Photo: Classic scenery surrounds Vang Vieng.

Laos forum

Itinerary help needed!

Posted by Millsze84 on 27/9/2010 at 13:49

Hello helpful travelers!

I am planning on visiting Vietnam and Laos. I have been to Vietnam before and mainly want to go back to hoi an, and go through the Mekong to get to Phu Quoc. The aim was to keep my more conservative girlfriend happy by getting in some lazy beach time and do the hoi an thing so she can get some clothes made!

Laos is for me! I'm after a little more adventure and would love to do some trekking and maybe some homestays with the usual attractions thrown in on the side.

We are limited to only 4 weeks and with a little arm twisting im dreaming of maybe squeezing in 5. We'd like to finish in Phu Quoc.

After doing some research into Laos I now realized how easy I had it in Vietnam with the train line running north to south! Laos seems a little slower in the travel department. Knowing my GF, flying Laos airlines would terrify her so that is not an option. Vietnam airlines is ok though.

Here's the plan so far...

Arrive in Bankok stay 1 night and get the train to vientiane.

Spend 2 nights in VE maybe 3.

Bus to VV and stay for 3. Seems to be a debatable spot. I'm not real keen on surrounding myself with drugged up and drunken retards but could overlook them if the beauty of the environment is worthwhile.

Bus to LP and stay for 5 or 6 nights with a trek thrown in there somewhere?

Not sure of the logistics but would love to go up to Nam Ha for some trekking.

I left out Si Phan Don, P of J and Wat Phu. Are any of them worth fitting in?

Fly from LP to Hanoi 2 nights there. Didn't go to Halong last time so I guess that should be added.

Train to Hoi An stay for 4 nights.

Train to Saigon for 1 night

Get on a boat for a 3 day Mekong tour staying on the Mekong for first night and Can Tho the second. Wouldn't mind a homestay instead of hotel in Can Tho.

End the trip in Phu Quoc and bum about for 4 or 5 nights.

Fly to Saigon then home.

Now let's go back n count how many days I've got so far....

27 days and some Laos ???

I'm flexible so if Vietnam or anything else needs the chop then I'll consider it. Just need to fit in some lazy beach time somewhere that isn't too busy and full of people who travel just to get smashed somewhere exotic eg Thailand party islands/beaches.

Any help is much appreciated!

#1 Millsze84 has been a member since 27/9/2010. Posts: 4

Posted by Rufus on 28/9/2010 at 15:02

" Knowing my GF, flying Laos airlines would terrify her so that is not an option. Vietnam airlines is ok though"

This is actually very funny. Are you aware that Laos Air and Vietnam Airlines code share a lot of flights? So you are on the same plane. Are you aware that Laos Airlines is one of the safer regional airlines around? I would much rather fly with them than 90% of the US airlines.

Regarding your itinerary. I would certainly go to the Plain of Jars. Champassak is in the other direction and so would require a total revision of your plans.

#2 Rufus has been a member since 22/4/2007. Location: Laos. Posts: 973


Posted by MADMAC on 28/9/2010 at 18:11

"I would much rather fly with them than 90% of the US airlines."

I watch them fly into Savankhet international every day... perhaps there's a touch of hyperbole here? The aircraft aren't exactly new. At least not the ones flying into Savanakhet.

#3 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by Nokka on 28/9/2010 at 18:38

Your itinerary looks doable and not unduly rushed. Well...a bit rushed, but I've seen worse.

I flew with both Laos Airlines and Vietnamese Airlines and found both fine.

Couple of other thoughts -

1. 2 nights Vientiane is probably enough. Its a nice enough city, but there are better, more interesting places coming up (in my view).

2. Restrict yourself to 2 nights VV. Not my cup of tea, though each to their own. If you are going simply for the scenery, it gets better further north. (Even better, skip it and utilise the time elsewhere. Unless, of course, you secretly want to go)

3. Try to get up to Nong Khiaow from Luang Prabang. Travel up the Nam Ou and do your trek from there. It is quite beautiful up there.

4. Do the 2 nights in Hanoi include Halong Bay ? I did 2 nights Halong and believe it warrants it. Hanoi also needs minimum 2 nights, IMO.

5. The rest looks OK to me, though personally I would look at flying the leg from Hanoi to Hoi An (or Danang actually) and then on to Saigon. Or at least one of the legs. You've got a lot of travel time otherwise.

6. One final thought. I enjoyed Phu Quoc, but didn't feel it had much more to offer then a standard Thai island. There are beaches near Hoi An, beautiful ones too. Maybe just spend more time there, skip PQ and have longer in your other destinations. Just a thought...

#4 Nokka has been a member since 6/4/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 259

Posted by exacto on 28/9/2010 at 21:51

Hey Mill,

Maybe your girlfriend would like to read the Travelfish article on Lao Airways. I wrote it back in late 2005, and Travelfish updated the information again in 2009. The article is based on facts and opinions from folks who have actually flown with Lao Airways, and the evidence is overwhelmingly positive.

https://www.travelfish.org/feature/50

It is a shame that people perpetuate these negative rumours about Lao Airways, because they aren't true.

