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ten days - gibbon experience, luang prabang and a beach in thailand

  • Maitreyi

    Joined Travelfish
    15th June, 2011
    Posts: 5

    Hi,
    We are planning a ten day vacation and Laos has captured our fancy. Everyone is raving about Northern Laos, particularly Hua Xhai and Luang Prabang is what we are keen on exploring. We have barely ten days to spare and we dont want to spend all our time traveling. Another place that seemed very pretty to me is Halong Bay. We are not very keen on spending a lot of time in cities- being in forests , trekking , spending some time on a beach seems perfect .

    So, this is what I have very roughly sketched out -
    I was thinking fly into bangkok, take the nokair flight to luang prabang , spend 2 days there, take the boat to Hua Xhai , spend three days there and then to Vintanne , from there to bangkok , go to hua hin spend a day there..

    I am still very hazy on the travel plans and would appreciate any advice on route/ destinations!

    Thanks!

    #1 Posted: 15/6/2011 - 19:57

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  • Nokka

    Joined Travelfish
    6th April, 2009
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 259

    You seem a little confused as to what you may do. Huay Xai is north of Luang Prabang and would be reached, usually, by a 2 day boat trip upriver. From there you can organise the Gibbon Experience. Vientiane is south of Luang Prabang, so in completely the opposite direction.

    In my view, in 10 days, you may have just enough time to see Luang Prabang and its environs, plus a few days at the beach in Thailand, but no more than that. To save time you would need to fly.

    Your first priority, though, is to familiarise yourself with where the different places are. A decent map and a good session on Travelfish will sort you out. Then come back with more questions.

    #2 Posted: 15/6/2011 - 22:20

  • teeo88

    Joined Travelfish
    14th June, 2011
    Posts: 13

    hi maitreyi, your plans might be set back a little as you need to ascertain which day the gibbon experience is running. you'll also need to be there a day before to check in at their office. they're also extremely hard to get a hold off (i've been trying to book via email for a short while, but have not gotten any response back at all).

    unless you've already been able to book??

    #3 Posted: 16/6/2011 - 06:23

  • Maitreyi

    Joined Travelfish
    15th June, 2011
    Posts: 5

    Thanks Nokka and teeo88.

    So the revised plan stands something like this.

    25 June - We leave from Bangkok to Chiang Mai via Nok Air. Spend a night in Chiang Mai.

    26 June - We proceed to Chiang Rai and Chiang Khong to Huay Xai . We intend to leave Chiang Mai by the 8 am bus so that we reach Huay Xai well in time before the border closes. Spend a night in Huay Xai as well as check into the office of Gibbon Experience.

    27th and 28th June - waterfall gibbon experience (hopefully!!).

    29th June - Take the 5pm bus for Luang Prabanag.

    30th June - Reach LP at 8 am on 30th June. Spend 2 days in LP.

    2nd July - Take a flight back to Bangkok . From Bangkok , proceed to Koh Samui via Nok Air . Spend 2 days in Samui .

    4th July - Back to Bangkok and proceed to India.

    Please let me know if there are any hitches in the travel itinerary other than the one mentioned by teeo88. I have mailed GE and intend to call them up tonight. Keeping my fingers crossed in that regard. The website said that they leave for the waterfall experience on odd dates and the classic experience on even dates.

    Also, both of us are quite keen on Halong Bay. Is it worth it? I am thinking that I should ditch Samui and instead do Halong Bay cruise and head to India from Hanoi. Are there any suggestions in this regard?

    Is there something better than LP in Laos. I am not keen on Vang Vieng but I am wondering about Vientiane. Also, opinions about Vang Vieng are welcome.

    Lastly, if there is any way I can cut down on travel time , even if I have to drop some destination in favor of another, do let me know. We are not keen on spending a lot of time in cities, we would prefer wilderness and beaches and adventure . So, if there are any destinations that come to mind , please let me know!!

    Thanks!

    Maitreyi

    #4 Posted: 16/6/2011 - 16:03

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6377
    Total reviews: 10

    An awful lot of moving around here, mostly by bus. Your losing in excess of a day and a half out of your ten days moving around. Were it me I would do either the beach or Laos - but not both. Even then, you're still short on time.

