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  1. #1
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    Talking Thailand/Cambodia/Vietnam combo

    Hey, Im new here
    I was hoping for some advice. We are a couple in our 40s. Seen a bit of the world but totally new to Thai travel and have 3 weeks next January to visit.
    We don't want to do hostels (too old for that now!), but are happy to go to beach cabin type things, as long as there is air con, private bathrooms and is clean. We want to see some culture, some temples, some shopping, some history, but also lots of beautiful beaches and islands. Not worried about busy nightlife, a bar with some music a few beers and some cocktails somewhere nearby will do us :.

    We wanted to start in Bangkok (maybe 2 nights? wanted to do the floating markets), someone told us we could get a sleep train to Cambodia? in Cambodia, a must for do, is the southern islands with unspoiled beaches then we were thinking across to Vietnam (not sure how we would get there?) and then maybe fly to southern Thailand islands etc

    Im not asking for a specific itinerary, just how doable this is within a 3 week period, what the best transfers would be, and also any real "gems" of islands or beaches, or "must dos" - thank you in advance for your expert knowledge and advice! Jo x

  2. #2
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    Not specifically the route you are thinking of but a few suggestions. By 'southern Thai islands I presume you mean Phuket, Lanta, Phi Phi, Samui etc?? Why? That's a hell of a trek from Vietnam out of a tight-ish schedule.

    The eastern islands offer a more relaxed pace and are not as plagued with full moon partygoing types as those in the south. Besides, you could make a whole holiday out of exploring the southern islands.

    My suggestion would be Bangkok, Koh Chang (via Trat) then either on to Koh Kood (sometimes Koh Kut) or Koh Mak. There is a guy on Koh Chang that can arrange boats to Cambodia - your next point of call and you can then travel to Vietnam. The eastern islands of Thailand - Chang, Mak and Kood are my favourites and some of the beaches, especially on Koh Kood are stunning. They are less commercial (especially Koh Mak and Koh Kood) and offer various types of accommodation.

    That sort of a route makes more sense geographically and you'd need to check this but a lot of the airlines offer one way tickets without penalty these days. You could therefore, possibly arrive in Bangkok and fly home from Vietnam.

    What you suggest is do-able but I think the above is more practical and would give you more time on your actual holiday and less time in the air.

    You can get to Trat by bus or plane. Buses from Ekamai station, Bangkok start at about 5.30am and take about 5.5 hours. There are different classes of bus available - not sure if the VIP type is available on that route but you would definitely want the express service. The last ferries from Trat to Koh Chang leave around 6.30 - 7.00pm so the earlier the bus you get, the better your chances of getting there the same day. Careful on this though as most buses drop you off on the main road near Trat where you take a Songthaew taxi (pick up truck) to the ferry terminal. Nothing wrong with that - just making you aware so you don't carry on to Trat City. There are also small minibuses available that will take you from Bangkok direct to the ferry terminal but I would warn against them - they are well known for accidents and dangerous driving. The bus is quite cheap. Get to the station 30 minutes before departure time and you won't have a problem getting a seat.

    If you choose to fly, its an hour to Trat but its pricey. There is only one airline and they own the airport so they charge as much as the market will stand. There are minibuses at the airport that will take you the short distance to the ferry terminal.

    The key to such a trip would be being able to get from Koh Chang to Cambodia (a spit away) and as I say, there's a guy on Koh Chang who claims to be able to offer such trips. I've never done it but I'm planning to next year.

    http://explorekohchang.com/

    Check that out - a lot of info on all the eastern islands and a specific tab on Cambodia.

    One point, next to Christmas you are travelling at the highest point of the season for Thailand but search around and you'll still find some relative bargains.

    Final suggestion, if you have to travel home from Bangkok - go straight to Trat when you arrive in Thailand (or do my whole suggestion in reverse). Most people do Bangkok first - I did but its a mistake. Things often don't go to plan and you end up rushing back to the airport at the end of your holiday - worse still, missing your flight home. Do the 2 days in Bangkok at the end - you're only 30 - 40 minutes from the airport. A bonus is also that if you've bought loads of gifts and souvenirs in Bangkok, you're not carting them around with you the whole holiday.
    Last edited by Flip; 19th Mar 2018 at 19:47.

  3. #3
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    You have given me some ideas there Flip.

    If the OP did decide to visit the eastern islands then an option would be to fly in to U-Tapao which will be a lot closer than Bangkok and fly out of Bangkok on Qatar Airways. depending on the distances between 2 different airports the ticket will be an open jaw and still classed as a return ticket.