Anyway, the P of J, Wat Phu, 4K Islands, Champassak, Pakse, and the Bolevans Plateau are all worthwhile destinations, particularly depending on what types of things you like to do. But you won't have time this trip, so maybe save some of that stuff for the next time. Have fun. Cheers.

#5 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,651
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Posted by Millsze84 on 29/9/2010 at 00:04

Cheers for the suggestions.

I'll have a look at the website in regards to Laos airlines. It's hard to sell the idea to a timid traveller no matter what is said about it's safety.

I think I'll skip VV or maybe stay there a night just to break up the bus trip.

Part of me thinks I should cut out Vietnam altogether and focus on Laos and maybe do the Thailand beach thing to finish.

I've been to Vietnam twice and I keep getting the tug to go back. Seems like it might be an unnecessary detour though. It does feel a bit rushed.

Going up the Nam Ou to Nong kiaow definitely looks like a good place to go.

Perhaps I should base myself around LP for longer?

3 1/2 weeks in Laos and 5 or so nights in Thailand maybe.

It seems i have more to investigate.

Thank you again for your generous replies.

#6 Millsze84 has been a member since 27/9/2010. Posts: 4

Posted by exacto on 29/9/2010 at 00:48

Yup, sometimes you just have to bow to your travel partners irrational fears about something, no matter how much the facts demonstrate otherwise. I just hate to see Lao Airways continue to take it in the teeth however, because as I mentioned above, the truth is that Lao Airways is as safe as any of the other regional airlines and in some cases even safer.

Anyway, have a chuckle with me and remember this discussion while you are on that overloaded bus going around that 30th hairpin turn with no guard railing on the steep, mountain road from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang. Safety first!

I think you'll like Laos. Friendly people. Great beer. Good eats. Exotic culture. Fascinating history. It takes longer to get from place to place, but even that can add to the charm as long as you aren't in a hurry. Regards.

#7 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,651
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Posted by caseyprich on 29/9/2010 at 05:58

If you're looking for a quiet place away from people on PQ I recommend Ong Lang Beach - only two resorts on the Southern part of the beach and then a long red sand beach with no bungalows for roughly 5 km. My girlfriend and I spent 6 nights there over Tet last year and it was a fantastic get away. A bit of a trek into town, but I figure by then you might just want to sit around, do nothing, and read while eating some fresh fruit. We stayed at Thang Loi and I couldn't recommend any place more.

If you really want the trek than skip P of J is fine and go to Luang Nam Tha instead for sure. Another option would be to cut out V.V. and work your way to LNT, then come back via Nong Kiaow, possibly go up river for a night or two in Muang Ngoi , then go back to LP to fly to Hanoi. Nong Kiao and Muang Ngoi are much more relaxed than VV - though I've heard MN is turning into a little VV - also no tubing or anything like that, just pleasent day walks and there should still be a little sand beach by the temple at the north end of town.

#8 caseyprich has been a member since 3/3/2010. Location: China. Posts: 1,281
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Posted by caseyprich on 29/9/2010 at 06:00

Oh - with Thailand the thing is the beaches are never as empty as I described above at PQ. You could just skip the north of Vietnam and fly directly to HCMC, do a couple nights in the delta around Can Tho (I love that town) and then go to PQ.

#9 caseyprich has been a member since 3/3/2010. Location: China. Posts: 1,281
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Posted by Rufus on 29/9/2010 at 15:28

Good post Exacto, I prefer to fly to LP rather than drive these days. It is much safer and more comfortable than driving myself, and far more comfortable than the bus.. I just had a mental picture yesterday of the op flying Lao Airlines and her friend flying the safer Vietnam Airlines and both of them getting on the same plane.

By the way, Millsze84, one poster said skip the Plain of Jars; this is bad advice imo. Well, it depends what you are interested in, but all of my friends who have been there and I as well found the area fascinating.

#10 Rufus has been a member since 22/4/2007. Location: Laos. Posts: 973

Posted by exacto on 29/9/2010 at 21:40

I personally loved the Plain of Jars too, but sometimes you just have to skip something because there just isn't enough time to do everything you want.

There are two articles on trips to Phonsavan if folks are interested. The first was based on a trip I made to the Plain of Jars in 2004 or so. It is: https://www.travelfish.org/feature/55

The other was from bloggers moving through southeast Asia a little while back. It includes their impressions of Phonsavan and also has information on Luang Prabang. Worth a look at https://www.travelfish.org/feature/184

#11 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,651
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Posted by Millsze84 on 3/10/2010 at 14:56

Here are my new plans. No detailed itinerary as of yet.
Bangkok 1 night
Pakse, thousand islands etc 5 nights
Vientianne 2 nights
VV 2 nights - any overnight treks worth doing?
LP 6 nights with 1 or 2 night homestays
3 or 4 nights in Nong Khiaow
LP - home

Thoughts? More time North instead of South?

#12 Millsze84 has been a member since 27/9/2010. Posts: 4


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