Ok, I've read through travelfish and done plenty of research, and this is what I've come up with for my upcoming trip with my husband to SE asia.
Please give us your criticisms and advice...
Itinerary for Thailand-Laos-Cambodia trip
Dec. 12-14th Bangkok - Ayutthaya – 3 days –train to Chiang Mai
Dec. 15-17th Chiang Mai – 3 days (cooking lesson?)
Dec. 17th- 18th Huay Xai – 1 day (stop enroute to Luang Namtha)
Dec. 19th- 24th Luang Namtha or Muang Sing– 5 days (trekking, 24th travel to Muang Khua)
Dec. 25th -28th Boat trip down Nam Ou river: Muang Khua – Muang Ngoi – Luang Prabang
Dec. 28th – Dec. 31st Luang Prabang –– day trips (waterfalls, caves, hikes, temples)
Jan. 1st – 3rd Vang Vieng –– tubing, chilling out
Jan. 4th - 6th Vientiane
Jan. 7th -9th Nong Khai, bus to Udon Thani for flight to Bangkok
Jan 10th –Depart Bangkok for Khao Lak (overnight bus)
Jan. 11th - 19th Khao Lak –beach time, dive expedition to Similans, Ao Phang Nga marine park – back to Bangkok overnight bus on 19th
Jan. 20th - 21nd Bangkok – depart for Siem Reap
Jan. 22nd - 25th Siem Reap – Angkor Wat
Jan. 26th - Jan. 28th Phnom Penh – fly to Bangkok
Jan. 29th-Feb.3rd – Bangkok, shopping, maybe a short break to Koh Samet (if we want more beach time and a little partying)
Feb. 3rd – Flight out
#1 plawhon has been a member since 7/11/2007. Posts: 2
Your itinerary looks technically sound to me, although you'll be spending a great deal of your time getting from place to place rather than being there. I know it is difficult to decide what to cut out, but you might want to think about spending more time in fewer places.
As far as specifics go, be sure to book your train from Ayutthaya to Bangkok (I'm guessing you want to take the overnight sleeper train?) before you arrive in Thailand to make sure you get the space you want on the day/time you want.
I'd also book your hotel ahead of time in Luang Prabang if possible (although many places don't book ahead) to make sure you've got a place to stay during that busy time.
The buses from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng all leave early in the morning as far as I remember. That might be something to keep in mind if you were planning to stay up late to welcome in the New Year.
You might also want to consider taking the overnight train from Nong Khai to Bangkok rather than flying from Udon Thani to Bangkok.
Similarly, you might consider flying into Phuket and taking a bus up to Khao Lak rather than taking the overnight bus. I only mention that because I really don't like taking the overnight buses in Thailand and don't think they are particularly safe.
I hope those comments help. Have fun!
I'd have to agree with exacto, being constantly on the move, either travelling or taking tours, hiking etc for 7 weeks will be exhausting - you have only allowed a few days for chilling out/beach time.
I'd suggest visiting fewer places for longer periods, then if you find you are ready to move on you have the freedom to make the decision to go somewhere else. I know you are travelling at a very busy time but imagine finding somewhere you absolutely love and have to leave because you have committed yourselves to another booking elsewhere.
#3 marianwarren has been a member since 12/3/2006. Posts: 270
Thanks both of you for your replies and advice.
If we were going to reduce the itinerary, does anything spring to mind as redundant or less important?
We just did a 9 week trip in Central America in August-October and the longest we stayed in one place was around 6 days (in Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica; Leon, Nicaragua; San Pedro, Guatemala; and Mexico City). In some of these places it actually started to get boring just sitting around with other backpackers in a "traveller town" not really doing anything. Other than that we were moving between places every 2-3 days. Nevertheless we didn't really feel we were rushing around too much. Actually we often enjoyed the journey of getting from one place to another as much as being there.
I understand that traveling in Asia is more relaxed and chilled out. We weren't really planning to reserve places more than a few days ahead of time, so getting locked into future bookings shouldn't be a problem (assuming we can find available rooms). Also, although we like to visit lots of places, we aren't the types who feel we have to see and do everything that is available in one place. That gets exhausting.
Some ideas I had to simplify:
Skip the second half of the Nam Ou river trip and travel by road from Muang Ngoi to LP-would this even save time?
Less time in Vientiane and more in LP
Fly to Phuket (just found an Air Asia ticket for less than $20 after taxes)
In any case, the whole point of making a detailed itinerary is to have a plan to depart from when things change...that's what happened in Central America, and I'm sure it will happen here as well.
#4 plawhon has been a member since 7/11/2007. Posts: 2
Hi again plawhon
I can only comment on the places I have been - 11 days in Chiang Mai was easy - love the place. Huay Xai - 1 day was enough. Luang Nam Tha 3 days perfect. LP arrived late afternoon 4 nights ideal. Vang Vieng late arrival 2 nights was enough for me. Vientiane 2 nights sufficient but do visit Buddha park - amazing place, as is the trip out there by local bus). Siem Reap - bought 3 day pass for Angkor but felt I could have ditched the 3rd day but doesn't cost any extra so you have a degree of flexibility. Phnom Penh worth 2/3 days.
I too love travelling from place to place - will spend entire journeys staring out the window of buses.
#5 marianwarren has been a member since 12/3/2006. Posts: 270
"Jan. 4th - 6th Vientiane
Jan. 7th -9th Nong Khai, bus to Udon Thani for flight to Bangkok"
This doesn't make sense to me. You'd be much better off flying straight from Vientiane to Bangkok.
In Chiang Mai I can recommend the Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School - the original and the best. You can book in advance at www.thaicookeryschool.com
Book your Ayutthaya-Chiang Mai ticket as soon as you arrive. The train is often full (particularly in 1st and 2nd class - and you wouldn't want to do the trip 3rd class, honest!).
"Jan. 29th-Feb.3rd – Bangkok, shopping, maybe a short break to Koh Samet (if we want more beach time and a little partying)"
You can easily see all the major tourist sites in Bangkok in 2-3 days. This seems too long to me. I suggest you plan for a Koh Samet trip.
#6 Oswulf has been a member since 13/11/2007. Posts: 3
4-5 years ago I visited Vientianne,Vang vieng,& Luang Prabang . If I was returning (I am in Jan to LP!) and had 8-9 days, I'd spend Vientienne-1 day; Vang Vieng-2-3 days; Luang Prabang 4-5 days. I've seen 55+ countries-never have I liked a place the size of Luang Prabang as much as Luang Prabang. Iam returning and plan to spend 8-11 days there- maybe 4 in LP and 5 around LP, boat/village trips,etc. If you like seeing traditional monks(and on alms round!) this is the best place in all of Asia. LP has wide boulevards,cafes , charm, ideally situated at the meeting of the Mekong & another river , I think,maybe wrong. In my book its the BEST. ....V. vieng I really enjoyed. Hear tubing is good, but be cautios.when I visited the capitol was a dusty place totally under repair. Maybe its better now.
In high season,LP gets fully booked.
Hope this helps
#7 dvdwilensky has been a member since 30/11/2009. Posts: 2