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What to do in Laos

  • Aaron88

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd August, 2011
    Posts: 5

    Hello,

    I'm travelling to Lao in December this year from the 23rd of December to the 28th of December 2011 from Austrlia.

    I'm flying to Luang Prabang for a couple of days and then making my way to Vientiane with my gf. Just wondering the following;

    - Activities to do while in Luang Prabang and Vientiane?
    - Good hotels to stay at in a reasonable price range 3 or 4 star?
    - Cheapest and Best way to travel around town?
    - Things to look at for?
    - What tours are good?
    - Is it best to book tours in Australia? or when we are there?

    I haven't decided when I'm going to Vientiane from Luang Prabang so I'm hoping to build our itinerary from this.

    Any thoughts and experience will be really appreciated!

    Thanks,
    Aaron

    #1 Posted: 22/8/2011 - 20:57

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  • chinarocks

    Joined Travelfish
    17th June, 2011
    Posts: 642

    To be honest Aaron, while I know it's not what you asked, I would consider staying in LP for your entire trip. With just 5 or 6 days to play with, anything less in LP is a bit short and it is the kind of place that is wonderful to just kick back and relax, have a few Beer Laos, and watch the monks doing their thing.

    Assuming you will be fairly tired after arriving from Oz and that it will take you a day or two to recover, you may not fancy a long, bumpy bus journey to Vientiane right after that.

    In terms of LP activities, there is elephant trekking, up to the mountain to watch sunset, the night market, the 32 temples and royal palace, Tamarind cooking course, and Beer Lao, Beer Lao, Beer Lao. There's also a half day trip out to a waterfall (forget the name).

    A good way to travel around town is by bike (not possible to hire a motorbike in LP). Note also that there is an 11.30p.m. curfew so, unless you can swing something special, it is not a place where you will be partying too much.

    Apologies if it's not what you're after but it's what I would recomend anyway.

    #2 Posted: 22/8/2011 - 21:16

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6047
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    From my perspective (not shared by all) there isn't **** all to do it Laos, which is the problem with the place. It's boring. There is scenery, which I could not care less about for more than five minutes. The nightlife is crap. The place in undeveloped, so it's infrastrcuture is crap. It's not a good place to bike unless you want to do off road. I don't even much like the food. The backwardsness of the place is exactly what holds appeal to some people (me not being one of them.) That and it's natural beauty. But concerning stuff to do... well there's VV and it's tubing; there's the Gibbon "experience" and hanging out in tree houses; and there's sight seeing. Frankly I can't stand the place, and if I never go back again, it will be too soon. But for some people, the place hold a certain appeal. It all depends on why you are going.

    #3 Posted: 23/8/2011 - 00:26

  • busylizzy

    Joined Travelfish
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    And there's MadMac's positive input for the day....

    Aaron - I haven't been there yet, but am in the throes of planning a 4 week trip there in Sept. Based on my experiences in other SEA countries, I am confident that there will be plenty there to do, to see and to enjoy. It all comes down to your attitude - if you're arriving with an open and inquisitive mind, and a sense of adventure, you won't be disappointed.

    You are only there for 4 full days by the look of it. If you were to travel from LP to VTE by bus, you would lose a day. (A very loooong day, from what I understand). I guess it wouldn't be too bad if you were flying, but it's still all a bit rushed.

    I have read and heard from many people that have travelled to LP, and almost all have said that they wish they had stayed longer. On that basis, I would definitely agree with Chinarocks, and just focus on LP for that period.

    From LP, you could spend a day travelling up to Nong Khiaw for a night - bus up for 4 hours (I think), then come back by boat. (Again, I haven't been there yet but have heard good things about NK. I'm incorporating this into my plans.. and will be travelling even further up river to Muang Ngoi (not sure about that spelling!).

    In terms of your questions (activities, accom, etc) - there is a wealth of information to be found on this site:
    LP: http://www.travelfish.org/location/laos/northern_laos/luang_prabang/luang_prabang
    VTE: http://www.travelfish.org/location/laos/vientiane_and_surrounds/vientiane/vientiane

    I suggest you start reading up those pages and then decide which things grab your interest.

    Also - there is no need to organise tours from Aust. You will find it's easy enough (and cheap) to organise these things once you are there. And that you will ensure that you have the flexibility to change your plans at last minute - which you may want to do as soon as your arrive and get a feel for the place.

    #4 Posted: 23/8/2011 - 03:07

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
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    "The backwardsness of the place is exactly what holds appeal to some people"

    That's exactly it! That plus the fact that it is so very different from most of our day-to-day lives. I had several friends visit Singapore when they lived in the states and were disappointed because it wasn't all that different than back home. But I visited when I was living in Bangkok and I loved Singapore because it was so different than where I was living at the time.

