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ben05
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Hi Everyone,

 

Just looking for some recommendations. Off to Thailand for 3 weeks in August backpacking. Anyone ever been? I know I want to go Island hopping for a week or two. Any recommendations on what to do (or in some cases not do). How easy is it to visit Cambodia/Vietnam?

 

Managed to get some cheap flights with Etihad – hopefully it doesn't prove to be the flight from hell.

 

Cheers

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It has changed a lot in the last 20 years, very developed these days. It is really more of a holiday spot that a backpackers place.

 

If you want girls and to have a laugh with the lads, go to pattaya.

 

If you want to party, smoke weed, (be very careful) snorkel etc go to Koh Tao & koh Phangan.

 

Vietnam and Cambodia very easy to get to and highly recommended.

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Cheers Tokyo - I'm starting in Bangkok and then planning to head to Khao Sok national park and then to Koh Tao & Koh Phangan. Hopefully head to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh in Cambodia, then Ho Chi Min. Then get a flight back to Bangkok - I've heard they are very cheap and accessible when you get out there - is this the case?

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Cheers Tokyo - I'm starting in Bangkok and then planning to head to Khao Sok national park and then to Koh Tao & Koh Phangan. Hopefully head to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh in Cambodia, then Ho Chi Min. Then get a flight back to Bangkok - I've heard they are very cheap and accessible when you get out there - is this the case?

 

Book flights BEFORE you go - LOADS of "Low Cost" Carriers in Asia these days and like Ryanair & Easyjet the earlier you book the more deals they have.

 

Air Asia are very good but you can even find deals on the likes of Emirates or Qatar who tend to fly loops in (or out) of Vietnam and back to BKK.

 

(As an example we flew Business from HCM to Da Nang for $80 one way booked on line when the economy price when we got there was $110 (Vietnam Airlines are actually fine as well but do have a habit of changing routes/cancelling flights)

Air Asia from Hanoi to BKK was $70, Thai was $90 and we got Business on Qatar for $95 which was VERY nice and saved us buying dinner when we landed:)

 

BTW take a 1/2 day trip to the Tunnels in HCM - Chu Chi and the museum there. BUT while HCM is interesting it is the "Commercial Hub" Hanoi is better loads of backpacker hostels in the Old Town and you can do day trips to Halong Bay Oh - and a long train ride out to Sapa is an absolute MUST for a couple of days trekking - don't take my word for it just go to google images & type Sapa Vietnam

 

Etihad are actually fine, the airport at Abu Dhabi is small and transit can be a bit rammed. IF you are on one of their 777's you have 3-3-3 configuration so the seats are decent width (compared to Emirates) but they can be a bit short on leg room if you are a 6 footer. You should be able to request a seat online well before check in - strongly recommended and look to sit as far forward as you can as Immigration in Bangkok can be nightmarishly slow. Easiest way into Central BKK these days is by train. They have an express and a local train local is cheaper, if not then it is the bus, good luck with that

Edited by dubai_phil
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It has changed a lot in the last 20 years, very developed these days. It is really more of a holiday spot that a backpackers place.

 

If you want girls and to have a laugh with the lads, go to pattaya.

 

If you want to party, smoke weed, (be very careful) snorkel etc go to Koh Tao & koh Phangan.

 

Vietnam and Cambodia very easy to get to and highly recommended.

 

Oh and don't take weed in or out of the airports ;). In Vietnam we didn't come across anything like that until we reached Hue and then we couldn't move 10 metres without someone selling it to us. (thing is although it looked like weed, smelt like weed it was actually Hemp. Not that we know anything about it our tour guide showed us)

 

But up in Sapa trekking they had PYO every 100 metres....

 

b8o7s8.jpg

 

:)

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Cheers Tokyo - I'm starting in Bangkok and then planning to head to Khao Sok national park and then to Koh Tao & Koh Phangan. Hopefully head to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh in Cambodia, then Ho Chi Min. Then get a flight back to Bangkok - I've heard they are very cheap and accessible when you get out there - is this the case?

