Flag of Laos

Laos forum

itinerary check

  • tazgirl

    Joined Travelfish
    30th April, 2009
    Posts: 6

    First up, this site has been so helpful, I've even gotten my travel agent addicted to checking it out!
    I'm planning on travelling around Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia for 2 months in June/July 09. So far my rough itinerary is:
    Fly into Hanoi - spend about a week here, Halong Bay trip, cooking classes etc.
    Fly Hanoi to Luang Prabang
    next day or same day - board boat to travel upriver to Luang Nam Tha
    Spend a few days in LNT, then slowly back to LP and further south, taking about 10 days.
    Overland crossing into Cambodia.
    ~2 weeks in Cambodia
    Got to meet someone in Ho Chi Minh City on 19 July, and then planning to wander around southern Vietnam for ~2 weeks.

    And that's as far as my itinerary has gotten. Is this a ridiculously vague plan?

    #1 Posted: 5/5/2009 - 17:25

  • Advertisement

  • brucemoon

    Click here to learn more about brucemoon
    Joined Travelfish
    27th December, 2008
    Location Australia
    Posts: 1941
    Total reviews: 6

    tazgirl

    NO, hell NO! Having an open plan is great.

    There are a couple of questions I have that if you can answer, may serve to help you.

    But, trying to see too much, defining a detailed itinerary BEFORE you depart is (IMHO) silly.

    - - - -

    The HaNoi bit...

    If you spend a week there, can you describe the travelling things that may interest you?

    For example, try this...

    day 1
    Fly in, check into accommodation, wander around and get oriented...

    day 2
    Sightsee, maybe check out Halong Bay options with travel agents (hopefully book something today, if not, tomorrow).

    day 3
    Sightsee / cooking class, confirm halong trip

    day 4
    to Halong (ON Halong)

    day 5
    ON Halong

    day 6
    Return HaNoi

    then????

    I DO NOT want to suggest you do this, but it's an idea that sort of fashions how you might spend your time, and how much time you'd like to allocate.

    - - - - -

    As for Luang Prabang , it WILL be a major contrast to HaNoi. Nearly everything that HaNoi is, LP is the opposite. It's a lovely city - but its just that, a city.

    You say you want to go to Luang Nam Tha by boat. Sorry, not possible. You can go to Huay Xai by boat (2 days), then by bus to Nam Tha (5 hours). Or you can go by bus from LP to Nam Tha (9 hours).

    An alternative is to go to Nam Tha by bus (9 hours) do your thing in Nam Tha, and return to LP from Nam Tha by going by bus Nam Tha - Oudom Xay, change to Oudom Xay - Nong Khiaw. Staying overnight at Nong Khiaw and taking the boat down the Nam Ou to Luang Prabang (pleasant trip, that).

    But, why do you want to go to Nam Tha?

    Answering that question may offer alternative ideas that make your journey equally as good, but with less time actually travelling (the bane of any good journey).

    - - - -

    Also, what is you'd like to do in Cambodia?

    - - - - - - - -

    So, from starting off saying "Hell, NO. Having an open plan is great", I'm now suggesting you try and describe what it is you want to see / do.

    The reason is that when you do start to assess the detail, you start to pick up on the hurdles you face, the issues you'll have to address, and that will help you narrow down (to some degree) the time you'll need at a minimum in each place.

    I suppose I've seen too many people just hang out in SE Asia and not really achieve what they wanted. And, in so doing, they finish up meeting and talking to fellow western travellers, going to western food places, partying, etc., and not actually experiencing all the attributes that make SE Asia such a great contrast to western ideas / lifestyles / bigotries / etc.

    - - - -

    Hope the planning can get you to really have an open plan. Only with an open plan - that follows the planning in detail - are you really in a position to make good (or at least better) choices.

    Cheers

    #2 Posted: 6/5/2009 - 07:17

  • tazgirl

    Joined Travelfish
    30th April, 2009
    Posts: 6

    Thanks for the tips brucemoon, especially for the bus/boat trip LNT-LP. I should specify that my time in Hanoi is taken care of - spending time with family.
    My reason for going to Luang Nam Tha is to check out the Protected Area (I'm an ecologist) and because it seems wonderfully out of the way. The website for the Boat Landing Guesthouse in LNT talks about how you can get on a boat from Luang Prabang to Pak Tha, and then get another boat to take you up the NamTha River to Luang Nam Tha. Is this true?

    Onto Cambodia - I've heard of a temple complex outside of Angkor Wat that pre-dates AW and is much less visited. Can you give any tips on that?

    I'm looking into volunteer programs in both Laos and Cambodia and also thinking of going the homestay options. I'm very much into wandering around villages and checking out small temples and finding the restaurant where there seems to be lots of locals eating, doing the occasional tour with a local guide, avoiding backpacker hostels and western-style eateries.

    Southern Vietnam - I want to check out the Mekong Delta area, and apparently we have to spend some time in Mui Ne to go kiteboarding.

