Photo: Street food Phetchaburi Soi 10, Bangkok.

Southeast Asia forum

Planning and Route Help

Posted by Samjeans1 on 1/5/2013 at 20:37


Me and 2 mates are flying to bangkok soon, we have 27 days of travelling time and would love to visit either Laos or Cambodia within that time, we may have enough money for one flight inbetween any of these countries and are trying to get a sense for the best route to take. We would ideally want to visit the south of thailand as well as laos or cambodia. So far i've heard Luang Prabang, Vientiane and vang vieng are 3 areas worth visiting in laos, and then we were thinking would it be possible to travel down the Mekong south, and cross over back to Thailand? is it realistic that we could visit south thailand as well? where would our flight money be best spent? and what would people personally recommend and why? sorry so many questions!

Any help would be much appreciated!


#1 Samjeans1 has been a member since 1/5/2013. Posts: 4

Posted by Geer1 on 4/5/2013 at 15:04

What things are you interested in most? Scenery, partying, culture, historical sights, relaxing, tours etc? Have you ever been to any of these countries before or other nearby countries?

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Posted by Samjeans1 on 4/5/2013 at 21:31

All of those, in particular culture and scenery. We're thinking we'll fly to chiang mai from bangkok, stay there for a few nights and go on to the laos border at Huay xai and travel on to Luang prabang. We'd then spend the next week there and in vang vieng before moving to vietienne and crossing the border back to Thailand and go on to bangkok so we can head south. We'd have about 15 or so days for this loop.It's difficult how much time to a allocate and whether to know if it's too little.

#3 Samjeans1 has been a member since 1/5/2013. Posts: 4

Posted by Geer1 on 4/5/2013 at 23:50

Chiang Mai and even Chiang Rai are nice for the cultural aspect. They easily tie into Laos as well.

I liked Cambodia more then Laos but it is harder to fit it into an itinerary with northern Thailand which has more for culture then southern Thailand.

As far as scenery is involved if you can fit southern Thailand in Khao Sok National Park lake tour is imo the best scenery in south east asia(that I saw in my 4 month trip anyways). The slow boat down the Mekong has nice scenery as well and also a culture aspect in seeing how Laos people live along the river. Kuang Si Waterfall in Luang Prabang is really nice.

In the case of Cambodia, the Angkor temples are probably the best historical sight in south east asia. Killing fields and Tuol Sleng Museum in Phnom Penh are not what many people would enjoy per say but they are very informative. Rabbit Island is a neat little island to relax on. Circus in Battambang is quite entertaining.

With only 27 days I would suggest an Itinerary like such to cover a good portion of Thailand and a taste of Laos. This is fairly similar to what I did and I was quite happy with my trip hence why I suggest this.

Bangkok 3 days
Night train/bus to Surat Thani then bus/ferry to Koh Samui or Koh Phangan (alternatively could do night bus to Ranong and then ferry to Koh Phayam/Chang if you want a quiter less touristy island)
Koh Samui/Koh Phangan or Koh Phayam/Koh Chang 3 days
Ferry/bus back to Surat Thani then bus to Khao Sok National Park (or bus Ranong to Takua Pa then over to Khao Sok)
Khao Sok National Park 3 days (part day travelling there then 2 day lake tour)
Next morning hop on bus to Phuket, get off near airport or go into town then get bus/taxi to airport and fly to Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai 3 or 4 days (depending on tours etc you might be interested in, this is the place to do trekking/cooking/elephant tours etc since they are fairly priced)
Bus to Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai 2 days(try to be there on a weekend as the walking streets are one of the highlights, white temple and black house are other top sites here, if not on a weekend 1 day might be enough unless want to rent a scooter and check out countryside)
Wake up early and take 6 am bus to Chiang Khong then get across border and onto Slow Boat headed to Luang Prabang
Slow Boat 2 days
Luang Prabang 3 days
Bus to Vang Vieng
Vang Vieng 3 days
Bus to Vientiane
Vientiane 1 day

That brings you around 23 or 24 days

You still have to get back to Bangkok so you can either make stops in Nong Khai, Udon Thani and/or Khon Kaen which would be good culture wise or you can spend more time at one of the previous locations and boot it back to Bangkok on a night train from Nong Khai.

