Photo: Classic scenery surrounds Vang Vieng.

Laos forum

Suggestions for 11 days in Laos

Posted by AyanamiNal on 7/7/2009 at 20:01

Yup, another query from someone looking for itinerary help.

I've booked cheap flights from London to KL arriving late on Sat 26th September.

My plan was to fly to Chang Mai the next morning (Sun 27th) arriving midday - I then have 11 days to make my way through Northen Thailand/Laos - I need to be in Vientiane by Thurs 8th Oct for my flight back to KL. I leave KL on the 9th back to the UK.

I guess I am looking at the standard CM --> Thai Border --> boat to LP --> VV --> V route.

Is 11 days enough time to do this? I don't really want to take any more flights so would be looking at boats/buses etc. I'm not really fussed about spending any time in Thailand so would be looking to get the boat to LP as quickly as possible. How long should I be looking to spend in each place?

I'm a female travelling on my own - I went to Cambodia and Vietnam earlier this year and had an amazing time. I guess I am looking to experience Laos properly, but with the back of up there being backpackers etc about, should I fancy a bit of socialising etc (esp as it will be my birthday whilst I am out there!)

Any suggestions etc gratefully recieved.

#1 AyanamiNal has been a member since 7/7/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 6

Posted by MADMAC on 7/7/2009 at 22:34

Ayan
Can I ask, where are you from?

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Posted by AyanamiNal on 7/7/2009 at 23:11

Hi Madmac

I'm British, currently residing in Scotland (albeit I am actually English).

I should clariy above where I've said I am looking for somewhere with backpackers for socialising - the best nights I had in Cambodia were where there was a good mix of local Cambodians AND people travelling through Cambodia. I guess I am just looking to not be on my own in the middle of a jungle/whereever for long periods of time (which I did in Mexico and I got sick of my own company after a few days!)

#3 AyanamiNal has been a member since 7/7/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 6

Posted by MADMAC on 8/7/2009 at 00:50

Ayan
I was hoping maybe you were Somali... the name.

OK, given what you've said, I would suggest you go to Ubon Rathathani instead of Chiang Mai. From there, cross into Pakse and spend a little time eploring that area. It's got a backpacker scene for sure.

From there go north to Savanakhet. Again, it's a backpackers way station - lots of them running around there. Not much to see there, so after a day or so head north to Vientiane . Once there you could go to VV for a couple of days, lots of backpackers there doing some serious partying.

Now, the only place on this list that I have been to was Savanakhet... but I've heard about the others from a lot of people. This route means about 4 days eaten by travel though.

Another option would be to fly into Bangkok and take the night train or Bus to Nong Khai - cross to Vientiane and then check out VV and Luang Prabang.

I am sure Bruce and Rufus have good points to add. They know this area well.

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Posted by AyanamiNal on 8/7/2009 at 01:11

Ah, well the name isn't real... it is just an internet moniker. :-)

Thanks for the tips - much appreciated.

I realise I wrote my two earlier posts in a bit of hurry and I didn't really make it clear what I am looking for. First and foremost I want somewhere with either a historical/cultural or natural beauty aspect. I am a big histroy nerd (ancient and modern - hence why I loved Cambodia and Vietnam so much)

The socialising plays second fiddle to that. I am not interested in just partying - I could stay in the UK if that were just my criteria. That said, as I've said above, I am keen to be in places where I am likely to meet people, be they local or traveling.

Thanks again for the reply.

#5 AyanamiNal has been a member since 7/7/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 6

Posted by AyanamiNal on 8/7/2009 at 03:13

Sorry - Me again.

Appears I can fly KL - Bangkok - Chiang Rai in a morning so I have prepared a rough plan below - thoughts?

Sat – arrive KL
Sun – (Bangkok) - Chiang Rai – Chiang Khong
Monday – Boat – Pakbeng
Tuesday – Boat – LP
Wednesday – LP
Thursday – LP
Friday – LP – Plain of Jars
Saturday – Plain of Jars
Sunday - Plain of Jars – VV
Monday – VV
Tues – VV – Vient
Wed – Vient
Thursday - Vient – KL
Friday – KL - UK

#6 AyanamiNal has been a member since 7/7/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 6

Posted by BruceMoon on 8/7/2009 at 06:48

AyanamiNal

Thanks for giving us a detailed view of your interests and rough itinerary (albeit over several posts). Having this detail really helps when seeking to offer support/advice.

First, as you've already read, I'm an advocate for taking the journey slowly so that you experience more and travel less.

To reinforce this point, I wrote elsewhere on Travelfish...

Do you want to see... heaps, but not experience much?

OR

Do you want to do (as in experience)... lots of enjoyable things, but see fewer places?

If you want to see, then it doesn't matter how you go, etc. All you are doing is travelling to see as much as possible. This focus means your journey is travelling.