    #5 Posted: 16/6/2011 - 16:29

  • Nokka

    Joined Travelfish
    6th April, 2009
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 259

    Agree. Except I think nearer 4 days out of 10 travelling. Personally, I think your itinerary looks more like an assault course than a holiday. Especially as you say you don't want to do much travelling.

    #6 Posted: 16/6/2011 - 18:47

  • Maitreyi

    Joined Travelfish
    15th June, 2011
    Posts: 5

    Agreed! Which is my sole reason for posting on this forum in first place. I am trying to figure out which places to opt out of.. Anyway, I am currently thinking of ditching Laos altogether and doing Chiang Mai and Koh Samui . I am also contemplating ditching Thailand altogether and traveling to Indonesia since lonely planet says that the weather will be much better. Also, Bali while more difficult to get into, once we are there, it will have more to offer and travel will be easier. I am thinking maybe 5 days in Bali and 5 days in another location in Indonesia..

    #7 Posted: 16/6/2011 - 19:19

  • teeo88

    Joined Travelfish
    14th June, 2011
    Posts: 13

    maitriye, if you do decide to do the gibbon experience and do call them up to book, can you post back here and let me know how that goes?

    #8 Posted: 17/6/2011 - 06:40

  • Maitreyi

    Joined Travelfish
    15th June, 2011
    Posts: 5

    Hi teeo88 ,

    We are not doing Laos anymore but my friend had called up the GE people and they basically told us that that they have space. I'd suggest you directly call them up instead of waiting for them to respond via email . Good luck :)

    #9 Posted: 19/6/2011 - 00:21

  • teeo88

    Joined Travelfish
    14th June, 2011
    Posts: 13

    thank you! will call them up :)

    #10 Posted: 19/6/2011 - 16:50

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  • Maitreyi

    Joined Travelfish
    15th June, 2011
    Posts: 5

    Hi teeo88,

    This is the response GE sent us.

    Dear
    We have spaces available for you on the 27th of June.Thanks for your mail and your interest in our conservation activities.In June, a car will be leaving for the forest everyday.The Waterfall Experience departs on odd dates and the Classic Experiences oneven dates. The initial walk to your tree house may theoretically take upto 5 (five) to 7 (seven) hours long because on certain days, the car will notmake it to the end of the road. However this extreme case is unlikely to actually happen as we now have a dedicated truck and horses waiting for you up the firsthillon the other side of the Nam Ngao River. Guests to the Gibbon Experience,in the rainy season, should be in good physical shape as the trek is challenging,and be prepared to have a wet and muddy trip. Parts of the tree houses mayalso be wet and not as clean as we would like them to be. Finally, the time actuallyspent in the canopy will be shorter than in the dry season as a result of longerwalks. The rainy season is nevertheless the best season to discover the diversityof colors, sounds and wild species of the Bokeo National Park: those who chooseto join are always rewarded._What to bring _ (you can find all of this next to our office)Poncho, flashlight, mosquito repellent and gloves if your hands are delicate,a bottle of water for the first trek (you can refill it once you have reached your tree house)a long sleeve T-shirt. Please bring a small and light bag and let your big bag in our office.If you have no appropriate shoes, you will find cheap (3 usd) and excellent plastic onesnext to our office (but the biggest size is 43). Please don t use sandals.Think to protect your camera!Departure dates and fares (per person, individuals or groups alike):Classic Gibbon Experience: 2 200 000 Kips (advance online payment: approx. 270 USD or 200 Euro upon daily exchange rates )= Even days: 2nd, 4th, etcWaterfall Gibbon Experience: 2 200 000 Kips (advance online payment: approx. 270 USD or 200 Euro upon daily exchange rates )= Odd days: 1st, 3rd, etcThe Gibbon Experience includes:* Exclusive access to the Bokeo Nam Kan National Park* Transportation to and from the National Park* Accommodation in a canopy-level tree house complete with runningwater, semi-private comfortable bedrooms, and a spectacular view* Fire-cooked meals* Unlimited access to an extensive canopy cable-gliding network forexploring the treetops* Local guides with a good knowledge of the forest and a basic EnglishTo make a*booking in advance*, please follow the next steps:1- Send us an e-mail with your full name, passport number and nationality, and indicate your date preference for joining the Gibbon Experience.2- We will get back to you by e-mail with a possible date.3- E-mail us to say if the date is suitable for you.4- A Paypal money request will then be sent to your e-mail address.Follow the link and pay within 5 days the fare to the Gibbon Experiencethrough Paypal (secure online payment, you just need avalid credit card or a Paypal account) to confirm your booking. Shouldyou fail to proceed to this on line payment within 5 days, your bookingwill be cancelled.Please note that to change your trip dates upon availabilities, you haveto give us as much notice as possible. In case you were tocancel your trip, please refer to the _reimbursement in case ofcancellation _paragraph at the bottom of this e-mail.5- Come to our office in Houayxay the day before departure (we closeat 7pm) to sign in. If you are coming from Louang Namtha by roadtransportation and prefer to sleep in Ban Donchai instead, pleasemention it in your e-mail and refer to the last paragraph of this e-mail.To try a*last minute booking*, please come directly to our office.PLEASE consider the use of cables only as a smart way to access thecanopy: making it the main purpose of your visit, you would lose outmost of the experience ;-)I have attached more information below. Please read all the informationcarefully before you make a booking.Looking forward to hearing from you.


