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Bangkok to Luang Prabang/Vientiane

  • mattza

    Joined Travelfish
    29th April, 2008
    Posts: 5

    Hi there,

    We are travelling to Laos for a week in July. Yes I know a week is too short but thats what we have.

    We wanted to fly directly from Bangkok to Luang Prabang and thus minimise disruptances and valuable time travelling on the ground.

    The problem is - flights are ridiculously expensive. Looking at minimum $250 per person for the 1 way flight.

    I looked at potentially flying from Bangkok into Vientiane and then getting a boat (is this a good option?) from Vientiane to Luang Prabang.

    We are then planning to fly out of Luang Prabang to Siem Reap in Cambodia...

    Now I am wondering - should I secure these fares now, or should I wait? Is it likely that they will come downin between now and July?

    I appreciate your help!

    Matt

    #1 Posted: 29/4/2008 - 02:15

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  • mattza

    Joined Travelfish
    29th April, 2008
    Posts: 5

    looks like flying from Bangkok to Changmai to Luang Prabang is going to be a cheaper option...anyone done this?

    #2 Posted: 29/4/2008 - 02:29

  • srsdj

    Joined Travelfish
    30th October, 2007
    Posts: 8
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    You could look at the discounted airfares available using the Discovery Airpass offered by Bangkok Airways and Laos Airlines. The Airpass is described at each airline's website. To qualify, you need a minimum of three flights - for example, Bangkok-Luang Prabang-Siem Reap-Bangkok as a roundtrip would qualify. The problem is you can't purchase the airpass online.

    #3 Posted: 29/4/2008 - 08:47

  • mattza

    Joined Travelfish
    29th April, 2008
    Posts: 5

    ok - does ANYONE know where/who/how I can buy a coupon?

    presuming I need to go through a travel agent in Thailand/Laos/Cambidia?

    We are going to fly:

    1. Bangkok to Luang Prabang
    2. Luang Prabang to Siem Reap
    3. Siem Reap to Phnom Phen

    does anyone have contact details for a reliable agenct who deals with the Discovery airpass?

    #4 Posted: 29/4/2008 - 18:15

  • somtam2000

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    The Discovery Airpass cannot be purchased in Asia (that would just be toooo easy!) -- you need to buy it in your home country. Contact Bangkok Airways for details on agents in your country.

    While it looks like you're changing your plans, there's no longer regular passenger services between Vientiane and Luang Prabang -- the boats only run north of LP.

    I'd sort your tickets out as soon as possible as the LP to Siem Reap leg in particular is a popular one.

    #5 Posted: 30/4/2008 - 05:54

  • LancasterLad

    Joined Travelfish
    13th September, 2006
    Posts: 62

    Considered taking the overnight sleeper train from BKK to Nong Khai?
    Then 5 minutes in a Tuk Tuk to the Friendship Bridge, and you'll be in Vientiene in no time.

    #6 Posted: 3/5/2008 - 14:15

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 953

    The idea of taking the sleeper is very foolish given the limited time you have. Ask yourself, "How many times am I going to go to Laos?"

    #7 Posted: 4/5/2008 - 08:29

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
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    Mattza,

    Despite what Rufus says, overnight sleeper trains are typically are great way to get from one place to another. They save time (you are travelling while you would be sleeping anyway), and are a wonderful adventure in and of themselves.

    Also, as Somtam says, there is no regularly scheduled boat service from Vientiane to LP, so I don't think the boat will be an option for you.

    I have flown the BKK to Chiang Mai to LP route. It is a fine option. However, if you can afford it, I'd recommend looking into the direct flight from BKK to LP to save time and hassle. Discovery Airpass should be your best bet if you can work out those details. Cheers.

    #8 Posted: 4/5/2008 - 11:34

  • mattza

    Joined Travelfish
    29th April, 2008
    Posts: 5

    hi guys,

    many thanks for all the info.

    I have sorted a discovery pass, and am flying direct from BKK to LPQ.

    Its saved us around $150, and we even ended up booking the cheapest flight they have available, to make it 3 flights and we are not going to even use them!

    anyone want a flight from Bangkok to Phuket on the 5th of August? :)

    thanks for the info!

    #9 Posted: 4/5/2008 - 17:52

  • somtam2000

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    Hi mattza,

    that's good news.

    If possible can you post the details on the agent who sorted the Discovery Airpass out for you? We get a lot of questions about it, so the would be handy for future questions.

    #10 Posted: 5/5/2008 - 06:05

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  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 953

    A much more sensible idea than the train, and then wasting time at the Frienshipd bridge when you could be enjoying Laos.

    #11 Posted: 5/5/2008 - 12:39

  • mattza

    Joined Travelfish
    29th April, 2008
    Posts: 5

    well, as I am in South Africa there was no agent in my country or continent for that matter!

