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First Time to Southeast Asia: Thailand and Laos or just Thailand?

  • jcro

    Joined Travelfish
    6th December, 2013
    Posts: 6

    Hello! I am new to this site-found it while doing research for an upcoming trip to Thailand!

    My boyfriend and I are in our mid-twenties and will be able to visit Thailand Nov 2014 for about 26 days. We will be flying in and out of Bangkok from Seattle so will probably have 24 full days in Southeast Asia to work with.

    We are really active but also want to have a good combination of action/adventure and some relaxation.

    Right now, we really want to figure out how to split the time between the northern portion of Thailand and Laos: jungles, trekking, temples, etc and some beaches for scuba and relaxation in southern Thailand.

    I have a tentative itinerary set up, but have no idea if I should try to fit in Laos. We had met some other travelers in Belize last year who did a jungle zipling trek in Laos and stayed in treehouses, so we have been hooked on the idea ever since. I'm just not convinced it is all worth fitting in to 3 and a half weeks.

    Here is what I have so far, any advice and/or gap filling is so appreciated!

    Seattle to Bangkok
    Bangkok for 3 days
    Bangkok to Chiang Rai (Air Asia)
    Chiang Rai: trekking, temples (Duration??)
    Chiang Rai to Lampang (bus/train)
    Lampang: temples, elephant center visit (Duration??)
    Lampang to Chiang Mai (bus/train)
    Chiang Mai: capitol, trekking, cooking class (Duration??)

    From here, I am torn between traveling into Laos or just jumping down to the southern part of Thailand to explore the beaches/islands.

    Chiang Mai to Huay Xai
    Huay Xai to Luang Prabang (boat)
    Explore Luang Prabang and then travel south towards Vientiane.
    Vientiane to Phuket (flight)
    Beaches, Scuba, Islands-maybe one or two islands with 2-3 days each
    Phuket to Bangkok (flight)
    Bangkok back to Seattle (flight)

    Any advice is appreciated!

    #1 Posted: 6/12/2013 - 15:27

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  • antoniamitc-

    Click here to learn more about antoniamitchell
    Joined Travelfish
    13th May, 2012
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 435
    Total reviews: 3
    Places visited:
    At least 39

    Hi there,

    As you've got limited time, I'd suggest sticking to Thailand. You've got more than enough in your itinerary to keep you busy for the 24 days, and IMHO it's better to have more time to relax and really enjoy yourself, than to spend more time crammed into bumpy buses trying to fit more places in (and travel in Laos is notoriously slow).

    I haven't been to Chiang Rai , but Chiang Mai has easily enough to keep you occupied for 4-5 days. Lampang you could do in 2-3. Assuming you decide 3-5 days in Chiang Rai and with the 3 days in Bangkok, and you've probably used 14-15 of your 24 days already. Add on the southern part of your trip (hitting, as you say, one or two islands) and that's your 24 days gone.

    Could you fit in a bit of Laos as well? Sure. But I wouldn't - I'd save Laos for my next trip.

    Have a wonderful time, whatever you decide.

    #2 Posted: 7/12/2013 - 07:33


    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6953
    Total reviews: 10

    I have to agree with Anton. Either stick with Thailand or stick with Laos. Otherwise you'll be rushed. Why rush and impose stress on what is suppose to be a vacation?

    And concerning timelines, I'd advise leaving them out expect where air travel is concerned. Go somplace and stay until you don't like it anymore, then move on. Take it slow and easy and just enjoy yourself.

    #3 Posted: 8/12/2013 - 04:13

  • LeonardCohe-

    Joined Travelfish
    24th July, 2012
    Posts: 2148
    Total reviews: 11

    I thought Chiang Rai was really lame and not worth it. You're better off just going to CM and head onto Mae Hong Son for a trek.

    Krabi is better than Phuket and cheaper too. Phuket is super touristy and rather expensive.

    Loads of snorkelling and kayaking trips from Krabi.

    #4 Posted: 9/12/2013 - 06:55

  • j4small

    Joined Travelfish
    13th December, 2013
    Posts: 2

    Hi I am looking for any advice on where to go in Thailand! We are traveling there for the month of October for our honeymoon and we are looking to do a lot such as snorkeling/diving, island hoping, rick climbing, relaxing on remote beaches, staying on the beach, bungalows, boating. But any advice on the best places to stay, things to see and do would be awesome!

    Thanks so much!

    #5 Posted: 13/12/2013 - 11:01

  • tyler

    Joined Travelfish
    7th December, 2010
    Location Canada
    Posts: 257
    Places visited:
    At least 71

    Hey j4small - start your own thread. People will be more than happy to answer you there.

    jcro - heed the advice that you already have...

    You have just over 3 weeks and coming from Seattle will leave you a bit beat up for your first few days. You'll lose the better part of a day each time you move to a new destination.
    I would keep it to Thailand (there's not a lot of diving in Laos) for this trip. And Krabi is great advice - heaps to do around Krabi itself and you only a day trip away from some great diving near Phi Phi and Lanta.

    #6 Posted: 13/12/2013 - 14:43

  • jcro

    Joined Travelfish
    6th December, 2013
    Posts: 6

    Thank you all so much for your advice! It's so appreciated. I'm using all this to modify our itinerary as I type. :)

    #7 Posted: 13/12/2013 - 14:59

  • AprilJef

    Joined Travelfish
    8th July, 2012
    Posts: 13

    We did the following itinery last December/January (Don't mind the perticulars I just pasted this from my journal). Keep in mind we're what one might call fast travellers, and moving around a lost doesn't come cheap, but we really enjoyed it! Skip Pattaya (we just had friends there so we visited with them, but I wouldn't go back it's a bit of a dirty old man kind of city) and perhaps instead head south to either Ko Samui area or Krabi to get some beach and diving time. Obviouly this is just an example of how much you can do in about 4 weeks, like MADMAC said don't feel you need to keep to a schedule, see how you feel and go from there! It's super easy to make travel plans once you're there.

