So far my itinerary has us entering Laos in Huay Xai, slowboat to LP, bus to Vang Vieng, then bus to Vientiane. From Vientiane, I figure we will avoid the horrible bus and take the only flight we intend to take - Vientiane->Hanoi. From there we will go down the coast of Vietnam.
The trick is, I'd really like to check out some of the south of Laos too, but want to do as little backtracking as possible.
So, I'm thinking, if I can get from say Hue to Pakse, I can follow the Mekong down a little bit, and then head back to Nha Trang, thus only missing a bit of the Vietnam coast but also getting to see Southern Laos.
Can anyone provide info on a recommended sequence of destinations along those lines?
I would be forever grateful and reward you in internet kudos, which as you all know is a valuable currency in today's technology age.
#1 lucasdg has been a member since 29/7/2011. Posts: 20
Captain Bob, have you taken these routes before, I assume by bus? And do you know how easy/how long the journeys are?
#4 lucasdg has been a member since 29/7/2011. Posts: 20
Go to the travelfish 'Transport' page for Pakse , Savannakhet, and hue and there is info on the cost and hours it takes by bus. I read a blog once that said the journey to Vietnam from Loas was pretty long and rough, but cant comment from experience. Another alternative route is to do Loas North to South , get your months worth of your visa, then fly from Pakse to Ho Chi Min and do Vietnam South to North. This way you wont need two Loas and two Vietnamese visas and the money you'll save on two visas will probably cover the difference of flying from a further location.
#5 phishsticks has been a member since 10/10/2011. Posts: 32
You're right guys. Hmm...the trick is seeing Laos top to bottom, but then seeing Vietnam too without doubling back too much. Probably fly out of BKK as the other airports don't have as many intl flights.
How about: Chiang Khong -> Vientiane -> Pakse-> Don Det-> Phnom Penh -> Siem Reap -> Phnom Penh -> Hanoi -> HCMC -> BKK.
[stops along the way but just the general trail]
Re the slowboat, as much as I've heard it is hellish I think I would enjoy it more than the bus and I'm coming from Chiang Mai so it makes sense to cross the border and head down the river. I also view it as one of those things which might not be 100% enjoyable, it would be an experience and a story to tell down the track.
#7 lucasdg has been a member since 29/7/2011. Posts: 20
Looks like a much better plan, but I still don't think you need to double back to Phnom Penh. If you can't get from Siem Reap to Hanoi then go to Siem Reap first from Don Det. Save yourself a leg of the trip. If its too much of a full day of travel for you from Don Det to Siem Reap break up the distance with a stop Kratie (that's what I'll be doing soon, but in the other direction).
#8 phishsticks has been a member since 10/10/2011. Posts: 32
Thanks Phishsticks, I noticed afterwards that I can get a bus direct from Don Dhet to Siem Reap .
So the revised itinerary would be Chiang Khong -> Vientiane -> Pakse -> Don Dhet -> Siem Reap -> Phnom Penh -> HCMC -> Hanoi.
Could anyone help me with an itinerary between Vientiane and Pakse? I don't want to rush through that part as I have heard it is underrated. I have approx 3-4 weeks in Laos.
#9 lucasdg has been a member since 29/7/2011. Posts: 20
Konglor Caves (via Thakek) looks awesome. Also im gona stop by Champansak, (between Don Dhet and Pakse) which seams like a nice sleepy Loas town. But I cant recommend anything from experience, yet.
Also Travelfish says its 8 hours between Kratie and Siem Reap, so I am guesstimating its about 11-13 hours with border crossing from Don Dhet to Siem Reap, just a heads up that it will probably be a long leg of travel.
#10 phishsticks has been a member since 10/10/2011. Posts: 32
With three to four weeks in Laos I imagine you'll take better part of a week and a half to go from Huay Xia to Vientiane so you may not want to spend too much time making it from Vientiane to Pakse - Pakse easily deserves two nights at the Sedong River Guesthouse, two nights for Champasak, and a few nights motorbiking the Bolaven Plateau - add to that the rest and relax time in Si Phon Don and you've got another week and a half easily.
Konglor Caves are a little off the track and would probably be best to give yourself two nights in the area of Thakek to check it out. Otherwise if you're just looking for a quick break in your journey between Vientiane catch the bus from Vientiane to Savannakhet and stay a night in this sleepy run-down colonial town. With four weeks you should have the time to make one of these stops, maybe both, but if you find you ate up more of your schedule than expected in the north I'd recommend just the overnight in Savannakhet.
Yes, I'm thinking a week and a half for Huay Xai -> Vientiane (via Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang) would take about a week and a half, including slowboat and time in Vientiane.
I want to visit some in-between places as I have heard there is a lot of good stuff in there. Like everyone I want it all!
So, would a sensible itinerary be stops in Vientiane, Thakhek, Savannakhet, Pakse, and Don Dhet?
I think if I can do 3 and a half weeks in total that wouldn't be too bad for time.
#13 lucasdg has been a member since 29/7/2011. Posts: 20
You can - but most people say the highlight of their trip to Southern Laos is renting motorbikes and going around Tad Lo/Pak Song for a couple nights. That and a night or two in the sleepy town of Champasake to check out Wat Phu. I'd say either of those locations beats out Svannakhet. Haven't been to Thakhek.
"That and a night or two in the sleepy town of Champasak e"
Hi, thanks for that. By the looks, Paksong and Tad Lo are just out of Pakse , about 50km, no? so I could count that as Pakse and add another day.
As for Champasake, I can't seem to find that spelling on Google Maps. Could you tell me where it is? Champasak I think is the province in which Pakse resides, could you clarify this for me?
#15 lucasdg has been a member since 29/7/2011. Posts: 20
Sorry, I can't even spell English words let alone foreign languages transliterated into English. Looks like you spelled it correctly by setting the 'e' apart in the last post - Champasak . It's about an hour, hour 1/2, ride south of Pakse on the other side of the Mekong so you'd have to take a ferry across. Really nice sleepy - basically one road running along the river town with many little Wats and a fine sense of community. Outside of the town about a 15/20 minute motorbike ride is the very cool Wat Phu with a good view and some interesting history. I recommend taking a motorbike from Pakse there so that you have one to beat the cyclists to the Wat in the morning. You could do it in one day, getting up early from Pakse, stay the night in Champasak and next morning hitting up Wat Phu - taking off to Pakse to drop off your bike that afternoon. I'd spend the night then in Pakse and head down to Si Phon Don via the bus-station the next day. I stayed two nights in Champasak though and didn't have any regrets. Just riding around the area on the motorbike and relaxing.
There are many possible Bolaven Plateau itineraries -
The fastest I'd recommend is waking in Pakse and heading to Tad Lo - spending two nights in Tad Lo and investigating waterfalls and villages in the area. Then heading to Paksong and spending a night there, just soaking up the old west town feeling. You can hit up a couple more waterfalls the next morning on your bike ride back into Pakse. If you leave early enough and only hit one or two waterfalls on your way back it'd be possible to ride into Pakse for lunch and that same day head down to Champasak.
Thanks for your recommendations...because of your recommendation I have allowed 7 days in Pakse/Paksong/Tad Lo/Champasak...it looks wonderful and definitely the sort of thing I'd enjoy.
By the way, has anyone done the trekking in Paksong? (Extreme Trekking at paksong.info )
It looks amazing!
I'm leaving in 3 weeks now, and my itinerary is really starting to come together
Thanks for advice.
#17 lucasdg has been a member since 29/7/2011. Posts: 20