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Southeast Asia forum

30 days for Thailand, Laos, Vientnam, Cambodia... Too much?

Posted by starrchild on 25/8/2009 at 09:36

I am heading to SE Asia from mid November to mid December and would like to do all four countries but think i might might biting off too much for 30 fays. Has anyone done this and have reasonable route? Or should I narrow down my trip? and what should i cut? I was looking st the travelfish route but it looks like a would need to cut a lot to do that in 30 days. I don't mind some flights to save time.

thanks

#1 starrchild has been a member since 25/8/2009. Posts: 6

Posted by BruceMoon on 25/8/2009 at 11:26

starrchild

The simple answer is 'is it just to say you've visited 4 countries as the focus?

Or, would you actually like to experience places/activities/people along the way?

I wrote elsewhere about the trade-off between trying to do too much and trying to enjoy yourself. Go read this:

https://www.travelfish.org/board/post/idlebanter/6976_helping-the-prospective-travel-planner

The essential point is that to really enjoy yourself, try not to travel too much. For me, I suggest choose to visit one place/region/city/etc., for about a week. And, aside from the capital city, 'do' at least 2 other (out of capital) areas per country.

To my way of thinking, max for a month is two (2) countries.

So, say you were heading to Thailand for the first time, plan for time in/around bangkok (about a week), plan for time (about a week) in the north of Thailand, and plan for time (about a week) in southern Thailand. That gives you a good introductory understanding of Thailand, a range of possible experiences, and at a pace you can enjoy.

For the fourth week (or so), you can either spend in in another area of Thailand (eg. south-east, or Isaan), or another place in a nearby country.

Cheers

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


Posted by mattocmd on 25/8/2009 at 12:57

First answer: no
Second answer: why?

Unless being on transit is your idea of a vacation, I'd say no.

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Posted by krisim on 25/8/2009 at 13:23

With just 30 days I wouldn't pick more than 2 countries. I think it's better to be able to see a few different things in a country than just rushing it to be able to do all of them. It's also a vacation, isn't it? It can be nice to chill out and just relax for a day or two.

#4 krisim has been a member since 20/7/2006. Posts: 36

Posted by somtam2000 on 25/8/2009 at 14:20 admin

30 days for four countries -- I wouldn't do it, but if someone wanted to, assuming they're looking to do the highlights and were happy to pony up with the flights, here is my four country in 30 days Travelfish extravaganza!

For the sake of simplicity I'm assuming a Bangkok arrival and departure point

Day: 1 Arrive Bangkok
Day: 2 Bangkok
Day: 3 Morning flight to Trang, pick an island and doss.
Day: 4 Doss
Day: 5 Doss
Day: 6 Doss
Day: 7 Drag yourself out of hammock, return to Trang for flight back to Bangkok & night trian to Chiang Mai
Day: 8 Chiang Mai
Day: 9 Chiang Mai then flight to Luang Prabang
Day: 10 Luang Prabang
Day: 11 Luang Prabang
Day: 12 Luang Prabang then flight to Hanoi
Day: 13 Hanoi
Day: 14 Hanoi
Day: 15 Ha Long Bay
Day: 16 Ha Long Bay
Day: 17 Hanoi then night train to Sapa
Day: 18 Sapa
Day: 19 Sapa
Day: 20 Sapa then night train back to Hanoi
Day: 21 Flight to Da Nang , transit to Hoi An
Day: 22 Hoi An
Day: 23 Hoi An
Day: 24 back to Da Nang and flight to Saigon
Day: 25 Saigon
Day: 26 bus to Phnom Penh
Day: 27 Phnom Penh
Day: 28 bus to Siem Reap
Day: 29 Siem Reap
Day: 30 Siem Reap with an afternoon flight back to Bangkok and exit

The above strieks me as pretty nuts, but people do it, and I've seen people do much crazier trips -- I met a Japanese guy in Kathmandu once who was on a four day holiday -- to Thailand, India and Nepal ... he said next time he's only do two countries! So you could be trying to do more LOL

So the above starts with a "relaxing" island period, but as it progresses you get less and less time in each place and you spend more and more time travelling and less time laying around smelling the flowers.

If you are serious about doing something like this, you should look into Bangkok Airway's Discovery Airpass (story here)

At the end of the day, I'd say you're better off seeing less and slowing down, but if you want to take in the highlights on a whistle-stop tour, it is certainly possible.

Good luck!

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Posted by somtam2000 on 25/8/2009 at 14:21 admin

Also, the above takes no account of flight timetabling etc -- I just made it up -- you'll need to check all that kinda thing.