    Such is the same with Laos. If you can see it from your front door, then it probably doesn't seem as exciting. But if you travel halfway around the globe to experience something really different, Laos is a great choice.

    To get back to the OPs question, you are going to be a bit rushed, but you'll still have enough time to catch the highlights in Luang Prabang before heading down to Vientiane to catch some of the highlights there before moving on. If you haven't yet, you might consider flying from LP to VTE just to save time. The bus ride from LP to VTE is an all-day event, but the scenery can be pretty spectacular too if you are into such things.

    In Luang Prabang, the day trip to Pak Ou cave is worth the time if only to get out on the river for a few hours. Ditto for the trip south of town to the waterfall. Sunset at Phou Si is another fun standard for the backpacker set, along with a stroll through the night market and a beer or three at any of the riverside beer garden restaurants. If they are still available, a cultural show at the old palace is definitely a good idea and there are quite a few good temples in town worth a look too. I've never met more chatty monks than in Luang Prabang either, so you should get a few chances to chat with locals.

    Hope that helps. Have fun. Cheers.

    #5 Posted: 23/8/2011 - 07:05

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Well Liz, he did ask... Maybe because I live here, my opinion is more jaded. Some people would look at this picture and see a beautiful, quaint village. I see a collection of poverty ridden shacks.

    http://www.google.co.th/imgres?q=Laos+villages&hl=en&safe=off&biw=1024&bih=627&gbv=2&tbm=isch&tbnid=OaKLjCuz2odCGM:&imgrefurl=http://www.nomad4ever.com/2007/02/27/wondering-how-thailand-was-20-years-ago-look-no-furthervisit-laos/&docid=Gl4XqicHneG2EM&w=640&h=425&ei=my5TTobBDIqIrAe4r7XfDg&zoom=1&iact=rc&dur=437&page=1&tbnh=156&tbnw=243&start=0&ndsp=10&ved=1t:429,r:5,s:0&tx=204&ty=25

    #6 Posted: 23/8/2011 - 11:38

  • Aaron88

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd August, 2011
    Posts: 5

    Thanks all for your suggestions.

    It sounds like LP is prob the place to be. Does anyone know of any elephant treks/trips where I can ride on the actually elephant (and not a seat). Do you have the details of the tour?

    Thanks,
    Aaron

    #7 Posted: 24/8/2011 - 23:19

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Laos
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    A\aron, there is a lot to do in Laos. I would suggest that you are making a mistake by staying in Luang Prabang only. If you have 5(?) days, I would suggest 3 in LP and 2 in Vientiane . Vientiane has a lot of sights and some excellent restaurants, far better than anything in Thailand outside of Bangkok. Don't paty any attention to Mac's post - if there is no salsa dancing he thinks a place is not worth while. Mac regarding the photo you posted - you need to get out more; look at that stunning karst landscapes behind the shacks.

    As per Exacto's post, you would be sensible to fly between LP and Vientiane as this will save you a lot of time.

    Do NOT book any tours from Australia; you will find that they are overpriced. Once you get here you can book sightseeing tours in LP to Kuangsi Falls for example. In Vientiane I would not book any tours at all - just get a tuk tuk and make your way around to the sites.

    Depending on when you are going, you may need to book accommodation. Nov to Feb is the peak season. Some good choices in Vientiane are Souphaphone GH, Hotel Kamvongsa and Villa Sala Inpeng. In LP I like the Riverside GH.

    Btw, re the post above which says it is not possible to hire motorcycles in LP - this law was changed a number of years ago.

    #8 Posted: 25/8/2011 - 08:17

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    "Don't paty any attention to Mac's post - if there is no salsa dancing he thinks a place is not worth while."
    Rufus are you disputing that? By the way, PP now has a salsa scene. So, excluding weirdo Burma, Laos is the only country now in SEA with no salsa. I am waiting for someone to do something about this.

    "Mac regarding the photo you posted - you need to get out more; look at that stunning karst landscapes behind the shacks."
    I'm not a scenery kind of guy, in case you missed it. I would look at it and say "well that's nice, now what?" If we're using a point scale of 1-100, if a place has no nightlife whatsover, it's already been docked 50 points. You can see how Laos in general comes up short. I guess it works for some people, I'm just not one of them.

    #9 Posted: 25/8/2011 - 12:17

  • busylizzy

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    Mac - it beats me why you waste your time posting on a travel forum about places that you have no interest in and don't like visiting. Why does every thread that you post on get turned into a discussion about what you like, don't like and salsa?

    It's unfair to the OP's who come here with a positive attitude and are just wanting a bit of info to help them enjoy their travels. The negativity and sidetracking of discussions does nothing to help them.

    #10 Posted: 25/8/2011 - 14:22

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  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
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    Lizzy, Mac is ok. By the way Mac, I keep telling you there is a night life scene here.

