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Christmas in SEA - arrive early or stay late?

  • AprilJef

    Joined Travelfish
    8th July, 2012
    Posts: 13


    I'm sure this has been asked before but I couldn't find it exactly.

    We want to take advantage of our Christmas break to have more time on vacation to spend in SEA but we unsure if we should be thinking of arriving early (Dec 1) and then leaving at the end of the month or arriving around Christmas and stay into January. We only have 4-5 weeks in total to visit.

    We're a Canadian couple (33yrs and 42yrs) that like to take in sights and just relax. We're more the type that enjoys people watching and having a few beers over adventure hiking or scuba diving.

    We're tentativly thinking:
    5 days Bangkok
    5 days Chaing Mai (taking the overnight train to get there)
    4 days Luang Prebang (probably flying there to save time)
    3 days Vang Vieng
    3 days Vientiane
    8 days back in Thailand on a beach (thinking Ko Samui/Ko Phangan and again flying to save time)

    I like the idea of Christmas/New Years on the beach, but really it doesn't matter too much. I worry if we're trying to start at Christmas we'll be trying to travel up to Chaing Mai around new years, which could be a hassle. But then again if we go into January we might find it to be a little less busy, but maybe I'm kidding myself. I realize this is high season no matter which way you look at it.

    Any thoughts from the seasoned travellers?

    Am I still rushing the pace? I started with the notion of Cambodia and Vietnam as well but thanks to this website I'm paring it down. Maybe just not enough? Or should I add more time someplace and take it away from others? This is a plan for only 4 weeks but I can take up to one more week off work and make it 5 so we have a little wiggle room in out planning stage. However I probably will book most of the trip beforehand as it is high season.

    Thanks in advance!

    #1 Posted: 16/8/2012 - 16:53

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  • Captain_Bob

    Click here to learn more about Captain_Bob
    Joined Travelfish
    27th May, 2006
    Location Thailand
    Posts: 1787

    I would go with the "stay late" scenario. Christmas and New Years isn't nearly as busy up north as it is on the southern islands. I've lived in downtown Chiang Mai for several years and every Christmas it's like "where are all the tourists?" Answer: they're all down on the beaches. Actually a lot of Thai tourists come north then (to experience "cold season") but by comparison not a lot of foreigners. The only place you might want to book in advance up north is Luang Prabang since it's more compact than Chiang Mai and very popular. So spend some time up north and leave your beaches for January. At least after around the first week of Jan a lot of the package holiday tourists tend to filter out and then you're not dealing with the heaving masses of xmas/ny period.

    #2 Posted: 17/8/2012 - 11:08

  • AprilJef

    Joined Travelfish
    8th July, 2012
    Posts: 13

    Thanks Captain! That's exactly what I was hoping, that I could maybe go 'against the grain' and not get swept up with the masses going on their Christmas holiday.

    And thanks for the advice about advance booking in Luang Prabang. I'm a project manager by trade so it's so hard for me not to book every last little thing in advance before I go, but I really want to try to have a chance to decide once we get there and have a bit more freedom to make changes as we go.

    I've heard flights can be cheaper if booked within SEA, but maybe with internet booking that advice is out of date? Should I worry about my flights in January? Kinda ties into the whole 'go with the flow' if I can book as we travel.

    #3 Posted: 17/8/2012 - 15:39

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