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recommended itinerary for a 6 week trip in southeast asia

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recommended itinerary for a 6 week trip in southeast asia

I am planning a 6 week trip to Southeast Asia. I plan to do it not in luxury or in extreme budget, rather somewhere in the middle. I am interested in a trip that has a balanced mix of everything- culture, history, urban life and nightlife, and beaches and relaxation. Maybe a smidgeon of nature/hiking. Does anyone have a recommended itinerary based on their experiences in the region? In my preliminary reading of a guidebook I was thinking Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos for four weeks and either mayalasia and/or indonesia for two weeks. There is a lot to choose from though...

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1. Re: recommended itinerary for a 6 week trip in southeast asia

Hi Peter.... I did a 6 week solo trip in 2010 - I flew from Vancouver to Hong Kong, spent 3 1/2 days there and went to Macau and to Stanley and explored the city - lots to see and do there.)

Then I flew with Hong Kong Air to Guilin, China - about a 3 hr flight and arranged ahead of time for a driver to meet me at the airport and drive me south 1 1/2 hours to the town of Yangshuo - it's a beautiful place with huge karsks and rivers and just spectacular scenery! I spent a week there - highly recommend it.

Then I got a drive back to Guilin and flew to Hanoi, Vietnam. Spent 3 days there and then booked a tour that involved a 3 1/2 hour drive north to Ha Long Bay and then a one night, 2 day cruise on a junk through some of the islands there - again, spectacular scenery - World Heritage Site - not to be missed! The junk I booked on is "Dragon's Pearl" - very good review on this boat - crew was very efficient - boat held about 25 people and the cabins, although small were beautifully done up with insuite bathrooms and lots of beautiful wood panelling and luxurious bedding. This is a must- do as well!

After 2 days, was driven back to Hanoi where I spent another day and night and then flew with Vietnam Airlines to Hue - about 500 k's south - it used to be the capital many years ago and has fantastic temples and the Citadel and many other attractions. Spent 2 days there and then hired a driver to take me another several hundred k's south to the town of Hoi An - lovely, especially if you stay in the old part of the city. Very old historical town. The drive from Hue was great to, as I got to see the countryside as we drove down the coast. I spent 3 days in Hoi An, and then got a taxi to DaNang (1/2 hr drive) and flew to Nha Trang further south (these Vietnam Air flts were cheap! $40-$50 per flight and saved me so much time, rather than spending 16 hours on a bus, the flights were about an hour each).

Nha Trang is a beautiful beach town with lovely islands offshore. Spent 2 days there and then flew to Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) at the south end of Vietnam. This city is wonderful - especially in District 1 where all the shopping and great markets are and good accommodation. Wonderful food in Vietnam - and so beautifully presented - I often took pictures of my meal before I ate it! I spent 17 days in Vietnam altogether, but could easily have spent a month there or more...

From there, I flew to Siem Reap, Cambodia and spent 5 days there in late November. Lots of great cheap restaurants in the town and Angkor Wat temples are another must see item. World Heritage Site. You will need at least 3 days to see the temples properly and probably a good idea to have a relax day inbetween as the temples can be a bit overwhelming and people can get "templed out" if you don't pace yourself with other activities mixed in, and there is lots to do in Siem Reap. Lots of great accommodation reasonably priced and great restaurants. The street food is terrific and so cheap - just go where the locals eat and you can't go wrong... From there, you couold take a bus to Phnom Penh - about a 6 hr trip. That city is a little more frenetic but lots to see and do and good accommodation as well.

After Cambodia, I flew to Bangkok and hopped on an Air Asia flight down to Krabi and AoNang areas for 10 days as the last part of my trip - beautiful islands nearby, and fantastic rock formations, caves, lots to see and do. I also spent 4 days on Koh Lanta Island, which has a wide variety of beaches and lots to see and do, and other islands to explore nearby - this was early December... pretty laid back atmosphere - perfect for me at the end of a long trip, to chill out in the islands down in southern Thailand.

and then I flew home to Vancouver to a snowstorm and freezing temperatures! That was my 6 week trip. I was 60, female and carrying a backpack - one of my better trips! Hope this gives you some ideas for your trip planning. Southern China was a highlight for me - the scenery there and the things I saw and did were amazing. I would love to go back there.

My next trip is in February and will spend 3 weeks in northern and northeastern Thailand, as well as 5 days in Bangkok. Good luck with your planning. Just remember - 6 weeks goes by really fast, so don't try and cram too much into your itinerary...

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2. Re: recommended itinerary for a 6 week trip in southeast asia

Thanks so much for your itinerary and commentary- I will definitely keep your suggestions in mind as I continue to plan. I think I will start in Bangkok and fly to Hanoi and work Northeast-Southwest to end back in Bangkok as you did. I will try to do as much as possible and feasible by car/train as I don't like flying and would like to see the countryside. Maybe a flight to Luang Prabang, which I think I want to see. The smaller sites and towns are the hardest and seem like personal taste, and I will consider the Vietnamese ones you chose in my efforts.

I am also thinking about leaving out Indonesia (Bali and Sumatra jumped out at me) for some other trip, which is a little annoying. Maybe a honeymoon or something.

Thanks so much again, best of luck in exploring Thailand more extensively, and if you think of anything else that may be helpful for me please let me know.

