Hi Everyone! :-)
I'm new to this site and have only just discovered it. I'm addicted already and have just spent the last 3 or 4 hours just reading as much info as I can. It's great! Anyway... My partner and I are wanting to go to Laos for about 14 or 15 days starting in mid June and we would like to take our 8 year old son with us as well. There is so much that I would like to see but I don't want to get sucked into trying to see too much and then end up feeling like we've spent the majority of our trip on buses, cars and planes.
Therefore is it realistic for me to want to see the following places inside of 14 -15 days; Vientane, Luang Prabang, Luang Nam Tha, 4000 Islands Don Dhet.
I'm happy to drop one of these locations if need be but we are trying to organise as much of this trip by ourselves as possible as the prices we have been quoted from travel agents for tour packages are outrageously high. I have travelled allot so I'm not fussed with getting my hands dirty and organising this myself but any advice would be greatly appreciated. With our child coming along with us there is allot for us to consider regarding going from one place to another and how long that takes and the comfort factor and whether our child can handle that as he has never travelled overseas before. My partner and I are seasoned travellers so we can and have roughed it but our son is new to this and still very young. Our last couple of overseas trips he stayed with the grandparents but we can't get away with that anymore... Damn it! :-)
Taking into consideration that we have a child with us and we have just 14 - 15 days is there enough time to cover all those destinations? Last but not least if you book the accommodation yourself is it possible to organise drivers and guides once you arrive or can you do that online? Once again any help here would be greatly appreciated.
#1 BradleyK1972 has been a member since 12/2/2014. Posts: 8
I would have thought that Thailand is more suitable and fun for an 8yo. Lots more snorkelling, kayaking and easy to access elephant rides etc.
Laos is less developed with bad roads and the attractions more subtle and take longer to reach.
I think you could do it, but you'd likely be much better off picking just northern Laos or just southern Laos for your adventure, because, as Leonard mentions, getting from place to place takes longer in Laos than in many other countries.
Do you plan to fly in and out of Bangkok or somewhere else? Did you hope to visit other places, or just Laos?
Laos is a pretty good organise-as-you-go place, so you really shouldn't need to book accommodation or transport ahead of time unless there is a place you particularly wish to stay. One exception might be domestic air travel.
If you do choose to squeeze it all in, you can save time by flying from LP to Vientiane and then hopefully again south to Pakse.
I really like southern Laos, but for a first time trip and travelling with a youngster, I think I'd steer for the north. Start in Vientiane to get your feet under you, then head north with a stopover in Vang Vieng on the way to Luang Prabang. From there you can visit the other northern hotspots before flying to Chiang Mai or back to BKK or wherever. Good luck!
Thanks for the replies, much appreciated. We are far more interested in seeing Laos than Thailand to be honest but I will certainly take on board that travel around Laos is slow and factor that in for sure. From what you guys are saying it seems difficult to properly see the north and south of Laos in just 14 or 15 days and that's a real shame but I will be wise and take your advice. I really wanted to see the 4000 islands and Champasak in the south but on the other hand I also really wanted to see Luang Prabang and Luang Nam Tha in the north so this is going to be a very difficult decision but it seems like the wise thing to do is to choose one or the other... :-(
I will have long and hard think about this and chat with my partner and let you know what we decide. Thanks again for your responses :-)
#4 BradleyK1972 has been a member since 12/2/2014. Posts: 8
I have to side with Leonard here. Laos isn't nearly as fun for a kid as Thailand would be. Kids love the beach, Laos is landlocked. Hotels with swimming pools are a huge plus for kids and I suspect they are a lot tougher to find in places like Luang Nam Tha. Thailand has a much more international flavor to it and more international food access, which for kids can be a factor. Thailand has a much more robust medical infrastructure, and if I were my child that would be a huge factor for me. For the backpacker set, Laos has an appeal because it's infrastructure is less developed and therefore it has a more different feel than the western world. More so that Thailand. Some people like that concept. But for a kid... kids don't care about that. Kids want to have fun on vacation.
