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Thailand forum

Thailand 2x in 3 months?

Posted by shirasam on 15/9/2011 at 03:33

Trying to figure out a sensible route where I can see Thailand, Laos and Vietnam in 3 months. I want to skip Cambodia as I've already been there (and not sure if I want to go back).
Will be arriving in Bangkok from Sydney in mid February 2012. What makes more sense?

1. Thai islands (Samui, Ko Phangan)
2. Up to northern Thailand (Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai)
3. Through to Laos and northern Vietnam
4. South through Vietnam to Saigon
5. Back through BKK to Thai islands again (Krabi, Phi Phi)


1. Thai islands (both east and west)
2. Back through BKK and fly to Saigon
3. North through Vietnam to northern Vietnam and Laos
4. Through Laos to northern Thailand

I'd really like to spend Songkran in Chiang Mai, as I've heard/read in numerous places that it's the best city to be in for the holiday. But if I hear otherwise, I would reconsider.
Also out of 3 months, would like to spend 6-8 weeks in Thailand and 4-6 weeks in Laos & Vietnam.

Thanks for the advice!

#1 shirasam has been a member since 6/5/2011. Posts: 6

Posted by Nixxypie on 15/9/2011 at 03:58

I think the main thing to consider is your visa for Thailand as if you come by air you have 30 days or if you come over land you only have 15 days, so your route will have to be planned around that, depending on how long you want to spend in each place. If I was you I would do both east and west islands at the same time as it's a lot of travelling up and down Thailand when you could go to the east islands, then cut across to the west, then back up to Bangkok.

I have just travelled around Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam for 5 weeks, and because we had such a limited time we were up at 6am every day doing a trip or travelling or visiting a new place, so we saved the islands right until the end which was a relaxing week before we had to return home, which I would recommend if you're gonna get tired travelling about... And if you were gonna do that and spend the last 15 days of the visa on the islands I think that would be enough (I only went to Koh Tao and Koh Phangan but after 3 days on Koh Tao I was ready to leave because I didn't dive there's nothing else to do, and on Koh Phangan after 3 days I felt like it was enough although I could have stayed longer just to relax). Or you could spend the 15 days in Chiang Mai and up North, then use the 30 days for the islands?

If it was me travelling I would follow this route

Arrive BKK (30 day visa)
Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai
Northern Vietnam and work down to HCMC
Fly back to BKK (another 30 day visa)
Down to the east, then across to the west.

Obviously the trip could be done either way, but this way it means you get two 30 day visas, but if you fly from BKK>HCMC then Laos, then arrive in Thailand by land from there you will only get 15 days. But if that's enough then go with whatever you fancy. Also leave yourself open to changes as you might meet people who are staying longer or going elsewhere you hadn't even considered and you might end up going along with them. Enjoy.

#2 Nixxypie has been a member since 27/4/2011. Posts: 55

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Posted by guava_girl on 15/9/2011 at 07:55

I am just wondering why you are not flying into Phuket from Sydney. I am pretty sure that there are flights and may make it easier for trip number 1, which I think is better as it splits the two island hoping trips.

If you fly into Phuket you can do the south, then go north, then do Laos & Vietnam and then head back south again and fly out of Phuket. Otherwise stick with trip 2 as it saves you going south, north & south again, unless of course you are flying. If so than stick with plan 1.

#3 guava_girl has been a member since 21/10/2010. Posts: 252

Posted by shirasam on 16/9/2011 at 01:55

The reason I'm flying Sydney to Bangkok is because I'm flying on miles. I actually live in NYC but I'm using miles to fly from NYC-Singapore and Sydney-Bangkok. I'm spending a month in Australia before going to SEA. So I'm limited to what's offered for miles seats.
I think I will look into the Discovery Airpass with Bangkok Air though, because from what I read I can use it for these flights:
1. BKK-Samui
2. Samui-BKK
3. BKK-Saigon
4. Hanoi-Luang Prabang
5. Luang Prabang-Chiang Mai

So in that case I may just go with Option #1 from my original post and do the western Thai islands at the end of the trip (a little more beach R&R for last...). And within northern Thailand, Vietnam and Laos I'll do the bus trips.

That sound about right?

#4 shirasam has been a member since 6/5/2011. Posts: 6

Posted by KhowNeow11 on 16/9/2011 at 14:15

I would look into getting a 60 day tourist visa from a Thai Embassy or Consulate. This would allow you to do Thailand in one go, reducing travel costs and back and forth trips, and fits your allotted 6-8 weeks in the country. In this situation, id probably advise:
A couple weeks in The South of Thailand
Several weeks traveling to/around Northern Thailand
Cross in to Laos, first stop Luang Prabang , then go from there
Continue on to North Vietnam, and travel down to Saigon

You did however mention that you’d like to be in Chiang Mai for Songkran, which is an undertaking I’d highly recommend. Unfortunately, the holiday is in mid April, 60 days after mid February, and you would likely haveto leave just before it really gets going. Also it seems like you’re interested in breaking your trip up a bit. If you go the route of songkran in Chiang Mai,I would recommend your original Idea #2, aiming to arrive in the north of Thailand in early-mid April, ready to get wet. Think of Songkran as your Northern Thailand Baptism. (Note: Flying Luang Prabang – Chiang Mai would get you the 30 days, which would be about 4 weeks, just right)
This would likely mean doing the islands in one go straight off the bat, which really is more efficient way to do it. You mention “Island R&R” at the end of your trip, but I would say that there are vast options in The North if you’re looking for relaxation, in my opinion much more tranquil and secluded than many of the beach spots in the west islands.

But do what sounds good to you! And be as flexible as possible; you never know where your travels will take you, and you’ll get the most out of it if you go with the flow, so to speak.

#5 KhowNeow11 has been a member since 10/9/2011. Posts: 19
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Posted by JRSB on 16/9/2011 at 16:24

Hey shirasam,

Me and my fiancee are now in northern Thailand (Chiang Rai), and are in SEA for a total of 3.5 months.We are headed to Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia as well.

What we chose to do was spend about a month in the north of Thailand, head into Laos by boat to Luang Prabang, fly to Hanoi, and take a long motorbike trip to Saigon. From there we will go through Cambodia and eventually to Bangkok.

It looks like your going to the same places (add islands, minus Cambodia)...

What we have run into is difficulty traveling by bus/train to hanoi from luang prabang so if you have that option for a flight i recommend you take it. Other than that I agree that you should be flexible with your plans. We have already run into so many situations where we want to stay or leave unexpectedly.

Another thing to consider is what you really enjoy. Whether its big cities, parties, the jungle, or beach relaxing each part of SEA you are going to has something to offer. Try to work the visas accordingly and give yourself enough time to enjoy each area. Personally I love northern Thailand, and in my opinion you could rent a motorbike and explore northern Thailand for 30 days.

Either way enjoy!!!

#6 JRSB has been a member since 15/9/2011. Location: United States. Posts: 8
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