Hello! I have done a fair amount of research, but I have a somewhat confusing situation for travelling in SE Asia.
I will be studying in Bangkok for three months and then have a few months to myself. From Bangkok I believe we will be going to northern Thailand for about 9 days, and we will have weekends to explore Bangkok and other parts of Thailand. I know for sure we will be going to Koh Samet for a bit of beach time. Other than that it's just weekend trips during the semester.
For the backpacking part I don't really want to get too specific in my itinerary, but ballpark the number of days in each country to get around to at least most of my interests.
Interests: Temples, mountains, caves, waterfalls, elephants/wildlife, markets, meeting locals, eating local food, etc.
Disinterests(?): Beaches, cities where partying backpackers is the main attraction (I'm not against partying or grabbing a drink here and there...I just don't want it to be the primary reason someone would go to a certain place)
So...my itinerary is tricky because I don't know how much more Thailand I will be craving when I'm done studying. But I am planning on around 9 weeks of travel (around 63 days):
1-4: Apply for Myanmar in Bangkok, hit Koh Samet or easily accessible beach for a couple days, return to Bangkok.
5-21: Myanmar (Bagan, Mandalay, Yangon, Inle Lake, etc.? Extend for Mrauk U?)
22-24: Bangkok --> Vientiane
24-39: Laos (Vientiane, Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang ,etc.)
40-41: Laos --> Vietnam (Would it just be better to fly into Hanoi from Luang Prabang than try a border crossing?)
42-57: Vietnam (Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hue, Phong Nha, Da Nang, Hoi An, Saigon, etc.)
58-62: Cambodia (I've been before. I loved it so very much. I may just fly to Siem Reap and see Angkor for a finale, would love to have time for Preah Vihear and Battambang since I didn't get to go...but if time is an issue, I will unfortunately be most willing to take from my beloved Cambodia.)
63: Fly home.
Any tips on the best ways to get from country to country would be great. Hopefully I could get at least one more week and add to Cambodia, Myanmar, or Vietnam. Any suggested lengths to take or add are greatly appreciated as well. I know there will be times where I won't want to leave for a week here and there. So just a general itinerary is all I'm looking for.