Okay, okay! I know some of you are going to give me a serious bashing over this itinerary, but I'm prepared for that, just give it your best. I'm travelling with my husband and our 3 boys (11,13,16). We've only got 3 wks and the objective is to get a feel for as much as possible in the little time we have, because I don't think we, by that, I mean the parents, will ever get a chance to return. I'm guessing most of it will have to be booked before we even leave Ireland, because, getting flights for 5 people on Fokker-sized planes is proving problematic, esp. with airlines such as laoairlines.com, where they appear to be all booked up or not flying on that day. I'd really appreciate your opinions on ANY of it ie. time in Siem Reap seems a bit short, but my thinking here is "Gawd, Mum, is there anything else here besides temples?!"
DUB DXB DXB KUL
12:55 00:25 (7hr30) 04:05 14:55 (6hr50)
24/03/2013 KUALA LUMPUR
accom: Matahari Lodge; Explorers G'hse
25/03/2013 HOI AN
Train to KUL @ 11:55
13:55 15:30 (MR260ea)
accom: Anhoi Hotel $70
27/03/2013 HUE - HANOI
or 10:18 13:26 VND70k ea
19:42 11:10 VND 3812k
accom: Hanoi Guesthouse
29/03/2013 Halong Bay 2 day trip
30/03/2013 LUANG PRABANG
ret. Hanoi ca 16:30
18:50 19:50 $766
Visa $35 ea. USD only.
accom: Khoune & Khone Bungalows $30
02/04/2013 SIEM REAP
accom: Golden Temple Villa $51; Cashew Nut $53
19:05 20:10 $1134
accom: athua Lamphong THB360ea;
train + bus: BKK KBV
(3hr bus) 19:30 11:00 THB 968ea.
06/04/2013 Krabi - Chakri Day
accom: Railay Garden View THB 2800; Andaman Nature Resort
09/04/2013 KUALA LUMPUR
14:25 16:45 THB14400
10/04/2013 BUKIT LAWANG
08:50 08:50 MYR2113 return
bus/taxi: 4 hrs @IDR 20k ea/taxi 500k
accom: kupu-kupu 250k; On the Rocks
12/04/2013 KUALA LUMPUR
14/04/2013 KUL DXB DXB DUB
02:00 04:50 (6hr50) 07:25 12:15 (7hr50)
So there you have it. Would love some feedback, even if it's to tell me that I'm utterly insane.
Thanks in advance!
I'll answer your last questions first. Are you insane? Yes - stark raving mad :-)
Below I've summarised the above for easier comprehension for others - I think I got it all right, though point out anything where I'm off please.
March 23 - Dublin - Kuala Lumpur
March 24 - KL overnight at Matahari Lodge or Explorers G'hse
March 25 - KL - Da Nang - Hoi An Staying at An Hoi Hotel
March 26 - Hoi An
March 27 - Back to Da Nang then train to Hue and on to Hanoi
March 28 - midday arrival at Hanoi Stay Hanoi Guesthouse
March 29 - Ha Long Bay
March 30 - Back from Ha Long Bay evening flight to Luang Prabang, staying at Khoune & Khone
March 31 - Luang Prabang
April 1 - Luang Prabang
April 2 - Flight to Siem Reap, staying at Golden Temple Villa or Cashew Nut
April 3 - Siem Reap
April 4 - Siem Reap, evening flight to Bangkok staying at Hua Lamphong (You mean the train station?)
April 5 - Bangkok - then (train bus connection overnight to Krabi - Railey)
April 6 - Railay - staying at Railay Garden View or Andaman Nature Resort
April 7 - Railay
April 8 - Railay
April 9 - Fly Krabi to Kuala Lumpur
April 10 - Fly Kuala Lumpur to Medan transfer to Bukit Lawang accom: Kupu Kupu
April 11 - Bukit Lawang
April 12 - Bukit Lawang then fly to Kuala Lumpur
April 13 - Kuala Lumpur
April 14 - KL - Dublin
So, yes, the above is all possible, and while I understand the desire to fit in as much as you can, I think, yes, the above is a bit mental - I mean that in the nicest possible way of course!
