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6 Nights In Laos - Stay in Luang Prabang or See Vientiane Too?

Posted by nicoleslaw on 3/1/2012 at 12:14

Hello All,

I'm going to be in Laos for 6 nights in Feb. Debating between spending the whole time in Luang Prabang, or doing a night or two in Vientiane and then 4-5 nights in Luang Prabang. I'd be flying in and out of both (and between them). I could conceivably knock a day off Bangkok to be able to make it 7 nights if you all think I'd be nuts to miss Vientiane or cut my time in LP down too much... but I'd rather not.

Interest wise... seeing the temples, travel photography, a bit of culture, a bit of shopping. From LP maybe getting out to a village and waterfall day trips. I'm a 28/f travelling solo if that makes a difference.

I pre-booked a BKK Discovery Airpass without Vientiane in it, but I need to give them my $$ to make it official and I think I could change it today until I pay them. I woke up this morning with second thoughts on skipping Vientiane.

Thanks for your votes :).
- Nicole

#1 nicoleslaw has been a member since 3/1/2012. Posts: 4

Posted by exacto on 3/1/2012 at 13:31

Nicole,

I've been to Luang Prabang twice now and stayed for 4 nights each time. At the end of each trip, I wished I had stayed for a bit longer.

Having said that, since you'll be transiting Vientiane anyway, I think it would be a shame to completely skip the city. What do you think will be more interesting? Your 5th or 6th night in Luang Prabang or your 1st or 2nd night in Vientiane?

Maybe stay at least one night in Vientiane to get a feel for the city. There is a good national museum there, lots of interesting small temples, and one of my favorite places in the entire country, That Luang. The Anusaouri (looks just like the Arc d'Triumph in Paris) is cool too and a great place to mingle with Lao families in the evening. Vientiane is a great spot to try out the local bakeries and have a good cup of coffee or a cold bottle of Beer Lao.

You mentioned maybe taking a day from your time in Bangkok. How many days do you have planned there? Cheers.

#2 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,651
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Posted by busylizzy on 3/1/2012 at 13:32

I recently spent 2 nights in Vientiane, which only really gave me a day and a half to explore. Some think that is long enough, but I do wish that I had spent more time there (maybe another 2 days).

If I were you, given the short period of time, and the costs associated with between the two cities, I would suggest just flying in/out of LP. From LP, I would then recommend taking a trip up river to Nong Khiaow for two nights or so, to see the rural side of Laos. You can take a mini-bus up to Nong Khiaow (about 3.5 hours) then take the boat back to LP (about 5-6 hours). That will give you exposure to a different, even more laid back side of Laos, you get to enjoy watching river life, etc.

You will fine in Nong Khiaow fine as a solo traveller - and it will probably be reasonably easy to meet up with others there. There won't be any shopping to be had, but you can hire a bicycle for an easy ride out into the countryside and explore a cave or two.

LP is the place for shopping - they have an excellent night market that sets up in the middle of town with all sort of reasonably priced souvenirs, textiles, etc.

#3 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,155
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Posted by busylizzy on 3/1/2012 at 13:34

Snap - exacto posted at the same time! Nicole, my take on your post is that you were NOT transitting through VTE? If you are, then yes, spending the time in VTE absolutely makes sense.

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Posted by nicoleslaw on 3/1/2012 at 14:17

Thanks so much for the input. If I don't go to VTE, then I won't be transiting thorough there... My options are:

Siem Reap-Luang Prabang (layover in Pakse)- Bangkok
OR
Siem Reap-VTE (Layover in Pakse)-Luang Prabang-Bangkok

I have a couple nights on the beginning of my trip in Bangkok (when I'll be recovering from travelling for 26 hours and the jet lag), and then 4 nights on the end (which is where I could take one night off).

#5 nicoleslaw has been a member since 3/1/2012. Posts: 4

Posted by busylizzy on 3/1/2012 at 14:43

In that case, I would suggest going with my intial idea (ie skip VTE, and perhaps check out Nong Kiaow) - just purely from a cost perspective, and the 'upriver' experience.

Are you staying over night in Pakse - or is just the 1 hour layover while the flight picks up new passengers?

#6 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,155
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Posted by exacto on 3/1/2012 at 17:41

oops. i did think that you were already going through VTE anyway. sorry about that.

Pakse is a great town too. there aren't any real main attractions in the town, but if you are stopping there anyway, it is a great place to spend an evening and enjoy a sunset across the river. regards.

#7 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,651
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Posted by Rufus on 4/1/2012 at 03:05

Personally I would spend 2 days in Vientiane . There is heaps to do and see. The shopping is better and the food is far better. Those who knock Vientiane really do not know what they are talking about.

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

Posted by busylizzy on 4/1/2012 at 03:09

Hey Rufus - no one was knocking VTE here!. To the contrary, I enjoyed it there and wished I was able to stay longer, as I stated above.

The reason for suggesting she stay in LP is purely on the basis of logistics and costs. Nicole only has 6 days, and to go to VTE will cost her an extra flight.

#9 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,155
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Posted by chinarocks on 4/1/2012 at 03:32

Would agree with busylizzy - there is more than enough in LP and the surrounds to keep you happily occupied for 6 days. Any less would be rushed. You will enjoy them lazy Beer Lao by the Mekong a lot more when you know have all that time and no internal flight to catch.

#10 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740

Posted by nicoleslaw on 4/1/2012 at 15:54

Thanks so much everyone! I really appreciate the input! Between posts here and on the Lonely Planet board, it sounds like a lot of people do really like Vientiane so it sounds like I shouldn't skip it completely. I just changed my ticket...

Flying from Siem Reap to VTN, spending two nights, then to Luang Prabang for 4 nights.

Both flights get in me in to their destination mid day, so I'll get a day and a half in VTN, and three full days in Luang Prabang, plus a half day the day I arrive and a half day the day I depart (I leave at 4:00pm the day I leave).

I appreciate all of the help!

#11 nicoleslaw has been a member since 3/1/2012. Posts: 4

Posted by Rufus on 5/1/2012 at 02:12

What are you going to do on day 5 and day 6 in LP, BusyLizzy? Now if you suggested a side trip to Phonsavan....

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

Posted by busylizzy on 5/1/2012 at 02:56

I wouldn't suggest staying 6 nights in LP. My suggestion above was to spend a couple of nights upriver on Nong Kiaow as well to give her another type of experience aside from two large towns.

Phonsavan - I loved it! I could have easily spent another couple of nights there as well, but alas, I only spent two. I didn't suggest it to Nicole though as she only asked about VTE and LP.

Looks like she has made her decision and will be checking out VTE in the end. Enjoy it Nicole. Be sure to check out the streetside restaurants that appear at night. There's some good food to be had!

#13 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,155
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