Hello there fellow Travelfish'ers!I am brand new to this forum, and feel very lucky to have stumbled upon it! There seems to be tons of helpful, and informative people around here.
I have some basic beginner questions that I hope you havent seen too many times, but i figured I'd give it a crack. I'm 27m with my girlfriend and looking to experience as much as I can while traveling to SE Asia for the first time...
I have been thinking about a November '12 trip, and am in the VERY preliminary planning stages. Its looking like I'll be able to spend about 3-4 weeks there (hopefully), and would really love to be able to hit Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. Is this enough time to get a generally good overall experience without rushing things too much? My main focuses that I would like to hit are: Ha Long Bay, Angkor Wat, and some decent Thai beaches. I'm very interested in the regions amazing food, scenery, and culture (more so than clubs, war museums, etc). Any suggestions, or corrections of places I MUST or MUST NOT see/do while there are very welcome. Is this too rushed a time frame, I figured 1 week in each country will be a fast trip, but I'd like to get a feeling for the place after spending so much to get there from Idaho.
I found a pretty decent price on a multi-city flight flying into Hanoi, and out of Bangkok, which seems like it would help eliminating too much backtracking.
I'm also curious what you all think would be the appropriate amount of $ to have budgeted for a trip of this duration (I dont want to be strapped for cash, and I dont need 5 star anything, just comfortable).
Like I said, any input to help me get the ball rolling would be greatly appreciated, and if you need any more information from me just let me know!
Thanks so much.
#1 ndeeds has been a member since 18/3/2012. Posts: 6
Too rushed for sure. Getting down the length of Vietnam will be slow going if you don't want to torture yourself. It's a long way and the transportation infrastructure isn't made for comfort. I would plan to end the trip in Siem Reap, with just a flight to Bangkok to get back home.
There are others here who can give you better advice than I on what to do while in Vietnam though.
#2 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Sounds like a reasonable path to take and you are doing the right thing by only choosing a few places you want to see in each country. But 3 - 4 weeks for 3 countries is a lot of travel! So - Halong, Angkor , beaches, scenery, culture and food...
Stick to the north of Vietnam - a few days in Hanoi and a few more in Halong Bay plus your travel day out and the jet lag from North America - week 1...gone.
Fly to Phnom Penh from Hanoi. Long distance travel in Vietnam is Hell. No joke. Avoid it at all costs...especially the buses. A few days in and around PP, bus to Siem Reap and 3 days at Angkor Wat (1 or 2 and a day on Pub Street) - week 2...gone.
From Siem Reap you can fly (I think you'll probably have to go through BKK) to Krabi. From there you have heaps of beautiful islands within a few hours travel. Check out 1 or 2 of them for a few nights - week 3...gone.
And then get yourself back to BKK from there. I know it looks like a small area you are trying to cover on the map but in reality it is not. I would stick to one country given your time frame but I am not you and you are not me! You will lose almost a full day each time you want to go to a new place. If you chose not to fly - you'll lose much more than that. So try to get as much time as you can; this way you have a little more flexibility.
This site is a wealth of info so when you have some more specific questions and you have decided your itinery - fire away!
Thanks for the input! I do not want to be too rushed, I really don't want to need a vacation after my vacation! (thats why I thought it'd be good to end in Thailand, with some R&R on the beaches after all the travel...
From what I've read, Sapa looks really intriguing, and Ha Long is kind of a must, both of which go with the Northern Vietnam theme. Do you think if I enjoyed each spot for a few days, and then flew directly from Ha Noi to Siem Reap for maybe 3 days, and then headed to Thailand and skipped Phnom Penh (is it a must go? Angkor is really the main reason I want to visit Cambodia) it would be better?
If you were to visit just 1 country, which one would you choose and why? People keep telling me the same thing, and I really want to take their advice, its just really hard for me to swallow when I dont know when (if ever) I'll get to come back! Its a BIG world after all, and theres lots I want to see...
#4 ndeeds has been a member since 18/3/2012. Posts: 6
Which country depends on your interests.