However, if you want to experience what you do, then it really doesn't matter where you go as long as you go to places that will allow you to do (as in experience).

My view is that if you go to less places, and spend a bit more time in each of the places you go to, then you are going to do more (as in experience) and enjoy yourselves more
.

That said, I think your journey is all about travelling heaps, and doing very little along the way. If you like the insides of buses, and waiting rooms, etc., sobeit.

I don't know why you are wedded to the boat trip from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang . There are other boat trips in the area that are equally enjoyable, and not as long, cramped, and tedious (as is this one).

You say you want to experience scenery, yet your journey largely by-passes the best scenery.

You also say you want to mix with other tourists AND locals, yet, again, your journey largely by-passes the places where this can occur.

I will suggest a journey that doesn't incur as much travel, allows you to interact with locals, and embraces scenery, etc. Sadly, you will visit less places, but I suggest you'll enjoy your journey more.

As you'll be travelling smack bang in the middle of the wet season, I'll also take that into account.

My experience from discussing the issue with the many younger single females in this area, the matter of being a single female is not an issue when travelling in the northern Thailand / Laos area (assuming, of course, that you exercise your normal self protection measures).

- - -

Sat – arrive KL
Sun – (Bangkok) - Chiang RaiChiang Khong

* Check to see if there is a direct BKK - Chiang Khong bus, and make sure your bus gets to Chiang Khong before 4pm (the border crossing can take the best part of an hour, and the border closes at 6pm). Stay the night in Laos at Huay Xai.

* If you had said you were into trekking and jungle stuff, I'd have offered 2 options here (1) book a 2 day with the Gibbon Experience, or (2) take the bus to Luang Nam Tha , go and book a trek in the Luang Nam Tha NPA via Vieng Phouka. If you ARE into trekking, come back to this link and I'll adjust my 'proposed' itinerary to suit.

Monday - bus to Luang Nam Tha.

* Luang Nam Tha has a great mix of adventurous tourists and locals (at the night market esp.). In Nam Tha, go to the Loas EcoCentre (or the more expensive GreenDiscovery) for info about tours/treks/etc. Hire a bike, (preferably small motorbike) and explore the area.

Another option is to go to Muang Sing. There, its like going back 20 years in time. And the ethnic interaction is encouraged.

Mon - Wed - Luang Nam Tha

Wed - bus to Luang Prabang (via OudomXay).

* An alternative is to take the bus to OudomXai, and change to another to Nong Khiaw. From there, either stay here for a day, or take a boat (1 hour) to Ngoi Neua and stay there. In Ngoi Neua you WILL engage with travellers AND locals!!!

From Nong Khiaw, take an all day journey down the very scenic Nam Ou (river Ou) into the Mekong to Luang Prabang. I did the reverse a couple of months ago.

option 1:

Thur - Nong Khiaw/Ngoi Neua

Fri - boat to Luang Prabang

Sat - Luang Prabang

Sun - Luang Prabang

option 2:

Thur - Luang Prabang

Fri - boat to Nong Khiaw/Ngoi Neua

Sat - Nong Khiaw/Ngoi Neua

Sun - boat to Luang Prabang

--

Mon - bus to Vang Vieng

Tue - Vang Vieng

Wed - bus to Vientiane

Thurs - Vientiane airport etc.

------

There are a variety of other options.

If you are interested, I did a blog on my recent journey through this area. Go to:

www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/brucemoon/

Hope this helps.

Cheers

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

Posted by MADMAC on 8/7/2009 at 13:04

Ayan
Check out Bruces travel blog, it's super cool.

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Posted by BruceMoon on 8/7/2009 at 13:48

Thanks John,

You are too kind.

Cheers

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

Posted by AyanamiNal on 8/7/2009 at 18:24

Wow - Thanks Bruce for such a comprehensive answer. I'm going to take some time studying the options you've given me. I wasn't aware of the option of going to Luang Nam Tha and then to LP - if I can skip 2 days on a boat, I'd be quite happy to!

I also am sorry if I appeared dismissive of Mac's reply. I didn't mean it to look like that all!

I'm now off to read your blog.

Thanks again.

#10 AyanamiNal has been a member since 7/7/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 6

Posted by LoganT on 14/9/2009 at 18:23

Hi AyanamiNal here - for some reason I couldn't log in under my old name so I had to register.

