We are looking to buy a pair of good male trekking shoes. Had to throw away the old pair in Thailand. We are in Luang Nam Tha and went to the morning market but they didn't have any trekking shoes in size 11 (US) for men which seems to be size 44 or 27 here.
We are skipping the trekking in LNT and heading to Udomxai . Does anyone know of places in Udomxai that sells them or in Luang Prabang?
Unfortunately, have never seen any sort of trekking shoes for sale (or shops that might carry such items) in northern Laos (have been there a few times & to Oudomxay town twice).
But most foreigners have no problem trekking in running shoes or sandals (e.g. Tevas) in Laos. & of cos locals get along fine in flip flops :)
If really desperate, might want to consider Wellington boots - should be available in local markets in any town, although no guarantee of such huge sizes. Have seen national park rangers in Japan hike & climb mountains (non-technical type of climbing) in such boots, & hilltribe villagers in northern Thailand also wear them on terrain that's pretty much identical to what you'll encounter when trekking in northern Laos.
There are excellent treking shoes available in Laos - the same brands that are sold in Europe, but they are a fraction of the cost here. Salomon is one brand for example. I bought a pair, waterproof and snowproof, (to wear in Europe), for about $40.00.
The place to get them is a shop on Fang Nang Nhum, the road along the Mekong. I forgot the name of the shop, but if you walk along the road on the rhs you will find it. They sell all sorts of things eg Golf clubs, purses, cases, clothes etc etc.
Trekking in brand-new hiking boots - ouch! Formula for serious blisters. I'd use any old broken-in shoes you happen to still have instead, or those Wellies (rubber utility boots) as per WSC. Finding sizes over Euro 42 US 9 is very difficult in Laos, especially outside of Vientiane. Even here in happening Chiang Mai Euro 43 is a rare find. Strap-on sandals (with thick socks if no one's looking) can at least adapt to larger feet.
I wish Jon had kept his trekking shoes but they stunk so bad they were smelling up a friend's house and we just couldn't bear it. We washed it many times and used Fabreze. No luck. We regret doing that now since it seems we are stuck. We'll check out the Wellies and see how they work.
CB..I've read several of your responses to different posts. Great tips. We were going the HX to LP route but decided to take your advice on another post and do the HX-LNT-Muang Khua route. We hoped to do some trekking in LNT and thought we might be able to find some shoes but left disappointed. Onward to the boat ride on the Nam Ou.
"BTW I think the shop Rufus mentioned is "Walkman Village" right on the main riverfront road in Vientiane. Left side of this map http://hobomaps.com/VientianeCentralMap.html"
Yes it is Walkman Village. Thanks Bob. They also carry large sizes.
There is also a Walkman Village shop in Luang Prabang at grid code IZ206 on this map at http://hobomaps.com/LuangPrabangCentralMap.html. Have no idea if they sell hiking boots or not but it must be the same chain as the store in Vte. The place I go to for footwear in Luang Prabang is Dara Market at grid code JF203 on the same map. Just a few small shops there.
#10 LaoNow has been a member since 14/5/2010. Posts: 38
Thanks, motodop, on the info for Walkman Village. We just arrived in LP and will go check it out tomorrow.
Yol...We have had a couple of nice sunny days. Luang Nam Tha rained the entire two days we were there, which was a week ago. Then really no rain the rest of the time except for some scattered showers here and there for a few hours. Always hot and humid but that never really changes. Let me know if I can help you with anything else regarding Laos. I've collected a bunch of info on buses/boats to post so that people can get the most current info since I had a hard time getting exact costs.
Thanks Annielin! We are heading to Laos in 20 days for 3 weeks. Flying Madrid-Rome-Bangkok-Chiang Rai. Entering Laos at Huay Xai. Exiting to Thailand at Vang Tao, back to Bangkok to catch flight to Madrid.
Still no definite plans, just reading and not making my mind up on where to stay. Definitely Nam Tha and LP in the North. Could you advise me round this area, especially about travelling by boat/bus.
