Hi everyone :-)
I'm going to SEA in June and my plan is to travel to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia in 45 days. My question is - is it enough time? My itinerary looks something like this:
* My plan is to begin in Bangkok and then head to Chiang Mai (about 8-9 days).
* Then go to Laos - Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng ( about 8-9 days there).
* Head over to Vietnam, begin with Hanoi (and Halong bay), then go to Hoi An and Nha Trang (about 12 days).
* Then go to Cambodia for about 4-5 nights (Phnom Penh or Siem Reap) and back to Bangkok.
* Go to Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Tao (about 12 days).
I haven't been to SEA before so I'm not sure if I'm overplanning, please help :)
#1 tandbjo has been a member since 6/5/2013. Posts: 5
Seems like partying is one of your main plans so I probably am not overly helpful for you.
Just wanted to mention that you have enough days to see those places but you are missing out on many other places and will also have many long travel days so keep that in mind(unless plan is to fly). I personally would slim it down to 2 or 3 countries if you only have 45 days and try to see more of them but do what makes sense to you.
Thanks for your reply :)
Partying isn't my main plan, it's not my plan at all. Are there any places you would recommend?
#3 tandbjo has been a member since 6/5/2013. Posts: 5
Ok, just kind of figured it was since over half your places are considered somewhat party locations(Bangkok, Vang Vieng, Nha Trang, Ko Pha Ngan) and you are missing out on some good scenery/cultural spots.
What in particular are you hoping to see/get out of this trip? Are you focused on any one aspect(ie culture, scenery, historical sites)? I am guessing you want it to be relaxing since you have so much time on islands etc.
Scenery is my thing and it makes up 2 of my 3 highlights of my trip. They were Khao Sok National Park lake tour in Southern Thailand and Paradise Cave in Vietnam. My other highlight was the temples of Angkor in Siem Reap. I also saw lots of other good sites as well but if you only have 45 days and want to spend a couple weeks relaxing on a beach there is no way you will be able to see them all.
Maybe a good exercise would be for you to explain why you were planning on each of the above places. That way I can probably determine some other good choices for you to consider.
First off you are making a good choice in not trying to see too many places in a short space of time. However, you might even be spending a little too much time in some places! A little more time in Cambodia instead of 9 days in Chiang Mai could be a good idea? That way you could spend a little time in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap , and maybe even get down to Kampot for a night or two. If you are looking for quiet places with not too many tourists and a relaxed atmosphere Kampot is great for that!
But Siem Reap is for me the number 1 destination in Cambodia, and while it is very touristy it's for a good reason, and has a lot to offer all kinds of tourists, from those looking for cheap drinking and a party vibe to fine restaurants and 'cultural' experiences, as well as of course the Angkor temple complex.
Also if partying is not what you're looking for then a couple of weeks in Ko Tao and Pha-Ngan might not suit your needs - Pha-Ngan especially is where hordes of backpackers go every month for the full moon party.
Hope that helps :)
Geer 1: Yeah it seems like I'm missing out, I'll have to reconsider the places I want to go to.
I'm hoping to see beautiful scenery, that's the number one thing. Number two is culture. I don't like historical sites so much. I'm not going to Asia to see billion temples, it's more about experiencing the culture and do something fun (for example go trekking and see the nature).
I want to relax, but that's not my number one thing. I want to end the trip in relaxation. I decided to lengthen my trip from 45 days to 54 days, so I'm guessing little more time can help :)
I'm not really excited about Cambodia, so I'm thinking about spending maximum 4-6 days there.
JaiYen88: I was actually gonna spend 9 days in Bangkok and Chiang Mia :) Thanks for the Kampot idea and thanks for your help :)
#6 tandbjo has been a member since 6/5/2013. Posts: 5
Ah yes, but the temples of Angkor aren't just any old temples ;) Trust me when I say, if you go to Cambodia you absolutely must experience this place. Angkor Wat is the biggest and busiest, but there are many, many more smaller and IMO more interesting ones to visit, and I have spent more than a week in total wandering around exploring and have never been bored (and I'm not that big a fan of just walking around looking at temples, especially modern ones).
In terms of experiencing culture, you might also get more of a taste for local culture in Cambodia, since the Thais are far more used to tourists and frankly mostly sick of them, so you are unlikely to be approached by a Thai person in any tourist area, whereas this happens regularly in Cambodia. Chances are you will be invited to visit a village and have a meal with locals or even go to a wedding if you respond well to their friendliness! Obviously, many people who approach will have something to sell or promote, but lots of people are just genuinely interested and curious about foreigners. Down along the river in Siem Reap you will find lots of younger people relaxing and they are always looking to practice their English and find out about other cultures!
