I am planning a trip to Thailand and Cambodia at the end of October.
Here is a draft itinerary but I’m not too sure if I’m trying to fit too much in. Any advice would be appreciated. This is my first back packing trip.
Arrive in Bangkok Saturday evening - Stay two nights
Monday, leave for Kanchanaburi – stay 2 nights
Wednesday – get back to Bangkok and fly to Phnom Penh , Cambodia – stay 3 nights
Saturday – depart Phnom Penh for Siam Reap - Stay in Siam Reap for 3 nights
Tuesday – depart Siam Reap – get back to Bangkok and fly to Southern Thailand
Stay on islands for 10 nights – really have no idea yet which islands to visit.
I realise I probably don’t have time to visit both sides of the peninsula. My feeling is to visit Krabi, Phuket and Ko Phi Phi but advice and recommendations are welcome!
#1 slordan has been a member since 24/8/2009. Posts: 13
Looks OK to me though I'd probably shave a night of Phnom Penh and use it for Siem Reap myself. You can easily adjust how much time you feel like spending in both places once you get there.
The West Coast is your best bet weatherwise as dry season "should" be just starting around then.
However Phuket , Krabi and Phi Phi are all very well know destinations and hyper touristy ... you don't say what kind of island you're looking for. There are a lot of other options if you want something a bit less over-developed. Have a look at a map and the Thai islands section at the top of the page to get some more ideas.
eg you could fly to Krabi, spend a couple of nights there and then head south to Trang (about 3 hours by bus) and go to Ko Kraden, Ko Ngai or Ko Muk instead. These 3 islands are only a short longtail ride from each other so you could visit all of them on daytrips even if you didn't stay on all of them. You could even camp at the NP on Ko Rok for a night if you like snorkellig (resorts can arrange this). You've probably even got enough time to island hop your way to the Trang islands and include Phi Phi en route but it might feel a bit rushed.
It depends what your tastes are... the Trang islands are beautiful but very quiet. If you need nightlife and shopping then PhiPhi and Phuket would be better choices and there are quiet islands easily accessible from Phuket too... eg Ko Yao Yai and Ko Yao Noi.
LOTS of islands so have a wee look and see what you fancy!
Excellent advice given by SBE. I too was thinking 1 less night for Phnom Penh and 1 added to Siem Reap .
Are you overlanding back from Siem Reap to Bangkok, Slordan?
I also recommend SBE's suggestion of the islands off Trang and you could even do a snorkeling trip as just a day-trip from Trang-town if you don't want to stay on the islands. But island hopping the Andaman Coast is a great idea.
And if you're backpacking solo and am seeking more night-life, than head to Ko Phi Phi Don or Ao Nang. Those are both a bit more touristy and expensive but easier to meet up with other solo travelers whereas the Trang Islands tend to get more couples so may not be as easy to hook-up with others.
The great thing is that you'll be hitting these islands/beaches prior to the Dec. onslaught of winter escapee vacationers.
Anyways, have an excellent time.
PS--btw, Air Asia offers budget flights between Bangkok's Suvarhabhumi and Krabi-town or Phuket and Nok Air offers budget flights to Trang-town. All airports are quite a distance from the towns but there are shuttles. In Trang-town there's quite a concentration of travel agencies near the train station where you can book island day-trips or island transfers.
#3 seagypsy has been a member since 5/2/2009. Posts: 136
I'm with SBE & seagypsy as well, but perhaps I'd go further.
As for Kanchanaburi, please DO go to Hellfire Pass. It's out of the way, but if you have any interest in how tough the POW's did their time (and earned your freedom), this is perhaps one of the best examples around. Unless you organise a taxi or similar there, it may take a goodly part of your day. Given this, you may want to consider 3 nights there. Also, there's a good(ish) waterfall nearby that's worth a visit.
As for Phnom Penh, I don't know what you intend to do/see. If it's to see the genocide reminders, and the Royal Palace, then one day will be more than enough.
As for siem reap and the Angkorian temples, go and look at this link:
I suggest you consider a little more time in Siem Reap .
- - -
If travel $$$'s are limited, the cheapest way to get to southern Thailand from Siem Reap is via AirAsia and Kuala Lumpur. I 'tested' with 12 November...
Siem Reap >> Kuala Lumpur 08:35-11:35 US$52
Kuala Lumpur >> Phuket 20:20-20:40 US$17
Total = US$69.
(there is a 12:45 flight from KL, but I wouldn't recommend as not enough time between flights in case of delays, and the $$$'s are more).
Flight from Siem Reap to Bangkok.
Siem Reap >> Bangkok (several flights) US$130
Bangkok >> Phuket (several) US$32
Other airlines (eg. AirAsia) US$24.