 

Yes very cheap and easy. If you go to Ho Chi Min, take a day trip to http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g303943-d2005826-Reviews-Cu_Chi_Tunnels-Cu_Chi_Greater_Ho_Chi_Minh_City.html

 

Best trip I did in all my travels (interesting trip not beach etc). Take money as you get to fire AK47s M16s etc. all fairly cheap.

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Book flights BEFORE you go - LOADS of "Low Cost" Carriers in Asia these days and like Ryanair & Easyjet the earlier you book the more deals they have.

 

Air Asia are very good but you can even find deals on the likes of Emirates or Qatar who tend to fly loops in (or out) of Vietnam and back to BKK.

 

(As an example we flew Business from HCM to Da Nang for $80 one way booked on line when the economy price when we got there was $110 (Vietnam Airlines are actually fine as well but do have a habit of changing routes/cancelling flights)

Air Asia from Hanoi to BKK was $70, Thai was $90 and we got Business on Qatar for $95 which was VERY nice and saved us buying dinner when we landed:)

 

BTW take a 1/2 day trip to the Tunnels in HCM - Chu Chi and the museum there. BUT while HCM is interesting it is the "Commercial Hub" Hanoi is better loads of backpacker hostels in the Old Town and you can do day trips to Halong Bay Oh - and a long train ride out to Sapa is an absolute MUST for a couple of days trekking - don't take my word for it just go to google images & type Sapa Vietnam

 

Etihad are actually fine, the airport at Abu Dhabi is small and transit can be a bit rammed. IF you are on one of their 777's you have 3-3-3 configuration so the seats are decent width (compared to Emirates) but they can be a bit short on leg room if you are a 6 footer. You should be able to request a seat online well before check in - strongly recommended and look to sit as far forward as you can as Immigration in Bangkok can be nightmarishly slow. Easiest way into Central BKK these days is by train. They have an express and a local train local is cheaper, if not then it is the bus, good luck with that

 

Thanks for all the advice! Been looking at flights from Singapore to Ho Chi Min on sky scanner. They are £15 which is madness. Although I want to stay flexible with traveling - so will have to compromise somewhere! I am stopping off in Abu Dhabi, only for 2 hours each way though. On a 777 to Abu then a Airbus A340 onwards. The tunnels are a must and I will be visiting them - I read somewhere that they have made them wider for tourists! I would love to go to Hanoi but have a feeling it maybe too north as it don't want the trip to feel rushed! Any thoughts on this considering I only have 3 weeks.? Cheers

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Thanks for all the advice! Been looking at flights from Singapore to Ho Chi Min on sky scanner. They are £15 which is madness. Although I want to stay flexible with traveling - so will have to compromise somewhere! I am stopping off in Abu Dhabi, only for 2 hours each way though. On a 777 to Abu then a Airbus A340 onwards. The tunnels are a must and I will be visiting them - I read somewhere that they have made them wider for tourists! I would love to go to Hanoi but have a feeling it maybe too north as it don't want the trip to feel rushed! Any thoughts on this considering I only have 3 weeks.? Cheers

 

Internal flights in Vietnam are cheap. You can see all of Hanoi in a day tour - a Cyclo Tour does a lot of it and then a walk round the old town in the evening, Halong is probably out of range but Thailand will come close

But DRIVING anywhere in Vietnam is bonkers slow.

 

40kph feels a breakneck speed. The trains run at about 50kph so while they are a cheap option they will take a day to get anywhere.

The overnight trains are a good option but you would not want to try and sleep in a 3rd class carriage. The sleeper trains are fun but you have a 4 berth with bunk beds, unless you book all 4 you could end up sharing with a family of 10 which happened to a couple of Aussies in the compartment next to us.

 

Yes the coastal resorts etc are now all very BIG ASIAN RESORT but HCM & Hanoi are still fun and full of backpackers and there are plenty of places to see when you stay off the tourist routes. Lots of Homestays now but really geared to trekking backpackers not multi-country in a short time. Christ there is enough to do and see in Bangkok to keep us busy for 5 days (and nights ;) a year)

 

3 weeks is too short to do the real trip - (buy a moped in HCM and spend two weeks driving north to Sapa then back to Hanoi and selling it you also need BLOODY good insurance it is Soooooooo dangerous). Book your Vietnam Visa online before you go though, you need to show the acceptance letter in order to board.

