Photo: Classic scenery surrounds Vang Vieng.

Laos forum

How long should I give msyelf to travel and see from ChiangMai to Vientiane?

Posted by convery on 10/3/2008 at 01:28

I am planning a trip of the area with very little time on my hands. Just wondering how possible it was to get from ChiangMai, Thailand to Vientiane, Laos in about 5or6 days?

Day 1- Depart Chiang Mai for Chiang Khong, and then to Huay Xai, Laos
Day 2 - Depart on boat to Pakbeng
Day 3 - Depart on boat to Luang Prabang
Day 4 - Luang Prabang
Day 5 - Depart on a bus to Vientiane (via Vang Vieng)

Is this itenerary possible?
My main questions are:
1) Can I get from Chiang Mai to Huay Xai, Laos in one (1) day of travelling?
2) Can I take a bus directly from LuangPrabang to Vientiane without much of a layover in VangVieng.

Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks

#1 convery has been a member since 9/3/2008. Posts: 5

Posted by exacto on 10/3/2008 at 01:47

Hi Convery,

This itinerary is technically possible, but that's an awful lot of travelling to pack into just a few days, and unfortunately it sounds like you'll be spending the great majority of your time travelling and not much actually being anywhere.

To answer your questions:

1) You can get from Chiang Mai to Huay Xai in one day.
2) There are direct buses from LP to Vientiane. They leave LP early in the morning, passing through VV with a brief stop and then continue to Vientiane. Even so, it is an all-day trip.

If the scenery and the experience of the journey is the most important thing to you, then you should be okay with this itinerary. It would be great if you could somehow add an extra day or two to this itinerary. However, if you cannot add an extra day or two to this trip, then there are a few ways you could save time so that you could spend more time in Luang Prabang along the way.

The first is by skipping the boat trip and flying directly from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang. That would save you at least two days, which still isn't much time to soak up the magic of Luang Prabang.

If the boat trip is important to you, another option is the fast boat from Huay Xai to LP. I've not done that myself, but some folks recommend it while others don't. Perhaps others will chime in here with their own recommendations and experiences to help you better decide which is best for you.

You can also save time by flying directly from LP to Vientiane. That means skipping the bus trip, however, which is an amazingly scenic (albeit grueling) bus journey.

No matter what you decide, good luck. I hope you have fun. Cheers.

#2 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,759
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Posted by somsai on 10/3/2008 at 05:27

Hi Convery,

I'd take a bus to Nong Khai Thailand and go across the river to Vientiane. Or... if you really want to go through all those towns just get a direct bus Huay Xai / Vientiane.

As it is you only have one day to actually spend time off a bus or boat. As someone once said, "less is more". Smell the roses.

#3 somsai has been a member since 1/3/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 566
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Posted by kam_taxi on 12/3/2008 at 09:16

Hello, convery
how many days, will you spend in VTE, sir?

#4 kam_taxi has been a member since 11/3/2008. Posts: 7

Posted by convery on 12/3/2008 at 12:49

Hey guys, thanks for all the replies. The most important thing here, was that yea, I'm probalby trying to pack in too much into this portion of my trip. Im considering dropping a few cities off my list, just so i could slow down and appreciate the others.

I want to spend at least 2 full days in each of LuangPrabang and Vientiane. Hopefully that should be enough to soak it all in.

I'm consideing flying directly from ChiangMai to LuangPrabang (skipping the slow boat trip altogether to save time). Anybody have any thoughts on this, bc as uncomforable as it might be. I'm interested in the experience and the scenery of the boat trek down that part of Laos.

Re: kam_taxi.
I'm spending about two days there. You think thats enough to cram in the full experience of Vientiane?

#5 convery has been a member since 9/3/2008. Posts: 5

Posted by kam_taxi on 12/3/2008 at 13:16

2 days is not too bad sir, but it depends what do you expect to experience!

where is your next stop then, after Vientiane?

#6 kam_taxi has been a member since 11/3/2008. Posts: 7

Posted by convery on 12/3/2008 at 18:50

I guess I just want to see the major tourist attractions in Vientiane, Experience some of the culture (food, nightlife, etc). Anything exciting i'm always down for.

After Vientiane, I was planning on getting down to Siem Reap (not sure the best method to get there). Spend about 3 days there. and then I have to choose between 3 days in PhnomPenh or HoChiMinh.

#7 convery has been a member since 9/3/2008. Posts: 5

Posted by kam_taxi on 12/3/2008 at 19:41

when are you going to Laos sir?

maybe flying to Siem Reap!! might be good choice if you only have 3 days,

#8 kam_taxi has been a member since 11/3/2008. Posts: 7

Posted by LancasterLad on 14/3/2008 at 03:30

Seems a shame to want to miss out Vang Vieng. It's not half as bad as some people make out, and the scenery is A1. Accommodation is cheap, and it is possible to get a decent meal.

I didn't rate Vientienne that much, and had it not been for a week long festival at the Aussie Cultural Hall, it's have been fairly boring. A trip to the Budha Park was alright (nice open air restaurant on by the Meekong, and looking over to Nong Khai. Also did the Beer Lao Brewery, which while not the best 'Brewery Run' in the work, was alright.

If you are going to Vientenne, then it's be a shame to miss out a trip across the Bridge to Nong Khai, and have a couple of nights in the wonderful Mutmee Guesthouse.


#9 LancasterLad has been a member since 13/9/2006. Posts: 62

Posted by lauraskrink on 17/3/2008 at 14:15

If you are on tight schedule missing the boat trip is not a big deal. It was billed as one of the last great adventure to us but i think that is a little over egging the pudding!

The scenery is ok but really no where near as beautiful as we were expecting, particularly not in a packed boat right next to the noisiest engine ever!

Luang Prabang is pretty cool although you can see most the major sights in the town in an easy day, but there are lots of great cafes and some trips you can do outside. Personally was not in love with Vang Vieng, scenery was pretty nice but the food was not good and I wouldn't overly recommend it if you are on a tight schedule!

Vientianne is also pretty limited on sights and you can most of the important stuff in a day, although again there is stuff to do outside!

Better to slow down and see some of the country rather than rush through it!

#10 lauraskrink has been a member since 20/9/2007. Posts: 7

Posted by Rufus on 17/3/2008 at 17:03

It would be a real shame to give Vientiane a miss, as the food is excellent and there is a lot to see. It will take at least 2 days to see the many sights. It is a far nicer place than Vang Vieng unless you enjoy getting stoned and drunk, enjoy crap food made for Western palates or very poor quality Indian, and re-runs of "Friends".

This is a shame but drunken tourists and yobs spoil the area with its Karst landscapes. Its still worth visiting, but I would not stay in a guesthouse, but the Vansana Hotel, which is on the river, has a great view and a lovely pool.

#11 Rufus has been a member since 22/4/2007. Location: Laos. Posts: 978
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Posted by exacto on 17/3/2008 at 20:29

I know lots of people have expressed disappointment with how Vang Vieng has developed, but despite the obvious negatives there are still lots of great things about the town and as mentioned above it is still worth visiting.

I also definitely agree that it would be a real shame to give Vientiane a miss. There are quite a few things to see and do, plenty of places to just relax, and it is a great chance to see how the modern lao people are living.

#12 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,759
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