I will be travelling to SEA from mid-July to mid September (just under 2 1/2 months). I have posted on Lonely Planet forums, but this site appears to be the best of the best when it comes to SEA, so I thought I would try and get some opinions on here as well.
Since this is the Laos destination part, I thought I would stick to that, and post my itinerary up for the other countries in the relevant sections. I have a very general itinerary, since my time is limited here, but the idea is as follows:
Vientiane - 3 days
Vang Vieng - 2 days (mainly a stop over on the way, as Ive been told this is ridiculously touristy)
Luang Prabang - 6/7 days (For trekking, and going further north for a couple of days).
What do people think of this? Anything I should add, change etc? I realise I am not seeing the south, but with my time frame I thought it would be better just to concentrate on the North, and do the South on another trip.
Also, rough budget for this time if I try to live cheap?
Thanks people. I have posted up other itineraries for Vietnam (24 days), Cambodia (12 days), Thailand (20 days). Any advice appreciated.
Thanks for the advice!
#1 CJHorn85 has been a member since 9/5/2008. Posts: 8
We are a group of 4 Belgians that are travelling to south east asia from July 15 to August 6. We are thinking of doing the following trip, including some off-the-beaten track parts in Laos and Vietnam.
15 brussels – Bangkok
16 bangkok (arrival noon + night train to Vientiane)
17 Vientiane (arrival + visit city)
18 Vientiane (trekking)
19 Vientiane (trekking)
20 Vientiane (trekking)
21 Vientiane – Luang Prabang (10h bus)
22 Luang Prabang (visit city)
23 Luang Prabang – Nong Khiaw – Viang Khuam – Viang Thong (boat + bus)
24 Viang Thong (dag in reserve + day hike hot springs)
25 Viang Thong – Nam Neum - Sam Neua
26 Sam Neua (visit cave city)
27 Sam Neua – border Na Meo – Moc Chau - Mai Chau
28 Mai Chau (trekking or cycling)
29 Mai Chau (trekking or cycling)
30 Mai Chau - Hanoi
31 Ha long (boat cruise)
1 Ha long – Hanoi – Siem Reap (flight at 15h10 in Hanoi)
2 Siem Reap (visit Angkor Wat)
3 Siem Reap (visit Tonle Sap or other temples)
4 Siem Reap – Bangkok (overland)
5 Bangkok (visit city)
6 Bangkok - Dusseldorf (fly home)
If you are looking for adventure, maybe parts of this itenerary are worth considering for you too, especially because you are also doing Vietnam. I have never been in SEA before, but I would recommend to skip Vang Vieng since it is too touristic. There are plenty of places with the same scenary. For example, in the Rough Guide Vieng Xai is decribed as "Vang Vieng like it was 30 years ago".
I dont know yet which place is the best place for trekking. Like it is scheduled now, we plan to do a short jungle trekking around Vientiane and a short mountain trekking in Vietnam with home stays in minority villages.
I look forward to hear your opinion!
#2 wwaegemn has been a member since 7/5/2008. Posts: 7
Willem, looks to me like you are a tourist too! What's with the too touristic? Also, you will miss one of the world's great cities unless you take a bit more time in BKK.
#3 mkelly139 has been a member since 15/11/2006. Posts: 4
Sure, I am a tourist too but one that prefers to avoid the crowds. However, the most interesting places are of course the most touristic ones. We are already doing Bangkok, Luang Prabang, Ha Long Bay and Angkor Wat, so that is more than enough "touristic" places in a three-week trip for me.
After Vietnam, we fly on Siem Reap and return from there to Bangkok, so are not going to miss it.
#4 wwaegemn has been a member since 7/5/2008. Posts: 7
You can get decent cheap food at Huampalong train station, and there is a safe Left Luggage place there if you fancy a wander down to the river. Don't buy food on the train as it's yuk.
The overnight sleeper terminates at Nong Khai. It's well worth a couple of days stay before crossing The Friendship Bridge. Stay at the Mutmee G/H on the banks of the Mekong, though you might like it enough not to want to leave!
Doing VTe to LP by road in one day is too ambitious. Break your journey for a couple of days in Vang Vieng and chop a couple of days off elsewhere. VV is nowhere near as bad as some people make out. The scenery is beautiful and there's plenty to do, and it is possible to eat out or drink without suffering wall-to-wall Friends.
#5 LancasterLad has been a member since 13/9/2006. Posts: 62
wwaegemn, I totally agree with skipping Vang Vieng. The landscape is lovely, but even the Laos don't like the place anymore as it attracts an undesirable brand of tourist. In general the food is poor as well compared with other places in Laos. Have you considered a visit to Xieng Khouan to see the Plain of Jars? Now that is not touristy at all and is most interesting.
I must admit though that you really should try to spend a couple of days in Bangkok. It is an experience and it is one of the world's great cities.
I know there are many different opinions about the place, and even our host Somtam is not a fan, but my wife and I had a great time when we visited Vang Vieng. The landscape in itself was worth the stop for us, and we had no issues encountering the problems so many people talk about in VV. It is easy enough to set up shop in one of the guest houses outside of the center of town and get away from it all. Plus, it was a nice place to take a rest after the long but incredibly scenic bus ride from Luang Prabang. That bus ride was a fun adventure and one of the highlights of our trip. Cheers.
Well I agree with rufus. Vang Vieng attracts a certain "type" of person and that is not my person. I was there earlier this year with a Lao friend and she was embarrassed by the behaviour of many people. Its hard to get away from it and like rufus says the Lao people really don't like it but tolerate it.
#8 Melbgal has been a member since 21/5/2008. Posts: 1
I am going to be travelling in Laos on my own. I'm keen to hook up with some like minded travellers. I was going to do a motor bike trekkig. Anyway, I don't know how to contact people on here, but if you do, email me. I will be in Luang Prabang as of saturday week.
#9 rapunzel has been a member since 24/6/2008. Posts: 4
I visited Laos in early September, and tbh Vang Viang was fairly lovely. There were alot of backpackers there, but everyone was pretty civilised, plus if you cross the river to the other side there are some really nice places to stay where you're actually bizarrely in the middle of a little laos village. Also, it might be touristy on the river, but when we were there it was pretty empty, we didn't see people for most of the way, there were only 5-10 people in any of the stops; and whether you want to admit it or not - swinging from a big rope swing is actually pretty fun. Then again, it wasn't peak season so i guess things could change - but don't let touristy put you off, Khoa San Road this is not.
#11 steffanmathias has been a member since 10/7/2008. Posts: 7