Hi folks. I'd love your feedback on my itinerary.
I am a first-time traveler to SE Asia, female, in my mid-thirties. The trip is about 5-6 weeks, this winter. I'm joining a friend for some of Cambodia and all of Laos, but will likely be on my own for the rest. I'm not really a partier, have some budget, but not luxe. Hoping to avoid many 6 hour bus rides. Interested in food/cooking, cities, photography, art/culture/language, maybe a little hiking, and generally relaxing.
I'm getting stumped on logistics, so I'll spare you the details and ask only whether this sort of an itinerary is best for avoiding too much backtracking and travel fatigue, while still being able to get a good sense of place, and a good mix of things to experience for a lone traveler with interests like mine. (The Bangkok and island part aren't really flexible.) Too much?
Bangkok (4 nights)
BKK > PNH (fly, overnight)
PNH > Koh Totang (3 nights)
Koh Totang > Sihanoukville (~2 nights)
Sihanoukville > Kep or Kampot (~3 nights)
Kep/Kampot > Phnom Penh (~4 nights, friends here)
Phnom Pehn > Siem Reap (~4 nights)
Siem Reap > Battambang (~2 nights)
Siem Reap > Vientiane (~4 nights)
Vientiane > Luang Prabang > Nong Kiaow (~7 nights, total)
Luang Prabang > Back to BKK to depart for NYC (~4 nights, total)
Thank you, altmtl. Perhaps we'll cut a day from Vientiane — though I suppose there's always the possibility that we could day-trip somewhere from there, too.
Right, long bus trips. I'm steeling myself for them. I know I'll have to squeeze a few in no matter what.
You'll have a really relaxed time with LP and NK for 7 nights, consider taking the boat ride up to Muang Ngoi for a night if you want to extend yourself a little and get to a little village with no traffic.
To avoid the long bus-rides have you considered taking a flight from LP to BKK? It may be costly but you'd have that time to extend your trip around Northern Laos or an earlier fight back to BKK and a night or two in one of the spots around there (Kanchanaburi around 2/3 hours out of BKK). Otherwise you could fly from LP to Chiang Mai for two nights and take an overnight bus down to BKK. With 4 nights early on in BKK I don't imagine you'd need more than one night on your return before flying out.
Caseyprich, thanks for the tip on Muang Ngoi.
I definitely had considered taking a flight from LP to BKK. Because of such limited time, I didn't think I'd be able to see any more of Thailand, but it's tempting to see about flights to Chiang Mai. There's also the possibility that I'll really dig Bangkok, and want to go back. I suppose one of the benefits of free-form travel is being able to arrange these things as you go.