4-week itinerary for backpacking across Thailand (north and south), Laos, and Vietnam?

My husband and I want to backpack across the South-East Asia in February. We want to start in Bangkok and go to the following places: 1.Chang Mai 2.Ko Samui 3.Ko Pha-Ngan 4.Luang Prabang in Laos 5.Phuket 6.Vientaine in Laos. Can you suggest a good itinerary for our travel? Can you also suggest other places we may want to visit? Please give us your suggestions. We would really appreciate it. Thanks a lot!!!


City: Bangkok Metropolis

Province: Krung Thep

Country: Thailand


I need to know how do you plan to travel, by road/rail, flying or a combination of the two? You want to do a lot in 1 month and I would suggest visiting Phang Nga bay and Krabi as you want to go to Phuket. Personally, I think tourism has spoilt Samui and unless you're party animals forget Ko Pha Ngan. Vientiane has nothing to see but Luang Prabang is a must. If you go to Vietnam, then Hanoi and the beaches in the north-east are worth a visit. Check out these webpages for more advice: and
That is a lot of travel for only 4 weeks:
dont spend more than 24 hours in Vientiane, fly from Vientiane to Luangprabang to save time, for islands I should choose the Trang islands or Ko Samet, Ko Chang, Chiangmai is indeed a must, Phuket is OK if you have never been there
For chiangmai in the north, you can travel by several options from BKK: by coach (12 Hr duration), train (there is sleeping cabin), budget airlines (1 hr duration, try , for advance booking to earn a cheap price. You should spend at least 3 or 4 days in Chiangmai to visit elephant camp, hill tribe, night market for art and craft, etc.

For southern part,Samui and Ko Pha-ngan is not that far from each other, you can stay at koh Samui and take a join boat to Koh Pha-ngan. There is a direct flight from BKK-Samui by Bangkok airway (PG) or Thai Airway (TG) but this is not a budget airline. Alternatively, you can take coach to Suratthani province and take ferry to the Samui island.

Phuket island is further from Samui island, there is a budget airline fly direct from BKK or you can take coach leaveing at night and get there in the morning.

Lao, there is a join coach leaving from Khao San rd in BKK to Vientaine and Luang prabang to save your budget. For faster way, you can fly direct to Luang Prabang. or you can buy package tour from BKK. For Luang prabang, you should be there for about 3 days, vientien nothing much in my opinion so one day will do.
Hope this help.

As a tour guide for many years working in South east asia, I would like to recommend you to follow this Itinerary..
Start from Bangkok,

- Take a night train from Hua-Lam-Phong Station up to Chang Mai,(you can book from Travel Agency) Then spend your time there to visit Prathad-Doi su thep Temple on the Top of Mountain, Mea-Sa elephant camp etc. for 2 days
- Take a Public Bust up to Chang-Rai (you can do a treking here, it's more beautiful than Chang-Mai and maybe stay with Hill Tribe for 1 or 2 nights.) You can visit Mea-Sai Border (it's border between Thai-Burmah) They have a big Border Market over there. You can across the border to do 1 day tour in burmah. but you have to pay for Visa Fee(burmah)
Then next day catch a Boat at Mea-Khong River Pier down to Luang prabang in Laos, visit wang-weang and then take the bust to Vientein (the capital of laos)
From Vientein you can book the bus from some travel Agency to South of Vientnam,Veay,danang, hoi-ant. then take some bus to Hojimin City. from there you can take a flight ( by your self from internet. back to Bangkok. and you can continue fly to Phuket by
from phuket to Samui by van or public bus.. then from samui take Ferry to Phagyan Island by ferry (should go when they have full moon party at Had Rin Beach) after that continue trip by ferry to visit Koh Tao island(Famous for Diving) and stay there for 3 days dont forget to spend your time in Freedom Beach for 1 day. After that you can take a ferry to Chum-Porn. From chum-Porn take a bus back to Bangkok.
This is just for example..
Have a good trip, enjoy asia ^^
If I only had 4 weeks to do this, I would...
Bangkok 3 days, Ayuthaya, train to chiang Mai, Pai across to Laos, 2 day boat trip to Luang Prabang stay 2-3 nights
road trip south to Vang Vieng is stunning. I found nothing in Vientiane so get out to Vietnam at Lao Bao
Hue is wonderful, get yourself some clothes made. My cotton trousers are so comfortable and were made 7 yrs ago. head south to Saigon. Crazy city but worth the visit. Then back to Thailand. Why Samui Pha Ngan. If you want island life Koh Chang near BKK is nice.
Well i'm not sure it's too late answer to you or not.I just to see your question on march. refer on march2009. It depends on how many dau you have for each place. backpack start for bangkok. i think in kaosarn road have alot of cheap hotel and guesthouse for backpacker and it's very close the important place for sightseeing such as grand palace,wat poo(original thai massage) and temple. frankly to speaking now it's some problem on the north about air pollution. However on the north of thailand has a lot of place that it's very interesting .i just cam back from chaingrai on new year and it's very nice. ko samui(in suratthani province),ko pa-ngan(in krabi province) and phuket are located in the south, and it's good idea for travel,lay on the beach and swimming. phuket i know metrople that you can check in the website() i used to stay here when i went to phuket but it's in downtown not be nearly the beach. last one if you like to go to laos .you should catch the plane to go to ubonracthani or nhongkai. then across from border line to go in laos or buy local tour there is still ok. or you make be go to travel in chaingmai then you can catch the plane to go to laos. it's still ok.
Have a nice day and good trip
When in Chiang Mai, you could go to Pai in the north-west, which is a back pack paradise.

