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10 days - Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam?

Posted by LordGordo on 13/4/2010 at 11:57

Hello everyone. I'm new here and I'd just like to say thanks to all that contribute to this site. It has given me a lot of information about travel plans.
Moving on: So I have about 10 days to spend in SEAsia (before I have to go to Korea) and I would like to see as many countries as possible.
Background: I only speak English and Chinese, but I guess I'm not too worried about communication. I'm really just looking for adventure.
So anyway, I realize that a lot of people advise you try to focus on one place and spend time there, but I think that I can make this work. I would like to stop at one place in each of these countries, maybe not the most representative but some place that is interesting that I can spend a couple days in each place. I really prefer to take night trains when I travel from place to place so that I minimize actual travel time wasted.
Can someone help? Thanks

#1 LordGordo has been a member since 13/4/2010. Posts: 7

Posted by LordGordo on 13/4/2010 at 12:00

I forgot to say, I want to start somewhere in Cambodia and work my way North, eventually ending up in Vietnam. The would prefer to end up in a place in Vietnam with a good airport because I need to fly from there to Korea.

So I think Hanoi is pretty much chosen because of this? And I think most people would recommend Bangkok for Thailand.

#2 LordGordo has been a member since 13/4/2010. Posts: 7

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Posted by LordGordo on 13/4/2010 at 12:01

Oh, and I think the most important part is the night trains, because I really don't mind 'rushing' each country, but I would like to save time where possible.

#3 LordGordo has been a member since 13/4/2010. Posts: 7

Posted by MADMAC on 13/4/2010 at 12:11

Well, I don't think you can realistically "start" in Cambodia. You will have to fly into a larger hub in all probability. Let's say, for the sake of discussion, you fly into BKK like almost everyone else does. If the flight wasn't sufficiently exhausting and you want to travel onwards, you might be able to get another flight same day to Siem Reap. You'll probably be half dead by then, but it might be possible. If not, you now have nine days because you'll have to fly the next day.

I would assume you would want to spend one day checking out Angkor Wat. So that's one day.

Next day is a travel day to the Pakse / 4,000 Islands area. Then spend one day there. Now we're at three days.

Then travel overnight to Vientiane . Assuming you can sleep on the bus, you can check out Vientiane. One day. If you really want to cross the border into Thailand, you can do it there. Of course, you will see and experience very little other than the bus and the border control points, but it's doable. You can divide up the remaining hours left over between Nong Khai in Thailand and Vientiane in Laos. Now we're at four days.

Next day you can travel is a full travel day to Luang Prabang. This is a tourist hot spot, so you will probably want to spend a day there seeing the sights. That's two days (one travel, one sight seeing), so that's now six days.

From there you can travel to Hanoi. That's two full days of travel by bus. Or you can fly, but it's expensive. If you take the bus, then you are at the end of day eight in Hanoi, which has a major airport. If you fly, then you should arrive in the middle of day seven. That leaves time left over to check out Halong Bay, another tourist hot spot.

So is this possible? Yep, it's possible. Will it totally suck with tons of time on busses and racing from place to place, exhausted from the constant travel. Yep.

#4 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by LordGordo on 13/4/2010 at 12:21

Do you think it's possible to do this trip without hitting the major cities? Or would you say that these places are "representative" (read: good enough for one stops)?

#5 LordGordo has been a member since 13/4/2010. Posts: 7

Posted by LordGordo on 13/4/2010 at 12:22

Sorry, by the way, first of all thank you MADMAC for posting such a detailed plan. I really appreciate it. What I left out was that I wanted to "start" in Cambodia, but that I would be coming from Singapore immediately before that. I'm not flying from the States directly to Cambodia.

#6 LordGordo has been a member since 13/4/2010. Posts: 7

Posted by LordGordo on 13/4/2010 at 12:26

So I guess another question is:
If you could start and end anywhere in 10-11 days (ending at a major hub because I need to fly to Korea, but not necessarily starting at one since I am coming from Singapore), how would you do it?
If you could help me again MADMAC I would be in your debt!

#7 LordGordo has been a member since 13/4/2010. Posts: 7

Posted by LordGordo on 13/4/2010 at 12:35

Also, was I wrong in thinking that there are overnight trains that go from city to city?

#8 LordGordo has been a member since 13/4/2010. Posts: 7

Posted by wombatfuz on 13/4/2010 at 12:55

If you really like to take the train, check out It has a lot of details on train travel around the world. You might be able to put together an itinery based on train schedule.

But to try to travel totally by train is impossible. For example, Cambodia no longer has regular passenger train service. The next best alternative is buses. But it is not always possible to travel overnight.

And MADMAC was right in saying that if you insist on travelling to as many places as possible in 10 - 11 days, you end up spending a lot of time on buses and border checks.

#9 wombatfuz has been a member since 30/12/2009. Posts: 38

Posted by caseyprich on 13/4/2010 at 16:34

No trains in cambodia, no trains in laos.

I agree very much with the tone in MADMAC's post - this idea of 4 countries in 10 days is really not workable unless you are constantly in motion. You could sleep on the bus and not stop to get rooms.

I like to spend about 2 weeks minimum in a country if I visit it, a city 3 days minimum to get the feel - and the major cities are very different (though still representative) of the entire country. Think rural vs. urban lifestyle - or any town vs. major city.

You could get more out of a trip from say HCMC to Hanoi and fly to Korea, at least touch Vietnam's pulse. Getting through Laos and Cambodia is time consuming and many choose to fly.

Fly into PP - then go to Angkor Wat if you're there -- then go either to the Mekong Delta and HCMC OR head over to Trat or BKK in Thailand. That way you could experience 2 countries. I recommend leaving Laos for another time on such a tight schedule.

#10 caseyprich has been a member since 3/3/2010. Location: China. Posts: 1,281
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Posted by UCSBrown on 14/4/2010 at 16:02

I agree with the others here. You are trying to do way too much with very little time.

Unless you are getting sleeping berths trains can be overrated and usually are much slower than buses. As has been stated Laos and Cambodia do not have trains. Also, keep in mind that travel in Laos and Vietnam is extremely slow as road conditions are poor so buses travel very slow (about 30-40 kph is not uncommon).

You can easily do 10 days in Cambodia only with PP, Sihanoukville , Siem Reap and Batambang. If it were me, I'd choose 2 of these and fly to Hanoi. You'd have a bit of time to visit Halong Bay and/or Sapa.

Travel days, even if you are doing night buses/trains totally sucks and you feel like crap in the morning b/c of lack of sleep and room for stretching.


#11 UCSBrown has been a member since 28/11/2009. Posts: 24

Posted by MADMAC on 14/4/2010 at 22:07

"Do you think it's possible to do this trip without hitting the major cities?"

No. Certianly not with the time you've got. The buses are going from city to city. So realistically, you would have to go city to city. And bear in mind, the cities of Laos and, outside PP in Cambodia, small. These are not major metropolises by any means.

Time is your problem. If you want to see what country life is like - pick ONE country, and go to a province and explore it. That's all you have time to do.

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