    #11 Posted: 25/8/2011 - 14:58

  • tinoh

    Joined Travelfish
    13th February, 2010
    Posts: 40

    It sounds like LP is prob the place to be. Does anyone know of any elephant treks/trips where I can ride on the actually elephant (and not a seat). Do you have the details of the tour?

    Hi Aaron,

    You can book such a tour from a tour agency in LP. If you book a tour for 2 days it will include staying the night at an elephant camp and than you can take care of them and go and wash the elephant in the river. Than you ride the elephant without a seat on the back. We did a normal half a day tour to the camp and arranged with the people there to do the washing as an extra.

    Greetings Tino

    #12 Posted: 25/8/2011 - 16:31

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    "The negativity and sidetracking of discussions does nothing to help them."

    I have every confidence that you and Rufus will continue to help them. I will just help provide some balance.

    #13 Posted: 25/8/2011 - 16:43

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Hey Rufus, do you think the Laos authorities would be down with someone coming to Vientiane and introducing salsa there?

    #14 Posted: 25/8/2011 - 16:44

  • SBE

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    Maybe because I live here, my opinion is more jaded.

    I thought you lived in Thailand? I wasn't aware you been anywhere in Laos except the border town of Savannakhet on a quick visa run. Where else have you been to in Laos?

    Border towns are rarely beautiful spots and they are not representative of the country as a whole. Hat Yai is nothing like Phuket or Chiang Mai. Doing a visa run to Poipet does not give you any insight into what Angkor Wat is like. Similarly spending a few hours in Savannakhet doesn't give you any insight into what the rest of Laos is like.

    And while I'm at it, lets have a hands up. How many people apart from MM are actually interested in salsa dancing? Are you interested in salsa dancing Aaron? This thread is supposed to be about what you like after all, not what MM likes.

    Back to Aaron. I know your time is short but loved the road trip between LP and Vang Vieng . You'll see some of the most stunning mountain scenery you can imagine, so if it were me I think I'd still go by road even though it eats up precious time. (Maybe the view from the plane is good too mind you!). You'll probably want to break the journey in Vang Vieng if you do that. I didn't like the party scene at Vang Vieng at all (and it's got a lot worse since I was there by all accounts) but the scenery there is also magnificent. I got out of VV quick but probably shouldn't have. If I were to do it again I'd find somewhere away from the main drag to stay and explore around there for a day or two as well.

    From Vang Vieng we canoed to Vientiane . It's almost a decade since I was there but I presume it's still an option.(You could also do a canoe trip all the way from LP to Vientiane but it took 2-3 days I think). On the trip I did quite a lot of time was also spent bouncing about in the back of a pick up truck on rough roads but the canoeing bit was very enjoyable.They provided dry bags for cameras etc and the luggage went by road. The canoeing involved just a few easy rapids and the current was going the right way so it was practically effortless. We stopped for a picnic at a place where you can practice Acapulco style diving off high rocks if you want (I didn't!). I think we booked this tour in Vang Vieng but I'm not sure, could have been in LP ... some shop was advertising it. It wasn't hugely expensive and seemed a more fun way of getting to Vientiane than by minibus.

    In LP we rented bicycles a lot and enjoyed just touring around exploring random roads around there. We stumbled upon this place just by accident.

    http://www.travelfish.org/sight_profile/laos/northern_laos/luang_prabang/luang_prabang/257

    It happened to be the anniversary of Henri Mouhot's death that very day and his grave was covered in flowers even though there was nobody about except some monks splashing about and tubing in the river (naked). Had they not been there I'd have probably gone for a dip myself...looked like they were having fun! Didn't do any elephant treks (I don't think there were any then) but we did do a nice day trek up to the hill villages.

    #15 Posted: 25/8/2011 - 19:22

  • eastwest

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 761

    Re Mac.
    I just don't bother with most of his replies anymore and I'm surprised that such long-time posters such as SBE and busylizzy still get wound up.

    If he steers towards bargirls, army, salsa or "you have to stay at least 6 months in a place to know it", which is 90% of the time, I just ignore it and stay on topic or get out of the way. You don't do yourselves a favour by reacting to his posts. Reacting only leads to validity of his posts.

    I agree with the question of why he chooses this forum for discussions since there are numerous expat-sites in Thailand, with more like-minded people most likely, but he has chosen this site. So be it. It's not worth the trouble.

    #16 Posted: 25/8/2011 - 20:28

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Well, like Bruce, you could always lobby to have me banned...

    #17 Posted: 25/8/2011 - 21:26

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    "Border towns are rarely beautiful spots and they are not representative of the country as a whole."

    I live in a border town and it's a great little town. So is NKP. So is Nong Khai. Khong Chiam is really nice too - border towns all.

    "I thought you lived in Thailand?"