I was in the same boat a few weeks ago trying to decide what to do/where to go. I read a lot of posts on travelfish and lonely planet. We were going to do the Hauy Xai-Pak Beng-Luang Prabang route but then decided to take our time getting to LP and take the boat ride down the Nam Ou River. I highly recommend this route and even took pictures of the latest bus/boat prices to show people on travelfish but we didn't have internet till now. Here's what we did/recommend. Everyone accepts baht easily so take enough USD for the visa and the rest on baht. There's an ATM machine in Luang Nam Tha and Udomxai but if you go the route we went no ATM in the small villages:
1. From Chiang Rai take the bus to Chiang Kong: starts at 6am and leaves on the hour for 65 BHT each. The bus drops you off at the city center and then you need to take a tuk tuk to the port and they charge 60BHT each but since there were 3 of us they charged us 40 BHT so bargain with them.
2. Chiang Kong port: get your passport stamped by Thai govt showing you've exited. Take a small boat over the river to Laos border (40 BHT each, non-negotiable).
3. Laos port: get your visa for Laos. This is where it got tricky for us. The Lonely Planet guidebook said $30USD each for US citizen but the officer said $35. I tried arguing but didn't want to cause a scene so paid him $35USD each. Then when we got our passports back he put a $5USD bill on top to return to me. I'm sure if I pushed hard enough I could've gotten the other $5 back. A French guy who was with us only had baht so they quoted him 1500 BHT, which is way overpriced. He negotiated it to 1200 BHT. I recommend you use USD to get your visa to get the best rate and find out ahead of time how much it should cost and make sure they don't overcharge you.
4. Minivan to Luang Nam Tha: 300 BHT each. They quoted 400 BHT at first. There should be a minivan leaving at any time so you don't have to wait long. Don't give the minivan more $$. They took us to the bus depot at LNT and said we had to pay extra 10K Kip to get to town center. We told them we were promised the city center by the lady who sold us the seats and after some back and forth they drove us to the city center.
5. We stayed two nights at Thousalith Guest House (next to Minority restaurant) which someone on Lonely Planet or Travelfish recommended. It was 50,000 KIP for one night (hot water, wifi, and fan). It was $80-90 if you want a/c and the prices were after negotiation. There are cheaper places to stay if you walk along the main road.
6. Bus to Udomxai: 35K Kip each, leaving at 8:30, 11:30, and one later. Stayed one night at udomxai at Lithavixay Guest House only because they were one of the few places with wifi and for 60K Kip/night.
7. Bus to Muang Khua : 30K Kip each, we could've taken the 3pm bus from Udomxai rather than staying the night but bus rides wear us out so we decided to take a break in Udomxai. Bus leaves at 8:30am, 11:30am, and one later too. We stayed at a Chaleunsouk Guest House for 60K Kip (hot water/fan) but not that great. A group of people we met stayed at a guest house across from the swing bridge for 30K Kip and they said it was great. It was a small family unit and the family cooked them dinner (for extra fee) and had a wonderful time. I don't know the name of it but shouldn't be hard to find. Not sure if they have hot water, if that matters to you.
8. Slow boat to Muang Khua: 95K Kip based on 9 people. We waited a day to get enough people on our boat. That's the only tricky thing about the slow boat is that you need to get enough people otherwise you'll have to charter your own boat (1 million Kip to Muang Khua or 1.2 million for Ngoi Neua). Stayed in Muang Khua one night right next to the boat landing for 25K Kip. Very rustic but great views and cold water.
9. Slow boat to Ngoi Neua: 20K each (standard price so you don't need min. # of people). Stayed one night at a place for 30K Kip that starts with "Lin" over the bridge on the right side right past the Indian restaurant. Very rustic again but own bathroom and hot water.
10: Slow boat to Luang Prabang: 120K Kip per person incl. trip to the caves. It was a rip off because we weren't able to negotiate since some people on the boat already paid that price.
