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Southeast Asia forum

When to visit S Vietnam, Cambodia & S Thailand?

Posted by bails87 on 12/3/2010 at 07:20

Hi guys, I've looked through the weather info as well as reading a load of other threads, but can't quite find the answers I need. So....I'm a first time traveller looking at going to Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia later on in the year for around 6 weeks.

I was looking at going around the early part of August, so I'd be there until the middle/end of September. I'm not too fussed about sunbathing, I want to do things and see things, and possibly do some SCUBA diving on Koh Tao. As a rough guide to the areas I'd (hopefully) be going to, I was thinking HCMC->Phnom Penh->Siem Reap->Bangkok->somehow to Ko Phan Ngan & Koh Tao

So basically, is this the right time to go? I've got the opportunity to extend my contract at work for a month or 2, so I could go later on, but no earlier.

This seems to be a great site, so I'm sure I'll be back with more 'newbie' questions, but any help you can give me on this would be really helpful, cheers,


#1 bails87 has been a member since 1/3/2010. Posts: 23

Posted by francesstella on 12/3/2010 at 20:06

I understand that the eastern coast of Southern Thailand (Koh Tao) is hit by wet season from September to December, while Cambodia & Southern Vietnam get most rain from May to October. I'm told that 'wet season' doesn't mean you'll be locked up in your guest house for days on end, just that there are several hours of heavy rainfall followed by decent weather. It does also imply you may have some trouble travelling.

Taking the above into consideration, it might make sense to start your journey in Thailand in August then move east-wards through Cambodia and Vietnam as the wet season is tailing off.

I hope someone can give you more advice from first-hand experience!

#2 francesstella has been a member since 16/2/2009. Location: Italy. Posts: 95
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Posted by somtam2000 on 13/3/2010 at 08:45 admin

Hi Bails

The east coast of Ko Tao is sublime in July/August/September so I'd definitely make the effort to get down there. We break down the trip here:

The coast of Cambodia tho, as francesstella says, is less than great at that time of year due to rain, but Angkor is great in wet season -- fewer people and lush and green.

#3 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,941
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Posted by bails87 on 15/3/2010 at 00:12

Okay, thanks for that. I'm not really set on any particular itinerary, it's more that I've got around 6 weeks, and have decided to go to this part of the world. Ko Tao is definitely on the agenda, and it seems like it's do-able at that time of year. So I'd be going to Thailand and hopefully at least one other country.

Francesstella, you're right, it might be best to start in Bangkok, go South and then work back up and maybe across into Cambodia and Vietnam from there.

#4 bails87 has been a member since 1/3/2010. Posts: 23

Posted by bails87 on 19/3/2010 at 00:13

Okay, so the first 2 weeks are planned(-ish). Fly to Bangkok around the 10th of August, then head down to Ko Tao after a couple of days, do the diving and then leave there for Ko Pha Ngan around the 22nd, so I can be there for the FMP on the 25th. A couple of days to recover/soak up the sun, and then I'll head back up the coast.

I'm not entirely sure what I'll be doing after that, possibly up to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, then across to Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng and onto Vietnam before getting a 'local' flight back to BKK. Again, these are nothing definite, I'm still in the process of trying to soak up info!

Basically, would that be just as doable in early/mid August to September as in early/mid September to October? At the moment, I could puch the trip back by a month, but obviously I'm going to have to pin down a date soon. If there's no real difference then I'll stick with Aug and Sept. To my (non-traveller) eyes, it doesn't seem a worse time than a month later, possibly better as the rain seems to increase in some places in October. But then I think it starts to fall in other places too......:S

#5 bails87 has been a member since 1/3/2010. Posts: 23

Posted by francesstella on 19/3/2010 at 00:29

Hi Bails,

I'm a big fan of Northern Thailand. We were in Chiang Mai for a week last year, there's some really good sightseeing which will take up 2/3 days (Doi Suthep is gorgeous) & some fantastic markets. The night scene was awesome, lots of laid back reggae bars & really nice locals - it was my favourite going out place! I fell in love with Pai too, I know it's been describes as a backpacker ghetto but I loved the hippie atmosphere and there were a ton of activities to keep us busy too. I ended up going back for a month to do a Tai Chi course!

Having said all this, monsoon season in N Thailand is from May - November, so if you're looking to do some trekking for example it might spoil your fun. I don't know how much is a lot of rainfall because I was there at a completely different time of year.

We took a bus to the Huay Xai border crossing. I wish we'd done the Gibbon Experience - I met some guys who did, saw their photos & videos & nearly ate my heart out (look it up here on Travelfish). We took the slow boat with 1 overnight stop to Luang Prabang. It's a gorgeous little place. If you're into FMPs you are going to love Vang Vieng! Madness in its purest state.

I can't provide much information about which months would be best to travel in of your two options because at the mo I know as much as Travelfish says.

Hope you have a great time, come rain or shine!

#6 francesstella has been a member since 16/2/2009. Location: Italy. Posts: 95
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Posted by bails87 on 19/3/2010 at 07:18

Thanks FSH!

This looks like a slightly awkward juggling act, and I suppose there's always some chance in it, but it'll be warm, and I'm from England so used to the rain!

The way I'm seeing it, going a month later, so Sept and Oct would be:
-No different for Ko Tao/ Ko pha ngan

-Worse for Bangkok (But I could save my time in BKK until the very end of the trip, so have a few days there before I fly back home, in which case the weather is slightly better in Oct than Aug and Sept)

-Better for Northern Thailand

-Better for Laos

-Better for North and South Vietnam, but not Central Vietnam, where October is typhoon season, eek!

If any of that is wrong, then please feel free to correct me.

Clearly I need to choose what I want to do, and base the time of the journey on that, but at the same time, the timing of the trip will affect what I'm able to do.

I definitely want to do the diving, I'd then also love to do the gibbon experience. So if a months difference would rule either of those out completely, I'd make the switch either way.

Other than that, I'm going to look at what's around and see what fits in where. I think once I've got a few things I *know* I want to do, the rest of the trip can be flexible around that.

#7 bails87 has been a member since 1/3/2010. Posts: 23

Posted by bails87 on 24/3/2010 at 08:04

After more thinking, reading and checking of the example itineraries here and elsewhere, I think it's going to look something like....

#Arrive in Bangkok, recover from the flight for a day or 2
#South to Chumpon to go to Ko Tao for diving
# Ko Pha Ngan for FMP if timed right.
#Back to the mainland
#North to cross the border into Laos at Huay Xai*
#Gibbon experience from Huay Xai
#Luang Prabang
#(Possibly) Vang Vieng
# Vientiane
#Go to the Vinh Moc tunnels at Quang Tri, rather than the Cu Chi ones near HCMC
#Hoi An
#Down the coast to HCMC
#Across to Phnom Penh
#Siem Reap and Angkor Wat
#Bangkok for whatever's left until I fly out.

I'll be looking at around 50 days for the whole trip.

*The most obvious problem to me is the travel from Ko Pha Ngan all the way up to the Laos border crossing at Huay Xai, but the Gibbon Experience is the kind of thing that I really want to do. But 1300km is a massive distance.

The obvious solution is to spend some time in Chiang Mai to break up the trip, but I think that if I do that it'll be pushing what could be an already tight schedule. Also, if I leave out Chiang Mai then I can save the whole of Central and Northern Thailand, North Laos and North Vietnam for another trip right :p

Or.....maybe I could go straight to Vientiane and miss out the Gibbon Exp and Luang Prabang, but I've heard such good things that it seems like a shame to do that.

My head's spinning now!

#8 bails87 has been a member since 1/3/2010. Posts: 23

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