    So I guess my plan isn't totally open, but you have gotten me onto putting a bit more effort into sorting out the specific sites/sights I may want to check out. Thank you again.

    Cheerio

    #3 Posted: 6/5/2009 - 09:33

  • brucemoon

    Click here to learn more about brucemoon
    Joined Travelfish
    27th December, 2008
    Location Australia
    Posts: 1941
    Total reviews: 6

    Tazgirl

    It was because of my Environmental Science background that took me to Nam Tha.

    There's so much feedback I'd love to give you to help you 'do your thing'. But, as we could ramble on here forever, and the conversation may not assist others.

    Perhaps better if you emailed me direct. In the first instance, try:

    bfm@australia.edu

    Cheers

    #4 Posted: 6/5/2009 - 09:46

  • wanderingcat

    Joined Travelfish
    21st October, 2006
    Posts: 730
    Total reviews: 4
    Places visited:
    At least 67

    The website for the Boat Landing Guesthouse in LNT talks about how you can get on a boat from Luang Prabang to Pak Tha , and then get another boat to take you up the NamTha River to Luang Nam Tha. Is this true?
    _____________________________________________

    Luang Prabang - Pak Beng (1 day, daily slowboat, 110,000kip)
    Pak Beng - Pak Tha (more than half a day, daily slowboat,

    #5 Posted: 6/5/2009 - 11:25

  • wanderingcat

    Joined Travelfish
    21st October, 2006
    Posts: 730
    Total reviews: 4
    Places visited:
    At least 67

    hmm...most of my post went missing...

    ____________________________________________

    The website for the Boat Landing Guesthouse in LNT talks about how you can get on a boat from Luang Prabang to Pak Tha , and then get another boat to take you up the NamTha River to Luang Nam Tha. Is this true?
    _____________________________________________

    Luang Prabang - Pak Beng (1 day, daily slowboat, 110,000kip)
    Pak Beng - Pak Tha (more than half a day, daily slowboat,

    #6 Posted: 6/5/2009 - 11:26

  • wanderingcat

    Joined Travelfish
    21st October, 2006
    Posts: 730
    Total reviews: 4
    Places visited:
    At least 67

    hmm...most of my post went missing...again *GRRRRR*

    ____________________________________________

    The website for the Boat Landing Guesthouse in LNT talks about how you can get on a boat from Luang Prabang to Pak Tha , and then get another boat to take you up the NamTha River to Luang Nam Tha. Is this true?
    _____________________________________________

    Luang Prabang - Pak Beng (1 day, daily slowboat, 110,000kip)
    Pak Beng - Pak Tha (more than half a day, daily slowboat, less than 110,000kip)
    Pak Tha - Nalae (more than 1 day?, chartered boat)
    Nalae - Luang Namtha (songthaew)
    (may be possible to charter boats all the way up from Pak Tha to Luang Namtha)

    In theory, it's possible, if you have enough time + a lot of $$$ + Nam Tha river levels are high enough. Have you seen the 2007 estimated costs for doing Pak Tha-Nalae/Luang Namtha by boat on the Boat Landing GH's website? Once at Pak Tha, you're pretty much on your own when it comes to negotiating to charter boats upriver, & won't be easy to find anyone else to share & split costs.

    Best to contact Boat Landing GH & check with them on latest info & conditions. China has been up to some dam building work in the area - don't know the effects on river levels, river transport, & if certain villages along that river have been relocated as planned. The Chinese & Lao have also been cutting a new road (think it's linking Pak Beng-Pha Oudom-Pak Tha) & improving road links around Pha Oudom & Nalae . Changes like these can decrease demand & availability of river travel options.

    - fellow biologist :)

    #7 Posted: 6/5/2009 - 11:27

  • brucemoon

    Click here to learn more about brucemoon
    Joined Travelfish
    27th December, 2008
    Location Australia
    Posts: 1941
    Total reviews: 6

    Hay 'cat

    I know how it feels to see the 'work' go...

    I very much doubt Nam Tha would be navigable in late June. While the heavens may have opened, the garbage coming down would make for a suss up-river journey (unless in a hovercraft).

    I was not overly impressed with the (lack of relevant information from the) Boat Landing GH. I got the feeling that they started off with the greatest intentions, and tried to assist the mid$$$ to high$$$ traveller, but haven't really succeeded in making the profit they'd hoped for. As a consequence, the people they appear to need to 'update/upgrade' their information either haven't been employed (to so do) or haven't been around.