    The Gibbon Experience description for guests
    *The Classic Gibbon Experience* is relaxing and peaceful, with only anhour of essential walking. You choose how you want to spend your time,there is no schedule; food will come when you are hungry, and the guideswill be around, at your service.A group of twelve people departs on alternate days at 8:30 am for twonights in the Bokeo Nam Kan National Park.
    *The Waterfall Gibbon Experience* takes you deeper into the reserve,trekking for two to three hours per day along the Nam Nga Valley.The waterfall tree house has a fresh-water swimming hole at the bottom,the others show sunsets overlooking several valleys or the Nam NgaRiver.Two groups of 8 people depart on alternate days at 8.30am and9:00 am for two nights in the Bokeo National Park, swapping tree houses on thesecond night.
    *The Spa Gibbon Experience* is our ultimate canopy discovery program. It is designedto be a milestone in our canopy dwelling concept development. The Gibbon Spa programgives you access to the Classic Gibbon Experience and brings to you optimal observationfacilities, gourmet food, aerial massage with an overall more refined service.The Spa Gibbon Experience is therefore recommended for quiet Epicureans, wildlife photographersand for anyone eager to take a step towards the Gibbon Expertise.A group of 4 to 6 people departs on alternate days at 8:30 for two nights in theBokeo Nam Kan National Park.* *Travel time from Houayxay to the village of Baan Toup is about 3 hrs. Itis a difficult, 83 km trip that is either dusty or muddy depending onthe time of year. In the last village you will be welcomed by local guideswho will take care of you from there. From the village, it is aone-hour, mostly uphill hike to get to the canopy infrastructure. Whenyou arrive, you will put on a harness and glide across a cable to enterthe first tree house. There you will be informed about important thingsto know in and around the tree houses. You will split up in smallergroups and reach your other tree houses scattered in the National Park.(1 to 3 hours of cabling and trekking depending on your tree house).We offer a more private tree house for two people, which you can reservewhen booking.On the first afternoon the guides will take you on a two-hour hike tobecome familiar with the cable network. On the second day you can usethe cables, relax in your tree house or go for short hikes on your own.Dawn, on day two and day three, is the best time for wildlifeencounters. The project received its name because the black gibbons(Nomascus concolor lu) sing on most days and hearing them is anexperience unlike many others; however, The Gibbon Experience is not awildlife park. We are visitors in their territory, which is veryextensive, so we cannot guarantee gibbon sightings. On the third day youwill leave from the first tree house at approximately 10:00 am. Ourdriver will then take you from Baan Toup to Houayxay unless you preferto wait for the bus to Louang Namtha from the National Park Gate, in whichcase you will generally arrive in Louang Namtha the same evening.Take only the essentials to your tree house, in other words, only thoseitems you are willing to carry for at least an hour. These shouldinclude a*flashlight, *gloves or old socks and mosquito repellent.Towels, mosquito net and bedding are provided in your tree house.You may leave your large backpack in the office in Houayxay or inthe village of Baan Donchai if you plan to travel on to Louang Namtha.Don't forget to charge your camera batteries ahead of time!The Gibbon Experience is truly unique. We take great pride in the factthat, as far as we know, there is nothing else like it in the world, andwe love to see our guests experiencing the magic that lasting memoriesare made of. We look forward to sharing it with you!You can find our office in Houayxay (pronounced "way sigh") on the mainroad, just north of the immigration checkpoint (upriver) on the side ofthe street closest to the Mekong. Make sure you pop in our office theday before the car leaves to the forest, so we can tell you more aboutour program and discuss the last important things before you leave the next day.Please email or call to make a reservation. Thank you!
    _________________________________________________________