    I live in Issan. By "here" meant SEA. Perhaps a bit inprecise, given this was a "Laos" section of the SEA travelfish page, admitedly.

    And Arron - I don't mean to threadfuck you here, so sorry about that. As near as I can tell from limited observation and extrensive reading, tourism in Laos is about scenery and the somewhat unique aspects of Laos culture. I'm an action guy (and I don't know what kind of guy you are, so I can't make an observation other than my own) who isn't into nature, is not fascinated with the food in this region, and isn't drawn by the fact that it's "different". But maybe you are. I'm just giving you the flip side of the coin here. Maybe you like the other side better - as most observers here do.

    #18 Posted: 25/8/2011 - 21:54

  • busylizzy

    Joined Travelfish
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    You are right eastwest, and most of the time I do ignore the posts rather than respond - just so I don't derail the thread any further. I'm not so much 'wound up' and just trying to give the posters with the questions a fair go.

    SBE - your last post is messing with my head!

    My plans all along have been to fly VTE -> Phonsavan , then bus to LP, thereby skipping over VV (primarily because I wasn't interested in VV itself). Just recently I have been questioning that plan as everything I read says that the scenery is just awesome along the VTE-VV route and that there is plenty to see/do without getting caught up in the VV party scene. And now you throw in the kayak option... and I'm almost hooked. I don't want to miss out on Phonsavan (one of the priorities for this trip), I love kayaking....What's a girl supposed to do?

    Oh well - I guess it will all fall into place once I'm there. Worst case, I'll have to come back and see the rest. Or phone up my boss and say that the 'plane was delayed... by another month!'

    Aaron - how are your plans coming along?

    #19 Posted: 26/8/2011 - 03:42

  • altmtl

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    I plan to enter Laos via Pakse head to Si Phan Don and abouts and slowly move north to Luang Prabang. I'm in no hurry... If I like it I'll extend my visa for 5 - 10 days, I hear that's abot $2.00 a day. One concern I have is the ATM withdrawal limits. Is it true that ANZ allows a max of only 2 million kip ($250) with a 40,000 kip fee ($5) and is there a branch in Pakse... Otherwise what is the best solution to withdrawing a greater amount to avoid extra fees?

    Thx

    #20 Posted: 26/8/2011 - 06:07

  • busylizzy

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    Maybe brings wads of USD and exchange it as you go. I always carry enough cash for at least a week.

    #21 Posted: 26/8/2011 - 06:20

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Laos
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    "Hey Rufus, do you think the Laos authorities would be down with someone coming to Vientiane and introducing salsa there?"

    Mac, I am sure they would be delighted if someone introduced Salsa dancing. Actually I would be interested in learning it with the missus - seriously!
    As I said, Mac is fine and I enjoy his posts and a bit of banter. I think he would be a good guy to have a beer or two with.

    SBE you cannot canoe from VV to Vientiane. You can canoe part of the way, but most of the way this tour goes by car. To say you can canoe this journey is not correct.
    "(You could also do a canoe trip all the way from LP to Vientiane but it took 2-3 days I think)." You DEFINITELY cannot!

    " Is it true that ANZ allows a max of only 2 million kip ($250) with a 40,000 kip fee ($5)"
    Yes altmtl, that is true. The only other option is to bring cash.

    #22 Posted: 26/8/2011 - 07:25

  • SBE

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    I did mention we spent quite a lot of time bouncing around in the back of a pick up too Rufus! From memory (which is hazy now) I'd say it was about 40% canoeing time and 60% truck time.

    I'm almost certain that at the time there was an option to canoe and camp all the way from LP to Vientiane too though. I remember them saying you had to be quite good at canoeing because there were more rapids and thinking my canoeing skills probably weren't good enough to do flips in rapids and suchlike... plus I didn't fancy the camping bit much. But as I said it was 10 years ago so it's very old info and I can't remember exactly how many days they said that trip took.

    Lizzy, you'd be canoeing in the opposite direction coming from Vientiane...against the current. It would be harder work even if they do have trips in that direction.

    #23 Posted: 26/8/2011 - 13:09

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Arron ignore this:

    Rufus
    If the whole work permit / visa thing isn't to difficult to overcome, I have a friend who just might go for it (Vientiane being the final hold out), although he also has an offer in Khon Kaen at the moment. Teaching dance here has no money in it, so it requires someone like myself who like to do it and have another source of income. Tony is a great guy, and he's currently an instructor in Australia (he's Australian). So he's coming my way to talk about where to expand to, maybe that would be a good option.

    #24 Posted: 26/8/2011 - 15:02

  • Rufus

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    Tell him to go for it.

