I'm planning on flying into Bangkok from Hong Kong on April 28th and have been trying to put an itinerary together. I was wondering if anyone familiar with this type of trip could give me a critique and/or try and help me modify/fill it out a bit more.
As for me, I'm a 23 year old from Canada and am interested in everything from historical sights to snorkelling to trekking to partying (of course). I'm not looking for anything in particular, but if anyone had any "must sees" that they'd like to suggest, I would greatly appreciate it.
My trip will be running from the 28th of April to approx the 27th of June. So far I have compiled an itinerary up to June 2nd, however am having trouble deciding where to spend the 3 weeks or so after that.
This is my "working copy" of my itinerary thus far. Feel free to point out portions that seem to not make sense, appear to be too much/not enough time, or if the itinerary seems to busy and/or ambitious for the allotted amount of time. The biggest issue I was having was judging traveling time.
2-5 Chiang Mai
6-7 Chang Rai
8 Chiang Rai -> Chiang Khong
9 Chiang Kong -> Huay Xai
10-11 Huay Xai -> Pakbeng -> Luang Prabang (slow boat)
12-13 Luang Prabang
14 Luang Prabang -> Vang Vieng
15-16 Vang Vieng
17 Vang Vieng -> Vientiane
19-23 Siem Reap (from Vientiane by plane)
24 Siem Reap -> Bangkok -> Koh Samui (plane)
25-27 Koh Samui
28-30 Koh Phangan (full moon party)
31-June 2 Koh Tao
June 2 – June 25 ???
Cheers and thanks for your help,
#1 jthomps has been a member since 14/4/2010. Posts: 6
Your Itin looks pretty good.
Only change I'd would be to go directly from Chiang Rai to Huay Xai. Skip Chiang Khong there really isn't anything there. There are 1 or 2 Wats which you can do in an hour. You want to be in Laos early as the slow boat pick up is about 9am (they'll drive you in the AM but you'll wait at the dock for a while, boat leaves at about noon).
So now you have an extra day.
I don't know if you've booked KPN yet but most hotels and guesthouses have a min of 4-5 mights for FMPs.
#2 UCSBrown has been a member since 28/11/2009. Posts: 24
Thanks, any definite must sees along the way that anyone could recommend? I've been reading guidebooks, but its always nice to hear from personal experiences of fellow backpackers. Any recommendations on where to stay in KPN?
#3 jthomps has been a member since 14/4/2010. Posts: 6
I think you should spend more time in Cambodia. It is a beautiful country and you certainly have the time. You should travel through the South a bit. There is a great place called Kamput which is easily accessable to caves and the hill station, which I think is a must see. Unless they have started the construction already. I suggest also that you go to Phenom Pehn, then from there to Battambang, a beautiful city. From there you can then take a boat back to Siem Reap and then fly to Samui. You can go to the FMP the following month instead. And July is probably one of the best months in Samui and Phangan.
As for accomodations during the FMP, you only need to book for 4-5 nights if you stay in Haad Rin. If you stay almost anywhere else on the island this will be avoided.
#4 yogakhaolak has been a member since 1/4/2010. Posts: 45
Thanks, I wish I had unlimited time, but I've got to be back home by the end of June for a new job that I'll be starting. My main question for the time being is this... Is FMP as good as it's cracked up to be? Or would I be better off skipping it and continuing on through Thailand/Cambodia/Laos?
#5 jthomps has been a member since 14/4/2010. Posts: 6
In regards to the Full moon Party, quite frankly I think it's a little overrated. Being a fellow party going Canadian, I must say that I was dissapointed by it. I've been to some pretty stellar festivals in my life and this just didn't "wow" me. Perhaps my expectations were too high?
Anyway, don't get me wrong, the experience was cool, the neon paint and the energy...but that soon gets overshadowed by the garbage, belligerence and overall drunken debauchery occurring on such a gorgeous Island. Some of the music tends to be a little out dated too, I mean, hey, tunes are tunes but for the love of all that is holy did I ever hate waking up to SANDSTORM being pounded out so loud that it felt like my brain might explode (at 9am...and my guesthouse was on the very faaaaaaaaaaaar end of Haad Rin)
It's a shame really, waking up and going to the beach the next day only to see how absolutely destroyed it is. My advice would be yes, definitely check it out because your experience might be completely different than mine, but stay on a different beach where you're not forced to stay for 5-7 days. I am happy I got to go to the Full Moon Party because it's so iconic and it definitely had it's shining moments, but would I go again? Probably not, if only because you can get that same party vibe on most beaches in Thailand, with fewer asshat's that are blind drunk.
Pay attention to your visa situation. If you come back overland from Cambodia you will only be given a 15-day visa, which wouldn't be enough to last you until your flight home. If you fly back from Cambodia you will be given a full 30-day visa, so make sure you don't go back to Thailand too soon. You can do this by spending a bit more time in Cambodia, as Yogakhaolak recommends. It's worth it. It'll be smokin' hot, though.
Maybe check your visa options before you leave. You could get a multi-entry visa before you leave, but that would cost you $130 and might not be worth it.
Thanks for the replies guys. I hear where you're coming from Tribalfunk. I've been to some pretty wild parties, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Queensday in Amsterdam, New Years in Costa Rica, so I just feel like I may be set up for a let down. I'm leaning towards continuing on with my trip as is and getting to Koh Phangan eventually. I hear they've got half moon and black moon parties as well.
Tilapia, thanks for the reminder. I do plan on flying back into BKK from either Phnom Penh or Siem Reap, so while I'll have 30 days, you're right, I'm going to have to time it properly.
Thanks for all of the tips. Cheers.
#8 jthomps has been a member since 14/4/2010. Posts: 6
I wouldn't get too excited about the FMP. In my opinion, these things are definitely not worth going out of your way for unless you really want to add it to your already significant list of mega-bashes. At the risk of sounding like an old relic, everything that was special about these things disappeared a long time ago and they've become as cliche and standardized as Spring Break at Daytona Beach. But, having said that, you just may enjoy yourself.
For what it's worth, I thought the HMP was better. Half as crazy, half as busy, half as noisy, more chilled out, and just as fun, if not more.
I would not bother flying to Samui. In fact, I'd avoid Samui entirely and would use that time on Koh Tao instead, and would go there by boat from Chumphon. Or, stick around Laos a bit longer and go to the Si Phan Don area for some chilled-out waterside time. From there you can cross into Cambodia and head to Siem Reap by road.
And finally, since you are asking, I don't recommend sticking to a schedule. There really isn't any need to. You have lots of time to wander around at a leisurely pace and change your plans if and when you want, and you probably will depending on the weather, who you meet, and what you find out along the way. I shamelessly promote the Northeast, especially along the Mekong River, and encourage you to check it out. The area is beautiful, there are lots of great towns and villages, few tourists, it's inexpensive, and has a very, very laidback pace.
From one Canuck to another, have a great time.
Thanks Tilapia. I have got the same train of thought going into this trip. The itinerary is more of just a research project for me just to discover what is actually out there to see and will act as a loose schedule. If I end up at the FMP, so be it, but I will not be basing my travel plans around it. I would much rather experience the real Thai/Laos/Cambodian life and have discovered a few new places and experiences that I'm putting on the to do list. Two of which are:
Khao Sok National Park
Gibbons Experience in Bokeo, Laos
The Gibbons Experience just looks incredible.
#11 jthomps has been a member since 14/4/2010. Posts: 6