We had a 9 hour wait in Bangkok between our flights so we found a great deal from the local travel desk at the airport. For 3300,- we got a hotel room so we could leave our luggage and grab a shower. Next we had a private car and guide to take us to a couple of temples in Bangkok. The price also included transfers from the airport to the hotel and back again.
We were taken to 2 temples, the first was Temple of Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho) and second was the Marble Temple (Wat Benjamabophit). See my separate tips for the temples. This is definitely a better option than sitting around in the airport for hours.
Asia trip route
You are correct, you have way too many stops in the amount of days that you are in Asia. You are also correct in planning travel days as down time, at best you could squeeze in a quarter day of sight seeing depending on the destination. Also Luang Prabang (VT'ers, please correct me if I am wrong on this but you are looking at two days minimum to get there)
From the countries and cities that you list, my suggestion would be to do Thailand, Bangkok and Chiang Mai, then Vietnam and all the cities that you have listed. You could also do Hong Kong or Singapore on the way into Asia, (don't know where you are from!) or on the way out of Asia. I pick Thailand and Vietnam because you have the most cities in-country that you want to see and travel time should be easier, domestic travel usually faster than international. This would leave you travel time, day between cities/countries, 2-3 days in each to explore and sightsee and not be too rushed. If you plan on trying to pack too much into the trip you normally end up being too rushed, worrying about your next destination and the trip to and from and not enjoying the trip, not to mention usually missing the "must see" sights that you should be seeing that make up the city or country. All you see is another city, not what it is made up of and the culture. With your scaled down schedule, you will be busy enough trying to see everything as it is. You'll be busy enough!
This is a schedule where you'll need a couple days off to rest "before" you head back to work just to rest/recover form the trip!
Another thing, if you've never been to Asia before, it's a place that you either hate or love, most love it and in which case you'll be back. Slow down and enjoy it while you are there, that's the rhythm of Asia anyway! It's great!
There are many Chinese Temples in Bangkok as well as Thai Wats and other religous buildings. This dragon is found on top of the Chinese Temple near Taksin Bridge. The grounds are quite cool even during the middle of the day. It must be because it is near the river and a small breeze is almost always blowing through. Inside you can find many Chinese men playing Chess and checkers. I'm sure you'd be welcome to play a game. They greeted my son and I as we passed by.
In many temples you will see seated golden statues covered all over with little golden shhets. These sheets can be bought at the entrance of the temple and be offered to the statues that represent old holy monks.
They put the golden sheets over the statues, covering them all over with gold...
i would advise spending money on a good adapter with both straight and round pins for your gadgets.lots of hotels have old sockets that tend to spark and sizzle at times,wouldnt advise leaving anything plugged in if you leave the room.