    #25 Posted: 26/8/2011 - 15:09

  • SBE

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    Agree. Just five or six days in Laos is really too short a time there! The sensible thing would indeed be to concentrate on LP with a day or two in Vientiane . I just mentioned the road trip because you expressed an interesting in what tours were available and also working your way down to Vientiane. The canoe thing involved a lot of time in the back of a pick up truck too but it was a kind of a "tour" incorporated into the traveling bit which is why I mentioned it. Going overland down to Vientiane would eat up two whole days and a night and would be much more tiring than flying. And as the others have said, it would significantly curtail the amount of time you could spend in LP and/or Vientiane.(And you'll be able to look out of the window on the plane too!)

    BTW, the dates you're going, December 23rd-28th, is going to be absolute peak tourist season, so book accommodation in advance.

    #26 Posted: 30/8/2011 - 17:29

  • giroffle

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 41

    Hi


    I am relatively new to this site and visiting SE Asia Nov to Feb....I have read these posts with interest and amusement...certainly weighing them up against my own itinerary...hilarious...I mean mine ;-) !!!


    Anyhow...I have a quick question regarding Savannkhat...looks like I have made a mistake there...we'll be travelling from Vientiane...I estimated 3 nights...but no way now...one night we'll suffer...I made a tentative booking at the Phonesapeuth...but was spooked off by the horror stories written on this site...so I have cancelled...can anyone suggest a decent place to hole up there for the night...it is a stop gap to Pakse only...to break that journey in two


    Kind Rgds
    Carmel

    #27 Posted: 7/9/2011 - 00:26

  • altmtl

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    Why bother booking anything in advance, just show up, look at the room, if you like it take it... !!!!!

    #28 Posted: 7/9/2011 - 00:39

  • giroffle

    Joined Travelfish
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    Ok ....thanks altmtl

    #29 Posted: 7/9/2011 - 00:56

  • altmtl

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    Stay flexible... plans often change on a long trip... :)

    #30 Posted: 7/9/2011 - 01:03

  • giroffle

    Joined Travelfish
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    thanks again..well you made short work of that ;-) !!

    #31 Posted: 7/9/2011 - 03:06

  • MADMAC

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    altmtl is right. You won't have a problem finding a reasonable room at a low price in Savanakhet. It's not a great hub of activity.

    #32 Posted: 7/9/2011 - 10:05

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Laos
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    giroffle, I disagree strongly with the advice given to you in post #28.
    You are coming in peak season. Yes, you may well find something, but many of the more popular guesthouses will be booked out. You would be VERY foolish to arrive with no booking and trying to get what you can. I live here and I see how crowded it is from Nov to Feb.

    "I have a quick question regarding Savannkhat...looks like I have made a mistake there..."
    I would definitely spend 2 nights in Savannakhet. However up to you.
    Daosavanh Resort is a very nice hotel, but notcheap.
    Savahnbanhao is not bad.

    #33 Posted: 7/9/2011 - 10:19

  • altmtl

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    #33 - You're being silly, telling people they must book in advance everywhere - It just makes them insecure... if it's not a major holiday... it's pretty easy to find a room everywhere in SEA from my experience, and even on a holiday, someone, somewhere always has a room or a couch available - :)

    #34 Posted: 7/9/2011 - 10:30

  • giroffle

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 41

    Well thanks again for this...I see you chaps live out there...so you're perspective is entirely different to a first time traveller through these lands...I have done quite a lot of pre-booking... I could be making a mistake (but only in respect of factoring in delays which is impossible until it actually happens..I quess I'll live that out)...but that is not out of insecurity....it is about planning...we have a time slot and have to keep pace with it...otherwise we'll be stuck and end up in f**kville...turning up like a dodo and trawling around a place looking for acc. having done a 6 hour stint on a Lao bus doesn't appeal to me...someone's couch isn't everyone's solution either...

    We are now staying 2 nights in Savannakhat (...and thanks Rufus for your suggestion of GH..I'll check it out)

    For what it's worth...here is my itinerary for Laos...but we onward to Cambodia and Thailand (...the round trip starts 16th Nov (Huay Xai) and finishes back in CNX (Chiang Mai) on 21st Dec

    16th..slow boat to Pakbeng and overnight
    17th..22nd LP
    22nd..24th VV
    24th..29th VTE
    29th..1st Dec Savannakhat
    1st..5th Paske (take in ...Champasak and Bolaven)
    5th...Don Det
    6th...Nakasang to border...Stung Treng....onwards
    ...no flying..

    ...any thoughts, advice or constructive criticism welcome

    BTW...an aside..I am not a backpacker...but my profile seems to have me down as such...does anyone know how I can change this in my profile...can't figure out the option...


    Carmel

    #35 Posted: 7/9/2011 - 12:03

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 949

    "#33 - You're being silly, "
    Really? Have you tried turning up to a more popular guesthouses or hotel. In peak time? Are you posting from experience? I know where I want to stay when I travel here, and I don't want to walk around and hunt for accommodation.
    By the way,
    giroffle, try the Souphaphone GH in Vientiane. It is central, very clean and reasonably priced. However you will need to book of you are staying in Dec, of course.

