I am about to book flights to Bangkok for the 16th March and will be flying back to the UK from Bangkok on 6th April. Therefore i have 3 weeks to get my first experience of this part of the world. I have been reading everything in sight but just cant get a decent itineray together so is there anybody out there who could give me a rough guide to what they think would be best in this timescale?
I was originally hoping to include Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam into the trip but this is probably going to be over the top, however, i would like to spend some time in Vietnam (looking to fly with air asia/jet star) to save the longer travel time.
I would say you can squeeze at least Cambodia in. 2 Weeks thailand and 1 week elsewhere. Go for an overnight bus or train and it will save you a day and some money..
you should plan well and use an open jaw ticket so you don't have to backtrack to fly home
not a great deal of time to see 3 countries!
I do have a possible route that includes all three countries. After a few days in BKK,
head up to Chiang Mai for 4-5 days. Take an overnight bus up to CM, saves 1 night's accommodation and gets you there in the early am, or fly up. Bus/fly back to BKK for one day. Overnight bus or fly to Krabi, hit the beaches for a 6 days, overnight bus or fly back up to BKK. Fly Air Asia over to HCMC, 3 days in SaiGon, bus to Siem Reap. 2 days touring Angkor Wat, overland back to BKK, flight home.
If this seems too hectic, fly BKK-PNH on Air Asia, 2 days in Phnom Penh, bus up to Siem Reap, 2-3 days Angkor, back to BKK, home. Hope this helps, send me a PM if you have questions with your planning.
[ Edit: Edited on 02-Feb-2009, at 17:55 by vegasmike6 ]
Hey! I'm with Mike on the itinerary (couldn't have given you a better one myself!). I would tend to suggest you get the overnight sleeper train up to Chiang Mai however as it's more comfortable than a bus and you don't have those tiresome bus stops at random (and rubbish) food joints in the middle the night They serve their purpose, but.... Make sure you do an overnight trek whilst up there - fab experience.
In Cambodia, you can get the boat from Phnom Penh to Siam Reap which is more scenic and more pleasant than going by road (I'd avoid road as much as poss in Cambodia). It's more expensive though, so I guess it depends on your budget.
Thanks guys, i really like the look of that route, i think i might go to Vietnam after Chang Mai and then the beaches for the end of the holiday to relax but it all looks pretty good to me.
A couple of questions:
I have seen various websites but which would you recommend to book the overnight train to Chang Mai from Bangkok? Have you done it? Did you go 1st or 2nd class? How was it?
With the long haul bus trips through Vietnam, Cambodia, what are the standard of buses like? Do they all have toilets for example?
THanks again, a massive help
For the Bangkok to Chiang Mai train, I would suggest that you book a little in advance, yes (a few days should be fine), especially as your schedule will be quite tight. Sometimes you can get the seat/train you want on the day, but not always. I travelled 2nd class sleeper (non A/C) which was fine - in fact, I find the A/C too cold! I prefer the lower berth as there is room to have your bag in with you. Try www.seat61.com for train info.
Buses- Unlike Thailand, very rarely do buses have loos in Cambodia or Vietnam. Instead, they stop every 3-4 hours or so. The quality varies widely and it is not necessarily the case that the more you pay the better you get, for example you could be on a 'deluxe' class coach but the A/C is broken and the windows don't open... Any good guide book can give you tips on chosing a good bus company and of course, it is always good to ask other travellers who they would recommend. I would recommend the Mekong Express bus company to travel between Saigon and Phnom Penh. It was by far the best bus experience in south east asia - it was quick, comfortable, free water, breakfast, A/C, same bus all the way despite crossing border... it was great and actually not that much more expensive than others. There are hold ups in Cambodia especially, so ensure you travel with a reputable company.
Thanks for all your advice, it has been really helpful
I definitely want to book the sleeper train from Bangkok to Chang Mai and www.seat61.com looks really usefull. Has anyone book a ticket through the recommended routes? Are they all trustworthy and reliable? Any experiences with the following agencies would be excellent as i am probably being over cautious but i worry i will get there and have no ticket: