Two 23 year old friends and I are looking to backpack these countries on the back-end of our trip and are looking for the smartest route we can take to hit each of the 3 countries time effectively. We have a little more than 3 weeks and are flying home from Bangkok. We are struggling with chose a route out of Vientiane to see as much of Laos and Thailand as we can, but also hit Siem Reap for Angor Wat.
Should we go thru Northern Thailand to Bangkok and do a trip to Siem Reap from there? Or work our way down Laos thru Pakse and Si Phon Don to Siem Reap and onto Bangkok?
Any help with this would be a lifesaver. Thanks!!!
#1 nordy812 has been a member since 10/7/2013. Posts: 2
"Two 23 year old friends and I are looking to backpack these countries on the back-end of our trip and are looking for the smartest route we can take to hit each of the 3 countries time effectively."
You are trying to do too much - a common problem found here. This idea will eat about 1/3 of your time on buses and transit unless you are willing to fly. So if spending one day in three on buses sounds like a good time - and for the most part they won't be nice buses - you need to scale it way back.
You don't mention if Bangkok is your APOD or not, but I will assume it is as it is with most people. If you have three weeks total from time of arrival in Bangkok to time of departure, then I recommend you pick one country to hit. If it's your first time in the area, then Bangkok and it's environs are logical - maybe a little beach time, Ayudhya, Kanchanaburi, perhaps a trip up to Chiang Mai. That ought to fill all three weeks completely.
If Angkor Wat is important to you, then fly from Bangkok to Sieam Reap and spend your time in Siem Reap, PP and Bangkok (since you have to go there anyway).
The more you move, then less you experience. Movement is slow and painful. If you want to make a long trip hitting lots of places, you need a lot of time - which apparently you don't have.
Agree with Madmac it is quite a lot of distance for three weeks. Are you definitely flying into Vientiane and out of Bangkok?
You miss out on most of northern Laos. There are overnight buses to Pakse but then you miss out on some highlights between. Slow going by road into Cambodia this way. Long ride to Phnom Penh and most of a day's travel to Siem Reap , same to Bangkok. But yeah it's doable. On the move every couple days.
This way you get to some of northern Laos and Thailand, but still long bus rides. Luang Prabang to Huay Xai (border) takes about 14-16 hours by bus, or slow boat on the Mekong two days. Another 6-7 hours border to Chiang Mai. Then all day or all night to Bangkok (or do Sukhothai or Ayuthaya one the way). Bangkok to Siem Reap overland takes most of a day (and again return). Loads of time in buses, but again it's doable.
Another option would be to have a one-week base in each of these countries and just do a couple of day trips from each location - that would be a more relaxing way to spend a week in each country, rather than doing 2 or 3 long bus journeys. It would involve plane journeys between countries but, depending on the price, could well be worth it.
Could you switch your Laos base to Luang Prabang? Loads to do in a week there, besides the beautiful town itself. Elephants, waterfalls, bike rides, sunsets.
Fly LP- Siem Reap .
Siem Reap - Temples and Tonle Sap. Siem Reap itself is often overlooked despite being an interesting place.
You can search for day trip options from BKK, even though one week in the city itself would not be too much.
#4 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 738
Thanks for all the quick responses guys!
@MADMAC- I agree I think we are doing too much with the time we have. And consolidation will probably be the best option.
@Captain_Bob- Thanks so much for the visualization! This will be the second leg of our trip after we visit friends in Taipei, Shanghai and Hanoi. A little more than 3 weeks is definitely not enough time, but its what we have to work with. Vientiane is not on our must visit list and can be skipped, but it seems like a good transportation hub to get us to the next step of our trip. But we are for sure flying home from Bangkok though.
@Chinarocks- I agree China does rock! and I wish we were spending more time exploring western China. We could totally make Luang Prabang our home base in Laos and a 5-7 days there seems about right for how long we want to be in the region, I just wasn't sure if we HAD to end up in Vientiane to travel to our next country. What airlines flies from LP to Siem Reap? I didnt see anything with Air Asia. That may be our best way to save time, but we would miss out on Northern Thailand. But i'm sure more time spent in southern Thailand could make up for it.
#5 nordy812 has been a member since 10/7/2013. Posts: 2
"What airlines flies from LP to Siem Reap ?"
As far as I know, it's a Hanoi to Siem Reap flight that stops in LP, or at least it did around 3 years ago anyway. *Checks Vietnam Airlines website* I can confirm that they still do that route. It's a 2 hour flight, and a sample one-way fare (departing next month, for example) is $130. Not too bad all things considered.
"but we would miss out on Northern Thailand."
In this timeframe you are not going to see everything so that's unfortunately the price you will pay, I'd rather be more relaxed and soak up a place than spend 9-10 hours on a bus every second day.
#6 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 738