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Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia in 45 days?

Reykjavik, Iceland
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Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia in 45 days?

Hi everyone :-)

I'm going to SEA in June and my plan is to travel to Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia in 45 days. My question is - is it enough time? My itinerary looks something like this:

* My plan is to begin in Bangkok and then head to Chiang Mai (about 8-9 days).

* Then go to Laos - Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng ( about 8-9 days there).

* Head over to Vietnam, begin with Hanoi (and Halong bay), then go to Hoi An and Nha Trang (about 12 days).

* Then go to Cambodia for about 4-5 nights (Phnom Penh or Siem Reap) and back to Bangkok.

* Go to Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Tao (about 12 days).

I haven't been to SEA before so I'm not sure if I'm overplanning, please help me :)

Bangkok, Thailand
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1. Re: Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia in 45 days?

Is the last unstated leg going back to Bangkok from the islands, and flying home?

As such the schedule looks doable, but are you going to travel only by bus or is flying an option? Some of the transfers are going to be long and grueling by bus. If you can afford to fly, they will not use up the time that you can spend in each destination. You can get cheaper prices also for domestic flights if you book in advance, so in that respect planning ahead is not at all excessive.

You also must accept that you cannot experience everything with such short stops. Many people come back repeatedly, stay more than one week each time and still are able to discover new things.

Bangkok & Chiang Mai 8-9 days - reasonable, but giving just for Bangkok 3-4 days would be worth it. I would fly from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang (using Lao Airlnes) because it is faster and when bought in advance proves to your airline that you will exit Thailand before the visa waiver expires.

Luang Prabang & Vang Vieng - the time appears excessive. The temples in Luang Prabang were nice, but Siem Reap was much more impressive. I do not see the point of Vang Vieng. It was famous for being the place for doing stupid things while crazy drunk, but apparently the tubing scene has died out (Internet search is enlightening). If you want to have that kind of fun, you probably can have your measure on Koh Pha Ngan during a Full Moon Party. It is also odd that you omit Vientiane. It is not an exciting town, but there were still some things to experience, and I cannot see how you can go onwards to Vietnam without passing through Vientiane.

Vietnam - I have never been there, so I cannot say if the time is sufficient. However, it is odd that you omit Ho Chi Minh City, especially since you can easily take the bus from there to Cambodia (Phnom Penh). I would fly to Hanoi from Laos and then take the bus to Cambodia from HCMC.

Cambodia - the time seems too short. If you feel that Luang Prabang is worth visiting, Siem Reap should be even more so. The TripAdvisor forums recommend at least 3 days. No reason to ignore Phnom Penh, either, especially when it is the natural stop over when coming from Vietnam. From Siem Reap you can travel to Bangkok either with a relatively expensive flight or by a (new) daily direct bus which takes most of the day.

The stay on the Thai islands looks a bit long, but maybe you want to unwind thoroughly on the beach. Note that the fastest way to Koh Pha Ngan (Bangkok Airways to Koh Samui and ferry) is rather expensive, while with the Air Asia flight+bus+ferry combo you will be traveling most of the day. You can also travel only by bus and ferry, but that will take more than 12 hours. If you want to stay on Koh Pha Ngan for a Full Moon Party, be aware that most accommodation requires minimum stays of 3-5 days. It is also feasible to stay on Koh Samui and just take a boat to the party and back in the morning.

Check your visa requirements. With an Icelandic passport you would get free visa waivers adequate for your stated itinerary when you enter Thailand. You can get visas on arrival when you enter Laos and Cambodia (carry enough passport photos). I believe you need to get Vietnamese visa in advance either in your home country or Bangkok (one reason to spend several days in Bangkok).

Buy proper travel insurance with medical evacuation and repatriation coverage. Traffic accidents are a far too frequent reason for serious injuries and hospitalization. Thailand has good but very expensive hospitals, and my insurance company stated that the best and recommended course of action is evacuation to Thailand in case I need any serious medical care while in Cambodia. Ensure that your travel insurance company has a good network of hospitals willing to directly bill the insurance company in all of these countries. Otherwise you must have a credit card with a limit exceeding several thousands of US dollars. At least in Thailand many hospitals will refuse to do anything even to save your life unless they are guaranteed to receive payment. Their preferred method is charging your credit card UNLESS they have a good billing relationship with your insurance company.