So, against US$69, the BKK route = US$155+
"As for Phnom Penh , I don't know what you intend to do/see. If it's to see the genocide reminders, and the Royal Palace, then one day will be more than enough."
I haven't checked the flight schedule to Phnom Penh (presume you're flying Air Asia) but two nights somewhere doesn't necessarily mean two full days there.
I think the Khmer Rouge genocide is of greater historical significance than how tough it was for POWs in Kanchanaburi myself. I found visiting S21 an extraordinarily moving experience. It was very eerie how silent the playground was compared to the street outside ... not even the birds seemed to want to sing there.
Anyway, I wouldn't dismiss it as somewhere you just nip into on the way to the Royal Palace on a quick day tour and if you want to go to the Killing Fields as well bear in mind they are out of town so you may be very be rushed trying to cram everything into one day. More info on things to do in Phnom Penh here.
I found 2 nights in Kanchanaburi enough myself. I'd stick to two nights there and two in PP but up to you.
Thanks everyone for the advice.
In terms of what I am looking for on the islands, yes, I think I would prefer something less devloped but Ko Phi Phi and Krabi do look beautiful. I will be travelling with my partner so we are not looking for a hectic nightlife, but some good food and a few thai beers would keep us happy. After reading the advice, we might skip Phuket and just fly to Krabi and go to Ko Phi Phi and the Trang islands from there.
I was considering doing the Siem Reap to Bangkok part overland as I've seen on some forums that it's worth doing, but do you think it would be better to fly and save time?
I left 3 nights for Phnom Penh , I didn't really want to rush it too much and wanted to allow a bit of time before doing the journey from Phnom Penh to Siam Reap, but perhaps I've left too much time. by the way what's the best way to do this journey from Phnom Penh to Siam Reap?
In Phnom Penh, we would like to see the Royal Palace, Tuol Sleng, Cheung Ek and Betel Nut tour out to Phnom Tamao where you can spend the day with elephants!
We also really wanted to go to Luang Prabang in Laos also, but don't think we would have time?
#6 slordan has been a member since 24/8/2009. Posts: 13
"I was considering doing the Siem Reap to Bangkok part overland as I've seen on some forums that it's worth doing, but do you think it would be better to fly and save time?"
Since the airfare on Bangkok Airways is not cheap, for the money and since you're not too rushed, I'd go overland back to Bangkok. That airfare you save per person will pay for your roundtrip or oneway flights to Krabi-town or Trang-town. I recommend consulting talesofasia.com website or canbypublications.com for the details on avoiding being scammed on this route. Both are very good on travel in Cambodia too.
"I left 3 nights for Phnom Penh , I didn't really want to rush it too much and wanted to allow a bit of time before doing the journey from Phnom Penh to Siam Reap, but perhaps I've left too much time. by the way what's the best way to do this journey from Phnom Penh to Siam Reap?"
There are quite a number of VIP buses that run between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. I've used Mekhong Express and Rong Hung Kheang and give the push to Mekong Express. Very comfy bus which takes approx. 5 hours. Your guesthouse or hotel can book the reservations for you but double check the price to make sure you're not paying a hefty commission for their booking fee.
Generally, 2 days should suffice but if you end up wanting more time, then why not. Also elephants near Ao Nang-Krabi and Luang Prabang .
With regards to Luang Prabang if money is no major object, you could fly Siem Reap to Luang Prabang on Lao Airlines and fly back to Bangkok on Lao Airlines, too. Those flights are not cheap, eventhough Lao Airlines is the least expensive airline for those routes. 2-3 days should suffice but if you want to visit scenic areas of Nong Khiaw and/or Moung Ngoi on the picturesque Nam Ou River, nearly 4 hours away from Prabang by bus/songthaew, then you'll need an extra 3 days for that. Otherwise, 3 full days should suffice for LP, a great town to relax and soak up atmosphere.
#7 seagypsy has been a member since 5/2/2009. Posts: 136
PS--here's a very fresh report on a traveler's experience on crossing the Arranyaprathet-Poipet border:
#8 seagypsy has been a member since 5/2/2009. Posts: 136
for any domestic flights in Thailand or for flight to and from Cambodia, is it better to book in advance or can this easily be done when we get there.
I would prefer to leave it until we get there, as want to leave the travel open and flexible, but I wonder do these flights get more expensive the later you leave it?
#9 slordan has been a member since 24/8/2009. Posts: 13
I think with Air Asia, the earlier you book, the cheaper the flight and they can book out early on popular destinations (but then, virtually all of their destinations in Thailand and Indochina are popular).
