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Itinerary help! Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand Feb 2016

Posted by SnowBird888 on 14/12/2015 at 20:42

Hello! New here. My trip (I'm a 30 year old solo female traveler) is rapidly approaching and I haven't put much of an itinerary together, so I'd like some help/advice! I fly into Saigon, arriving January 29th, flying out of there on February 28th. I know that isn't long enough to see all of what each country has to offer, but I'm hoping to get a nice taste of each. I'm more interested in history, culture and nature than I am in partying. A very rough itinerary:

Arrive into Saigon, spend a week exploring the area and Mekong Delta.

Train(?) into Phnom Penh for a few days, then up into Siem Reap for a few days for Angkor Wat. Will 1 week be enough for both?

Onto Thailand. I most likely will skip Bangkok and fly into Phuket from Siem Reap. I'm looking into taking a 3 night/4 day sailing trip to Koh Phi Phi and spend a few days there. (I know both places are kind of party areas, but my family has a time share in Phuket and I very much want to visit the southern islands.) Perhaps 10 days total in the area? Anything near there I can't miss that's a little less touristy? (But still safe for a lone female)

I plan to fly back into Saigon for a couple days before flying out. If I have time, I may check out another place before heading back to Saigon. As I said, this is a very rough itinerary. If anyone can pitch in ideas, I would be very grateful! I've been very busy so I haven't had much time to research.

Also looking for the best (and most humane) place for elephant rides, and best restaurants to eat tarantula.

I also have a 24 hour layover in Seoul on my way back, if anyone has any recommendations for how to spend a day there.

Thank you much! :)

#1 SnowBird888 has been a member since 13/12/2015. Posts: 12

Posted by exacto on 14/12/2015 at 21:25

Seoul Incheon airport is a great place for a long layover. There are sleep lounges and showers on the fourth floor in the transit area, and the last time I went through, the showers were no cost. The shower rooms included a toilet and sink too, and you could rent a towel for a few dollars if you need.

Check the arrivals area for day tours into the city. They are often deeply discounted during the winter months. I think I paid in the $25 range for a half-day tour that included transportation, a tour of the imperial palace, a walk through the downtown pedestrian area, and a Korean lunch. There were other tour options too.

If you prefer to do it more on your own, you can catch trains or buses into town.

Just remember that late February will likely be very cold in Korea. But you can layer up with everything warm you have to wear, and as I recall the tour company had loaner coats for the day tours because most of us were on our way back to North America after visits to warmer places. Have fun.

#2 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,831

Posted by SnowBird888 on 18/12/2015 at 19:27

Thanks! I plan to couchsurf during my layover and either take a tour or just explore what is near where I stay. :)

#3 SnowBird888 has been a member since 13/12/2015. Posts: 12

Posted by Bangbang on 24/12/2015 at 03:06

In my opinion, one month is suffificent for your trip in these countries. Because you said you are interested in culture, history and nature, I recommend you to spend one week in the North of Vietnam. 3 days in Saigon is good for you to explore Mekong Delta, Cu Chi Tunnel, the temples and museums. Saigon is known for entertaining with nightclub more than for culture. Hanoi offers more history and culture than you may find in Saigon. The places I recommend you to visit in Vietnam is Mekong Delta, Mui Ne, Ninh Binh, Mai Chau, Hoi An, Ha Long Bay. Of course, you cannot visit all of them but select some that you think most suitable for your taste and travel plan. [img]smileys/smile.gif[/img].

There is no much to see in Cambodia so 1 week in Phnompenh and Siem Reap is good.

You seem to have good plan for your journey in Thailand so I cannot add more. Hope you enjoy your trip. Go girl!

#4 Bangbang has been a member since 24/12/2015. Posts: 5

Posted by TerroirTravel on 29/12/2015 at 10:35


Just a couple of quick thoughts-
1) there are no trains in Cambodia. Don't take a night bus!
2) I don't believe that it's possible to support elephant riding ethically. Even if there are no bull hooks and chains, there is still the Phajaan. Google it, it's the crushing of the spirit to "tame" them. Visit a sanctuary like Elephant Nature Park where retired and injured go, it's much better for your karma and you get to interact with them, walk, bathe, it's a thing you can feel good about supporting.

#5 TerroirTravel has been a member since 1/2/2014. Posts: 76

Posted by daawgon on 31/12/2015 at 19:46

You're missing the best of Vietnam - Hanoi, Sapa and Hoi An!

#6 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Location: Vietnam. Posts: 1,159

Posted by SnowBird888 on 1/1/2016 at 20:56

Thanks for all your advice! Yeah, I'm flip flopping back and forth about the elephant riding...

My itinerary is taking much better shape, and some things have changed... So far I have this:

Arrive in Saigon Jan 29, then leave on Feb 2 for a 3 day 2 night boat trip on the mekong river, exiting in Phnom Penh,

Feb 5 arrive for 4 days in Phnom Penh, leave Feb 8 for bus (day) to Siem Reap

4(?) days in Siem Reap, leave Feb 12

Then I have a pretty free schedule as I changed my mind about the sailing trip. (The cost of the trip is the same as my flight ticket. Too pricey.) I was thinking of taking a plane up to Chiang Mai for a few days, then down to southern Thailand to visit some islands (I know it's a strange thing, but I would like to visit areas affected by the 2004 tsunami. I'm an earth science nerd and it's just interesting to me. It's actually what inspired my whole trip. I don't want to exploit, I'm just curious. I know there is a museum near Khao Lak, would that be a good place to go to? I know it's more of a resort town...)

The above I think would be about a week and a half, then I would fly back to Saigon before flying out. If I have a couple days, maybe I'll visit another Vietnam city beforehand. I know I'm missing the best of that country, but I know without a doubt I'll be back. ;)

So half of my itinerary is set. I just have Thailand to figure out. lol

#7 SnowBird888 has been a member since 13/12/2015. Posts: 12

Posted by SnowBird888 on 1/1/2016 at 21:48

Edit to above post: I would leave Phnom Penh on the 9th, and leave Siem Reap on the 13th.

#8 SnowBird888 has been a member since 13/12/2015. Posts: 12

Posted by SnowBird888 on 3/1/2016 at 23:18

How does this sound?

Feb 13th fly from Siem Reap to Phuket
3 full days in Phuket

Feb 17th fly from Phuket to Chiang Mai
4/5 full days in Chiang Mai

Feb 21st or 22nd, fly from Chiang Mai to Hanoi
4/5 full days in Hanoi

Feb 26th fly from Hanoi to Saigon for my flight out on the 28th.

Is that too rushed? Too much flying? To me it's sounding good for what I want to do, plus I get to see more of Vietnam. :)

#9 SnowBird888 has been a member since 13/12/2015. Posts: 12

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