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one month itinerary in Laos

  • stevewilkes

    Joined Travelfish
    10th January, 2012
    Posts: 9

    Hi would everybody please let me know if this itinerary is realistic in a month and whether it is a good one or am I missing some great stuff out? Flying into Bangkok on the 1st February 2012.

    Bangkok to Luang Prabang flying.

    Luang Prabang 5 days

    Slow boat up Mekong to Huay Xai via Pak Beng 2 days

    Bus to Luang Namtha 1 day

    Muang Sing for Trekking 2/3 days

    Bus to Muang Khoua on the Nam Ou river 1/2 days

    river boat to Muang Ngoi and Nong Khiaw and onto LP 2 days

    LP to Pakse domestic flight

    Pakse 1 day

    Bolaven Plateau on motorbikes to do the loop 4/5 days

    Champasak 1 day

    Four thousand islands 4 days

    Pakse border crossing into Thailand and train (overnight?) back to Bangkok

    Is this achievable in the whole month of February. Flight back from Bangkok on 28th.

    Many thanks everybody :)

    #1 Posted: 10/1/2012 - 11:42

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  • caseyprich

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2010
    Location China
    Posts: 1218
    Total reviews: 53
    Places visited:
    At least 48

    This seems a little quick:

    river boat to Muang Ngoi and Nong Khiaw and onto LP 2 days

    If you have to, you can save a day by taking a bus from LP to LNT (8hrs). I've heard most people with the experience of the slow-boat wish it wasn't continuing after the first day, and that's going downstream. I don't know, maybe you love boats, but if your only using Pakbeng and Huay Xia for transportation then I think you'd be better served to skip it and go directly to your hiking in LNT and Muang Sing. Spend an extra day with a rental motorbike in the environs around LNT or put it towards slowing down your roll through Muang Ngoi and Nong Kiaow.

    Also - It is my standard procedure to recommend one extra night in Champasak so that you can arrive in the afternoon from Pakse - relax there for a night after the next early morning at Wat Phu and take off back to Pakse the next morning to drop off your motorbike and catch a local down to 4,000 Islands.

    #2 Posted: 10/1/2012 - 19:06

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 2392
    Total reviews: 47
    Places visited:
    At least 98

    "Also - It is my standard procedure to recommend one extra night in Champasak so that you can arrive in the afternoon from Pakse - relax there for a night after the next early morning at Wat Phu and take off back to Pakse the next morning to drop off your motorbike and catch a local down to 4,000 Islands."

    I think this is fantastic advice from casey. Two nights is Champasak is a real treat, and I heartily recommend catching Wat Phu first thing in the morning before it is officially open and before work starts and the crowds arrive. I remember writing this after an early morning visit to Wat Phu about two years ago:

    "If at all possible, it is definitely worth it to arrive as close to daybreak as possible and pay the small additional overtime fee. This is because the site is on an east-west axis, and the sun will rise directly behind you as you climb the steps to the top of the temple, making for dramatic lighting and views. Arriving early is also a matter of logistics, meaning that you'll be hiking during the relative cool of the morning, and that you'll have time to yourself before the crowds, vendors, and restoration work, which all start at around 0830, cause the place to transition from an ancient temple into a tourist attraction." Regards.

    #3 Posted: 10/1/2012 - 23:07

  • caseyprich

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2010
    Location China
    Posts: 1218
    Total reviews: 53
    Places visited:
    At least 48

    On that note - this is why I think you should keep your motorbike when you come down from the Plateau and use it to get to Champasak (though you'll have to ferry it across the Mekong). It gives you a real head-start over all those cycling to the ruins in the morning.

    #4 Posted: 10/1/2012 - 23:44

  • stevewilkes

    Joined Travelfish
    10th January, 2012
    Posts: 9

    Many thanks for the info on Champasak, staying the extra day sounds good.

    I thought that the slow boat on the Mekong was a high light of most visitors to Laos or am I mistaken? Is travelling down the Nam Ou a better replacement or should I still do both?

    I am relatively short on information for the loop section of my trip from Pakse, any ideas on where to go or how long. Ive heard Tad fan waterfall and Bolaven Plateau are all good.


    Thankyou

    #5 Posted: 11/1/2012 - 00:57

  • caseyprich

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2010
    Location China
    Posts: 1218
    Total reviews: 53
    Places visited:
    At least 48

    Well - you just asked about two of the best features on the site:
    http://www.travelfish.org/feature/10
    http://www.travelfish.org/feature/83j

    A little out dated though, as the road form Tha Teng to Paksong is very nice now. Also the road that runs form Paksong to the path between Sekong and Attapeu is in the process of being paved (and is where you will find the most amazing waterfall in the area). A large part of that road is wide and dirty and not fun, but when I was there last February there was still a large enough expanse of it that was rustic and splendid - not difficult even with a 120 CC scooter so long as it isn't the rainy season.

    With the time you've given yourself You'd have time to hit Tad Lo for 2 nights, then on to Sekong for 1 night and then skip Attapeu and head directly from Sekong to Paksong to spend a night there. That's what I'd recommend - you can check out a lot of waterfalls on your whole day in Tad Lo and bike a bit around the area (up to Salavan if you feel like it, I wasn't that impressed by the place but a nice ride). If you get up from Tad Lo early enough you could get into Sekong and check in somewhere and still have time to bike out to the waterfalls south of town for a peak. Otherwise you can check them out on the next day out to Paksong I think the distance to travel isn't toob ad. We, however, left Attapeu early on our leg back to Paksong and arrived just as night fell . . . but had some long breaks and ran into a Lao wedding on the way. Then on the way back to Pakse you can stop and see MORE waterfalls (if you don't have waterfall-fatigue by that time). We ended up arriving in Pakse in time for lunch and then just taking the bikes straight down to Champasak that same afternoon.

    As for the slowboat . . I've heard mixed reviews, but I can't recall anyway saying it was the highlight. Depends on how much you like boat rides I guess. I'd prefer to have an extra day on a motorbike in LNT over a night in Pakbeng.

    #6 Posted: 11/1/2012 - 02:54

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