Photo: Classic scenery surrounds Vang Vieng.

Laos forum

Northern Laos in 3-4 weeks - is this itinerary doable?

Posted by saxomophone on 11/5/2009 at 18:29

How does this sound?

Vientiane 14-16 July

Vang Vieng 16-17 July

Luang Prabang 17-21 July (+ a 1-2 day hike in the surrounding area.

Phonosavan 21-22 July (fly from LP, visit Plain of Jars)

22-25 Sam Neua (It looks as though there is a road that heads due north off route 7 heading east from Phonosavan which heads up to route 6 to Sam Neua - do any buses ply this route?)

25-27 (Not sure here - I'm interested in getting even more remote. Has anyone been further east or north of Sam Neua, say to Xieng Khaw? Any recommendations on a couple of days in this region around Sam Neua?)

27-29 Nong Khiaw / Muang Ngoi (bus from Sam Neua via route 1 - any tips on cool towns worth an overnight on the way are welcome)

29 July-2 August(Any advice - I'd like to cross into China via Boten on 2 or 3 August - how should I wrap up my ;ast 4-5 days on my Laos adventure? I'm considering a good few days in the Luang Nam Tha region or a trip up to Phongsali for a couple of days then Luang Nam Tha for a couple of days.)

Any help/tips/advice greatly appreciated.

It's so close now I'm getting ridiculously excited!

#1 saxomophone has been a member since 13/1/2009. Posts: 13

Posted by wanderingcat on 11/5/2009 at 19:20

not so sure whether LPB- Phonsavan flights are running, although the Vientiane-Phonsavan ones are.

there is public transport from Phonsavan eastwards to Sam Neua - bus & also sometimes minivans. check under Xieng Khouang & Houa Phanh provinces here:

east/north of Sam Neua - Viengxai is the most well-known tourist attraction there. Sam Tai for some of the best weaving in Laos - see Muang Et etc - see 3xuok's blog here: (although he skipped Xieng Khor)

Sam Neua-Nong Khiaw route - again see 3xuok's blog entries on Vieng Thong & Vieng Kham:

LNT/Phongsaly - depends, what are your interests?
usually i just key in names of places (incl diff spelling variations) into, sort the results by date, & see what people who've been there before have written in their travelogs. i also do the same with Google image search & Flickr search, & see what catches my eye.

hope this helps...

#2 wanderingcat has been a member since 21/10/2006. Posts: 730
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Posted by brucemoon on 11/5/2009 at 19:23


Yes, you do sound excited: good on you...

As you may have noted if you've read any of my suggestions to other travellers, I'm not into rushing around just to 'be there'.

Personally, I think you are trying to do / see too much, and will end up not doing /seeing much at all of the stuff that matters (unless you like the inside of a bus).

For example, you suggest...

Vientiane 14-16 July [so as the last bus leaves @ 2pm, there's half a day gone on travel - so only really 2 days in Vientiane {see also note way below}]

Vang Vieng 16-17 July [bus to Luang Prabang = 7 hours, so only the 16th really!]

Luang Prabang 17-21 July (+ a 1-2 day hike in the surrounding area). [Are you sure you can fly to Phonsovan on a Tuesday?]

Phonosavan 21-22 July (fly from LP, visit Plain of Jars) [ you need a day to 'do' the PoJ, so when do you think you're going to bus it to Sam Neua ? - a 10 hour trip?]

22-25 Sam Neua ...

- - - - -

The point I am making is that you are doing a lot of bussing around, but (in the above segment) other than Luang Prabang, are really only spending a few hours in each place.

As for Trekking, as you want to go up around Luang Nam Tha, why are you wanting to trek from Luang Prabang? Frankly, the trekking in the Nam Tha province is rated much better than in the Lunag Prabang area (because less tourists go to Nam Tha, actual villagers are used as guides, you can go directly into the Nam Tha NPA, etc.).

I don't want to tell you how to plan your holiday (ie, do this, don't do that, etc.).

Rather, I suggest you get a Lonely Planet, look at the places you have listed (above) and work out how much time you'll ACTUALLY be in a bus or boat, etc.

Also, when looking at the places you're planning to go, ask yourself WHY you are actually going there. That is, what do YOU want to achieve while visiting that place.

You know that when most people arrive in a new place, first they take time to get accommodation organised, then they look around the city / town to get oriented and acquainted, and that usually fills the first day. Maybe in that first day, they may organise something for the next day. If not, the organising happens on the second day. So, when getting to a city/town after travelling, few actually achieve anything other than 'being' on the first day (not that there's anything wrong with that).

So, after you have taken away the time for travel, and taken away the time for 'being', then ask yourself why you want to be in that city/town, and how many days will it take to achieve what it is you want to achieve.

I suggest if you do this, you'll be rushing around less, enjoying what you want more, and giving yourself the opportunity to having a really great time.


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

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