Hi - please can you advise on my Thai part of my trip?
have from 19th Dec til 7th (but ideally would like to include 1 week in Laos). do you think it's all too much? please help... not sure how many days to allocate to each stop...
also - if anyone knows a bit more about train from Laos to BKK - or is over night train Laos (Nong Kha) to BKK the only option? I would prefer to not to fly if possible.
Bangkok -> Ayutthaya (Bus?)
Ayutthaya -> Lopburi - worth a stop?
Ayutthaya -> Phitsanulok
Phitsanulok -> Sukhothai
Sukhothai -> Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai -> Chiag Doa (?) - worth a stop?
Chiang Mai -> Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai -> Chiang Khong
Chinag Khong -> Huay Xai (Border Crossing)
Huay Xai -> Luang Prabang (by boat, with an overnight stay in Pak Beng)
Luang Prabang -> Vang Vieng
Vang Vieng -> Vientiane
Vientiane -> Bangkok (sleeper train)
here's at least one opinion for you on a few of your questions:
bangkok to ayutthaya. i'd recommend taking the train.
lop buri. since you are already visiting ayutthaya and sukhothai, probably not worth the stop this time, unless you've really got a thing for monkeys.
what do you plan to do in phitsanulok? just a pass through for sukhothai?
chiang dao is worth a stop, but you are already trying to include too much in too little time, so maybe skip it this time. as an alternative, you could skip sukhothai instead to free up time for chiang dao.
book your overnight sleeper train from VTE/Nong Khai to BKK as far in advance as you can. you'll be travelling during peak season, and these trains fill up ahead of time.
you are trying to cover quite a bit in just a short time. maybe sit down and calculate how long it will take to get from each place to the next, and how much time you hope to spend at each place too. this will help you put together a working itinerary, and maybe help you decide which places you really want to see and which ones you could skip this trip. good luck!
Yes it looks a bit too rushed. I would do Ayuthaya OR Sukhothai but not both (and skip Lopburi). Get to Chiang Mai and chill for a couple days and take a rented scooter out of the city if you're up for it. You can visit Chiang Dao in a day but it's mostly fast highway, can be intimidating if you're new to Thai driving. Easier to just head up to Doi Suthep (temple/mountain/villages/gardens) and poke around up there for a few hours or a day. Really nice and cool in December.
Then head for Chiang Khong (easy from CM just ask) and then hopefully you still have a solid 7-9 days to make your way to Vientiane via LP and VV. Cross the Friendship Bridge to Nong Khai in Thailand, then there are trains to Bangkok at 6:00am, 6:20pm & 7:15pm
See the Northeastern Line on http://www.railway.co.th/English/Time_HTML.asp