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Bkk > Laos > Koh phangan Itinerary Help

  • teeo88

    Joined Travelfish
    14th June, 2011
    Posts: 13

    hey guys, hoping you could help me with my itinerary; answering a few questions i have and to see if my itinerary is feasible in the amount of time i have.

    1. MEL > BKK (1 Dec – 5 Dec)
    Depart MEL 1 Dec @ 2.30pm
    Arrive BKK 1 Dec @ 7.55pm

    2. BKK > Chiang Rai (6 Dec)
    Depart BKK 6 Dec @ 6.50am
    Arrive CEI 6 Dec @ 8.10am

    3. Chiang Rai > Chiang Khong (6 Dec)

    Depart Chiang Rai 6 Dec @ 9am
    Arrive Chiang Khong 6 Dec @12pm

    4. Chiang Khong > Huay Xai (6 Dec)

    5. Huay Xai (7 Dec – 9 Dec)
    Gibbon Experience

    6. Huay Xai > Pak Beng (10 Dec)
    slow boat trip

    7. Pak Beng > Luang Prabang (11 Dec)
    2nd half of the slow boat trip.

    8. Luang Prabang (11 Dec – 15 Dec)

    9. Luang Prabang > Vang Vieng (16 Dec –17 Dec)
    Bus

    10. Vang Vieng (18 Dec – 19 Dec)

    11. Vang Vieng > Ventianne ( 20 Dec – 21 Dec)
    Bus

    12. Ventianne (22 Dec)

    13. Ventianne > Pakse (22 Dec – 23 Dec)
    Flight = 131USD
    Overnight VIP Bus = ~20USD. Takes 10 hours.
    Leaves at 8PM.

    14. Pakse > Bolaven Plat (22 Dec – 25 Dec)
    Bolaven Plat loop

    15. Pakse > Ubon Ratchathani (25 Dec)
    Bus: Around 200 bhat. Takes around 3 hours
    departs at 8.30am and 3.30pm.
    probably catch the 3.30pm bus.

    16. Ubon Ratchathan > Bangkok (25 Dec)
    catch the 18.30 (6.30pm) Ubon train.

    17. Bangkok > Ko Samui & Ko Phangan (26 Dec)
    train/ferry

    18. Ko Phangan (26 Dec – 1 Jan)
    full moon party

    19. Ko Samui & Ko Phangan > Bangkok (2 Jan)
    train/ferry

    20. Bangkok > Kathmandu (2 Jan)
    flight

    Initially, the plan was to do bkk > laos (skipping southern laos) and flying to cambodia then flying back to bkk, but this was too expensive, so opted for exploring southern laos.

    Is the above itinerary doable? I also wanted to check out si phan don, would i be able to do that somehow by shaving a few days here and there? if so, where should i do that?

    I'm thinking of doing the gibbon experience in huay xai, how do i know what day they will be starting the experience (website says every 2 days). i emailed them, but no response?

    i'm thinking of taking a bus from LP > VV and VV to pakse. are there buses with toilets in them. if so,which buses would they be so i can ensure i take them.

    lastly, as i'm entering via thailand then going to laos and entering back to thailand, leaving on the 2nd, my original 30 day visa will expire. will they issue me a new one when i enter the 2nd time?

    thanks guys!

    #1 Posted: 14/6/2011 - 10:02

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  • caseyprich

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2010
    Location China
    Posts: 1248
    Total reviews: 53
    Places visited:
    At least 48

    If you are keeping to a budget probably better to take the bus down to Pakse . I'd imagine after the bus ride you wouldn't want to hop right onto a motorbike for a days ride into the Plateau so you may consider staying a night in Pakse - you can check out good food by the Mekong River and the Sedong River Guesthouse is a nice place to stay. At that point - you'd get to Tad Lo by the afternoon easily and could spend at least 2 nights there so you can explore the area more, then for a loop rather than just heading back to Pakse you could take a day to ride around the northern loop to Paksong and spend a night there. The next day you can hit up some waterfalls on the way back down to Pakse - so that would be roughly 1night Pakse, 2 nights Tad Lo, 1 night Paksong and then your back in Pakse . . .

    . . . from there it takes you a few hours to take a bus down to Si Phon Don where you could spend a night or two in Don Dhet to relax. Upon leaving Don Dhet there is a chance you can make it up to Pakse and over to UR in Thailand before the end of the day. I had some friends who left Pakse early in the morning and caught a cheap flight (AirAsia) in UR to BKK as a way to save some time.

    So - you can either shorten up the Plateau time or you probably won't have time for Si Phon Don, or you have to jump right off the bus and get a motorbike.

    As for the other stuff - I've never been on a VIP bus in Laos with a toilet in it - but they make fairly regular stops so it was never a problem - maybe others have had a different experience.

    You can get another Visa on arrival on your second entry, your first visa will be invalid anyway because you left the country - it doesn't matter if you try to re-enter within the date of expiration.

    #2 Posted: 14/6/2011 - 14:21

  • teeo88

    Joined Travelfish
    14th June, 2011
    Posts: 13

    Thanks for your replies! Much appreciated.

    Yes, i think we're going to take the overnight bus to save costs. So hopefully, when we reach Pakse next morning, we'll be rested enough to jump on the bikes.

