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Southeast Asia forum

Laos and Cambodia Trip - planning stages - comments appreciated!

Posted by Jacster on 12/8/2006 at 07:56

Hello all

I am planning a 3-week trip to Laos and Cambodia in Feb/March next year and would really welcome any suggestions regarding my current travel plans.

I'm keen to hear your views on whether this is the best route (bearing in mind I really want to see the highlights of both C and L in only 3 weeks!) and any alternative suggestions you may have...

Is there anything you recommend adding to/removing from the plan?

I'm particularly interested in any views on Sihanoukville - I love the idea of a couple of days at the beach, but this might be ditchable for more time in Laos? All views very welcome...

Here's my plan at the minute...

1 - LHR to BKK
2 - BKK to Luang Prabang (flight)
3 - Luang Prabang
4 - Luang Prabang
5 - LP to Vang Vieng (bus)
6 - Vang Vieng
7 - Vang Vieng to Vientiane (bus)
8 - Vientiane
9 - Vientiane to Phnom Penh (flight)
10 - Phnom Penh
11 - PP to Siem Reap (bus)
12 - Siem Reap
13 - Siem Reap
14 - SR to Battambang (bus)
15 - Battambang
16 - Battambang to PP
17 - PP to Sihanoukville (bus)
18 - Sihanoukville
19 - SKV to PP (bus)
20 - PP to BKK (flight)
21 - BKK to LHR

I'm expecting that it will be cheaper for me to sort out the 3 one-way flights (BKK to LP, V to PP, PP to BKK) from Bangkok. Does anyone have any experience of this? I understand Bangkok Airways are the only carrier to run BKK to LP - are the prices very high from Bangkok travel agents due to this?

Another option is flying Vientiane to Siem Reap, but I understand this stops off at Pakse and only runs every other day - anyone travelled this way and had any experience of it?

I really appreciate any help or suggestions you can offer!

Happy travelling! ;-)

Cheers
Jacs

#1 Jacster has been a member since 6/8/2006. Posts: 18
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Posted by Jacster on 12/8/2006 at 09:08

Hello all,

I continued to think and research after my initial post...another option might be...

1 - LHR to BKK
2 - BKK to Luang Prabang (flight)
3 - Luang Prabang
4 - Luang Prabang
5 - LP to Vang Vieng (bus)
6 - Vang Vieng
7 - Vang Vieng to Vientiane (bus)
8 - Vientiane
9 - Vientiane to Pakse (flight)
10 - Pakse to Don Khon
11 - Don Khon
12 - Don Khon to Kratie
13 - Kratie to Phnom Penh
14 - Phnom Penh
15 - PP to Siem Reap
16 - Siem Reap
17 - Siem Reap
18 - SR to Battambang
19 - Battambang to PP
20 - PP to BKK
21 - BKK to LRH

For those who've been there, which of the two options would you recommend?

Really look forward to hearing your views!! ;-)

Many thanks
Jacs

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Posted by marianwarren on 12/8/2006 at 16:26

Hi Jacs

If you intend to fly 3 or more sections in Thailand/Laos/Cambodia check out the "discovery pass" from www.bangkokair.com. It's only available outside Thailand but is very good value. I intend to fly from BKK - CNX: VTE - PKZ: PNP - REP: The total cost of these flights individually comes to US$245 ... a discovery pass for the same flights is only US$160.

Hope is of use

Regards

Marian

#3 marianwarren has been a member since 12/3/2006. Posts: 270

Posted by marianwarren on 12/8/2006 at 19:22

Hello again

I forgot to mention with the discovery pass you only need to 'book' the first leg.

Looking at your trip itineraries ... the first option seems very cumbersome ... it seems more efficient to visit SVK from PNP than from Battambang via PNP.

With your second option (definitely more slip-treamed), why go back to PNP from Battambang when you are halfway to BKK. You could fly REP - BKK with a day trip to Battambang if you really need to go there or fly PNP - REP( 1 hour instead of a full days travel).

It's always the $/time equation. What experience are you after?

I love the planning ... anticipation is sometimes better than the actual journey!

Regards

Marian

#4 marianwarren has been a member since 12/3/2006. Posts: 270

Posted by steviej on 12/8/2006 at 22:03

Hi Jacs,

A mate of mine has just come back from a 10 month trip which included Laos and Cambodia, which is a bit of a bonus as I'm planning to go next March-April. He reckoned Vang Vieng was a little bit of a let down after his visit to Luang Prabang.

So..........................

Apparently Lao Airlines are to start flights from Luang Prabang to Pakse from the end of October (this year).
Check these out:
http://www.laoairlines.com/schedule.htm
https://www.travelfish.org/board/post/laos/640_Laos-Flights/0.

So you could spend a few days more in LP or head to Si Phon Don for those extra days.

What dates do you go??


Anyway, whatever you do, ENJOY!!!


Chill
steviej
___________________________________

Who wants Fat Hair...........................

#5 steviej has been a member since 18/3/2006. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 266
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Posted by exacto on 12/8/2006 at 22:41

Jacs,

Hi. Our Travelfish host Somtam2000 regularly suggests that less is more on these southeast Asia trips, and I agree with him. Both of these potential itinerarys you've listed are very aggressive, meaning that you'll be spending more of your time travelling and/or waiting for the bus, plane, etc., and less time actually doing the stuff you came to see. Plus, a tight itin like this doesn't give you much of a margin of error in case you hit a snag along the way.

The three weeks you have for the trip seems like a lot when you sit down to plan, but once you arrive, you might discover that it isn't nearly as much time as you think.

