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Two weeks in Laos from North to South, advices?

  • bar002

    Joined Travelfish
    20th February, 2009
    Posts: 7

    Hi,I planned to travel in Laos next March. Fliying from Bangkok to Chiang Rai, then bus to Chiang Khong and cross the border to Laos.Probably I have to stay 1 night in Huay Xai and then take (a bus or a flight?) to LP where i would stay 4 days of which 3 for trekking/mountain bike and 2 days in PofJ or Vang Vieng? (I have some doubt). After that in Vientane for 2 days and 2 days middle of Laos (Champasak or Savannaket or?). I planned to go to Pakse and Si Phan Don 4 days. Then return to Pakse, cross the border and go by bus to Ubon Ratchatani and take the Air Asia flight to BKK. Any help or advice about travelling and accomodation from you travellers will be highly appreciated. :-)

    #1 Posted: 12/2/2010 - 22:21

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  • christay2009

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

    Phonsavan or Vang Vieng ...depends on what you're after

    If you like to cycle Vang Vieng has some pretty nice routes including caves and villages. You can also go tubing, chill out, have a couple of drinks, go rock climbing/kayaking. I stayed at 'The Otherside' which is across the river by Bamboo bridge. It was 30,000 kip a night for your own bamboo hut - shared facilities that were fairly terrible but the chill out area over the river made up for it. I'd say VV is one place in Laos where you're guaranteed to meet people/make friends. Theres a market outside of town that i liked to visit to buy fruit (didn't seem to be anywhere in town). It is near the bus station.

    I didn't really like Phonsavan that much at all. The PoJ were good but i would read up on them before you go or just pay for a tour with a guide so they can tell you some information. I can't recall where i stayed; some guy approached us as we stepped off the bus and offered us a ride for free if we agreed to look at his guesthouse - even if we didn't stay there. It turned out to be okay, very basic (or maybe just unfinished?) but with hot water shower for 40,000. It seemed the going rate for a standard room was 40,000kip from the people i spoke to. The market is quite good, it's under a roof and is where you can find most of the noodle ladies.

    You could always forget about VV and Phonsavan and go to NONG KIAOW. Huay Xai > LP > Nong Kiaow > LP > Vientiane ...etc but that would mean going back on yourself a little bit. Also, i'm not too sure if you'll need to stay a night in Huay Xai? but i've never been so i don't know if its worth a night there or not!

    When you get Vientiane i'd definately recommend Mixay Guesthouse. Travelfish review isn't too kind but i would give it 10/10 from my experience. A very clean dorm bed in Vientiane for 40,000 kip including breakfast (eggs,toast,coffee/tea,fruit and one day even a curry?!). Good, clean bathroom facilities for the dorms. You can also get double/twin rooms for a higher price. Great location too.

    There some bits and bobs of information anyway
    good luck

    #2 Posted: 12/2/2010 - 23:36

  • jasonkim8486

    Click here to learn more about jasonkim8486
    Joined Travelfish
    15th September, 2009
    Location United States
    Posts: 81

    well if your an outdoor adventurer, regarding southern laos, DEFINETLY visit si phan don. TONS of mountain biking and exploring. not to mention the scenary! don det island, which is catered more for backpackers has guest houses for as little as 2$ a night, but you get what you payed for. regarding northern laos, i found vientiane the capital quite boring, didnt even bother to explore it. Pakse was equally as dull(in my opinion, others may disagree). however VV and LP had spectacular scenery and even better biking. if you have time to burn, id suggest taking buses rather than flying, its great way to take in all the beautiful scenery.

    #3 Posted: 13/2/2010 - 08:38

  • christay2009

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

    also,

    you can get a luxury bus from UBON R. in Thailand to Bangkok and they run pretty regularly. I got a ticket 40 minutes before it was due to leave. The company that does these buses have their own little booth where the guys speak good English. The bus itself is run like an aeroplane, has a hostess and in-coach meals/drinks which weren't bad. The seats recline almost horizontal and are pretty wide/comfortable. I think they have a super-delux bus or 'premium' class?! then just the other one that i took [and have just described]. I think it cost me 550Baht so it would probably be cheaper than a flight and it takes 8 hours. Also, i'm fairly sure that it leaves from the same bus station that your Lao bus will come into.

    Once in Bangkok the coach stops at one bus station quite far out of the centre with a name i am unsure of - most people got off here - then it heads to MoChit bus station [the north bus station] where it's easy to get a bus/taxi into Bangkok or wherever...

    I thought Vientiane was quite good actually but maybe because i wasn't after sightseeing so much but just relaxing/mooching around. I guess it helped that i met a bunch of really nice people at Mixay so we just chilled out and killed time. You could probably arrive one day - see two major sights, relax abit, then leave the morning after. At least it would break up travel from LP/VV to Pakse

    #4 Posted: 13/2/2010 - 21:19

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 949

    Quote jasonkim8486:

    " i found vientiane the capital quite boring, didnt even bother to explore it."

    roflmao. If you didn't explore it, how do you know it was boring?

    #5 Posted: 14/2/2010 - 08:05

  • jasonkim8486

    Click here to learn more about jasonkim8486
    Joined Travelfish
    15th September, 2009
    Location United States
    Posts: 81

    whats there to see? people, streets, and a river with round the clock construction? i didnt bother to explore it because those are the only things VTE had to offer. if sitting around a coffee shop is your version of an adventure than good for you.

    #6 Posted: 14/2/2010 - 08:45

  • christay2009

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

    I dont think Bar002 really needs to worry about Vientiane anyway, unless they want a very long bus journey they should probably stay at least one night there.

    Many consider Vientiane boring and many don't. Maybe Jasonkim did miss something though if he didn't know about buddah park, phou khao khouay national park, that luang, patuxai...

