I'm about to start an 8 to 10 week trip around Mainland Asia (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam). I've been trying to read as much as I can about the weather, cities to visit, highlights and timeframes, but I'm still a little bit confused about my "so far" itinerary, so I would really appreciate some help and advice.
I will be starting my trip in early august (Monsoon Season) so I was just making up my mind if it would be better to cross from Thailand to Cambodia, through Poipet and from there to Siem Reap (Angkor), maybe go to Battambang and then all the way to Phnom Penh, from where I would head up to Vietnam (Saigon) up north to Hanoi, and then crossing to Laos (Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng and Vientiane) back to Thailand.
How does it sound? would it be better to do it the other way around? (I'm interested in your advise taking the monsoon rains into consideration)
By the way my plans are to stay in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam for about 5 weeks and the rest just thailand, so another question would be: if i rather leave thailand till the end (which many people have suggested) or half and half?
Is my itinerary feasible with all the rain and road problems?
Is there any section of this itinerary that I would rather do it by boat (because water level is high)?
Thanks so much for your help and advice
#1 yayo12 has been a member since 19/6/2007. Posts: 8
Welcome to Travelfish Yayo12,
Your trip looks good, but depending on how many stops you're planning in Vietnam, five weeks could be pretty tight. If you take a look at this suggested regional itinerary, it will give you an idea of the travel times between spots -- should help in planning things out -- Vietnam is BIG -- bigger than many realise!
If you're after boat trips, you've got a few options:
Siem Reap - Phnom Penh
Siem Reap - Battambang
Phnom Penh - Chau Doc (in the Mekong Delta)
Of those I'd suggest Phnom Penh to Chau Doc as being the most scenic and interesting. From Chau Doc it is straightforward to arrange onward transport to Saigon.
Another consideration is if you alter your Laos leg, then you can take the two-day slow boat from Luang Prabang north to Huay Xai -- one of the best boat trips in the region.
Regarding Thailand, it depends where you're planning on going. If you're planning on doing north and south, I'd say do the south, then head to Cambodia and do the north after returning from Laos.
Hope that helps!
Somtam2000, Thanks for your advice, hope you can help me a little more.
What would you recommend? After doing south Thailand, should I head up for Cambodia, then Vietnam, and how do I connect to Laos?
This is exactly my big issue, I dont know how to connect all the countries without flying to much. I could do Siem Reap, then PP and from there go to Saigon (taking the boat trip, which sounds great, thanks) after entering Vietnam I'll head up north till Hanoi, but how can I end up in Laos without coming back or flying?
Is there another route that goes through these 3 countries without turning back nor stopping at so many places (like the suggested itinerary says) between Vientiane and PP?
#3 yayo12 has been a member since 19/6/2007. Posts: 8
There's a few border crossing between Laos and Vietnam you can use. Take a look at the visa and border crossings FAQ for detailed information on most of them (and a map).
The reason most itineraries stop at a lot of places is that the trip times are long and the transport not super comfortable, so it makes sense to break things up a bit. That said, if you're planning on seeing just Saigon and Hanoi in Vietnam, then I'd definitely say fly, as it will take you two days by land, and it's a pretty dull two days if you're not breaking it up.
Also bear in mind the land crossings are slow -- to travel overland from Hanoi to Luang Prabang will take close on two full days (at least). The flight takes an hour. So you need to weigh up how much time you have Vs how much time you want to spend crammed into a bus.
So for a trip like yours, you could do something like the following for the Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos legs:
Siem Reap - Phnom Penh - saigon - Nha Trang - Hoi An - Hue - Hanoi, fly or overland to Luang Prabang - Vang Vieng - Vientiane.
Thanks very much for your advice, I think I will follow your itinerary.
#5 yayo12 has been a member since 19/6/2007. Posts: 8