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Advice/suggestions on SEA itinerary

Dunedin, New Zealand
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Advice/suggestions on SEA itinerary

hi guys,

***im going to start by saying this will probably end up being a pretty large post but anyone who makes the effort to read it and give us some advice we thank you dearly!!

So my partner and i are New Zealanders in our early 20's and are planning to spend 3 months in SEA, the countries we want to visit are Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, and Cambodia.

We will be leaving NZ mid March for our (roughly) 3 month backpacking trip. We are traveling on a low-medium budget and accommodation wise we aren't after anything fancy just a private, clean room with a/c. For food we are planning to eat street food for the cheap cost and cultural value. Where possible we ideally want to travel around by bus, again for the cost and so we can see the countryside. (can anyone give us a rough cost of what they think we will be spending each day based on this info??)

While definitely wanting to visit a few of the big attractions in each of these countries (Bagan, Angkor etc), we ideally want to stay off the beaten track. Not to the extent that we are traveling to the most remote places of each country but far enough to avoid the tourist masses and meet locals who see us as people, not dollar signs.

We dont want to be rushing through a crammed itinerary and want to be traveling at our own pace. Attractions for us would include nature/wildlife (we are only keen to view wildlife in its natural habitat, we don't want to support the imprisonment of animals), cultural attractions, temples, treks, and just generally experiencing the way of life of the country and its people (we are both really social people and love meeting new people).

This is a rough itinerary i have put together (all travel by bus unless stated)

Arrive in Bangkok and fly to yangon

MYANMAR:

Yangon 3 nights > Bagan 2 nights > Monywa 2 nights > Inle Lake 2 nights > Kyaikto 1 night > Hpa-an 2 nights > Mawlamyine 2 nights > Dawei and surrounding beaches 3 nights

Bus from Dawei to Bangkok > Fly bangkok to Da Nang

VIETNAM:

Hoi an 2 nights > Hue 2 nights > Phong Nga Ke Bang 2 nights > Hanoi 3 nights > Cao Bang 2 nights > Ha Giang 2 nights > Sapa 2 nights.

Bus from Sapa to Muang Khua

LAOS:

Muang Khua 1 night > Vieng Thong (Nam Nern safari) 3 nights > Muang Ngoy 2 nights > Luang Prabang 3 nights > Vang Vieng 3 nights > Vientienne 1 night > Pakse 3 nights

Bus from Pakse to Kratie

CAMBODIA:

Kratie 2 nights > Sen Monorom 3 nights > Phnom Penh 3 nights > Siem Riep 3 nights > Preah Vihear (unsure where to stay to visit this temple??)

Fly from Siem Riep to Thailand

THAILAND:

we dont really have a clue where we want to go in thailand (Chiang Mai looks nice so probably a few nights there) so if anyone can suggest anything that would be appreciated.

Contrary to what i said above we do want to finish off our trip with a week or so relaxing in a nice hotel in Phuket.

well now you've finally read all that if anyone can offer any advice on places we have missed or places that we should give a miss and just any advice in general about our trip that would be greatly appreciated!!

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Ho Chi Minh City...
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1. Re: Advice/suggestions on SEA itinerary

Bus travel in SEA is nothing like bus travel in NZ.

I would try and replace bus with train while in Vietnam.

You only need to google bus accidents Vietnam and look at the images to see why I encourage you to go by train.

Living here we see the local news of head on crashes on a regular basis that never makes the news in NZ because no Kiwis died in it.

After visiting all those wonderful places I fear you maybe disappointed with the over tourism of Phuket a place I used to love but will not return to since its decline.

Safe travels in Asia.

Dirty Pierre

Bangkok, Thailand
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2. Re: Advice/suggestions on SEA itinerary

Your itinerary looks good and it's refreshing to see someone on this forums visiting less well known places and also giving Cambodia & Laos the amount of time they deserve.

For Thailand, avoid Phuket and head to Krabi instead - much nicer & more laid back, & way less developed. Personally I love Railay Beach.

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3. Re: Advice/suggestions on SEA itinerary

I'd agree with DPoT about buses. You won't have a lot of choice for the Cao Bang/Ha Giang area since there are no trains up there. Travel is slow in Vietnam, so when you say two nights in <x> it might really come down to most of a day travelling to <x>, night in <x>, day in <x> most of a day travelling to <next place>. I'd think about adding extra nights (and thus days) for your Vietnam places (which look like a much more sensible list than most of what we see on here).

Don't expect to see much wildlife in Vietnam...

