinerary!

    I am a bit confused though because although you are telling me to cut out one country you are also telling me to add on lots of extra journeys along the way....which to me equals extra travel time!!??

    For me and my partner we both get itchy feet if we stay in one place for too long and when we travel we do like to "travel"!

    By cutting back on the GE, the slow boat and odd nights here and there we can allow ourselves a little more time in each place but not too much time that we get bored! And thats the kind of feedback (like SBEs) that we really need, which travel sections can be shortened & where should we spend more time!

    I am keen to know BruceMoon how long you actually spend in each place you travel to?

    As Madmac said, we are young!! Alot of the journeys we are doing we have picked to do by train, where posssible, as that way we get to see alot more of the countryside as we go along. No matter how long you spend in each place you are still going to require to do these journeys to get to the next place at some point!?

    In Laos now we are certainly going to look at adding in a few extra nights and will cut back on Phnom Penh nights & add on a couple extra to Siem Reap so thank you for the feedback on that BruceMoon, that i do find helpful!

    The last couple of weeks in Southern Thailand is going to be spent snorkelling & chilling out mainly therefore none of the itinerary is set in stone, the only accommodation i have booked is the last two nights in Phuket & then the flight back up to Bangkok.

    #8 Posted: 4/8/2009 - 13:57

  • BruceMoon

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

    mlr

    First, please understand that I'm NOT wanting to fashion your journey according to my view. Rather, I'm offering a view that may be helpful to you from MY experience.

    Please accept that whatever you choose to do, as far as I'm concerned if you have done your homework and prepared for YOUR journey, then it'll turn out OK because you'll have learnt to be able to 'swim past obstacles' (so to speak) as YOU journey so as to make YOUR journey adapt to the 'obstacles' and so be better.

    So, on this point, if anything I say / suggest helps you, then my contribution has been beneficial.

    - - -

    I've done much of what you are planning to do over recent years, and have posted it on a blog here. This may help you put my perspective into your frame (of reference).

    - - -

    "I was just sitting waiting for your response as i have spent alot of time looking through this website and knew that you would probably have plenty of feedback on my itinerary!"

    I hope such expectation was not negative. :)

    - - -

    "I am a bit confused though because although you are telling me to cut out one country you are also telling me to add on lots of extra journeys along the way....which to me equals extra travel time!!??"

    When I read back, I can see your point.

    Let me explain.

    On the basis that I felt you are scheduling to travel too far, too fast, I felt there were some ideas that would help in northern Thailand that would add a few days, but give your journey more scope (especially in places off the Banana Pancake Trail (see this).

    When I looked at the Nthn Laos section, I noted you'd also indicated you had decided to drop GE in preference to FofG (at CM). I believe there is little to compare. One is a quasi playground attraction, the other is a full-on forest trek with ziplines & (rudimentary) treehouse accommodation.

    I consider your choice was incorrect because FofG will give you a buzz for part of the day, GE will leave you with a lifetime memory.

    And, the forest trekking coupled to the engagement with H!Mong guides is totally absent from the FofG option.

    On the basis that if you changed your nthn Thailand and nthn Laos itinerary to add a few days, then that would probably force you to scuttle one of the other countries (or much there). That is how I fashioned my comments.

    - - -

    By cutting back on the GE, the slow boat and odd nights here and there we can allow ourselves a little more time in each place but not too much time that we get bored! And thats the kind of feedback (like SBEs) that we really need, which travel sections can be shortened & where should we spend more time!

    Your comments here beg the question "what do you envisage yourselves doing when you get to any of these SE Asian towns/cities?"

    For many younger people, its sort of hang at the accommodation place, or go visit monuments listed in a travel guide, or party hard at night and sleep during the day, or hire a motorbike and go see the countryside, or, or, or...

    I suggest your answer to this is important as it may help 'explain' why you seek to rush through the landscape.

    For us to be more helpful, this may turn out to be the most important question you answer.

    - - -

    I am keen to know BruceMoon how long you actually spend in each place you travel to?

    There is no set time. On our last trip, my wife & I spent 6 days in Chiang Mai, 3 days in Luang Nam Tha, a day in Muang Sing, 5 days in Luang Prabang . But, we also spent 1/2 days in places along the way.

    The other thing we did was try and limit the number of days per whatever for actual travel between places where we slept.

