A friend and I have just one week in Laos next month (can't get more time off) We Plan 3 days in Vientiane, then 3 days in Luang Parbang, returning for one night in Vientiane to catch our flight.
What is the best way between Vientiane and Luang Prabang? 7 hours on a bus each way might take too much of our limited time. Would it be too expensive to hire a minibus/taxi and would it save much time? Is flying a good option?
All advice appreciated.
#1 Gerry has been a member since 15/5/2008. Posts: 7
Given the short amount of time you have to spend in Laos, I'd plan to fly at least one direction and perhaps even both ways from VTE/LP/VTE. Lao Airways is a fine option for flying.
Having said that, the overland journey from LP to VTE is one of the most scenic (as well as bumpy) bus trips I've ever made. If you can budget in the time, it may be worth your while. Perhaps your best bet would be to bus up from VTE to LP and then fly back. That would help create a larger margin of error for making your outbound flight from Vientiane too. Regards.
That was a stunningly fast reply! Thanks for the advice. I will head to Lao airlines now to check out what is available, but I like the idea of going overland in one direction.
#3 Gerry has been a member since 15/5/2008. Posts: 7
Gerry use this link
not the one advertised on this site. That one is an agent who Lao air have said no longer deals with them because he has not paid his bills. There have been other problems with him as well.
As the flight is 40 mins or so, the plane does not ascend to high altitudes and you can get a geat view from the plane of the surrounding countryside. The road is very windey - personally I would fly in both directions; it is a very pleasant flight.
Before you book your flights, I'd suggest you spend longer in LP than Vientiane. Say 4 days in Luang Prabang and only 2 in Vientiane. The latter isn't so beautiful or interesting IMO. The route between Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng especially does have really stunning scenery but if you only have a week then agree that flying is probably the best option.
Definately more time in LP that VT.
Slow Boat trip up The Mekong to the caves is an excellent half day. Get there before the tour groups, and there are quite a few steep steps to negotiate
The market between the main street and the river is a must. Don't do it on a full stomach or with a hang-over though!
A wander up the hill for sunset is great. Get there before the tour groups.
After LP, VT is a bit disappointing. Do go up the Arc d'Triomphe; do visit the Budha Park, and go by public bus for an entertaining ride. It's right on the Mekong, opposite Nong Khai in Thailand, and a great place to have lunch. The market nearthe bus station is also worth a hour or so.
#6 LancasterLad has been a member since 13/9/2006. Posts: 62
Many thanks to those generous people who have taken the time to reply to my question. In view of your comments we have changed our plan so that we will fly directly to LP and spend 4 or 5 nights there, then take the bus back to VT, possibly stopping overnight at a midway point (if that is available) then 2 nights and effectively only one day in VT before our morning flights to KL.
I just thought you might like to know that people do make use of your advice.
If everything works out I may return a couple of weeks later for a more leisurely exploration.
#7 Gerry has been a member since 15/5/2008. Posts: 7
Sounds like a good plan! Going back to Vientiane by road will leave you more flexibility and even if it does mean you spend some of your holiday time in a bus or minibus the scenery en route is well worth seeing.
The midway point is Vang Vieng. It's very easy to arrange transport there from LP and onward transport to Vientiane.
Vang Vieng has stunningly beautiful karst scenery but is a bit of a backpacker ghetto...the main street is even called Khao San Road and it's full of joints selling happy pizza and western food which you can enjoy in a comfortable supine position while watching endless videos of Friends...ie the atmosphere isn't exactly "authetic" and isn't everyone's cup of tea.
However the accommodation in VV is much better value than either LP or Vientiane...well it was when I was there anyway! It might even be worth spending a day there if you fancy doing a spot of tubing on the river (watch out for submerged tree trunks) or want to visit some caves.
Read the travelfish guide on this site for more info.
One day in Vientiane really is not enough. Those who say Vte is boring really have not looked at the place properly or perhaps do not know where to look. There is a lot to do, much more than can be covered in one day. Spend 2 days there, 4 or 5 in Luang Prabang is a little too much imo.
Rufus. How about sharing your knowledge of VTe. Where are the unmissable sights? And if 3 days in LP is about right, what would you leave out of the dozens of options available?
#10 LancasterLad has been a member since 13/9/2006. Posts: 62
Vientiane is a great city and has enjoyed a real rennaisance over the last decade or so. There are lots of great food and drink places to hang out along the river and in other places in town, a fantastic traditional lao performing arts show, and great architecture. The people are nice, and value for money for things like accommodation has actually improved significantly compared to ten years ago.
Of course, the same is essentially true of Luang Prabang too. The issue here is that Gerry only has one week, and people are trying to weigh in to make sure Gerry gets the balance right to get the most out of both locations.
In Vientiane, I'd say a walk along the riverside, a trip to the morning market, and a visit to That Luang and the temples down closer to the river, including Wat Pra Kaeo, are a must. PatuXai is also a great place to visit, particularly evenings or on Sunday when lots of young familes are there for an outing, and you'll get wonderful views of the city from the top of the monument. The cultural show, if it is still being offered, is also well worth the time and money. Plus, just walking around in the less-visited spots of the city will turn up bakeries and eateries and other fun, local, authentic stuff.
I'd personally split the time 4 days in LP and 2 in VTE, with an overnight stopover in Vang Vieng, given the week that Gerry has available. But it would be easy to spend two to three times that many days in each place and not get bored even a little bit. Cheers.
What to see in Vientiane? Well, you have many temples and Wats to start off with - That Luang, Wat Si Saket to name just two. That Dam and the Patuxai are worth a visit, of course, as are the national museum and the War Museum.
In addition while wandering through the town you see some excellent examples of old colonial architecture. A walk on the banks of the Mekong is always interesting. Then of course you have the Markets - The Old and New Chinese market, Talat Sao.
One thing I would certainly do is to go on a trip to Thanon. The area is very nice and you can have lunch on one of the many floating restaurants and while the time away.
Gerry, I would give Vang Vieng a miss. Yes, the karst landscapes are beautiful, but there are too many stoned and pissed backpackers watching countless reruns of "Friends". Yes, if you had more time a day in VV would be ok, but as it is...And why anyone wants to go to Laos and eat Western food is beyond my ken.
Rufus- may i ask where this Thanon is you refer to in the above post. Thanks
#14 regina5 has been a member since 24/9/2007. Posts: 32
Hi Regina, it is about half an hour from Vte on 13 Road South. That is the road that goes past the turn off to Dongdok university. It is a very popular picnic place with Laos and you can take a private lunch cruise down the river.
Thanks, I'll check it out when I get back........can't wait!
#16 regina5 has been a member since 24/9/2007. Posts: 32
Thanks again everyone. I have noted all of your suggestions and now pretty much have my route sorted, plus all your recomendations of places to visit noted in my little tour book. Perhaps I'll run into you on the road.
#17 Gerry has been a member since 15/5/2008. Posts: 7
For a trip in Laos !
Has anyone an e mail for finding private transportation for 4 people from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng ?
and also from Vang Vieng to Vientiane. We can't take the regular bus since we have to make a lot of photos on the way
All info more then welcome
#18 augustus has been a member since 18/12/2008. Posts: 1