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North & South Loas trip 23 Feb 2010 - general information offer

  • flipflops

    Joined Travelfish
    24th February, 2010
    Posts: 2

    Just got back from Laos (23 Feb 2010) and have general information for those interested on:
    *Huay Xia;
    *Niga of the Mekong boat - Huay Xia to Pak Beng and Luangprabang;
    *Vang Viene
    *Vientiane
    *Pakse
    *4000 islands
    *Pakse to Ubon Rat to Bangkok.

    Happy to share the experience/info for those interested - just let me know what "topic" you're interested in (even if not listed above). Ciao

    #1 Posted: 24/2/2010 - 11:29

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  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 2406
    Total reviews: 47
    Places visited:
    At least 98

    hey flops,

    even if you don't get any specific requests for info, there are several different ways you can share your experiences for others to read. towards the bottom of the main page of the location overview for eacy of the places you mentioned is a section for reviews. you can post away all the stuff you learned that you think would be useful for others. there is also space under each accommodation listing for a review of the specific hotel or guest house. that kind of feedback is always really helpful to me when i'm picking a place to stay. finally, there is a trip reports section on the message board where you can write up the details of your visits to different places. type away.

    i was just in pakse myself about a month ago and loved it. stayed at the narin thachalern. where did you stay and what did you think of the city? did you take one of the backpacker minivans down to 4000 islands or do something else? thanks and regards.

    #2 Posted: 24/2/2010 - 13:08

  • christay2009

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

    why not name the highlights/lowlights? problems you've encountered, first rate guesthouses, nightmare bus rides...etc Anything that stands out really

    i don't really have specific questions but always enjoy reading about others trips

    #3 Posted: 24/2/2010 - 20:01

  • flipflops

    Joined Travelfish
    24th February, 2010
    Posts: 2

    Getting to Pakse was a little ‘rough’. We had intended to fly direct from Vietiane, but were told by various travel agents: "Pakse airport, she is closed"! [tip: always confirm transportation information received with multiple sources – touts will often tell you anything to get you to take their minivan rather than a VIP/Express bus, plane or whatever]. The airport at Pakse is (in fact) closed for repairs (!) and no one seems to know the re-opening date. So, we flew to the next nearest airport at Savanaket and then immediately took a bus to Pakse (we decided not to stop in Savanaket in order to gain an extra day in the Pakse/4000 islands area).

    There is no Express or VIP bus doing the Savanaket > Pakse route. There is a public bus twice a day (9.00am and 10.00am) [tip: get there early to get a ‘proper’ seat]. The bus left precisely on time, takes 5 hours to get to Pakse and I am sure it is specifically designed to torture ‘falangs’. Packed to the roof, no air-con, crammed in like sardines (even the aisle was completely taken up with people on plastic, milk-maid type stools), innumerable, unfathomable stops for bananas, the loo (2000 kip for falangs), grilled chicken, caramalised insects, bamboo rat skewers... The only things working properly were the engine and the DVD system. For 5 hours we were subject to a dreadful Laotian pop/ballad DVD which looped at least 6 times (at top volume) [tip: make sure you have your MP3/iPod player/knockout drops on hand to blot out the general bus cacophony]. When we finally arrived in Pakse, I baled out of the bus so fast that I forgot my pillow (‘borrowed’ from Emirates Airlines), water bottle and a packet of crisps – but just couldn’t muster the courage to get back on the bus to retrieve the abandoned property…

    As in most of the major towns in Laos now, finding a guesthouse was not a problem. After tuk-tukking into town from the bus terminal (10 minutes, 10,000 kip per person) we walked up the main road looking at rooms in various guesthouses. We finally settled on Sala Champa ($26/night/double room, brekkie not included [$6.00 extra for breakfast]; tel: 031 212273) – French colonial style, huge rooms, clean – can thoroughly recommend room numbers 4, 5 or 6. The hotel manager is either a bit of a dodgy character or is not terribly bright and he will ask you to pay for the first night immediately (“you pay, you pay now”), so make sure you double-check his exchange rates if you are paying him in dollars/baht. He will also probably try to shove you into room 5 (a massive room big enough for 6 people) for $36.00/night – if that’s too much for you, make a fuss about the price and you’ll probably be given room 4 or 6 at $26.00/night. Rooms are available in other guesthouses for as low as $9.00/night and they are not all horrible – you just have to have the energy to walk around a bit looking at available rooms with a 20kg rucksack on your back!

    Pakse is a quaint enough little town (which you can get around in a few hours). Definitely worth seeing are the innumerable market stalls which ring the main shopping centre, selling literally everything (we went at about 6pm in the evening) – the sheer chaos of how they lay out, display and store their products is a tourist feature in itself – how these people do stock-taking is anyone’s guess! Inside the shopping centre, on the first floor, is a ‘proper’ western-style supermarket. But we were more interested in using Pakse as a base from which to get to/from the 4000 islands As we were (unfortunately) only going to the islands for one day, we were able to take a small day-pack and leave the bulk of our luggage at the Sala Champa guesthouse (we planned [and paid in advance] to return to this guesthouse when coming back to Pakse from our one-day 4000 islands trip, and this worked out fine – despite the guesthouse manager).

    #4 Posted: 25/2/2010 - 16:02

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