    Sorry point 14. was meant to be Pakse > Bolaven Plat loop, not just Bolaven Plat (i haven't researched enough information but was planning to do some sort of loop with hired bikes). Is it recommended to shave a bit of time during point 14 and maybe in point 8 (Luang Prabang) as i've got 5 days there? Realistically, i don't want to be rushing around with fear of missing the bus to Ubon Ratchathan...

    #3 Posted: 14/6/2011 - 18:54

  • caseyprich

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2010
    Location China
    Posts: 1248
    Total reviews: 53
    Places visited:
    At least 48

    I think with your limited time you'd enjoy hitting the shorter loop - Tad Lo -Paksong and doing more quality time in those locations. Otherwise your riding into Sekong -Attepeu and that is going to eat up at least 2 or 3 more nights. If you want to relax in Si Phon Don I highly recommend you consider this shorter loop and still get some of the pleasant waterfalls and rustic feel of the Plateau.

    Southern Laos by Scooter
    http://www.travelfish.org/feature/10

    Exploring Bolaven Plateau
    http://www.travelfish.org/feature/83

    As for this article there is now a paved road between Tha Teng and Paksong that makes for it being a day trip to do the northern loop from Tad Lo around to Paksong - while the road that is between Sekong and Attapeu is dirt for half the way and under heavy construction for the other half. Sekong to Attapeau is very pretty but I think you'd be stretching for time. I think what they call the 2-day trip is better with 2 nights in Tad Lo minimum.

    As well - considering that you wanted to visit Cambodia originally there is also the idea that a night in Champasake may be nice as you could visit Wat Phu which is an ancient Angkor site.

    #4 Posted: 14/6/2011 - 20:32

  • teeo88

    Joined Travelfish
    14th June, 2011
    Posts: 13

    thanks a lot! will definitely have a look at champakse. how much time is recommended in si phan don (with enough time for me to get out and catch the ubon bus?)

    #5 Posted: 15/6/2011 - 06:14

  • caseyprich

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2010
    Location China
    Posts: 1248
    Total reviews: 53
    Places visited:
    At least 48

    You have a tight schedule - so I'm giving you a minimum ideal time for myself -

    Champasake I would say you'd be better off with 2 nights, as you want to get to Wat Phu early in the am - However, you could even take your hired motorbike down there from Pakse on the same day you come back from Paksong (that's what we did) spend a night and the next morning beat all the bicycles to the Wat check it out and return to Pakse that day to catch a bus down to Si Phon Don - it would be really quick and I think staying a second night is recommended, but you can get it done that fast.

    As for Si Phon Don, I met people would been lost there for 2 weeks and counting when I was there in February . . . However I found that 3 nights was enough time for me to enjoy the place and move on. If you'e going to all the trouble of heading down there it really is one of those places to relax more than to do lots of stuff. Perhaps count it as "beach" time and shave a night or two off the islands in order to make room for it on your schedule.

    #6 Posted: 15/6/2011 - 06:48

  • teeo88

    Joined Travelfish
    14th June, 2011
    Posts: 13

    thanks for the information, really appreciate it :) how logn is the bus from Pakse to Si Phan Don? is that all it entails or do i need to also get a boat? so roughly, what with the total travelling time be from Pakse > Si Phan Don and reverse.

    all i have left to sort out is the gibbon experience. they are ridiculously hard to get a hold off.
    once again, thanks!

    #7 Posted: 15/6/2011 - 09:11

  • caseyprich

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2010
    Location China
    Posts: 1248
    Total reviews: 53
    Places visited:
    At least 48

    Bus takes about 3 hours and then a 10 minute boat ride to Don Dhet . There is a minivan vip style bus that leaves in the morning - but you can also go to the south bus station and catch a local bus hourly.

    You could ride you're bike down to Don Dhet but I don't know if you'd take it over to the island - not on the boats I saw going over there anyway. The islands are better for bicycle rental anyway.

    #8 Posted: 15/6/2011 - 09:17

  • teeo88

    Joined Travelfish
    14th June, 2011
    Posts: 13

    thanks for the information! is it hard to get accomodation during december in laos, or would you need to book in advance. a few people have been saying to book in advance, but i was hoping not to have to do that, therefore leaving my plans more flexible.

    #9 Posted: 15/6/2011 - 13:55

  • caseyprich

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2010
    Location China
    Posts: 1248
    Total reviews: 53
    Places visited:
    At least 48

    I've only ever been to Laos in February, and at that time accommodations weren't easy to come by. It's not like you won't find somewhere to sleep - but you probably won't get the best beds unless you either arrive early, pay more for a better room, or book ahead.

    I don't see exactly how you'd go about booking ahead in Tad Lo or Don Dhet, as the places kinda just flew by the seat of their pants - and the place I liked in Champasake could only really be reached by fax or phone from Pakse . . . that said, in all four of those locations I spent some time looking around for a spot to rest my bag - didn't have any trouble in Paksong though. If you get a bad spot the first night in a place you can always just get up early and change rooms with the dawn check-out rush.

    #10 Posted: 15/6/2011 - 19:54

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  • teeo88

    Joined Travelfish
    14th June, 2011
    Posts: 13

    thanks caseyprich, you've been a wealth of information!

    #11 Posted: 16/6/2011 - 06:20

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