    I am waiting for an update on U-Tapao as my wife arrived yesterday but initial report was it was very quick through immigration for her and Qatar did a good job with the delay from LHR and just making the connection in DOH, bag arrived as well
    Last edited by Natty; 19th Mar 2018 at 20:11.

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    Yes, I was actually going to suggest they spend their first night in Pattaya/Jomtien but I'd forgotten about the new Utapao service - an hour to the hotel, night out in Patts and less time to Trat the next day.

    Thanks for that Natty.

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    The QR flight to UTP gets in early enough to get at least as far a Koh Chang so can miss Pataya (or not depending on how you feel)

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    I don't know about the OP but I wouldn't want to have just done a long haul then 4 hours on a bus. Handy to know that though.

    I should perhaps clarify that Jojogem - where I say above, 'go straight to Trat' - that depends on your arrival time and whether or not your up to it. Personally I'd either stay in Bangkok overnight, close to Ekamai bus station or use the new Qatar service to Utapao as Natty suggests. I wouldn't be doing the sights of Bangkok at the beginning of my holiday.
    Last edited by Flip; 19th Mar 2018 at 20:25.

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    I was just checking this out as I'm quite fancying the reverse journey I mentioned above and I have at least confirmed that you can do split journeys without penalty.

    I'm sure I could have got this cheaper but as a starting point - flying in January for 3 weeks (as per the OP's plans)

    Flying on Etihad out of Manchester (MAN better for me - could be cheaper from Heathrow)

    Out 08/01/19 Manchester to Ho Chi Minh City via Abu Dhabi
    In 29/01/19 Bangkok to Manchester via Abu Dhabi
    £651 no long stopovers

    Strangely - maybe to do with airport taxes/landing fees etc. the reverse - Manchester to Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh to Manchester on the same dates was £537.

    Those are good prices for January.

  8. #8
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    Really good website for train travel in the region is here: https://www.seat61.com/Thailand.htm

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    yes seat 61 is a good read when i did vietnam i spent 3 weeks in thailand before vietnam koh chang and then i made my way back to bangkok and flew to hanoi cheap as chips ,then i spent 3 weeks in vietnam spread between hanoi,,hue,,hoi an ,,natrang,ho chi min ,,then back to thailand to visit the inlaws and another 3 weeks my self would say 3 weeks isnt enough time to do all that i spent 3-4 nights in halong bay one day of travel and 3 on a cruise .i tried to fit a bit of cambodia in to my recent travel plan but they are the opposite to thailand weres the buses tend to run at night in thailand they run during the day in cambodia a bit of a logistics nightmare .

  10. #10
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    Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!
    So much excellent advice!
    So - since last on here have spoke to a friend who spent 5 months doing Thai/Cam/Vietnam and done various research, This we have resigned ourselves that something had to give, and with Vietnam being such a huge place we have decided that its probably left for another trip.
    So If we stick to Thailand and Cambodia, we were thinking something like this:
    Fly Friday night, get to Bangkok 16:00 Saturday. Thai Air are flying from Heathrow for £683- spend the night in hotel then catch a morning train to Lop Buri, leave luggage at station and wander round lop Buri and then have a meal and catch the sleeper to chiang Mai there at 20.40.
    Days 2-5: see the elephants, and do a bit more culture for 3 days?
    Days 5-10 fly down to Krabi from Chaing Mai and do 2 or 3 Islands.
    Days 10-13 Fly to Siem Reap, do Ankor Wat, make way south after staying 2 nights(not sure what mode of transport?) but if possible do The Killing Fields om the way? and end up at the Southern Islands for days 13-20
    Days 20, fly home from Cambodia (Via Bangkok?). Is that possible?
    Is any of this feasible? Or any other ideas?
    Would really appreciate everyone's input and ideas/advice, thanks in advance!

  11. #11
    Premium Member sisaket's Avatar
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    If your going to Lop Buri , be careful with jewellery especially earrings / studs when near the monkeys at the so called "Monkey Temple" the other temples are fine (but be aware)
    There are smaller killing fields around Siem Reap, but I have never been to those , if you mean Choeng Ek that is south of Phnom Penh and S-21 Khmer Rouge prison is in Phnom Penh, hire a tuk-tuk for the day to see both cost between $12 to $20 (US dollars for the Tuk-Tuk) Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom are the main temples near Siem Reap but there are many others and they cover a vast area in the archaeological park , again hire a Tuk -Tuk for a day or two, my Mrs speaks Khmer so it was easy for us as it did not matter if the driver spoke English, but a fare few can, tickets (Pass) for the park are paid with US dollars and are for durations of 1 day, 3 days (pick any 3 days from 10) 7 days (pick any 7 days from a month) if theres one place in Cambodia not to miss it is Angkor.
    bangkok mags