    Dec-24 Mon Edmonton/Vancouver/Tokyo
    Dec-25 Tues Tokyo/Bangkok Dec-26 Wed Bangkok - decompress/massage/pool
    Dec-27 Thurs Bangkok - Grand Palace, Wat Pho, River taxi
    Dec-28 Fri Bangkok - MBK then out with the boys to Soi Cowboy and bars
    Dec-29 Sat Bangkok to Ayutthaya and overnight train to Nong Khai
    Dec-30 Sun Vientiane - RELAX
    Dec-31 Mon Vientiane to Vang Vieng
    Jan-01 Tues Vang Vieng - Recover from NYE
    Jan-02 Wed Vang Vieng - tham poukham (blue lagoon)
    Jan-03 Thurs Vang Vieng- tubing relaxing
    Jan-04 Fri Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang
    Jan-05 Sat Luang Prabang- RELAX
    Jan-06 Sun Luang Prabang - elephants
    Jan-07 Mon Luang Prabang- kwang Si waterfall eat overlooking the Mekong
    Jan-08 Tues Luang Prabang fly to Bangkok and bus to Pattaya
    Jan-09 Wed Pattaya- Sleep in relax pool
    Jan-10 Thurs Pattaya - go carts
    Jan-11 Fri Pattaya to Ko Chang - White Sands Beach
    Jan-12 Sat Ko Chang - White Sands Beach
    Jan-13 Sun Ko Chang - White Sands Beach to Balian Bay
    Jan-14 Mon Ko Chang - Balian Bay Mercure Koh Chang Hideaway
    Jan-15 Tues Ko Chang - Balian Bay Mercure Koh Chang Hideaway
    Jan-16 Wed Ko Chang to Ko Kood on Bang Bao Boat
    Jan-17 Thurs Ko Kood- Shantaa Resort - scooter to waterfall and village
    Jan-18 Fri Ko Kood- Shantaa Resort -RELAX beach kayaking
    Jan-19 Sat Ko Kood- Shantaa Resort -RELAX beach massage
    Jan-20 Sun Ko Kood ferry to mainland bus to Bangkok
    Jan-21 Mon Bangkok - Shopping MBK and out for supper
    Jan-22 Tue Bangkok/Tokyo/Vancouver/Edmonton

    #8 Posted: 20/12/2013 - 12:24

  • jcro

    Joined Travelfish
    6th December, 2013
    Posts: 6

    Thank you again for all of the great feedback. We ended up modifying our itinerary quite a bit based on the messages here. Despite eliminating Laos, we were convinced to add in Angkor Wat.

    The last piece of the puzzle I am trying to put together is our time in the islands. We will be in Krabi , and Phuket for different dates so I was thinking Koh Lipe and Phi Phi made sense. Any other recommendations? I have nothing booked/planned from 11/23-11/28 for the islands yet, but I wanted just 1 or 2 key spots to stay and relax a bit after quite a busy month.

    Here is our revised itinerary for Nov 2014:

    Nov 6th-SEA to BKK
    Nov 7th- Arrive BKK11pm, Stay in Bangkok
    Nov 8th- Bangkok morning, take 2.5 hour bus ride to Ayutthaya, stay in Ayutthaya
    Nov 9th-Explore Ayutthaya, bus back to Bangkok, 7:50pm flight Bangkok (DMK) to Siem Reap, Stay in Siem Reap
    Nov 10th- Angkor Wat,stay in Siem Reap
    Nov 11th-Angkor Wat,stay in Siem Reap
    Nov 12th- Angkor Wat,stay in Siem Reap
    Nov 13th- Siem Reap morning, 1215 flight to Chiang Mai , layover BKK, Arrive 1700, stay in Chiang Mai
    Nov 14th- Chiang Mai Elephants!Patara, Stay in Chiang Mai
    Nov 15th- Chiang Mai Cooking class: Thai Orchid, Stay in Chiang Mai
    Nov 16th-Chiang Mai exploration, Stay in Chiang Mai
    Nov 17th- Chiang Mai morning, 1235 flight to Krabi, Arrive Krabi 1430, Stay in Krabi
    Nov 18th-KrabiMorning, Tourist mini bus to Khao Sok National Park, Stay on floating lakehouse
    Nov 19th-Khao Sok National Park, Stay on Floating Lake house
    Nov 20th-Khao Sok National Park, Stay on Floating Lake House
    Nov 21st- Minibus to Phuket. Stay Phuket
    Nov 22nd-Limestone Islands-Day trip Boat Tour (or kayaking or hiking or…) of Phang Nga Bay, Stay in Phuket
    Nov 23rd- Ferry Phuket to Phi Phi, Stay in Phi Phi
    Nov 24th-Island Phi Phi, Diving
    Nov 25th-Island Phi Phi, Relax, Bars, Beaches
    Nov 26th-Ferry Phi Phi to Koh Lipe Diving
    Nov 27th-Island Koh Lipe Relax, Bars, Beaches, Island Day trip, Stay in Koh Lipe
    Nov 28th-Ferry Koh Lipe to Krabi,Stay in Krabi
    Nov 29th-Krabimorning, Flight Krabi to BKK (1200 to 1320), Bangkok afternoon, Stay in Bangkok
    Nov 30th- Bangkok exploration,Stay in Bangkok
    Dec 1st- Early Flight BKK-->SEA

    Thank you for your input!

    #9 Posted: 2/9/2014 - 13:13

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