Photo: Classic scenery surrounds Vang Vieng.

Laos forum

Travelling Laos in 10 days

Posted by origami88 on 18/8/2012 at 10:15

So I am planning to stay for about 10 days in Laos (starting Luang Prabang). Is that just enough time for me to take in much of what Northern Laos has to offer? Or can i stretch it and go the whole way (i.e. North to South?).

Can someone please kindly offer a rough itinerary for which I can go by to make the most out of this short trip?

The other important thing is, I need to wind up at Siem Reap, Cambodia. Would you know whats the most convenient way out of Laos to get to Siem Reap? I am thinking of flying from Vientianne (provided I just travel around the North of Laos) or Pakse if i manage to make my way down South.

Apologies if that was one too many questions for one thread - forgive me!! But seriously, hoping that someone would be kind enough to shed some light on this

Thank you!!

#1 origami88 has been a member since 18/8/2012. Posts: 1

Posted by busylizzy on 18/8/2012 at 19:05

I think in 10 days you'd manage to cover the ground up north nicely, without having a frenzied pace. It would allow you time to see the sites and soak up the atmosphere.

In terms of itinerary - read the many posts here to get some some ideas, and refer to the suggested itineraries found here:

It's hard to know exactly what to suggest without knowing your interests, but here's my recommendation anyhow:
LP (3-4 days)
Nong Kiaow and/or Muong Ngoi (2-4 days)
Phonsovan (2-3 days)
Vientiane (2-3 days)

Obviously that adds up to more than 10 days so you will need to pick and choose - but it gives you an idea. That covers off areas that I've been to - there are others that might be worth of consideration.

As a route, it would make more sense to fly in to Vientiane, and fly out of LP to Siem Reap (Lao Air flys that route, with a quick stop at Pakse ). I have a feeling that you can'y fly from Vientiane to Siem Reap by memory, but may be wrong on that, so double-check.

Personally, I don't see the point of going to Pakse unless you were planning on spending more time in the south (eg the Bolavan Plateau area or the 4000 islands).

Don't underestimate travel times on the long trips. Check out the suggested itineraries - scroll to the bottom of some pages and you see a table of travel times.

If you can arrive in Vientiane, I'd suggest the following:
Vientiane -> ( Phonsavan (fly?)) -> Luang Prabang -> Nong Kiaow/Muong Ngoi -> LP -> Siem Reap.

Other tips:
- From LP, take a bus/minivan to Nong Kiaow (3.5 hrs) and take the boat back (approx 5 hrs).
- Take boat between NK and Muong Ngoi (about 1 hr each way)
- Fly from VTE to Phonsavan to save travel time - and to get fantastic views of Laos landscape. You'd be looking at all-day road journey otherwise.
- You can't fly from Phonsavan to LP so this will be a full day of travelling.
- As an alternative, skip Phonsavan and go from Vientiane via Vang Vieng - but I can't recommend it since I haven't been. It also depends on what interests you - I love Phonsavan area whereas the party scene in Vang Vieng held no interest for me (although I understand the landscape is pretty amazing).

#2 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,152
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Posted by caseyprich on 19/8/2012 at 05:30

I agree with Lizzy. Don't worry about the South as 10 days in the north is even a little short for all it has to offer. I don't think Phonsavan had a great atmosphere or even landscape when I was there (2008) but the historical nature of the area makes it well worth visitin for a full day (so it'd be two nights on an itinerary).

Nong Kiaow I liked for a small town, and Muang Ngoi has changed a bit since I was there but I still here really good things. Probably wouldn't need to spend more than 1 night in Nong Kiaow but could stretch out your stay in Muang Ngoi for 2 or 3 nights.

The most afield you'd be going is Phonsovan, and as Lizzy says, Vang Vieng is always an option if you want to soak up some booze and mushroom shakes - not being judgmental - I've had a few friends who loved the party scene there and said you can stay away from the major ruckus, but expect a party, not Laos. Anyway, it'd save you the 6-8 hour bus ride from LP, and then the long ride back to Vientiane that you'd do if you go to Phonsovan.

Keep in mind that in Laos you can wait for buses and they can take longer than expected so 10 days is very short. I firmly suggest that you don't try to include North & South in such a short trip - you simply won't experience Laos in the best possible way. Ideally with 10 days I'd plan on 3 nights in Luang Prabang and 3 nights in Nong Kiaow, Mung Ngoi - but then play it by ear and not settle on VV or Phonsovan until you've had feet on the ground.

#3 caseyprich has been a member since 3/3/2010. Location: China. Posts: 1,281
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Posted by exacto on 19/8/2012 at 12:41

Ten days is a good amount of time to explore just northern Laos and make your way down to Vientiane for the flight to Siem Reap . I've done two different one-week trips through Laos starting in Luang Prabang and ending in Vientiane. One went through Phonsavan, and the other through Vang Vieng. Both were great - not as much time as I would have liked but not rushed either. With 10 days, you could add Nong Kiaow or Muang Ngoi as suggested above.

If I had the 10 days you mention, I'd likely do just as lizzy and casey suggest and make a tour of the north. But just to create another option, you could also skip northern Laos and do an overland trip through southern Laos and on to Cambodia and Siem Reap instead. It would depend on what you wanted to see and your starting point in Thailand or elsewhere, but if you were starting in Bangkok, for example, you could take the overnight train to Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand and catch the international bus from there to Pakse , Laos. Pakse is a nice little town and the perfect starting point for a side trip to the Bolevans Plateau. From there you could then make your way south for a stopover in sleepy little Champasak and a visit to Wat Phu - a lovely warm up for Angkor Wat - and onwards to Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands) before continuing to Cambodia.

Let us know what you decide. Cheers.

#4 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,759
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