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    Hiya, thanks!
    Yes we definitely want to to the Angkor.
    That's all great advice, thanks
    So, just picked up on something there, What is the best currency to carry around? DO many places take cards (I realise that street food places wont or cabs) - I meant more like little hotels on the beach etc.
    Are there many ATMS?
    Thanks

  13. #13
    Premium Member sisaket's Avatar
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    Any place on the borders of Thailand will take Thai Baht IE Poipet (which is a mini Las Vegas /Reno/ Biloxi with casinos etc) going futher you can use US dollars , but may get the change back in Riel (take smaller denominations) anything under $1 will get change in Riel , yes have ATMs and im sure can pay for Angkor passes with cards, Tuk - Tuk drivers normally want US dollars from foreingers, as of yet never been to beaches of Cambodia so I cannot advise on that.
    bangkok mags

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    This is such fantastic advice. I love the idea of the Eastern Islands, as the southern ones do sound very busy and over run, which is exactly why the Southern Islands in Cambodia appeal!
    So 2 questions:
    1 - Totally agree that the 2 days in Bangkok would be better at the end of holiday, so was thinking to fly in to Bangkok at 16:00, have a meal, sleep, then up and catch a morning train to Lop Buri, leave luggage at station and wander round lop Buri and then have a meal and catch the sleeper to Chiang Mai at 20.40. SPend a few days there and was thinking fly down to Krabi - BUT if we did Eastern Islands instead, how would we get from Chiang Mai to there easiest way?
    2 - Love the idea of getting the boat across to Cambodia (Koh Chag to Kofh Rong). That would save so much time and fliying. How feasible is that, is it just a guy on the dock or can you pre-book,? not sure I would want to leave that to chance. Also, how is that with getting across the borders patrol etc?

    Thanks in advance!
    Jo x

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    If you want to do the Eastern islands, I would forget Lop Buri. My personal choice, knowing I know now and as if I wanted to visit Bangkok what would be as decribed above. Either Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand or miss out Vietnam. Your going to see countryside, temples, beaches - everything on that journey. Chiang Mai is a great place and another possible starting point but if I was doing that on a 3 week trip I'd do Chiang Mai (possibly move on down to Lop Buri on the way south depending on how much time you want in Chiang Mai) but to be honest, there's so much to see in Chiang Mai and a possible detour to Chiang Rai that Lop Buri would be difficult. From Chiang Mai I'd go straight down to some of the lesser visited Southern islands and end in Bangkok. Phuket and Phi Phi are fine but very busy and compared to the rest of Thailand, Phuket is well overpriced. To be fair, the Southern islands can easily be a holiday unto themselves, there's a lot of them.

    You could of course travel down from Chiang Mai to Bangkok and head straight East. There are so many combinations and the danger is, you try to do too much and miss a lot.

    Since I replied to you the first time, I've found out that there's a ferry company that provide a bus service from Bangkok direct to their ferry to Koh Kood. Its an early moring start from Bangkok but as they are the ferry company they would get you to their last ferry to Koh Kood which leaves at 14.20. You could then either stay on Koh Kood before travelling to Cambodia or take a speedboat to Koh Mak and/or Koh Chang.

    I may have given you some slightly wrong information - I too love the idea of travelling to Cambodia by boat from one of the Eastern islands but I can't find a reference to it now on the explore Koh Chang website. I'm sure it was there once and indeed some maps show ferry routes between Koh Chang and Cambodia. You'd have to contact Explore Koh Chang to clarify this. The owner of Explore Koh Chang is a westerner - an American I think so you shouldn't have a problem with communication.

    The dangers I see for you are that you may be trying to fit too much in. I have friends and family coming to visit me in 2019 - when I make the final move to Thailand and I'll give you an idea of the tour I'm planning for them. The tour will be for around 2 weeks and I believe this is a reasonably relaxed plan whilst also taking in a lot of different aspects.

    Day 1. Arrive in Thailand. Straight up to my place near Khao Yai. Some staying with me - others in local accomodation.

    Day 2. Late start, relaxed breakfast (English of course at my mate's resort nearby). Travel around the local area taking in a few attractions in the afternoon.

    Day 3. Travel the short distance to the fantastic (I'm heavily biased ) Khao Yao National Park where we will camp overnight (all camping equipment supplied by the park authority). Afternoon guided tour around the park. Although I may vary this to include a full day guided tour of the park for them whilst I go set up camp.

    Day 4. Slow drive down towards Koh Chang/Mak/Kood taking in some scenery and stopping off in Chantaburi for the night.

    Days 5 - 10. To the ferry for whichever islands we decide on. This part still to be decided on and may involve 1, 2 or all 3 of the main islands.