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Posted by buecax on 25/8/2009 at 14:35

it should be doable if you concentrate on just one area in each country.

start of with a few days in bangkok
fly to hanoi and stay in the area (including halong bay) for ~1 week
fly to luang prabang and make your way by bus to vientiane (also ~1 week)
fly to siem reap, explore angkor, then bus to phnom penh (again ~1 week)
fly back to bangkok

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Posted by busylizzy on 25/8/2009 at 14:57

I think you would find it quite tiring to do all 4 countries in 30 days - even 3 would be too much. You want to be actually enjoy your time there, and have some days dedicated to just chilling out.

I spent 6 weeks in Thailand and Cambodia last year - one week in eastern Thailand (2 islands); one week in Cambodia, then the rest of the time spent travelling from Chaing Mai down to Railey/Krabi, and Koh Samui/Pha Nang and Koh Tao. We spent at 2-4 nights in all locations (except the odd overnighter while in transit). We flew to/from Cambodia, and Bkk-Krabi. The rest of the travel was by bus, car or ferry.

I don't have any regrets about the amount of time spent in each place as it gave us a good taste of the different areas. Having said that, I'm heading back on a much, much longer trip, and will enjoy discovering new areas as well as revisiting old favourites.

Four countries - no. One or two countries will give you a more meaningful and relaxed experience that you will actually remember. There would be nothing worse that having all your memories rolled up into one big blur!

Good luck!

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Posted by starrchild on 25/8/2009 at 20:35

thanks everyone, I will let you know the route i pick. I am going to narrow down the countries and go for some thing with that is not too relaxing but not to stressful and bus filled. I'll stick with two countries, if i have to. I am spending the month before in India and being from the USA i don't get many opportunities to travel for this long so i want to see and experience a lot.

#9 starrchild has been a member since 25/8/2009. Posts: 6

Posted by MADMAC on 27/8/2009 at 01:44

"so i want to see and experience a lot."

Generally speaking, as Bruce was trying to point out, you will either experience a lot, or see a lot, but not both. Those two things are mutually exclusive. To experience a place takes some real time. I have a friend who is visiting me in Mukdahan, Thailand, and he's been here 30 days and still hasn't seen all the points of interest - and this in an area that isn't terribly interesting.

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Posted by BruceMoon on 27/8/2009 at 06:18

John (MAC)

Now that starrchild tells us he's a yank and he'll have spent a month in India prior to SE Asia, I get the feeling that all the preparatory planning undertaken prior to leaving will be left in India.

Given this, it may well turn out to be After India, I need a relaxing holiday, where's the nearest chill-out zone.

Cheers

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


Posted by starrchild on 27/8/2009 at 06:57

I like intense vacations. I spent 4 months in east Africa a year ago, and while laying on a beach is nice, there are places closer where i can do that.
Plus i am coming home without a job, so i can relax then :)

#12 starrchild has been a member since 25/8/2009. Posts: 6

Posted by BruceMoon on 27/8/2009 at 09:50

starrchild

I get your message.

When you say 'intense vacations' are you referring to much speed across the landscape, or focussing on places to get an intensity of experience?

Cheers

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

Posted by starrchild on 27/8/2009 at 10:11

less speed, more experience.

That being said here is a rough route that seems to be more about speed :)
I don't have much of any experience planning these type of trips.

Bangkok Nov 15 -17
Ayutthaya Nov 17-19
Phitsanulok Nov 19-21
Sukhothai Nov 21-23
Chiang Mai Nov 23-25
Chiang Khong: Nov 25-27 Get visa
Huay Xai (laos) Nov 27 leave Thailand early to catch slow boat
Pakbeng: Night of 27th leave morning of 28th
Luang Prabang 28 - Dec3:
Hanoi: Dec 3-6
Sapa: Dec 6: Train to Sapa
Sapa: Dec 7-8
Hanoi: Dec 9 train back from Sapa
Ha Long Bay: Dec 10-13
Hanoi Dec 14: flight back to Bangkok

#14 starrchild has been a member since 25/8/2009. Posts: 6

Posted by BruceMoon on 27/8/2009 at 12:37

starrchild, I'll comment along the proposal...

Bangkok Nov 15 -17
Ayutthaya Nov 17-19
Phitsanulok Nov 19-21
Sukhothai Nov 21-23


I don't know your intentions to this point, but you may like to consider reducing time here to save for 'elsewhere'. For me, I'd just head for Phitsa and spend a day or two at Sukhothai. That being because Ayutthaya and Sukhothai have many similarities and i like the vibe of Sukhothai much better. But, as others have pointed out, if you can get yourself to Ayatthuya, you can spend time there and catch the overnight train to Phita.. (to arrive in the wee hours).

