October 12 BKK – Vientiane
Oct 13 Vientiane
Oct 14 leave for Luang Namtha 14.30
Oct 15 Luang Namtha
Oct 16 Luang Namtha
Oct 17 Luang Namtha
Oct 18 Luang Namtha
Oct 19 fly to Vientiane
Oct 20 Vientiane to Van Vieng
Oct 21 Van Vieng
Oct 22 Bus to Luang Prabang
Oct 23-27 Luang Prabang
Fly back to Bangkok
Now I am stuck. If I want to do Plain of Jars I will have almost no time I Luang Prabang. My thoughts are to skip Plain of Jars and work my way up to Luang Prabang by bus.
How does this new itinerary sound.
The problem is really that the flights are only so often, it also seems to me that I rather stay an extra day than sit on bumpy buses.
Thanks again for all your really helpful advice.
#1 Nywoman has been a member since 28/7/2008. Posts: 39
Regarding the bus travel, I agree with you to a point. In SE Asia, long bus trips are tedious. And, this is more the case in Laos than (say) Thailand.
However, I am quite ready to do bus trips when the advantages of same outweigh the other options.
Given this, I would suggest a slight alteration of your journey, and replacing the Luang Nam Tha - Vientiane flight with a bus trip.
Yes, the bus trip is long. But, it will be very unlikely you don't find this bus trip enjoyable. the scenery is really great. The bus goes relatively slowly, so you actually get a feel that you are witnessing life vignettes along the way. And, this is one journey where you WILL be interacting with others on the bus: if not other westerners, then locals.
So, I'd go:
Oct 19 Bus to Luang Prabang
Oct 20-4 Luang Prabang
Oct 25 bus to Vang Vieng
Oct 26 Vang Vieng
Oct 27 bus to Vientiane
Fly back to Bangkok
By the way, Vang Vieng is party animal town. Maybe you might go look at:
especially at the little vid by basho.
If Vang Vieng turns out not to be your style, then there are other (aesthetically pleasing) options in the locality that would probably appeal.
There are other variations you could do.
This sounds really good. The appeal of Van Vieng is more for the outside excursions and the Karsts.
I have to be in Bangkok on the 27th, big cocktail party and dinner. That's why I thought the bus from Vientiane to Luang Prabang was a good compromise. How long is the bus trip from Luang Nam Tha to Luang Probang?
#3 Nywoman has been a member since 28/7/2008. Posts: 39
LNM > LP, leaves about 9:30am and arrives about 4:30pm: on a good day.
As for your observation, may I suggest you entertain dropping the bus from LP > Vientiane (2 day bus ride), and take a boat ride up the Mekong to the Nam Ou to Nong Khiaw. It's a 7 hour boat ride, and really enjoyable scenery. You can also take another boat for about an hour to Muang Ngoi (a destination in its own right).
You'll see good scenery and Muang Ngoi is interesting. You can take the bus back to LP via OudomXay.
Ideally, the best route would be when on the trip from Luang Nam Tha, take the bus to OudomXay, change to a bus to Nong Khiaw, get the boat to Muang Ngoi, stay a day, then take the boat down to Luang Prabang.
This way, your journey would be broken up into interesting parts, the adventure enjoyable, and the memories, wel...:)
I haven't travelled very extensively in Laos (yet) so will investigate this route you suggest Bruce!
However the road between LP and VV must be one of the most scenic bus rides in SE Asia... it was one of the highlights of my short visit to Laos. After VV I took a canoe rather than the bus to get back to Vte. The canoe bit was easy and fun and the scenery was nice but we spent a LOT of time bumping about on off road tracks in the back of a pick up as well.
Still it's another option if you want to get from A to B and feel like you're on vacation too.
have travelled LNT-Oudomxay & LPB-VV-VTE by bus. IMHO the LPB-VV section wins hands down (on a day with clear skies). inspired by this (http://www.iantaylor.org/laos2006_vvvt.html - first few photos) & this (http://www.farandawaycycling.com/newsletter/Laos_Kasi_small.jpg) i overnighted in Phou Khoun (halfway between LPB & VV) just so that i could walk around Phou Khoun to enjoy the scenery. there's supposed to be a beautiful stretch between Phou Khoun & Phonsavanh too.
I think that Bruce's suggestion is excellent. From Luang Nam Tha, take the bus to OudomXay, change to a bus to Nong Khiaw, get the boat to Muang Ngoi, stay a day, then take the boat down to Luang Prabang.
This way I get the bus experience, the boat trip and everyone wins.
#8 Nywoman has been a member since 28/7/2008. Posts: 39
What kind of a time frame are we talking about. It seems that I will need to spend the night in Oudom Xay before proceeding or can it all be done in one long day?
#10 Nywoman has been a member since 28/7/2008. Posts: 39
The Luang Nam Tha bus gets into OudomXai about lunchtime (12:30ish). I don't know what time the buses for Nong Khiaw leave, but I understand there is an afternoon bus.
Lonely Planet writes that from Oudomxai (they write Udomxai) "buses head to... Nong Khiaw (US$3.10, three to four hours, four daily)
I read this but it's a bit old. Nevertheless, if you have to take a sawngtheaw, sobeit.
