I am planning a trip to Southeast Asia next summer, and plan to bring along my two girls...ages 13 and 15 at the time of travel. Due to school schedules we will arrive the last week of May and leave the first week of August. (We live in the Southern US, so are used to summertime showers throughout almost every day. They come and go and rarely last long before the sun is back out. From what I've read it seems SEA's rainy season is similar so I think we will be ok in that regard.) While I have no doubt my girls will love and appreciate this experience, I do worry about their ability to handle such travel. In addition to culture shock and sensory overload, they will have to carry their own packs and move a lot. Does anyone have experience traveling with children/teenagers, and if so can you offer any advice? As three women traveling alone in a foreign country, is there anything (beyond common sense) that we should be especially aware of?
I am including our itinerary in the hopes that someone can provide some insight there as well. While I have done extensive research, this is still a rough draft and I am open to ANY and ALL suggestions. If you have first hand knowledge, I'd love to hear from you! What have been your best/worst experiences? Is there a city we should spend more/less time in? We are planning 2-3 days at the beginning of our trip to compensate for jet lag, etc. Then our itinerary is as follows:
1 - Bangkok
2 - Bangkok to Kanchanaburi
3 - Kanchanaburi
4 - Kanchanaburi
5 - Kanchanaburi to Chumphon to Ko Tao
6 - Ko Tao
7 - Ko Tao
8 - Ko Tao to Ko Pha Ngan
9 - Ko Pha Ngan
10 - Ko Pha Ngan
11 - Ko Pha Ngan to Ko Samui
12 - Ko Samui
13 - Ko Samui to Bangkok
14 - Bangkok
15 - Bangkok
16 - Bangkok
17 - Bangkok
18 - Bangkok to Lopburi
19 - Lopburi
20 - Lopburi to Sukhothai
21 - Sukhothai
22 - Sukhothai
23 - Sukhothai
24 - Sukhothai to Chaing Mai
25 - Chaing Mai
26 - Chaing Mai
27 - Chaing Mai to Chaing Rai
28 - Chaing Rai
29 - Chaing Rai
30 - Chaing Rai to Huay Xai
31 - Huay Xai to Luang Prabang
32 - Luang Prabang
33 - Luang Prabang
34 - Luang Prabang
35 - Luang Prabang to Vientiane
36 - Vientiane
37 - Vientiane
38 - Vientiane to Hanoi
39 - Hanoi
40 - Hanoi
41 - Hanoi
42 - Hanoi to Hue
43 - Hue to Hoi An
44 - Hoi An
45 - Hoi An
46 - Hoi An to Nha Trang
47 - Nha Trang
48 - Nha Trang
49 - Nha Trang
50 - Nha Trang to Ho Chi Minh City
51 - Ho Chi Minh City
52 - Ho Chi Minh City
53 - Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh
54 - Phnom Penh
55 - Phnom Penh
56 - Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
57 - Siem Reap
58 - Siem Reap
59 - Siem Reap to Battambang
60 - Battambang
61 - Battambang to Bangkok
Thanks in advance!!!
#1 mandanickel has been a member since 19/7/2013. Posts: 6
Sounds like a great experience for you and your girls - I'm sure they'll love it.
A few thoughts - you've got about 20 places listed, which is a lot for 2 months. Keeping up that paste can be pretty tiring, especially since quite a few of the transfers will take a long time. I'd suggest you cut back a bit to give yourself some more time before moving on again.
- I don't know the Thai islands at all, but I suspect getting from island to island might take a while, so you might want to amalgamate a bit in the beginning. Someone else can probably advise you better than I can on the islands.
- Bangkok: from the sound of things you have a couple of days in Bangkok when you first arrive, and then about 5 days again later in the trip. This may be a bit much, unless you really like cities (I like cities myself, but they do tend to be very westernized, so I'd rather have more time for other places).
- I'd skip Lop Buri personally (less to see than some other places on your list).
- I loved Sukhothai and Chaing Mai. I've also heard it said that Chaing Rai is like a smaller, quieter version of to Chaing Mai - a good base for treking trips but less to physically do there than Chaing Mai, so whether you hit one, or the other, or both depends on what draws you to northern Thailand.
- It looks like you're passing through Hue for a very short amount of time - there's a lot to see so you might want to add a day or two here.
Most importantly, don't feel that you have to slavishly follow your itinerary. If you feel like hanging around a few extra days in any place, then do so.
Have a wonderful time.
You have quite the list for 2 months.
As a general rule in SEA expect that each time you travel from place to place you will take up the better part of a day...Taxis, checking in/out of hotels and airports, travel times between destinations, traffic, late flights and missed connections - all need to be taken into account. Don't expect to do much more than getting from A to B on your international travel days - if you do - great! But I wouldn't count on it.
My only suggestion regarding changing your schedule would be to give yourselves some island time at the end of it. You have 2 weeks set aside for Bangkok and some islands near the start of you trip. You might want to consider spending less time there initially. Personally, I enjoy some island time near the end. Perfect way to finish off a trip. And you could do some shopping in Bangkok right before you go home so your not carrying things around for 2 months...
Thank you Tyler! I think the hardest part of planning so far (for me) has been travel details. I've had trouble determining the best route between places and also travel time. Is there a site you could recommend for a little more info? I had found a schedule once with bus and train travel differentiated as well as travel time, but haven't been able to find it again. For now I will factor in your one day rule, especially for country to country.
Also, the more I think about it...island time at the end would be fantastic! I suppose I could start the journey from Bangkok to Sukkothai and when I circle back to Bangkok at the end of the trip I could fit some islands in there. I'm going to spend some time today "rescheduling".
Thanks again for all your help!
#4 mandanickel has been a member since 19/7/2013. Posts: 6
www.seat61.com can help you with your bus and train tickets. I'd be a bit leery about booking these far in advance. Unless your willing to eat the ticket prices if you change you're mind about things when you're there.
Much of the fun in SEA is just letting it all happen...often less is more. Like antonia says - you don't have to follow your plan perfectly. Just have a general direction with a few places you feel you have to experience and let life fill in the gaps.
If you expect your pre-paid for buses, trains, taxis and flights to be on time every time - you're setting yourself up for some serious disappointment. For example - I've taken the bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap several times in both directions. I've made the trip in about 6 hours most times. Other times it has been 8 or 9 hours.
And you'll be there in the rainy season - I would expect everything to be late :)
That site is SO helpful! Thanks for the push in the right direction. I am planning on buying the tickets as needed, but would like to have an idea of travel time/cost beforehand.
I don't expect anything to be on time, and I'm not one to strictly follow a schedule as I like adventure and realize that most of the fun happens unexpectedly. I've never left the US though, and I want to know as much about the country, the culture, and the travel logistics before I go so that I can really appreciate everything and not stress about being unprepared.
One more question: How rainy is the rainy season? We live in New Orleans, La, so we are used to hot weather and rainy summers. From what I've read so far the climate seems similar. We usually get a thundershower every day in late summer, but they rarely last more than an hour or so. Is the rainy season in SEA extreme? Should we worry about access or transportation in any particular area? And how are the beaches during rainy season?
#6 mandanickel has been a member since 19/7/2013. Posts: 6
I tend to look forward to the rain - a bit of a break from the sun. But I'm sure you've seen the news in the past few years ie. Bangkok flooding - so it can get very bad. Just keep your eyes and ears open when you are there. If you are prepared to change things up then I wouldn't worry too much about it.
When it gets closer to your expected departure you could post questions that are more specific to where you are going and when. Lots of people on this site live in SEA and can give you up to date information.