Me and my girlfriend are flying to Bangkok on December 1 and flying back out of Bangkok on February 15 (10 weeks). Neither us have ever been to Asia so we're really excited - it's something we've wanted to do for a long time. We don't have a proper itinerary yet as we've only just booked but as we'll be using Bangkok as our central point we want to travel around Thailand and visit Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. As we have 10 weeks to explore these countries we'd like to see as much as we can and try to experience the amazing culture along the way. We're not looking for a trip full of drinking and partying, we're just really excited about having our own little 10 week adventure! I'm really excited about the culture of these countries, the food, the people, the weather and the fact that we'll be in places we've always dreamed of visiting together.
Does anyone have advice or experience with a similar trip? As of now, we only know when we land in Bangkok and when we leave from there 10 weeks later. Everything in between is yet to be planned and we're really excited about this.
We're going to pick up a few books and read through articles and forum threads on here but I wondered if anyone could offer any other advice such as how long would be long enough to see each of these countries without feeling too rushed, any 'must see' places, the best ways to travel and any general advice. Also, any visa information would be great!
Thanks in advance, we really appreciate it.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
[ Edit: Edited on 24-Jul-2011, at 12:19 by darrylyoung ]
I did the same route.
Thailand - it's a 30 day visa so IMO you can either go north of Bangkok or south (party!). Unless you go full pelt. I went north for the culture after 2-3 days in Bangkok. Highlights for me: Kanchanburi (River Kwai bridge tour), Sukothai (loads of temples but if you're going to Angkor Wat....) and trekking in both Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai
Laos - Wouldn't recommend the capital, Vientiane. It's very boring. Luang Prabang is very cool as are the four thousand islands. The thing with Laos is there's not an awful lot to do. It's just a lot of relaxing in hammocks. I loved the place. The only thing I found was the Kong Lo Cave near Tha Kaek - basically boating through a 7.5km long cave. Twas awesome. One final place: Vang Vieng. If you love partying and/or Family Guy it's amazing. I hated it in a big way. It's a very, very marmite place.
Vietnam - adored Saigon especially the war museum. Hanoi not so much. Halong Bay is beautiful but I could quite happily never see the rest of Nam again. I'd recommend spending your Nam time in Indonesia instead....Sumatra is one my favourite places ever.
Hope that helps
I would avoid Vietnam from mid-Jan through mid-Feb because of Tet (transport problems and increased cost). Tet is actually Jan 23 '12, but it's crowded with Viet Kieu and domestic travelers as well as tourists for that entire month.You will need a visa for Vietnam ahead of travel (the VOA visa can be used for airport arrivals, and a brand new 15 day transit visa was just approved).
If you are Scandinavian, you get entry to Vietnam without a visa for 15 days. Travelers from the ASEAN countries do not need a visa at all.
By the way, Christmas is now widely celebrated in SE Asia.
[ Edit: Edited on 25-Jul-2011, at 11:09 by Daawgon ]
Hey guys, thanks for your advice.
We have a few more questions if you're still willing to help.
As we're landing in Bangkok and planning to visit Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, we're wondering what's the best way to do this. We could obviously hit the road straight away when we get to Bangkok but I think we'll have a few days there first. Then, we either travel north through Thailand to Laos or head south and enjoy some beautiful beaches etc for a week or two before heading north. Do you have any advice on this?
Also, what's the deal with accommodation in these countries? If we spend a few weeks in the south of Thailand before travelling north then we'll probably be wanting to check out some of the beautiful beaches and islands. We're not bothered about going to the crazy tourist-filled islands and partying, we'd much rather visit the quieter places and just enjoy how beautiful they are. What accommodation are we looking at in places like that? Beach huts, hostels etc? Either way, are they as cheap as people have made out. Any advice on things like this would be greatly appreciated.
Have a great weekend.
Well Thailand and much of asia has changed a lot in the last few years. Its becoming harder and harder to just walk into a place and get the best deal and you often do much better via prebooking on the web - and all of those places have websites and often reviews which help you decide. In truth I liked it more before all of that. In most of the places you'll want to go you'll have all sorts of options running from very, very cheap to quite expensive.
But, and its a big but, most of the real quiet places are still off the beaten path and can cost a lot more to get to - and have higher prices too, so some research ahead of time is key.
Since you are planning well in advance, I'd be scanning Air Asia's website for good deals to any of the places you'd like to go - the farther in advance the more likely you are to snag a special deal - and they can be remarkable deals - often less than $30 for flights of hundreds of miles (we did Bangkok-Hanoi for less than $30) and saw deals like Bangkok to Bali for $8. If you can land some of those deals you'll really be able to make the most of your time and not lose as many days running between places.
And based on what you said - you'll have to decide what is best for you budgeting between time and money. If you've got the money flying, or private transport is much faster than buses, but buses are usually much cheaper despite the scams that some companies pull in steering you to their own hotels and the like.
Of course where and how you go also depend a lot on your tastes and what you want to see, which legs you want to fly v bus/train and how much relaxing time v sight seeing time you really want. My last time I just used Bangkok as a hub and flew as much as I could and found that easier than trying to make a big loop on buses and the like to maximize my time rather than my money.
Feel free to drop me a line if you want some more specifics.
Since you got 10 weeks, I suggest 1 week is equivalent to one country. You take your time in traveling each of them and for sure you'll enjoy your trip.