    But, that said, it's so laid back in Nam Tha that even with the best of data, it'd still take time to get the facts out.

    ps. Tazgirl, if you don't want to contqact, that's OK, I just wanted to save miles of conversation, etc. blocking up ideas on Travelfish.

    cheers

    #8 Posted: 6/5/2009 - 11:42

  • wanderingcat

    Joined Travelfish
    21st October, 2006
    Posts: 730
    Total reviews: 4
    Places visited:
    At least 67

    I was not overly impressed with the (lack of relevant information from the) Boat Landing GH. I got the feeling that they started off with the greatest intentions, and tried to assist the mid$$$ to high$$$ traveller, but haven't really succeeded in making the profit they'd hoped for. As a consequence, the people they appear to need to 'update/upgrade' their information either haven't been employed (to so do) or haven't been around.
    _______________________________________________

    I believe it might have something to do with what happened to their owner...

    http://laobumpkin.blogspot.com/2008/02/missing-in-laos-pawn-still-gone.html
    http://www.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=6938
    http://www.wausaudailyherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/99999999/WDH0101/80226065/0/theme

    Not long after that, I noticed a change to their website - the removal of an article detailing the massive flooding (worst since 1964) that inundated LNT & their GH, & what the author felt were the causes of such flooding...Making such info public doesn't go down well with those in power...Anyway I think that's why most of their website content appears to be 'frozen' in 2007. The owner's wife & staff are probably trying their best to hold everything together - family, GH business - while hoping against hope that they will see him again. The 'incriminating' article's still available here:
    http://rspas.anu.edu.au/rmap/newmandala/?attachment_id=223

    Proposed Nam Tha 1 hydropower project in Nalae district:
    http://rspas.anu.edu.au/rmap/newmandala/2007/09/30/the-nam-tha-dam/

    #9 Posted: 6/5/2009 - 13:20

  • brucemoon

    Click here to learn more about brucemoon
    Joined Travelfish
    27th December, 2008
    Location Australia
    Posts: 1941
    Total reviews: 6

    'cat

    Thanks very much for the 'posts'.

    When raeding these informative articles, they, like many I spoke to, kept on saying the trees being planted are rubber trees.

    I saw some rubber tree plantations - some more than 20 years old. I also saw some rubber plantations being removed. I also noticed that the (ex) rubber processing operations on Hwy 3 (east of old Nam Tha) were in a state of ruin. I got the feeling that it hadn't been used for several decades.

    My observation of the trees being planted is that they are softwood and being planted for one of two purposes...

    1/.

    for locals to use as wood-fire feedstock (at least the smaller branches as a management outcome to 'enhance' trunk growth), and if large enough, as construction material for roof beams, etc (maybe the ones I saw were of unknown origin [ie 'theft'!]).

    2/.

    as feedstock for Chinese paper making. On this I have no evidence. I'm just making a huge logical leap by asking "who would have the money to fund villagers to plant, and then reap a return some one or two decades later (certainly not the Lao).

    I'm more inclined with 2 than 1.

    - - - -

    Some of the stats used in the Nam Tha dam article are 'interesting'. For example, it was asserted that the tail of the dam will be some 110km.

    The distance between Nalae to L. Nam Tha is approximately 60 kilometres (on a twisty road - so probably only 50 k). The proposed 110km ‘flood’ tail would thus appear to reach beyond Nam Tha (on a straight line basis). But, as the topography upstream of Nam Tha rises quickly and significantly, if 110km WAS to be the distance, it’d be a MASSIVE dam.


    Claimed also was that the Chinese know how to deal with turbidity (an indicator of siltation).

    I’m not sure the Chinese know how to deal with siltation (the cause of turbidity). The ‘mighty’ 3 Gorges dam will have a life of only 50 years precisely because the Chinese don’t know how to address the impact of siltation on the dam floor.

    - - - -

    The articles really do show that any 'naturalness' in the Nam Tha region won't be around for much longer.

    - - - -

    There is also another 'side' issue to this, and that is the potential outcome for Jacques and his Gibbon Experience now that the Bokeo provincial chief wants to log his concession area.

    He's in the courts, but I suspect that even if he wins, he may suffer the same indignity others have suffered when they stand in the way of 'progress'.

    Cheers

    #10 Posted: 6/5/2009 - 14:08

  • Advertisement

  • tazgirl

    Joined Travelfish
    30th April, 2009
    Posts: 6

    Thank you very much for the background info. So is the Boat Landing GH still operating?

    This sort of information makes me want to get up into that area even more now, see it before it disappears.

    #11 Posted: 7/5/2009 - 10:21

  • brucemoon

    Click here to learn more about brucemoon
    Joined Travelfish
    27th December, 2008
    Location Australia
    Posts: 1941
    Total reviews: 6

    tazgirl

    Yes, the Boat Landing GH is still operating, but it is pale shell of what it used to be. Also, it's a long way from town - where there are options that are just as good.

    How long are you planning to be there for, and (given the earlier comments) how are you thinking of getting there, and what appears to be the primary interest. Maybe go check my blog for my comments on my experiences in that area...

    www.travelblog/Bloggers/brucemoon/

    Cheers

    #12 Posted: 7/5/2009 - 10:43

Have questions? Jump to our menu of forum quicklinks

Add your reply

Your reply

Check this box if you want to be notified of replies.

Please be familiar with our user guidelines before you post. Thanks!

Businesses planning on plugging their guesthouse / hotel / karaoke bar should read our "Addition guidelines" very carefully.

You need to be logged in to answer an existing post on the Travelfish forums. Please login via the prompts just above and refresh this screen -- before writing your post -- and you'll be in business.