Myself and a friend are planning a 3 week (max time we can take off work) trip and hope to visit Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam next April/May.
From reading other posts I feel this may be ambitious for the time we have.
Things at the moment are very vague of what we would like to do, but so far include Angkor Wat temples/Siem Reap, we would like to visit a wildlife/rescue centre and interact with the animals. The usual 'tourist' stuff ride an elephant, feed a tiger cub etc. We'd also like to visit some of the beaches and go to a Full Moon party in Thailand.
We will be flying from Manchester, possibly in to Bangkok, but this is open to change depending on the best routes etc to take.
What I'd like is peoples opinions on the best route to take, sights to see and best way to travel/places to stay. We are prepared to fly from the main destinations rather than the overnight buses etc to save as much time as possible.
Any help/advice is much appreciated.
Full Moon Party. A hot topic of conversation on the forum at the moment. I have never been but the consensus among the ex-pats and those who've been seems to be to avoid it like the plague unless you enjoy your drink being spiked, drugs being planted on you or being sexually assaulted (particularly relevant if you're female).
In your timeframe I'd defo limit it to two countries, potentially just the one. Although if you really want to see Angkor Wat then you could do 2.5 weeks in Thailand with a side trip there (fly it).
Alternatively three weeks in Vietnam alone would be great, but that wouldn't really fit in with a trip to Angkor Wat.
#6 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 738
If you've got your heart set on a Thai full moon party (FMP), you're then going to have to plan around when the full moon is and work the rest out from there. You can miss out beaches in Vietnam or Cambodia, and focus on a couple of cities and a bit of countryside. Other than partying on the beach and seeing animals, what do you like to do?
April/May is the hot season over here (up to 40C and lots of humidity), which might be a shock coming straight from Manchester! I'd recommend you don't try to cram too much into every day, so you have time to enjoy things and don't get heat exhaustion.
Vietnam is long and thin, so travel there will take up quite a bit of time. In only three weeks, I'd be tempted to prioritise two countries, say Thailand and Cambodia, or Cambodia and Vietnam or a lot of your time will be spent travelling, which can be surprisingly tiring. If you haven't been to South East Asia before, then Bangkok can be a good place to start, as it may seem a little more familiar. However, it's also much bigger than Phnom Penh or Ho Chi Minh City/Hanoi, and can therefore be trickier to get around.
Within Cambodia, you can fly between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. You can also fly from PP to Ho Chi Minh City, but the bus only takes about 4 hours, so when you factor in time at the airports etc, it's about the same. Remember that you will need a visa in advance for Vietnam, which is not the case for Thailand or Cambodia. You can get a 15 day free Thai visa on arrival at the airport, and buy a month's tourist visa for $20 at Cambodian airports and border crossings.
There's an excellent wildlife centre outside Phnom Penh called Phnom Tamao, about 35km from the city. They offer a special behind the scenes tour which includes tigers and elephants (http://www.wildlifealliance.org/page/view/383/wildlife-tours). The cost is about $150 which supports the rescue and upkeep of the animals.
Hope this helps!
Thanks guys. I am now questioning the FMP... I think on the grander scale, the temples and experiences (sanctuaries etc) are higher up the priority list than the FMP. As it stands sticking to Cambodia and Thailand is going to be the way we go.
I would like to visit some of the beaches and I've heard that Phuket is probably the best place for this, are there any that are better than others, more accessible to get to in the time scale that I have? Or would it be better/easier to stick to beaches further north?
I don't mind the cities and would like to fit them in, probs Bangkok a day or so before flying home but I'm more of a country/scenic girl. What we would like to perhaps do is go to one or two of the villages and see how the locals live, maybe even spend the day helping out in a school or something. I don't know how possible all of this is or if it's easy to arrange?
Phuket has some great beaches but the island is fairly expensive now and there's a lot of tourists. They do have some quieter beaches but then transport can be an issue. Not a fan of Phuket.
I much prefer Krabi, Trang or Koh Chang areas. Read the site or google them and see for yourself. I also find looking at youtube is helpful. Just type those names into youtube and you'll see what they are like.
youtube is a good way to see what a destination is like. more useful than any guidebook description.
Thanks for your advice, I'll have a look on YouTube and see whats around, I don't want something that's over run with tourists and we hope by going in April/May time things will be a bit quieter.
Are Krabi, Trang or Koh Chang areas easy enough to get to by bus etc?