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Please help me figure out the right trip for me - Laos and a few beach days

Posted by tavso9 on 11/11/2015 at 16:36

Hi travelers,

I beg you to please help me. I've been through a very rough time for the last ten months and I finally got my last bit of energy together to book a flight to Bangkok. Here's what I know at this point: I'll be there for 20 days, it'll be over christmas and new year, I've been to SEA before 12 years ago (including south of Laos), I like nature, waterfalls, Buddhism and Buddhist culture, Mekong river rides, laid back (I liked Dhon Det back then) and a few days at a tropical beach. Also, I don't want to fly within SEA but rather take the bus or train. I can't put my finger on why, but this is important to me. Safety is obviously too, I'm a woman traveling on my own and this will be my first trip to SEA on my own. I have roughly 600 Euros available for 20 days (flight from EU to BKK excluded, of course), so I hope that's roughly enough to get around. I don't care about partying at all!
I'm aware that there's no sea and tropical beach in Laos so I guess a few days at some beach in Thailand would be the only option. I liked Kho Phangan (the quiet part), and I'd be very happy to go back there for, say, 4 or 5 days, but I'm not sure how realistic this is timewise.

I'd be tremenduously thankful if you could help me figure this trip out. Really. Really, really. In (part) return, I promise regular updates on my trip here once I'm there.

Love and kindness,
Lara

#1 tavso9 has been a member since 24/8/2013. Posts: 13

Posted by Captain_Bob on 12/11/2015 at 05:48

Thirty Euros/day is decent daily budget for backpacker-style travel in the region, especially if you don't care about "partying" at all and take public bus/train instead of regional flights. Since you're arriving in high season maybe pre-book the first night or two at a guesthouse. Then head to Laos, either by night train or bus to Nong Khai, or further north via Chiang Mai and Chiang Khong. Depends on where you want to go / have been already. Bring $30-35 for the Lao visa, costs more in other currencies. After Laos you will probably have to go back through Bangkok to get to the islands/beaches, and from there it's pretty easy to reach Koh Samet or Koh Chang by bus/ferry. Or head further south to the Gulf islands (Koh Phangan, etc.) or down the Andaman side to Krabi, Koh Lanta, etc. Up to you how much to plan vs. wing it.

Train info here: http://www.seat61.com/Thailand.htm
Laos travel info here: http://hobomaps.com

#2 Captain_Bob has been a member since 27/5/2006. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,958

Posted by exacto on 12/11/2015 at 14:57

Hi Lara,
Good for you for booking the flights. It sounds like this is just what you need.
I'll second Bob's suggestions as I think he is spot on with those recommendations. It looks like the full moon will be in late January, so Koh Phangan should be reasonably quiet during the time you would be there, but Koh Chang and that area is closer to Bangkok and might give you less travel and more beach time.
No matter which route you choose, I'd book the overnight sleeper train berths as soon as you can, as those trains fill up fast, particularly that time of year. Have a wonderful time and let us know how it goes. Cheers.

#3 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,841

Posted by jackalbert on 12/11/2015 at 22:32

Hello Lara,

Yeah you have choose right place to visit bangkok, There is budhism culture and you like it. there are so many beaches and I am sure you will enjoy on this place.

#4 jackalbert has been a member since 12/11/2015. Posts: 3

Posted by tavso9 on 13/11/2015 at 03:15

hey guys, thatns so much already for your replies. I now have a bit of a better idea where I would like to go.
What do you think?
Turns out I only have 18 days, so I have to bear this in mind.

The idea would be to spend one night in Bangkok to recover a bit from the long flight. The next day I'll take an overnight train to Vientiane . I read the train doesn't go directly, only as far as the borders. How long would it take me from the border to Vientiane? Since my goal is actually not Vientiane but Luang Prabang, is there are way to get there without the detour (and without flying)?
Also, I heard the road from Vientiane to LP is windy, but is it dangerous?
I would like to do some light, slow trekking and it seems all these things can be done in LP. Since I love waterfalls, Kuang Si Waterfall looks ideal to me. Overall, I would like to spend at least 4 days in and around LP.
On the way to or from LP I could stop in vang vieng. Is it worth it? I heard the partying has stopped and that there are nice sights such as the laguna.
I also would like to travel parts of the Mekong on a slow boat, but I am not sure which part would fit best. Again, scenic nature would be great. Are there any recommendations for a strech on the Mekong from or back to Bangkok?

Once I have returned to Bangkok I would make my way to the beach immediately. I assume I have to go back to BKK first, no convenient way to travel directly from Laos.
As for the island - I am looking what fine white sand and turquoise water, wsimming and snorkeling and rather backpackers or no one (but not families or old retired men). Is there any island/beach that comes even close to this? Especially during the winterholidays?
I saw that Koh Chang or Koh Maat I also would like to travel parts of the Mekong on a slow boat, but I am not sure which part would fit best. Again, scenic nature would be great. - I'd also like to spend 4-5 days at a tropical, not too crowded beach. I had a look around and it seems to me that Koh Chang or Koh Maat, Koh Samut, and Hua Hin are resonably close. Further south would be nice, but it would mean losing two whole days. However, if the other options would all just be a disappointment I'd rather take the longer trip.

What do you think?

#5 tavso9 has been a member since 24/8/2013. Posts: 13

Posted by tavso9 on 13/11/2015 at 06:38

Done more research on the Laos part.

I was wondering whether this would be a good option: https://www.travelfish.org/trip_planner/laos-one-week-holiday
but I would add a few more days LP.
Since I arrive in Bankgok, I'd take an overnight train to the Northern Thai border. Now, I have spend a significant amount in Chang Mai in the past, so I want to skip this beautiful town. But are there overnight trains to some other interesting place close to the border?
On my way back, I cross the Thai border further south near Vientiane.