The easiest way to make it a bit easier would be to drop Bukit Lawang -- I've not been there myself so perhaps others will chime in with an opinion, but if you drop it you get four days you can spread across the other destinations, which would make it more pleasurable.
You're already flying most of the legs I'd recommend in order to save time, really the only other flights you could fit in would be Bangkok - Krabi and Da Nang to Hanoi -- both of which I'd consider, particularly the latter.
Hoi An is probably the one spot that really jumps out at me as deserving more time -- especially with three boys their age. There is a lot to do there, but if you are set on Bukit Lawang, I'd take a day off Railay and give it to Hoi An.
Hope that helps!
#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,764
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Wow. Reading this itinerary made my head hurt. I'd hate to try this as an experienced traveller on my own, much less with three boys in tow.
My advice would be to cut your number of destinations in half. Really. Since you're excited about the trip and reluctant to do that, please at least do the following. Write down how much time out of the three weeks you'll be spending getting from A to B. I don't mean just your flights or train time. I mean the time to get from the hotel to the airport, the check in time, going through security, and waiting for the flight. Arriving and waiting for your bags, getting a taxi to the new hotel, checking in and getting settled. What about delays? Odds are there will be some.
I suspect that when you add up all that time, it will be a very large percentage of your waking hours during the three week trip. Do you really want to spend all that time and effort and money just to rush around and be stressed out and not even have time to properly explore and appreciate the places you are visiting?
What if you eliminated northern Vietnam and Laos, for example. Wouldn't you still get to see enough to make those three weeks count?
:D Nah, there's a guesthouse nearly opp the station called 'At Hua Lamphong'! Thanks Somtam2000. Much clearer summary! Good advice too. The reason I have Bukit in there is to compensate for not doing the gibbon experience in Laos :(. Decided a 2 day river journey on the Mekong in the baking heat for the younger 2 lads would be too much to ask of them (typical western kids - incapable of sitting still, spoilt, suffering serious pc withdrawal etc). Will have to have a closer look at Hoi An. Had planned on a day's snorkelling off the islands, shopping for silk sleeping liners and renting bikes to get to beaches further afield. Was also thinking of dropping Hue entirely so they don't get 'templed out' of it too soon?
I know how you feel, Exacto! You make a very valid point and it is one of my bigger concerns too. Which is one of the reasons why I've refrained from flying exclusively. Getting to/from airports and waiting around for flights can be exhausting and tedious. At least train stations are closer to town, save on overnight accommodation and sometimes allow you to see more of the country on the way. Skip Vietnam and Laos? That's a toughie. My older boys are passionate about sailing, so the Halong trip, albeit short and perhaps seriously touristy for my liking, should still be a mind-blowing culture shock (mostly for the scenery). As for Laos ... had hoped to get in a day's lesson on how to be a good mahout and see Tad Sae Falls aside from the usual sights. Have heard so many positive things about the people too from people I know who've travelled to these countries. If it were easier to travel around Laos, I'd be more enclined to drop one of the other, more commercialised countries.
Well - the airport in Da Nang is very conveniently located, and a flight to Hanoi (if Halong Bay is a must) would be a good idea just to save some time. However, I do recommend the train trip from Da Nang to Hue as one of the best rides I've been on in SEA.
That said, I'd maybe recommend skipping Hoi'an/Da Nang and flying directly to Hanoi so that you can add an extra day exploring the city and then throw an extra day onto Luang Prabang or Siem Reap - if only so that you don't have to keep packing and unpacking all the time. For all the hassle of travel with three boys in tow (I'm one of four myself so I can remember how my mom felt) I don't think Hoi'an offers enough to make it worth it for you. Better to explore around LP and Siem Reap a little more and not be rushing back and forth to Hanoi to see Halong Bay.
I'd didn't say skip Vietnam, just the northern half so you could concentrate in the south and make the trip to Siem Reap shorter. Please be sure to let us know how this trip went once you are all done and tell us if the frantic pace was the right choice for you or not. Good luck.
Sorry, Exacto, I meant Northern Vietnam too.
