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What to do in Laos?

  • caroquette

    Joined Travelfish
    15th April, 2014
    Posts: 22

    Hey everyone,

    I'm currently planning my trip via Lonely Planet book, but nothing's better than having some of your personal experience.

    What do you think is best to see in Laos, places to stay etc...
    I only have one week.

    Also, how do you recommend me to travel from Siem Reap to Laos and from Laos to Bangkok?

    Thank you so much,

    Best Regards,

    Carolina

    #1 Posted: 16/4/2014 - 19:28

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  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6349
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    Why are youo going to Laos if you only have one week? Why don't you stay in Cambodia? If there isn't a sepcific reason you are going to Laos (which there obviously isn't based on your post) why go there? You don't have enough time to make it worthwhile.

    #2 Posted: 17/4/2014 - 01:55

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 2148
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    Lonely planet isnt reliable for advice.

    #3 Posted: 17/4/2014 - 08:53

  • chinarocks

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 684

    OP you've been unfortunate to get these two utterly useless responses to your post. I notice in your post that nowhere do you ask whether or not you should go to Laos, just what you should do when there.

    In one week, I would stay in Luang Prabang for the duration. It is a nice, pleasant, mid-sized town with good restaurants and is a good introduction to Laos. There are numerous day trip possibilities, including elephant tours (try and do the eco-friendly ones), trips to waterfalls, or simply hire a bike and explore (motorbike hire was not possible if memory serves me). You will not be bored spending one week in LP.

    You can fly from Siem Reap to LP with Vietnam Airlines, not cheap but saves 36 hours of overland travel.

    LP to Bangkok, I'm not so sure but I'm pretty sure the route is done with some airline.

    #4 Posted: 17/4/2014 - 09:49

  • caroquette

    Joined Travelfish
    15th April, 2014
    Posts: 22

    Thank you so much chinarocks for your response!

    #5 Posted: 17/4/2014 - 10:04

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 2148
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    Cambodia has elephants and waterfalls. Why go to Laos for that?
    see here:
    http://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Attraction_Review-g1893367-d3965757-Reviews-Elephant_Valley_Project-Sen_Monorom_Mondulkiri_Province.html
    different country means flight plus visa expenses for the same things.

    #6 Posted: 17/4/2014 - 10:46

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 2148
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    http://www.adventurouskate.com/confession-i-cant-stand-luang-prabang/
    "But Luang Prabang felt incredibly fake to me. It was as if a Lao Disneyland had been plunked down in the middle of the country, catering to Western tourists and nobody else."

    #7 Posted: 17/4/2014 - 11:00

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6349
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    What China doesn't mention is that Luang Prabang is no where near Cambodia. It's not that I have anything against Luang Pranabang, but it's nowhere near where you are planning on being.

    Geograghy counts. It's like saying "I am going to Paris, but have one week to spend in Lithuania. Well, OK. I mean, it's just not related. If you had the time to work your way up the Panhandle it would make sense, but you don't.

    #8 Posted: 17/4/2014 - 13:53

  • chinarocks

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 684

    I'm answering the OP's question. Nowhere do they ask should they go to Laos or not or whether the Lonely Planet is a good source of information etc. I don't come on here and pontificate the same tired nonsense without any reference to the question asked. If they asked "should I go to Laos for one week" then my answer would be different. They don't though so I'm answering based on my (limited) knowledge of Laos.

    #9 Posted: 17/4/2014 - 15:39

  • Geer1

    Joined Travelfish
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    Luang Prabang is decent but not for a whole week... Kuang Si Falls is definitely worth seeing and a motorbike ride there and back is enjoyable. We did Tad Thong and Kuang Si in one day on rented scooters and it was a pretty good day, Tad Thong isn't that amazing but was ok. Other then that there are only a few temples a museum and some overly touristy markets. 3-4 days is all I would spend there.

    The problem is fitting in something else into such a small period of time. I liked Nong Khiaw and Muang Ngoi but that is a good 5 day trip itself. Vang Vieng is highly touristy but I believe might be worth seeing, unfortunately I had to skip it since I was sick with Dengue... Another place I enjoyed in Laos was Konglor but that could be hit and miss depending on who you run into while there, it is also a long ways from Luang Prabang. 4,000 islands is kind of nice but again hard to get to and very far away from Luang Prabang.