While in the area, you could go to Vietnam Hanoi and Halon bay, which is some kind of must.
For backpack destination, i will recommend the following destinations:
Bangkok and nearby: Khaosan road, Jatujak weekend market, Ampawa(Floating market), ayuthaya (Ancient capital)
Chaing Mai and nearby: Weekend night market, Nimmanhemin road, Pai, CHiang rai (Golden triangle - 3 countries tour) elephant camp
Phuket and nearby: Similan islands, Phuket town, Krabi

Enjoy backpacking! :)
For backpack destination, i will recommend the following destinations:
Bangkok and nearby: Khaosan road, Jatujak weekend market, Ampawa(Floating market), ayuthaya (Ancient capital)
Chaing Mai and nearby: Weekend night market, Nimmanhemin road, Pai, CHiang rai (Golden triangle - 3 countries tour) elephant camp
Phuket and nearby: Similan islands, Phuket town, Krabi

Enjoy backpacking! :)
Forget Chiang Mai, it is just like any other city, you need to venture out of the city to appreciate nature.

Ko Phangan is only for the people that love full moon parties, well rather raves on the beach, I found the beach not suitable to swim in, although that is only my opinion. There are a few waterfalls and temples, but there are the like on many other islands.

Vientiane is lovely, a break from the stress of Bangkok, but take plenty of money and haggle with the tuk tuk drivers and then haggle some more.

Samui - although I have not been there, it has been said it is too over developed and too expensive, but the airport is an interesting design.

Try Phuket, it does have something for everyone, and nearby is the infamous Koh Phi Phi islands.

So I have been reliably told, Pai and Nan are nice spots in the north to visit to get away from it all.

Do not go to Pattaya, unless you're into sex tourism. Famliles do go, but not so much, Hua Hin and Cha Am are much nicer options.
i agree with the others that its alot to do in 4wks,vientiane is good for a coulpe of days but no more the resturants along the river are very good take your time to look for the with best looking shrimps and make sure you eat at sunset make for a good pic. chiang mai is brilliant for sight seeing and partys alike. would recomend heow ting tao its a massive lake you can get red taxi there and back for bout 300-600 baht. even if you like partying stay clear of spicey its rubbish try fashion house or disscovery there good thai clubs. theres tons of temples the best being doi suthep at the top of the mountain good view at night. also try along the river for good food and even better live bands you wont be dissapointed try good view or the riverside all taxis no where it is dont pay anymore than 80baht for a tuk tuk. ko pha-ngan is good if you love partying till the early hours but def worth alook. i hope ive helped you. any more questions on chiang mai conntact me i love the place.
If you come to CM you can travel directly to Luang Prabang, then Vientienne, then BKK and the south, but seems like you're cramming too much into a month.

February 2010? So far..anyway you can check it first but when the time is coming you might see so many changes since you got info for long time.

Good luck!
All the suggestions here are O.K. but dont go to Burma !!!!
When you come back you wil only get a 2 week visa for Thailand !!!!

Koh Samui and Phuket are interchangable, with Phuket being the better of the two. I would try Koh Tao (near Koh Samui) instead of Koh Pga-Ngan if you are into small pristine islands. When around Thailand and Loas, you could try to visit Cambodia and visit Angkor Wat, one of the Wonders of the World.
Bangkok Airways () is flying basically to all your destinations in Phuket, when you book early prices are around 1000 THB a flight, which is around 30 USD. Cheaper airlines are Air Asia, Nok Air and 12Go, but they offer less service.
Better start from south thailand and slowely move to north and move to vietnam.
get down at phuket,kho samui,krabi,Huahin and to bangkok.
Then to ayuthaya,petchaboon,chiang mai,chiang rai and last mea hong son.
Back to chiang mai and fly to vietnam.

As you have enough time bus could save money.
plan the april 14 to chiang mai, songran in chiang mai is the best in my experience.

I recommend that you do the "mainland" first before going south to the beaches. There is now a railway service to Vientiane from Thailand and that is very convenient. Fly from Vientiane to Luang Prabang and than onwards to Chiang mai. From there it is very easy to go down South either by bus, train or plane. I recommend you take Air Asia for domestic flights in Thailand. Cheap and flexible, but only 15kl. baggage allowance. Contact me if you want daytrips in Phuket.
I think you cannot miss Sukhothai the first former capital of Thailand (Siam at that time).Sukhothai is the most important and cultural place in Thailand.Its besides interesting Kanchanaburi and River Kwai .For Hanoi is enough around 3-4 days...and Halong Bay is quite amazing. If you have never visit Asia , starting to do a place in your mind to place a lot of things. Enjoy your trip ! !

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