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Southeast Asia forum

Trip Advice Thailand, Cambodia or Laos

Posted by anandgrafiti on 13/5/2009 at 13:26

Hey friends,
A group of friends from India are planning for a 10 day trip to south east asia via Bangkok. We are looking at a leisurely travel with close encounters with nature, places, culture and heritage experience on tight/moderate budget. The trip is planned between late October to mid November. Which among these places would you recommend us?

We dont intend to cover all three countries in one go.

#1 anandgrafiti has been a member since 13/5/2009. Posts: 21

Posted by brucemoon on 13/5/2009 at 14:26


Simple, one country, two (close-ish) regions.

So, entry BKK, say 2 days: 3 nights (or 2 nights with ON train to CM).

Fly/train Chaing Mai, 2 days (2 nights) in and around CM.

Bus to Pai - swim with elephants, river rafting - 1 day travel/accommodation, 1 day 'fun': 2 nights.

Bus to Mae Hong Son - trekking in ethnic tribal areas - 2 days; 3 nights.

Return BKK.

Or similar.


#2 brucemoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

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Posted by anandgrafiti on 13/5/2009 at 14:59

Thank you...

Can that itinerary include a trip to Ankor?

ALso, between cambodia and laos which place will you recommend for for price vs value for money?

I would be pleased to get an itinerary for Laos too. Not really keen on spending days in BKK

Appreciate your advice :)

#3 anandgrafiti has been a member since 13/5/2009. Posts: 21

Posted by somtam2000 on 13/5/2009 at 16:55 admin

Good advice there from brucemoon -- anandgrafiti you may want to take a look at the suggested itineraries as well -- there's a lot of info there too. A sample Laos one is here:

#4 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,933
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Posted by anandgrafiti on 13/5/2009 at 17:14

I came across this
But instead of flying from Luang Prabong to BK, how about taking a boat to Thailand? How long does it take down river on regular boats? Are speed boats worth a try?

#5 anandgrafiti has been a member since 13/5/2009. Posts: 21

Posted by brucemoon on 13/5/2009 at 19:03


I suggest you are missing the point raised by both myself and SomTam.

In terms of visiting SE Asia, 10 days is not a very long time.

Put this point another way, if a visitor wanted to visit India, what places would you suggest? Would you tell them to travel to Trivandrum, then Bangalore, then Madras, then Hyderabad, then Mumbai, then Kolkata, then Varanasi and Lucknow, and onto Indore, then across to Ahmadabad, and maybe up to Delhi, before exploring Amritsa?

Surely not. One would need more than 10 days.

In the same way, you are searching to do just as much in SE Asia.

If you don't want to spend time in BKK, sobeit.

The point is not to keep asking what people think about far flung places. Rather, go look at the places already suggested. Go look at the Travelfish advices suggested by SomTam.

Make up your own journey.

If you have concerns, then come back and ask people what they think of your plans.

Till then, keep researching.


#6 brucemoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by anandgrafiti on 13/5/2009 at 21:24

Hey hats twas rather harsh!
anyways, i know i cant cover the entire south east Asia at one go. I clearly posted that i dont intend to cover all the countries. I just asked few questions. One being value for money. As i would like to travel on a tight budget, i wanted to know which country is cheap in terms of entry visas, food acco etc. Secondly, in the itinery posted i wanted to know if there is a way to return to Vientiane from Luang Prabang not by Air or road (air expensive, road repetitive)but though waterway as we get to see some more of the country.

The suggestion from somtam is the first one you get when you become a travelfish member isnt it? so yes, i did go through it and it did not answer my questions.

I will do more research, if i dont get answers here:)


#7 anandgrafiti has been a member since 13/5/2009. Posts: 21

Posted by Tilapia on 13/5/2009 at 23:38


You're going to be catching the end of the monsoon season, so you may want to check the weather map on this site and discuss amongst yourselves whether or not you want to take a chance on certain areas.

That said, with the time you have, you could do a loop that includes Angkor, by going overland to Siem Reap via Aranyaphrathet, then down to Phnom Pehn, then Sihanoukville and then back to Koh Kong and Thailand by ferry. It would take about 10 days and would be pretty inexpensive. You could also do the trip in the opposite direction.

Visas will be available at the border crossing, and you'll get one in Thailand on arrival (assuming that your nationality doesn't require one.) You can get them at most of the border crossings into Laos and Cambodia.

You could also check out Kanchanaburi and Sangkhlaburi. Lots to see and do around those places, and you'd get most of what you are looking for, and more, as well as a few days in Bangkok to check out the temples and markets.

