My husband and I are in the process of planning a three week trip to SE Asia in January (approximately the 3rd to the 23rd).
As of now our tentative itinerary looks something like this:
Fly into Bangkok -- spend just enough time in Bangkok to get settled, showered, catch up on sleep, etc. (I am thinking about 2 days) before flying to Chang Mai.
We plan to spend about three or four days in Chang Mai.
Then we would like to rent a motorbike and spend about five days zipping around far northern Thailand and the Golden Triangle, perhaps even heading into Burma or Laos for a day or two.
Then return to Chang Mai to fly back to Bangkok.
Spend the day (and maybe a night) in Bangkok before flying to Hanoi, Vietnam. Spend three or four days in Hanoi.
Then fly back to Bangkok to return home.
We've been to Bangkok before (only for a couple days) but we don't really want to spend much time there...we want to spend most of our time up North trekking around.
I am wondering if this seems a little too crunched? With transit time and everything?
One thing to note is that we are not "drinkers or clubbers" so we generally get up quite early in the morning and have the entire day to spend exploring.
It has been our experience traveling through Europe, Northern Africa, etc. that we consistently felt the itch to move on to a new place after approx. three to four days so that is what I am kind of basing our itinerary on.
Any suggestions or must-haves for the areas we will be traveling?
#1 tlsaborido has been a member since 24/6/2008. Posts: 3
It sounds a little "crunched," but not impossible.
Book your train ticket to CM well in advance. You're going during the busiest time of the year and that's a very popular train journey. You could end up spending more time in CM just waiting for a train if you don't buy in advance. Either that, or come up with different plans that may take you to CM in steps.
You won't be able to cross into Burma with a motorbike. In fact, if you do cross into Burma by land, you won't be able to go much beyond the border town that you cross into. Unless you really want a Burmese stamp in your passport, you may want to pass on the place (otherwise take your whole trip there ... it's worth it). Laos is more possible, but for just a couple of days it would be an expensive little jaunt (due to the cost of visas.)
I meant to include this ... If you want to get a taste of Burmese life, take a side trip to Sangkhlaburi and spend time in the village of Fang Mon. Lovely spot, but don't go during a Thai holiday or weekend.
Thanks for the thoughtful answer.
We had envisioned Burma as being more of an all-day trip into one of the border towns --- are there one or two border towns that you would suggest for this?
Do you think that a motorbike is the best way to get around in Northern Thailand and the Golden Triangle? We are looking for freedom/flexibility and optimum mobility....maybe a rental car?
I think the visa to get into Laos is about $75US which is a lot but everything is so affordable that we felt like it would be worth it....are there any towns/cities you suggest in Northern Laos?
Thanks for all of your help!
#4 tlsaborido has been a member since 24/6/2008. Posts: 3
I can't recommend any of the Burmese border towns because I've never been to any of them. I spent a month there in 2003 and was completely rocked by the place and what I saw ... good and bad.
Motorbike? Definitely the way to go for what you want, especially if you are on a time budget.
As for Laotian towns that are within easy reach of the border, Luang Prabang is the obvious one that springs to mind. An amazing antique city on the Mekong, and also Laos' main tourist attraction. You'd want to spend a few days there, at least. But, you better find out if you can enter the country with a motorbike from Thailand and, if you can, if you can take it across the Mekong. There's no bridge at this border crossing and it would have to be carried across in a boat. I haven't been there for years and the boats were just dug-outs when I crossed. I'm sure that there are pedestrian ferries for that sort of thing, though.
You may want to consider flying to Luang Prabang from Bangkok, renting a bike and buzzing around there, then head to the border and cross into Thailand, make your way to Chiangrai and rent a bike there and THEN tour around N. Thailand. Just a suggestion. It would save doubling back in Laos where transport is pretty slow in the first place.
Also, check into the flight passes. You may be able to get something that has a flight from Chiangmai to Hanoi which would mean no need to go back to Bangkok and an extra day to spend somewhere else.