The standard Siem Reap visit is a 1 day or a 3 day event, depending on how much you want to explore the temples. You'll need to include time getting into Phnom Penh from Vietnam and depending on how much of an adventure you want you could always work your way up the Mekong Delta from HCMC and cross via boat. If you give yourself a couple (say 3) nights in HCMC and then head towards Cambodia by spending just 2 or 3 nights in the Delta then you can get a taste of Vietnam in a week but will be hard pressed to relax through Cambodia with just 3-5 days.
I'd recommend after traveling quickly through the Delta you'll want 3 nights in Phnom Penh and explore the surrounding area before taking a full day to get to Siem Reap - I haven't been to Phnom Penh myself but I hear an energetic bunch will find plenty of fun there. If you only take one day with the temple (the next day waking up early after a long bus ride that means) you then take off the day after that to take the long ride to the border and over to BKK. . . doesn't sound pleasant to me. I'd say opt for 3 days exploring the temples -- or find something else to do around Siem Reap, but don't take a long trip every other day.
If you are going in overland to Thailand you'll only get a 15 day Visa, so if you are staying any longer you need to get a 30-day Visa in advance, not the visa on arrival. Probably best to go directly to BKK and stay there a couple nights before heading up to Chiang Mai and then see about a flight direct from Chiang Mai to Ko Phangan. It'll save you time from going overland to the north then back overland to BKK and then down to the islands. Also, if you get into BKK and like it there and want to save money from flights you could then always skip heading to the north and change your mind to go south and spend some extra time island hoping.
My friend and I are currently planning a trip to SEA for June and July. As of now we are looking at 4 weeks. We would like to fly to Saigon spend less than a week in Vietnam and then move into Cambodia, perhaps spending 3-5 days there as we visit Ankor Wat. Afterwards we would move into Thailand, go to the North, stay around Chiang Mai, then go south toward Bangkok. Lastly we would like to visit the Islands around Ko Pha-ngan for the full moon party July 3rd.
We lare an energetic bunch, but also don't want to be too ambitious, so as we can have time to relax. In your opinion, do you believe this is too ambitious of an itinerary for 4 weeks? We really don't want to be over stressed by having to move too often.
Thanks for you insights!
%% Edit: I am thinking about taking a flight from Chiang Mai to Samui to save time %%
#2 realacefool has been a member since 19/3/2012. Posts: 6
It'lll be tight, 1 week in Vietnam, 1 week in Cambodia, a few days in BKK, a few days in Chiang Mai and a few days on the islands. Are you considering flying back to BKK fromt he islands? I've never been so I don't know the usual time to get from Samui to BKK by land - imagine its a bit of a trip though.
Just because it will be tight doesn't mean you won't enjoy it though, and if you are energetic and looking to sample a few spots you've picked a decent set of goals. Honestly, when I have four weeks (or 3) I usually spend it in a single country though - such as 2 weeks around the north of Thailand and a 2 weeks in the south, with some time in BKK. It'd be less hectic and if you want to see Siem Reap you'd have the option still to bounce over there between the time in the north before heading back down to the south. I'm not sure why the flight into HCMC, but if you want a sampler, it isn't a bad idea, it can be done.
Thank you very much for the reply. As of now this is our current Itinerary. Let me know your thoughts .
2 days in HCMC
4 days in Mekong Delta including a riverboat to Phnom Penh
1 day in Phenom Penh
1 day travel to Siam Reap
2 days in Siam Reap
1 day travel to BKK
3 days BKK
1 day travel to Chiang Mai
5 days in Chiang Mai
1 day travel to Samui (flight)
7 days in the Islands around Ko Phangan
1 day travel to BKK
If you have any suggestions on whether it is better to take a flight from BKK to Chiang Mai or take a bus they would be appreciated. We want to be efficient, but at the same time I hear the ride through the countryside is beautiful.
Thank you for you help.
#5 realacefool has been a member since 19/3/2012. Posts: 6
I personally thought it was one of the least spectacular bus rides I've been on in SE Asia. I'd do it as a night ride - saves you the price of a hotel room.
You're definitely over the 15 day overland visa, so will need to get that proper tourist visa rather than the 'on arrival'.
Still think your group may find PP more entertaining than 2 nights - but if you don't worry about booking any flights until departing Chiang Mai it's easy enough to shave a day off Chiang Mai and add it to PP if you want to stay an extra day.
Thank for the info. I figured having an extended stay in Chiang Mai will give us a chance to explore northern thailand. Do you think 4 days would offer that same flexibility.
Also, I am a bit concerned about Jap Encephalitis. I heard it is a nasty disease, but very uncommon. Yet the fact that I will be spending time in the Mekong Delta and on a riverboat to PP makes me think twice about whether it would be worth it to spring for the 500 dollar vaccination. Your thoughts?
#7 realacefool has been a member since 19/3/2012. Posts: 6
Well, 5 is always better than 4 . . . and if you want to get out to Pai or something, 5 isn't really enough to allow you to really soak in Chiang Mai and Pai. 5 is good for if you want to do a 2 night trek, I'd say that is ideal. However, if you're just looking to do a day trip or two, or maybe a 1 night trek, you can get away with 4. As I said, see how you feel about PP and decide based on that, at some point you have to make a sacrifice and you'll know better how you feel about that once you are there.
I'd make sure to get travel insurance even for a short trip. As for vaccinations, I wouldn't want to be the person to say you shouldn't bother with it. . . .anti-Malarials and JapE are certainly something to be concerned about, though I've known many people who just take the proper precautions of using good bug spray, wearing long pants, and sleeping with a mosquito net. Others think you can't put a price on safety.