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Southeast Asia

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Southeast Asia Entry and Exit during Covid

Posted by FarrOut on 28/11/2021 at 16:57


My husband and I are planning a trip next summer to Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. We're flexible with exact cities and even countries depending on what happens with Covid-19 restrictions. As of now, we are planning to fly into Hanoi and spend about a week in Vietnam, then do about 4 days in Laos and another week in Thailand. We love outdoor adventures and hidden gems. Big cities aren't really our thing.

Based on the limited research I've done so far, I'm planning on doing a day in Hanoi, then a cruise of Halong Bay and renting a motorbike to Mai Chau (where we hope to do a homestay), paddle boating through the caves in Ninh Binh, and finally going to Hoi An for a couple of days. I'm not sure if we would fly to Laos or get there another way. In Laos, we are not sure what exactly we'll do (input appreciated), but are considering:  4,000 Islands (Dong Get), tubing in Vang Vieng, Kuangsi Falls in Luang Prabang, a homestay in a remote village if we can find one, and the Gibbon Experience (worth it?). From Laos, our thought is to head to Thailand and go to Chiang Mai for hiking and the nearby Elephant Nature Preserve. We would love to see the coast at Khao Sok or Krabi, but we know that time wise there may be better options. 

My questions are:
- Are there any places in the loose itinerary above that are overrated or any underrated places we may be missing? Is the pacing and organization of the trip reasonable?
- Knowing the current restrictions, which airports should we plan to fly into and out of? Right now we plan to fly into Hanoi and out of Bangkok, but I'm not sure if that's the best option. 
- What is the best way to get to/from each country? Is there anywhere that it seems will not be open by June/July 2022?
- My husband will be training for a triathlon. Are bike rentals accessible and are running routes relatively safe?

Thanks so much for your guidance!!

#1 FarrOut has been a member since 29/11/2021. Posts: 1

Posted by exacto on 29/11/2021 at 23:27

Hi FarrOut. Welcome to Travelfish!

To answer what I see as the most important question you've asked, no, the pacing and organization of the trip is not reasonable. If you haven't been to Southeast Asia before, you'll find that the pace is slower than other places, the distances are greater than you expect, and getting from A to B takes much longer than you'd think too. Just remember, every time you move from one place to another, you loose at least half a day between leaving a hotel, travel to a new place, checking into a new hotel, etc. Often you will loose an entire day, particularly if you cross an international border (not to mention the time needed for Covid tests and other necessary documentation).

Three countries in less than three weeks is really pushing things in my opinion, even pre pandemic. I think you might be far better off spending half the time in Vietnam and half in Thailand and leave Laos for later. I've been to all those places you mention in Laos (except for the Gibbon Experience), for example, and agree they are all worthwhile. But the time it would take you to get to even one of those places on the tight schedule you'd listed makes it unfeasible.

I'm afraid that because of the pandemic, I haven't been to Southeast Asia since late February 2020, so I don't have recent first-hand information on how things are going and if travel and transportation is more readily available as things open up again. However, I suspect logistics will continue to be an issue even during the time you plan to visit in mid 2022. To reduce the stress of an over-planned itinerary, I suggest you pick one or two places in one or two countries to focus on, with maybe a few potential nearby side trips to add the excitement and variety you seek.

I also recommend you keep things as flexible as possible, with refundable flights and other reservations you can cancel, because I don't think we are out of the woods yet.

I would be interested to hear what you learn during your research on flights from Hanoi to Bangkok, for example, and what types of Covid testing and other documentation is required for each leg of the trip.

I apologize if this seems negative, but I think being well informed and prepared will serve you best. Good luck!

#2 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,816

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