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One month itinerary - Thailand/Laos/Cambodia - Help Please

  • naaz

    Joined Travelfish
    7th August, 2009
    Posts: 3

    Hi there, on tuesday I am travelling to Bangkok and have made a fairly packed itinerary and was wondering if anyone could let me know how reasonable it is?

    day 1-2 Bangkok

    day 3-6 Chiang Mai (flight from bkk to chiang mai already booked)

    day 7-8 Pai

    day 9- Travel to Chiang Khong

    day 10-speedboat to Luang Prabang

    day 11 - Luang Prabang

    day 12-14 Vang Vieng. Travel to Vientaine on 14th night.

    day 15- Train from Vientaine (Nong Khai) to Ayuthaya

    day 16 - Ayuthaya

    day 17 - Train to Bangkok then travel to Siem Reap

    day 18-20 Siem Reap

    day 19 - Travel back to Bangkok

    day 20-24 - Koh Phanghan

    day 25-26 - Koh Phi Phi

    day 27 - Bangkok

    day 28 - Home

    Any help to perfect this trip would be hugely appreciated.

    I'm travelling with 2 other friends and we're all on budgets of about £600. Do you think this will be enough?

    We are also interested in doing a 3 day trek in Chiang Mai and would like it to include: staying in a hill-tribe village, staying in a jungle, whitewater rafting, bamboo rafting, elephant riding. The only one i found online was trek 8 from
    http://www.chiangmai1.com/tours/trekking-tours.shtml but the website doesn't look very reliable and there isn't even a phone number to book in advance. Any recommendations would be very helpful.

    And while we're staying in Koh Phanghan will it be easy to get a boat over to Ko Tao in the days to scuba dive? Or will this take too long?

    Many Thanks!

    #1 Posted: 7/8/2009 - 19:45

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  • naaz

    Joined Travelfish
    7th August, 2009
    Posts: 3

    Also are there any treks that start in Chiang Mai and end in Pai/Mae Hong Son?

    #2 Posted: 7/8/2009 - 19:55

  • BruceMoon

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    naaz

    You asked for feedback on (my comments are inserted)...

    day 10-speedboat to Luang Prabang

    I tried a speedboat on the Nam Ou look here, please take note of my comments...

    "In hindsight, the warnings about the fast boat are correct. The speed it goes is such that if the boat driver doesn't see an obstacle (and sometimes they are submerged), then calamity can result.

    We were encouraged by the fact that - unlike the Mekong - when we travelled the Nam Ou, there were no floating obstacles. The lack of obstacles cannot be guaranteed - especially during and after the wet season.
    "

    I suggest that your choice is far too dangerous (especially now that logs and all sorts of obstacles are in the river due to the wet season.

    day 11 - Luang Prabang

    Luang Prabang is a cool place it NEEDS 3 or 4 days!!!!

    day 12-14 Vang Vieng. Travel to Vientaine on 14th night.

    day 15- Train from Vientaine (Nong Khai) to Ayuthaya

    day 16 - Ayuthaya

    day 17 - Train to Bangkok then travel to Siem Reap

    day 18-20 Siem Reap


    This, again, is too short. Personally, I'd drop Ayuthaya to gain here. Go read this.

    We are also interested in doing a 3 day trek in Chiang Mai and would like it to include: staying in a hill-tribe village, staying in a jungle, whitewater rafting, bamboo rafting, elephant riding.

    The closest you will get to as many of these activities is at Pai. You'll be able to go elephant riding (and swimming with them in the river) - that's half a day, white water/bamboo rafting - again half a day: so that's one whole day.

    There's really no jungle around this region accessible to you.

    Trekking can be arranged at Pai. There's no trekking from Chiang Mai (proper), you get taken on a mini-bus to places (go look at here for more info). There's trekking from Pai, so you might make that your centre for 'fun'.


    Also are there any treks that start in Chiang Mai and end in Pai/Mae Hong Son?

    Unless you have several months, NO! It's too far.

    - - -

    I realise that you want to spend time at the beaches. But, I suggest you need to determine your actual focus. And, then chop some places - on this, read this article. Perhaps the beaches time can be trimmed.

    Cheers

    #3 Posted: 7/8/2009 - 20:17

  • Nokka

    Joined Travelfish
    6th April, 2009
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 259

    I may be wrong here, but it looks as though days 9 through 15 are mainly about getting to Vang Vieng as quickly as possible and then do some tubing, or whatever for just over a day. Vang Vieng doesn't appeal to me, but for those for whom it does; can it really be so special as to warrant all that travel ?

