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North Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia. 5 weeks?

Posted by numberthree on 3/4/2011 at 20:47

Hello all!
My girlfriend and are are planning a trip to these 4 Countries in ~5weeks. Starting Mid June.
So far we have:
Flight from Aus -> K.L-> Chiang Mai.

From there we want to get away from people. Lay in a hammock. Float in a river and chill out.
We were thinking perhaps, Mae Hong Son or Soppong or something?
any other suggestions?
- are there flights from chiang mai to Mae Hong Son? (to cut out travel time) I went to the link given (SGA air/nok mini) and couldn't actually select from chiang mai to mae hong son...
- How long would you suggest staying here for?

from there we were thinking of going across to Laos 1.5weeks.
- want to do similiar stuff away from people. suggestions?
then north to south vietnam in 2 weeks ( flights to cut time)
again - don't like busy places. but still want to see alot of culture and stuff.
so, where?
and only say 3 days in Cambodia just to see Angkor Wat..

Yeah. Any help would be appreciated. To be honest shes trying to get me organised but im terrible with organisation so i am relying on you guys and your kind advice and wisdom

oh. Visa's. Which do we need to organise beforehand? i think that thailand can get on arrival at airport for 30 days? then laos will be crossing border on the ferryboat... where abouts do you get one/need one? Most likely flying from Laos to north vietnam.

Thankyou. and sorry im tired so this is poorly written.

#1 numberthree has been a member since 3/4/2011. Posts: 1

Posted by MADMAC on 4/4/2011 at 00:15

OK three,
First, why do you want to go to all of these countries? I got Cambodia, I don't get the rest. I you want to chill out in a quiet place, you don't need to move around to do that. It would help people help you if you explained why you want to go to these countries, because four countries in five weeks is awfully hectic even with flights.

Secondly, culture is about people, so wanting to experience lots of "culture and stuff" and not wanting to be around people are two goals that are diametrically opposed. Do you want solitude, or do you want culture? You can't have both.

Once you clear those up, it will be a lot easier for folks to give you good advice.

#2 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by exacto on 4/4/2011 at 01:09

Hi #3,

I agree with MADMAC that you are trying to do too much with your time, and that you won't hit that relaxing groove you seek by jumping from place to place.

If you were willing to cut the Vietnam portion out of your trip, then I think you've got a chance at a slower-moving loop through northern Thailand, the full length of Laos, and then a quick cut through Cambodia before returning to Thailand for the return flight home.

It looks like Thai Airways doesn't make the flight from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son any more. Too bad, as that was a quick a fun flight to a cool destination. But the road is much improved now too, so with a stopover in someplace like Soppong to break up the trip, you'd be just fine.

An alternative to that option is a side trip out of Chiang Mai to Chiang Dao, a very laid-back place with a great cave to explore, some good walking nearby, and jungle treks on offer. Best of all, it is less than two hours from Chiang Mai by bus.

You could definitely save time by flying from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang on Lao Airways. But the overland trip will give you some time on the Mekong river. That river boat trip can be quite a chore, however, so up to you which way you want to go.

From Luang Prabang you could take your time working your way down the length of Laos. It will be lots of bus rides, but not too bad if you break it up along the way with stopovers in the different Lao towns. You might also be able to fly from Luang Prabang or Vientiane to points south just to save time. Laos is definitely the laid-back, not-too-crowded type of destination.

Just before crossing into Cambodia, you'll stop at Si Phan Don (4,000 islands), where you can get all the hammock time you need.

In any case, you won't really need to plan too far in advance for most of this itinerary beyond a general route plan. As for visas, most nationalities get 30 days for free (visa exemption) arriving by air in Thailand. You'll get 30 days by land or air crossing into Laos (visa on arrival) for about $35. Crossing back into Thailand by land you'll get 15 days free (visa exemption). I'm afraid I don't have first-hand experience crossing from Laos into Cambodia so don't know what the latest is at that border crossing. Hopefully someone else can provide the specifics. I do know that coming from Thailand into Cambodia by land the visa was in the $20 - $25 or so range and was good for longer than we needed for a week in Siem Reap.

Good luck.

#3 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,759
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Posted by Thomas922 on 4/4/2011 at 03:35

Your post is confusing but you just got excellent advice. Make a general plan with your ideas and then come back to us so we can advise you easier.

#4 Thomas922 has been a member since 1/7/2007. Location: United States. Posts: 352
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