Frankly, I've tried purposely to avoid big cities as much as possible mostly because of the difficulty in getting 5 people around - do they allow 5 in a taxi, I wonder? Negotiating the rate for 2-3 tuk tuks etc all the time would be a royal pain in the backside and I think xe oms and the like simply sound too scary to be considered. I'd be happy to avoid Hanoi and Bangkok completely if I could, but then, is there a better way to get from Hue to Halong Halong to Luang P or Siem Reap to Krabi?
We are flying into KL, but thereafter nothing is fixed. The places I'd like to get to are Luang Prabang, Siem Reap, Hoi An, Halong, Krabi, Bukit Lawang. Sure, it would be a shame to miss the sights of some of the big cities - I regret not being able to take in Saigon or Phnom Penh too, but these cities I reckon are hard work with 5 pp. Maybe I'm doing them in the wrong order?
What about spending time at the beach while you are in Vietnam and avoiding the trip through Thailand to Krabi and Railay? Or skip Bukit Lawang as somtam suggests above. The problem isn't that there is some smarter way to visit all these places in three weeks. Apart from possibly adding a few additional internal flights as somtam already mentioned, I think you've sorted that out well. The problem is that you want to visit all these places in three weeks -and- have it be less stressful and more enjoyable. I can't see how that's possible, since those two goals seem at odds to me. But some folks like their holiday to be face paced, and hopefully that includes you and your family. After you are done, I really would like to hear if it worked out well for you. Best wishes that it does. Cheers.
Yep, well I think you're mad too!
I'd drop from Railay on and give yourself a chance in the other places. If you're willing to buzz around SEA like a blue-arsed fly a couple of tuk tuks in the major cities shouldn't bother you either. There's lots of interest in Bangkok - and a skytrain and underground as well.
Well now, curse the lot of yiz! ... for being absolutely right!!
Grr, now I'll have to go back to the drawing board and figure out what to drop, and regrettably, I think it might just have to be the last leap over to Bukit. There was uproar from the eldest, when I suggested it earlier today (sshh .. haven't mentioned it to the others yet). They were all gutted when I told them the Gibbon experience might not be practical given our time constraints.
Will have to discuss it further with my travel-reluctant spouse, when he gets back from somewhere in Europe next week.
You've all been very helpful and I thank you sincerely.
wow just looking at your itinerary made my heart race, i think maybe drop one location and concentrate on the rest? Depends on which location you really want to visit. No point rushing through everything and at the end of the day feel so tired :)
Like exacto, quote: "The problem is that you want to visit all these placs in three weeks and have it be less stressful and more enjoyable. I can't see how that's possible, since the two goals seems at odds to me."
couldn't agree more :) hope it pans out well for you!
Just because you mention it, we've just published a story, (including video) on the Gibbon Experience in Laos -- looks like out writer enjoyed it ... time to put in an extended leave form :)
#14 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,764
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Ah, jaypurs, Somtam2000! You send me this, just when we've decided to drop the Bukit Lawang jungle trip to see the orangutans as well?! 'Tis over my knee you're going, if ever our paths should cross! ;) I'm gutted, but I'm taking your original advice.
Reluctantly exchanged the train journeys for airplanes as well *sniff*. Dropping Hue to fly directly DAD to HAN and flying to KBV too.
Starting to book all the flights now just because 5pp is such a large group and the cheap flights I priced a few weeks ago seem to have all but vanished.
One more thing .. do we know how tight these airports are (namely KUL, DAD, HAN, LPQ, REP, BKK, KBV) regarding the recommended 'arrive 2hrs before your flight'? Is 1hr not sufficient? Are they as paranoid about liquids (nothing bigger than 100ml), shoes/belt removal etc at customs? Flying takes a lot longer in Europe these days because of customs and I'm wondering if they're as fussy in SEA.
Aargh! I posted a huge speel on the holiday and all the adventures we had - it took so long that it requested me to login again at the end and then when I did so, it disappeared!! Grrr! Not typing all that up again, so you'll just have to trust me when I say it was the holiday of a lifetime, which in spite of the ridiculous itinerary, worked a treat. It was thanks to travelfish.org that it worked so well. I couldn't have done it as well without you and I'm happily boasting to everybody about the best travel website ever.