    For us, its OK to buzz around during the day, if one is not changing beds. Its the changing beds that can be so taxing on one's overall journey experience. So, while we spent 1/2 a day at Ban Nalae (near Luang Nam Tha), we stayed at Luang Nam Tha.

    When we had to travel much distance - eg. from Luang Prabang to SaPa (in Vietnam), we chose to fashion our journey so that this longish distance was undertaken as an adventure (rather than just a bus trip), and made sure we spent time at each end so that that compensated for the tyrrany of the journey.

    Spelling this out...

    day 1 - LP > Nong Khiaw (by slow boat arrive NK 3pm) so relaxed 4 awhile
    day 2 - NK > Muang Khuaw (by fast boat depart NK 10am, arrive MK 12noon) so relaxed 4 awhile
    day 3 - MK > Dien Bien Phu (by bus arrived 2:30pm, but for us a long day)
    day 4 - DBP > SaPa (by bus very long day)

    With 5 relaxed days in LP, and a few relaxing days in SaPa, the 4 days in between on boats/buses were 'tolerable' but also scenically enjoyable.

    Some travel journey's can be, well, boring. For example, we wanted to 'do' the day train from Lao Cai to HaNoi. For scenery, Vietnam 'lower class' trains are hopeless (with their barred windows) and this one was no exception. We went for the Vietnamese 'engagement'.

    - - -

    In some respects, working out a detailed plan, only to put it in your back pocket and sort of follow it (either faster or slower, depending...) and having the guts not to get too hassled if you don't get to (say) Vietnam because you've done a heap of great other things that took longer/shorter than you planned is probably the advice I'd like best to give you.

    You are young, and if you really make your journey enjoyable, likely you'll be back to SE Asia for more sometime later in your lives.

    - - -

    There's a couple of thought provoking points above, you might seek to answer the Q's, or do your own thing.

    But, I hope this helps.

    Cheers

    #9 Posted: 4/8/2009 - 16:10

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6050
    Total reviews: 10

    "No matter how long you spend in each place you are still going to require to do these journeys to get to the next place at some point!?"

    Not if you're me. I spend three or four months in Muk and then come back as fast as possible.

    Except now - off to Bangkok again. I hate that bus. I just hate it.

    #10 Posted: 4/8/2009 - 16:28

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  • Nokka

    Joined Travelfish
    6th April, 2009
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 259

    mlr, you are to arrive in Bangkok the same day as my wife and I. We will be traveling for 4 months, so we have longer than you, but we plan on perhaps going to one or two extra countries ! Having said that, we've spent time in Thailand before, so we have less focus on there. I say 'perhaps', as we know that we may have to forego some initially planned places. The thing is, we can decide at the time.

    I actually think your approx itinerary is OK. Some of it seems a bit fast, but that seems to be later in the trip. My guess is that you'll slow down as you progress along. Often we have set off at breakneck speed, but after a few days, well...you slow down a bit. Hey, what's wrong with a couple of extra days here, you'll think. You will have that option as only the first part of your trip is booked. Be prepared to change.

    Couple of thoughts:

    1. We stayed on the River Kwai Raft house a few years ago.(Assume its the same place). Loved it. We had booked a 3 day trip from B'kok which took in the war graves, Hellfire etc. the 2 nights we were there was definitely not enough. 4 sounds really good; you should still be able to do the side trips, plus lots of other activities, walking, cycling, kayaking. Was even grabbed by a teacher as we cycled past a small village school to give a quick inpromptu English lesson.

    2. We wre going to go on the Nagi of Mekong 2 day boat trip from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang. In the end we decided to ditch it and fly. Seemed to us to be 3 days just travelling and not much else. The extra days, we feel are better spent elsewhere.

    In addition, though the flight is relatively expensive (£96 one way), once I'd totted up all the costs of the Nagi, buses etc it wasn't THAT much difference.

    3. I think your time in Laos is too short. I've not been yet, so can't comment from experience, but 2 nights in LP looks way too short. We are to travel up the Nam Ou from LP to Nong Khiaw; apparently a much nicer trip then the 2 days on the Mekong. Few days there, then either further north or back to LP and on to Vientane. Vang Vieng is not on our agenda, though may stay a night if we travel by bus to Vientiane. (I'm 50; if I was 25 I guess I may stay a bit longer).

