Photo: Classic scenery surrounds Vang Vieng.

Laos forum

Laos - couple of queries

Posted by CJHorn85 on 11/5/2009 at 16:42

Hey all,

Firstly, I have been to Laos before during a 3 month tour of SEA. So I am aware of places, and time it takes to travel etc etc.

This year I am going on holiday with my girlfriend to show her what she missed when I went away. I have a couple of questions regarding travel. We are going to be there for about 2 full weeks

We fly in and out of Bangkok. The plan is to either just do North Laos, or spend a couple of days in the south just to scoot about the Bolaven Plateau on bikes, as I didn't do this fully last time. Then get the overnight bus up to Vientiane, and then straight up to Luang Prabang .

So questions:

1. Is the Chong Mek/Vang Tao border crossing to Pakse easy enough? I was thinking overnight train to Ubon, then cross over next morning.

2. Flights from Luang Prabang to Bangkok. To save time going from VTE to LP and back, I would like to fly if possible straight back to BKK to catch our flight home. I have found a flight for $135 all inclusive one way. Will I get it cheaper if I buy in SEA, or is this the cheapest I will get?

3. Plain of Jars. I would like to try and include this in my itineary this year, but again its time. Is it worth including this in my tight time, or would I get more out of spending time in Luang Prabang and north? I would prefer to do the latter (see places like Muang Ngoi, Nong Kiaow), but a lot is said about PoJ.

Cheers guys. Maybe a little vague in all this, but just want some uptodate information. I used the discovery pass last year to fly around, but I'm not making enough flights this time, and on a slightly tighter budget, so little new to this border crossing stuff.


#1 CJHorn85 has been a member since 9/5/2008. Posts: 8

Posted by Lother on 11/5/2009 at 17:58

1. It's pretty easy. There are comfortable buses across the border leaving straight from Ubon and ending up in Pakse, and the formalities are a breeze.

#2 Lother has been a member since 12/5/2006. Location: Earth. Posts: 214
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Posted by brucemoon on 11/5/2009 at 18:55


If you want to show your girlfriend the inside of a bus, I reckon it's a great itinerary. Off to Ubon, into southern Laos, wander around for a day or two, back into the bus, stop for a few hours, back into the bus, and again, and again, etc. In two weeks!!!

So, really, is the trip to show your gf (1) places you wanted to go to before, but missed, and (2) places you liked and want her to see? And, in so doing, race around like a couple of hairy goats!

Or, is the trip really about experiencing the wonderful Lao culture, relaxing in some good places, enjoying the food, Lao beer, etc. etc.?

I'd suggest fly to Luang Prabang, enjoy the city for what it is, then boat it up the Nam Ou to enjoy the scenery, trekking, etc. I'd then bus to Luang Nam Tha to enjoy that part of the world: Nalia, Muang Sing, etc.

Maybe try trekking an Vieng Phouka in the Nam Tha NPA to be really 'remote' and head to Chiang Rai for a flight back to BKK (its quicker).


#3 brucemoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by CJHorn85 on 11/5/2009 at 19:38

Well, it is to see some new places, and to go back to a couple of places I went to last year (Luang Prabang for example)......I personally would rather head straight North, and spend time up there doing some treks, and activities. She would like to see the Bolavean Plateaun in the South, and its something I wouldn't say no to, as I only spent a few hours looking around. We would like to spend a good few days exploring the area.

Only problem is that flying isn't really an option unless completly necessary, since our budget doesn't fit it.

Also, with regards to the bus, I would only spend 2 days travelling (From what I remember there is not overnight bus to Luang Prabang). The rest would be done on overnight trains, or buses. I didn't mind them last year, and she wants to experience the Thai overnight trains.

Thanks for your views. Maybe should have mentioned that we would be travelling overnight as much as possible. I've been before and I know 2 weeks isn't enough, but its all I got for now.....I plan to go back for a lot longer some time over the next couple of years!

#4 CJHorn85 has been a member since 9/5/2008. Posts: 8

Posted by brucemoon on 11/5/2009 at 20:57


As you say, her point of view makes it sound so attractive. Nevertheless, I'd still recommend taking it easy and doing sort of as I suggest. Makes for a less hectic 2 weeks.


#5 brucemoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by Tilapia on 14/5/2009 at 20:37

Hi Chris,

A couple of things to consider. The International Bus that goes between Ubon Ratchathani and Pakse only goes 3 or 4 times each day. When I was there in December it was going only making the trip twice per day, during what should have been high season. So, make sure that you know when the bus is going, and that you can arrive in UR with lots of time to get from the train station WAY up to the bus station, on the northern edge of the city (Songthaew #2, I think.)

A couple more days around Pakse, the Bolaven, and Champasak might be time well spent. It's a lovely area, and if you've got your own transport it's excellent!

As Lother says, the crossing is easy. It's not well signed, but it's easy.

VIP buses run from the Pakse bus terminal in the south end of town every day. I forget what the cost, but they are the buses with the full beds in them. I never took one, but they looked pretty comfy. From what I read, it is a 14 hour trip to Vientiane, but it's in the dark, and there isn't really a lot to see between Savanakhet and Vientiane, so the night bus would be a good option if you don't fly from Pakse.


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Posted by Tilapia on 14/5/2009 at 20:39

Also, if you've got time and the inclination, Khong Chiam on the Thai side is a fantastic little town that's hardly visited by western tourists. It's about an hour from Chong Mek. Gorgeous location, nice, quiet, etc.

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Posted by somtam2000 on 17/6/2009 at 08:05 admin

Most of the comments on this thread have been transferred across to the new Politics and culture section. I'll lock this thread off.

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