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Thailand forum

Smoke Northern Thailand / Loas - Need help fast.

Posted by Dan87 on 19/3/2007 at 21:29

I am in Pai at the moment and it is a wonderful place with amazing scenery but the smoke makes it feel as though my whole experience is being ruined. My next plan of action was to head into Northern Laos to do the gibbon experience and some trekking and looked forward to visiting Luang Prabang after such amazing reports. Buy I heard the smoke will be even worse in Northern Laos. I am a person who loves to look up and see blue skies it instantly puts me a a good mood, and i enjoy trekking and taking in the whole scenery. At the moment i just cant help but to think my whole experienced is being ruined.

In total i have another 5 and a half months until my return flight to home from Bangkok.
I originally planned to spend 1 month in Laos (April-May) then head over to Vietnam where i was looking forward to trekking in Vietnam ( since some people says it the best they done in the world) and also a Ha Long Bay tour. Then i was going to cover the whole stretch of Vietnam taking around of a month stopping off at your typical tourist spots (May-June) then head into Cambodia for a few weeks to see Angkor plus a little more. I then planned to head back into Thailand till my return flight on the 29th August. ( Covering the south and the beaches plus maybe revisiting the north with friends if they fly over to see me, though i am unsure of there plans so i will not plan around them.)

Now I am really unsure about what to do because Northern Laos was going to be the highlight of my trip, so i am considering changing my plans. Maybe i should travel through Laos when the rain starts to come at start of April and the smoke clears. Only problem is how bad is the wet season, I mean will it rain for a few hours one day and then be ok again for a few more days or is it more like Cambodia where it will rain for 2 out of every 3 days. One advantage the wet season will bring is more greenery which i would love and plus i will be able to do tubing in Vang Vieng since the river will be deeper and moving faster again.

I am currently considering going to Vietnam or Cambodia now instead, but will the smoke be just as bad there? I am also really looking forward to going to Sapa and Ha Long Bay but have heard bad reports of these during the wet season.

I am currently considering flying to Cambodia from Chiang Mai to do the reverse of my trip. Or just to going to the South of Thailand for a while and to do my trip original plan when the smoke has cleared.

PLEASE PLEASE HELP IT WILL BE MUCH APPRECIATED, please can you be as detailed as possible since i am considering changing my whole plans. Can you tell me how often I can expect it to rain in each country at certain months in particular Laos and Northern Vietnam, espically from April-mid May, since this could be the new time i hit these places.

Also can you tell me about the whole situation of smoke in Cambodia and Vietnam at the moment.

#1 Dan87 has been a member since 28/2/2007. Posts: 4

Posted by somtam2000 on 20/3/2007 at 08:14 admin

Hi Dan,

Unfortunately the smoke problem is pretty much an annual event, though this year, by all accounts, has been particularly bad.

Cambodia and Vietnam are less affected by this than northern Thailand and northern Laos and you're correct in guessing that the wet season will help to mitigate the problem. Wet season isn't too bad -- expect a few hours of rain most days, but all-day-long torrential rain affairs are the exception tot he rule.

The main problem with wet season at Ha Long bay is that visibility can suffer (due to cloud and mist -- not smoke!) which can detract from the experience

Bear in mind also that April in Cambodia can be blisteringly hot -- but at least it isn't too smokey!

Hope that helps

#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,943
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Posted by Dan87 on 20/3/2007 at 13:09

I understand that the rainy season is much worse in August and September compared to the previous months. Is it then i can expect rain most days, or will it still rain most days from May-July.

Will trekking in Northern Laos and the Gibbon experience still be possible in June? (At least it will be more green.)
At the moment I am really confused about what to do, I dont know wether to just go to the south of Thailand for a month and then head into Laos, or fly out to Hanoi do Sapa and Ha Long Bay now whilst visibilty is good and then head down through Vietnam and into Cambodia and then fly to Vientiane.

When does the mist start to properly form over Northern Vietnam and Sapa / Ha Long Bay

#3 Dan87 has been a member since 28/2/2007. Posts: 4

Posted by marianwarren on 20/3/2007 at 16:28

Hi Dan 87

Re the Gibbon X - We did it late Nov '06 at the start of the dry season. That involved several hours drive on red dirt, very dusty, along the highway, then 30 to 45 mins into the Bokeo Reserve - followed by 1 hours trek uphill to reach the first zip line. From what I have read (in their brochures), to do this during the wetter months, could involve up to 5 hrs trekking from Ban Don Chai (highway turn off point) to arrive at the 1st Treehouse. Possibly the smoke factor wouldn't be so pronounced given the buffer zone from the surrounding areas of agriculture. I can only suggest you email them and ask questions regarding the expected rainfall. I'm not sure if they operate during the actual wet season.

My previous visit to Nthn Thailand in 2002 was in Late Feb and I felt similarly to you - wanting to get away from the burnoff pollution and haze.

Hope you find clear skies.

Travel well


#4 marianwarren has been a member since 12/3/2006. Posts: 270

Posted by gabby on 21/3/2007 at 18:00

We were due to head to Chiang Mai on 25 March and after reading about the smoke are thinking of changing our plans. Fortunately, we haven't booked anything yet so changes are easy to make. I assume the smoke is still as bad as it was when I read the first reports on 17 March - can anyone give me the latest? Has there been any rain? We're travelling with 2 small kids and don't want to take any unnecessary risks!



#5 gabby has been a member since 19/3/2007. Posts: 4

Posted by ernieh on 22/3/2007 at 11:27

Hi Gabby,

I am currently in Chiang Mai. The air quality and visibility is much better than what was first reported in the Bangkok Post last week. I would recommend coming here. However, I would not recommend going to Pai as friends of mine just back from there and said the air qauality is still poor.


#6 ernieh has been a member since 21/3/2007. Posts: 49

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