I respect your opinions but once again I must point out that We would much prefer to see Laos than Thailand so no point going to Thailand when we are super keen to see Laos first. I suppose my question wasn't really whether our child would like Laos or not but rather if we could realistically get to see all the places that we wanted to see in just 14 - 15 days taking into consideration that we have a child with us. The other question I asked was if anyone thought it was a better option to arrive in Laos and organise transport with a driver and accommodation once in Laos rather than go on a package tour which seem to be very over priced.
If anyone could help us with info regarding booking transport/drivers and accommodation once in Laos? Is that easy to do in Laos and is it a cheaper and/or better option than a tour package??
I'm sure Thailand is great for kids and we may very well do that in the future but Laos is somewhere we have really wanted to go for a long time so as much as we love our son this is not all about the kid... ;-)
Thanks in advance for any help and advice.
#7 BradleyK1972 has been a member since 12/2/2014. Posts: 8
Hey Bradley, you go where you want. Some people on here have a tendency to ignore the question asked and spout the same tired responses no matter what is being asked. As long as you are aware of the intricacies of travel in Laos with a young child and are happy to do this then that is great.
As a rule, I would not pre-book anything in Laos. Stuff can be arranged on the go and it's all cash business, so I wouldn't bother booking guesthouses online etc (there may be some occasional exception to this). Definitely avoid a package tour, slow travel in Laos is the only way and these tours are constantly dragging you around from place to place, something that is not ideal with a small kid. To this end, stick to either the North or South in a two-week time frame.
#8 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 738
So you care more about yourselves than your child?
Seems to be common these days.
Whats so great about Laos?
Bad roads are bad roads whether its a car or bus.
Best to fly with short holidays
3 to 4 destinations in 2 weeks is realistic. And thats flying.
Anymore is not fun.
That applies to any country really.
Wow! LeonardCohen1... What an incredibly rude, inaccurate and unnecessary comment that is to make. You arrogant so and so...! You don't even know me nor do you know or understand the sacrifices my partner and I have made and continue to make for our child so your rude and wrong assumption that we put ourselves before our child is a disgusting thing to say to someone you know absolutely nothing about!
Also, maybe you should read the many posts here by people who have travelled to Laos with children that say that not only is Laos kid friendly but also that their children loved the experience.
Again, my question is above and that was all I wanted answered and at no stage did I ask about Thailand you clown. If we wanted a holiday for us all to enjoy a nice swim, snorkel and relaxation by the beach then I would go to the Great Barrier Reef in my home state of Queensland. Wake up to yourself and give yourself an upper cut while you're there you rude bugger!
Anyone with manners that wants to answer my actual question that would be kindly appreciated.
#11 BradleyK1972 has been a member since 12/2/2014. Posts: 8
Very quick note as about to board a flight - Laos would be great with an 8 year old - imagine he'll especially enjoy 4,000 islands. Tho I'd be inclined to drop Luang Nam Tha and add Vang Vieng as the latter has changed a lot and there is plenty there for kids - moreso than LNT.
#12 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,755
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Have you guys already been to Thailand? I was making that assumption since you said you travelled extensively. If the answer is no, then I would be curious as to why you would want to go to Laos first? I live on the Laos border and there's just no question for me but that me, my wife and my daughter, all who have been to Laos (and technically my wife is low land Laos from an ethnic standpoint and speaks Laos) would prefer to travel in Thailand. There's a lot of reasons for that, but I'm curious why anyone would want to start with Laos? End up with it, I kind of get. But not start with.
Thanks somtam2000 :-)
Madmac - I get your point and I respect what you are saying and I don't mean for this to come across as being rude but that wasn't the question I asked. My question (or post) is not about whether Thailand or Laos is better that's for another discussion maybe. One of my closest friends worked for Intrepid travel for many years and in addition to that spent 3 years in south east Asia and her opinion is different to yours as she prefers Laos & Cambodia to Thailand. I honestly think that's just a personal preference. My question above has nothing to do with comparing Thailand to Laos as that all depends on the individual. Yes I've done allot of travel through Asia, UK & Europe, NZ and Papua New Guinea. When it comes to Asia I have been to Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia & Brunei.
Everyone, No more comments about Thailand please, see my question above and answer accordingly... Thanks :-)
#14 BradleyK1972 has been a member since 12/2/2014. Posts: 8
Oh well good luck then cranky pants.