    #36 Posted: 7/9/2011 - 12:27

  • giroffle

    Joined Travelfish
    27th July, 2011
    Posts: 41

    ...and can I throw another question please...has anyone stayed in Sabaidy2 recently in Pakse...I mean recently...previous reports of original Sabaidy were very poor indeed...but that was a year ago...

    #37 Posted: 7/9/2011 - 12:30

  • altmtl

    Click here to learn more about altmtl
    Joined Travelfish
    18th May, 2009
    Location Earth
    Posts: 825
    Total reviews: 5

    #36 - What's wrong with walking around and hunting for accommodation... it's all part of the adventure and fun of travelling. Why would I want to stay in the most popular guesthouse? With all the "other mainstream travellers" who are afraid to be alone... I haven't got a clue where I'm going to stay sometimes and that's the way I like it!

    FYI I have been to SEA 4X, India & parts of Central & South America, I've booked in advance when arriving at the airport at an awkward hour but otherwise, I wing it.

    #38 Posted: 7/9/2011 - 12:45

  • giroffle

    Joined Travelfish
    27th July, 2011
    Posts: 41

    Rufus...staying at Khamvongsa in VTE...it's not Dec...Nov...but thank you anyway...

    ...my take on pre-booking is this...when I am travelling, I don't want my precious time wasted on looking for accommodation when I turn up to a given destination...this to me is a total inefficiency of time and constitutes work which is anathema to me when on holiday...I came to see the place and absorb it ....not to hunt down a room...I am also not in the business of saving a 10,000 kip or two...I (and I see many other people here point out...) like to have some structure around what I am doing and where I am going....not falling into places...it helps to be informed and even contacting people (GH owners) in these various places up and down Laos has been an education (and amusement ;-)...it's part of the trip too..and of course this site is very good support

    ...there isn't only one way to skin the cat...and that is what is useful here on this site...sharing the different experiences and views...thanks

    #39 Posted: 7/9/2011 - 12:55

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 949

    Good for you. Some of us like to stay in a decent place and not in a flea pit. But don't give others bad advice.

    #40 Posted: 7/9/2011 - 12:56

  • giroffle

    Joined Travelfish
    27th July, 2011
    Posts: 41

    "But don't give others bad advice."


    Not sure what you mean....

    #41 Posted: 7/9/2011 - 13:05

  • giroffle

    Joined Travelfish
    27th July, 2011
    Posts: 41

    sorry...that was a Ctrl+C CtrlV job...didn't work...

    #42 Posted: 7/9/2011 - 13:07

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 949

    No,giroffle, that was directed at altmtl, not at you.
    The Khamvongsa is fine, but would not be my choice.

    #43 Posted: 7/9/2011 - 13:09

  • giroffle

    Joined Travelfish
    27th July, 2011
    Posts: 41

    why ?

    #44 Posted: 7/9/2011 - 13:11

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 949

    There are other places I like much more. Souphaphone for a budget GH, Auberge Sala Inpeng, Lao Orchid Hotel, Villa Manoly to name but a few.

    #45 Posted: 7/9/2011 - 13:22

  • giroffle

    Joined Travelfish
    27th July, 2011
    Posts: 41

    almiti....it's not about staying at the most popular GH....you are missing the point...and your follow-up assumption is inaccurate

    "...with all the other mainstream travellers who are afraid to be alone"

    ...this is a wild, labelling and disassociating remark...and separatist

    ...and if that is the case then the flip-side of coin must be the snot-gobbling backpacker variety who turns up happy to sleep in the flea pit to save a few thousand kip

    ...there's room for us all....

    #46 Posted: 7/9/2011 - 13:30

  • altmtl

    Click here to learn more about altmtl
    Joined Travelfish
    18th May, 2009
    Location Earth
    Posts: 825
    Total reviews: 5

    Odd how people think not booking in advance means staying in a flea pit - lol

    #47 Posted: 7/9/2011 - 13:32

  • giroffle

    Joined Travelfish
    27th July, 2011
    Posts: 41

    Rufus...sure ...thanks...of course the list goes on...and on !

    #48 Posted: 7/9/2011 - 13:33

  • giroffle

    Joined Travelfish
    27th July, 2011
    Posts: 41

    missed the point again...no worries...suffice to say that some people prefer to book ahead and some don't...

    #49 Posted: 7/9/2011 - 13:40

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 949

    altmtl, I am beginning to think you re a troll. Not everyone wishes to walk around for hours after arriving in a place looking for decent accommodation. And YES, this is what you have to do in the high season.