    INFORMATION FOR TRAVELERS COMING FROM LOUANG NAMTHABY BUS (3 or 4 hours):Guests traveling from Louang Namtha whose advance payment is confirmed and whowish to reduce the amount of time spent on the bus have the option to get off inBaan Donchai, which is approximately two-thirds of the way to Houayxay.Our driver will pick them up the following day before heading into the Park.Accommodations in Baan Donchai are rustic and friendly; prices are comparableto guest house prices. The bus leaves Louang Namtha at about 8am and reachesBaan Donchai at about noon. Make sure the driver understands that you don't wantto go all the way to Houayxay; they are still not used to foreigners stopping inthis small village. To make sure that the bus driver fully understands,tell him the name of the previous big village (Ban Tafa). Buy yourticket (about 65 000 kips) at 6:00 in the morning, otherwise it may befull. You could also ask someone in your Guest House to write "BaanDonchai" in Lao so that you have something written to show the driver,and you could remind him that you will begetting off the bus before the other passengers. Mr. I-Daeng's restaurant andguest house is located right by the Nam Ngao River with clean andprivate rooms. If you choose the option of sleeping in Baan Donchai,make sure to let us know so that we will know to pick you up there.You can leave your big backpacks in Baan Donchai and take only asmall backpack into the forest. Make sure you bring a flashlight andmosquito repellent. We will pick you up the following morning at Mr.I-Daeng's restaurant in Baan Donchai at around 10.00am on the way into the Park.Please don’t forget to sign the waiver form with our driver!*INFORMATION FOR TRAVELERS COMING FROM CHIANG MAI*BY BUS (6 hours) :At the Chiang Mai bus station the price will be 211 Baths or 272 Baths (VIP bus).Bus schedules:Chiang Mai 6H30am / Chiang Khong 12H30pm Chiang Mai 8H30am / Chiang Khong 2H30pmChiang Mai 1pm / Chiang Khong 7pm: TO LATE TO CROSS THE BORDER!We advise you to take the bus in Chiang Mai in the early morning. If youtake a bus at noon you are likely to arrive too late at the bordercrossing in Chiang Kong, regardless what bus drivers may say! The bordercrossing closes at 6.00pm, sometimes even a bit earlier.You need to be in Houayxay the day before you depart for the GibbonExperience.*Reimbursement in case of cancellation*

    For obvious booking reasons, we value early cancellations as opposed tolate cancellations. At the end of each month, we will refund any canceled bookingaccording to the following rates:* If cancellation occurs more than 7 days before departure date, you will receive a 90 % pay back through Paypal.* If cancellation occurs between 7 to 2 days before departure date, you will receive a 50% pay back.* If cancellation occurs later (or never), you will not be reimbursed.**



    HOPE THIS HELPS ! :)

    #11 Posted: 19/6/2011 - 20:40

  • teeo88

    Joined Travelfish
    14th June, 2011
    Posts: 13

    thanks alot maitreyi. sucks that they haven't replied to my email :( lol.

    #12 Posted: 20/6/2011 - 06:45

  • teeo88

    Joined Travelfish
    14th June, 2011
    Posts: 13

    i tried calling them, but no one is picking up? i'm using the no. from their website:
    Phone: (084) 21 20 21

    is that what you're friend used as well?

    #13 Posted: 20/6/2011 - 11:30

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