Ho Chi Minh City...
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4. Re: Advice/suggestions on SEA itinerary

Im not interested in traveling to the North of Vietnam where u intend to visit. Just notice one thing when eating street vendors in Hanoi, its sometimes even more expensive as they are more likely to rip you off terribly. Even for local ppl being treated that way. Ask the price, bargain with the price u're most ok. I will exerpt part of a story my friend experienced. he and his friends asked price for coconut drink at some street vendor, he didnt feel that was a good price so he bargained, and he succeeded. However, whey they paid for the bill, only his drink was charged with the bargaining price, other drinks were totally shockingly charged with the old prices. The seller reasoned that there was only one guy asking for a bargain, no matter what they went together.

I told this story because you guys are traveling with tight budget and would spend money on street food. I always have to ask a local friend to take me around and have food no matter what Im vietnamese. Weird, but its true.

Good luck. Safe trip.

Bangkok, Thailand
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5. Re: Advice/suggestions on SEA itinerary

In what way is your posting relevant Trinh? The OP asked for suggestions about his itinerary, not some irrelevant anecdote about a coconut.

Ho Chi Minh City...
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6. Re: Advice/suggestions on SEA itinerary

=)) so I cant give any suggestion, right? For tourists with tight budget, I would love to share some experiences. Tim, u'r so funny. U'r the first person I have seen so negative abt sharing traveling experiences. U definitely let me down =)). However, its life and we need to accept how ppl behave and let it be.

Enjoy.

UK
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7. Re: Advice/suggestions on SEA itinerary

Low/Medium budget. Sharing a room. Easily doable on $30 a day each without cramping your style. Doable on $20 a day each on average, but travel costs will make it tricky to stick to that every day. In the big cities, spending tends to be higher.

Dunedin, New Zealand
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8. Re: Advice/suggestions on SEA itinerary

@DirtyPierre. Wow.. did not even think about that when planning the trip. after doing some research we will definitely be replacing all bus travel with rail where possible, and adding a few flights in. The northern part of our trip from Hanoi to Cao Bang > arriving at Laos border looks like bus is the only mode of transport :/

@manatdollar. Yeah we expected it would be like that, when i say 2 nights i mean excluding any lengthy travel. So for Cao Bang we will really be staying there 3 nights to compensate for the long travel distance from Hanoi. Yeah wasn't expecting too much wildlife in Vietnam. Should have the wildlife front covered in Cambodia and Laos.

@trinhdinh. Im unsure why you felt the need to only mention northern Vietnam negatively. Im sure that kind of thing happens all over the country, not just Hanoi.

@Timmyruss. "Irrelevant anecdote about a coconut" hahaha. love your work

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9. Re: Advice/suggestions on SEA itinerary

Ok to start with I am not defending trinhdinh's need to make her comments on your thread but I will try and explain her negativity as best I can.

Vietnam had a civil war that other countries became involved in.

The communist north won. After the war a lot of Hanoians moved to Saigon and the govt confiscated a lot of land and buildings to high ranking military and govt figures. there is still resentment today between the nth and sth.

If a person from the south visits Hanoi they will be treated with scorn and ripped off at every point. when Hanoians speak in Saigon the Saigonese will be suspicious of them. This is a deep rooted thing and still goes on today.

I am not excusing it just explaining why it exists.

I'm a Kiwi yet was mistaken for an American in Hanoi and was charged 100,000dong for Pho Ga in the old quarter in 2009 when the same bowl was only 10,000dong in the rest of Vietnam. In 2011 my partner and I sat down at a street vendors stall and I ordered two bowls of Pho for 30,000dong each but when the vendor heard my Saigonese partner speak the bill jumped to 60,000dong each. So trinhdinh's negativity is understood but I don't see why she had to tell you that on her thread. But I do know where she's coming from.

You will love Vietnam and the people are warm and friendly and if you are passing through HCMC on a Sunday I would invite you to join Kim and I in preparing and distributing free vegetarian meals to the poor. PM me if you're interested.

Safe travels in Vietnam, Dirty Pierre.

Dunedin, New Zealand
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10. Re: Advice/suggestions on SEA itinerary

Yip im well aware of the war and the history of it and I am greatly sympathetic to the south for the atrocities they endured during the war. However i don't believe that tripadvisor is the right place to bring up the politics of the situation and to give a tourist a biased opinion of the north. We have a good friend from Hanoi who never spoke badly of the south but recommended the north to us based on our travel interests and short time frame.

After reading your comments about the hostility that still exists i can fully understand where trinhdinh is coming from but again, tripadvisor... not the right place for it.

Have pm'd you Dirtypierre