    #50 Posted: 7/9/2011 - 17:12

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6047
    Total reviews: 10

    Rufus, maybe I've just never been there in the high season. But I have yet to see a lot of any kind of white person in Savanakhet in my six trips there. Every single time I've walked into a guesthouse and gotten a room on the spot. I've never booked. Now, I am staying in cheap places to be sure. So maybe the more upscale it's a different ball game. But I have never spent hours, or even one hour, looking for a place to stay. Little guesthouses are everywhere, they litter Savanakhet like bars litter Pattaya. The longest I ever spent looking for a place was about 15 minutes. Since most people posting here are of the backpacker variety, I think the basic assumption is a cheap, clean place is what they want. Pretty easy to find in Savanakhet. Perhaps the more upscale places are booked out.

    #51 Posted: 8/9/2011 - 10:29

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Posts: 2302
    Total reviews: 47

    one of the things i liked about Savannakhet was the big choice of accommodation. i was there in january 2010, and there were many more places to stay at that time than people to stay in them. Savannkhet seemed very walkable to me, although the distance from the bus station to the center of town was too far to walk.

    i would typically recommend that if you have a particular place you want to stay, a certain comfort level that you need to have, or if it is a busy (such as holiday) time, then book ahead. that is also true if you know you'll be arriving late at night and particularly if you are arriving after a long international flight. but many of the types of places i stay (backpacker to flashpacker range) don't necessarily even accept bookings. off the top of my head, i can't think of a single time travelling in southeast asia where i didn't find a decent room by just showing up.

    in any case, i think we scared off the OP. cheers.

    #52 Posted: 8/9/2011 - 11:24

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 949

    Mac and exacto, I was posting abut Vinetiane and Luang Prabang rather than Savannakhet

    #53 Posted: 8/9/2011 - 11:32

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Posts: 2302
    Total reviews: 47

    fair enough. my comments were intended to be very general in nature and not necessarily for any one particular place. i can see possibly booking ahead in LP, particularly if i arrived in the high season. i never needed to book ahead in VTE before either, but it has been a few years since i've visited and it sounds like times have changed. as i mentioned, during that trip in january 2010 there were lots of available rooms in savannakhet and champasak, but pakse started to get booked up later into the evening, particularly at the more well-know spots. regards.

    #54 Posted: 8/9/2011 - 11:55

  • giroffle

    Joined Travelfish
    27th July, 2011
    Posts: 41

    No worries at all...we'll turn up and do it on the fly...there are no ground rules with our trip...if I can book ahead I will, looking for acc. is to me a chore...that's all...that's me....it's not a militaristic operation...we have booked all sorts, a few flash and I would say a few flaky...it averages out....when I say booked...I have not supplied card details...so we are not fully committed anyhow...we can always move on if necessary..

    I am not particularly bothered about luxury... but I cannot handle dirt and I hate dreary places, even modern places depress me..that is why I get this out of the way ahead of time

    ...but thanks for the feedback...something always useful gets said in these posts...somewhere along the way...despite the tangent curves ;-)

    #55 Posted: 8/9/2011 - 12:18

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 949

    Yes,
    exacto, if you wanted to stay in one of the more popular hotels or GH in Vientiane in Dec to Feb you would almost certainly have to book in advance.eg The Lao Orchid Hotel is often booked out, and not even in the months mentioned above.

    #56 Posted: 8/9/2011 - 12:27

  • altmtl

    Click here to learn more about altmtl
    Joined Travelfish
    18th May, 2009
    Location Earth
    Posts: 825
    Total reviews: 5

    I never booked ahead in Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Krabi, Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, or Koh Lipe... in high season, I guess Laos is different -:)

    #57 Posted: 8/9/2011 - 13:03

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Posts: 2302
    Total reviews: 47

    Rufus, that's good to know. Thanks. I remember long ago when I could walk up the same day and buy a ticket for the overnight sleeper train to Chiang Mai. Those days are long gone too. I guess it depends on where you are going and how much you want to stay in a particular place, but times have changed and it makes perfectly good sense that I would need to book ahead in certain cities and particularly for certain properties. Ta.

    #58 Posted: 8/9/2011 - 21:29

  • altmtl

    Click here to learn more about altmtl
    Joined Travelfish
    18th May, 2009
    Location Earth
    Posts: 825
    Total reviews: 5

    A sleeper train is another story, yes book a few days ahead.

    #59 Posted: 8/9/2011 - 21:37

  • giroffle

    Joined Travelfish
    27th July, 2011
    Posts: 41

    @Rufus...if and when you are back on here...thank you so much for the gen on VTE accommodation...you got me thinking to do a switch...and now staying at Villa Manola...YEP !!

    #60 Posted: 8/9/2011 - 22:31

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 949

    Villa Manoly is nice. Large rooms and a little swimming pool - but enough to cool off.

