Myself and a friend are travelling SE Asia this July/August for 5 weeks, pretty new to travelling. We're looking for any advice on what to see, how long to spend in each place etc. Currently we're flying in to Ho Chi Minh, flying back from Singapore.
Week 1 - Planning on spending more or less a week in South Vietnam area and surroundings t
Week 2-3 - Overland through Cambodia. We reckoned 2 weeks to cross Cambodia and see the key sites - is this enough?
Week 4-5 - travel to Bangkok and spend a week or so around that area. We will train to Chiang Mai for 2-3 days as well, and then back to Bangkok
Last 2 days - travel to Singapore for a couple of days before returning home.
Any advice would be welcome! What are the key sites we should see? Is there long enough with that itinerary to see them all? Any advice on how to go about planning it as well? We tried to restrict it to just the Southern route considering time constraints. Cheers!
Good idea to think regionally and not try and mark out exact numbers of days per location. A week for HCMC and the Delta is fine (go in Via Can Tho and make choices about either heading up river to head straight for PP or going over through to Ha Tian to cross the border around Kep).
Maybe give yourself a little more than two weeks for Cambodia if you want to start out in the south coast area (though it'll be the rainy season). You can approach Cambodia via Ha Tien-Kep and go through Kampot or Sihanoukville and the islands before heading up to PP and onward to Siem Reap, if still some free time I enjoyed a couple nights in Battambang as well.
Though, if you manage to go more quickly through Cambodia this may not be a bad idea, because people have been known to extend their 2-3 days in Chiang Mai to something more like 5. Overall, I think just researching what you're interested in doing, beaches, history, culture, nature, party - and make sure to cover all the bases so you come away "needing a vacation from your vacation." The general plan looks fine and though you may have to rush on in a few spots I think you'll enjoy not overly planning where and when to be where and when.
As mentioned 2-3 days in Chiang Mai probably isn't enough. 3-5 is more likely depending on things you would like to see. The thing that ensnares most people up in Chiang Mai is that there are so many different tours and courses you can take for reasonable prices. That said since you have 2 weeks for Bangkok and Chiang Mai that should be plenty and allow you to see some other places around each of those cities(Ayuttahaya, Kanchanaburi, Chiang Rai, Pai etc).
2 weeks in Cambodia is pretty good. 6-7 days in Kep/Rabbit Island/Kampot/Sihanoukville/Koh Rong, 2 days in Phnom Penh, 2 days in Battambang, 3-4 days in Siem Reap.
Are you planning on travelling overland to Singapore? Seems like it would make more sense to fly from Bangkok since you can fly Air Asia for under $100. Train/bus tickets are going to add up to over half that anyways and it gives you a couple more days somewhere else.
Thanks for your suggestions guys, hugely helpful! We have just finalised our flights so are now into the next stage of actually planning where to go and for how long, so all this information is very useful.
We were planning on flying from Bangkok to Singapore with Air Asia, seeing as its a cheap flight and not too far away. So if we leave Chiang Mai til our last week, then train back for one night in Bangkok, we will fly straight out.
We are particularly interested in cultural things, so any tips on interesting museums/things to do in various cities which will give us a real flavour for the three countries we're going to would be awesome. Thanks!
Ho Chi Minh City must is the war remnants museum. Reunification palace and museum of Vietnamese history are also really good. Day trip to Cu Chi tunnels is pretty good and they will actually drop you off at the war remnants museum if you want(possibly dependant on who you book with). Coming into Cambodia via the Mekong delta will give a good cultural view as well in terms of how they live.
Phnom Penh has Killing Fields, Tuol Sleng Museum and national museum of Cambodia that are all good. Didn't go to royal palace since it was closed but it looked interesting as well.
In Bangkok you have all the main temples, grand palace etc that almost everyone goes to see. Didn't see any other museums etc during that time although there are a few. I did end up getting somewhat scammed which led to a longtail boat ride through the slums which was actually interesting, not cheap though(ended up costing me $60...).
In Chiang Mai have some more temples, many people like Doi Suthep although it is a little ways out of city(reason I didn't end up going). Again I didn't go to any museums here as I didn't have time based on the other things I wanted to do. Chiang Mai you can also check out elephant camps as many people find that interesting.
Just be careful with your plane ticket from Bangkok to Singapore, the train from Chiang Mai is habitually late so make sure you don't buy a ticket expecting it to be on time.