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3 Month SE Asian Tour - Clockwise or Anti-clockwise?

Posted by patlad on 21/8/2009 at 00:34

As someone who has never visited SE Asia I’m extremely excited about my upcoming trip. Could anyone help nudge me in the right direction as I plan my itinerary?

My Situation:

Arriving Bangkok mid September, Leaving from Singapore mid December

I'd like to see: Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore.

Using Bangkok as my starting point I'm unsure whether to leave soon after I arrive and see Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos - then head south back into Thailand and then down to the Thai islands etc on to Singapore.

Or alternatively head into Northern Thailand on to Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia - then south to Thai islands etc..

Are there any merits of one route over another?

One reason I ask is I wish to avoid travelling between Bangkok - Siem Reap via road. While I am happy to fly I see it is much cheaper to fly between BKK - Phnom Penh and BKK - Siem Reap.

I am also unsure if there are any seasonal weather fluctuations to take into account while planning a trip at this time of year. Or anything else I haven’t considered. Once I have answered this question I feel I will be able to better plan my route i.e. border crossings, how long to stay at each place.

During my 3 months I'd like to see the following - would an itinerary including all below be feasible in this amount of time, travelling predominantly by land?

Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Couple of Thai islands, Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Saigon to Ha Long with several stops along the way, Hanoi, Vang Vieng, Vientiane, Malaysia, Singapore.

#1 patlad has been a member since 20/8/2009. Posts: 4

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Posted by somtam2000 on 21/8/2009 at 04:45 admin

If you want to minimise your backtracking, then something like:
Bangkok-> northern Thailand -> Laos (Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Vientiane) -> Vietnam (north to south) -> Cambodia (east to west -- note the road for SR to BKK is now good) -> bangkok -> southern Thailand -> malaysia -> Singapore

Might suit.

Some more info here:
Bangkok to SiemReap:
Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang:
Bangkok to Chiang Mai:

One way to do it (there are many others of course):


#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,045
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Posted by BruceMoon on 21/8/2009 at 05:50


As you may have already read, I have an aversion to racing through the countryside at breakneck speed. I know those in the travel industry are happy to see you race against the clock, but in so doing, who are you benefiting - you or the travel industry.

I think you are trying to take on far too much, and eventually you'll lose the plot (as we say here in Oz).

Elsewhere, I have offered advice regarding the dilemma of travelling to see everything, and travelling to experience (go here .

I suggest to people that they ought plan to spend at the minimum about a week in a locality/area. So, for example, if you're heading to Chiang Mai, you may spend (say) 4 days there, and hop on a local bus and visit another nearby town for a day or two, and repeat that for a second nearby town. That way, you've organised to be in a locality for about a week.

I also suggest that to understand how a country 'ticks', you generally need to visit at least 2 non-capital areas (or non-urban areas). Thus, there needs to be somewhere around 3 weeks to a month per country.

Given this, I suggest you are trying to see too much.

Clearly, I am putting this perspective from my point of view. Given this, you may like to focus on what it is that you really want to achieve on your journey, and then list the places/areas that may appeal. My hunch is that many of the countries you've listed will be left to another day.


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

Posted by johnno on 6/6/2010 at 22:24

BruceMoon, while i understand your concerns re. travelling to different places at a "breakneck speed", it would be also appreciative if you can respect the fact that not everybody has the luxury of spending heaps of time at every major locality/area. For some of us, just being able to get out of one's country for couple of days or weeks each yr, is cause for much excitement. And if, during this time, we want to check out as many places as possible at a "breakneck speed", so be it. At least it would give us a perspective which to build future travel plans, as well as the chance to tick off the boxes of places to visit before death. I live in same country as you Bruce, and after 32yrs, of which 14 were working yrs, I think I have seen only 10% of this vast land, despite spending 4-6weeks a yr discovering my own backyard! There are more than 150 countries in this ever-changing world, good luck spending comfortable period of time in every major destinations unless you're lucky...

#4 johnno has been a member since 18/12/2009. Posts: 20

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