Traveling to Thailand and Cambodia (and maybe Laos)

After so many years spent having Christmas in Bali (or with Dengue Fever last year) Novita and I have decided to spend two weeks traveling around Thailand and Cambodia. We leave tomorrow for Bangkok. She’s never been, so it should be interesting.

I am excited to capture a completely new destination through the lens. We plan to spend a few days in Siem Ream, Cambodia, exploring Angkor Wat (the world’s largest religious monument – build in the 12th century) and the surrounding temples. We’re still undecided if it’d be a better use of time skipping around some of the islands of Thailand, or heading more north to Chiang Mai, etc. Heard great things about both. My only reservation with the island options is exactly that – no reservations. In a place like Bali, I generally hop off the plane and find a room no matter what time of year. I’ve heard that’s not quite so easy on many of the more popular islands in Thailand (especially at Christmas).

I’ve looked at staying on some of the following: Rai Ley Beach, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, Phuket (not sure about this as I’d like more seclusion), Koh Chang, or perhaps some of the East coast islands. If anyone has any thoughts on which offers more chill for the Baht, I’m all ears. Would I be alright to arrive without any bookings? What’s the best way to travel from Bangkok? Would I be better off exploring more of Thailand rather than beaching it considering I live in Indonesia? (meaning I have Bali, Lombok, Thousand Islands, etc easily accessible)

My sister is wandering around Asia/Australia for a year or so. She’s somewhere in Cambodia now, having spent the better part of a month in Thailand. She hated Bangkok, but I thought it was a great city. Perhaps I’m more calloused having come from Jakarta. I believe she’s off to Vietnam after Cambodia; don’t think our paths will meet up, despite the fact that I’m only a few days behind her footsteps.

The other option, after Cambodia, is to travel to Laos. Some friends highly recommended Luang Prabang. I probably should ask an expert like Lao Ocean about this topic! Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Yes – the actual city is a living Heritage Site. Amazing. This option might be a bit tough to squeeze in with only two weeks total.
[Coincidentally, after posting this I visited Lao Ocean’s blog and just happened to come across her link to The New York Times ‘The 53 Places to Go in 2008‘ – Laos is #1. This hotel doesn’t look too bad]

If anyone will be around Bangkok, the islands, or Cambodia in these dates, we’d love to meet up! I’d also appreciate any information, advice, or opinions about these locations, especially in regards to photographing them (hopefully beyond tourist shots).

I’ll try to post again soon. Until then, Merry Christmas to all of you!

PS – Lombok is #34 on the NYT list.