The scenery along the Nam Ou River was amazing though it was a lot of boat time and the wooden benches can be brutal (bring a cushion). But we had a lot of bus rides already and were ready for a change. I hope this helps and let me know if you need anything else. We just arrived in Luang Prabang.
think in #14:
8.Slow boat to Muang Khua : ... (1 million Kip to Muang Khua or 1.2million for Ngoi Neua) ... 9. Slow boat to Ngoi Neua: 20K each
is meant to read as:slow boat from Muang Khua (where you get off the busfrom Oudomxay) to Muang Ngoi Neua (the village along the Nam Ou that has no road access)...1 million kip to Muang Ngoi Neua or1.2 million for Muang Ngoi (aka. Nong Khiaw, the town along the river that has a concrete bridge & paved road to LPB)...
10: Slow boatto Luang Prabang: 120K Kip per person incl. trip to the caves. It was arip off because we weren't able to negotiate since some people on theboat already paid that price.
that has been the usual fare for years, no rip off at all.
Lonely Planet guidebook said $30USD each for US citizen but the officer said $35.
guidebook outdated, officer correct. IIRC it was already USD35 for Americans in late 2006/early 2007.
A French guy who was with us only had baht so they quoted him 1500 BHT, which is way overpriced.
for years, this has been the official rate for those wishing to pay inthat currency. same rate as other Thai-Lao border crossings.
if any, the 'rip off' seems to be here:
take a tuk tuk to the port and they charge 60BHT each
less than 4 years ago it was 10-20B for locals & foreigners :| (& the Chiang Khong tuktuk drivers seemed like a nice bunch then)
how is Lithavixay GH now? a good alternative for Oudomxay is Vivanh GH (bright & clean, 50,000kip, no idea about wifi though) next to the bridge & diagonally across from the ATM, though Lithavixay is a wee bit closer to Oudomxay bus station.
Minivan to Luang Nam Tha
was this from Huay Xai bus station, or somewhere in Huay Xai town?
anyway, just keep in mind that guidebooks are merely a guide, else they'd be called rulebooks instead :)
Yol...we went to Muang Khua from Udomxai on the bus, which took 4 hours. Boat ride started from Muang Khua to Ngoi Neua to Nong Khiaw to Luang Prabang (though many took the bus from Nong Khiaw to LP since it was much cheaper). Hopes this clarifies.
Wanderingcat...definitely agree that the Lonely Planet is a guide and mine was 2007 version so prices have gone up. What is strange is that the Laos immigration officer gave me $5 back. Oh well.
We checked out Vivanh GH and Vilavong GH but decided on Lithavixay since they had wifi for 10K Kip more. Both V GH's was 50K Kip.
Minivan from Huay Xai was right at the Laos border up the hill to the main street.
even though it's the 2007 edition, a lot of content is just an exact reproduction of the outdated info from the 2005 edition. also errors in maps, etc. sometimes the only accurate stuff = background info in the introductory chapters (e.g. history, people, culture, cuisine) :P
not sure why you got the $5 back. but have been times in Thailand & Laos when i've been asked to pay some fee at the immigration, & the next instant waved off?! *scratch head*
decided on Lithavixay since they had wifi
in Dec 2006 i went to Lithavixay to use their internet (was staying at another GH) - it was 56kbps dialup then! & had to be careful not to step on the GH staff sleeping on the floor of the lobby :P
Minivan from Huay Xai was right at the Laos border up the hill to the main street.
thanks for the info. seems like a good deal - 300B is what one would pay for tuktuk to Huayxai bus station + (much more crowded) bus to LNT + tuktuk into LNT town centre.
Annielin, seriously you should think before you post, and make sure your facts are correct. You are using an outdated guidebook and you take what is printed in there as accurate? Personally I find your "rip off" comments offensive. as Cat has pointed out, these have now been the prices for years. 1500 Baht is the Baht rate by the way. It has also been this for years, so there was no overcharging at all. Others who read your post and then get charged the correct price will have a sour taste in their mouths because they will fee they have been cheated. Not everyone in SEA is out to cheat you, you know.
By the way, I recommend paying in Kip not Baht. That is, after all, the official Govt policy. I assume you are American? Can I pay in Canadian dollars in the US? Should I?
Sorry about the bold in the previous post; I didn't realise it was bold until it was posted and there is no editor.