Wow. Look who is talking!
Come on MADMAN, he wants to go to Laos. You don't like the beach, aren't crazy about Thai food or street food, and love to salsa. It is personal choice - something you usually completely understand and support. If you asked about a salsa club somewhere and I said you should try swing or ballroom instead, is that helpful?
Ok i will try to answer the rough question.
No. 15 days is stuff all. You lose 2 days on flights plus lose time bt places.
2 weeks is a short holiday. I normally go for 3 weeks cause 2 isnt enough to see or do much without rushing.
If a city like LP interests u then you need 5 to 8 days to get below the surface.
So in the fair dinkum dept you cant see many places.
OK let's start with Bradley's original questions:
1. You have a lot of travel experience already. I think the tour thing speaks for itself. Tours are useful tools for those who really don't feel secure doing it on their own (I don't think that includes you given your background) or to gain access to places / events that you otherwise could not access. That doesn't qualify you either. So I doubt anyone here would recommend a tour.
2. Exacto answered the North / South question. Pick one. I think you kind of sensed this already.
3. Bus travel entails additional risk throughout SEA. I've heard (but have no personal experience) that the ride from Vientiane to Luang Prabang is particularly long, unpleasant and more horrowing than most. If it were me, I'd fly the Vientiane to Luang Prabang leg if I had the money.
4. When I travel with family (of course that's in Thailand) I always book in advance. This is because both my wife and daughter have certain specific preferences that I try and accomodate. When I travel alone, I never pre-book unless I am showing up from a night bus trip and know I'll be there before reception opens and want to ensure a room is available.
5. As for "organizing" drivers and guides I think that largely depend on what you have in mind at each location. If you are planning something out of the ordinary, the trying to plan for it makes sense. But if not, well getting around via one form of transportation or another isn't difficult at all.
exacto spitting the dummy...??!!! Coming from Leonard...??!!!
Oh wait, let me guess, I just spat my dummy as well.
exacto is one of the most helpful and mannerly posters on here.
Now if you'll excuse me I gotta go throw some shrimp on the barby...
#21 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 738
I find this all quite amusing, really, it's funny. I suppose you just have to laugh! :-)
For those of you on this post that were kind enough to just simply answer the question directly and not push their own Thailand agenda and their own personal tastes on me and didn't insult my parenting... Thanks so much for your help.
We have decided that we will just stick to a maximum of just 3 or 4 destinations in Laos but are also considering stretching our trip from 14-15 days to 20 days. Money is not really a problem for us but getting the time away from my professional photography business is. The downside to running your own business and working freelance is that you don't get holiday pay. Luckily I love my job :-)
Once again thank you so much for those who gave up their time to answer my question and give friendly advice, it's greatly appreciated.
After our Laos trip we will look ahead to next year at going to Turkey and Greece, I've been to Greece and speak the language but Turkey I have not seen and am keen to visit. Other places on my hit list that I haven't seen yet are Cambodia, India, Thailand and Alaska. Of course there are others but one place at a time hey... :-)
#22 BradleyK1972 has been a member since 12/2/2014. Posts: 8
Good one, Bradley. You may be able to mix a bit of work with pleasure, as there will be plenty of photo ops in Laos for you. If you could stretch it to 20 days, I suspect you could work in both ends of the country, particularly if you could fly for some of it.
By the way, the reason I asked if you were flying in and out of Bangkok is purely a question of logistics. From Bangers you should be able to connect directly to Luang Prabang, saving boatloads of time and effort. After exploring the north you could drift south with a few nights in Vientiane and some one night stopovers in Thakek and Savannakhet on your way through to Pakse , Champasak , and 4K Islands. Or you could fly directly from VTE to Pakse too.
I really enjoyed my time in Pakse and Champasak. If you visit Champasak and have the time, give it two nights, so you can visit Wat Phou early in the morning and just soak up the quiet atmosphere of the town before rushing off to the islands.
