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Traveling Between May 19th and June 22nd - Help!

  • jwenger

    Joined Travelfish
    23rd April, 2011
    Posts: 2

    Hello All,

    I am trying to plan a five week itinerary through Thailand/Laos/Cambodia. I want to see as much as possible while I am there while not wasting too much time traveling. I would love suggestions on where to spend more/less time on my trip.

    May 19-23 - Bangkok (I have to spend a few days while travelmates from around the world all meet up)
    May 23 - Night Train to Chang Mai
    May 24 - June 1(?) - A week to ten days in Northern Thailand. How is best to split my time between Chang Mai/Chang Rai/Pai. Spend the whole time and "really" experience one place our get to two or three?
    June 1 - June 9 - A week to ten days going from Vientiane to Luang Prabang. Is this enough time? Should I spend more time in Northern Thailand or Northern Laos?
    June 9 - Flight from LP to Siem Reap (Lao Airlines for $220)
    June 10 - 13 - Angkor Wat complex/Siem Reap
    June 14-16 - Pnom Penh/Killing Fields
    June 16 - Flight from PP to Bangkok (Air Asia for $40)
    June 17-21 - Eastern Thai Islands (which ones for relaxed/cheap atmosphere?)
    June 22 - Flight home from Bangkok

    Please, any help/advice will be great. I know this is a bit broad, but I was hoping for some help filling in the details. All my dates are approximate to leave time for loving one place/hating another. But, to make the most out of such a short time, some planning is necessary I think. Lastly, for the two flights I plan on taking 1) is the time i'm saving worth the price? and 2) how far in advance to book the tickets?

    Thanks,

    Jesse

    #1 Posted: 23/4/2011 - 02:15

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  • SBE

    Click here to learn more about SBE
    Joined Travelfish
    14th April, 2008
    Location Global Village
    Posts: 1952
    Total reviews: 5
    Places visited:
    At least 2

    May 24 - June 1(?) - A week to ten days in Northern Thailand. How is best to split my time between Chang Mai/Chang Rai/Pai. Spend the whole time and "really" experience one place our get to two or three?

    You really will be able to work that out when you're there. They aren't that far from each other and it's very easy to hop on a bus in Thailand.

    June 1 - June 9 - A week to ten days going from Vientiane to Luang Prabang. Is this enough time? Should I spend more time in Northern Thailand or Northern Laos?

    I think I would aim for 10 days rather than a week because a couple of days are going to be taken up travelling in Laos. The mountain scenery between Vang Vieng and LP is gorgeous though... you could think of that day as a sight seeing trip, even if the bus/minibus isn't exactly comfortable! It's really hard to say whether you'll enjoy Thailand or Laos more... I can only say what liked but we may have completely different tastes. Personally I liked N Laos (the area around LP) better than Chiang Mai, I found it more scenic and a bit less touristy as far as trekking etc was concerned. Bear in mind this was about a decade ago though! Look at what TF says and have a look at travel recent blogs etc.... you should get an idea from the photos and commentaries which sounds more your cup of tea. I didn't like the vibe in Vang Vieng even back then, but the scenery there is very beautiful and it was a very cheap place to stay. If you're into wild partying, magic mushroom pizzas and tubing etc then you'll no doubt enjoy it more than I did.

    June 9 - Flight from LP to Siem Reap (Lao Airlines for $220) well it is a bit expensive but if you can afford it I'd say yes, it's well worth it. It'll save a lot of your limited time.

    Cambodia is a bit quick but doable I suppose. Remember you'll have to allow travel time travel between SR and PP. If you're in PP then you might as well get the Air Asia flight!

    Basically you have the choice between Ko Tao or Ko Phangan for the islands. Read up on them in the islands section on this site and see which one you fancy most.

