I am planning a trip to SE Asia in December for the first trip, very looking forward to it and want to try and make the most of it too! I want to know if what I've got planned would be suitable as looking through previous threads I see that plenty would prefer a more relaxed pace of travel, but as I don't think I'll be visiting this area again anytime soon I wanted to try and make the most of it, hence my slightly packed itinerary, let me know what you think....
2 Ayutthaya - Day trip
3 BANGKOK TO HANOI - Fly
4 Halong Bay
5 Halong Bay
6 Halong Bay
8 HANOI TO HO CHI MINH - Fly early morning
9 HO CHI MINH
10 HO CHI MINH TO PHNOM PENH - Fly early morning
11 PHNOM PENH
12 PHNOM PENH
13 PHNOM PENH TO SIEM REAP - Boat
14 Angkor Wat
15 Banteay Srei
16 Tonle Sap
17 SIEM REAP TO BANGKOK - Taxi/Train
19 BANGKOK TO KRABI - Fly
24 KRABI TO BANGKOK TO LONDON
As long as you're flying the long distances and you understand that you're on the move quite a bit, it's doable and reasonable. You might consider flying Siem Reap to BKK just to make the most of your time in Bkk. Three days in Halong Bay might be a bit long. I had 2 nights there (on boat both nights) which I thought was a good amount. I'd tend to spend the extra night in Hanoi.
You could consider flying direct to Hanoi - save yourself the cost of your first flight (Bkk-Hanoi). You'll end up in Bangkok at the end of your trip anyways so you can spend a night or two there before you leave. No worries about last minute flights or buses to Bangkok so you can get home.
Take busylizzy's advice and fly Siem Reap-Bkk-Krabi. Use the extra time in Angkor Wat, on a beach or in Bkk at the end.
You've picked some great places to visit and your itinerary - with some tweeks - is reasonable. Have fun.
Not to be too rules based here, but usually you post trip reports AFTER the trip.
Why you would want to do all this running around I don't know. But hey, it's your trip.
#4 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
From your suggestions, I'll travel to Hanoi first although and cut a day out on Halong Bay based on busylizzy's suggestion. I'll take a taxi/train from Siem Reap to Bangkok as I'm travelling by air quite a bit so think it I should at least endure a day travelling by land during my travels.
I'm guessing that I won't need to spend a day in Tonle Sap if I'm intending to travel between Phnom Penh & Siem Reap, which might mean more time in Angkor?
Also, any what are the best beaches/areas to stay in Andaman region? I've picked Krabi mainly because I've heard it's a great starting point to venture from for island hopping so am open to suggestions.
MADMAC, point noted.
It's none of my biz really, but I think you'd enjoy that trip far more if you cut it down a bit. For instance, Vietnam - what the h___, you've skipped the really good places just to take a Halong B. cruise.
I say skip Vietnam entirely so you can enjoy more of Thailand and Cambodia - Vietnam deserves it's own 3 week trip.
#6 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,113
Hell Daawgon, I would have said that about any country. Three weeks isn't even scratching the surface of one. But obviously the OP has specific highlights he wants to see.
#7 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
I would say three weeks certainly does scratch the surface of a country, unless we're talking about China, Russia, India etc.
But I agree with you daawgon - going all the way to 'Nam just for HB, while it is nice, is not worth the effort.
#8 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
China - I don't know, I lived in Bosnia for over a year, and still felt like there was tons to learn about the place, the culture...
#9 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
MM - I'm sure that was the case but I think the definition of scratching the surface (in terms of food, sights, religion, levels of poverty to name a few) would be satisfied by a 3-week trip to most countries. It should also allow for enough down time to relax and absorb a few places anyway.
Btw, I thought you hated use of the word "culture". Or is it only when "annoying backpackers" use it.
#10 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
Look, it's possible to whizz around and see the highlights in a couple of weeks. It gives you a fleeting exposure, lots of excitement, and a general taste of what it's like there. And that's fine when that's all the time you've got. But when you have time up your sleeve, the more time you can spend in a place, the better you get to know it, the better you get to understand it's culture, vibe, quirkiness or whatever. I've been in NZ for 35 years, and there are STILL places I haven't been to.
