I’ve booked a trip to SE Asia for late April and I could use some help/advice about the itinerary I’ve planned so far.
April 22 – Depart
April 23 – Arrive in Hanoi (late evening)
April 24 – Explore Hanoi (Old Quarter, Temple of Literature, Etc…)
April 24 – Day trip/cruise of Halong Bay
April 25 – Explore Hanoi (Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Ngoc Son Temple, etc…)& Evening flight to Luang Prabang
April 26 – Explore Luang Prabang
April 27 – Explore Luang Prabang & overnight bus to Vientiane
April 28 – Explore Vientiane (Pha That Luang, Xieng Khuan, Wat Si Saket, Patuxai, Haw Pha Kaew, etc…)
April 29 – Morning flight to Siem Reap & Explore temples of Angkor Wat
April 30 – Explore temples of Angkor Wat
May 1 – Morning bus to Phnom Penh & Explore Phom Penh (Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, etc…)
May 2 – Explore Phnom Penh (Killing Fields, Wat Phnom, etc…)
May 3 – Morning bus to Ho Chi Minh City & Explore Ho Chi Minh City
May 5 – Explore Ho Chi Minh City (Cholon, Reunification Palace)& Overnight flight to Seoul
May 6 – Full day layover in Seoul (explore Seoul or Incheon)& Evening flight home
First of all, does this seem like a doable itinerary? Aside from that:
• Should I skip Vientiane and go directly to Siem Reap so that I have an extra day some place else?
• Is the Perfume Pagoda worth going to?
• Is 2 days in Luang Prabang enough?
• I was really hoping to at least squeeze in some time at a beach, but with budget and time constraints, I don’t really see how. Any ideas?
• Any recommendations/suggestions in general? I definitely want to go to Luang Prabang and Angkor Wat, but other than that, I’m pretty open.
#1 collapsis12 has been a member since 4/3/2009. Posts: 4
A couple of notes:
This is a LOT to see in a very limitied timeframe.
Apr 24 -- the day trip to Ha Long Bay is a FULL day trip, so you won't be able to do the other sightseeing you mention on that day.
You don't have time for Perfume Pagoda in my opinion.
Beach - no time!
It's already a jam packed itinerary -- I'd lean towards ditching at least one stop -- Vientiane is the most obvious candidate, or else shave a day off Phnom Penh.
#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,770
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I agree with SomTam. Your itinerary doesn't even seem to leave much room for sleeping (overnight flights & buses don't count the same as a night in a good bed), nevermind some rest and relaxation. You'll probably come home even more exhausted than before you left.
I think you would have a much more enjoyable trip if you tried to do less places and spent more time there. I've just spent a few months in Asia (and leave at the end of March) and my thoughts are:
Skip Vientiane in favour of more time in Luang Prabang / Siem Reap . It's a long bus trip from Luang Prabang to Vientiane and then a very very early flight to Siem Reap. Just fly from Luang Prabang to Siem Reap (and it probably won't cost much more - I think there's a vietnam airlines flight).
It's about 5-6 hours on the bus to Phnom Penh so you might not get too much sightseeing done. Having said that, I would consider skipping it and going straight through to Ho Chi Minh, or just spending the one afternoon if you really want to break up the bus trip to Ho Chi Minh.
As for Seoul, I actually have a layover there at the end of March. (Are you flight to Canada, by any chance?) Just be aware that the airport is quite aways from the downtown area. There is a good bus, but it's about an hour in, and then another hour back, and with security, etc., you might not be able to spend much time in Seoul. Besides, you'll likely be exhausted by then!
#3 amazon_blonde has been a member since 20/12/2008. Posts: 116
Thanks for the advice Amazon-blonde and Somtam2000!
I think I've pretty much decided to skip Vientiane (sadly) and spend more time in Luang Prabang before flying down to Siem Reap. There's definately things that I want to see in Vientiane, but the real reason I'm going to Laos is Luang Prabang, so I'd rather spend more time there.
Amazon_blonde, my Seoul layover is actually enroute to Seattle. Are you flying Asiana? It seems that most of their trans-pacific flights have day-long layovers. I hear that there are actually tours you can arrange from the airport for a few hours of Seoul or the DMZ for people in just that situation. I actually have a friend in Seoul though, so I think I will probably just meet up with her and have her show me around for a few hours or so before heading back to the airport.
It's definately a jam-packed trip, but I can't wait. (especially since it currently snowing where I live now...again)
#4 collapsis12 has been a member since 4/3/2009. Posts: 4
I'm on an Air Canada flight from Hanoi to Toronto, but the Hanoi to Seoul portion is an Asiana flight (code share with AC). And yes, we had no alternative but to do a crazy 13-hour layover ... so we decided to stay 3 days instead. The routing is Hanoi-Seoul-Vancouver-Toronto, so with the layover it would have been a horrible monster day. I'd rather break it up. So we'll be spending a few days in Seoul -- I just hope we don't freeze!
I sounds like you have the skinny on Seoul. I just wanted to make sure you knew the airport was way out of town. I haven't given much thought to our time there yet - I've been focussing on SEA.
I'm sure you'll have a great trip. I really liked Vientiane and thought it had a good vibe, but the sights are not terribly impressive after you've been to Luang Prabang, so try not to worry about missing it. If you're pressed for time in Luang Prabang, I definitely recommend Tamarind: A Taste of Laos. They provide great food and education about that food. It's well priced too.
The StayAnotherDay.Org website is a great source of info on socially responsible businesses, if you haven't checked that out yet.
#5 amazon_blonde has been a member since 20/12/2008. Posts: 116
Just a heads-up that you'll need a multiple Viet visa if you dont' have one already since you're leaving Vietnam and re-entering again.
I'd also agree that skipping Vientiane to re-allocate time for Luang Prabang and/or Siem Reap would be wise. Likewise, it'll be a long day, but I think you could travel by VIP bus from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, visit the Silver Pagoda, S-21/Toul Sleng and the 'Killing Fields' in ONE very long day and you could save an extra day that way. Sounds like you've got tons of energy so go for it!
PS--it's been many years since I flew Asiana but they did provide a hotel for sleeping OR a city tour with their long lay-overs in the past. Hope they still do.
#6 seagypsy has been a member since 5/2/2009. Posts: 136
I go further than all the above, as you've scheduled it, your holiday is based on travel - not being in places and sightseeing / experiencing the culture / etc.
If you really are an addict for buses, trains and planes, do it in your home country!
I'd go so far as to say that you would be well advised to enter Vietnam on 22 April, and NOT depart that country till May 5.
Just reschedule to travel between HaNoi & SaiGon, 'doing' the various places along the route (maybe even Dalat) by LAND.
3 days HaNoi, including HaLong - stupid!
Angkor needs 4 days just to tickle the edges!
same same LP
Think about it from another perspective (than that conveyed in your proposed itinerary). How will you 'engage' with Asian people, learn their customes, pick up on the differences between your culture and theirs, etc. etc.
The reality is that the opportunities to 'engage' don't come unless you are relaxed in the place, you're comfortable with Asian ways (and you won't get to do this if you spend most of your time in transport / airplanes / etc).
Chill out the travel, and seek to spend quality time on the ground.
Oh, and another thing, plan NOT to eat western food while in Asia. NO hamburgers, NO western breakfast, NO shakes, NO fries, NO junk food. Only then might you get a feeling for their way of doing things.