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Southeast Asia forum

Sorry, it's another HELP WITH ITINERARY post!

Posted by nataliesecret on 30/8/2010 at 22:50

I am sorry to add yet another post asking for help with itinerary-planning but I've searched the site and can't find what I'm looking for. Leaving this coming Saturday for a month long trip and would love to see some of Northern Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. I am happy to go without a real plan, but if we include Vietnam, I'll have to get a visa in Bangkok so would need to know this beforehand. Very brief itinerary below. Do you think we'll be rushed if we try to do all of this, should we perhaps pick either Vietnam/Laos?

Days 1-3: Bangkok (need this time to sort out Vietnamese visa if we include Vietnam in the trip)
4-6: Fly to Chiang Mai . Visit Chiang Mai & surrounding areas, perhaps Pai? (Flight BKK - Chiang Mai)
7-10: Luang Prabang - could anyone advise on how long the journey will be from Chaing Mai - Luang Prabang?
10-13: Travel down to Lao Bao border crossing, with stop off Kong Lo cave. Any other stop offs recommended? - Will this be the quickest crossing to Vietnam?
13-16: Hoi An
17-18: Nha Trang
19-20: HCMC, fly back to Bangkok, then fly to Surat Thani
21-26: Ko Pha-Ngan, for full moon party & relaxing end to our trip!
Fly back to Bangkok.

Does this seem like an odd way to do it? Would going to Vietnam first (Bangkok- HCMC, up through southern Vietnam, then Laos, then back through Northern Thailand) make more sense? All of the flights included in the itinerary come in at just over £100.

Any advice is much appreciated, I prefer travelling without a plan as it provides the freedom to stay in one place for as long as you want. However, I feel a bit restricted due to the need to get a Vietnamese visa (and therefore stay in Bangkok for a few days) and the need to book some flights (to cut down travelling times).

Thank you in advance for your help!

#1 nataliesecret has been a member since 29/8/2010. Posts: 1

Posted by eastwest on 31/8/2010 at 09:00

"Do you think we'll be rushed if we try to do all of this, should we perhaps pick either Vietnam/Laos? "

That seems (skip Vietnam) like the best choice since you didn't plan many flights for long distances and you'll have to spend a lot of time on buses then. It also doesn't leave for much flexibillity to stay longer in a place that you like. You're bound by a flight (to BKK) and long distances to cover.

Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang will take you at least 2 days overland. Also Luang Prabang to Hoi An won't be very pleasant. You scheduled 3 days but that's probably pushing it with 3 full busdays (which won't be pleasant).

Stick with northern Thailand and Laos. Personally I would include Cambodia. I love Luang Prabang but the rest of Laos doesn't do much for me. But there are plenty of backpackers who love Laos.
Cambodia is far smaller (than Vietnam) and if you focus on the cultural highlights ( Angkor ) you could manage. Save Vietnam for another 4 week holiday. It's worth it.

So my suggestion would be:
- go slowly up to Chiang Mai (perhaps stop at Ayutthaya) by train and bus
- go slowly to Luang Prabang and down to Vientiane
- fly to Angkor (either from Luang Prabang or Vientiane)
- down to Phnom Penh

- then either go down to coast and follow the coast back into thailand to Bangkok
- visit Northeastern Thailand. Also very beautiful scenery and friendly people.

This last part you could shorten if you spent more time than intended in other areas.

This will save you a flight and the busrides are easier and manageable. You also have more freedom to stay in a place longer than you planned.

#2 eastwest has been a member since 17/12/2009. Posts: 778
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Posted by KazAussie on 31/8/2010 at 16:59

Just remember if you are planning lots of bus rides in SE Asia, that the seats are narrow, and the buses are usually overcrowded. They all blare out loud Kareoke music the whole way. Given the very low cost of air travel, I know which I would pick.

#3 KazAussie has been a member since 18/7/2009. Posts: 221

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