A general rule of thumb, where possible is to try to allow 3-4 weeks per country in SEA if possible. That allows some level of immersion, and the ability to enjoy what the country has to offer at a relaxed pace. If you can't spend that long, then cut down the destinations within the country. Otherwise the whole experience just becomes a blur in your memory once you are back home, and you end up needing a holiday from your holiday. There's always a compromise to be made.
In the end, you will do what's right for you in your circumstances. But do lots of reading, take people's advice on board - and then you can make informed decisions. Look at your itinerary, look at probable flight times, work out how much sitting around time or wasted down time that you will have - and decide if you are OK with the answer!
Either way - go forth and enjoy!
"Btw, I thought you hated use of the word "culture". Or is it only when "annoying backpackers" use it."
I's an overused word and I hate it when it's put in an elitist context for sure. I try not to use it at all, but sometimes it's unavoidable.
#13 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
After considering your suggestions, I've decided to knock a few places off my list and will hopefully visit them next year (with a little more time). What I've left is a few places that I'm sure are worth seeing, visiting or experiencing. I've read through past posts but hopefully those of you who are more seasoned can help lend me a hand in helping me decide!
Looking to experience culture/life/attractions in the relatively short amount of time I have in each time, your help is appreciated.
2 days in Phnom Penh
Anything would help me here!
4 days in Siem Reap (including travelling from Phnom Penh)
Angkor Wat for sure
5 days in Chiang Mai (travelling to from Bangkok by plane)
Elephant trekking? Sunday night market?
After you take the trip, please take the time to let everyone know how it went. It's nice to get feedback.
#15 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
So I'm back from my trip and know why many of you consider less as more, while I still travelled around more then I liked it was just enough of a balance between quantity and quality. For anyone else planning a trip on limited time hopefully would my suggestions would be of help, time spent at each destination doesn't include travelling to and from.
PHNOM PENH - I spent two days and managed to see much of city, including the night markets, I think if I spent an extra day here I would have gone on some of the excursion available.
SIEM REAP - I spent three days here and got to see a lot of Siem Reap and all of Angkor, which took me two days alone. Again, an extra day or two would have helped venture further, but nevertheless, an eventful three days.
CHIANG MAI - I spent 4 days here and could have stayed for much, much longer, there is so much to do and if that doesn't attract you, being in a calm and cultured city will. I can see why many prefer Chiang Mai to Bangkok.
PHUKET - Overcrowded and not what I expected, Bangla Road is just a long road full of go-go bars, great if you're into that, but not exactly what I envisioned!
KRABI - I spent 2 days here and thought it was quiet, calm and somewhere to put your feet up and plan your Island trips from. Much preferred to Phuket, but I guess this is down to preference.
Sorry for the brief details but if anyone wants to know more, I'm happy to give something back to this great forum (",).
Thanks for the feedback. Overall it sounds like you had a good time.
#17 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
If you are traveloholic then you can use your 3 weeks in the Indo China and probably can visit all the prominent land marks. But I would love to spend those 3 weeks to cover small area, relaxing and lazing around most of the time.
#18 expatInsurance has been a member since 10/1/2013. Posts: 10
All the places you visited are extensively described/commented about on the internet. I only wish TA members would bear this in mind before posting.
We all have our own pace in which we feel comfortable with. We all have our own interests in particular places eg Angkor Wat. If your not in to historical sites then a 1 day tour to the well trodden sites will suffice otherwise a 3 day pass (like I did is the way to go).
Even from comments from this traveller's trip report I can tell if more time was taken in researching they would have been better informed prior to travel. The bottom line is there is so much information on the internet these days that in respect of well touristed places you can read up on everything they have to offer and make your choices from that.
I continue to read travelogues on travelblog.com as it can provide up to date information. But I just laugh so much at people's experiences because they failed to do a simple google search.