I posted in the Indochina forum a couple of days ago about honeymooning in Laos or Vietnam. Luang Prabang and Hanoi are our primary sites of interest, but I'm wondering if it would be too much/too scattered for our limited timeframe (I know there would be advantages to staying in one place). The itinerary I'm imagining would go something like:
Hanoi - 2 days
Luang Prabang - 6 days
Hanoi - 1 day
Any advice appreciated....
If those are the only 2 places you're going, then sure why not? I would def not want to spend the whole 11 days in Ha Noi. Never been to LP, but given the expensive flight and cost of visas it will likely cost between US $500 and $700 for 2 people (combined, not individually) just to get there and back to Ha Noi (this is just an educated guess - when I last checked the Ha Noi to LP flight it was around $180 one way). Now I've never been to LP, and I hear it's amazing, but if you don't want to spend that kind of money another good option is flying to Hoi An for 5 or 6 days. That flight (to Da Nang) is usually only around US $50 roundtrip on Jetstar and obviously no visas required. Hoi An's a good place for honeymooning - good beaches, good restaurants, charming Venice-esque waterfront, relaxed atmosphere, etc. Of course another option within Vietnam would be Ha Long Bay, but I'd prefer Hoi An any day. But if you don't mind the expense and you have your heart set on LP, I'd say go for it.
DLuek, thank you so much for your reply. I stupidly hadn't considered the cost of visas. Hmm....I really appreciate the alternate Hoi An-based itinerary, but, at this point, I think my heart really is set on Luang Prabang, one way or another, and we'd save a few hundred dollars by flying into Hanoi instead of Vientiane. Thanks again for the feedback!
I'd say your time frames are pretty realistic. We spent six days in Luang Prabang in March, 2009, and loved it. Could've stayed longer, but that's us. Very laid back (too much so for some, I think). On the other hand, I also loved Ha Noi.
At that time, our Lao visas (on arrival) cost USD 30 each. Airfare (on Lao Airlines), round-trip HAN>LPQ>HAN, was USD 285 each. Just checked Lao Airlines website for 22 March, six days return, and came up with a fare USD 639 for two people, round trip. Flights between countries in SE Asis tend to be very expensive, compared to in-country flights. But of course, that's the only way to fly into Lao. I'd check Viet Nam Airlines, and some of the others, as well.
We stayed at Villa Laodeum in Luang Prabang (USD 35 per night, total, breakfast included). Delightful people; great, quiet location (just east, across the street, from the Royal Palace Museum). The night market and the Mekong River are each one block away (in opposite directions).
You did mention the word "honeymoon", and I think you'd find the atmosphere in Luang Prabang to be just about right.
Thank you for the replies. Archmichael, I really appreciate the flight, visa, and accommodation information. Luang Prabang certainly sounds romantic :)
Is there anyone here who can describe the differences between Northern Vietnam and Northern Laos for first-time travelers to mainland SEA? Still feeling torn....
@ christay2009: Ah well, like I said, longer stays there are not for everyone. Having said that, there is the possibility of trips out from LP (up the Mekong, Nong Kiaw on the Nam Ou, etc.).
@ Glomer: We were actually there six nights (not six days), so essentially we were there five full days. One day we spent going up the Mekong to the Tam Ting (Pak Ou) Caves. Another, we went into the countryside to the Tad Kwang Xi waterfalls. Going up, we encountered a pair of elephants being taken up the road to a work site. Along the way back, we stopped at a Hmong village. The man who operates Villa Laodeum guesthouse, Sayvanh, was our guide that day. There are other waterfalls, treks, elephant treks, etc., in the vicinity. And a plethora of wats in the town (and across the river, as well).
If you wanted to go further afield in northern Lao (towns further north, Luang Namtha, et al.), busses are an option. However, given your short time frame, flying would be the only way to do it (through Vientiene, as there and Pak Xe are the only two domestic destinations you can fly to from LP on Lao Airlines... and the Pak Xe airport is closed right now).
Anyway, have fun with the research, and have a marvelous honeymoon!
There's a ton of information out there about all these places, including, of course, the downloadable Travelfish guides :)
Do some reading and see what appeals to you the most.
And keep in mind that everyone who reads and posts here has their own take on things. Some folks would spend a week in Vang Vieng ... others would run screaming down the road after a couple of hours, begging to get on the next bus out.
I don't think anyone would run away screaming, but 6 days is too much, especially given the fact that there is so much to do in Vientiane . On my honeymoon, I would want to stay in the Setha Palace in Vientiane. Luang Prabang is an easy 35 minute flight from Vientiane as well.