    4. No idea on N Vietnam as have done zero research for there. In the south we definitely plan to spend several days in the Mekong Delta. Everyone we've spoken to who has been there says they wish they'd had longer there.

    5. Xmas and New Year was an issue for us. As normally Christmas is spent at home in UK, with pretty dull weather, we decided we wanted to be at the beach. We are staying for a few nights on Phu Quoc for that. NYE probably in Can Tho.

    6. You seem to have a lot of different Thai islands at the end. From my experience, once you've found a place you like on one of those, you won't want to shift.

    Anyway, nothing wrong in my opinion in have a loose plan. But, I bet it changes.

    #11 Posted: 4/8/2009 - 20:31

  • SBE

    Click here to learn more about SBE
    Joined Travelfish
    14th April, 2008
    Location Global Village
    Posts: 1921
    Total reviews: 5
    Places visited:
    At least 2

    "As we will have 4 nights in Chiang Mai would you recommend perhaps doing a day trip to Chiang Rai & the Golden Triangle from there?"

    Ar those four nights already booked and paid for? Otherwise you could just move on to Laos. Maybe go and do the Gibbon experience in the way Bruce suggests.

    To be honest I don't really like the CM area that much ... it's on practically every first timer's itinerary and hence very very touristy. I did enjoy doing a custom designed trek which involved some white water rafting there years ago though. Just two of us and I think we paid 1000B each. No elephants, no hill tribe villages, no souvenir shops. We trekked in the jungle all morning ...up up up ... quite strenuous ... and then came down in rafts on the river in the afternoon. The rapids were much more exciting than the ones on the canoe trip out of Vang Vieng. You could always see if you can't arrange something like that once you're there.

    What Nokka says about all the islands you want to see is true. If you find one you like, you won't want to shift....so don't, you're on holiday. Sit back and relax even if it means missing other stuff on the "must do" list.


    A propos.... have you taken the weather into account for your time in the Thai islands? It's often very wet on the gulf side (Ko Tao, Ko Phagan and Samui) from November onwards. Check average rainfall on the good old TF weather map:

    http://www.travelfish.org/weather_fish.php

    If you need another marine park then you could go to Ko Rok. The resorts on Ko Muk can arrange camping trips there. Better still for snorkelling are the Surins and the Similans. You can stay at the NP campsites on these islands.

    Pity you've got all those hotels booked already. I made the same mistake the first time I went to Thailand. I booked the last three nights at Ao Nang (special hotel offer) and I had to drag myself back there from Ko Ngai which was MUCH nicer!

    #12 Posted: 5/8/2009 - 01:36

  • mlr

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd May, 2009
    Posts: 31

    Hey all!

    Sorry its taken me so long to come back!

    To answer Bruces question about our likes/dislikes: snorkelling, chilling out, seeing key sights, trying different foods, etc...you probably get the jist!

    I am really greatful for all the feedback we have received back so far on our rough itinerary, it is really being a big help!

    As i said at the start, we have got 2 months total for SE Asia and would ideally really like to go through Thailand (north & south), Laos, Vietnam & Cambodia but my question now to help me re-do the itinerary are as follows:


    Soppong or Pai - We can now have 3 nights total between these two places, which one would be better to stay 2 nights at? (we do have the hire car at this point)

    How long should we stay in Luang Prabang and is their any must see/do places we should go in Laos, other than Vang Vieng & Vientiane?

    Is Hue nice in Vietnam and if so how long should be allow there?

    What is the best way to see the Mekong Delta in Vietnam & how long should we allow?

    Sorry for all the questions!? ;-)

    #13 Posted: 7/8/2009 - 17:16

  • BruceMoon

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

    mlr

    Soppong or Pai - We can now have 3 nights total between these two places, which one would be better to stay 2 nights at? (we do have the hire car at this point)

    Don't even bother seeking an answer. Don't even bother pre-booking accommodation. Don't even worry about it. You have a car, the world is in your hands, just go with the flow. If you get to Soppong and absolutely love it, stay and enjoy. If you get there and think ho hum then get behind the wheel and move on.

    How long should we stay in Luang Prabang and is their any must see/do places we should go in Laos, other than Vang Vieng & Vientiane?[/i]

    Time in LP? It really depends on what you've done, where you've been, etc.

