My husband and I are going arriving in Bangkok on July 26 2010 and leaving from Hanoi on Aug 18 (a little over 3-weeks).
We are planning on spending around 10 days on the Thai Islands (probably phi phi and pagnan). From the islands, I don't know if we should go:
Chiang Mai to Laos to Hanoi
Saigon to Hoi An to Pho Quoc islands and the up to Hanoi
Any ideas?!?!?! We don't want to feel very rushed but we do want to experience different places.
We will mostly be flying to save time.
#1 kerenren has been a member since 11/5/2010. Posts: 9
July is the start of the rainy season in Pho Quoc, with the peak being in June:
"July to September is dominated by the monsoon and unless you enjoy some muddy adventure, it get can rather wet at times, though you can get lucky of course and have intermittent good weather. Monsoon season can be especially wet and wild, with the continual rain during this time, the red dirt roads turn to slippery sludge and some roads become impassable. We recommend you bring your wet weather gear."
quoted from - http://www.waytophuquoc.com/detail_Weather_Rainy_Days_in_Phu_Quoc_5_56.html
10 days on the Thai islands
Chiang Mai (3 days)
fly to Luang Prabang (Laos) (3 days)
to Vientine (2 days)
Hanoi (3 days)
a day or two to play with
And you could cut a day or two off the 10 days on the islands depending on if you will fly to Chiang Mai from the islands. Also, depending on if you plan to do 1, 2, or 3 islands in an area. If only 1 island, I think 7 days would be sufficient to really unwind the nerves before traveling on.
If you want to experience different places that would give you a little extra time in Chiang Mai to do an overnight Hill Tribe Visit (I highly recommend Pooh Eco Travel (www.pooh-ecotrekking.com). As well, maybe you feel like hitting up Vang Vieng between LP and Vientiane which would need you to ease a day out of the islands so you didn't feel rushed.
Thank you! I've heard amazing things about the beaches in Vietnam but it doesn't sound that great during monsoon season.
We are going to two islands in thailand but we could cut it a little short to spend more time in Chiang Mai and Laos.
Is there anything I should not miss in Laos and Hanoi?
#4 kerenren has been a member since 11/5/2010. Posts: 9
my vote is for Chiang Mai to Laos to Hanoi
I think experiencing the local culture/history is more approachable in these places.
Chiang Mai: Doi Sutep temple on a mountain, Sunday walking street, pandas at the zoo if you're into that.
Luang Prabang: sunset boat ride on the Mekong, shopping at the Hmong night market, visiting Kwang Si waterfall, Lao cooking class, leisurely walks around town exploring the temples
Hanoi: old prison where John McCain was kept during the war, water puppet show, HCM's mausoleum, overnight trip to Halong Bay if you have the time
I have not been to Pakse /Si Phan Don area but it is top on my list of next travel stops (and I skipped VV to go to Phonsovan last time I was in Laos). So I understand the thought of heading down there. Of course, flying would be a must. I lived with a guy whose family is from Laos (he is American) and his opinion of Vientiane is that it is not that spectacular compared to Luang Prabang and the south. So, if you can arrange a flight in July than that sounds like a good plan to me.
However -- I DO NOT know if there are flights from Pakse to Hanoi direct, and that seems the most important part of the plan.
Definitely try to get to Ha Long Bay for at least an overnight trip during your stay in Hanoi.