Ajax, Canada
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2. Re: Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia in 45 days?

Wow-I am jealous! Would love to be able to get away for that long in that part of the world. I would suggest planning a few days to a week in advance and planning your travel and accommodation so you know where you're going and where you are staying. I always have my return ticket-I know when I get there and when I come home, and the first few nights in a hotel booked before I leave. After that it is take it as it comes. Have a list of things you want to do/see and plan it that way. As mentioned-look into the visa situation in each country and be careful!

Reykjavik, Iceland
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3. Re: Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia in 45 days?

No, I'm not going home after the islands. I'm going to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, I'm not sure whether I'll go back to Bangkok and fly there or go by bus from the islands. I decided to extend my trip in the four countries to 54 days, I decided to spend less time in Malaysia.

I want to travel mostly by bus but flying is definitely an option.

It makes sense what you said about Vientiane and Ho Chi Minh city, I'll have to add it to my itinerary :) Thank you so much for your help. I was wondering, are there any other places you would recommend that are less touristy?

Bangkok, Thailand
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4. Re: Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia in 45 days?

If you continue to Kuala Lumpur, taking the train from Chumpon may be a better option than the bus. See www.seat61.com/Thailand.htm

You really need to have a ticket out of Thailand before your visa waivers expire. On your first entry your airline is fully entitled to prevent you from boarding the plane if no such ticket is available. Most airlines use the Timatic database which informs the check-in personnel about the exact entry requirements considering citizenship, trip duration, etc. If the employees follow the airline's procedures, they check that all requirements are fulfilled, because otherwise the airline faces the costs of a hefty fine and flying the person back as soon as possible.

If you feel that you really do not want to fly into Luang Prabang, Air Asia sells currently one-way tickets from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur for less than USD 46 for some days in early July. Depending on your start date, such a ticket would satisfy the requirement for confirmed onwards travel and make the airline satisfied for relatively little money. You of course would then never use the ticket, but the airline flying you into Thailand is not required to prevent that.

On the second entry the border police might just not let you into Thailand, and a dishonest one would demand a sizable bribe to let you proceed.

You should be able to buy the train ticket at Hualamphong station the first time you are in Bangkok. Probably some travel agency e.g. in Khao San area can organize it, too. In any case booking in advance is recommended since the trains fill up.

I cannot advice on less touristy choices. I was never inclined to backpack and now we travel as a family and play it safe.

Reykjavik, Iceland
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5. Re: Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia in 45 days?

Thank you so much for the information, really helpful :)

London
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6. Re: Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia in 45 days?

Look at the tours on intrepidtravel.com for ideas.

Ballina, Ireland
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7. Re: Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia in 45 days?

Hi Tanja Dogg B! just wondering how your trip was? My partner and i are planning to head to SEA next summer (July and August) for just under 7 weeks. we want to cover Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos and I havent a clue where to start with the itinerary!! I'm thinking it might save time to do some internal flights? I really want to do the islands, has vang vieng totally finished the tubling scene? Honestly we booked the flights yesterday so I really havent a clue and need as much help as possible !!!

Italy
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8. Re: Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia in 45 days?

Hi racheljones75, as this is an old post the OP might not see it but you can send them a private message by clicking on their username, scroll down the left of the screen and you'll see the link to send a message.

Ballina, Ireland
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9. Re: Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia in 45 days?

thank you! This is my first time on trip adviser so i'm clueless :P

jersey
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10. Re: Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia in 45 days?

Having done these countries, i can say the best route is to do Thailand-Laos-Cambodia-Saigon (tourist bus to attractions)-Hanoi. From Hanoi, return to Bangkok with Air Asia flight, then do Thai Islands. Don't take the Lao-Vietnam bus, i've heard horror stories of tourists being very badly treated by the Viet on that route!

I would take at least 2 months to do this, why 45 days? If i was you i'd avoid much time in Malaysia in favour of these more interesting destinations. If not, then why not just do the South part of Vietnam which i find the most friendly and fascinating? Saigon travel agents offer excellent tours that are cheap and cheerful. Nha Trang booze cruise and hot water springs is great too!

Edited: 22 December 2013, 12:23