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Southeast Asia forum

Southern Laos or Northern Vietnam ???

Posted by kgroarke on 7/3/2011 at 00:09

Me and my girlfriend are planning on flying from bangkok to Cambodia where we will travel around Cambodia for a week or two and then travel across to Vietnam to Ho Chi Minh City. From here we plan on moving northwards up through Vietnam to Hue but we are unsure then where to go from here...

We dont really want to back track anywhere along our trip as we plan on visiting thailand, cambodia, vietnam, laos and malaysia over a 3 and a half month trip (in that order travelling anti-clockwise).

and so from Hue im thinking that we can either

a) cross over the border and continue our travels from southern laos and make our way up to Vientiane ... eventually moving to northern laos and cutting across to northern thailand. This way not seeing any of central/northern Vietnam

or .. fly from Hue to Hanoi and cross over to northern laos from northern Vietnam therefore not seeing any of southern Laos.... and visitig hanoi and this area instead.

we then plan on travelling down from northern thailand all the way down to the islands and malaysia for some relaxing time before leaving....!

i dont think it will be possible to see all parts of all of these countries and so i need some advice on what to leave out......?????????? also i would imagine that the transport for southern Laos will not be the best ???? and so we may be better off just sticking to northern laos by travellling across from northern Vietnam...

any suggestions please??!

#1 kgroarke has been a member since 12/2/2011. Posts: 17

Posted by exacto on 7/3/2011 at 01:59

hi k,

you are running into the same problem as the rest of us, which is so much to do and so little time. even those three and one-half months you have will go quickly.

at this point, i'd say just sketch out a general plan and go with the flow. you may decide once you get to vietnam that you don't like it and want to try somewhere else. or you may completely fall in love with it and want to stay longer.

transportation in southern laos is developed enough that it shouldn't be an obstacle for you.

one thing you will want to plan out in advance, however, is your visa strategy for entering each country on your list. for example, once you cross back into thailand, you'll only get 15 days if you travel by land but 30 days if you arrive by air. if you plan to spend more than 15 days in thailand towards the end of your trip, you'll definitely want to address that by getting a tourist visa ahead of time, flying to thailand, or crossing into malaysia and then back into thailand.

anyway, sounds like a great trip. have fun.

#2 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,759
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Posted by caseyprich on 7/3/2011 at 07:24

I'm not sure what time of year you are going - Northern Vietnam and Laos have a rainy season that makes it hard to get around areas like Sapa, so keep that in mind.

If you are crossing into Laos around Hue then you're probably going straight to Savannakhet. Though it is a nice little town, I honestly wouldn't call that area the highlight of Southern Laos. You'll end up north of Pakse, Champasake, Si Phon Don, and the Bolaven Plateau - which are the places I'd really recommend.

I'd instead fall in favor of heading into Laos through the North around Sam Neau, getting off the bus at Nong Kiaow and enjoying the scenery around there on your way to Luang Prabang. If time is getting short you can fly from LP to Chiang Mai and that will also give you the 30 day (rather than 15) visa. If you figure that into your plan you could maybe save yourself the flight from Hue to Hanoi if you don't want to do too many flights.

#3 caseyprich has been a member since 3/3/2010. Location: China. Posts: 1,281
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Posted by kgroarke on 8/3/2011 at 02:18

@ exacto thanks for the advice. is it easy to get a tourist visa?? im going to have to think about that one especially seeing as we want to spend a while doing thailand and the islands etc. could i apply for that tourist visa now and then have it valid from the middle of my journey?? it would be good to sort the visa's now but then we would be restricted on our travels!!!aaahh!!!so tricky !!!

@casey yes i think we will probly give the south of laos a miss and continue up to northern vietnam and then come across into laos from the north and if we have time go south. what do you mean by saving a flight from hue to hanoi?? i was thinking that this would be too far to travel by land and so we might need a flight, what ddo you think??

#4 kgroarke has been a member since 12/2/2011. Posts: 17

Posted by caseyprich on 8/3/2011 at 06:01

There is an overnight sleeper train - I've not taken it but friends have and say its very comfortable and affordable. I was just considering if you had a tight budget - the overnight sleeper train could save you money, though the flight is obviously much quicker. However, flights within Vietnam aren't too expensive. I've also heard that

Vietnam train pricing & timetables:

#5 caseyprich has been a member since 3/3/2010. Location: China. Posts: 1,281
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