I am planning a trip for March 2012 and I was wondering if any of you think that this itinerary is doable. For starters I am not into the party scene and I am mainly interested in the cultural/historical side of travel. I am not a beach person. I have never been to Asia before. I will be flying on points, so I am flying in/out of Bangkok as that is the only option.
2 nights Bangkok
4 nights Chang Mai
1 night on either side of Thailand/Laos border-what side do you suggest?
Mekong River trip-1 night
4 nights Luang Prabong
2 nights Vientiene - fly to Phnom Penh
2 nights Phnom Penh
4 nights Siem Reap
3 nights Bangkok
my "must sees" are Chang Mai ( I have heard great things about it and it sounds like something I would like), Angkor Wat ( will get the 3 day pass) and Luang Prabong (again, I have heard great things about it here)
My budget will be around $2200 CAD. I am looking at staying in hostels and probably mainly in the single rooms. I like eating street food and i love to buy lots of souvenirs. Is this a good budget?
Is there any place that you would suggest to cut out or add? I do have a few days to possibly add too, but I am weary of adding more places to visit as i tend to like to base myself in one area and do day trips from there.
#1 kateyb has been a member since 23/7/2011. Posts: 3
your itinerary looks fine. you won't have much time to linger, but you won't be rushed either.
a few things to keep in mind are that travel is a bit slower in southeast asia, and particularly in laos, so many of your bus trips will be long if not all-day journeys.
your budget looks fine too, in the 75 to 100 CAD per day range, which is plenty for shopping and day trips, etc. with your budget, you'll be able to find nice places to stay. there are a few hostels about, but most choose to stay in guest houses. private room for less than you'd pay at home for a dorm bunk is one of the real treats of travel in southeast asia.
you might want to look into booking an overnight train trip from bangkok to chiang mai as soon as you can.
i'd stay on the lao side of the border if possible, to give you more time to sort out the boat trip the next day. just be sure to arrive before the border closes so you can cross the river and get settled.
if you save most of your shopping until the end of your trip, you'll have less to carry and have a better idea of what gifts you'd like to buy too.
i hope that helps. have a great time. cheers.
Thanks for your reply!
It is so difficult to decide what places to cut and what to keep when I don't have a couple of months to travel, but I can always return!
#3 kateyb has been a member since 23/7/2011. Posts: 3
You have never been to Asia before...that is what makes me think this is all so rushed. It is anyway but I give up on that one. Some people just like to squeeze a lot in. You will see stuff but not really experience it the way you would if you just chilled out and went slow. To me you are just sightseeing. There will be little real interaction just moving. Why don't you add a day to Siem Reap? Just doing Angkor (it is hot) and not having time to chill out and enjoy the local area would be a miss to me. Add a day to Chiang Mai. There are local things to do and you like shopping. That will take up a lot of time anyway. I don't shop so I can't relate but every girl I know spends hours in markets and misses out on stuff outside of them.
You will not miss out on too much as 80 percent of the stuff at markets is always at another market unless it is a local gem specific to that exact area. MBK in Bangkok can take care of most of it and if you time it for a weekend at the end the Jatujak (Chatuchak..j sound in Thai) weekend market. Biggest you will ever see. That is a sight to behold.
"To me you are just sightseeing. There will be little real interaction just moving"
Bingo. Thomas is spot on here. You will get to enjoy local cuisine at these places, and see some interesting sites, but you will not spend much time getting to know people in any of the countries you are going to because you are not spending enough time to do so. This is an old and recurring theme on Travelfish - you want to see things, or do things. Language is culture, and the languages here are so different from back home, that to learn even a little of one of them takes some time. So if you want to site see (see the big name places - which is what you've listed here) you can do that, and there's nothing wrong with that. But you have fixed an itinerary that isn't a nice, lazy stroll through the countryside, getting to absorb the environment. Rather you are moving pretty rapidly from one site to another, get some good pictures, eat at some decent places (hopefully) and then hoping on a bus and off to the next place.
Again, there is nothing wrong with this, and most Travelfishers do the same thing. They don't want to spend a month in Chiang Mai really getting to know the place and some people in it. They have a limited amount of time, and want to spread it around... which is fine.
thanks for the input Thomas and Madmac. I am okay with the idea of being a sightseer and not have the time to linger in one place for a longer time. I was looking at my holiday time from work and I can fit in a few more days in my itinerary (however who knows how well that will end up sticking). if you had 4 more days where would you add it to? I already added one more day to Siem Riep upon Thomas's recommendation. I don't really want to add one more place.
Thanks again for your help!
#6 kateyb has been a member since 23/7/2011. Posts: 3
To answer your question regarding 4 more days, and taking into consideration that you are interested in the cultural/historical side of things, I would suggest that you break your trip from Bangkok to Chiangmai in Sukhothai and check out the first capital of Siam, including Si Satchanalai .
You could wander around the temples in Sukhothai one day, and then head up to Si Satchanalai (about 50 km north) the next day to see the far more impressive temples there. From Si Satchanalai you can go a few km south to the very nice little town of Sawankhalok, which has an excellent night market, and catch the small train that runs between Sawankhalok and Uttaradit. Once in Uttaradit you are back on the main rail line and will be able to get to Chiangmai very easily either by train or on a bus.
However, having been a couple of times, I think the best way to do this would be to rent a scooter in Sukhothai and see both in one day. It's totally doable if you start early ... which you will probably want to do anyway because it's going to be pretty darn hot. A scooter will cost you about $7 CAD for an entire day (plus gas). A small price to pay to have your own transport.
I realize this is adding a place to your list, but as far as Thailand goes this is arguably one of the most significantly historical areas in the country. It's also beautiful, and pretty off the beaten track. You'll see few to no other visitors who are not Thai.
I would also add a day to Siem Reap for the outlying temples.