    Air Asia tickets are cheaper if you book them well in advance, unless they do some special 2 day sale or something between now and then. From personal experience I'd never book more than 6 months in advance as they have a tendency to change schedules and even cancel routes if you book TOO far ahead of time but you should be OK if you book now for June. I'd book them as soon as you're sure of the itinerary. Don't know about Lao airlines, sorry.

    Anyway, I think your itinerary plan should be OK, if a bit rushed.

    #2 Posted: 23/4/2011 - 04:42

  • busylizzy

    Joined Travelfish
    31st December, 2007
    Location New Zealand
    Posts: 2098
    Total reviews: 20
    Places visited:
    At least 107

    Agree with what SBE said. Just to add to it a bit...to get from Siem Reap to PP by bus is about 6 hours all up, so assume you will lose the good part of the day to get there. It's a reasonably comfortable bus (except for blaring videos being played) and an opportunity to see the countryside as you drive by. Bus will stop half way for 1/2 hour or so. Cost is about $5-7USD.

    When you say east Thai Islands, are you talking south (Koh PN, Tao, etc - or are you talking Koh Chang, etc. Either way - you will again need a day to get there. I assumed you meant Koh Chang, etc. If that is the case, the bus ride is about 5 hours to Trat, and from there you can catch the ferry. Maybe allow an another hour or so for that be memory, but the time you get done waiting and phaffing around. Allow another day to return home. As an alternative you can get quick flight to/from Bkk to Trat.

    If you were talking about SE islands (KPN, etc) - then you would still lose a good day and have to arrange things carefully timing wise. You could fly from Bkk to Koh Samui, then take the boat to KPN or Tao. Or fly to Bkk to Surat Thani and take ferry to Koh Samui, Koh Tao, etc - but you will have to get your timings right in order to not lose a night somewhere that you don't want to be. For 4 days it's a probably too tight to make it worthwhile.

    #3 Posted: 23/4/2011 - 05:51

  • jwenger

    Joined Travelfish
    23rd April, 2011
    Posts: 2

    Thanks for the replies so far....What I am struggling most with is whether to skip the islands entirely and spend more time elsewhere, or to go through the hassle of maybe getting three days at the beach....from what I hear the islands are gorgeous, but I am not particularly a 'beach' person. Am i really missing out if I don't go?

    #4 Posted: 23/4/2011 - 09:51

  • busylizzy

    Joined Travelfish
    31st December, 2007
    Location New Zealand
    Posts: 2098
    Total reviews: 20
    Places visited:
    At least 107

    Am i really missing out if I don't go?

    You can't 'miss out' on something that doesn't rock your boat in the first place! If your interests lie in temples or shopping, but you 'waste' that time on a beach - then you are missing out on what actually interests you.

    For me personally, I love the beach and snorkelling, so I guess I would feel like I was missing out to not make it to the islands. If it were me and I only had 17-21 June, I would forget the idea of going to SE Thailand (even though that would be my preferred choice), and investigate the feasibility of getting to Koh Chang or Koh Maak. I would possibly even considering flying one way to/from Trat to just save a couple of hours.

    Or maybe as an alternative, consider Koh Samet. It definitely wouldn't be my scene - but you might find it OK, and a good compromise. Not sure how long it takes to get there...

    Actually, thinking about it, I don't think I EVER recall Koh Samet being mentioned by anyone on this forum. Why is that?

    #5 Posted: 23/4/2011 - 11:38

  • LauraPass

    Joined Travelfish
    23rd April, 2011
    Posts: 5

    If you visit Bangkok. I recommend Grand Palace and Wat Pho. They both are highlight!
    Also, if you enjoy Thai food. There is a fun program called "Bangkok Food Tour" that bring visitors to experience Bangkok Through its TASTE. I joined the tour last week. It was awesome and delicious! I think you can check out their website at Bangkok Food Tours dot com for more details. I recommend Historic Bangrak one. All tasting locations are family owned, opening for 40-70 years already.

    #6 Posted: 23/4/2011 - 12:36

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