Six weeks backpacking Thailand/Cambodia/Laos
Question: I am travelling to Thailand at the end of October for 6 weeks and plan to go to Chiang Mai/Pai (10 days) then fly to Luang Prabang. Then I'll make my way by land to Siem Reap (6 days total) where I'll fly to Koh Samui and spend the remainder of the holiday island hopping. I am looking for advice on whether my time table is too short in Cambodia/Laos and if I am trying to fit too much into a short space of time? Any advice on itineraries would be appreciated. Also I'm looking for cheap flights to Chiang Mai from Bangkok and to Laos. Would be grateful for tips on cheap airlines.
Answer: Hey Cora, I personally think that your timetable for Cambodia/Laos (and north Thailand) is too short unless you like speed traveling... ;-) There's just too much to see in Luang Prabang and Siem Reap. I would at least stay 5 days in Luang Prabang and another 5 days in Siem Reap. It takes time to really soak the culture. And when paying so much money for visas to Laos and Cambodia, I would stay as long as possible in those countries. But it all depends on your preferences, economic standards and what you want to see in these countries.
Since you're already planning on making your way by land to Siem Reap (shortest way is through Vientiane, back to Thailand --> Nong Khai --> Aranyaprathet --> then Siem Reap), why not add a couple of days in Laos and stop by Vang Vieng and try the caving or tubing?
Another option is to add a couple of days in Cambodia and visit Battambang or Phnom Penh.
Cheap flights to Chiang Mai at the end of Oct (ex Oct 31st):
The cheapest I found was with Air Asia: 1290 THB = 25 IEP
With Bangkok airways: 2000 THB = 38 IEP
Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang ex Nov 11:
Cheapest I found was on kayak.com with Lao Aviation = about 102 IEP (takes only one hour).
Otherwise with Bangkok airways: about 14500 THB = 274 IEP