In any case, I'd suggest simplifying your itinerary a bit so you can spend more time in great places like Luang Prabang. Perhaps you'd want to limit yourself to five or six places, which is still quite a bit to see over three weeks. Something like Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Vientiane, Siem Reap, and Phnom Penh might work for you.

Stevie has a good point that some folks feel let down by Vang Vieng after visiting Luang Prabang, and opt to give it a miss. We enjoyed our overnight stop in VV, and felt that the bus ride from LP to VV was the most scenic we'd ever experienced. Still, should you give VV a miss and fly directly from LP to VTE, that might give you time to stop off in Pakxe instead.

Also, good advice from Marian on the Discovery Pass. It includes Bangkok Airways and its shadow company Siem Reap Airways, as well as Lao Airlines. That will cover much of the routes you are taking and help make getting from place to place more affordable. As Marian says, the air pass is only available outside of Thailand, so sort it out before you depart. Look into Air Asia for the Phnom Penh to BKK leg of your journey too as an inexpensive option. Regards.

#6 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,685
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Posted by Jacster on 13/8/2006 at 08:08

Thank you all so much for your replies! Much appreciated ;-)

There's some really great advice here which has led to a bit of a rethink...

Marian - I hadn't checked out the Discovery pass, but have just looked it up online and this is absolutely the deal for me! Thanks! ;-) I had previously ruled out flying Siem Reap to Bangkok as I understood the price to be in excess of $200 (Bangkok air monopoly!), hence why I had opted for the less convenient PP to BKK. With the discovery pass I'll make Siem Reap my last stop and fly from there to BKK.

Exacto - I completely agree about the aggresive itinery. I was in Vietnam in April and ended up staying longer in Hanoi, ditching Hue and skipping onto Hoi An cos I'd tried to pack too much in - you'd think I would learn!!

Stevie - I'm not expecting much from VV beyond floating down the river in a tyre. I know - totally typical backpacker thing to do, but I recently went white water rafting in Scotland and loved it, so very much looking forward to that... If it's possible to arrive by bus from LP, go tubing and then leave next day, I'd happily cut VV to one night.

The other thing is Battambang - it is sort of like Hue when I went to Vietnam - be good to see it but ditchable if necessary. I really like the idea of a day trip from Siem Reap! ;-)

OK, here's the edited version...(using Discovery pass)

1 - LHR to BKK
2 - BKK to LP
3 - LP
4 - LP
5 - LP to Vang Vieng
6 - VV to Vientiane
7 - Vientiane
8 - Vientiane to Pakse, onward to Don Khon
9 - Don Khon
10 - Don Khon
11 - Don Khon
12 - DK to Kratie
13 - Kratie to Phnom Penh
14 - Phnom Penh
15 - Phnom Penh
16 - PP to Siem Reap
17 - Siem Reap
18 - Siem Reap
19 - Siem Reap
20 - SR to BKK
21 - BKK to LHR

Flexibility - possibly lose 1 night in Vientiane and/or 1 night at Don Khon and/or 1 night at Siem Reap (very likely if I love LP as much as I think I will!).

Stevie - dates are still a bit fluid, but thinking of something like 24 Feb to 16 March...ish... When are you going?

Thanks everyone for all your help and advice - This itinery is much closer to being realistic. The discovery pass will make it more affordable for me too!

Many, many thanks
Jacs ;-)

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Posted by steviej on 13/8/2006 at 19:23

'ello Jacs,

I'm looking at leaving the Sunny UK on the 21st March until 21st April. Roughly the same route but adding the Mekong Delta and Phu Quoc.

You'll have to give a summary of your trip when you get back :(

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Posted by Jacster on 14/8/2006 at 16:53

Cheers Stevie - seems like we'll miss each other! Pity. :-(

I'll be keeping a blog while I'm away - If I'm travelling a similar route to you but a couple of weeks earlier, I could send you the link nearer the time? Would this be helpful?

Thanks again everyone for all your help!

Cheers
Jacs ;-)

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Posted by steviej on 14/8/2006 at 17:19

Yep, that'd be great........................



chill
steviej

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Posted by nielsvanbeers on 16/8/2006 at 20:34

Hi Jacster, I've read it all and must say I'm getting jealous... I did that route 3 years ago while I was travelling through asia.
Try to visit Don Det (In the four thousand Islands) in southern Laos. It's a nice stopover on an island without running water. It's cosy there!

Note that SR - BKK is quite a long and exhausting trip. I'd advise you to do it in two days... The road from SR to the border was hell. I don't know if it still is. Stop in Aranya Prathet, take a cheap hotel and relax.

Ok, take it easy! Enjoy! -Niels (Holland)

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Posted by Jacster on 17/8/2006 at 02:41

Cheers Stevie - will get the link to you nearer the time.

Thanks Niels. Great to know you enjoyed the trip - I'm really looking forward to it - and got some great help on here to make my itinery better. ;-) Thanks for the tips!

This is a fantastic board!!! ;-)

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Posted by duncan on 17/8/2006 at 03:36

Hi Jacster - in my view you're squeezing too many stops into your journey - and you're going to be spending too many days sorting out transport and accommodation and making those bumpy rides. In Siem Reap one can easily spend three whole days seeing Angkor Wat temples and still not be templed out. What was memorable for me in Siem Reap was the opportunity to teach kids at a local language school, Savong's School - a real blast for them and for me and a chance to connect with locals. I thought I wouldn't cope - language barrier anyone? - but the teachers and the students made it easy. The experience helped me get inside Cambodia and not just be a spectator with a camera. Just awesome.

I look at your schedule and i think, woah, slow down a little - plan a second journey. Stop and smell the roses...or the orchids in this case. Yeah, and I'm envious too. Have a great journey.

#13 duncan has been a member since 17/8/2006. Posts: 1


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