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Old 10-14-2009, 04:34 AM   #1
 
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Default Critique my 3ish weeks in S.E. Asia please!!

Hi there!

My lovely boyfriend bought me tickets (well, he will buy me tickets as soon as I do all the planning) to Thailand for my birthday, and now that I'm starting to actually plan the trip, I have a few questions.

About us: I'm 27 and Canadian, he's 29 and English. I've done a bit of backpacking in Europe, and spent a week in Thailand. He's traveled in the States for a few months and been to a couple European cities. We're both into food, activities (hiking, etc.. ) and history. Neither of us are overly into getting smashed or lounging on a beach, although I do want to spend a bit of time chillaxin on one. I'm really into photography. He loves big buildings and architecture. Both of us want a trip that will .

About the trip: We'll have roughly 3 and a half weeks, including flights. Odds are we'll be flying into and out of Bangkok because it looks to be by far the cheapest option. We aren't completely shoestringing it completely, but our budget is for sure more street stalls than 5 star restaurants. I don't want to plan everything down to the last detail, but since we don't have much time I want to have a rough idea about what we're doing.

So far, I have 2 routes that I've thought look decent. I'd love some feedback..

1. Bangkok (2 - 3 days) - Spend a couple days, see the big market, temple, chill with some backpackers, etc..
2. Siem Reap (2 - 3 days) - Just enough time to see the temples and get a quick taste of the city
3. Phucket/Krabi/Phi Phi - (4 - 5 days) - Climb, dive, beaches, kayak, photograph...
4. Kanchanaburi (2 - 3 days) - See the history stuff, hike the waterfalls..
5. Chang Mai (3 days) - Go do some more outdoorsy stuff, enjoy the city, take a cooking class...
6. Luang Prabang (3 - 4 days) - Shop, eat, trek if we haven't had our fill of it yet, relax, enjoy the city...
7. Hanoi (3 days) - Do the big city thing, etc etc..
8. Take the world's cheapest flights (roughly 20 pounds) back to Bangkok.
9. Back to Bangkok and then fly home

I like that one, and everything seems to fit nicely. The only thing that worries me is spending half our trip on a train/bus. I know something has to be cut, but I'm not sure what.



Trip 2 - This is the alternate version, but to be honest I like it a lot less...
1. Bangkok (2 - 3 days) - Spend a couple days, see the big market, temple, chill with some backpackers, etc..
2. Phnom Penh (1 - 2 days) - Just enough time to see the killing fields and get a taste of the city
3. Ho Chi Minh - This one is the first one to go if we're running short on time, but it seems like an interesting place.
4. Siem Reap (2 - 3 days) - See temples!
5. Make my way somehow up to Luang Prabang
6. Luang Prabang (3 - 4 days) - Shop, eat, trek, relax, enjoy the city...
7. Chang Mai (3 days) - Go do some more outdoorsy stuff, enjoy the city, take a cooking class...
8. Kanchanaburi (2 - 3 days) - See the history stuff, hike the waterfalls..
9. Phucket/Krabi/Phi Phi - (4 - 5 days) - Climb, dive, beaches, kayak, photograph...
Back to Bangkok and fly home

Thanks!
Dana
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Old 10-21-2009, 12:07 PM   #2
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Hey Degrassi,

Sorry I actually wrote you a lengthy reply a few days ago and then it got deleted...so here we go again! I notice you said you spent a week in Thailand so forgive me if your already aware of something I mention. I spent almost 6 months in the SEA area last year so I got around a fair bit, but by no means know the area like the back of my hand.

First off how do you plan and getting around? Bus, train, plane, because that will pretty much dictate whether or not you can pursue all the places you want. 3 1/2 weeks is a pretty good amount of time to get around, but with that said it might be a little ambitous to get to all the places you mentioned. Obviously things don't quite run an smooth and as easy there as they do here so a 3-4 hour bus here can take around 12 there depending on the area.

I've been to all the places you mention and they all offer something great......except Phuket. It's just my opinion so take it with a grain of salt but if you see the rest of SEA Phuket is the opposite and you could probably just head down to Miami and get the same effect.

Anyways I'll just mention a few things I see about your routes and you can tell me what you think. Again this is assuming that you plan to travel by land.

Route 1- In the first week you plan on heading to Cambodia and then all the way down to the south west islands which will take you about 4 days of travel. That's a pretty serious haul and might be a little stressful considering it's right off the bat and things might be a little unfamiliar.

The Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang is a common trip but just so you know it's done more often by flight as the only other means from one to the other is a 2-3 day bus/boat ride that might not be for everyone. If your hoping to see a dead body in a river this might be your chance!! (haha seriously).

Also not to scare it off your itinerary, because Vietnam is really cool, but the bus right from Luang Prabang to Hanoi is a pretty epic haul through a lot of mountains. I crosed to Vietnam in the middle at Hue via Pakse. The land their is flat and the trip including the border stop took 21 hours on a bus. So I can only imagine what can happen in the north where it's less populated and worse roads.

Route 2- Might make a little more sense to do Bangkok-Siem Riep-Phnom Penh-Saigon-Phnom Penh- Then from there you can try and enter Laos through the south and the 3000 islands which were my favorite chill place in Laos. Just a heads up though that I heard of countless people getting turned away at that border crossing for no reason at all.

From there it would just be a long haul all the way up through Laos, and then at Luang Prabang you'll have to deal with the river issue which would only allow you to fly to Chian Mai.

Anyways I know it's a lot and I'm sure I'm just ranting. I hope this helps and feel free to ask anything as I'm sure some things I mentioned won't apply.

Cheers.
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Old 10-23-2009, 09:21 AM   #3
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My concern with your itineraries is with transportation. In SEA, busses and trains are fairly slow, to say the least. You can count around 6-8 hours for a bus ride of 200 km, or even more time (the worst was a 24-hour ride between Laos and Vietnam for 200 km). You might be luckier with tourist busses.

Trains are a bit faster, but they stop everywhere.

Luang Prabang to Hanoi is a long ride because you'll be crossing borders and mountains. Maybe there's a flight that could save you time ?

Bangkok-Siem Reap-Pucket is not a realistic itinerary within the frametime you have. You'll burn you out right at the start of your trip.

Actually, 3 weeks for 4 countries in SEA isn't the best option. It's best to limit to two countries, or even better, to one ! I know it's not what you have in mind but believe me, this part of the world is tough to visit at a fast pace, unless you fly from place to another.

So the most convient tour you could plan in such a short period of time should look like a loop, such as Thailand-Laos or Thailand-Cambodia or a straight line : Bangkok-north of Thailand-Laos-Hanoi-back to Bangkok.

I'm jealous about that 20 pounds flight ! Please share the tip with us ! I bought a $250 ticket, and that was 5 years ago !
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