    Overall I would say that depending on what you are seeing in Cambodia and Thailand I would consider skipping Laos in order to see more of those countries. I enjoyed Cambodia much more then Laos and wish I had spent more time there. If you never plan on coming back to this area and just want to go to Laos to say you were there then pony up the big bucks to fly to Luang Prabang and then work your way down to Vientiane via Vang Vieng.

    #10 Posted: 17/4/2014 - 19:50

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  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
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    Agree with Geer. Better to have a whole pizza than scraps from leftovers.

    #11 Posted: 17/4/2014 - 23:12

  • caseyprich

    Joined Travelfish
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    From Siem Reap to Laos for one week, your cheapest option is to take a bus up to 4,000 islands, spend a few days there, hit Champasak for a night on the way up to Pakse (another full night there is nice) and then head over the border to Ubon Ratchatani and take a plane or train to BKK. I think you could do that in a week.

    Otherwise, if you are willing to "pony up the big bucks" the option of Geer1 is probably the best highlights, LP for 3 nights, stop off in Vang Vieng to break up the journey to Vientiane and spend 2 nights each in those spots. Over the border in Udon Thani, Thailand you can get a cheaper flight to BKK or hook up with a night bus. A slightly cheaper option is to fly to Vientiane and spend a week wandering around there, with a couple nights spent up in Vang Vieng.

    If getting a glimpse of Laos is essential to your travel, I'd recommend any of these three options. That said, my actual recommendation would be to agree with many of the above posts in that you could probably better spend that week (and save some money) by applying those days to more time in Cambodia or Thailand.

    #12 Posted: 17/4/2014 - 23:38

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
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    Hi Carolina,

    In the absence of other information, I'd agree with chinarocks that a week in Luang Prabang would be awesome. There are day trips to the waterfall and the cave, and the hilltop for a sunset, and drinks and dinner along the river, and good shopping. Plus, it is a great place just to be.

    But since you are heading to Laos from Siem Reap, another option might be to visit southern Laos. You could arrive overland from Cambodia, with a stopover in the 4,000 islands area. From there, head north to Champasak and a visit to Wat Phu. After that it is another short trip to Pakse and maybe a circuit through the Bolevans Plateau. That's a good but not rushed week. Then back to Pakse and the international bus across the Thai border to Ubon. From there you can make the trip back to Bangkok by air, bus, or train, perhaps with a stopover at some off-the-beaten-path spot along the way.

    Let us know what you decide and how it turns out. Cheers.

    p.s. casey posted as i was writing this. he has great suggestions too. ta.

    #13 Posted: 17/4/2014 - 23:46

  • LeonardCohe-
    n1

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 2148
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    Ubon province is nice and khong chiam is a cool town but i would hire a car or bike if u went there. U could even go on a long bike tour in cambodia. Some of the off road multi day guided rides get rave reviews.

    #14 Posted: 18/4/2014 - 03:06

  • caroquette

    Joined Travelfish
    15th April, 2014
    Posts: 22

    Thank you all so much for all your time and answers. I will definitely post what I decided to do.

    Me best regards.

    #15 Posted: 18/4/2014 - 06:14

  • Geer1

    Joined Travelfish
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    The bus ride from Siem Reap to 4000 islands is a long horrible experience and I believe takes 2 days of travel, the first takes you to Stung Treng then the next day across the border and over to 4000 islands. I also didn't find Pakse, Savannakhet or Thakek to be very interesting at all.

    Wat Phu will be a huge disappointment after seeing Angkor Wat so I wouldn't really bother with it.


    If you choose to go that route I would travel to Stung Treng and stay the night, go to Don Khon island(the best one imo). Spend 2 or 3 days there looking around the islands then head over to Pakse. Then if you can figure out bus schedule I would try to get up to Konglor and take a look at the cave. There is a bus from there directly to Vientiane where you can end your trip. This route would be doable in a week but wouldn't be my first choice.