    At some point BEFORE you depart, you are going to have to stop worrying whether you have the journey 'right'. This is an obvious example. If you give yourself (say) 5 days in LP, and after (say) 3 you want to move on, then YOU have to recognise it's YOUR holiday/experience and can choose to move on.

    But, for starters, I'd allocate about 4 or 5 days in LP: this assumes that if its less than what you want, you can wander around nearby eg. elephant adventure, Nong Khiaw by boat, etc. etc.

    As others here on Travelfish would attest, I could have you enjoy your holiday totally in Laos. So, being a bit prejudiced, all I'll say is I don't think you have the time to take in other options (eg. Plain of Jars, etc.). You'll just have to 'trade off' (as I wrote here).


    Is Hue nice in Vietnam and if so how long should be allow there?

    mlr, honestly, if you are asking this at this stage in your planning, then...

    Hue is a great place. It NEEDS 3 days. Hue was the (pre-communist) intellectual, cultural and spiritual capital of Vietnam from about 1800 to 1945. It remains the heartfelt centre in the Vietnamese psyche.

    What is the best way to see the Mekong Delta in Vietnam & how long should we allow?

    Given your earlier suggested itinerary, I think you are yet to gain focus. It appears youare still 'wonderising' about all the opportunities.

    The Mekong region is Vietnam's poorest. It is flat. It is Cham rather than Han. The Mekong region contrasts against the Han and the mountainous and urban regions to the north. Is is spectacular? No. Is it a must see? No. Is it a tourist destination? Yes.

    As I wrote here you really need to work out what you want to do/see versus how far you travel.

    - - - -

    Above, I asked the question "what do you envisage yourselves doing when you get to any of these SE Asian towns/cities?". You answered "snorkelling, chilling out, seeing key sights, trying different foods, etc.".

    This suggests to me that you have yet to factor into your travel plans the types of attractions in each place you visit that YOU want to undertake. Your answer says to me that you may be better off just hanging around the full-on tourist places such as southern Thailand. Many of the places you've (earlier) identified are all about engaging with the local culture, embracing diversity, contrasting your own perceptions of life with those undertaken by others. Put simply, exposing yourself to a variety of alternate cultures/ideas/ways of life that WILL challenge how/why YOU are what you are, do what you do, and support your parents' view on life. If you don't want to expose yourself to these 'confrontations', then - as I said - just go to the full-on tourist centres.

    Cheers

    #14 Posted: 7/8/2009 - 18:34

  • seagypsy

    Joined Travelfish
    5th February, 2009
    Posts: 136

    mlr,
    You've obviously put in a lot of research and thought planning out your itinerary and overall is fine and 'do-able' without being too rushed, IMO.
    But I do agree with SBE in #12 with regards to weather on the Andaman Coast being better than the gulf islands in Dec.-Feb., and by relinquishing those island, you'll free up some time for other activities or leaving you more free days to add into your itinerary in case something comes up along your route. Also agree with his/her assessment of the island off Trang.
    I don't know if you're locked into your Phuket--end destination (and if you are, then just ignore the following), but if not, then leave it open for the time being which will leave you with options for inexpensive flights back to Bangkok from Krabi (Thai Air Asia) or Trang (Nok Air) provided you book online via their website 3weeks to a month or more in advance. The great thing is that you won't be hitting the Andaman coast until late Feb. which means things will have started to quiet down a bit more.

    And I do agree with Nokka's #13 reply (point #3) and Bruce's #9 about setting aside 5-6 days for Luang Prabang area which would give you 3 days to head up to Nong Khiaw and/or Moung Ngoi (just one hour further north by slowboat, departing several times per day). This would still give you 3 days for L. Prabang which would not be rushed at all.

    Anyways, at some point you'll drive yourself crazy by attempting the 'perfect' itinerary so don't worry too much and enjoy your trip!

    #15 Posted: 10/8/2009 - 02:20

  • mlr

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd May, 2009
    Posts: 31

    Bruce, i am totally offended that you think we should just stick to the full on tourist centres! You are one extremely opinionated man! Everyone elses feedback i find really helpful but yours is extremely patronising!

    Sea Gypsy, thanks for your feedback, to answer some of your questions, i am afraid that we have already booked our flight from Phuket to Bangkok, so that will have to be our final point in S Thailand. I had already looked at the flights out of Krabi but they were alot more expensive. Our depature date is the 3rd Feb.