Yes, you can go from LP to Vientiane, but only by speedboat. These, besides being obnoxiously loud, are quite expensive and not entirely safe. There are no slowboats for public transport. Getting lifts on cargo boats is possible, but you have to negotiate your ride yourself and would need to speak a bit of Thai or Laotian in order to sort it out. Even if you did that, you'd be very tight for time.

Laos (for Canadians, anyway) is expensive to get into, but is very affordable once inside the country. You could do a nice, short trip to the Bolaven Plateau with the time you have. It's beautiful and cool, but it may also be very rainy which would make it fairly uncomfortable. Luang Prabang is excellent and worth going to, even if it means flying.

As mentioned, 10 days is not a lot of time, but you can still see and do a lot in the time you have.


#8 Tilapia has been a member since 21/4/2006. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,521
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Posted by anandgrafiti on 14/5/2009 at 00:02

Hi Tilapia,
thank you for your detailed suggestions. i will surely consider these options.
As for the LP to Viante or Houi Xai trip was wondering if i could splash some money on a luxury boat ride (if i could afford it that is!)

#9 anandgrafiti has been a member since 13/5/2009. Posts: 21

Posted by exacto on 14/5/2009 at 00:14

hi anand,

excellent suggestions, as always, from tilapia. given the types of things you said you wanted to do, i think the kanchanaburi and sangkhlaburi itinerary best fits your needs. given that you'd have 10 days, you could even pop over to ayutthaya for a day or two before returning to bangkok.

for what it is worth, i thought bruce's chiang mai loop suggestion was really good too and one that i plan to include in my visit to thailand in december. you could even include a day trip to ayutthaya before catching the overnight train or a stopover in sukhothai as well. bonus.

i'll also second tilapia's comments that weather should play a big factor in your decision on where to go in the late october/mid-november timeframe.

since you asked, a laos itinerary that you could try would be to fly to luang prabang directly from bangkok, spend a few days in luang prabang, bus to vientiane (with or without a stopover in vang vieng), then overnight train back to bangkok once you've crossed back into thailand at nong khai (get your train tickets sorted before you fly to luang prabang). but that itinerary is both more expensive and rushed than other ideas.

in any case, that's several good ideas on how you can spend your time. it's a shame that you'll only be able to pick one, but those are the tough decisions we all have to make. have fun. cheers.

#10 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,759
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Posted by brucemoon on 14/5/2009 at 05:35


Sorry if I sounded harsh - it wasn't meant that way.

One of the problems facing everyone going to SE Asia for the first time is that there is so much that can be seen, and somehow, everything should be seen.

The simple fact is that most people try and see too much and so spend far too much time sitting on transport, or waiting for transport, etc.

It is all very well saying "I would like to go from Luang Prabang to Vietiane". The next step is to find out how long it takes. Not only for the trip, but also to get ready for the trip, and to get acquainted to the place after you arrive.

For example, to go from BKK to LP is about one hour by plane. But, you need to be at BKK airport 2 hours before, and it takes a minimum of 1 hour to get to the airport. Plus, when you get to LP, it takes nearly one hour to get to your accommodation. So, a one hour flight really takes 5 hours. And, 5 hours out of a day really means no sightseeing.

So, if you do want to visit Laos and not Thailand...

Luang Prabang to Vientiane - time of journey with add ons (approx cost)

Air - 3 hours (US$65)
Bus - 13 hours (but 2 days if you take in VV) 0 (US$12)
Boat - 1 day (US$250 divide by passenger numbers - up to 8 max: but maybe the cost will be your life as they ARE VERY VERY dangerous).

Luang Prabang to BKK, via Huay Xai - this means taking the 2 day boat ride to Huay Xai, cross the border, take the bus to Chiang Rai (4 hours) and fly BKK, or bus to BKK (about 10 hours and is overnight).

The journey suggested by Tilapia is 'doable', but you WILL be spending a lot of time in transport.

- - - -

If you didn't want to spend time in BKK, then the suggestion by Tilapia to consider Kanchanaburi has merit. You can do this by including the early morning floating market.

- - - -

At the moment, you appear lost in the wonderment of possibilities. There is nothing wrong with that, every person beginning a journey has that experience. But from that wonderment, you have to focus on what IS REALLY ACHIEVABLE.

Perhaps the best advice now is not to keep looking on the internet, but go and look at a reference book. Perhaps a good one is Lonely Planet: Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & The Greater Mekong. This is because it shows a map of the region, and lists the possible places you could visit. And, it has details about travel times, costs, and attractions at the various places.


#11 brucemoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

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