Finally, I've made up my mind to go to Laos in Feb 08. Unfortunately I have too few days to spare and too many places to go, so I hope I can get some candid advice on my tentative schedule:
Fri: Singapore (SG) overnight coach to Kuala Lumpur (KL)
Sat: KL - Vientiane (Air Asia - arrives morning)
Sun: Vientiane to Vang Viang (latest possible bus - was hoping to stay one more day at Vientiane, but from what I've read perhaps it would be a better idea to spend that extra time in Vang Viang / Louang Phabang instead?)
Mon: Vang Vieng
Tues: Vang Vieng
Wed: Vang Vieng to Louang Phabang
Thurs: Louang Phabang
Fri: Louang Phabang
Sat & Sun: Louang Phabang slow boat to Houay Xai (I'm a little worried about this. Are there daily boat rides out of Louang Phabang? Do I have to spend the night at Houay Xai? But this is one portion of the trip that I REALLY want to do!)
Mon: onward to Chiang Khong / Chiang Mai
Tues: Chiang Mai (??)
Wed: Chiang Mai to KL (morning Air Asia flight) then KL to SG
I think my main worry is the portion from Louang Phabang onward to Chiang Mai. As much as I'd love to spend more time in Laos, I'm thinking that a one day buffer (Tues in Chiang Mai) would be a safer bet. Any other suggestions?
I know that alot of time is spent on the roads, but unfortunately this seems to be the best possible (and affordable) route for me to get to Laos from Singapore.
All advice, tips and suggestions are welcome. As well as advice on what to do and places to go!
Also, anyone has any idea on how the rock climbing scene is like in Laos? Rough Guide 2nd Ed seem to suggest that it's developing (back in 2002 when it was written). Anyone been there climbing recently?
#1 hooloovoo has been a member since 1/12/2007. Posts: 2
My first suggestion would be to reverse it. So fly KL to Chiang Mai and return from Vientiane to KL.
The reason for this is then you're going downriver from Huay Xai to LP, and so the trip takes closer to 1.5 days rather than the full 2 days it takes if you go up river.
So, if you do that, you can have one night in CM, bus to Chiang Khong, where you'll need to overnight. Cross border first thing in the morning and get the slow boat south.
Otherwise looks pretty good -- if I had a spare day I'd spend it in Luang Prabang rather than Vang Vieng.
Hope that helps, and apologies for reorganising your trip ;-)
#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,710
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Wow, thanks for the quick reply somtam2000!! That was absolutely awesome. I don't know why I never quite decided to look at the journey the other way - I think it's got something to do with starting with the the not-so-much to shout about Vientiane first then kindda ending the Laos experience with Luang Phabang. Plus read on Rough Guides about doing the slow boat ride in reverse being a little less crowded.
But that may just be the right solution for me. And placing the iffy part of the trip right at the start could be alot less stressful as well! I can't believe I didn't even think about that! And guess what, in this way, I actually can fly direct into Chiang Mai from SG.
Perhaps I should re-post my tentative schedule:
Fri: SG - Chiang Mai (arrive Chiang Mai 0830h)
Sat: Chiang Mai - Chiang Khong (overnight at Chiang Khong)
Sun & Mon: Chiang Khong - Houay Xai - Luang Phabang
Tues: Luang Phabang
Wed: Luang Phabang
Thu: Luang Phabang - Vang Vieng
Fri: Vang Vieng
Sat: Vang Vieng
Sun: Vang Vieng to Vientien
Tue: Vientien - KL - SG (1110h flight out of Vientien)
Same number of days, but somehow seem to be alot less iffy than the previous schedule!
#3 hooloovoo has been a member since 1/12/2007. Posts: 2
I am also a Singaporean and I am heading to Laos on 10 Dec. Basically following the same intinerary from Chiang Mai to Vientiane. Another alternative for your trip home is to cross into Thailand via the Friendship Bridge and take the overnight train to Bangkok. There should be a lot more option for flight between Bangkok-Singapore.
#4 limchris60 has been a member since 2/12/2007. Posts: 1
your trip now seems much better planned other than I will skip Vang Vieng and stay in Luang Phabang instead. I stayed there last year for about a week. And the boat trip is stunning, but very painful, so give yourself sometime to recover from it! And then give Vientiene a chance, its one of the most laid back capitals you will find in a South East Asian city. Take a long walk down the river, walk into the local markets and eat with the locals away from the tourist drag which really is only a couple of streets.
Cross over on the Frienship Bridge and take an overnight train from Nong Khai to Bangkok that you can book with http://www.traveller2000.com/.
Happy travelling, I am going back out to Thailand and Laos in three weeks myself. I am a Laotian addict.
#5 sereneyeap has been a member since 1/12/2007. Posts: 2
No one seems to have answered your rock climbing question, so I'll give it a crack. The answer is yes there is rock climbing - I personally didn't do it, but met a guy from Sweden who went to Vang Vieng just for the rock climbing and he didn't seem disappointed.
I only spoke with him briefly on a bus from Vientiane to 4000 Islands but his basic trip plan for SEAsia was rock climbing and diving.
Nong Khai on the Thai side of the Friendship Bridge is well worth 2 or 3 days of your time. Stay at The Mutmee, on the banks of The Mekong - you won't regret it.
#7 LancasterLad has been a member since 13/9/2006. Posts: 62