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Thailand forum

1 month in SE Asia, where to go??

Posted by nickziemann on 12/7/2009 at 00:03

I know this is a loaded question, and I've been researching for weeks already.
It is my lady's and my first time to SE Asia and we have a little more than a month to see the land.
Its overwhelming to know how much I wont be able to see, but I want to be sure we enjoy our trip rather than rush rush rush.
We're going from early OCT to early NOV.

Would this basic itinerary be too much to cram in?

Bangkok -

Chiang Mai (a few days, including an overnight stay with the hill tribes)

Chiang Rai (one day en route to laos)

Cross to Laos and slow boat to Luang Prabang over a couple days

Luang Prabang to Vientiane (is a bus best for this trip?)

Head south to Siam Reap (3 days)

Phnom Penh (1 day)


Slowly Train/Bus up vietnam coast and stop along the way

Hanoi / Halong Bay (few days)

Back to Bangkok

Any help would be amazing, I appreciate all the help i've gotten thus far through reading other folks posts!


#1 nickziemann has been a member since 11/7/2009. Posts: 3

Posted by BruceMoon on 12/7/2009 at 11:40


You still have heaps of time to plan, and I'm sure your itinerary will alter much.

Two things...

First, I suggest you are trying to cram in too much. A month appears a long time, but the more distance you travel, the less time you have to actually enjoy your visit. I may sound patronising, but...

Travel is always a competition between two components: things to see and experiences to soak up, enjoy, and remember.

Things to see.

There is no doubt that when you worked out your journey plan, there WERE be many more places on your WISH LIST.

The problem is always finding ways to link these places in the shortest time possible so you can spend time experiencing what the places have to offer.

Another problem is that travel is time consuming, often boring, mentally and physically taxing, costly, and tends to make the traveller irritated. Did I mention time consuming.

And, travel is not only the time from A to B, it’s also the waiting time, the time needed in case of breakdowns or cancelled buses (etc), the time needed to get to the travel point, and the time needed to get from the destination drop off to the accommodation.

Another problem of travel is that unless the journey is a nightmare, it tends not to be memorable. Sure, you can team up with people on a bus/boat/etc., to have fun, but that is because the scenery out the window goes on relentlessly - simply put, you quickly get bored with the scenery.

Things to do/experience.

This is where the whole travel planning bit comes unstuck.

One can't just go to some city/place/ etc., and expect to immediately get a taste of the experiences described on Travelfish pages, or elsewhere. All too often, the experiences you read about come about BECAUSE the person telling about it spent time in an area and become savvy to sussing out the right places to be in at the right time, etc..

Experiencing a place is not always as you’d imagined it may be. But, unless you are in a place to experience it, you won’t have too many memories.

The compromise.

In your planning process, I suggest you are going to have to face the fact that travelling/seeing versus doing/experiencing will be a major compromise.

As far as compromise goes, only you can choose. But, to my way of thinking, you should be choosing less time seeing/travelling and more time doing/experiencing.

In case you need to take another ‘angle’ on this go to the grey area at the top of this page and look at the centre box, roll down to ‘Plan: Less is more’ and ‘Plan: Don’t over plan’, etc.

- - -

Second, your current travel itinerary is virtually unachievable.

Let me give you an example of your itinerary:

Day 1 - BKK

Day 2? - Chiang Mai

Day 3-7 Chiang Mai

Day 8 - VIP bus to Chiang Khong (faster than thru Chiang Rai)
and cross over to Huay Xai [Laos] to await boat next day.

Day 9-10 Boat to Luang Prabang

Day 11 - 13 Luang Prabang

Day 14 bus to Vang Vieng (it takes 2 days to bus it to Vientiane

Day 15 - lets assume you're young and you stop over at VV for water fun

Day 16 - bus to Veintiane

Day 17 - lets say you have spent too much time in a bus, and you
want a breather, so you spend a day here

Day 18 - fly Siem Reap (costly, but bus is another 3 days via Phnom Penh)

Day 19 - 21 Siem Reap - Angkor exploration (what about Tonle Sap?)

Day 22 - bus to Phnom Penh

Day 23 - Phnom Penh

Day 24 - to Saigon: either by bus (1 day, or Mekong cruise, 2 days)

Day 25 - 28 - Saigon

Now, where did the time for train travel up Vietnam go, and what about halong Bay, etc. etc.

This itinerary is a lot of travelling and very little time enjoying

I don't want to sound pessimistic, but I suggest you may be advantaged if you travel less and enjoy more.

For me, 1 month = 1 country. If you rush, you may be able to fit in 2 (but no more).


#2 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

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Posted by nickziemann on 13/7/2009 at 14:25

Thanks so much for taking your time, i really appreciate it. You confirmed what I was imagining. I really want to take time and breathe it all in and sometimes you just need someone to tell you youre being overeager. as i was being. thanks a ton. Ive got a couple months to make a rough plan for my trip, but this helps a lot.


#3 nickziemann has been a member since 11/7/2009. Posts: 3

Posted by BruceMoon on 13/7/2009 at 18:17


If, when you've got more focus, post again, you may find the planning process could do with another hand.


#4 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by xontros on 3/8/2009 at 03:45

I completely agree with BruceMoon.
Another thing that works for me is making an itinerary for less days than the days I am going to stay there. That way I can afford to stay for more days in a place that I just dont want to leave yet.
Of course this only works if you haven't prebooked flights, hotels,etc.
Anyhow I think you will have sorted out the best itinerary when you feel comfortable with it and when it makes sense to you.

#5 xontros has been a member since 3/5/2009. Posts: 19

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