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2 month Itinerary: realistic?

Posted by castillo823 on 11/3/2012 at 17:27

Hello! Long time reader, first time poster, so I apologize if this isn't in the correct section of the boards (although, I'm fairly certain it is).

Anyway, planning a solo-trek through South East Asia this summer. Done the living out of the backpack thing in Europe this past summer for about two months so I'm fairly comfortable with traveling on shoestrings and the planning/issues that go along with it.

I've spent many hours over the past few weeks looking at sample itineraries, looking at travel in the region, looking at maps to see how feasible this all is geographically speaking, etc. I have two and a half months (mid June to end of August) to do a trip but I'm concerned my plans are too ambitious.

While I know I could easily spend a month in each location, I'm looking for a little "taste" of everything. I've picked locations that are pretty much on the beaten path for backpackers but I'm not looking for wild parties. I enjoy going out at night, but I don't drink, so things won't be too wild.

Any suggestions, help,and feedback, regarding methods of travel or time allocations, etc.. would be very much appreciated!

Thailand (10 days)
- Bangkok
- Kanchanbhuri (Day trip?)
- Ayutthaya
- Chiang Mai

[Planning on flying? Or should I go overland?]

Laos (5 days)
- Luang Prabang
- Van Vieng (Is VV worth it? Or am I going to be out of my element?)
- Vientiane

[Planning on flying? Or should I go overland?]

Vietnam (8 days)
- Hanoi/Halong Bay
- Hue or Hoi An
- Ho Chi Min City
- Mekong Delta (Day trip?)

[VIP Bus?]

Cambodia (5 days)
- Phnom Penh
- Siem Reap

[Planning on flying? Or should I go overland?]

Thailand (6 days)
- Phuket
- Phang Nga Bay
- Koh Phi Phi


Indonesia (7 days)
- Bali: Ubud
- Bali: Amed


Singapore (3 days)
- Singapore City

And just one more point of clarification: when I say "3 days" I mean full days. I.E. The travel day to Cambodia (and then later from) wouldn't count. Budget is about $4000 after my flights there (been working a lot of overtime for this trip!) Thanks everybody! And again, if this is in the wrong place, I'd appreciate where this should go!

#1 castillo823 has been a member since 11/3/2012. Posts: 2

Posted by busylizzy on 11/3/2012 at 18:19

Wow - sounds like you're planning for an awesome time away. Overall, I would say that you are trying to cram in too much, I suspect you know that! When I plan a long-ish trip like this, I personally like to build in some definite chill time in between the 'on the move' times. You need to keep a balance or you will burn out and/or things become a blur of train/bus stations.

- I would allow at least 2-3 days in Kamchanburi, don’t leave it as a day trip. There’s plenty to do here and unless you plan on doing a tour from BKK, it might be difficult to do it in a day.
- Ayutthaya, on the other hand, I believe can be done as a day trip (not speaking from experience though, but from my previous research, you could get an early morning train from BKK)

- Seriously, I would allow more than 5 days.
- I didn’t go to VV because I wasn’t into the party scene... but I do hear the scenery is spectacular. I chose instead to enjoy the scenery further upriver from LP, to Nong Khiaw and Muang Ngoi. If you’re not looking for the backpacker party scene that you would get in VV, then I would suggest doing this instead for a more laid back experience.
- On the other hand, if you are catching a bus from VTE to LP, then it makes sense to stop at VV. If you can fly, I would fly VTE to LP then head upriver as I described. But also allow a bit more time to be able to enjoy it.
- Alternatively, consider skipping VTE and flying direct from Chiang Mai to LP?

- It’s a bit rushed. Given your timeframe, I would suggest cutting out Hue and going straight to Hoi An .
- I spent 3-4 days getting through the Delta so can’t imagine doing it as a day trip. I would suggest you pencil it in as an idea but don’t book anything until you are there. That will give you more flexibility to change your mind.
- Assume you going overland into Cambodia from HCMC? You could take 2-3 days to do that then get the boat from Chau Doc. I reckon that would be a better experience.

Hmm... before I keep going on and repeating myself (“A bit rushed’, etc) I honestly think that I would cut out Bali and add those extra 7 days on to the other countries. I would probably say the same for Singapore, too. I understand taht you want a ‘taster’ – but where’s your time for R&R? You need to build in some downtime to relax and just absorb the place a bit, otherwise you’ll burn out and it all becomes a blur.

I haven’t travelled through Europe, but imagine that overland travel in SEA is MUCH slower than in Europe. Don’t underestimate the travel times. Your budget sounds generous I think, so maybe consider some more flights on the longhaul parts. (eg CM – LP, Hanoi – Hue or Hoi An (Dalat), Siem Reap to Phuket).

#2 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,152
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Posted by busylizzy on 11/3/2012 at 18:20

You'll find some useful info in this thread on getting from Chiang Mai to Laos.

#3 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,152
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Posted by MADMAC on 12/3/2012 at 02:39

That's a lot of time consumed moving around. Not to mention a lot of money on plane flights and visa fees. Wouldn't even come close to working for me, but it's your vacation.

#4 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by chinarocks on 12/3/2012 at 07:11

I can only reiterate what the rest have said, far too much in too little time.

For example, the idea of seeing 3 places in 5 days in Laos, given the pace of life/transport in that country, is pure madness!!

Even if your aim is just to get a taster of the region, six countries in two months just seems like far too much.

Why not leave it to three - Thai, Laos, Cambodia? And include Singapore also if you can fly there. Indonesia and Vietnam are big places - too much for this trip IMO.

#5 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 738

Posted by ben130892 on 24/3/2012 at 08:16

I would definitely say that you are cramming far too much in. The overland travel in Laos and Vietnam aren't especially great and I wouldn't suggest using these transport methods every other day or so. When I first set off on my first trip round S.E Asia I set out an itinerary but this was quickly set aside and we spent more time in some places and less in others. It wouldn't surprise me if you did the same after the laid back lifestyle quickly hits you. Especially in places such as Luang Prabang. Also, make sure you do fly from Vientiane to Hanoi as the 30hour bus can only be described as 30 hours of hell. For that 2 months itinerary I would leave it as Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.

I'm soon leaving for a 2 month trip spent entirely in Indonesia.

Hope this helps.

#6 ben130892 has been a member since 17/3/2012. Posts: 6

Posted by castillo823 on 24/3/2012 at 10:35

Thanks so much for the help everyone! I'll definitely be adding more time to certain spots and probably be cutting out Bali and Singapore. Appreciate all the feedback.

#7 castillo823 has been a member since 11/3/2012. Posts: 2

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