I am heading to SE Asia at the end of july for 5 weeks and wanted to plan a good route. I have a budget of £1400 and was thinking of starting in bangkok then fly to hanoi, bus and train to saigon fly to south thailand and back to bangkok. is this the best way round to do it? would you suggest a better route perhaps even heading to different places?
it seems flights to hanoi are v expensive...would it be a better idea to travel through cambodia to saigon rather than fly from bangkok?
is travelling from hanoi to saigon achievable on the train in 2 weeks? is train the best way to do it?
can you get from saigon to south thailand?
with one week in the south of thailand where to go??? phuket? krabi? ko phi?
as you can see I am quite confused about the most efficent way to get around...i will be going on my own and for my first time!!!!
any suggestions greatly appreciated
I flew BKK-HAN a few years ago and it was under $50 one way. I just checked and if you take the early flight out of BKK, it is still under $50 to HAN. Book Air Asia when you know your dates: BKK-HAN. I suggest the open bus tour system between HAN & HCMC. It is much cheaper and allows more flexibility on scheduling. You can stay 1 night or 10, doesn't matter. Sinh Cafe has the best buses IMO, but cost more. I have also used Hahn Cafe, stops at cheaper hotels. Sinh stops at hotels in the $25/nite range, Hahn stops at hotels in the $10 range. Your choice. I suggest 3 weeks to travel between HAN-HCMC.
You now have a choice to make. The are buses going everyday between HCMC & Phnom Penh. You could spend 6-7 days in Cambodia, seeing PP and Siem Reap. 3 days PP, bus or boat up to SR, 3 days walking the temples at Angkor, overland to BKK in one long day. Read about the route here if you choose that option. Fly to Krabi from BKK, or take the overnight bus. This leaves 1 week to hit the beaches around Krabi. Fly or overnight bus to BKK, home.
Another option to consider is fly Air Asia: SGN-BKK, under $50. Fly or bus to Krabi and have 2 weeks of time in Thailand. If you prefer beach time over trudging around ancient temples, this might be the way to go. I think the Krabi area has the best beach options. Railay Beach, Koh Jum, Lanta, Phi Phi are all close. Good luck with your planning.
Send me a PM if you have questions.
[ Edit: Edited on 20-Jun-2009, at 11:30 by vegasmike6 ]
I would go to Thailand, Cambodia, then Vietnam. Since I know Viet Nam the most, this is what I would do in Vietnam:
I would flight to Saigon first. You can spend a day or two in SGN. Go to Nha Trang for a day, there's Vina Pearl, very pretty. Then head back to SGN. I'll flight to Danang next. The ticket is only around $50. You can also use train, cost around $10, $20 but it takes around 8hrs. It's not very comfortable. I would flight if I was you, save time and energy. If you have to use train, buy a night time/bed ticket. So that you can just sleep through. The scenic is most likely just rice field and tree.
In Da Nang, you can take bus to Hoi An, the ancient town. I would go to Hue the next day, it's where the Nguen Dynasty used to lived, has beautiful architecture. Go back to Danang, then flight to Ha Noi.
I would spend a day or two in Ha Noi. Make sure you go to Ha Long Bay for a day, one of the 7 New Wonders of the world. You should go to Sapa if you can afford another day. Very beautifyl scene.
It cost around $10-15 per night to stay in big city like Ho Chi Minh/Saigon and Ha Noi. Try to look for small ma and pa hotels. It should be a lot less in smaller cities. Food is very unexpensive there. $2 should be able to get you full. Just don't go to fancy places, of course.
Let me know if you need more info in Vietnam. Bests.
thanks very much for your replys, will take me some time to absorb all this info and get a route...no doubt I will be in touch soon.
I spend three months at the beginning of this year in Vietn., Cambodia, Laos and a bit of Thailand. That's what I can consider you.
1. try to fly as few as possible. Flying might be a little bit faster but you miss a big part of a country or culture. So you are the "tipical" tourist hopping in and out of a country but you don't get the insight of it.
Five weeks for three country seems to me quite a lot, especially if you want to stay in Thailand for a while as well. That's what I would do:
Book a fly in BKK (go there, see some from BKK and book a ticket there one/two days in advance) to Saigon. You can spend there 3 days easily (tunnels from Cu Chi, pagodas, walking around, ice coffees!!). If you like beaches go to Mui Ne with big sanddunes (around 5hrs with a bus (Sinh Cafe) leaving in the middle of the tourist area in Saigon, has noting to do with a hotel, take a jacket on board and a tape to close the freezing aircon!). Mui Ne is known for surfing and must be really pretty. I should have gone there...!
Then go back to Saigon and take a tour to the Mekong Delta. There are tours that lead you to Cambodia, directly to Phnom Penh. This city is also very interesting. good for 3-5 days. Go to the Banana top guesthouse at street pasteur 51.
The Siem Reap for 3 days, go to the lake (Ton le Sap) for one day and take a bus to Cambodia. The street is no problem anymore. It must have been hell some years before but in February the biggest part was great, some parts were under construction. Might be different in August though when it rains.
I went to Ko Chang directly from SR (around 8hrs on a very good bus and the mini van). Ko Chang is a nice island, not too big, some tourist resorts but also very laid back ones (ex. KP Huts). Rent a motorbike there, check the island, go snorkeling and have a suit/dress made there, in a relaxed atmosphere.
Saigon 5 days
Mui Ne 5 days
Saigon 1 day
Mekong 3 days
PP 4-5 days
SR 4-5 days
Ko Chang 6 days
BKK 3 days (direct bus from Ko Chang, around 6hrs)
total: 36 days (5 weeks)
well, hope you can dicide on a tour. :-) Have fun.
Pascal from Switzerland