I went travelling around Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos last year with a brief visit to Bangkok and Chiang Mai. I didnt get chance to check out any of the thai islands as I needed to be back in the UK. I loved every place I visited but Laos was by far the favourite!
I'm planning on going back this year at the end of August for 3 weeks with my boyfriend. My boyfriend likes a mix of activities, nightlife and culture like I do, but he's a bit more attached to his home comforts and doesnt want to do too much travelling and would like to stay in reasonable hotels, which is fair enough.
I'm debating whether to fly to Bangkok and stay there for a few days then get the overnight train and ferry to Ko Tao, then Ko Phangan and Ko Samui (from what I understand these are the better choice for the time of year?). OR...whether to go back to Laos. I'm keen to see something new but at the same time Laos was amazing so I don't want to regret it as I've heard mixed reviews of the thai islands. My boyfriend is happy to go to either place as long as he gets to relax a bit too.
It would be great to hear opinions from people who have been to both laos and the thai islands. Any other suggestions of places to go (southeast Asia or otherwise!) would be great too.
#1 jroo88 has been a member since 24/1/2011. Posts: 1
three weeks is a big enough chunk of time that you could probably do two places, like half the time in southern laos and then the rest of the time on the thai gulf islands.
i don't know off hand how bad the monsoons will be in souther laos in august, however, so i don't know if that would take the fun out of the stuff to do there, such as hanging out in pakse and champasak, visiting wat phu, and a tour of the bolevans plateau. southern laos came to mind because you mentioned how much you like laos and because the 4,000 islands area might be a good mix between laid back island vibe and all the fun parts of laos.
that time of year, you'd likely do better on the gulf side thai islands just because the rains usually aren't too bad that during those months. having said that, the andaman sea side will likely be very uncrowded and have some great discounts on offer during their rainy season. the rains usually don't last all day. hope that helps. cheers.
As for the Monsoon season - it will be wet in Southern Laos in August. Now, maybe it will rain a couple of times for an hour or two and clear up - which happens often. Or maybe you'll have bad luck and a large front will come through and rain for days, which has happened before but doesn't happen all that often.
The other part that caught my eye though is where you said he doesn't want to spend a lot of time traveling around. This basically means flying to Paxse (if he's not willing to bus it) in order to do southern Laos, and it isn't all that cheap. So it depends on how much you are willing to spend to get there.
#3 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
I can't comment about Laos a I haven't been there yet. But I can comment on the idea of revisiting places.
I did a 6-week trip with my sister in 2008. We had a ball as we travelled though parts of Thailand and Cambodia. There isn't one thing that I would change about that trip (other than a horrible elephant ride, but that's another story).
In 2009-2010 I went back on a longer visit - this time visiting lots of new places but also revisiting some of my favourite old places. What I found surprised me. Revisiting the 'old' places in most cases left me very disappointed. It's very difficult to recapture those magic moments when are are discovering a place for the first time.
There were some exceptions to this - in particular, when going back to Siem Reap and Koh Phangan. And the reason this worked for me in both places is because I stayed on the other side of town (Siem Reap) and a completely different part of the island (KPN). As a result, I had quite different experiences by discovering new markets, new temples , etc - things that I had missed the first time.
As exacto said, you can probably manage to see both. When you go to Laos, revisit 1-2 of your favourite places but be sure to check out some new destinations as well, places that you can discover together with your boyfriend.
"Revisiting the 'old' places in most cases left me very disappointed. It's very difficult to recapture those magic moments when are are discovering a place for the first time."
That's a very interesting observation Liz, and I have heard it before. My own experience is the exact oppossite, and the reason is simple: I never go racing around from place to place. I always stay in one place long enough to get to know people. If I only have three weeks, I'll spend it all in one town. So when I go back, the first thing I'll do is look up the people I know. I guess I'm just more interested in people in different places than I am in sights, which explains my aversion to traveling around I guess. Obviously, given that this site is for tourists, I'm an outlier and you're in the main, so I think your opinion is probably more valid than mine.
#5 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Hey Mac - very valid point. I can certainly apply that logic to other places that I have travelled to, especially within NZ and the Pacific region where it is cheaper and easier to return. I do have my favourites that I love returning to.
But when you travel a long distance to get somewhere, and have limited time, it's always a tradeoff - and a frustrating one at that!. I think I make more of an effort to slow down my travels compared to many on this site by spending longer in each place where I can..... but the reality is, I do keep moving. But the longer you can stay in a place, the more you learn and get to appreciate it (or not, as the case may be!). For me, I just love wallowing in day-to-day life as much as seeing the sites. In fact, I often miss out some of the key sites highlighted in the guides because I get tired of following the trail of tourists around the place. My best experiences have been rubbing shoulders with people getting on with their daily life, sitting down with them and shooting the breeze.
I remember when I went to Kenya - seems like a long time ago now. I went to Nairobi, met a really cool guy, then met a very attractive woman, all in Nairobi. So I stayed there almost for the duration (did go down to Mombassa with that very attractive woman). What a great time that was going to Eastleigh every day and talking politics with the Somalis there.
#7 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Ditto. Fly into Bkk. Relax a few day and work you way south slowly. Your mate doesn't seem to be the Laos type maybe. Break him in easy. As long as you both have fun and discover new things, missing Laos for something you haven't seen will be OK. I am like the others. I have revisited many of the same spots because of the people I met.