    As it will be the middle of Jan that we reach the Gulf Islands how unpredictable do you think that the weather will be at that time? As the islands are so close together perhaps we could cut back our number of nights there and just do some island hopping between them, would this be ok?

    With the khao sok national park do we need two nights there or should we just do a day trip in, spend one night and then head down to Krabi?

    Has anyone done a day trip from Phuket to Ko Similian islands, as this may be another option, especially if the weather wont be as good on the gulf Coast?

    Cheers!

    mlr

    #16 Posted: 10/8/2009 - 16:13

  • BruceMoon

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

    mlr, you wrote...

    Bruce, i am totally offended that you think we should just stick to the full on tourist centres! You are one extremely opinionated man! Everyone elses feedback i find really helpful but yours is extremely patronising!

    As you could imagine, no-one purposefully goes out to offend. So, if you are offended by what I wrote, it was not my intention, but sobeit.

    I am surprised at your view of mine that you should just stick to the full on tourist centres. I can't see how that perception could be generated from what I wrote. That said, you may like to remind yourself of my comment above that you may like to give your journey more scope (especially in places off the Banana Pancake Trail.

    In your initial post you ended with "I look forward to getting some feedback!?

    Wiktionary describes the term feedback as "Critical assessment on information produced"

    So, from what you have lastly written, it appears to me that you didn't want feedback, rather you wanted confirmation that your itinerary was good, and suggestions as to how to tinker with the edges in order to make it better.

    Apologies that I took your request on face value.

    Cheers

    #17 Posted: 10/8/2009 - 20:14

  • mlr

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd May, 2009
    Posts: 31

    BruceMoon, i really can't be bothered with all the bitching back and forth. I think your idea of feedback is totally different to most people who use this site and i will leave it at that!

    I think it is probably best if we just don't say anything about each others posts, as clearly neither of us are going to agree with anything the other one says!

    #18 Posted: 10/8/2009 - 21:16

  • seagypsy

    Joined Travelfish
    5th February, 2009
    Posts: 136

    "Has anyone done a day trip from Phuket to Ko Similian islands, as this may be another option, especially if the weather wont be as good on the gulf Coast?"

    I've done a live aboard from Phuket (with Kon Tike divers many years back) and also with Poseidon bungalows in Khao Lak (but the second time around only a 3 days snorkeling trip) and enjoyed them very much. Those islands are really beautiful and well worth it but I don't think it's possible as strictly a day-trip (though I could be wrong if launching from Thap Lamu just south of Khao Lak area). Anyways, if time permits, well worth a trip there and closer from Khao Lak (and possibly cheaper too!). Anyways, I seem to recall some years back that the Lomprayah speed ferries offered snorkeling trips but have no idea as to whether they still do. Have fun.

    #19 Posted: 11/8/2009 - 00:34

  • mlr

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd May, 2009
    Posts: 31

    Thanks for your reply SeaGypsy.

    I have looked into it a bit more online and it looks as if you can do day trips from Phuket to both the Similian and the Surin islands so i think we might perhaps stay a couple of extra nights in Phuket to allow for that if we fancy it when we get there.

    #20 Posted: 11/8/2009 - 01:08

  • SBE

    Click here to learn more about SBE
    Joined Travelfish
    14th April, 2008
    Location Global Village
    Posts: 1921
    Total reviews: 5
    Places visited:
    At least 2

    "likes/dislikes: snorkelling, chilling out, seeing key sights, trying different foods, etc...you probably get the jist!"


    If you can hack camping for a few nights I'd really recommend staying in the Surins for a few days ...ideally 3 at least as there are four different half day snorkelling trips organized by the national park (only 80B a pop) but you may not want to do two a day. Alternatively you can charter a boat and go snorkelling wherever you want. Half day boat hire costs 1000B. There used to be canoes for hire too but they'd been "lost" this year ...they may have bought new ones by the time you go.

    At the NP headquarter campsite (there are two campsites) there are bungalows too but they are quite expensive (2000B) and often full.
    I'm not sure if you can book one in advance... you could try though if you want. The mattresses in the bungalows are Thai style (read hard as a rock) but you'd have an ensuite bathroom and more privacy than you'd have sleeping in the tents.