Cambodia is great, don't let the lack of hype turn you down. If found that most people that had been to Cambodia wished they had allotted more time to spend there as most just cruise through while looking at the temples.
The nice thing in Cambodia is the people and just having a nice feel towards tourists. Temples are great and the rest of Cambodia although it lacks really amazing sights is decent enough and gives a good taste of a different culture/life style compared to Thailand which in a lot of ways is quite modern now.
Lengthening your trip to 54 days will definitely help, you should be able to see most of the nice areas. When I get a little more time I will post up kind of an itinerary for you to think about and modify with places that I think would be worth seeing. Are you planning on flying to/from Bangkok?
I've heard that many people go straight through Cambodia.. I think I'll go to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap and spend maybe 6-7 nights there in total.
I'm flying to Bangkok but I'm not sure right now if I'm flying from Bangkok. I'm gonna fly from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur (or Bali - still deciding if I should go to Kuala Lumpur) or go to Kuala Lumpur by bus.
Looking forward to seeing the itinerary, thanks for all your help :)
#9 tandbjo has been a member since 6/5/2013. Posts: 5
Many people do go straight through Cambodia and they miss out imo.
Best places for scenery and culture according to my trip were
Khao Sok National Park lake tour in Thailand, imo the best scenery I saw
Chiang Mai Thailand, good culture feel and lots of different things to see and do
Chiang Rai Thailand, imo the best weekend night market(walking streets not night bazaar, Chiang Mai had best night bazaar) and a couple neat sights and hill tribe experiences if you want to check that out
Nong Khiaw and Muang Ngoi in Laos, nice scenery including a beautiful river and neat cultural experiences on boats and local buses. Slow boat from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang gives some of the same things but imo is too commercialized now.
Luang Prabang Laos, is nice and Kuang Si Falls are great and a nice scooter ride to them
Siem Reap Cambodia, temples are amazing
Battambang Cambodia, some nice people and circus was entertaining
Kampot and Rabbit Island, nice and relaxing with nice tourist feel and decent things to go see and do
Paradise Cave near Dong Hoi in Vietnam, an amazing cave and beautiful scenery as well
Dalat Vietnam, beautiful rolling hills and pine forests
Nha Trang Vietnam, nothing amazing but I enjoyed the diving(first time though so not sure how it compares with other locations)
Hue Vietnam, imperial city and tombs are interesting
Halong Bay, good scenery but imo overrated, polluted and too touristy
I wanted to go to Sapa but weather and time constraints didn't really allow it.
Other places have some decent things(some nice museums in Ho Chi Minh City for example) but for the most part these are the places that I most enjoyed and scenery and culture were my main interests.
As for an itinerary it depends on your flights, if you want to finish with beaches and then swing by Kuala Lumpur on way home I would go north from Bangkok and check out Chiang Mai etc, then east into Laos then you can head east into Vietnam and down the coast and back through Cambodiato Bangkok again. Then head down to southern Thailand and eventually Kuala Lumpur.
Thank you so much for your help :) I've changed my itinerary and I'm much happier with it now.
#11 tandbjo has been a member since 6/5/2013. Posts: 5
I'm glad I came across this thread.. Tandbjo your plans sound amazing. I'm heading to Bangkok at the end of July to stay at a friends house indefinitely. My plan is to spend some time there, and do some of the islands too, but then to travel to Cambodia/Vietnam/Laos. I'm still in very early stages of planning and need to do a lot of research, but was wondering if anyone could give me some ideas of finance for this kind of trip?
I've saved £2000 so far (not including flights from Britain to Bangkok - this is covered outside of this), and won't be paying any accommodation for my time staying in Bangkok. What is a realistic amount of money to expect to spend doing a few weeks of travel going from Bangkok up through Cambodia to Vietnam (I will need to pay for accommodation etc. for this part of my travelling but want to do it as cheap as possible, i.e. hostels etc. - same goes for travel - I'm looking to go overland rather than flying)?
OK, I hate to start you over - but I would eliminate timelines. Go to a place and move on when it's not interesting. Planning times put pressure you don't need. What if you get to Chiang Mai and think it's great and want to stay there 15 days? Why not? That's the whole point of travelling here. It's not about seeing as much as possible. Especially if you are interested in culture, which by definition means learning some of the language. Slow down and get a real feel for the place. If you make this giant loop (everyone always likes the idea of a "loop") you are spending a LOT of time on crappy buses. And I mean a lot and I mean crappy.