    I think you'd be better off skipping the whole of that section and spending longer in your other preferred locations.

    #4 Posted: 7/8/2009 - 20:22

  • SBE

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    Blimey!!

    It looks pretty doable up to the Laos bit. After that .... 8-/

    Is it really worth the effort of going to the world heritage site of Luang Prabang and staying there for just one day? You'll probably need a day just to recuperate from that speedboat ride which is said to be very uncomfortable, cramped and extremely noisy, not mention rather dangerous... it isn't unknown for those speedboats to crash into rocks and sink.

    Then you are travelling to Vang Vieng. I'd recommend you go during the day because the scenery en route is stunning. That's day 12 gone. One day in VV and then overnight to Vientiane without even stopping there apparently. Sounds like you're rushing off to Ayutthaya directly.

    And why not go to Sukkothai rather than Ayutthaya? It's got better temples and it's also en route from the north. Ayutthaya is close enough to Bangkok to be done as a day trip from there.


    Then two days in Siem Reap which also involves two days travelling to get there and back.


    You don't seem to have factored in travelling time for the islands bit of your itinerary much. How are you planning to get from Ko Phangan to Ko Phi Phi ? How much time does that leave you on Ko Phi Phi before you have to head back to BKK?

    Have you considered the weather at all? It may be raining a lot on Phi Phi in the coming month.

    Also if you want to scuba dive on Ko Tao then what is the point of staying on Ko Phangan? The two islands have a very similar party vibe if that's what you are looking for.

    I think you'll need to ditch either Laos or Siem Reap or the islands. You aren't going to have time to enjoy any of these places if you do it your way.

    Stay flexible and wait and see how things turn out when you are there.

    #5 Posted: 7/8/2009 - 21:09

  • somtam2000

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    I don't know about trekking from Chiang Mai to Pai or Mae Hong Son , but you can certainly trek from Pai to Mae Hong Son -- I've done it. Takes eight or nine days as I remember, and it is a LOT of walking -- no elephants, no rafting, but a very cool experience -- I'd definitely recommend it if you have the time and the cash.

    In practise even if it was organised to go from CM they'd drag you a fair way out of town by pickup anyway before you get started -- start in Pai and you save yourself a few hills ;-)

    #6 Posted: 7/8/2009 - 21:14

  • SBE

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    PS. I don't think 600 quid is going to be anywhere near enough for what you are planning. All those transport costs, not to mention visa fees, entry ticket to Angkhor Wat, trekking and diving costs...

    You could manage OK on that amount if you stayed in Thailand and didn't move around TOO much.

    #7 Posted: 7/8/2009 - 21:58

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6374
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    "I suggest that your choice is far too dangerous (especially now that logs and all sorts of obstacles are in the river due to the wet season."

    This is the reason I'd do it. Dangerous can be a lot of fun.

    #8 Posted: 7/8/2009 - 23:45

  • naaz

    Joined Travelfish
    7th August, 2009
    Posts: 3

    Thank you for all your help!

    Changes are:
    day 1-2 Bangkok

    day 3-6 Chiang Mai (flight from bkk to chiang mai already booked)

    day 7-8 Pai

    day 9 - Travel to Chiang Khong and then to Huay Xai

    day 10 - Bus from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang

    day 11-13 - Luang Prabang

    day 14-16 - Vang Vieng. Travel to Veintaine overnight

    day 17- Vientaine

    day 18 - Train from Vientaine (Nong Khai) to Bangkok

    day 19-20 - Exploring Ayuthaya and towns near Bangkok.

    day 21-24 - Koh Phanghan

    day 25-26 - Ko Tao

    day 27 - Bangkok

    day 28 - Home

    Do you think our budget of £600 is now more reasonable? (Note: we have skipped out Cambodia). If not, how much would you recommend?

    Thanks everyone!

    #9 Posted: 9/8/2009 - 02:29

  • SBE

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    Looks a much better itinerary to me and it allows you some flexibility... eg if you find you don't like CM that much (it is a city, albeit a smaller one than BKK) you can easily move on and spend more time in Pai and/or Laos instead.

    I don't know how long the bus from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang will take but it will no doubt be quite a long journey, probably not that comfortable either, so you may feel like adding an extra day in LP once you're there.