    You can get to Khao Sok from there easily. The ferries from the Surins leave early afternoon and you can be at Khao Sok by early evening. Just get on a bus heading south and change at Takuapa to one heading to Surat Thani. It's easy. You can do canoe trips and all the jungly stuff there....again I'd recommend you stay 2-3 nights if you can but you'd need to chop something else ... if it were me I'd nuke that Phang Nga tour. I haven't done it, but if it's anything like the day tours they do around Ao Nang (Krabi) then it's not my cup of tea at all. Here's a picture I took on a day trip I did years ago (in low season) from Ao Nang ... I doubt if the "deserted islands" are any less crowded nowadays but up to you!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/8675349@N06/527489742/in/set-72157600303486647/

    #21 Posted: 11/8/2009 - 05:20

  • BruceMoon

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

    mlr

    I think your idea of feedback is totally different to most people who use this site and i will leave it at that!

    Wiktionary describes the term feedback as "Critical assessment on information produced".

    WOW... You mean I'm the only one that uses the term feedback in the correct context. Most others on Travelfish have got it wrong!!!!

    Mmmmm!!!

    Cheers

    #22 Posted: 11/8/2009 - 06:14

  • seagypsy

    Joined Travelfish
    5th February, 2009
    Posts: 136

    "At the NP headquarter campsite (there are two campsites) there are bungalows too but they are quite expensive (2000B) and often full."

    SBE--do you mean those concrete bungalows on Surin are now 2 thousand bahts?! Yikes, they've gone up quite a bit since I visited. I slept in a 2 person tent for 200 bahts and really enjoyed these islands too.

    mlr--sorry to make it even harder to choose but the Surins are also very nice for snorkeling, though the Similans are more stunningly scenic.

    #23 Posted: 11/8/2009 - 06:44

  • mlr

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd May, 2009
    Posts: 31

    The other problem i am having now is where do we start the Khao Sok trip from, Surat Thani or Phuket and do we do it independantly or do we do it as a tour?? I think we can manage 2 nights there.

    #24 Posted: 11/8/2009 - 13:20

  • SBE

    Click here to learn more about SBE
    Joined Travelfish
    14th April, 2008
    Location Global Village
    Posts: 1921
    Total reviews: 5
    Places visited:
    At least 2

    mlr

    You can get to Khao Sok from either but Surat Thani is more direct. You'd have to change buses at Takua Pa too if you went from Phuket. I think you're going to be amazed how easy it is to get anywhere in Thailand by bus so I'd say do it independently. If you do want to to do a tour then you can get one when you're there. Don't book anything else now!

    seagypsy

    I think the bungalows have been that price for a while... I seem to remember they were already 2000 Baht in 2006/2007. The tents have been 300B since then too, larger tents 450B. The only thing that went up last season AFIK were the snorkelling trips ...up from 70B to 80B.

    The bungalows were all getting a facelift because of an imminent royal visit when I was there in (Feb/March?) 2008. They let me stay an extra night when they took all the other tents down and everyone else had to leave HQ just before the princess arrived. Just me and three other friends had the whole beach to ourselves ... no lunch time day trippers and no other tents....absolutely gorgeous!

    Haven't been to the Similans but hear it's much busier with more foreign tourists... which camp would you recommend staying at there?

    #25 Posted: 11/8/2009 - 14:20

  • seagypsy

    Joined Travelfish
    5th February, 2009
    Posts: 136

    My apologies to mlr for going off topic to his/her thread but this will be my last one on this since there's no private messaging system.

    SBE--yes even if the Similans are bussier, it's still well worth a trip and you seem to know how to get around well (great pictures, btw) since we've been to many of the same islands. Each time I was on a live aboard so I didn't check out the tent accomodations other than to walk around the area. Hope you do visit at some point.
    Cheers.

    #26 Posted: 11/8/2009 - 22:01

  • ksen

    Joined Travelfish
    18th February, 2011
    Posts: 1

    The tours provided by flight of the Gibbon Bangkok are of the highest quality and customer safety. It’s easy to wear long pants or shorts and T-shirt or polo when you are preparing for tour. Sneakers or other shoes that do not fall easily are highly recommended. Please avoid excessive or dangling jewelry. It's a good idea to bring a camera to capture the action! Backpacks and sunglasses are an unnecessary burden and there are storage facilities in the office when you arrive. It is also good to bring an open mind and a smile.

    #27 Posted: 18/2/2011 - 12:56

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