    #7 Posted: 14/2/2010 - 19:15

  • bar002

    Joined Travelfish
    20th February, 2009
    Posts: 7

    Hi guys, thanks a lot for your replies,actually I arrive from BKK to Chiang Rai by plane, then take the bus to Chiang kong and cross the border, I think I will arrive late afternoon in Huay Xai and therefore no way to leave towards LP the same day, so, it is compulsory to sleep there. I am travelling alone this time and maybe is more funny going to VV doing outdoor activities. In Vientiane, as also by you suggested, I can stay 2 days (one night) depending on the time I arrive by bus from VV. I am wondering if there are places on the way to Pakse to deserve a stop and visit, maybe Savannakhet or Bolaven Plateau?
    Definetively I will spend 3/4 days in Si Phan Don.
    As far as the way back from Ubon R. to BKK I'm thinking to go by plane because Air Asia flight it costs around 1.200 BTH (around 1 hour) and I can save almost one day to spend in BKK before the return flight to Italy on 26th of March.
    If some of you has guesthouse addresses for the places i wish to visit i will be very grateful.
    Cheers from Bruno

    #8 Posted: 14/2/2010 - 21:20

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Posts: 2303
    Total reviews: 47

    bruno,

    personally, i think your best bet is to either fly from vientiane to pakse or just suck up the long VIP bus ride from vientiane to pakse (676 km!). i didn't think savannkhet had as much to offer as the other places you've mentioned, including vientiane and pakse, so i'd skip it if i had it to do again.

    keep in mind that transportation in laos is slow going and it will likely take longer to get from place to place than you expect. cheers.

    #9 Posted: 15/2/2010 - 01:03

  • somsai

    Joined Travelfish
    1st March, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 560

    Interesting about boring Vientiane . Jasonkim you might be interested in standing on the top of Phou Bia the highest mountain in Laos. No foreigner has stood on top in at least 40 years. Vientiane still has things to do besides coffee at Joma. A little too adventurous for me, but might suit your fancy. Let out one of those Brox cheers from the top. ;-)

    Sorry for the thread jack Bruno, never know how to answer the itinerary questions, I've a hard time figuring out my own plans more than a day in front of myself. Boloven is after or during Pakse. The long distance busses can help a lot. Fast boat will get you Huay Xai to Luang Prabang in a little over 6 hours, boring and uncomfortable but fast.

    Have fun.

    #10 Posted: 15/2/2010 - 11:20

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  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6051
    Total reviews: 10

    Rufus
    I was thinking exactly the same thing.

    '" i found vientiane the capital quite boring, didnt even bother to explore it."

    roflmao. If you didn't explore it, how do you know it was boring?"

    #11 Posted: 15/2/2010 - 11:40

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 949

    Quote jasonkim8486: "whats there to see?" (sic)

    Well clearly you didn't see much. Did you bother to check any posts on this site or others? I guess not. No, I don't sit in a coffee lounge either.
    I prefer Talat Sao, the French architecture, Buddha Park, Xan Kiang Market, a day trip to Thalat and or Thanon with lunch on the floating restaurants, the restaurants in town - both European and Laos, The 3 or 4 museums, the Wat Phra Kao, Wat Tad Luang and....I could go on, but I guess you missed all of the above. How sad for you!

    #12 Posted: 15/2/2010 - 11:57

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6051
    Total reviews: 10

    Not to mention the hot Laotian chicks in Vientiane!!!

    #13 Posted: 16/2/2010 - 21:09

  • bar002

    Joined Travelfish
    20th February, 2009
    Posts: 7

    "Not to mention the hot Laotian chicks in Vientiane!!!"

    Madmac: this is quite interesting.....

    ;-)

    #14 Posted: 16/2/2010 - 21:27

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6051
    Total reviews: 10

    See I knew there was something in Vientiane that would get your interest.

    #15 Posted: 17/2/2010 - 11:30

  • hotchily

    Joined Travelfish
    14th January, 2009
    Posts: 14

    Hi bar002

    why travel from BKK to Chiang Rai, then bus to Chiang Khong to sleep the night and then either bus or plane to LP. If your not seeing anything just fly from BKK to LP - certainly easier.

    Just a thought if you take a flight on Laos Airlines (and they are good)be sure to check your departure times as we were emailed the details the night before from Lao Airlines stating that the Vientiane departure was 0730 when actually we checked with the office in town and it was 0630...

    If you go to 4000 islands and go anywhere near Don Khone, then go to the last restuarant on the way to the Li Phi falls (Mamma Dams) she does a great, and I mean great, fish cakes or steamed fish in banana leaf with spices.

    If you've seen Ankor Wat don't really bother with Wat Phu Champasak

    Bugger it - I might just add a trip info sheet to the site

    Cheers

    VV was OK however go to Bolevan Plateau as Pakse doesn't really offer much

    #16 Posted: 18/2/2010 - 07:42

  • bar002

    Joined Travelfish
    20th February, 2009
    Posts: 7

    Hi, thanks for the suggestions HOTCHILY :-)
    Actually I have already booked the flight (sigh!)it costed me 35 ÔéČuro (about US$ 47) I will check if there is a flight and how much it cost.
    I bought the travelfish Laos pack guide and also Lonely Planet, somewhere I've read that there is a VIP night bus from Vientiane to Pakse leaving at 8.30 pm , does anybody used this bus? is safe?
    Actually i wish to stay couple of days in Pakse but going around, most probably I rent a motorbike and make the circular trip including Bolevan Plateau.
    Reading the guides (and also the forums) for sure I will spend at least 4/5 days in Si phan Don, and I will look for Mamma Dams restaurant mentioned by you in Don Khone.
    Thanks !!

    #17 Posted: 18/2/2010 - 15:37

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