Hi! I have a question about a route through southeast asia (vietnam, laos, cambodia, thailand).
My friends and I are visiting for 6 weeks in may-june, and plan to visit all 4 countries in a loop type route. We are flying into Hanoi and planning on doing the north of Laos before coming south through Thailand then back up to Hanoi by traveling through Vietnam. We are pretty inexperienced in the region and I wonder if anyone could give me some input on whether this is a good plan.
Hanoi (3 nights)
Sa Pa (3 nights)
Luang Prabang/ Vang Vieng (4 nights)
Gibbon Experience in Laos (any thoughts on including this?) (2 nights)
Chiang Mai (2 nights)
Bangkok (3 nights) (is it best to fly from Chiang Mai to Bangkok or is bus doable?)
Thai islands in south (6-7 nights.. is it best to do western islands like krabi, phuket or eastern islands like samui?)
Bangkok (from islands in south, can we fly cheaply to Cambodia or must we go back through Bangkok?)
Angkor Wat (2 nights)
HCMC (2-3 nights)
Nha Trang (2 nights)
Hoi An (2 nights)
Halong Bay cruise (2 nights)
Back to Hanoi
I would appreciate any thoughts on how this itinerary looks or advice on how to improve it. Also, recommendations as to which cities we should fly to versus bus to. Thank you so much!
that itinerary looks good actually. i did something similar last year, but as it was around the time of the trouble in thailand i had to cut that out so i cant advise on that.
Airasia do cheap flights from bangkok to a good few places so it might be worth checking them out.
I know some people who took a bus from sapa to LuangPrabang and said it was an 'adventure'. So if you fancy sleeping in a bus station or other place, go for it, otherwise it might be easier to fly from Hanoi to Luang Prabang. The bus journey is over 24 hours.
With regards to Vietnam you might want to stick in Dalat, it is supposed to be very nice.
I went to Siem Reap (and angkor wat) from phnom penh so im not sure if you can go direct from bangkok.
hope your trip goes well. SEA is a fab place. I would go back again in a heartbeat.
From the blogs I've read definately give the bus a miss and take the plane from Hanoi.
Some of your places I would reduce the number of nights eg Hanoi, Sapa (unless your doing an organised overnight trek), HCMC (2 nights max.) and increase Chiang Mai, but of course it comes down to how one wants to spend their time.
The Gibbon Experience in northern Laos involves overnighting in treetop accom. plus a long walk in and out. Google and see what you think. Last year I went on the Gibbon Experience outside Chiang Mai. This is basically a half day tour. I opted for this one rather than the Laos one. Again, comes down to personal choice.
From Chiang Mai to Bangkok I always take the overnight train (2nd class aircon).
Good luck with your planning and your trip.
thank you both so much!
stoneman- do you think the half day gibbon is better than the full one in Laos?
also, does anyone have recommendations for which islands to visit for the 7 days in the south of thailand?
also, which citiies would you recommend flying between?
I would recommend Koh Phi Phi as a must do, its on the west coast coast, Phuket isnt so exciting and as you dont have many days I would head straight to Phi Phi from Bangkok and stay a few nights. the beaches are perfect and lots of fun parties at night, but you can also just relax there. East coast Koh Tao is great and Koh Phanang for the Full Moon party, its always super busy but well worth it if the time you're there coincides.
Also getting the bus from Chiang Mai down to Bangkok is fine, takes around 10 hours and is over night, book it as soon as you arrive in chiang mai to make sure you get a seat but they are pretty easy to book on to and you can often book the night before but best to plan ahead if you're on a tight schedule.
Also in Vietnam are u planning to do Ha Long Bay? You've put 3 nights in Hanoi but you could cut this down if you are only staying there as its lovely but nothing overly exciting to do, i would leave more days for the islands/beaches.