This is my first post here and like many others, its an itinerary! I have had a good look around the site and got a few good ideas, but would like some input on what we have so far.
We would like to basically have a great time - do the touristy thing, get off the track if we can, have a few drinks, chill out, shopping, meet people etc. I imagine that temple fatigue will set in after a few - but we are pretty keen to see Angkor Wat. We have left out Vietnam here though if there are some suggestions regarding it we wont hesitate to look into them.
We decided to end up in Bangkok and it means less backtracking - easiest to get to the islands from Bangkok.
12-Dec Arrive Kuala Lumpur
13-Dec Depart Kuala Lumpur Chiang Mai
14-Dec Chiang Mai
15-Dec Chiang Mai
16-Dec Chiang Mai (is this enough/too much time here?)
17-Dec Chiang Mai - Chiang Dao
18-Dec Chiang Dao
19-Dec Chiang Dao - Chaing Mai
20-Dec Depart Chiang Mai Arrive Chiang Kong - Cross into Laos - Huay Xai
21-Dec Depart for Gibbon Experience
22-Dec Gibbon Experience
23-Dec Gibbon Experience - Luang Nam Tha (will skip the slow boat experience we think, unless someone can give a compelling reason to do it?)
24-Dec (this is kind of a free day, just so happened to appear here)
25-Dec Depart Luang Nam Tha - Luang Prabang
26-Dec Luang Prabang
27-Dec Luang Prabang
28-Dec Luang Prabang
29-Dec Luang Prabang (again, too much, too little time?)
30-Dec Luang Prabang - Vang Vien
31-Dec Vang Vien (figure new years with a bunch of similar ages backpackers should be pretty fun)
1-Jan Vang Vien
2-Jan Vang Vien
3-Jan Depart Vang Vien - Vientiane
5-Jan Vientiane - Siem Reap (from here is the big question mark. This will work out to be around $180US and we are unsure if it will be worth going to Cambodia, or if we should continue down Laos, ending up at Don Khon etc. Adivse for here would be nice)
6-Jan Siem Reap
7-Jan Siem Reap
8-Jan Siem Reap
9-Jan Siem Reap
10-Jan Siem Reap - Battambang
11-Jan Battambang (go for a motorbike around and get the vibe of the place)
12-Jan Battambang - Bangkok
Then the islands for a week or two. Probably Ko Lipe - is the best way to get down here a flight to Hat Yai then Pak Barra pier?
Thanks in advance for what I'm sure will be some solid information.
#1 dedwood has been a member since 6/9/2009. Posts: 8
I'd spend some of the time you allocated for Luang Prabang in Luang Nam Tha (LNT). LNT is a great little town, and you can also go visit Muang Sing - really frontier town (amazing!).
Don't know if you need 3 days in VV, but I suppose after NYE, you just might!!
Definitely fly to Siem Reap, and the length of time looks OK. In case you're wondering about time look here .
I do think a journey to Phnom Penh ought be included. It's not far out of the way, and there's a wealth of interest there.
Otherwise, looks like you'll have fun, and are spending enough time to really get into the vibe of most places.
What, no Pattaya???
#3 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
No, no Pattaya. Do you recommend mac?
Are four full days (plus either side) too long for Luang Prabang and Chiang Mai? Keeping in mind that one or two Wats and I think we would have seen enough of them in each place. I'm sure we'll find enough to do; I guess I'd rather spend the time really seeing one place than fleetingly seeing two.
My other wonder is about Christmas and New Years - anyone spent them at any memorable places?
#4 dedwood has been a member since 6/9/2009. Posts: 8
"No, no Pattaya. Do you recommend mac?"
If you are into hookers, and you consider Thailand to be the Mecca of whoring, then Pattay is the Kaba.
#5 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
1. You asked if 3 days in Chiang Mai is too much time there... I would say probably yes. This is just a personal opinion, and I've only been there twice so I don't know it very well, but I just can't understand why it's such a *must see* on every first timer's itinerary. It's a hyper touristy Thai town and not THAT interesting IMO, though the accommodation tends to be much better value than Bangkok.
2. Definitely skip the slow boat. Again just a personal opinion, but this is a mega tourist trap IMO. The boats are overcrowded, uncomfortable and it's rather boring sitting on hard wooden seats looking at OK but rather monotonous scenery for two days... except when the boat sinks. I think I was exceptionally lucky when the boat I was on sank because of over-crowding. Most tourists have to stay in a grotty rat infested GH in Pak Beng, but I got to spend a chilly night camping on damp sand in the middle of the Mekong instead. ;-)
3. Five days in LP might be sightly too long for the town itself but you can do some nice treks from there. The mountain scenery is much better than around Chiang Mai IMO. You can hire a pushbike and go exploring on your own too.
4. If you go to Siem Reap you might as well devote 5 days to it. In the past you had to use the 3-day temple pass on 3 consecutive days but that has recently changed. Amazing as the temples are, after 2 days you tend to get thoroughly templed out. One day on, one day off doing something else might be a much better way of doing things and it'll give you time to actually absorb what you are seeing.
There have been a few complaints recently about people getting sold the old three day passes, so make sure you get given the new 3-entry one week pass (It costs the same price as the old pass).
5. Not sure why you especially want to go to Ko Lipe because it's got a few environmental problems due to over-development...
... but you can get to Pak Bara by either flying to Hat Yai or Trang. I've got a feeling it might be slightly quicker to get there from Trang but it's about 3-4 hours from either town by bus or minibus if I remember right.
An alternative to flying is to take the overnight sleeper train to Trang. The 17.05 train from BKK usually arrives an hour or more late but you should still be able make the 13.30 ferry at Pak Bara.
Thanks for the comments SBE.
Do you have a recommendation for a Ko Lipe alternative? Something kind of low key and chilled, with easy access to Ko Phi Phi.
I will look into things around Luang Prabang see if it is worth shaving a night off it and adding it to Siem Reap - though departing Vang Vieng on what I've read is a long and windy road to Vientiane on New Years day may not be such a great move.
And mac.. haha I thought as much. Well yeah, definitely steering clear
Also like to add that the title of this thread is wrong - Bangkok should be Thailand obviously.
#7 dedwood has been a member since 6/9/2009. Posts: 8
"And mac.. haha I thought as much. Well yeah, definitely steering clear"
True story: An acquaintance of mine's (whom I met since here - he's now dating a local) wife had just left him. He was at the pub with a friend and co-worker who's wife had also left him. It was a cold winter night and they were commiserating together. A few days latter, he was at work, feeling depressed, talking to his friend and a female co-worker (of the backpacker persuasion) urged him to go to Thailand. It's warm, there's so much to see - she gave him a list of "don't miss" locations such as Kanchanaburi, Ayudaya, sights in Bangkok... the usual. But finshed with these words of warning "But whatever you do, don't go to Pattaya. It's filled with loose women and drunk men." "Oh no" said the friend "we'd never go there." They booked a flight the next day, got off the plane and headed to the bus terminal and caught the first bus to Pattaya. It's the only place in Thailand they saw. When they returned to work a few weeks latter, the co-worker wanted to know about the trip... what could they say?
#8 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957