Just wanting some advice on Laos travel. I'm going to vietnam in December with friends to celebrate graduating from uni. So far the trip ends in Hanoi around the 4th of January, however I'd like to see some of Laos and Northern Thailand (would be doing this part solo, and have never travelled solo before) before heading home (Australia) to start working.
I'm a 23 year old female, mainly interested in hikes/outdoor activities, and not very keen on partying. Also keen on visiting the bear sanctuary in Luang Prabang, and the elephant nature park in Chiang Mai. I was thinking of flying from Hanoi to Vientane, then getting a bus to LP. Could someone please tell me their opinion on the best route for luang prabang to Chiang Rai? Also I know everyone asks this, but would a solo female be ok for travel companions in laos?
Thanks everyone!! Really appreciate any advice you can offer me
Flying into Vientiane is a great start to your plan, it beats all other options hands down. If you like outdoor activities just stay in Vte. a day or two and take a bus to Vang Vieng which is on the way to L. Prabang and has great natural scenery to explore by hiking, cycling, tubing, kayaking, swimming, etc. It's a party mecca also but you can choose to ignore that. Another fun diversion on the way to LP is a side trip to the Plain of Jars and Phonsavanh. These jars are ancient megaliths and soon to become a world heritage site. You can cycle out to them alone and being among these jars without a guide in perfect eerie solitude is a treat that may be lost after the tourist hordes start arriving.
#2 LaoNow has been a member since 14/5/2010. Posts: 38
Yep, fly to Vientiane to avoid a nightmarish 24-hour busride. Go have a seat at the Scandinavian Bakery next to the fountain, the nearby Kob Jai Deu restaurant in the evenings or the bbq restaurants along the riverfront at sunset. You'll find other backpackers/travelers there easy.
Get a bus up to Vang Vieng and you'll find about 500 young backpackers there mainly for the tubing scene which has gone completely nuts over the years. Feel free to side-step the drunken party aspect which is mainly found at the tubing bars and around the tube rental corner in town and footbridges leading to bars on the small adjacent islands. Hardly anywhere in SE Asia easier to find friends if you're in the spirit of things.
Plenty of buses up and over the beautiful mountain pass to Luang Prabang . Take the cheapest local bus so the scenery goes by more slowly (with an open window) but then it can take up to 7-8 hours (minivan can usually do it in 4hrs).
Buses from Luang Prabang to Huay Xai (border town) take about 12 hours. Popular option is slow boat which takes two days and sleeps one night in Pakbeng halfway. Other choice is a speedboat which does the same trip in about 6 hours but is fast and noisy (and quite exhilarating).
The border with Thailand closes at 6pm and there are always tuk tuks waiting to take people onward to the Chiang Khong bus station. Regular bus service to Chiang Mai then takes about 6-7 hours or break the trip at Chiang Rai just 2.5 hours away.