One night in bangkok...then what?
September 8, 2010 10:00 AM   Subscribe

Where to visit with an extra week (or just short of) in Southeast Asia?

I'm going to Thailand in December and have a week in Bangkok and close to a week on one of the islands. Those are set but I have an extra week on the front end - where should I go?

I don't want to try to cram too much but would love to explore more.

I've considered Angkor Wat or Chiang Mai plus Sukhothai. They seem interesting but maybe overly touristy at this point. Is Laos worth a visit and doable in that time frame?

What would you do if you had a week to spend in that area??
posted by gyroscope to Travel & Transportation around Thailand (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Oh, god, go to Angkor. Even if it's touristy now, it will be far more touristy in 10 years. You can avoid the touristy, too, if you're smart and get a good guide and explain to them that you want to avoid huge groups of tourists. My guide would take me to alternate gates, at different times, and would pick me up before it got too bad. He took me in a different gate for Ta Prohm, for example, that avoided all of the "guide? guide? See rock there? Is important rock" touts. the good ones can do that.

I would also go overland and not fly in, at least one way. And go to phnom Penh, too. You don't need a week at Angkor. I mean, you could, but i would go to Phnom Penh so you could go to the bar called "The Heart of Darkness".

That's what I would do with my extra week.
posted by micawber at 10:38 AM on September 8, 2010

Chiang Mai! You can access fairly uncommercialized villages from there plus a visit to Doi Inthanon is worthwhile for the beautiful waterfalls.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:41 AM on September 8, 2010

When I was a kid, my family went over (more like "was brought over") to visit my aunt who was living in Singapore at the time, and in the process of moving to Bangkok.

So, we started (and I think ended with a day or two?) our trip with a week or so in Singapore, then a few days on Phuket, and then a week or so in Bangkok.

Singapore was like a mini-Japan with English as the national language. (At least, that's how I remember it.) So, if you want to go somewhere more first-worldy, I'd recommend Singapore. If you want to keep your trip more akin to Bangkok, not sure what to tell you! But, definitely have a good time! I know I did :)
posted by StarmanDXE at 10:43 AM on September 8, 2010

Angkor gets my vote, but Chiang Mai wasn't bad either. Take a cooking class if you go to Chiang Mai. You could do a day or two in Ayutthaya as well, if you wanted.

I'd vote against Laos, travel is slow between places and I don't think you'd need a full week in Luang Prabang.
posted by backwards guitar at 10:59 AM on September 8, 2010

Best answer: Chiang Mai was actually much more fun than Angkor, I thought. Though if you go to Angkor, make sure to go down to the flooded forest / floating village area, it's kinda touristy but really incredibly beautiful. Also: Penang! Asam laksa is the weirdest most amazing food I've ever put in my mouth.
posted by Eshkol at 11:15 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Micawber has got it. There's nothing better to do with a week from Bangkok. Angkor will blow away Thailand and if you want to see Chiang Mai, do it on the way back instead of Phnom Penh which is a decent trek from Siem Reap.
posted by turkeyphant at 11:21 AM on September 8, 2010

Thirding, fourthing Angkor Wat. It's never going to get less touristy than it is now, that's for sure, and it's really something not to be missed. Getting a good guide and explaining you want to avoid the crowds is excellent advice, and consider checking out some of the more far-flung sites, like Beng Melea- it's a day trip from Siem Reap, but we had the temple site pretty much to ourselves, there were maybe five or six other people there total.
posted by ambrosia at 1:20 PM on September 8, 2010

Agree with Angkor, and then consider going from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh via riverboat. Then, Chiang Mai on your way to BKK.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 3:53 PM on September 8, 2010

I actually like Malaysia a lot. You could go down to Kota Baru by bus and experience a completely different culture. Don't know how safe southern Thailand is right now...

Cambodia is pretty amazing too though. Angkor is out of this world, just look out for rip offs if you are taking the bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap. I did like the coastal towns like Sihanoukville a lot but they might have turned way to touristy by now.
posted by brorfred at 5:15 PM on September 8, 2010

Angkor Wat is pretty great, and I didn't think it was all that touristy (at least, not compared to Bangkok!). I went to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam last year and I looooooved Vietnam. You can get fairly cheap flights on Air Asia to any of these locations while you're there.
posted by theflash at 9:15 PM on September 8, 2010

If you do go to Angkor, have your tour guide pick you up early, before Angkor "opens". If you're one of the first one's in, your guide can motorbike you to a temple where it will be just you, the fog, and the temple all alone for 15-20 minutes (although this probably won't work for the most popular ones—Bayon, and especially Angkor Wat).
posted by blueberry at 1:32 AM on September 9, 2010

Response by poster: Think I've settled on Angkor Wat - thanks for the feedback.

I'm also going to try to find some Penang Asam laksa!

posted by gyroscope at 10:50 PM on October 13, 2010

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