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5 weeks itinerary: Thailand (?) - Lao - Vietnam - Cambodia

Posted by stephjac on 18/4/2010 at 22:12

Hi all,
my gf and I will be travelling for five weeks in SE Asia from May 25th till June 30th. We're in the planning phase, and we're facing some difficulties since the last events in Thailand.
We're gonna start our trip in BKK and we'll go back from BKK at the ned of June. We're experienced travellers, but never been in SE Asia.
Our current plan is:

Days [1-4]: BKK (including a day trip to Ayutthaya);
Days [5-6]: flight to Chiang Mai and visit Chiang Mai
Days [7-9]: flight to Luang Prabang and sightseeing;
Day [10]: bus to Viang Vieng
Day [11]: tubing in Viang Vieng
Days [12-13]: bus to Vientiane and sightseeing;
Days [14-15]: flight to Hanoi and sightseeing;
Days [16-18]: cruise in Halong Bay;
Days [19-23]: flight from Hanoi to Nha Trang, and beach :);
Days [24-25]: Train to HCMC and sightsee;
Days [26-27]: Bus from HCMC to Chau Doc and boat on the Mekong to Phnom Penh;
Days [28-29]: sightseeing Phnom Penh;
Days [30-33]: Bus to Siem Reap, and visit Angkor Wat;
Day [34]: flight to BKK.

We'd like to have any suggestion/variation! There are a lot of flights, but it is definitely the fastest way to move in certain areas.We're trying to get as much as we can from these countries! If you have any suggestion abt transportation they're welcome!
We're really worried about what is happening in Thailand in these days, so we don't know what to do in our first week:

_ option 1: leave the itinerary as it is now, and hope everything will be ok (risky?)
_ option 2: spend the first week in Ko Tao flying to Ko Samui (very expensive, 225$ p.p. round trip with BKK Airways) and getting on a boat (is there anything better?) to Ko Tao
_ option 3: fly directly from BKK to Luang Prabang and spend more time in all the places we wanna see (doing this we would completely skip Thailand), maybe checking Hoi An in Vietnam, or Sihanoukville in Cambodia (other suggestions?)
_ option 4: fly directly from BKK to Udon Thani --> friendship bridge to Vientiane --> then visit Lao going north towards Luang Prabang, and fly to Hanoi.

Accomodation will be found once there (LP guide) while we dont know if we have to book the flights in advance (i.e. Discovery Pass) or we can do it in BKK.
Thanks a lot for your help!

#1 stephjac has been a member since 18/4/2010. Posts: 1

Posted by Nokka on 18/4/2010 at 23:48

I think you are trying to do far too much in too short a timescale. Your plan is possible, but will pass in just a blur unless you slow it. I understand you wish to see everything, but if your not careful you'll have been everywhere and seen nothing.

My thoughts, if you wish to stick with all 4 countries. I would definately miss out Chiang Mai - you take a flight there and then another to Luang Prabang next day ?

If I were you, I would fly direct to Luang Prabang and make your way to Vientiane . Or take the train to Nong Khiaw and then over the Friendship Bridge to Viantiane and then head north. If you want to really speed things up fly between LP and Vientiane (one way or the other) and skip Vang Vieng. Alternatively, fly to LP and then go up to Nong Khiaw in Northern Laos. Whatever you do, sloooow down in Laos- you really need a couple of weeks for where you wish to go, in my view. At the very least 10 days.

Vietnam - if you really want to see the whole country in a whistle stop; well - skip Nha Trang, which gets mixed reviews and go to Hoi An . Hoi An is a gem and shouldn't be missed - there's a beach within easy cycling distance, also. Spend at least 10 days seeing Hanoi, Halong Bay and Hoi An.

If you are prepared to spend money flying, take a flight from HCMC to Siem Reap and spend a bit longer there. From there on to Bangkok at the end. By then you will know whether its looks OK to visit. If you don't like the look of it and you've already booked your flight - take a bus from B'kok airport down to Ko Samet or Ko Chang and sit on the beach for a few days at the end of your holiday. You'll probably need a rest :)

Wherever you choose to go in the end, try to spend a bit longer in each place, even if it means seeing less places. I assure you, you won't regret it.

#2 Nokka has been a member since 6/4/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 259
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Posted by MADMAC on 19/4/2010 at 01:18

I would make sure I fly back to Bangkok two days prior to departure... just in case a flight gets cancelled. So if your flight out is on day 35, then I would return day 33.

#3 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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