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Posted by Samjeans1 on 6/5/2013 at 06:56

Thanks so much for that info!

Finding it very difficult to decide between laos and cambodia, which route would you take to cambodia? It does seem easier, flights to Phnom penh are cheap and travelling back to thailand overland seems like it'd be very interesting! Obviously angkor wat, and the killing fields are a must go but what would you suggest for the route through to Siem Reap and back to Poipet and what else is on the way?

thanks again

#5 Samjeans1 has been a member since 1/5/2013. Posts: 4

Posted by Geer1 on 6/5/2013 at 09:45

An itinerary including Cambodia means you have to give up on either north or south Thailand which isn't a bad thing as it gives you a reason to come back. Here are 2 ideas based on getting a really good trip in Cambodia and seeing either North or South Thailand.

Basic itinerary

Bangkok 3 days

Insert desired option here (see below for sample options)

Fly to Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh 2 days
Bus to Kampot
Kampot 2 days
Bus to Kep
Kep 1 day
Boat to Rabbit Island
Rabbit Island 2.5 days
Afternoon bus to Phnom Penh
Next morning bus to Battambang
Battambang 2 days
Bus to Siem Reap
Siem Reap 3-4 days
Bus back to Bangkok

Total 17-18 days

North Option

Night bus to Chiang Rai (take a VIP 24 seater, fairly comfortable so should sleep well, worth the extra money), time your trip so you are in Chiang Rai on weekend so you can check out walking street
Chiang Rai 2 days
Bus to Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai 3 days
If you feel up to renting a scooter do so and ride to Pai otherwise bus, aYa has one way scooter rental and bag delivery according to wikitravel but I would just leave bags and take a lighter day pack.
Pai 2-3 days (including travel each way)
Ride back to Chiang Mai
Fly to Phnom Penh next day

Total trip including base 24-26 days, this allows you to spend an extra day or 2 anywhere here or in Cambodia.

South Option

Night train to Surat Thani then ferry to Koh Samui or Koh Phangan (like earlier can substitute with Ranong/Koh Phayam if desired)
Island of choice 3-4 days
Bus to Khao Sok
Khao Sok National Park 3 days
Bus to Khao Lak (I believe you can catch bus in the evening after lake tour otherwise next morning)
Khao Lak 1.5 days
Afternoon bus to Phuket (get off near airport or head back to airport once in town)
Fly to Phnom Penh in evening if possible otherwise next morning (over night in Phuket town is your best bet to get to airport somewhat cheaply, don't book overly early flight though since takes a while to get to airport)

Total trip including base 25-27 days, this option is a little tighter although you could pass on Khao Lak if necessary(say you really like island you go to and want an extra day there for example).

North vs South pretty much comes down to culture vs scenery although there is good scenery up north and you will still get a taste of Thai culture in the south. If/when you go back you can easily do the one you missed either mixing northern Thailand with Laos or seeing southern Thailand with Malaysia.

Hopefully these ideas helped you and after researching each place you can figure out your own personal itinerary.

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Posted by Samjeans1 on 7/5/2013 at 20:31

thanks your help has been incredible!

Its a difficult choice, I think Cambodia and South Thailand would be a great scenery and cultural balance, I don't doubt i'll be returning to this part of the world in the future so theres time for both options in the long run!. It wouldnt be possible to fly from Phuket though as it would involve changing at Bangkok and costs an extra £60. We could fly from Bangkok to Phnom penh and then work back to Bangkok and head south. Either way, we'll work it out!

thanks again

#7 Samjeans1 has been a member since 1/5/2013. Posts: 4

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