Southeast Asia forum
12 Weeks Thailand/Laos/Cambodia/Vietnam
10th August, 2009
I'm thinking about heading to Bangkok on Oct 26th till 18th Jan and not too sure how I should split my time up. I've never been over there before or away on my own so lots of firsts. I will just see how it goes when I get there but would welcome any ideas you have or thoughts on how you would do it.
My budget will be around £2500($4200) excluding flights, so about $50 a day. Will be travelling overland but buying an onward flight from BKK somewhere to keep Mr Visa man happy -- may use or not depending on overall prices. Nothing fancy - I'll eat anywhere and plan to, $10-15 for accomodation or less if its nice enough. I'll be partying a fair bit but nothing too extravagant. This should be ok right?
I want to experience lots of everything with no set agenda to do anything. Temples, beautiful scenery, eating, animal sanctuaries, talking to people, boat trips, markets, it's all good. I want to be relaxed a lot which means keeping travelling by to a minimum - more time in less places I think.
A rough plan was 14 days for Cambodia and 23 days each for the others. Should I spend more time in one than another or cut out Vietnamall together? - This is what I'm having trouble with.
Any thoughts will be greatly appreciated.
#1 Posted: 10/8/2009 - 15:18
I've answered this question several times on Travelfish. Clearly, this is not an isolated dilemma.
There are two ways to approach foreign travel. To my mind, both involve preparatory research:
1/. front up with a whole lot of possible options in mind (ie. scenario 1, scenario 2, scenario 3, etc) any of which MAY be undertaken, or some combination of each.
2/. have a fully blown itinerary that accounts (roughly) for the route, the time at each stopover, etc.
Neither are right or wrong: just different ways to address the matter.
When you write "I will just see how it goes when I get there" you appear in the first 'camp', so I'll reply accordingly.
- - -
I suggest to people that as a rule of thumb, one town/region per week, and about 3 regions in a country per month. Given this, you could spend the whole 12 weeks in Thailand and still not get under the surface.
But, you want to visit other nations but Thailand. The people/culture of three of the four nations have a strong similarity: Thailand, Laos, Cambodia. That is they are Buddhist with all that that entails. Many of the local cultural ways of doing things is also similar in these three nations.
Culturally, Vietnam is quite different to the other three countries. Once prepared for Vietnam, it has much to offer. But, because Vietnam is largely Han chinese, rather than Tai, Cham or Yunnanese in origin, the Vietnamese people approach foreigners quite differently. You'll see on so many Travelfish posts there are so many Travelfishers that have few kind words for the scams, etc., experienced in Vietnam. Given this, and the fact that you'll be struggling to wander through 3 countries anyway, I'd suggest you leave Vietnam for another journey.
In some respects, Thailand can be divided into 4 sectors (not regions, the sectors are too large): Bangkok, the north, the south, and Isaan. Similarly, Laos can be divided into the north, the centre and the south. And, Cambodia appears by many to be divided into south (beaches in/around Sihanoukville) Phnom Penh, the north (along the Mekong, and the west (centred around Battambang/Siem Reap).
This means there are 10 'sectors' across these three countries. You could do no worse than choose a focus for each sector and spend up to a week in each.
An alternative is to select out (some of?) those with similarities. For example, 'beaches' Cambodia, while cheaper than Thailand offer similarities. Similarly, north and south Laos also offer a lot of similarities.
I've italicised this last paragraph as I am being 'rational', not emotive. Many could say "that's rubbish, XXXX is so different to YYYY, which while true, isn't the point I'm trying to make. Rather, it's a 'weeding out' mechanism you could use to reduce the number of 'sectors' so as to spend more time in some/each.
The other aspect that concerns me about your post (and is related to the above paragraph) is that everyone that goes to a country has a favourite experience. I'm no exception. We can all write glowingly about a place, only to have another Travelfisher start flaming the contribution. Sad, but many of us have big ego's!!!
Last April, I travelled (with my wife) from Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, across northern laos, and onto nth Vietnam. I made a blog - go look here - and you may be able to see that while there appears much similarity in landscape, etc., there are also differences. In many respects, its those differences that each place/region/sector offers that makes travel so enjoyable.
- - -
So, in conclusion, I'd drop Vietnam for another day, locate places in each 'sector' to visit, and explore the wonderful opportunities in each 'sector'. I'm sure the descriptions in the 'country' information links at the top of the page will help you immensely to discover where your heart should take you.
Hope this helps.
#2 Posted: 10/8/2009 - 18:10
10th August, 2009
Amazing Bruce. Thanks so much for taking the time to write that, I'm so surprised at how helpful you are and for no fee. I think you're right about dropping Vietnam, then I change my mind and back again. If I gave Cambodia approx 14 days and split the others 3 ways would that extra week in 2 countries be really worth missing out on Vietnam? Yes/No/Yes/No - I'll decide soon enough.
#3 Posted: 11/8/2009 - 04:51
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