It's great to have the flexibility of changing your itinerary and not being locked into a schedule so if you don't mind taking land transport instead of inexpensive flights, then that might be the way to go for you. Depends upon how many places you want to visit. You could always schedule in 'open days' to build in a bit more flexibility.
But if you've already got a good idea as to what exactly you want to see/do, and want to fly inexpensively for comfort and time, then I'd recommend at a minimum to start looking at Air Asia for flight availability even now for cost. Late October is still shoulder season but by late Nov. more travelers will be arriving.
#10 seagypsy has been a member since 5/2/2009. Posts: 136
I've made more or less the itineray you want to do, i think that you are trying to see many places and not keeping in mind the time spent in traveling from one place to he other and the departure times.
As already metion i think it's too many days in Phnom Penh.
Here's some idea of the travels i've made and how long it took.
Bangkok- Phnom Pehn- Flight air asia bk- 14:50-PP- 16:00 plus vis, find and go to hotel etc i was ready to drink beer and eat at 18:30 more or less.
PP-SR- leave by bus at 8:30 morning, already had hotel reservation in SR and i was set at 15:00 (more or less)
SR-Surat Thani- flight bangkok airlines 09:45 from SR to BK wait 2/3 hours for flight air asia to surat Thani Arrive 15:30. After that i went to Ko Pangan and it was 1:30 hours bus to pier and 3 hour ferry to phangan and then taxi to hotel. Arrived trired and late.
In my opinion the traveling day is a "lost" day, travel, find place to stay, taxis and relax.
#11 syna has been a member since 6/8/2009. Posts: 6
"i think that you are trying to see many places and not keeping in mind the time spent in traveling from one place to he other and the departure times.
I'm so glad you wrote this.
On the topic of planning to be in too many places, and not having tome to see anything, I've been bashing my head against a brick wall here on Travelfish.
It seems too many people look at a travelguide and list all the wonderful places. And, in so doing they fail to work out what they are going to do/see/enjoy in these places. And, more importantly, spend so much of their holiday inside a bus/boat/plane/train.
But, some people just come to Travelfish to get validation for their rush around SE Asia!!!
Interesting, one seeker of confirmation who wanted support to race around SE Asia wrote after the journey "...All good fun and saw a lot but couldnt help thinking I should have followed Bruce's advice..
Thanks for the advice.
I do realise it will take some time to get from place to place and have done all of the research on the various options, hopefully we will be able to do most of the trips by air. Nobody has suggested in previous responses that I'm trying to fit too much.
I've been putting off a trip to SE Asia for a long time - waiting for that moment when I can go for a longer period of time but it has not happened so I'm just going to go for it and 3 weeks is all I can have becuase I work full time. I guess I will not know exactly until I go, if when I'm there, I feel it's too much, we can adjust the itinerary. Until I have the opportunity to go for longer periods of time, this will have to do!
#13 slordan has been a member since 24/8/2009. Posts: 13
ok, I wasn't sure if it was being suggested that I perhaps am still trying to fit too much in ;-)
My other decision to make right now is whether to get the rabies shot - I wasn't going to but then my boyfriend's doctor told him he should.
If I don't get it - how screwed would I be if I got a bite from an animal with rabies? I know the chances are slim but it is a risk all the same.
#16 slordan has been a member since 24/8/2009. Posts: 13
Ok thanks Bruce - I have definitely taken your advice from other posts - orginally I was going to try and fit Laos and Vietnam also but soon reaslied that would probably be a terrible mistake after doing some reading!
#17 slordan has been a member since 24/8/2009. Posts: 13
As far as health related matters are concerned, elsewhere I've argued that the drug industry loves putting fear in travellers minds - it gets the traveller motivated to pay heaps for every (often unnecessary) drug possible.
That said, I don't claim to be an expert on rabies. However, if you look at Travelfish over the past few years, every time the subject of rabies is brought up, there is a constant view that one doesn't need a preventative shot. Not only because the shot doesn't prevent you from getting rabies, but because if you get bitten by a rabid animal you're going to have to visit a doctor and get an antivenine shot then. All the 'preventative' rabies shot does is give you more time before actually getting to a doctor.
But, if you have a concern, and spending money [i[just in case makes you happy, then sobeit.
My trip is only 2.5 weeks away now and I'm having a disagreement with my parter!!
A friend of his has offered us a villa in Thong Nai Pan, Koh Phangan. We would still be paying but he will offer us a really good price. Now my parter wants to spend some time there but I'm really not sure.
He wants to go to a full moon party - I'm not bothered.
Also, weather wise it looks like it's monsoon season on that side of the coast...
Any advice here?
#19 slordan has been a member since 24/8/2009. Posts: 13