    I sent a mail to all their agents (BCC'ed them all in) and out of 6 offices that I sent to, 2 replied.

    The German office assisted me, but they said that I should take this as a once off and that they will not do it much longer...I am sitting on the fence on this one, I dont want to dissapoint them or you guys but follow the above and I am sure you will get results!

    Matt

    #12 Posted: 5/5/2008 - 14:41

  • LancasterLad

    Joined Travelfish
    13th September, 2006
    Posts: 62

    Hoy Rufus, each to their own mate.
    Like Exacto states, the overnight train is only using up time that you would be asleep, ie the time ain't wasted at all.
    The train trip to Nong Khai is all part of the SE Asia experience, as is the 20Km tuk-tuk ride into Vientiene from the border.
    When we did the overnight train ride we met up with several similar minded bods, who we kept bumping into on every stop on our way to LP.
    And as for your comment about wasting time at The Friendship Bridge, well how many wasted hours have we all spent in Airport lounges on our travels?

    #13 Posted: 6/5/2008 - 12:53

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
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    I've always thought that getting there was half the fun, and that an overnight sleeper-train adventure was significantly more romantic than just another airplane ride.

    I've also never thought that a trip across the Friendship bridge was a waste of time. For those of us who remember watching with excitement as the bridge was being constructed, it is still a thrill to cross the bridge over the Mekong into Laos. Plus, I've never spent any more time clearing customs and immigration at the bridge than I have flying to/from airports in Laos. Either way, that time is a fixed part of crossing any border.

    My issue wasn't with the advice Rufus gave, since given mattza's time restraints and other needs I too thought that flying directly to LP was his best option. But I still liked it how LancasterLad chimed in with an alternative suggestion, and take exception to Rufus calling this a "very foolish" idea. It's not. The train is a great option, and I appreciate that Lad took the time to offer the possibility for mattza to consider.

    It is clear that Rufus is very excited about living in Laos. That's great too. But my problem is that Rufus seems to think his opinions are the only valid ones, and tends to use aggressive language to oppose any suggestion that differs from his own. That's how bullys behave, and it is out of place here on Travelfish. I didn't appreciate Rufus' aggressive comments, and obviously Lad didn't either.

    Rather than calling Lad's idea foolish, Rufus could have acknowledged the idea, but suggested that given the time constraints, mattza might be better off flying directly into Luang Prabang instead. That would actually add to the credibility of those comments, rather than undermine them, which is absolutely the case now. Regards.

    #14 Posted: 6/5/2008 - 21:30

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 953

    Instead of attempting to act as an arbiter of good posting etiquette, perhaps Exacto should look at the value of the advice that he offers.

    The guy has one week. Why spend a sleepless night on a sleeper train, (Can you sleep on the train? I have tried this trip and I can't), and then take a valuable day to recover it is certainly more sensible to maximise one's time.

    Secondly, it is quicker to get a visa at Wattay; much quicker if one has had the foresight to get a visa by sending ones passport to a Laos Embassy in an ASEAN country beforehand.

    Thirdly, the guy is travelling in July, during the wet season. Taking a tuk tuk from the station to the F. Bridge is not pleasant in the rain. Nor is standing in a largely unsheltered are getting your visa. Nor is spending quite a lot to take a taxi from the F. Bridge to Vte.

    One last point. Did anyone read in the Bkk Times 2 weeks ago that some of the carraiges on this line had to be withdrawn and refurbished diue to bug infestation?

    It seems some posters are more concerned with adding two cents of advice, whether it is useful or not so useful.

    #15 Posted: 7/5/2008 - 09:02

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
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    And some posters are so concerned about having the last word that they resort to abusive tactics. The good manors I suggest aren't incidental. They've been central to this forum since its inception, and are a large part of why this website shines above many others. It is a community here, and we have always managed to treat each other as neighbors.

    Rufus makes several excellent points, but there are other valid opinions as well. It is a shame that in his initial posting in this thread, he didn't choose to include this detail as clarification. But even then, there is no excuse for using language like "very foolish".

    Rufus, your information and your opinions are good. But there is still room for other views as well. Plus, the loudmouth at the end of the bar doesn't get taken seriously, no matter how loudly he shouts. It doesn't cost anything extra to be polite to other posters. Are you really saying that you are unable or unwilling to be nice?

    #16 Posted: 7/5/2008 - 12:41

  • somtam2000

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    Ok, so just to wrap this one up (I'd hand you each a glass of iced tea -- or a BeerLao if you were within reach)...

    Matt, glad to hear you got it sorted out, and just for future queries...

    Here's an explanation of how Thailand's train system works,

    and here's a newly minted piece on the Discovery Airpass and how that works.

    #17 Posted: 7/5/2008 - 19:05

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