Hello everyone!! I hope you all are OK :)
I have been invited to a wedding in Luang Prabang and thought to take this opportunity to travel a bit around, I am aware that the time I have is very limited and was hoping I could have some advice from your experiences in terms of key places to visit, best routes of transport being flexible to start and end from any point, I will fly from and to London in UK. Any advice on whether to go with visas from here or get them there, any tips for places to stay overnight...any advice you can give me will be more than welcome and much appreciated! :)
I look forward to hearing from your experience, thank you very much in advance!
#1 InmaLaguna has been a member since 12/12/2012. Posts: 3
From and to London? Where into SE Asia? I assume BKK is the cheapest . . . yet you don't plan on visiting Thailand in the 14 days? Hard to give advice on this one. If you are including the wedding celebration in the 14 days than I would stick with the Northern Laos. Not knowing when the wedding falls in your travel plan also makes giving any advice difficult. Do not think about including Vietnam. If you must see another country, think about flying from Vientiane to Siem Reap for a few nights.
Lao has a very easy Visa on Arrival program - just show up and buy the visa at the airport. I too agree that 14 days is just too short to see much of Indochina. Restrict your travel to Laos and Cambodia since Vietnam is too complex and difficult to travel in. Remember that your first day is really lost in transit and you will feel like warmed over sushi!
(You need more like 6 weeks to see all of Indochina well)
In 14 days, I'd just focus on Northern Laos. Or maybe Luang Prabang, then head up river to Nong Khiaw / Muang Ngoi then back to LP and from there fly into Cambodia for Siem Reap and PP. You won't achieve much more than that in 14 days!
Go to the suggested itineraries page on this site (Planning-> Where to Go) and scroll to the bottom of the page to see a table of travel times between destinations. This will give you an idea of what you're up against.
Maybe the most of your trip and don't over do it!
Thank you to you all for your replies! :) shame there are limitations in time, this moments are when I miss having a freelancer job! :)
The wedding is the 1st of May, the initial thought was to spend 3-4 days in Laos, 4-6 days in Cambodia and 4-6 days in Vietnam. Maybe starting from Luan Prabang, Phom Penh, Angkor, some sea in Cambodia and then go back to Vientian via Mekong, could that be realistict?!
What means of transport would you advice best for the route you proposed busylizzy?!
Daawgon did you mean Vietnam beeing complex in terms of transport?!
I might be asking silly questions...it is going to be my first time in Asia sooooo sorry about that... hehe
Thank you very much in advance!
#5 InmaLaguna has been a member since 12/12/2012. Posts: 3
If you are including the marriage anniversary in the 14 canicule than I would stick with the Northern Laos. Not alive if the marriage avalanche in your biking plan aswell makes giving any admonition difficult.
#7 mariajames has been a member since 29/9/2012. Posts: 57
Laos and Thailand (or Laos and the country you are entering SEA in). Even that is a lot. 14 days is nothing. You will have to fly tp almost every destination if you don't want to eat much of that 14 days in transit. Bus service in Laos is slow. The distances are longer than they look on a map. Less is more.
I was just in Vientiane and Luang Prabang in late November. Just this word of advice - Luang Prabang will spoil you because of it's tropical beauty, good hotels and good food. The rest of Laos is very poor and could be rough going for you. I was not impressed with Vientiane at all, and really wasted 4 days there (2 would have been more than enough).
When I say Vietnam is difficult, I mean just that. Vietnam has very different customs from the rest of Indochina, and just getting used to this country takes at least a week. Crowding, traffic and aggression against travelers can be a major problem in Vietnam, and I advise everyone going there to thoroughly research it's customs. Vietnam is my favorite county because I believe the Vietnamese people to be the friendliest of all (at least the friends I've made there are pretty awesome!) Do not attempt Vietnam with less than 21 days in country!
Madmac is right on when he says "LESS IS MORE" - you will not enjoy your trip if you overload yourself with destinations!
Interesting, daawgon, because I on the other hand really enjoyed Vientiane, and with only 2 days there, wished that I had more time. I guess it depends on what you're interested in.
I enjoyed visiting some of the temples (but I WAS templed out by the time I got to LP, so gave them a miss there), getting up early and joining the locals for a walk along with riverfront, there was a reasonable night market, and I loved the way that
During the day I just wandered and explored. Visited some of the standard tourist attractions - but also just wandered aimlessly through other parts of town. Found friendly people to talk to, lots to photograph and just found it interesting to watch normal (city) life in action.
To answer your transport question about my earlier suggested routes, I will presume you are flying in to LP.
- Spend 2-3 days in LP
-> Take a mini-van to Nong Kiaow (4 hrs - watch the rural scenery)
- 2 nights in Nong Kiaow and explore (it's a rustic town, but scenic and pleasant all the same)
-> maybe head up river to Muang Ngoi for one night (1 hr boat)
-> Take boat back to LP (4-5 hrs from Nong Kiaow; 6 hrs from Muang Ngoi. It's a very basic boat, but gives you an awesome view of river life).
-> Fly to Seam Reap. Spend 3-4 days there.
-> If you want to go to Phnom Penh, take a bus (5 hrs, reasonably good bus, enjoyable scenery along the way)
By the time you tweak your days a bit, the intinerary above would fill you 2 weeks.
Seriously, forget about Vietnam this time around and trying to go along the Mekong. You'll just be too rushed. If you were determined to get to Vietnam, then spend some time in LP, then fly to Vietnam (Hanoi/HCMC) and spend the remainder of your time in that vicinity. But to me, Vietnam is worthy of it's own separate experience.
Thank you all for your tips!
Daawgon, thank your for the clarification made :) hmmm I think I share your taste of travelling busylizzy, I can do a bit of touristy visits, however, what I enjoy the most is mingling with locals and seeing the real action of the place I go to, the itinerary you shared sounds really good.
I think I now have a better idea of where to go and how to better get to different places, again, thank you very much to you all for sharing your thoughts!!!
#11 InmaLaguna has been a member since 12/12/2012. Posts: 3
I would stick to 2 countries at the most. In Lao, Vientiane and Luang Prabang are must sees. If am often amused at those who avoid or don't like Vientiane as they obviously do not know the city at all.
Except for Mogadishu in 93, I've never been to a city that I would tell someone "don't go". Every city has it's own dynamic and cities are more about people and their activities than anything else. I went to Sara Buri, a little industrial city outside of Bangkok with a large Army presence and loved it. Met tons of Thai soldiers, drank some beer with them, talked Army life... it was great. Even dusty little backwater Savanakhet has some things going for it. I can't imagine Vientiane, with it's large diplomatic presence, has nothing going for it.