Itinerary help for Southeast Asia for summer 2013

by Sophie
(Paris, France)

Hi everyone,

My best friend and I would like to backpack through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam for 2.5 months next summer.

I've been to Thailand before, but I have no idea where to go in the other countries. I was thinking 3 days Bangkok, then 5 days in Chiang Mai, then a couple of days in Chiang Rai, boarder cross to Laos (Luanphrabang, Vang Vieng, Vientiane)then take the plane to Hanoi and travel along the coast to Ho Chi Minh, then off to Cambodia (Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang) and then head back to southern Thailand and spend the last week or so island hopping.

What are the must sees and must dos while we're there? Have you got any comments/advice? Is this doable within 2.5 months? And what are the best islands in Thailand to relax, go snorkeling and meet fellow backpackers?

Thanks for your help!


Answer: Hey Sophie, first of all your suggested itinerary is doable within 2,5 months. As you've suggested, you can spend 11-12 days in north Thailand.

In north Laos: If you're up for the backpacker scene in Laos, you might try Muang Sing as well. From the border town in Laos (Huay Xai), you can travel to Luang Namtha and from there it's only a short ride to Muang Sing. From Luang Namtha, you can travel onwards to Luang Prabang (most likely via Oudumxai).

So, for Laos: Muang Sing (4 days), Luang Prabang (3-4 days), Vang Vieng (4-5 days), Vientiane (2-3 days) = 13-16 days.

Vietnam: Start in Hanoi and travel southwards and visit Hue and Hoi An, if you're into the cultural scene. There are a few nice beaches in Hoi An, which are worth trying. After this, I would suggest Mui Ne which is less commercialized than Nha Trang beach town. Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) is of course a must to visit museums and a day trip to Cu Chi channels.

For Vietnam: Hanoi (5 days), Hue (3 days), Hoi An (4 days), Mui Ne (5 days), Ho Chi Minh (4 days) = 21 days.

Cambodia: On top of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battamabang, I would recommend visiting Kampot in south Cambodia. From south Vietnam, you can border cross via the Ha Tien crossing into Kep, and then bus to Kampot. From Kampot it's easy access to Phnom Penh.

In Kampot you can rent a bicycle/motorbike and cruise on the countryside. Bokor Hill station is about 37 km from Kampot, which gives you a good opportunity to go hiking.

For Cambodia: Kampot (4 days), Phnom Penh (4 days), Siem Reap (3-4 days), Battambang (3-4 days) = 14-16 days.

South Thailand: For nice beaches and backpacker scene, I would probably go for Koh Tao, Koh Pha Ngan or Koh Phi Phi. I personally love Koh Pha Ngan because it's less touristy than Phi Phi, but at the same time I think the snorkeling is better around Phi Phi. And technically, it's the rainy season in Thailand from May/June to October... But the rain showers usually only last for a couple of hours then it's sunshine/overcast.

But frankly, the weather in Thailand has for the past years been all over the place. Even during the dry season, it's been raining more than usual on the islands.

So, sum summarum: North Thailand 12 days, North Laos 16 days, Vietnam 21 days, Cambodia 16 days, South Thailand 10 days = 75 days (2,5 months)

Just ask if there's anything else! :)


Posted: August 4, 2012

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