Backpacking Tips Asia: Planning a trip Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia
by Arild B.
Pulau Langkawi, Malaysia
Question: Hi, I'm thinking about doing a 2 months trip to Thailand, Vietnam Cambodia and Malaysia (January to early March). Am I spreading myself to thin or will it be enough time?
Don't know where I should go and in what order.
I'm flying from Stavanger/Amsterdam to Bangkok.
I'm in to photography so I'll be bringing my SLR-camera. So would like to see some big landscapes, maybe do a boat ride up a river, somewhere (doesn't have to be in Thailand).
I know I'd like to see the snake farm and big buddha. Koh Pha Ngan seems to have a lot of the stuff I like: quiet beaches, elephant riding, snorkeling and diving, waterfalls, massages and muay thai fights.
Could do some night-trains to save money and get more out of my time there.
Hope you can help me :)
Btw: what vaccines should I get? Thought I'd get hepatitis A/B, tetanus and diphtheria. Hoping to be able to drop the Malaria tablets since I wont be going to far up in the mountains.
Answer: Hello Arild, I'll answer your question about the itinerary first:
Yes, spending two months in four countries is too short. In theory, you'll be spending two weeks in each country. But of course, if you like speeding up a bit it can of course work. And as you say, go for the night transportation.
I'm not going to say that you have to spend longer in those countries, because it seems like you only got two months.
Here's a suggestion of an itinerary -- 2 months: Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia.
Since I don't know from where you'll depart home again, I assume that you're flying out from Kuala Lumpur (which you should to save time).
START: Bangkok --> border cross from Aranyaprathet to Poipet in Cambodia --> Siem Reap (Angkor temples) --> Phnom Penh (Genocide museum, Killing fields) --> border cross from Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam (several buses leave Phnom Penh to Saigon, ex Sorya transport and Mekong express) --> in Vietnam you can take a Mekong Delta boat trip (supposed to be great) --> Mui Ne (quiet beaches) --> Hoi An (French Colonial town) --> Hanoi (trip to Halong Bay -- great place for pictures) --> flight from Hanoi to Bangkok
From Bangkok --> Koh Phangan --> Koh Samui --> train to Alor Setar in Malaysia (ferry for Langkawi island) --> Ipoh (caving and jungle trekking) --> Kuala Lumpur
You can spend 4 days in Bangkok when you arrive there, 10 days in Cambodia, 2,5 weeks in Vietnam, 1,5 week in south Thailand and 2 weeks in Malaysia = 2 months! :-)
When border crossing from Thailand to Cambodia, I got to warn you that all sorts of scams are going on these borders. The same scams seem to be used at several border crossings.
Ex: Border crossings Thailand to Cambodia
Another ex: Hat Lek to Koh Kong
But in my opinion, border crossing is part of backpacking and real adventures, and it's a great way of learning the art of traveling ;-) Just be prepared and use your common sense, that's all I'm saying!
I would at least get the Hep A + Hep B, Tetanus/diphteria, Typhoid and Polio (if you haven't renewed it since elementary school). I've taken these myself.
I've traveled a lot in Southeast Asia, and I haven't taken malaria tablets. BUT this depends on the time you're leaving (some seasons are more malaria-infested than others) and where you're going. I'm not going to recommend you to not take malaria tablets because I don't have the medical authority to do so. Get in touch with your local vaccination clinic, and get advice there :-)
Hope this helps! :)
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