Or the other way around (starting in the south)

This way, I get waterfalls, scenec landscape, Buddhism and a slow boat ride.
Iheard this part of the Mekong travel is really touristy, though. Is there an attreactive alternative Mekong-Part?

Again, I want relaxed Lao people and beautiful landscape around me. But I'm happy to stay on the beaten track if the amount of tourists is reasoable (and no partying).

#6 tavso9 has been a member since 24/8/2013. Posts: 13

Posted by tavso9 on 14/11/2015 at 06:59

I'm not sure where to add this - here or my other post - so I'll try both:

I really would like to visit some quiet, relaxing lagoon.
Is there something to be found in Thailand? (Or Laos?)

#7 tavso9 has been a member since 24/8/2013. Posts: 13

Posted by MADMAC on 14/11/2015 at 13:11

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3I5FJEtMeo

#8 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by Gogomobile on 15/11/2015 at 14:20

Your budget is very low and time is limited. Xmas time is expensive.

I think you need more funds.

#9 Gogomobile has been a member since 14/4/2015. Posts: 412

Posted by odo on 17/11/2015 at 10:45

Agree with Gogo; you either don't have enough money to do all these things or enough time to enjoy them the way you want to travel.

Can't think of much worse than the bus ride from VT to LPB. VV is still full of young'ns, although the surrounding countryside is beautiful if you have transport. Suggest you take out a small loan & fly to LP from BKK, then do the slow boat North to Houay Xai. Stay a couple of days in Chiang Rai (day trip to the tea plantations Doi Mae Salong) then night trains to the island of your choice in Krabi /Trang regions or maybe Ko Phayam if you don't want to go as far South. Krabi has both the Huay To waterfall & the Emerald lagoon, as well as islands within easy reach.

#10 odo has been a member since 3/8/2012. Posts: 12

Posted by tavso9 on 17/11/2015 at 10:50

I still don't know what is so bad about the bus ride from Vientiane to LP. Could anyone tell me more, please?

As for the islands, I think I'll spend a few days on Koh Chang.

Hmm, VV doesn't sound relaxing in the slightest, maybe I should overthink my trip? Not go to Laos? Would you suggest sth else?

I really don't want to fly. I hate flying.

#11 tavso9 has been a member since 24/8/2013. Posts: 13

Posted by tavso9 on 17/11/2015 at 11:17

I am also not particularily interested in Vientiane, but very much in LP.

Is there maybe an alternative trip you would suggest?

E.g. Via the northern border to LP?

I have been to Chiang Mai before, though, and although I liked it very much I would prefer seeing new places.

#12 tavso9 has been a member since 24/8/2013. Posts: 13

Posted by MADMAC on 17/11/2015 at 13:25

"I still don't know what is so bad about the bus ride from Vientiane to LP. Could anyone tell me more, please?" Long on time, low on comfort, high on risk...


"Hmm, VV doesn't sound relaxing in the slightest, maybe I should overthink my trip? Not go to Laos? Would you suggest sth else?"

Reporting on VV is it is toned way down. But it's not exactly a quiet spot. All the backpackers flock to the place.

"I am also not particularily interested in Vientiane, but very much in LP."

Nothing a flight from Bangkok to LP can't solve... I hate flying too. But from where you are landing, to Luang Prabang, it's a long way.

You don't have enough money to do what you want to do at this point. LP aside, you're still short on cash.

Northern Laos just doesn't seem to make sense given your budget and transportation / time restrictions. Trat / Koh Chang and then over to Siem Reap would seem to make more sense.

Or if you really just want to get off the tourist trail, head up the Thai side of the Mekong from Khemmerat. You asked about a peaceful Lagoon (of course, this one is fresh water), this is North of Nakhon Phanom:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3I5FJEtMeo

#13 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by Gogomobile on 17/11/2015 at 17:21

Bus rides are more uncomfortable than flights. Your budget is too low and your time is limited.

#14 Gogomobile has been a member since 14/4/2015. Posts: 412

Posted by Gogomobile on 17/11/2015 at 18:09

http://www.seekrabi.com/krabi/hot-springs/emerald-pool-sra-morakot-emerald-pond-crystal-pool/

You want an inland lagoon or a bay at a beach?

#15 Gogomobile has been a member since 14/4/2015. Posts: 412

Posted by tavso9 on 18/11/2015 at 02:08

thanks, guys.

Ok, looks like I can get 200 more Euros together, so that would be 800 Euros for 18 days.

I'm now thinking, maybe I should stay in Thailand and not go to Laos. I would love to go, but maybe it's not doable given the time and funds.

Maybe I stay in Thailand and travel north and south? The Krabi Lagoon looks great! Is there a great pool like waterfall somewhere in Thailand? And another place than Chiang Mai for Buddhist Temples and a lot of Buddhist Culture?

Alternatively, maybe rather than doing north Laos, going to the south of Laos and Thailand? I have been to some places in the south of Laos, but don't remember there being remarkable Buddhist Temples etc. But I may have just missed it?

#16 tavso9 has been a member since 24/8/2013. Posts: 13

Posted by Gogomobile on 18/11/2015 at 03:20

Erawan waterfalls west of Bangkok is the best. Can get busy on weekends so go midweek.

Temples are all over Thailand. You might like Nong Khai or Khon Kaen. Cheaper than islands and far less tourists than Chiang Mai. Lampang near CM another option.

#17 Gogomobile has been a member since 14/4/2015. Posts: 412


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