    See how you feel about doing Ko Tao when you're there... you may well find you'd rather just stay on KPN and chill for 4 days rather than packing and unpacking (yet again!) and you'll have a much more precise idea how much money you have left by then too.

    Budget.

    Read the relevant country info on TF to get an idea about accommodation costs. Overnight buses and trains are time and cost efficient as you save on a night's accommodation while travelling from A to B though you don't get as good a night's sleep of course. Accommodation prices are per room so if you share you can save some money. Be careful not to change too much money into Kip in Laos as you can't exchange it once you leave the country.

    If you do a bit of googling you should be able to estimate roughly how much the transport is going to cost. I can't remember offhand exactly what the price of a Laos visa is but you can do a search for that too.

    Streetfood is cheap, under a pound for a meal if you stick to local food, but if you drink a lot of alcohol and coffee that will push costs up quite a bit.

    Diving and trekking costs ... 600 pounds is about 34,500 Baht. One dive will probably cost about 1000 Baht so a couple of dives is going to impact on your budget quite a lot (plus you'll have to pay for the ferry to Ko Tao). A day's trekking will probably cost about the same if not more.

    #10 Posted: 9/8/2009 - 04:46

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  • SBE

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    PS. Forgot ... if you find you're really running out of time after Laos then you could fly to BKK from Udon Thani instead of getting a sleeper train from Nong Khai, skip BKK/Ayutthaya on day 19/20, and go straight to KPN on a night bus.

    Udon Thani is only an hour from the Laos border on a bus and the fares on Air Asia are sometimes as cheap as the train fares.

    #11 Posted: 9/8/2009 - 05:16

  • BruceMoon

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    naaz

    Many here have tried to help you. The central comment everyone is making is that you are trying to go too far, too fast. Aside from the fact that your money supply appears to be limited, you are scheduling most of your journey (holiday) inside a bus/boat/etc.

    From my reading, you'll be spending some 10 or 11 days (out of 28) in a bus!

    For most travellers, the whole point of a holiday is to have fun. With even you amended itinerary, you will flash past so many wonderful places where you can have fun.

    Why?

    Possibly because you have heard or read about some place way over there, and without taking the time to manage the logistics of travel, you are just planning to do it.

    Travel in SE Asia (and especially in Laos) is slow and often uncomfortable.

    Above, I suggested you read this.

    I strongly recommend you do yourself a favour and read that article.

    My personal recommendation is to explore flying between several of those 'legs'.

    I'd certainly suggest fying between Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang . The cost will be about the same as bus. And, you'll 'save' yourself 2 days (but really 3 days).

    I say 3 days, as the bus from Huay Xai goes to Luang Nam Tha, you must stay overnight there, and then take an all day bus to Luang Prabang via OudomXai. This means the quickest you can get from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang overland is 3 days (wow, I'd hate to be locked up in a bus for 3 days).

    This could give you more time at Luang Prabang.

    If you wanted to spend a little less time at southern Thailand beaches, you could add a day or 2 to Luang Prabang and take a boat ride up the Mekong River & Nam Ou to Nong Khiaw (7 hours) (even go to the lovely little riverside town at Muang Ngoi an hour away). There is good trekking in this area.

    The suggestion by SBE re: Udon Thani is good. I'd go one step further and suggest Udon Thani > Bangkok > Surat Thani by air.

    Then, 'do' the Bangkok things on your return there after the beach 'thing'.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers

    #12 Posted: 9/8/2009 - 06:34

  • Nokka

    Joined Travelfish
    6th April, 2009
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 259

    It looks better than it did, at least. The rubbish bit is between Pai and Luang Prabang . Pai to Huay Xai one day (9 hours ?),followed by Huay Xai to Luang Prabang the next (even longer ?). Rather you than me. As Bruce says, if you can make your budget stretch fly from Chiang Mai to LP, though I appreciate you will probably be counting every penny. However, add up the cost of that part for all the buses over those 2 days and then compare with the price of the flight. It may be less of a difference than you think. Plus, you don't have such an awful journey. That's what I did when considering the 2 day trip down the Mekong from Huay Xai. I'm gonna fly that bit now and getting rid of all that unnecessary travel opened up more interesting possibilities for us with our timeframe.

    Good luck and please let us all know how you get on. Your thoughts after you have done that part of the trip (either by bus or by plane) could well help others having the same dilemma.

    #13 Posted: 10/8/2009 - 00:48

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