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1 Month in the Far East (Thailand - Cambodia - Vietnam - Laos)

  • BaznChaz

    Joined Travelfish
    30th August, 2007
    Posts: 19

    We (group of two) are arriving in Thailand on the 15th December and will be returning back on the 10th Jan 2008. We intend on visiting the following places:

    Thailand (Bangkok)
    Cambodia
    Vietnam
    Laos
    Thai-Islands

    If anyone has any advice/hints/tips on the best way to travel around and maximise the trip, but not skim-through the towns/cities, possibly fly as to bus around information wouold be most helpful.

    We intend on staying a few days in BKK and thereafter travel around (backpacking) into Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, finally finishing on Ko Phi Phi or the surrounding islands (including attending the Full Moon Party).

    I would appreciate any help as me and the wife are visiting the far east for the very first time and are a bit nervous, i.e. backpacking.

    Thanks in Advance
    BaznChaz

    #1 Posted: 30/8/2007 - 21:14

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  • somtam2000

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    Joined Travelfish
    21st January, 2004
    Location Indonesia
    Posts: 7056
    Total reviews: 24
    Places visited:
    At least 113

    Hi BaznChaz,

    A good place to start is the suggested itineraries section as that lays out some sample trips with estimated trip times between destinations. That can help in planning how much you can see within a month without feeling like you're on the move all the time.

    In a month, you'll be really rushing to fit everything in -- perhaps look into some flights to save some time -- the overlanding between Vietnam and Laos in particular can be time consuming when compared to an hour-long flight.

    More questions? - ask away!

    #2 Posted: 2/9/2007 - 14:41

  • BaznChaz

    Joined Travelfish
    30th August, 2007
    Posts: 19

    Thanks for replying somtam2000, Please can you advise on the following questions:

    1. Is is better to book accommodation there or prior to leaving for the holiday?

    2. What is the best currency to use, local or $$$?

    3. Should be book our internal/domestic flights from a cybercafe in the local town or pre-book?

    4. Can you advise on the best places to visit, based on having around 3/4 days in the following countries:

    Thailand (Bangkok)
    Cambodia
    Vietnam
    Laos

    Also, we want to visit the thai islands (Kabri, Kho Pee Pee) as well as the full moon party. Can we get tickets and accommodation from there or is there a webiste used for pre-bookings?

    Thanks in Advance
    BaznChaz

    #3 Posted: 2/9/2007 - 23:24

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 2402
    Total reviews: 47
    Places visited:
    At least 98

    Hey BaznChaz,

    That's a great time to be visiting the area, since the weather is cool-season modest. But because you'll be competing with all of the rest of us foreign tourists as well as locals making their New Year's Holiday during that time, I'd definitely recommend that you book accomodation in advance if you can, at least for your first night in each new location and for three or four days before and after New Year's, prior to leaving for the holiday.

    I always think it is best to use local currency wherever I go. In Thailand, except in places like jewelry shops, that's all they'll want anyway, and you'll pay a large premium paying in dollars, if you can find anyone to accept them. Foreign exchange is quick and painless anyway, and there are ATM's everywhere.

    In Laos, you'll find that people do accept US$ and Thai baht fairly readily as well, particularly for hotel accomodation and tours, but even so you'll want to have kip on hand for small purchases.

    In Cambodia, the US$ is still the preferred currency for most except for the smallest of purchases, and you can get dollars from the few ATMs in town. As with Laos, keep some local money on hand (riel) for small purchases. Change, if any, from your US$ purchases will be given in riel anyway.

    I'm afraid I cannot comment on Vietnam.

    As with accomodation, given the short time you have and the busy time of year you'll be travelling, I'd prebook as many of my flights as I could. If you do need to make travel arrangements once you've arrived, you may wish to use the services of the many travel agencies wherever you are.

    As for where to go, I agree with Somtam that you are trying to see far too much in a short time. You'll wind up spending much of your holiday time and budget getting from place to place rather than enjoying where you are. If you can, I'd try to limit your trip to just two locations, such as only Thailand and Laos, or only Thailand and Cambodia, for this trip.

    Having said that, in my opinion the highlights for Thailand are Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai, and several of the wonderful Thai islands/beaches areas. For Laos, the must see places are Luang Prabang and Vientiane. Cambodia's must see is Siem Reap and Angkor Wat, although Phnom Penh is really cool too and worth a look.

    These are just the highlights, by the way, as there are many many other excellent and out-of-the-way spots that can make a holiday special.

    As a great man once said, less is more, particularly when it comes to travelling in southeast Asia. Figure out which places you really want to see and concentrate on those if you can. You'll have a better trip in the long run.

    I hope you have a great time. Cheers.

    #4 Posted: 4/9/2007 - 01:50

  • marianwarren

    Joined Travelfish
    12th March, 2006
    Posts: 270
    Total reviews: 13

    Hi BaznChaz

    I agree with somtam and exacto - 2 weeks in 2 countries will be more enjoyable than racing around trying to see all the sights in 4 countries. Even if you fly you still have to pack up, hang around the aiport, wait for luggage at the other end, then settle into your accomodation. So even the most streamlined flight will cost you at least 1/2 a day which could be better enjoyed relaxing on the beach, checking out the sights or absorbing the atmosphere you've traveled so far for.

    We spent 10 weeks visiting the same countries. In places like Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang 3/4 days just isn't enough and once you get to the islands you may wish you had more time.

    No need to be nervous about backpacking - you will be amazed at how easy it is and so much more rewarding than organised tours - being able to decide to go somewhere different on a whim is so liberating.

    Kind regards

    Marian

    #5 Posted: 4/9/2007 - 07:08

  • wendo

    Joined Travelfish
    14th August, 2008
    Posts: 10

    backpacking is very easy in all countries. My advice is to take the bare minimum with you as your pack gets heavy when traipsing around looking for accommodation in the heat. You can buy what you need when you get there.

    #6 Posted: 6/9/2008 - 06:40

  • travelrock

    Joined Travelfish
    19th April, 2008
    Posts: 209
    Total reviews: 18

    "finally finishing on Ko Phi Phi or the surrounding islands (including attending the Full Moon Party)."

    The full moon p is crap and it's a long way from Phi Phi.

    30 days is not long. Pick 5 or 6 spots and hang out there. Leave the rushing around to contiki people.

    ". Can you advise on the best places to visit, based on having around 3/4 days in the following countries:"

    one man's trash is anothers treasure.

    #7 Posted: 8/9/2008 - 11:16

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