    You have never said what you are planning on seeing/doing in Cambodia? Are you doing the regular whirlwind stops in only Phnom Penh and Siem Reap? If so I would definitely just scrap Laos as Cambodia has a lot more to offer. Battambang, Kampot, Kep, Koh Tonsay, Sihanoukville, Koh Rong or head back into Ratanakiri or Mondulkiri provinces. Cambodian people are super friendly and I wish I had spent more then the 2 weeks I spent there.

    #16 Posted: 18/4/2014 - 10:19

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
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    Good suggestion from Geer1 on Don Khon.

    It is interesting how different people experience similar things differently. For example, I visited Wat Phu after having been to Angkor Wat twice (1999 and 2006). Even so, I liked Wat Phu very much. Maybe it was because I got there very early in the morning, and was most of the way up the hillside before the sun came up over the Mekong River. I had the place very nearly all to myself, which is something that almost never happened in several days at Angkor either time. Wat Phu wasn't anywhere near as reconstructed as Angkor either, which I liked because it inspired my imagination.

    I also liked the adjacent sleepy little town of Champasak and think it is worth an overnight or two. It is a lovely place to settle in and relax with a book and a hammock along the river, if you are into those types of things.

    I agree with Geer1 that Savannakhet and Thakek weren't the most interesting places I've visited in Laos too, which is why I suggested heading back to Thailand directly from Pakse rather than continuing north. It isn't that Savannakhet and Thakek are bad, but it felt like a lot of effort to get somewhere that didn't feel particularly special. I liked Pakse, however. It felt like a boom town with lots of energy, good restaurants, nice places to stay, and interesting walks along the river. But like most things, that's a personal choice. Pakse is a good starting point for trips through the Bolevans Plateau, or the overland trip back to Thailand.

    I've stayed in Luang Prabang twice for 4 days each, and while it felt like enough time, I also wished I'd had more time to just be there.

    Geer1 made an interesting point about maybe staying in Cambodia instead of continuing to Laos. Personally, I like Laos better than Cambodia, but I haven't been to all the places Geer1 mentions either, and there are also the Cambodia beaches which adds an entirely new element to any trip. From the beach, it would be a fairly straight-forward trip back across into Thailand.

    Let us know what you decide and how it works out. Cheers.

    #17 Posted: 18/4/2014 - 13:58

  • Geer1

    Joined Travelfish
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    Most people only go to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh in Cambodia and it is a big mistake imo. The Angkor Temples are amazing and a must see but Cambodia has a lot more to offer then just these places.

    Battambang is good if you want to either rent a motorcycle and cruise along the river, go see bat cave and the circus is a great experience. If you aren't up for renting a bike then Battambang also has some of the most friendly and best English speaking tuk tuk drivers in SEA.

    Kampot/Kep area has lots of little things to see and do, again it is best to rent a motorcycle but it can be done by tuk tuk as well. There is the old "nature reserve" where you can see old buildings as well as a giant new casino. Caves(best one is at Kampong Trach), salt fields, pepper farms, zoo. They also have some really good food. Koh Tonsay is a great little island to go relax on either as a day trip or for a few days overnight if you don't mind staying in a cheap bungalow on the beach.

    I didn't go to Mondulkiri or Ratanakiri but talked to a couple people that did and said they loved it. Cambodian people are the most friendly in all SEA imo and the more you get off the beaten track the better it would get although there will be less English spoken.

    Out of the 4 countries I travelled to I want to see more of Thailand and Cambodia but honestly could care less if I ever go back to Laos or Vietnam(although Paradise Cave was freaking awesome).

    #18 Posted: 18/4/2014 - 14:40

  • caroquette

    Joined Travelfish
    15th April, 2014
    Posts: 22

    I have four weeks. I was thinking of:

    Thailand (2 weeks)
    Cambodia (1 week)
    Laos (1 week)

    Feel free to tell me what you think.

