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Southeast Asia forum

Please critique my 45 day SE asia itinerary

Posted by relf on 9/4/2008 at 21:07

Arriving in BKK on April 22 and leaving BKK on June 05 (45 days). This is a modified version of the big travelfish itinerary. PLEASE comment!

1) Arrive in Bangkok (early morning); recover from jet lag
2) Leave early to Sukhothai; travel around Sukhothai
3) Spend the day in Sukhothai; take o/n train to Chaing Mai
4,5) Explore Chiang Mai
6) TRAVEL DAY (Chiang Mai to Huay Xai); spend night in Huay Xai
7, 8, 9) Waterfall Gibbon Experience
pend night in Huay Xai
10, 11) Slow boat
12, 13, 14) Explore Luang Prabang
15) Travel from LP to Vang Vieng
16) Explore Vang Vieng
17) Travel from VV to Vientiane; explore Vientiane
18) Explore Vientiane
19) TRAVEL DAY (Vientiane to Pakse); spend night in Pakse
20) Explore Pakse (travel to Ubon ratchathani for o/n train to Bangkok)
21) TRAVEL DAY Bangkok to Aranyaprathet to Siem Reap; spend night in SR
22,23) Explore Angkor Wat
24) Leave early to Phnom Penh, explore PP
25) explore PP
26) TRAVEL DAY (Phnom Penh to HCMC)
27,28) Explore HCMC
29) Fly from HCMC to De Chiang Maig; spend day in Hoi An
30) Explore Hoi An
31) Travel to Hue; spend night in Hue
32) Explore Hue; take o/n train to Hanoi
33) Explore Hanoi
34) Hanoi to Ha Long Bay (package trip)
35) Ha Long Bay
36) Ha Long Bay to Hanoi; explore Hanoi a bit more; o/n train to Lao Cai (for Sapa)
37,38) Explore Sapa (o/n train back to Hanoi)
39) Fly from Hanoi to BKK; travel from BKK to Koh Tao
40-41, 42) Explore Koh Tao (travel back to BKK on last day)
43) Explore Bangkok
44) Day trip to Ayutthaya
45) Leave!

The biggest question marks are the travel days:

a) how long will the trip from Chiang Mai to Huay Xai take? How much is the Green Bus company?

b) what is the fastest/cheapest way to get from Vientiane to Pakse?

c) the Ubon to Bangkok train arrives at 5:50am, and Bangkok to Aranyaprathet train leaves at 5:55 am...will I make it?! (I am backtracking through Thailand to save time…not enough time to visit Tha Khaek, Savannakhet, 4K islands, and don’t want to loop from Phnom Penh to Siam Reap back to Phnom Penh)

d) where is the best place to do a trek? (was thinking chaing mai, but wont have enough time since I want to see the elephants)….how long do the treks take? (day trip, or over night?)
e) any other comments welcome! E.g. spending too much or too little time in a certain place…


#1 relf has been a member since 27/3/2008. Posts: 8

Posted by somtam2000 on 10/4/2008 at 06:04 admin

Hi relf,

That's a pretty ambitious schedule.

First a couple of logistical points.

1) Sukhothai isn't on the train line, the closest train station is Phitsanulok. So I'd suggest train from Bkk to Phitsanulok with a bus connection to Suk, then take the bus from there to Chiang Mai.

2) Day 29 - I assume you mean fly to Da Nang.

3) I'm not sure if one can get from Hanoi to Ko Tao in a day. You'd need to check the flight timetables for your airline.

General pointers
While it's physically possible to do what you're suggesting, it's going to be a pretty hectic 45 days. The following jump out at me:

1) Pakse. I'd suggest skipping Pakse and instead leaving Laos at Vientiane, and getting the train from there to Nakhon Ratchasima then bus onwards to Aranyprathet, overnight there and then onto Siem Reap the next morning. That should save you a couple of days.

2) Perhaps go to Ayutthaya at the start of the trip (before Sukhothai) -- afterall it's on the same train line, and that saves you a diversion at the end of the trip.

3) Unless you're aching to see Hue I'd fly again from Da Nang to Hanoi -- primarily to save time. That should give you an extra day to pad out the trip somewhere.

Your questions:
a) It's pretty much a full day of travel from Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong for the border. Some choose to overnight in CK and cross in the morning, others to cross that evening and overnight in Huay Xai.

b) Fastest is to fly, cheapest is to bus it. It's a long way by bus if you're not breaking it up -- see my suggestion above about skipping it totally.

c) No. The trains are invariably a little late -- theoretically possible, but I'd be gobsmacked if you actually made that connection. See above my comment about exiting via Vientiane instead.

d) Here's a feature about trekking in Thailand -- the advice holds for the whole region. Sapa could be a good spot given your time constraints.

e) I think spending too much time anywhere is the least of your problems! You're packing a lot in but you're also getting to some great places... perhaps ask the boss for an extra week off work?!


#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,941
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Posted by svichy on 10/4/2008 at 11:56


- How do you plan to get to Koh Tao? If you take the train / bus it would take a long time each way. Alternatively, you could fly to Koh Samui and take the ferry. I added a return flight to Koh Samui to my flight from Australia for only $50 extra.

- I am planning a very similar trip myself, including the waterfall experience, but am thinking of travelling to Chiang Rai for a day or two instead of Chiang Mai. CR is closer to the Laos border and appears to be less touristy.

- You could also fly from Vientiane to Siem Reap. I used the Kayak website for flight information, and flights are reasonable at around USD140.

I guess it is all a matter of trade-offs between time and money when selecting the best mode of travel.

Good luck!

#3 svichy has been a member since 21/3/2008. Posts: 3

Posted by relf on 11/4/2008 at 18:16

thanks you two...

i was initially thinking of skipping Pakse, and now i think i will...i found train info from Nong Khai to Nakhon Ratchasima, but where can I find bus info from Nong Khai to Aranyprathet? (I just need to know that its frequent, and relatively cheap)

Regarding Koh Tao...I get into BKK at 11:05, and I was going to train to Chumphon, and then take an overnight ferry into Koh Tao...this should work, right?

lastly, what are the main "things to see and do" in PAKSE and HUE?

thanks again!

#4 relf has been a member since 27/3/2008. Posts: 8

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