Photo: Classic scenery surrounds Vang Vieng.

Laos forum

Could you please give me some advice on my Lao itinerary (3 weeks)

Posted by DrNugu on 11/7/2014 at 18:44

Hi there. We are a middle-aged (40's) couple looking to explore some of Laos. We have about 3-weeks and we're arriving during wet season (Late July-Mid August). We love sightseeing, cultural activities (cooking classes, visiting hill tribes, learning), light adventure (short treks, rafting, waterfalls), and relaxing by the water or pool. We're not interested in elephants, grueling treks, or killer bus rides. We don't mind flying around domestically if we can.

This is a rough itinerary that I put together:

Arrive in Vientiane (2 days)
bus to Khong Lor Cave (1 days)
Khong Lor (1 day)
bus back to Vientiane (1 day)
Fly to Huay Xai
Huay Xai (1 days)
Fancy slow boat to Luang Prabang (2 days)
Luang Prabang (5 days)
Fly to Phonsavan
Phonsovan (plain of jars) (2 days)
Fly back to Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang (2 days)
Bus to Vang Vieng
Vang Vieng (3 days)
Bus to Vientiane
Fly home

What do you think? More or less days? a different route?

A few additional concerns if I may:

Is the 2 day cruise from HX to LP crucial to a good visit or could we just take a 4h lunch slowboat out of LP to see Pak Ou Caves and some of the Mekong? This would shave 3-4 days off our itinerary for other activities.

Am I allowing for enough time for rainy season travel? Should I expect floods and serious delays on the bus routes from LB - Vang Vieng - Vientiane.

Booking Hotels through Agoda has usually worked for us, but it seems most mid-range (3 star) places with pool are $50-60/night because of Agoda's 21% 'tax'. This seems in contradiction to everything I've read. Most guidebooks and sites have said about $30/night. I love using agoda...but these prices are more expensive than Bali during high season. Should we just walk-in and expect some good discounts for low season?

Sorry for so many questions, but I'd like to be as detailed as possible so you might help me out. :)

#1 DrNugu has been a member since 1/6/2011. Posts: 4

Posted by DrNugu on 15/7/2014 at 23:53

Nothing? :(

#2 DrNugu has been a member since 1/6/2011. Posts: 4


Posted by SoManyMiles on 28/7/2014 at 03:33 TF writer

Hi DrNugu,
Glad to hear you plan to spend 3 weeks exploring Laos and yes, flying domestically will save you time and from killer bus rides. First, a few notes:
- there's no flight from Luang Prabang to Phonsavan h (Xieng Khouang). The only flight is from Vientiane .

"Is the 2 day cruise from HX to LP crucial to a good visit or could we just take a 4h lunch slowboat out of LP to see Pak Ou Caves and some of the Mekong? This would shave 3-4 days off our itinerary for other activities."
- while it won't be the same experience, you can still get a sense of river life with a day boat trip from Luang Prabang (upriver to Pak Ou or downriver to Kuang Si Waterfalls), or I would even suggest taking those 3 days you would need for the cruise and going to Nong Kiaw (3.5 hours by road from Luang Prabang) and doing a day boat trips on the Nam Ou River. Spectacular, dramatic scenery. Most people travel the slow boat because they are travelling in from Chiang Mai/Chiang Rai, Thailand. Not to say that people don't route to Huay Xai specifically for the fancy slow boat ride, but it's less common.


"Am I allowing for enough time for rainy season travel? Should I expect floods and serious delays on the bus routes from LB - Vang Vieng - Vientiane."
-yes you should expect floods and serious delays, but it's alway a random, unpredictable occurrence. Plan for the worse and hope for the best. 98% of the time its fine. I would suggest being flexible when it comes to your plans with LP - Vang Vieng - Vientiane and just avoid road travel after a heavy night of rain storms. You could always spend more time in LP or if forced, fly LP - Vientiane.


"Booking Hotels through Agoda has usually worked for us, but it seems most mid-range (3 star) places with pool are $50-60/night because of Agoda's 21% 'tax'. This seems in contradiction to everything I've read. Most guidebooks and sites have said about $30/night. I love using agoda...but these prices are more expensive than Bali during high season. Should we just walk-in and expect some good discounts for low season?"
- I strongly recommend you try booking with the hotels directly. Send them an email with your dates and mention you want to book direct with them instead of Agoda. The last thing they want is for you to book Agoda, since Agoda takes as much as 20% commission. Direct booking should get you slightly cheaper rates than Agoda or at least enticing perks like airport transfer, breakfast, upgrade. That said, Luang Prabang and Vientiane hotels are more expensive than most of Southeast Asia. $30/night for 3-star, even in low season, is unrealistic. Expect to pay $60-85 for a 3-star boutique hotel/resort in Luang Prabang in July/August.


So it could be
Vientiane - Kong Lor -Vientiane - Phonsavan - Vientiane / or take the 7 hour bus, half of it mountain roads to Luang Prabang - Nong Kiaw - Luang Prabang - Vang Vieng - Vientiane.
or you could stick with your original plan to fly to Huay Xai and do the slow boat journey.
Hope this helps,
SoManyMiles

#3 SoManyMiles has been a member since 7/2/2014. Posts: 86


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