Also, there's a few piccies of Nong Khiaw at this site.
AFAIK only one 9AM bus from ODX that goes all the way to Nong Khiaw.
You could try for the 2PM ODX-Pak Mong songthaew, & at Pak Mong, try to get a shared songthaew or charter one to Nong Khiaw. Or even hop on the Sam Neua-bound bus when it passes through Pak Mong at ~8+++PM, though you'll be dropped off at Nong Khiaw at ~10+++PM (be prepared with a torch to hunt for your GH in case you encounter a province-wide power failure there as i did).
ODX has far better accomm than Pak Mong. Perhaps you could suss out (at both LNT & ODX bus stations) whether there are fellow tourists heading to Nong Khiaw too. If you're lucky, then you can travel together & share the cost of chartering the Pak Mong-Nong Khiaw songthaew. If not, & you don't wish to risk it, then you can overnight in ODX.
About Pak Mong: http://laomeow.blogspot.com/search/label/pak%20mong
ODX bus timetable: http://laomeow.blogspot.com/2008/07/bussongthaew-schedulesdetails.html (& if you have time when you pass through there, i don't mind a photo of the latest bus timetable so that i can update the site :P)
Driving myself and evryone a little batty. However I think my final itinerary is flying into L.P.staying 4 days then taking the boat up to Hat Sa. Staying a few days in Phongsali which gets me to 10/21.
Take the bus to Luang Namtha, do a side trip to Muang Sing, fly to Vientiane on the 26th and leave for Bangkok on the 27th.
I am not a trekker, my main interests are people, food and beautiful landscapes. Those of you who know the areas, do you think my desire to there is unrealistic.
#13 Nywoman has been a member since 28/7/2008. Posts: 39
Phongsali -ODX bus...depends on how this rainy season will turn out. parts of the Phongsali-Pak Nam Noi section still unpaved. last rainy season was really bad, the nice paved Pak Nam Noi-ODX section was damaged by record flooding in La district. so be prepared for delays, have more food & water with you for that bus ride :)
IMHO Phongsali isn't really a place for food...maybe cos most locals in that province are just trying to get enough food for themselves & don't have cash to spare...in Phongsali town Chinese menus dominate the very few restaurants to be found there cos they are the people with $$$ & own many of the businesses there. also, far fewer NGO expats willing to live in that province (contrast with the bigger expat population & better food scene in Vientiane & LPB). still, tasted one of the nicest foe broth in Phongsali town, but while floating in foe heaven i forgot to record down the exact location (it was literally someone's living room).
scenery wise, travelling the Nam Ou will be rewarding. not sure if you can see the 'sunrise over a sea of clouds' effect in Phongsali town in Oct...i was there in Dec - cold season.
are your flights already booked? cos i think 2nd Nov would be THE time to be in Muang Sing for the That Xieng Tung(sp?) festival, or VTE for Boun That Luang. though in the fortnight leading up to that date there will be festivities in VTE.
Thank you for your replies.
It just occurred to me that the rainy season is possible still going on Oct 16. The boat ride won't be very pleasant then I should imagine?
May be I will just have to wing it once I get to Laos.
Unfortunately October 28 - Nov 3rd are fixed dates I have to be in BKK
10/28-10/30 and then Chiang Mai 10/31-11/3. However it seems that there is a festival in CM 10/31.
#15 Nywoman has been a member since 28/7/2008. Posts: 39
I don't know how you arrive at the conclusion "The boat ride won't be very pleasant then I should imagine?.
Unless the river is in flood, it'll be Ok. And, flood season is around Agust (and into Sept) AFAI.
"my main interests are people, food and beautiful landscapes"...
So are mine. But, then again, it does depend on the values that drive.
People... I love to engage in conversation with people, and in the less urban areas of Laos have never had a problem (and I can't speak Lao).
Food... The 'restaurants' in smaller places are dominated by Chinese cooking (often from frozen food - that's just so pov Chinese, but...) and so sometimes it's hard to find lao food for sale (the lao aren't into restaurants). But, generally, there'll be middle of the day food in markets (if few western tourists) and sometimes evening meals as well. That's life, but...
Landscapes...I referred to the scenery around Nong Khiaw (above), that's the sort that impresses me, the 'rustic' flavour is part and parcel. To me, the ride from LNM to Muang Sing was awesome scenery.
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Thanks 'cat for the bus info.
Sorry Nywoman that I didn't know straight off.
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My concern was going upriver in a monsoon, since I read that the rainy season lasts until November. However have now checked the past weather statistics and there has been no precipitation during those dates.
Though food is important I am not obsessive, frozen fishballs or whatever can absolutely suffice. For me it is more about a total experience.
Last year I traveled through China, Vietnam and Cambodia by myself and had a wonderful time without knowing any of the languages. The best guide I met was a non-English speaking young girl from Basha, we had a great day together, despite our lack of common language.
Now it is time to plan for Myanmar
#17 Nywoman has been a member since 28/7/2008. Posts: 39