Bangkok? Even for a day try and get a gang together and do the Canal Tour from Saphan Taksin BUT be VERY careful, the protests COULD spread again and like last time they COULD close the airport so Travel Insurance which covers that is a MUST as you could end up in completely the wrong place (Phuket for example) or stuck in BKK for a couple of weeks.

 

So yeah, keeping it short? don't try and cover too much - we did HCM to Hanoi in two weeks and it was exhausting but brilliant. Mate of mine just been with his family and is going back next year to do more - rebooked on his last day absolutely loved it

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Cambodia and Laos are excellent. Siem Reap is a tourist trap built around Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat itself is worth visiting but make sure you see the true Cambodia which Siem Reap certainly isnt. Phnom Penh is much more interesting. Would recommend visiting the Killing Fields and S-21 Concentration camp.

In terms of Thailand the south is very touristy and Chaing Mai in the North is better.

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Cheers Tokyo - I'm starting in Bangkok and then planning to head to Khao Sok national park and then to Koh Tao & Koh Phangan. Hopefully head to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh in Cambodia, then Ho Chi Min. Then get a flight back to Bangkok - I've heard they are very cheap and accessible when you get out there - is this the case?

 

khao sok is very nice, but make sure you spend a couple of nights on the raft houses on the nearby lake.

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Personally I would recommend Bottle Beach in Koh Phangan. Went I went (back in 2000), you could only get a boat, there is a trek through the hills but a long way with a backpack. Three different type of accommodation suiting your budget.

flight were cheap and easy to book on Khoa San Road, but maybe the net is better now.

finally, three weeks! Are you for real, you'll never do it!

If you do get to Hanoi then the war museum is an absolute must, or was it in Saigon?

Soi Cowboy in Bangkok is more real than Patpong.

Phnom Penh was a great city, vey untouched but probably different now.

 

south East Asia - there is nowhere better!

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Thanks Noodles - I'm thinking 3 weeks really isn't long enough. Going to Head to Chaing Mai to go Jungle trekking - anyone ever done this before? maybe head up to the golden triangle too.

 

Chang Mai is ok but good god your planning a lot in three weeks - took me that long to get off of koh pan gan (first time round) but then i do like to chill. In a 4 week stint I managed 3 Islands and Chang Mai.

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I think your trying to do far too much in three weeks, once you ake out the travel time your going to hardly see anything attempting three countries! You could easily loose three weeks in Thailand things your really shouldn't miss are Bangkok itself the city is easily worth a couple of days the sights and sounds are like nothing else in Thailand. In the north Chiang Mai is fantastic much more laid back than Bangkok there is agreat monestry where you can have free tea and chat with a monk which was really interesting and a foot massage at the ladies prison makes a great story it is also a great base for some treking and other activities. Personally I'd then go North to Chiang Rai and the golden triangle as the scenary is amazing and it's a bit further of the beaten track but you will need anti malarials.

 

Then it's down south to the Islands, by all means do the popular backpacker islands but make some time for a quieter more remote spot as it truly is paradise make time for lots of diving/snorkeling as it is some of the best in the world and definitely tick Ko Phi Phi off the bucket list.

 

Leave Vietnam and Cambodia for anther trip as each is worthy of a few weeks.

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  • 2 weeks later...
I wrote a blog about travelling around S. East Asia. http://global-travelstories.blogspot.co.uk/

 

A funny story in the first post about my mate ****ting himself on a mini bus.

 

Van Veing in Laos, the tubing has recently been shut down, well the party bars etc, so not sure its worth visiting now.

 

Thanks - a great read. The Inter-Rail Trip blog was particularly amusing

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I spent 3 weeks on Koh Panghan in '97 on my travels and it was the most chilled I've ever been, not many decisions to make just food, swim, smoke, watch spiders/lizards, smoke and sleep - simplistic and superb, happy times.

 

I went around the same time and then back a few times after, the latest being three years ago. I doubt you'd recognise it as the same place!!!! Still a great place, but it's changed massively (some things for the better, others not so).

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