Anyway, just wanted to say thanks again for all the tips. I've revised my itineary quite a bit and have decided that 'less is more' for this trip, so whilst I am treading a well trodden tourist path, I hope to be able to do a few day trips / treks etc but also spend some time just relaxing without worrying about my next bus journey etc. For anyone that is interested, my itinaery is listed below - Again, comments are welcome but this is looking more like the 'end product'

Sat 26 Sept - arrive Kuala Lumpar
Sun 27 - KL
Mon 28 - KL
Tues 29 - Fly to Vientiene (arrive 9am)
Weds 30 - Vientiene / Vang Vieng
Thur 1 - VV
Fri 2 - VV - LP
Sat 3 - LP
Sun 4 - LP (full moon festival?)
Mon 5 - LP (my birthday!)
Tues 6 - Trekking
Wed 7 - Trekking (return LP late PM)
Thur 8 - LP to KL
Fri 9 - KL - London

Obviously quite a bit of time in LP but as I say, am planning a few boat trips/excurions out to the caves etc.

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Posted by MADMAC on 14/9/2009 at 19:40

This would be an exanple where Bruce really gave detailed assistance. It's a mistake cutting him off.

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Posted by LoganT on 14/9/2009 at 20:07

I'm not sure I quite understand what you mean, but I certainly didn't mean to be rude to anyone. Whilst I may not have ended up using some of Bruce's recommendations, I am very grateful to him for making me realise that 'less is more' with regards to my trip and I am still keeping the river trip he suggested in mind. I apologise if I've come across as somehow ungrateful after all his super useful infomation.

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Posted by wanderingcat on 15/9/2009 at 00:07

Tues 29 - Fly to Vientiene (arrive 9am)

AirAsia is strict about closing counters 45min before departure time, so best to plan for how you intend to reach LCCT in time for check in?

Sat 3 - LP
Sun 4 - LP (full moon festival?)
Mon 5 - LP (my birthday!)


when you get there double check with locals about actual dates. tentatively for 2009, 4th will be Boun Ok Phansa & 5th will be the Boun Lai Heua Fai parade...

if it doesn't rain, Wat Mai & maybe Wat Xieng Mouane will light up their lanterns & fireboat decorations at night, starting from the eve of Boun Ok Phansa. all other temples will have their lanterns & fireboats up by then too.

early AM on Boun Ok Phansa = full turnout for morning almsgiving (some temples start before 0600; kindly observe from a respectful distance). daytime - ask around if Ban Xieng Ngeun is having their boat races. night time - check if Wat Visoun is having its temple fair again.

day after Boun Ok Phansa - fireboats from various neighbourhoods assemble in front of Wat Mahathat & Nam Phou to begin parade down main road once darkness falls. everyone just joins in the parade, incl tourists :) parade ends at Wat Xieng Thong where fireboats are lined up & judged, & then launched onto & floated down the Mekong. at the same time people launch their krathongs into the Mekong too. IMHO the most beautiful time to be in LPB :) someone else's photos from Boun Lai Heua Fai 2007 here & here.

Thur 8 - LP to KL

how do you plan to do this within a day?

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Posted by LoganT on 15/9/2009 at 02:53

Ooh thanks. Really hope the dates are correct (have checked and it is a full moon on the 4th so fingers crossed - would certainly make my birthday extra special!). I'm booked into a guesthouse overlooking one of the wats up on the northern peninsula tip near where the rivers meet so hopefully I should get to see some beautiful sights without intruding too much!

I'm flying LP to Bangkok then onwards to KL (after a 4 hour layover) hence why it is only taking me a day :-)

Finally, I am super paranoid about missing flights so will heading to the airport in KL around 4am for the 8am flight to Laos. I figure I should be safe in a taxi that early!

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Posted by wanderingcat on 15/9/2009 at 09:20

+I figure I should be safe in a taxi that early!+

some taxi drivers in KL are not that cooperative when it comes to using the meter, but you can simply get out & wait for one who plays by the rules. there's also a midnight surcharge for taking taxis at that hour.

if you happen to be staying near KL Sentral, AirAsia skybus starts running from there to LCCT from 03:00 onwards for RM9: http://www.skybus.com.my/schedule.html

if you happen to be staying near Puduraya bus station, StarWira has buses from there to LCCT from 04:30 onwards:
http://www.starwira.com
if you stay at/near any of the hotels in their list, could call & arrange for their shuttle option.

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Posted by LoganT on 15/9/2009 at 14:43

You guys are just too helpful! I'm staying about a 5 - 10 walk from Sentral so will investigate the AirAsia bus if it runs that early.

Thanks again!

#17 LoganT has been a member since 14/9/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 25
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Posted by LoganT on 15/9/2009 at 15:38

I meant I'm staying about a 5 to 10 taxi ride from Sentral, I think. Still much cheaper to head to Sentral and grab the bus.

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Posted by wanderingcat on 16/9/2009 at 06:42

in that case check StarWira's list of hotels to see if you're staying at or within a short walk of any of their shuttle pickup points. that service is just RM15, which would be less than taxi to Sentral + SkyBus to LCCT, & saves you one transfer. but you need to call them to make arrangements.

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