Friends and I are doing a 2 - 3 moth trip to south-east asia in November. We plan to fly into Phuket on the 1st Nov and then make the journey by bus/boat to Koh Phangan for the Nov full moon party. We want to travel by land up to Laos straight after the party and spend a few weeks in Laos tubing :) and possibly find some work!
We then plan to travel by land to Vietnam where we will meet friends on the 18th Dec and spend a couple of days exploring. If we have enough time we hope to make it to Cambodia for a few days before returning to Koh Phangan for the new years eve full moon party...
We are 20 yr old Australian girls so are there more for the beaches and nightlife rather than anything else, although we do hope to do some sightseeing along the way.
We have only ever been to Thailand and don't know much the other places so this is only an idea of what we want to do so far! Is travel by land a cheap and easy in between the countries and how long will al this travel take out of our trip? As we are on a low budget trip we won't be able to afford air fares. If anyone has any other ideas or suggestions about places to go or anything at all, please let us know as we don't want to miss out on anything :)
#1 rachel0621 has been a member since 18/8/2009. Posts: 6
I'm assuming you've 'found' Travelfish, read some of the Forum 'posts' and decided to seek info about travel possibilities. That's cool, you're not alone.
Assuming I'm right (I may not be), and I don't want to sound patronising, but there is a heap of info already at your fingertips here on Travelfish.
In the first instance, please try looking at the middle box in the grey section up above titled Before you leave. Scroll down there, and as well as great advice to start planning, there are also a list of suggested itineraries. These are the (popular) routes that many backpackers take. The places listed are often used as 'waystops': so check these places out for travel enjoyment options.
Another great feature is the Search Travelfish box to the left in the grey section. Type a topic here, and read the 'delivered' articles.
I'm sure you'll get the hang of it.
It's my view that if you do the research, you'll know where you'll probably enjoy, how to get there, and what to expect.
The reason I've suggested you look at these Travelfish resources is because you've identified two opposing attributes (1) fun, feel good locations that are miles apart (meaning very much time and cost in travel), and (2) a sort of guilt that if you're going to go to SE Asia you should engage in the culture/history. It is this second part that I think is complicating your approach to the holiday.
Personally, I think the focus of your holiday is expressed in your third paragraph.
Given this, why not stay in Thailand and party till its time to head to Vietnam - fly there - and continue your holiday/party there. Remember you must have a visa arranged before you enter Vietnam.
As for land travel, as in Australia, some of the air routes are serviced by low cost carriers and can be about the same price as a long tedious bus trip. But, where there are no airports, bus or train are the only options. Like all SE Asian locations, you can be penny-wise and pound foolish. So, check out options and the total price before jumping in coz it looks cheap.
I doubt you'll find much paid work (unless you are a qualified English teacher), but you never know.
Look into low cost flights -- Nok Air, AirAsia and Jetstar (for example) -- you'll find the fares are often surprisingly inexpensive -- especially given you're jumping about a fair bit over long distances.
You could do something like:
Phuket -> Ko Phi Phi (by boat) -> Krabi then bus boat combo across the peninsular to Ko Pha Ngan. Then overnight bus/train from KPN to Bangkok. Overnight train up to Nong Khai, enter Laos, Vientiane then north to Vang Vieng (for your tubing).
Once you're done there, north again to Luang Prabang. If you're only going to Vn for a coupla days, then I'd fly in and out -- look into flights from Vientiane to Hanoi (I'm assumming that is where you are headed) as if you overland it you'll just have a couple of days in crummy uncomfortable transport.
Cambodia looks a bit undoable, unless you're travelling south through Vn.
Fly back to Bangkok, then overnight transport to the party again on KPN.
You can get more info on the Bkk to silly islands route here: http://www.travelfish.org/feature/57
Luang Prabang to Hanoi is around US$155 (including taxes)
Vientiane to Hanoi around US$130 (including taxes)
Both the above are with Lao Airlines, I think VN airlines does this route too.
You can fly Bangkok to Hanoi for under $100 with AirAsia, special deals can bring it much lower - I paid $40 a while back - it varies. They also fly in Saigon, so a lot would depend on where you're meeting up with others in Vn.
Thanks for all of your help :)
I have a new idea after reading some of the things that were said...
