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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


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


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


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


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


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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1. Re: Advice/suggestions on SEA itinerary

You are doing far too much travelling. Leave off at least one country, maybe two and dothemanother time. You will need a holiday from this holiday by the time you get home.

One day in Vientiane only? That's a bad idea!

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

I should have stated this in my first post but the number of nights we are spending in each place isn't including the day we travel there. For example I say 3 nights in Luang Prabang but it will really be 4 nights and 3 full days. To make it clearer - we will arrive in Luang Prabang during the day by bus and spend 4 nights there, the day after the 4th night we will bus to vang vieng where we will spend a further 4 nights and then bus to Vientiane. So really we are spending an extra night at each destination than what I first listed.

While I'm sure some of the bus trips will be gruelling I feel that, considering we are spending a minimum of 3 nights at most destinations, we won't be too rushed. Also bear in mind that apart from Myanmar we will be booking our transport as we go so we can increase/decrease our stay at places and if things are getting too crammed we can give some places a miss altogether. We are energetic people that want this trip to be an adventure more than a holiday so I think we will be fine.

Regarding Vientiane, we are only really staying there the night because it's the only bus to pakse. Laos appealed to us for the amazing scenery and relaxed way of life and we didn't really feel Vientiane offered either of those. You would know a lot more than us though would you recommend that we stay in Vientiane a few more nights considering the type of travel we are after??

Cheers for our help

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3. Re: Advice/suggestions on SEA itinerary

OK that makes more sense, thought it is still too much travelling for me. Well I have lived here, Vientiane, for 9 years. I can certainly say it is a relaxed place.

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4. Re: Advice/suggestions on SEA itinerary

As somebody who has done several long trips , I would say that you will very very quickly get tired of successive two or three night stays , looking for accommodation, bargaining , getting public transport, packing up , unpacking in extremely high temperatures . I would be inclined , for 3 months to pick just 3 countries....possibly 4 maximum and then really relax and enjoy them. I know that it is really tempting to an everything but one of the joys of a long trip is the freedom. Your plans will change a lot and the best tour guide is the traveller who has just been to this spot.

Also Phuket is not a place to go to if you have spent the three previous months in fabulous unspoilt destinations like Laos. Ko Lanta or Ko Tao or Ko Phang Ngang are much much nicer.

Have a wonderful time

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

@ire123 - Thanks for the feedback. As i mentioned in my first reply i didnt include the travel days in the itinerary i posted so we will be spending an extra night in each location than what i first listed (4 nights instead of 3 in the bigger cities like Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Hanoi etc and 3 nights instead of 2 in the smaller places like Muang Ngoy, Sen Monorom etc). Will spending 3-4 nights in our destinations be sufficient time to avoid the stresses you mentioned above??

I feel like we've already fallen in love with Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar and really dont want to drop any of those countries. I feel like we could give Thailand a miss however.. if you still think that 3-4 nights in each location is still a bit rushed would it be a good idea to give Thailand a miss and add an extra night to each location??

As you said above we know that this itinerary will change as we go but just wanted to have a rough outline of how everything is going to fit into the 3 months so we can distribute our time evenly amongst all the countries.

Is there any places we should miss or add into our itinerary based on your travels??

again thanks for the feedback much appreciated!!

Chicago, IL
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6. Re: Advice/suggestions on SEA itinerary

Skip Thailand, we didn't enjoy it at all- very, very touristy at this point in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Ko Samui where we went. We loved both Cambodia and Vietnam. Laos and Myanmar are on our next trip so interested to hear what you decide.

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7. Re: Advice/suggestions on SEA itinerary

I'm going to throw in its do-able. It's my type of holiday! I'm ultra organised though and have each day planned with everything, we never miss a thing. I actually get bored if we have a day free. We did 9 weeks around Asia with three young kids and the longest we stayed anywhere was 3 days. Being organised we probably saw as much in three days as most people would in 10 days. We did the round trip from Sapa to Cao Bang to Hanoi with Khanh https://www.facebook.com/sapa.cartours… He was by far the best price we had quoted even half the price of others. Such a genuine lovely person. It is a long long long trip though- The most driving we did on our holidays. We had a sponsor child on the outskirts of CaoBang. We night trained to Sapa. Why are you missing Halong bay, one of the best parts of Vietnam??? Try to be in Hoi An for the lantern festival, it's precious. Cambodia is soooo easy to travel. We loved Cambodia! We're going to Laos and Burma the same time as you, late March for a month. I'm looking forward to being in Laos for the New Year Water festival. Thailand is pretty fantastic and seriously budget travelling in Asia is the best. We stayed in Bangkok in a $15 room, free wifi, breakfast and a rooftop pool. Chiang Mai has so much to do and the best Market I've been to in all of Asia at the Sunday walking markets. I love Krabi too. Most my friends do the slow relaxed holiday and sit by a beach but I'm the "make the most of everyday" so I may not be the best person for advice if you need a relaxing holiday.

Thung Chang...
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8. Re: Advice/suggestions on SEA itinerary

There are 76 provinces in Thailand, and less than 20 are touristic...

There are nice places in Isaan, and no tourists. I live in the north, and there are nice places with little or no tourism, like Tak, Loei, Phayao and Nan province.

9. Re: Advice/suggestions on SEA itinerary

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