Annielin, all clarified! Cheers
Anyone knows if Ill be ok to change euros into kip in Laos and pay everything in kip. Trying to avoid the bank commision in Madrid for changing € into $. (Apart from the visa, which i know i have to pay in $ or baht.)
Btw, according to the info on the lao embassy web page at Bangkok, French pay slightly less visa than americans or spanish! May be the french guy knew about this and thats why he bargained....
The Laos visa fees are as follows, and this info is usually posted right at the border. All quoted in US dollars and yes paid in another currency you can add around 20%
30-day Laos tourist visa on arrival for most nationalities costs $30, but for others...
Italy, Austria, Great Britain, Norway, Netherlands, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Spain, Ireland, Switzerland, Denmark, USA: $35
India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan: $40
At land borders expect to pay $1 more (or 10,000kip or 40 baht) for "stamping fee" and double that on weekends/holidays or after 4pm.
Laos visa on arrival fees w.e.f. 01 Oct 2006:
Photo courtesy of Captn Bob :)
This list is displayed on the left of the visa counter at Huay Xai immigration:
Some changes since this list was published: visa no longer required for citizens of certain ASEAN countries (those that grant reciprocal visa exemption to Lao citizens) if staying for 30 days or less; visa no longer required for citizens of Japan if staying for 15 days or less (think there is a similar exemption for South Korea & Russia).
A Feb 2009 Vientiane Times article (reproduced here) mentioned:
The government has agreed to waive visa fees for elderly and youngforeigners entering the country, as part of efforts to promote tourism.The Ministry of Finance’s Taxation Department Director General, MsManivone Insisiengmay, said yesterday the waiver would apply toforeigners aged over 65 and under 15.
The government is planning to charge an additional tourist fee nextmonth. Passport holders will be required to pay US$2, while those whoenter the country on a border pass will pay only US$1.
Not sure if these changes have gone into effect, anyone knows?
BCEL forex rates: http://www.bcellaos.com/exchange_rate.php
The rates don't vary much between various banks in Laos.
Annielin, we´re now leaving for Laos in a couple of days. Your info on the Nam Ou has helped a lot, we will probably go this route rather than the Pak beng, even if that means we dont get time to go to the south after. Are still around Laos? I have to ask again about the weather round LP.
Hi Yol...how exciting for you. We have already left Laos and are in Vietnam but I don't think the weather has changed much since we left. It's very humid and chance of rain on some days. For example, when we were in LP it sprinkled for a fews hours each day but when we were down south it only rained at night and the days were great.
In case you need a place to stay in LP we found a great deal walking around. The room was big and spacious with a/c, hot water, and wifi in the room. It's called Thida Guesthouse and $15/night. It's located near Tamarind Restaurant and every morning right next to the hotel is where the alms giving for the monks happen. We bought rice from the lady who runs a small restaurant kiddy corner to the hotel. Have a great time.
Glad to hear that you guys enjoyed Thida GH. We stayed at an okay place in Vang Vieng called Khamphone Guest House for 80,000 Kip/night. Nothing special but decent if you want to check it out. Away from the party noise but walking distance to everything. It's in the Lonely Planet guidebook. In Vientiane I recommend Mixay Paradise, which just opened within the last year. They have another Mixay GH on the next street. It's 95,000 Kip/night including breakfast, wifi (in your room if you are on the 2nd floor or downstairs in the lobby), and good hot water. It's not as quaint as Thida and the rooms are small but it's new and the staff is very helpful. It's located one street over from Douang Deuana Hotel, which is in the Lonely Planet. There was two really nice looking hotels further down the street from Mixay which was too much for us that may be worth checking out. Enjoy the rest of your trip!
Hi! I think we found a really good deal in Vang Vieng, at least im very happy about it, north of town, Mountain Riverview GH. 80,000 kip for a big room, good hot water, cable tv, aircon, and amazing views over the Nam Sang. I think the prices are down, cause there seems to be a lot more accomodation than people.
At present we are in Mixay Paradise which is good too, but we are leaving tomorrow to the south, we will stop in Thakaek. We only have 1 week left now!
Have a good trip!