Instead of going to Laos straight after KPY we're thinking of going the other way around. I took your advice Somtam, and we will now do the boat/bus/train from KPY to Bangkok, and then fly Bangkok to Ho Chi Mihn. After a few days of exploring catch the train from Ho Chi Mihn to Ha Noi (even stopping off in between to break up the trip if we can find a place of interest on the way). We will then spend some time in Ha Noi where we hope we can get some kind of bus to Vang Vieng for a few wks to a month of tubing (we have spoken to some people that worked on the tubing river for food drink and accom - so that kind of thing would be ideal!!) After Laos we hope to find some sort of transport to take us to take us back down to Bangkok and then do the whole bus/train/boat to KPY again!
Does this all sound realistic? I know all this travel by bus/train etc sounds tedious, time consuming and uncomfortable, but i cant see any other way of doing it on our budget... Also, in terms of beaches and nightlife would we be missing out on much if we skipped Cambodia and went to Vietnam instead?
Thanks again for your help, everythings beginning to be a lot more clearer now... Cant wait to go!! :)
#6 rachel0621 has been a member since 18/8/2009. Posts: 6
While there are some interesting looking places between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, my advice is if you don't want to stop off just fly. It is a very long ride on the train (something like 28 hours I think) and my experience with prices on Vietnam flights is that flying is unlikely to cost a great deal more. Check the Jetstar site and see how much it costs. For details on the trains, I recommend The Man in Seat 61 website.
#7 Rohan has been a member since 16/6/2009. Posts: 63
The Hanoi to Vang Vieng leg is a bit blurry -- as mentioned you could fly, or else overland by bus to Luang Prabang -- it's a long trip. Once in Luang Prabang, I'd suggest hanging out there before heading to Vang Tubing.
The rest of it sounds about right.
Beaches and nightlife in Cambodia -- I think you'd probably find Ochheuteal Beach and perhaps Kampot to your liking -- in the case of Kampot, check out Boddhi Villa they're into tubing as well.
I'm a bit confused by the whole thing, to be honest. Your trip looks a bit muddled to me and I suspect you're a bit unsure too.
I think you need to do a lot of reading about the places you may go to and work out whether they give you the sort of experience you are looking for. I'm not sure, for example, why you wish to travel all the way from Saigon to Hanoi . That is a vast distance by train. What is there that attracts you ? An overland trip from Hanoi to Luang Prabang is a tough trip, I understand. Do you really want to do that ?
Many, many people wish to go to Vang Vieng for the tubing. I get the impression that most people spend a couple of days there doing the tubing and then move on. Perhaps there is a longer term scene there, I don't know; others may enlighten. But, what if you can't get a job ? Do you have contacts who can help in that regard, or are you just hoping for the best ?
For me, if you're looking for nightlife and beaches (plus a bit of culture or sightseeing), I would concentrate on Thailand, which has plenty of both. With maybe a side trip to Vang Vieng for a few days for the tubing if that appeals.
I'm with nokka.
I said earlier in relation to Rachel's originating post...
"Personally, I think the focus of your holiday is expressed in your third paragraph.
"We are 20 yr old Australian girls so are there more for the beaches and nightlife rather than anything else, although we do hope to do some sightseeing along the way.
Given the above advice, a lot of money will be spent and and a lot of time wasted travelling to god knows where merely to say "we did some sightseeing.
I never thought I'd say it, but Rachel, forget the expensive waltz around SE Asia, just go party.
"I never thought I'd say it, but Rachel, forget the expensive waltz around SE Asia, just go party."
You sound like a Ko Samui or Phuket girl to me... Bruce is right. Getting around takes time. Which is time you could be partying.
Of course, if you don't care about the beaches, you can party good in any provincial city in Thailand. So you could sight see by day, party by night.
#11 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Thanks again for all your help!
Actually we do want to see the other parts of SE Asia, we're not going just for the nightlife... I’m sure we'll get a lot of that while in Koh Phangan and Vang Vieng ! Can't say I’ve ever liked Koh Samui so I'll be trying my hardest to stay away from the prostitution that surrounds the provincial cities of Thailand as I can't stand seeing older foreign men walking around with Thai girls who aren’t even half their age.
But aside from that!! It looks as if we can fly everywhere, the only thing we're having trouble with is how to get from Hanoi to Luang Prabang, I can't seem to find any flights and everyone is telling me it's a harsh trip by land... how does everyone do it then? Does anyone know which airline flies between these two places? Also, after we have finished in Vang Vieng which would be the best way to get back down to Bangkok?
Another question, we are wanting to play it by ear and book flights as we go, but do the flights (Air Asia etc) increase in price the closer it gets to the departure date? If they do we will just have to make a decision now rather than spend as long as we want in each place and book as we go.
