I'm traveling to Laos for the first time in late November, starting/ending my trip in Vientiane . Here's roughly what I've planned. I'm on an average budget (not 5-star, but not backpacking either) Does this itinerary make sense both logistically and from the perspective of a first time Laos visitor? Any advice would be much appreciated!
Day 1 - Vientiane
Day 2 - travel to Kong Lor by bus / overnight
Day 3 - visit Kong Lor caves bus to Thakhet
Day 4 - Thakhet (lake, caves, town)
Day 5 - travel day to Champasak (can I do this in 1 day from Thakhet? how?)
Day 6 - Wat Phu & environs
Day 7- Bolaven Plateau day trip
Day 8 - Pakse - Luang Prabang (flight)
Day 9 - Luang Prabang & environs
Day 10 - Luang Prabang & environs
Day 11 - Luang Prabang & environs
Day 12 - travel day to Phonsavan
Day 13 - Plain of Jars
Day 14 - Vientiane (flight) & home
#1 araxas has been a member since 16/9/2012. Posts: 2
Some thoughts ...
Thakhek to Champasak may not be in the cards unless you leave extremely early in the morning. To get to Champasak you'll have to cross the Mekong on a makeshift ferry and I doubt they run in the dark. You might make it, but you'd probably be better off breaking your journey somewhere like Pakse, which is a pretty nice town. You'll have to stop there anyway to change buses or to get onto a songthaew for Champasak.
Day 14 ... you plan to travel from Phonsavan to Vientiane and then head straight to the airport? If so, you better cut yourself some more time and get into Vientiane the day before you're scheduled to fly home.
Have you considered entering Laos from SE Thailand (Bangkok to Ubon Ratchathani by night train, and then the International Bus to Pakse) and make Champasak your first stop? You could leave Bangkok in the evening and be in Champasak the following day at around lunchtime. Then head north, making stops at the Bolaven Plateau, Pakse, Thakhek, Thong Lor, Vientiane, Phonsavan, then LP? You can fly back to Vientiane from LP.
It's generally unwise to plan such a brisk itinerary in Laos. Imagine if there is a mechanical breakdown or flat tire (etc.) on any of your transport options (bus, minvan, pickup) your whole plan could fall apart with it. I would cut something out, either Kong Lor or Phonsavan, and set a slower pace, and allow time for things to go wrong.
Thanks for the tips! I've decided to just cut out southern Laos from my trip and spend more time at a slower pace (and with room for hiccups) in the North. I'll do the caves from Vientiane and then head back there at the end of my trip. That frees up three days for me.
#4 araxas has been a member since 16/9/2012. Posts: 2