First time posting - many thanks to everyone who replies in these forums - been so so helpful.
My wife and I are planning a trip to Laos in November. After lots of reading on travelfish and some other sites we are thinking of starting with the slow boat from Huay Xai to LPB. Then spending several days in LPB with time for a side trip to Nong Khiaw & Muang Ngoi. We've got about 16 days total - including travel time from the states.
FYI we're more into relaxation & beauty. Not really looking to party. We've never been to Asia. And we can afford to splurge here and there (but not afraid to rough it).
Should we use all of our time for this itinerary? (we'd don't want to rush about) Or add another stop?
Should we spend a couple days in Northern Thailand near Huay Xai prior to the slowboat? If so where?
How much do we need to book in advance? Specifically for the back end of the trip? Having everything booked is normally how I operate - but it seems like this isn't the way to go for this trip?
Any advice is greatly appreciated!
#1 PhantomRide has been a member since 21/5/2013. Posts: 3
^ Right, where do you fly in/out of the region? If Bangkok then allow a few days to get up to Chiang Mai and see some of the far north before tipping into Laos at the Chiang Khong / Huay Xai border where you get the slow boat to LPB. Since your time is limited it might be a plan to pre-book accommodation in Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang, but no need (impossible) to prebook the slow boat (never full, costs about $25 at the pier same day). Then you can take a bus up to Nong Khiaw and boat back down to LPB and carry on south by bus to Vang Vieng and Vientiane. About 10-12 days should be enough for north Laos then cross the bridge to Nong Khai and get a sleeper train to Bangkok.
Thanks for responding.
Yes, we fly in/out of Bangkok late November. Our dates are flexible but we've got about 2.5 weeks total.
Was considering flying immediately to northern Thailand from Bangkok since flights seem to leave regularly and aren't too expensive. But if we spend only a few days at one stop in northern Thailand prior to crossing the border where should it be? Chiang Mai? Chiang Rei? Someplace else?
Was also considering flying back to Bangkok from LPB and skipping Vientiane since our time is limited. But this would lock us into this plan since I'd need to book that flight. Perhaps it is best to keep it flexible? Big mistake to skip Vientiane?
I realize this is all subjective but opinions appreciated. Cheers.
#4 PhantomRide has been a member since 21/5/2013. Posts: 3
Good idea getting a flight straight up to Chiang Mai or Rai. Pretty boring in between and the far north is much more worthwhile. Either northern city is a good base for daytrips but Chiang Mai as a city is considerably more happening - tons of temples, markets, great food, entertainment options, etc. After LPB I would continue down to Vientiane with a stopover in Vang Vieng as the scenery en route is nice and V V is in a very pretty setting with good options for bicycling around the rural area across the river, exploring caves and floating down the river in a kayak or tube. Vientiane is also worth a couple days, then head back to Bangkok by sleeper train (from Nong Khai on the Thai side) or flight.
Agree with the other posters that the North is really worthwhile, but I'd suggest that instead of doing the slow boat from the border (like everyone), you head to Nong Khiaw, spend a few days around there, and then take the daily boat (6 hours) to Luang Prabang. The scenery is incredible and it's a much less touristy experience. And, to be honest, six hours is plenty.
Our trip report from Northern Laos is here if you want more details: http://erohisms.com/northern-laos-the-land-of-limestone-cliffs-calm-rivers-ethnic-minority-groups-and-insane-roads/
Also, I'd consider stopping at Sukhothai in Thailand before Chiang Mai. If you haven't seen ruins before, these are worth it, and they even light them up on Saturday night! http://erohisms.com/thailand-in-ruins-ayutthaya-and-sukhothai/
#6 erohisms has been a member since 17/3/2013. Posts: 10
Thai airways have an offer on at the minute for return flights to bangkok from heathrow which include two free internal flights. Â£640
#7 Hannah987 has been a member since 29/5/2013. Posts: 1
Thank you all for the tips and opinions! It's a great help.
#8 PhantomRide has been a member since 21/5/2013. Posts: 3