Any help would be much appreciated!
#12 rachel0621 has been a member since 18/8/2009. Posts: 6
Vietnam Air fly HaNoi to Luang Prabang, but not every day. The fare is about US$212. To book online, you must use IE7 (or higher) - go here to see.
From Vang Vieng to Bankgok, you'd be best to get to Vientiane. You can either fly to BKK (expensive) or train it.
Re: Air Asia, yes, it's been my experience that the flights increase in price as the cheaper seats sell out. That siad, if you book, and some days before you see that you won't make the flight, you can cancel /rebook and pay the higher price and get some of the cancelled money back. To do this, its best to go to an AirAsia office rather than wait the several hours on the phone.
Hope this helps.
"Can't say I’ve ever liked Koh Samui so I'll be trying my hardest to stay away from the prostitution that surrounds the provincial cities of Thailand as I can't stand seeing older foreign men walking around with Thai girls who aren’t even half their age."
The prostitution of provincial Thailand doesn't service "older foreign men", it services older Thai men. Older foreign men congregate mostly in Pattay, Bangkok, Phuket a little and Chiang Mai. A few in Udon Thani. Otherwise you won't find hardly any in provincial Thailand, and those you do find are mostly married. The vast majority of Thailand's prostitutes service Thais, not foreigners.
#14 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Myself and fellow 22 yr old aussie bloke and girl are doing the same thing you guys are going to do leaving Aus on the 6th of December.. We have all decided that we must as well as partying see a bit of culture.. haha, so on the cards is tubing in vang vieng, vietnam (ho Chi Mihn) for a bit of the war memorabilia and historty and nha trang for the beaches.. then koh phangang for full moon and a futher 3 weeks of laying in the sun in thailand. I've too looked into how I could possibly travel from bangkok to laos to vietnam then back to koh phangang on a very small budget. Looking at it now, it seems the only transport from laos to vietnam is a very dodgy bus that goes from vientiane? to hanoi which is very far north vietnam and out of the way considering our itinerary. I have found return flights on airasia.com from bangkok to ho chi mihn for $120 australian. It is a 20 buck train ride from bangkok to laos.. so i figure, arrive the 6th - train up to laos for the tubing and do that for a week, then train back to bangkok and fly into vietnam, return flight back to bangkok on the 27th then train from bangkok to koh phagnan (area) is 9 Aussie dollars.. so essentially base both trips to laos and vietnam from bangkok looks to be easiest and cheapest. Hope this helps and that you guys get as loose as we do whilst still seeing some magic. haha!
#15 bcrawley21 has been a member since 28/9/2009. Posts: 1
Crawley> Beaches at Nha Trang are overrated ... unless you are at their private beaches. Was disappointed when I was there last year. Personally I like Hoi An and Cua Dai beach which is more quiet (but none of those snorkeling activities found in nha trang). Mui Ne has windsurfing stuff, and quite pretty beaches too. Some one I met in Viet when I was there tells me Phu Quoc Island has one of the best beaches (and best place to laze around), but it's more difficult to get to. Of course if you are going around Thailand there should be no shortage of excellent beaches.
I think Phongsali (Laos) has a bus which goes to Dien Bian Phu (Viet) - but not sure if you girls are interested in destinations like those.
As for Bangkok to Laos - I will be doing that via a night bus from Bangkok to Chiang Khong, then cross over to Muang Sing in Laos.
Will be in Laos from 28th Nov to around 12th Dec. Maybe we'll see each other around ;)
#16 pillz has been a member since 8/6/2009. Posts: 7
Thanks for everyones help :)
Still dont really have anything set in concrete as im waiting for my friend to return from europe.
Looks like we're doing it the other way round to you bcrawley, as we have to meet friends in Vietnam.
At the moment we're arriving in Phuket on the 1st of nov and then straight on to KPY for the full moon. We might stick around for a bit and then hope to get up to Bangkok and fly from there to Ho Chi Mihn for a week or so to see a bit of the history then fly to Hanoi for another week or so for the beaches etc. From there fly to Louang Phrabang for a bit of sight seeing and then to Vang Vieng for tubing (cant wait!!) and then just a bit of anything in between all of it as long as we're back in KPY for new years/full moon going to be a huge one this year :D we've been for last 2 yrs n wanted to do a longer trip ever since so dont u worry we'll be getting loose haha! :)
#17 rachel0621 has been a member since 18/8/2009. Posts: 6