Cheers,

Peter

ps: I liked your town and Tofino (we stayed at the Wikkininish, summer 2004 I think). My dad kept trying to pronounce it like he was a real British Columbian (VANcouver as opposed to vanCOUver). And the fish taco hole in the wall/trailor in Tofino was fantastic, more memorable to me than the rainforests!

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3. Re: recommended itinerary for a 6 week trip in southeast asia

Hi Peter,

First of all, I think it's good if you rule out Indonesia as you suggest ( I know it's tempting but it takes up too much time). After thinking about it, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia would be a good combination; up to you - ideally max 3 countries in 6 weeks - 4 countries could make it too rushed.

When you get to Thailand, Bangkok and Chiang Mai are a must do... A lot of people don't even think of Chiang Mai because it's "up north", but it is a real gem and very different from Bangkok. Bangkok is a city of 10 million people but with wonderful street food and many, many sites to see. The river boats in Bangkok are great for getting around and seeing the local culture of the Thai people. There is an excellent rapid transit system in BKK, as there is constant gridlock with the traffic, and best to book a hotel on the BTS line (Bangkok Transit System), for ease of getting around. If you try to take a taxi, you may be in stop and go traffic for quite awhile. Also, whenever taking a taxi in BKK, always ask for the meter to be put on. If the driver refuses and tries to negotiate a rate, walk on and find another taxi. The taxi "negotiators" are cheats and will literally take you for a ride and overcharge you.

If you click on the top right corner of the Bangkok or Chiang Mai Forums, or whatever Travel Forum you need to get info from, on the "FAQs: Things to See and Do", Accommodations, or any of the other FAQs - they are full of good info.

It takes awhile to find your way through the confusion of where places and sites are, and accommodations, etc, especially when you are considering more than one country to travel in. Ask questions in each forum for the city or country you want to visit and you will get great answers from the travellers on this forum who have been there, done that.

I'm just throwing out thoughts to you as I think of them so this post is a little unorganized. The north of Thailand is well worth seeing. About 3 hours by bus north of Chiang Mai is Chiang Rai, which is again more laid back than Chiang Mai and a different flavour - great hill tribes to see, elephants to ride if you want, the White Temple is a must-see; and you are right up close to the Burma border there. There is another town several hours away in the north called Mae Hong Son which is beautiful, mountainous scenery, and an incredible drive up there from Chiang Mai. You can hire a driver to take you, which is better than being crammed into a van with 12 other people. The road is VERY windy and takes about 4 - 5 hours to arrive. Beautiful country. Small quiet but pretty town; then there is Pai - another town a couple of hours away which is full of tourists and also Thais - the town is not as pretty as Mae Hong Son as it has been commercialized to accommodate all the tourists - its a party town.

Getting to Chiang Mai in the north from Bangkok takes 1 hr by air, or you can get there by train or bus, and this method of travel would take several hours. There is an extensive bus system throughout Thailand and quite cheap to get around that way. You need to watch your stuff though when the bus stops to let off passengers along the way. If possible, travel as light as you can, so you can keep your backpack (if you're going to use one) or small suitcase with you rather than under the bus. Otherwise, things can go missing...

Chiang Mai is very lush, with many handicraft villages around the outskirts - over 300 wats and temples in the old city of Chiang Mai - it is charming, has wonderful cultural sites - great food, lots of accommodation of all price ranges - cheap guesthouses and B&Bs to plush hotels. The city is more laid back than Bangkok but both are treasures. Be aware that high season (and inflated prices) are in effect for December, January, February in Thailand...

Probably applies to Laos and Cambodia as well. In Cambodia, which I have spent time in, Siem Reap is a great town to explore - good restaurants, lots of shopping, great cultural sites, and areas north and south of there worth seeing.

You haven't said what time of year you plan to travel. FYI - November to February inclusive are the best months to travel in Thailand, weather-wise; after that, it gets very hot in March, April, May and also smokey as the locals burn off what's left after the rice and other crops are harvested; this goes on in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia usually starting around the middle to late February and into late March/early April. Some years, the air pollution is not bad, other years it can cause problems. If you have any issues with Asthma or lung conditions, you may need to consider this, and how it would affect you.

Frankly, it would be easy to spend at least a month in Thailand - spend a week in Bangkok, a week in Chiang Mai area, a week further north, a week in Laos, a week in Cambodia, visiting the incredible World Heritage site of Angkor Wat and then come back to Bangkok and choose an island down south to wrap up your trip and just chill out and relax... that's how I finished my last trip - there are some beautiful islands and coastline down in southern Thailand - Krabi area is great, but many other choices as well.

The above are just my thoughts and suggestions. Hope this is helpful. You can PM me any time if you have questions. Just click on my picture and type a msg and then click on "Send Message".

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4. Re: recommended itinerary for a 6 week trip in southeast asia

Hi, I am planning trip to SE Asia in November and am just starting to plan an itinerary for me and my friend. You seem to want very similar places/things to us so I was just wondering if you've been yet? And if so, your itinerary/any valuable advice. Thanks :)

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5. Re: recommended itinerary for a 6 week trip in southeast asia

It's inspiring you're traveling as much as you age and doing what so few people are doing. Especially alone. I'm amazed by you. Hats off to you !!

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6. Re: recommended itinerary for a 6 week trip in southeast asia

Thank you! I love the adventure of travelling solo. Have seen many wonderful places and things, and met many great people. There is so much of the world to see and experience, and my life is enriched by travelling this way.

7. Re: recommended itinerary for a 6 week trip in southeast asia

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