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Southeast Asia forum

Help! Itinerary check for a first time solo traveller!

Posted by y123 on 22/2/2011 at 23:20


Have to say this forum has been really helpful with my planning.I am so glad I've found this website.

I'll be going on a solo trip around SE Asia, starting from BKK on the 10 March.

From reading around the forum, March/April isn't a good time to visit N.Thailand/ Laos because of the smoke and dust. So, I've changed my itinerary to look like this:

Thailand(1 week) - Cambodia(2 weeks) - Vietnam(3 weeks) - Laos(2 weeks) - Thailand (3 weeks) - Malysia and Singapore(3 weeks)

The duration of stays are very rough and can change during the trip, but fo they sound about right?

I would like to do some scuba diving, shall I leave this at the end of the trip? I will probably learn on Ko Tao. Would it be less crowded in March or May/June? Or any other suggestions would be welcome.


#1 y123 has been a member since 22/2/2011. Posts: 4

Posted by y123 on 24/2/2011 at 20:42


#2 y123 has been a member since 22/2/2011. Posts: 4

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Posted by busylizzy on 25/2/2011 at 02:24

The duration of stays are very rough and can change during the trip, but fo they sound about right?

Do they sound right for what? For you? I have no idea. For me? Nope. Sorry, I don't mean to be flippant, but it's very hard to comment on vague plans without having any sort of understanding of what you are trying to do/see/experience during your trip.

Yes, of course it's all do-able - and the general route makes sense in principal. Two weeks could be light in Laos - but then, I don't know where in Laos you plan to spend your time. (North, South, both?). Personally, I would spend more time in Laos and Vietnam, and cut out Malaysia. But that's just me.

Also - not sure which destinations you want to see in each country. Be aware that each time you change location, you can often give up a day of our itinerary just to get there. (Waiting for bus to pick you up, getting to airport/bus station, waiting, travelling, waiting, travelling, checking it next hotel/guest house.). So don't underestimate the distances and travelling time. A 100km journey that takes you an hour at home may take you 3-4 hours in SE Asia by the time you get done with all the phaffing around.

Best thing is to have a general itinerary planned, but don't book too much in the way of accom, flights etc ahead of time to ensure you have max. flexibility.

Also - I suspect you may be planning on over-landing from Laos back into Thailand. YOu need to be aware that you only get a 14-day visa when arriving in Thailand overland. (You get 30-days if you arrive at an airport). Be sure to check out the info on border crossings on this site for more info - to see where it's possible, what problems you may experience at each, etc.

In terms of fire/smoke, etc - I was in Chiang Mai (and surrounds) in early May and wasn't aware of them at all. I believe the fire problem can be overstated based on what I have read in the forum, so maybe check this out for a bit more accuracy.

Check out the itinerary planner on this site for some more ideas:

#3 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,152
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Posted by caseyprich on 25/2/2011 at 08:57

I thought I'd replied to this -

April will be hot in Thailand and Laos, so keep that in mind. My main point here is that April 13th-15th is Songkran (New Years Celebration) and I've heard the Water Splashing Festival should not be missed -- at least once, because apparently it gets old by day 3 for some. So, you may want to make sure you're in Thailand or Laos at that time. Your current schedule looks to put you in Cambodia or Vietnam at that time.

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Posted by ButterflyGlove on 25/2/2011 at 10:50


I agree with caseyprich, Songkran festival is an absolute must if you are inSouthEast Asia and by far the best place to be is in Chiang Mai. The burning is particularly bad in March, but I don't remember it being a huge problem by April last year.

As busylizzy points out, visas may be an issue for Thailand on your second trip through since you can only get a 15 day stamp on a land border. I would suggest spending a night or so in the Laos capital, Vientienne and sorting out a 60 day visa at the Thai embassy, just to cover yourself. Tourists visas are free right now so take advantage.

With regards to crowds on Koh Tao, March and May are both out of season,however the island gets particularly busy after the full moon party on Koh Phangan when tourists travel between the islands. I believe that the diving is actually better in May as diving on that side is just coming into season.

Also, if you are heading to Malaysia around May/June, the Perhentian Islands offers fantastic diving and is just about the cheapest in SouthEast Asia (70RM) per dive in May last year. That's around 25 per cent less than diving on Koh Tao. Even if you don't dive there, the islands are worth a trip for the snorkelling alone. You are guaranteed to see sharks, turtles and huge bumpheadparrotfish.

Hope this helps.

Have an awesome trip and safe travels.


#5 ButterflyGlove has been a member since 20/2/2011. Posts: 7

Posted by y123 on 25/2/2011 at 21:15

Wow. Thanks so much for your help guys!

I didn't realise Songkran was such a big event. So, should I go from cambodia to laos? Or is it much better in Thailand? I could take a plane back to Thailand from Cambodia, if that's the case.

I've got a triple entry tourist visa for Thailand. Does that mean I get 60 days every time I enter?

Thanks again.

#6 y123 has been a member since 22/2/2011. Posts: 4

Posted by caseyprich on 25/2/2011 at 23:15

There is a topic running now about the best places for Songkran 2011 and Chang Mai is supposed to get very wild. I'm afraid I can't offer any concrete advice about where is better.

However, if you have your fill of Cambodia and fly into Chang Mai from there (I can't say from experience if there are flights direct to CM) you could experience New Year there and then head into Laos via Chiang Khong and check out the North for two weeks (Re: your Laos timetable). Two weeks is good for either the North or the South, you shouldn't try to do both in such a short time. If you end up down by Tha Khaek or Savannakhet you can cross over into Central Vietnam.

Otherwise you have the option to pass in passed Sam Neau and go into Hanoi - then work your way south - good if you don't want to back track for the three weeks you have scheduled for Vietnam. This wouldn't be a bad option if you enter from the North, maybe trek around Luang Nam Tha, see the area around Luang Prabang, tube in Vang Vieng, then go up to Nong Kiaow and head over to Sam Neau towards Vietnam -- there are a lot of great places to visit in Northern Laos, though I can't speak for the climate at the time.

So really you'd just flip the Laos & Vietnam sections of your trip - though you'd have to end up flying from Vietnam back into Thailand.

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