My husband and I are spending a week in Laos, arriving in Vientiane by overnight train from Ayutthaya, Thailand. Originally I had planned an overnight in Vientiane, bus trip and overnight in Vang Vieng, bus trip and three days in Luang Prabang, and slow boat to Huay Xai.
The more I read about the length of the bus trips on curvy roads and the touristy-ness of Vang Vieng, the more sense it made to fly from Vientaine to Luang Prabang, which leaves us with an extra two days to spend somewhere along the way in Northern Laos (more time in Luang Prabang? somewhere near Pak Bang? Xai of Huay ...?). The only caveat is that we're more flashpacker than backpacker -- I think the Gibbon Experience might be a little too rustic.
Any suggestions much appreciated!
#1 JavaJunkie has been a member since 19/1/2010. Posts: 9
#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,800
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From Luang Prabang, you could get the slowboat up the Mekong, stopping overnight at Pak Beng and then getting to the Thai border the next day. Over the Mekong to Chiang Khong in Thailand, Chiang Mai is a five hour minivan ride away.
Get to Huay Xai then do a side trip up to Luang Namtha. Stay at The Boat Landing, maybe do a motorbike ride to Muang Sing and back, then get a boat down to Pak Tha (if there's enough water in the river) and Huay Xai. More accommodation options on https://www.travelfish.org/accommodation/laos/northern_laos/luang_nam_tha/luang_nam_tha/all
Otherwise get to Chiang Mai early and spend more time in the surrounding area - Pai, Mae Hong Son, Soppong, Thaton, Doi Angkhang, etc. You could spend weeks and weeks exploring the area. Also check out Chiang Dao Nest at http://nest.chiangdao.com
#10 Roux has been a member since 1/9/2011. Posts: 4
i agree with you guys that spending the extra time in Vientiane is a good way to go. i'd also recommend an overnight in Nong Khai before crossing over to Laos as well, as Nong Khai is a pleasant little riverside town. alternatively, if at all possible, fly from Vientiane directly to Phon Savanh and the Plain of Jars for a night or two then bus it from there to Luang Prabang.
however, the original post was about 18 months ago, so these folks have likely finished up their trip by now...