For chilling? Thailand. Absolutely. Land of the free.
For architecture? Siem Reap, Cambodia. Non-Pareil.
For military history: Vietnam. Without a doubt.
#5 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Ok, so after some more thought, and a bit more planning... this is what I came up with. 4 weeks, with a decent amount of travel, but I don't feel its TOO rushed for me.
Again its just a rough guess, and please don't think I'm going to follow this like some timeline Nazi (it just helps my brain plan the days out to see how tight things could be).
I thought like I said before it would be good to end with some Beach for R&R so i don't feel too burned out when I get home. I also gave myself the largest chunk of time there... so I have some days to play with if I want to stay somewhere longer, or run into travel delays, etc.
I'm still interested in opinions: critique, complement, reject, whatever your thoughts are my feelings wont be hurt. I hope you folks can read my schedule... I also have a PDF that is much easier to read if anybody is interested.
S.E.Asia November, 2012
*”The big one”: Round Trip BOI-HAN/BKK-BOI - ~$980
-Depart BOI: November 1, 9:25am
-Arrive HAN: November 2, 10:20pm
-Depart BKK: November 28, 11:45pm
-Arrive BOI: November 29, 5:08pm
*Leg1: Vietnam – Hanoi , Sapa , Ha Long Bay
*Leg2: Cambodia – Siem Reap (Angkor Wat)
*Leg3: Thailand – Bangkok, Krabi (Surrounding Islands)
Leg1: Vietnam *ArriveHanoi, Vietnam - November 2, in the pm
*November:2,3,4th:(3nights): Arrive Hanoi, 2days Hanoi
*November5th:(day):Hanoi → Sapa (Train – Scenery), ArriveSapa
*November:5,6,7th:(3nights): Sapa, 2days Sapa
*November8th:(day):Sapa→ Hanoi (Night Train – Sleep)
*November9th:(day):Arrive Hanoi → Ha Long, Stayin Ha Long
*November10th:(day):Ha Long → Ha Long Bay, Staynight in Ha Long Bay
*November11th:(day):HaLong → Hanoi, Stayin Hanoi
*November12th:(day):Hanoi → Siem Reap (Flight), ArriveSiem Reap
Leg2:Cambodia *ArriveSiem Reap, Cambodia - November 12, in the pm
*November12,13,14,15th:(4nights): Arrive Siem Reap, 3days Siem Reap
*November16th:(day):Siem Reap → Bangkok, (Bus - Border), ArriveBangkok
Leg3:Thailand *ArriveBangkok, Thailand - November 16, in the pm
*November16,17, 18th:(3nights): Bangkok, 2Days Bangkok
*November19th:Bangkok→ Krabi (Flight), StayKrabi
*November20,21,22,23,24,25,26th:(7nights): Krabi+Islands, 7days Krabi Area
*November27th:Krabi→ Bangkok (Flight), StayBangkok
#6 ndeeds has been a member since 18/3/2012. Posts: 6
For 3 countries in 4 weeks - your itinery looks manageable. Still a bit busy for me! But your are taking into account your travel days and jet lag and keep that promise to yourself - this schedual being a probably rather than an absolute.
In Siem Reap you can check out the Jasmine Lodge. It is a 3-5 minute tuk tuk drive from pub street. For 12$ you get a clean room, double bed, aircon, hot shower, breakfast and an owner you can trust. His name is Khun, not the happiest looking dude around but nice in his own way. I've stayed there for a couple of weeks the last few years. The website is informative.
Thanks Tyler! Its encouraging to hear. I'll def have to check out Jasmine Lodge, how far is it from Angkor?
Ive been toying with the idea of lopping off Vietnam, and spending more time in Thailand, and Cambodia. And trying to put together a whole second trip to Vietnam... but the realities of that second trip are unknown so we'll see how things actually turn out. Only problem is then Id want to see more of Thai/cambodia which would involve more travel anyway...
#8 ndeeds has been a member since 18/3/2012. Posts: 6