    #19 Posted: 18/4/2014 - 15:22

  • Geer1

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 540
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    Imo pick 2 of those countries and leave the other for now. You can't see much of either Cambodia or Laos in only 1 week each and will even only get a taste of Thailand in 2 weeks, I spent 12 weeks between all 3 and still feel like I missed out on quite a bit. But depending on what you want to see in Thailand it may be able to tie together a brief trip through each country.

    What types of things are you most interested in seeing? Architecture, historical ruins, natural sights, beaches, people etc? Is there anything in particular that you want to do? Scuba diving, certain treks etc? What places/sights have you encountered in your research that you really want to go to?

    Give us more info and we might be able to give you some better ideas suite more to your personal desires otherwise you are just going to get the same general information.

    #20 Posted: 18/4/2014 - 16:13

  • caroquette

    Joined Travelfish
    15th April, 2014
    Posts: 22

    I'm going with my boyfriend 4 weeks. We've been saving for a while but we still don't have that much money. We have 2000€ each for everything: airplanes, stays, food, activities etc...

    The plain to Bangkok is 900€ so we have 1100€ left for the rest.

    We love history and culture. That's more of the trip we want. Not bars, parties, etc.

    We want to see the sights but also learn about each place we visit and have a calm trip. We are 21 so obviously we are fit for long journeys.

    Thank you.

    #21 Posted: 18/4/2014 - 16:20

  • Geer1

    Joined Travelfish
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    Ok I am pretty sure you meant euros, I am going to convert that to USD which is roughly $1500 each. If you do Laos and Cambodia that is probably around $50 for visas. If you do something similar to my idea below you have another flight around $150-200. Probably need to take out travel insurance as well which might be $100(complete guess). That knocks you down to around $1150-1200 each for 28 days which is roughly $40 a day each which is fairly doable especially if you take it easy on the drinking/partying etc.

    Now here is my idea as it gives you a lot of historical/cultural experience and even allows you to see all 3 countries.

    Bangkok: 3-4 days, see temples, grand palace, museums, check out the river, lumphini park and live it up a little or do some shopping if you want
    Kanchanaburi: 2-3 days, has war museums, bridge over the river kwai, hellfire pass, erawan waterfall, tiger temple
    Ayutthaya : 1-2 days, has more temples, ruins and is Thailand's old capital city
    Sukhothai: 1-2 days, similar to Ayutthaya but a little harder to get to, I would probably pick one of the other unless you really want to see both
    Chiang Mai: 3-4 days, trekking, more temples, rafting, elephant camps, cooking courses, interesting zoo, night bazaar and walking street markets
    Chiang Rai: 1-2 days, white temple and black house are interesting, if there on a weekend check out the walking street markets, they are less touristy then Chiang Mai's

    Chiang Khong/Huay Xai border crossing into Laos
    Slow Boat: 2 days, take slow boat down the Mekong river en route to Luang Prabang
    Luang Prabang: 3-4 days, Kuang Si Falls, treks, museum, markets
    Vang Vieng: 1-2 days,
    Vientiane: 1 night, fly to Phnom Penh next day(Vietnam Airlines has reasonable flights)

    Phnom Penh: 2 days, national museum, killing fields/tuol sleng museum, riverfront, royal palace
    Siem Reap: 3 days, Angkor temples
    Battambang?: 1-2 days, if you have time and especially if you can be there a day that they are doing the circus this is worthwhile, could be before or after Siem Reap.

    Then back to Bangkok in time to fly home. Not sure of your exact dates but this should give you an idea and you can look up each of those places and see if you can make that work.

    #22 Posted: 18/4/2014 - 22:33

  • caroquette

    Joined Travelfish
    15th April, 2014
    Posts: 22

    All of your replies were so useful!

    Thank you so much for all of your time, I will definitely post here what I decided to do.

    Glad I joined this site :)

    Best regards to you all!

    #23 Posted: 18/4/2014 - 22:55

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6349
    Total reviews: 10

    I'm with Greer. I would actually spend all four weeks in one country. I think you'd get more out of it. But definitely not more than two. If it's your first time to SEA, Thailand is a good place to cut your teeth. Remmember, SEA is not about seeing things, it's about chilling. It's not like europe in that respect.

    #24 Posted: 19/4/2014 - 08:39

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