As for Turkey, I loved it there and considered it nearly as interesting a place to visit as southeast Asia. There is public transport, but I suspect you'll be much better off hiring a car because the distances are significant and may of the sights spread out. Cannakale and Pamukkale are two of my favorites, but if you can, definitely visit Cappadoccia (Goreme) and stay for a few nights. Selcuk and Ephesus are also an excellent stop. Cheers.
exacto - Thank you very much. You're a legend mate! :-)
#25 BradleyK1972 has been a member since 12/2/2014. Posts: 8
"By the way, the reason I asked if you were flying in and out of Bangkok is purely a question of logistics. From Bangers you should be able to connect directly to Luang Prabang, saving boatloads of time and effort. After exploring the north you could drift south with a few nights in Vientiane and some one night stopovers in Thakek and Savannakhet on your way through to Pakse , Champasak , and 4K Islands. Or you could fly directly from VTE to Pakse too."
Fly Vientiane to Pakse for sure. That's a long, painful series of bus rides or a longer, more painful, night bus... If he had the time, then yes, there would be merit in stopping in Thakek and check out Konglor. Then he could RON at Savanakhet and then move on to Pakse. But time is working against that kind of very slow option.
exacto and Madmac - Thanks again for your thoughts and suggestions as they have certainly helped.
We haven't come to any final decisions on our trip itinerary but we are certainly getting allot closer. We are thinking that we will most likely start in Vientiane where we will spend a couple of days before getting a personal driver to drive us to Van Vieng where will spend 2 or 3 days before heading onto Luang Prabang where we will spend about 4 or 5 days seeing the town and surrounding areas. We will then catch a plane from Luang Prabang to Pakse and from Pakse we will head to Champasak and then the 4000 Islands for a couple of days before heading back to Paksi and flying home from there. Still deciding on whether we will go for 14-15 days or stretch it to 20 days but either way the above itinerary is maybe getting close to what we will do. I think... ;-)
#27 BradleyK1972 has been a member since 12/2/2014. Posts: 8
Seems the thread degenerated into a slanging match so I didn't read half the replies. My 2c worth - drop LNT and add Vang Vieng like Somtam said. So you'd do Vientiane, VV, LP, fly to Pakse, champasak & 4000 islands. That's certainly doable, but you'll come back wishing you had more time because all of those places are fantastic and can easily soak up masses of time. Perhaps even skip VV to give yourself some more breathing space.
Another alternative would be to skip the south entirely and then add in Nong Kiaow, Muang Ngoi and the caves at Vieng Xai. Probably could even squeeze in the jars in Phonsavan.
Sounds like a good trip!
I haven't read any of this thread except the initial question by BradleyK1972 which I realize was back in February. I'd like to answer the question and also offer advice to those thinking of travelling with small kids in Laos.
Laos would be great for easygoing parents and an 8-year old not addicted to electronic games, computers, etc. Many families with young kids spend a week or more in Luang Prabang , and find plenty of things to do while having the appropriate amount of down time needed to hang out at a swimming pool, garden or Mekong beach. June is a good time to go as a family because hotels are at low season rates. You can find many family friendly boutique hotels with swimming pools starting at $50, and maybe even cheaper if you negotiate a week long stay.
Luang Prabang is an excellent base for travels as day trips from town can still feel like you are worlds away and be an exciting, educational experience. Just a few suggestions for the 5 to 10 year old crowd: The Living Land Rice Experience, Kuang Si Waterfall (including bear sanctuary and butterfly park), Tad Se Waterfall, elephant riding, Mekong boat ride, natural dyes class, cooking class (for older kids), cycling.
For 2 weeks, I would suggest Luang Prabang (5 to 7 days) - Vang Vieng (a night or two here to break up the road journey, or more to explore the surrounding nature) - Vientiane. You really don't want to spend too much time travelling around Laos by road as it takes a lot of your time. Luang Namtha is 8 hours by road (5 hours of it bad road) from Luang Prabang. Covering both north and south Laos in 2 weeks is way too much.
Most diets can be accommodated in Luang Prabang and Vientiane. If your children need medication, bring a supply and also a good medical kit for things ranging from a scratch to more serious.
Hope more families visit Luang Prabang. It's a fantastic family holiday and I've met many with kids who loved it.
#32 SoManyMiles has been a member since 7/2/2014. Posts: 94