    #61 Posted: 9/9/2011 - 07:20

  • giroffle

    Joined Travelfish
    27th July, 2011
    Posts: 41

    yes..Villa Manoly...spot on...and I will need to re-visit my plans for LP...what would you recommend there...if you don't mind me asking....

    #62 Posted: 9/9/2011 - 10:07

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 949

    Riverside GH

    #63 Posted: 9/9/2011 - 12:29

  • giroffle

    Joined Travelfish
    27th July, 2011
    Posts: 41

    @Rufus...thanks again...I am reading such good reports about LP, I figure it is worth splashing out here...lovely choice...and located it on hobomaps (these are fantastic)

    #64 Posted: 9/9/2011 - 13:27

  • Aaron88

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd August, 2011
    Posts: 5

    Hi Guys,

    Just want to give you an update, I have booked all the international flights for my trip!

    I am now booking hotels and tours/activities, all the feedback here has been great. After the feedback from everyone I decided to go to VTE for a day or so (haven't book this flight yet).

    Could you please recommend some decent hotels which are reasonable prices please? I am planning to be in LP from the 23rd of Dec - 26th and flying to VTE until the 28th.

    If you guys have any suggestions for hotels in Vietnam, Singapore or Cambodia it will be appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Aaron

    #65 Posted: 13/9/2011 - 18:37

  • giroffle

    Joined Travelfish
    27th July, 2011
    Posts: 41

    Hi Aaron

    I can certainly recommend The Four Roses in Ho Chi Minh...we had a wonderful stay there (if you want exact details I can PM them to you) many years ago and return in January for 11 days...I can't recommend anywhere in Cambodia because it is a first for us...but the tips and advice here have been great and I'm sure we'll be fine...if you go back through this thread you'll pick up on the gen...

    Best of luck !!
    Carmel

    #66 Posted: 13/9/2011 - 20:42

  • kfchris1

    Joined Travelfish
    6th September, 2011
    Posts: 14

    Iv been looking for the same sort of thing Aaron, the feedback i have been getting is check out the acomadation when you arrive and fish out the best deal that way

    good luck

    #67 Posted: 14/9/2011 - 20:22

  • keinnon

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd September, 2011
    Posts: 3

    A couple of places to check out for rooms:
    In Saigon: Miss Loi's (spent 3 months here) Guesthouse http://www.travelfish.org/accommodation_profile/vietnam/saigon_and_surrounds/ho_chi_minh_city/ho_chi_minh_city/all/3080

    In Hanoi: Camellia Hotel (home away from home for a month) http://www.travelfish.org/accommodation_profile/vietnam/hanoi_and_surrounds/hanoi/hanoi/all/4135

    First time in Vientiane we stayed at Villa That Luang which was up near the Golden Stupa: http://www.villa-thatluang-guesthouse.com/
    Second time: Mali Namphu http://www.travelfish.org/accommodation_profile/laos/vientiane_and_surrounds/vientiane/vientiane/all/1121

    Luang Prabang: I can't remember and can't recognize it here but we got the brochure from a tuk tuk driver and it was right in the heart of the old quarter, minutes from the night market and reasonable. There are Many choices in LP. You'll find a place suited to your needs no problem.

    We were doing a visa run from Vietnam and catching some r&r. We loved Laos. Very relaxing after Hanoi. We had a great kayak tour with Green Discovery on the Nam Pa.

    Loved Laos so much we're returning this coming Jan/Feb for a month at least. If you're into the great outdoors there's lots of activities. The people are amazing, the food's good and you can't miss Beer Lao! We liked Cambodia a lot too (spent a month there). If you go to Cambodia check out Rabbit Island, down south near the Vietnam border. Hopefully the resorts haven't bought it out yet.

    #68 Posted: 22/9/2011 - 03:41

  • Laoline

    Joined Travelfish
    25th November, 2011
    Posts: 1

    In Vientiane , the capital of Laos, you can enjoy awesome guided bicycle trips!
    There is a company called Vientiane Bycycle (you can look for them at the internet), they offer several tours. Despite being not a very sportive type, I took the whole day tour and loved every minute of it. At the end of the day my bottom felt a bit sore, but my mind was so full of all the images of the day. We've seen so much! And went to outskirts and suburbs of Vientiane you usually wouldn't find yourself. I surely like to recommend this way of touring around Vientiane.

    #69 Posted: 25/11/2011 - 10:28

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6047
    Total reviews: 10

    S Bar in Luang Prabang. Now has a budding salsa scene. Dance or die!

    #70 Posted: 25/11/2011 - 11:54

  • Captain_Bob

    Click here to learn more about Captain_Bob
    Joined Travelfish
    27th May, 2006
    Location Thailand
    Posts: 1530

    Nah just skip Laos. It's gone way downhill since it stopped being cute and primitive
    The New Look is Here

    #71 Posted: 30/11/2011 - 06:28

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