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Laos and Northeast Thailand trip report oct-nov 2006
15th November, 2006
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First, thanks for a great site. We used Travelfish in conjunction with two guidebooks (LP and RG) and found it a good help. We've some suggestions for improvement, but I'll report first.
We had six weeks in Thailand and Laos, with three weeks in each. It was our first time to both countries.
We started in Bangkok (of course) where we stayed at the Nanachart on Sukumvit soi 25. It was a good place overall and v.clean. We spent a couple of days in bangkok, sightseeing (I really liked Jum Thompson's House and thought the malls on SUkhumvit were just amazing and such a contrast to Jim's House) and my partner had some clothes made which we arranged to pick up on our return.
Our Thailand trip took us to: Bangkok - Ayutthaya - Phitsaulok - Lom Sak - Loei - Chiang Kham - Sang Khom - Si Chiang Mai - Nong Khai. Then we went into Laos and went: Vientiane - Pak San - Tha Khaek - Savannakhet - Pakse - Tadlo - Salavan - Sekong - Attapeu - Pakse - Champasak - Four thousand islands - Pakse. Then back to Thailand to Ubon Rachathani then Buriram and Bangkok.
It sounds like a lot, and the Thailand part was ok but in Laos in three weeks we definetly tried to see too much. We left what turned out to be the very best bit (the islands) till last and we only has two days there, when we would have been happy with two weeks there. It was frustrating, but hey I guess we know now for the next trip :-)
In Laos we avoided the toruist buses and went for local transport -- it is uncomfortable and very slow, but I think still worth it. We never tried to do more than 100km in a day so it wasn't so bad, but if you were doing a long hit, for example vientiane to pakse, then take a tourist bus. A lot of people are doing that, but i think you miss a lot. Next trip we would skip salavan, sekong and attapeu as while remote, we found them lacking in many services and while there may be things to see, it's very difficult to get to the things!
My partner loved Tha Khaek. The town is nothing much but you can do a trip by jumbo out to some caves and a terrific swimming hole. we took a picnic (baguettes and warm beer lao) and made a day of it -- it was great fun.
Si Phan Don is fantastic. so relaxing and a million places to stay in.so beautiful, and it wasn't as crowded as I expected.
In Thailand, the river section, from Chiang Kham to Nong Khai was just stunning. -- why isn't it covered on Travelfish?
Lom Sak was a hole, as was buriram, but from the latter we visited some khmer ruins -Phnom rung i think - which were terrific.
Getting around in Thailand, we used the government fan bus system and it was excellent. cheap and comfortable (or more comfortable than laos anyway).
I remember reading somewhere on this site that seeing less is more and I agree 100%. We saw a lot on our trip - too much. By the time we got home the dozens of river sunsets had become a blur. you should try labelling 500 sunset photos! and we're both exhausted. If we were to do the same trip again I'd add at least a week to each
MORE PHOTOS! - if we'd known just how beautiful siphan don was we would have planned a longer stay -- you have like two pics of it on the site!
MORE INFO ON STUFF TO SEE - your accommodation info is great -- we found it much better and more accurate than our guidebooks, but we found ourselvs going back to the books for sight information especially the history stuff. It would be good if you had more.
EFISH - loved them. I think they're a great idea.
TRAVEL INFO - your transport information is sometimes inconsistent. I mean you'll have info from Vientiane to Pakse but not the other way around. This can be frustrating. Why isn't travel info in the efish -- this was very frustrating! :-)
GET THE WORD OUT - of all the travellers we met only a couple had heard of Travelfish and they loved it. We almost felt like an insiders club when we met another couple in Sekong (of all places) who were travelfishers... but you've got a terrific resource here but you're not telling anyone about it! You should be shouting from the hilltops. I did my bit - whenever I was in an internet cafe I made Travelfish the homepage and I hope that helps.
Overall we had a great trip and I just want to say Kop Khun Kap Maak Maak with a little wai to say thankyou to Mr and Mrs Travelfish (and baby Travelfish by the sounds of things) and also to the many people who posted on the messageboard.
#1 Posted: 15/11/2006 - 07:30
Welcome to Travelfish!
To address your suggestions re Travelfish -- most of them come down to time -- we're a very small team and are about to have a baby, so things are, shall I say, hectic!
More photos -- great idea. We're slowly adding a photo gallery -- see Ayutthaya of Ko Yao Noi/Yai for examples
More info on stuff to see -- again, we're trying to expand this area. We've actually got a mammoth backlog of sights info waiting to be edited -- however as the editor (Mrs Travelfish) is going to have a baby very shortly, the editing is progressing rather slowly!
Efish -- glad you like em.
Transport information -- we've planned a major revamp of the transport info side of things, as we're aware there's some shortcomings in it. Once the reorganisation is finished the transport info will be far easier to use and will show up in the efish.
Get the word out - thanks for making travelfish the homepage - great idea! People like yourself are the best way to "spread the word" - travellers trust travellers and we're always flattered to hear comments like yours. That said, the number of people joining Travelfish is increasing at an increasing rate, so word is slowly seeping out!
Destinations not covered - the reason we don't cover places like Chiang Kham, Umphang etc is that while we've been there, we've not been since starting Travelfish -- we don't list places until we've revisited the place, hence the delays... sorry!
And now a questions for you; for a first time visit your great itinerary is rather unusual -- with the exception of Bangkok you skipped all the "big ticket" destinations -- what was you're thinking behind that?
Cheers and many thanks for the feedback...
#2 Posted: 15/11/2006 - 10:48
16th October, 2006
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Thanks for your very useful posting. My husband and I are planning a similar but slightly extended trip leaving London for Bangkok on Sunday 19th Nov. You refer to not having enough time for " the very best bit (the islands) till last" - which islands/where?
#3 Posted: 16/11/2006 - 20:37
15th November, 2006
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Somtam we picker our trip plan after chatting to a close friend who lived in Thailand for a coupleof years. His tips were great.
snowqueen, the islands are the ones at Si Phan Don in southern laos -- they sit in the middle of the mekong river. No swimming really, just very chilled out and relaxing.
#4 Posted: 17/11/2006 - 08:19
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