Chiang Mai Nov 23-25
Chiang Khong : Nov 25-27 Get visa


To those that live in Chiang Khong it's a nice town. To westerners, its neither here nor there. There is a 5 hour mini-bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong that gets you there about 3pm. It takes from a few minutes to an hour to do the journey from the mini-bus to Huay Xai (across the Mekong), get your visa and go have a drink! and be ready for the next part of your journey. So, I doubt you'd need 2 days here.


Huay Xai (laos) Nov 27 leave Thailand early to catch slow boat
Pakbeng: Night of 27th leave morning of 28th
Luang Prabang 28 - Dec3:


Merely out of curiosity, you're spending 6 days at LP, yet only 1 at Chiang Mai. Any reason?

Hanoi: Dec 3-6
Sapa: Dec 6: Train to Sapa
Sapa: Dec 7-8


I'm assuming you are flying LP - HaNoi. Why leave for Lao Cai [for SaPa] on a Sunday? Did you read about BacHa??? Maybe read this post for better options.

Hanoi: Dec 9 train back from Sapa
Ha Long Bay: Dec 10-13


HaLong Bay is a great experience. But, absolutely wonderful when in fine weather. December may be wet (keep an eye on it with this site ). If so, you might pre-pay your money and find you're left at the wharf twiddling your toes. So, keep an eye on the weather, and don't book till you know it'll be OK. Also, if you have the inclination look at Columbus for your 'tour' - read here and for the website .

Hanoi Dec 14: flight back to Bangkok

Cheers

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

Posted by MADMAC on 27/8/2009 at 17:29

Where in East Africa where you? I used to live in the Ogaden and spent considerable time in Somalia as well.

#16 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by starrchild on 27/8/2009 at 21:42

i was living in kampala uganda

#17 starrchild has been a member since 25/8/2009. Posts: 6

Posted by matheusvdd on 28/8/2009 at 00:26

So guys, i'm from Fortaleza, Brazil and want to do a 30 days trip like our american friend over there.

My knowledge in southeast asia is close to zero, but, after quick researches, I've decided that starting in Bangkok is the ideal choice.

And that's all I've decided yet!

What I really want is to really LIVE the trip, not just bounce around the whole continent without having time to, as someone said in this topic, smell the flowers. So I guess two countries would be the ideal thing for me.

Thailand and Cambodia, probably. Is that even possible? Do Thailand even has borders with Cambodia?

#18 matheusvdd has been a member since 28/8/2009. Posts: 4

Posted by starrchild on 28/8/2009 at 00:32

Hi Bruce Thanks so much
As for the the six days in LP, i was thinking that I could add two or three of those to another stop, but not sure where yet.

#19 starrchild has been a member since 25/8/2009. Posts: 6

Posted by BruceMoon on 28/8/2009 at 05:54

starrchild

May I suggest a little quicker to Chiang Mai (ie delete a day or more en route and 'use' that time to head up to Pai.

Similarly, en route from Huay Xia, instead of the river route check out the Gibbon Experience (look here for the TF story, and for the site .

From there, there are several ways to get to LP: boring boat via Huay Xai; road via Luang Nam Tha & OudomXay; or road and boat via Luang Nam Tha, OudomXay & Nong Khiaw.

As an aside, you wrote I like intense vacations . May I suggest two days on a boat down the Mekong is the total opposite. I really like boat travel, it's slow, if one chooses the right journey the scenery can be great, etc. The Huay Xai-Luang Prabang is not a journey I'd recommend. It's 2 days cramped on a boat. Unless you like (largely) bare banks, the scenery is god-awful boring, and there's nothing to do other than sit squashed up on wooden seats and be bored! How's that for a subjective, opinionated statement!!!.

Cheers

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

Posted by BruceMoon on 28/8/2009 at 05:58

matheusvdd

May I suggest that your post really needs to be a fresh one. This is because everyone will be able to see and you may get better answers.

In the first instance, go here:

https://www.travelfish.org/board/topic/indochina

Then, scroll down to the bottom and make a (new) post.

ps. maybe you can cut'n'paste from above to the new post.

Cheers

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

Posted by matheusvdd on 28/8/2009 at 23:20

Thanks Bruce!

#22 matheusvdd has been a member since 28/8/2009. Posts: 4


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