    Day 10. Travel up to Pattaya to break the journey up to Bangkok and have a good night out there.

    Day 11 - 14. Up to Bangkok, shopping, temples, palaces etc.

    You could do similar and tag on Cambodia for the extra week but probably better the other way around.

    Its very likely that I will rent a self drive minibus for that tour - I've done a very similar trip before and it was great. However, if you're not used to Thai driving styles I wouldn't recommend it.

    My next personal trip is the 3 week one I mentioned above - Vietnam/Cambodia/Thailand. Not decided which way around to do it yet but I don't need to visit Bangkok at the end so I'll probably just go there and pick up the bus/ferry service to Koh Kood I talked about above and go west to east.

    A few places to visit in Bangkok whichever route you choose:

    Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) unless its your bag, that's about the only Bangkok temple you need to see. The rest are much of a muchness (unlike elsewhere).

    Grand Palace - if that's your bag. Its not mine personally but you may kick yourself later if you don't go.

    Shopping - MBK, Central World, Gaysorn, Chachuchak Market (known bt locals as JJ)

    Night out: Take the Skytrain to Saphan Taksin. Get off and walk to the pier for the free shuttle boat to Asiatique - an ex industrial complex that's now hundreds of shops and restaurants. Walk around, take in the sights of the river at night and have dinner there.

    Floating Markets - if you must but they are not authetic these days - its all staged.

    As I say there's so much to see and thousands of combinations. I think you need to decide on East or West.
    Last edited by Flip; 21st Mar 2018 at 14:26.

  16. #16
    Premium Member sisaket's Avatar
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    Just to let you know Thai Lion Air and AirAsia both fly from Chaing Mai to U Tapao Airport , Rayong Province prices starting at around £21 one way, saves alot of messing about, your already on the eastern seaboard and Koh Samet is not far.
    bangkok mags

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    Quote Originally Posted by jojogemm View Post
    T
    Days 20, fly home from Cambodia (Via Bangkok?). Is that possible?
    Its possible on the same booking but REP (Siem Reap) BKK would be a separate ticket as far as I can see even though Thai Smiles flies the route and the ticket would be a Thai ticket number, maybe Im missing something.
    In the interest of flexibility I would look at just booking the sector separate as there are other options for that route.
    We always leave 2 full days for BKK at the end of our visit I would say leave at least 2 full days if you want to see BKK
    We normally stay along the Sukhumvit road, some stretches of the road are different shall we say but we have liked both the Bangkok Marriott and the Marriott Courtyard even though you can get cheaper its nice to have a little comfort after a week of basic living for me, sky train can get you anywhere you want to go from these.
    Now Ive mentioned hotels it will probably open up a can of worms.

  18. #18
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    This all sounds great, so much great advice. Its given me lots to think about - I think what I have tried to do I can split into 2 trips (haven't told my other half but we are doing it all again in 2020! ). Thinking culture in either Thai OR Cambodia, beaches on both, ending with a bit more culture and shopping in Bangkok for 2-3 nights.
    Hit me with hotel recommendations in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Seam Reap, and any absolute gems on any of the islands?

    Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by sisaket View Post
    Just to let you know Thai Lion Air and AirAsia both fly from Chaing Mai to U Tapao Airport , Rayong Province prices starting at around £21 one way, saves alot of messing about, your already on the eastern seaboard and Koh Samet is not far.
    In our position I'd agree with you Sisaket but these are newbies who haven't seen anything of Thailand. You don't see an awful lot on a plane. Apart from the 8 - 10 hour stints I used to endure up to Yasothon, I've always enjoyed bus journeys to new areas of Thailand. You see so much and they are very cheap. Koh Samet? beautiful but small and heaving with Bangkokians on a weekend.

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    i myself think your packing to much in ,the days are hot ,nightfall at around 6-6.30 pm ,my self i would do all the sightseeing and cities first followed by a week by the seaside .my last visit to ko kood departing from koh chang by speedboat to be honest its a full day ,just travel ,ie up at 8 breakfast pack travel to the pier ,speedboat to ko kood travel to hotel unless you have a bit off money and can get dropped of at the beach hotel,check in ,the day is nealy over ,my view would be go and enjoy thailand forget the others im sure your fall in love with the place and more trips to south east asia will be on the cards .ie==== so was thinking to fly in to Bangkok at 16:00, have a meal, sleep, then up and catch a morning train to Lop Buri, leave luggage at station and wander round lop Buri and then have a meal and catch the sleeper to Chiang Mai at 20.40. thats 4 days from the day you set off and you havent done a alwfull lot ! just my thoughts .
    Last edited by Samsung; 22nd Mar 2018 at 11:13.

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