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luang prabang questions - bike, kayak, etc.

  • cjigga

    Joined Travelfish
    8th December, 2009
    Posts: 2

    Aloha - I am making my first trip to SE Asia shortly, including a couple of days in L.P. at the end of December. I have a couple of questions and am hoping you'll chime in with your area expertise! For context, I am early 30s, from NYC, travelling solo. I like to pack as much as possible into my travels (understood the vibe out there is slow) and am on a budget trip. I also prefer physical activity over viewing activity and am interested in really great/local/authentic eats.

    - I know it's peak season, but I'm arriving w/o guesthouse reservations. If you have any tips for a "block" or two w/ a high concentration of clean, reputable guesthouses, please give a shout. I hope not to spend too much time marching around for accomodation.

    - I've read one can bike to the Kuang Si waterfalls. Once there - or anywhere, really - can one just leave the bicycle unattended while exploring?!? Bike theft is a huge problem where I live ;)

    - I'd also like to kayak. But the photos/descriptions of kayaking out of L.P. do not sound so...adventurous. Is the kayaking nearby worth it? Meaning, is it just a float or will I get a little bit of a workout?

    - White Elephant, Green Discovery and Tiger Trail are a couple of trek companies I've found online. Does anyone have comments on these? Recommendations, warning, etc?

    - Very much welcome any food, gh, or any other recommendations and comments!

    Thank you in advance!!!

    #1 Posted: 8/12/2009 - 05:31

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  • somsai

    Joined Travelfish
    1st March, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 563

    The "travelers" section of Luang Prabang is jam packed with guest houses, one would have trouble finding one that isn't next door to another. Be aware you are going there at the busy season.

    I wouldn't leave my bike unlocked, there are certainly thieves around. At night people park motorcycles inside thier houses, like in the kitchen of living room, just to give you an idea of what it's like. Usually at places with many people there are designated pay to park areas that are very safe.

    I try to say only good things about people and companies and rather than bad mouth someone I just say nothing at all. I'd go with Green Discovery or Tiger Trails.

    #2 Posted: 8/12/2009 - 18:41

  • Seba

    Joined Travelfish
    28th April, 2009
    Posts: 54

    NEVER leave your bike unattended in Luang Prabang... you will scammed the same way me and my gf got scammed a month ago: you'll end up having to pay ransom two the "safekeepers" of your bike and the "tourist police"... seriously, we have been travelling for 2 months through SE-Asia now and it was definitely the worst thing we experienced...

    #3 Posted: 8/12/2009 - 20:46

  • cjigga

    Joined Travelfish
    8th December, 2009
    Posts: 2

    thanks. i know it's peak season and i'd prefer to have something booked in advance, but it seems many g.h. don't allow for internet reservation...

    re: bike, i actually feel better that i'm not paranoid for having asked about bike theft! i just found it very curious that among the many different pieces i've read about renting bikes, not one mentioned locks or security. does a lock usually come with rental? suppose i'll find out...

    somsai, fwiw, i did a search on the forum for a trek co. or two and found a thread about some bad experiences about one in particular...but it was quite dated and i've had very good email interaction thus far. thanks for your comments though.

    welcome any others!

    #4 Posted: 10/12/2009 - 04:13

  • christay2009

    Joined Travelfish
    8th February, 2009
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 414
    Total reviews: 4

    there is a road just behind the night market that is just accomodation, i am unsure of the road name or the name of the night street market so i guess i'm not much help.

    Then again, the street is right off 'JoMa Bakery' which should be easy to find [i reckon it will be on travelfish].

    The guesthouses along there are all pretty samey from the outside and i saw lots of people just walk down the road asking for a price in each then returning to the one they liked. This might not be a good idea if you are there in busy season.

    From there you have quite good access to everything and you are about a minutes walk away from the river

    #5 Posted: 10/12/2009 - 19:46

  • Seba

    Joined Travelfish
    28th April, 2009
    Posts: 54

    cjigga,

    yes they come with a small padlock, but that doesn't matter at all...the scam consists of "honnest" Lao people who "safekeep" your bike if you leave it unattended as soon as dark sets in (because according to them, your bike is bound to be stolen, which is obviously complete bullocks in a country like Laos where social control is huge)...so they just take your bike (with or without padlock) and put it in their homes... you as unknowing tourist then go to the tourist police thinking your bike is stolen, and then these guys miracously show up... instead of just returning yourt bike then, the actual misery then begins... they starts asking money, heavily supported by the tourist police who cannot emphasize enough how happy you should be that they found your bike... first they told us that we could give us much as we wanted, pretending it was a gift to them, but in the end they started negotiating about a fixed price, otherwise we couldnt get the bikes back...after having dealt with these guys, the tourist police then did exactly the same: asking money for their "services and help", even though they obviously knew the guys...again you end up having to negotiate with them to get the bikes, even though they first set you can give as much as you want... I can tell you: it was very scary to be alone in a dark police office with 10 corrupt Lao policemen dying to get some ;oney out of you whatever it takes...be warned

    #6 Posted: 11/12/2009 - 21:08

  • Jennifer_La-
    os

    Joined Travelfish
    11th December, 2009
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 2

    I used Green Discovery a couple of times in Laos and was impressed everytime. I think they can do a short Kayaking trip from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng which finishes in Vientiane.

    When I was there a did a day trip in Vang Vieng which included visits to some brilliantly fun caves - stumbling around in the dark with nothing but a candle to light my way! The kayaking itself was wonderfully energetic for me, but Green Discovery also do other, longer, more strenuous kayaking options. I would recommend giving them a visit when you get there!

    #7 Posted: 12/12/2009 - 00:00

  • grasshopper-
    322

    Joined Travelfish
    30th September, 2009
    Posts: 25

    We wented bikes in Luang Prabang had no problem whatsoever - came with locks - we never felt worried, nothing happened. We stayed at th Khonsavath Guesthouse, right on the Mekong - morning Monks are on the street right behind it - great location. Enjoy

    #8 Posted: 6/1/2010 - 01:54

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