Hi. I'm planning a trip. This leg of it is set to last two weeks or so.
I will be in Bangkok, then fly to Luang Prabang (unless they do sleeper trains there? please let me know). I'll spend about 3 full days in LB, then take a bus to Vientiane for about 3 days. From there, I'd like to travel by bus/car/whatever all the way down Laos, cross the border into Cambodia, then end up in Siem Reap/Angkor Wat for about 4-5 days. What do you guys think?
How difficult is traveling through Laos? Will I meet difficulties crossing the southern border into Cambodia?
Any other tips you'd like to send my way? Thanks.
I should ask another question: What would be the most enjoyable (meaning relaxing, scenic) way to travel from BKK to LP?
Should I take a bus up to Chiang Mai then board a boat up the Mekong to LP?
What kind of time frame would I be looking at?
i travelled in northern lao in november last year and let me say it is an absolutely great place! the people are very friendly - always smiling/waving - and the way of life is just very relaxing... Its called Lao PDR (People's Democratic Republic), however this should actually stand for "Please Don't Rush"!!
If i were u I wouldnt waste the time travelling up to LP overland if u can fly from BKK, cos its a 12 hr train to Chang Mai, which is still a 7 hr bus ride from the border (there goes another day, cos the slow boat to LP leaves at 9am!)... the boat then takes 2 days, so ur looking at a 4 day mission just to get to LP - and if u only got 2 weeks thats far too long!
LP is a beautiful old town, full of temples and the nite market is cool! be sure to find a guesthouse near the mekong rather than on the main road thru - where most of the spruikers wanna take u! We stayed at one of the 5 'Phousy' guesthouses in the street running next to the Grand palace and it was really nice for a US$5er a nite!
I wouldnt really plan 3 whole days in Vientienne as there aint a great deal to see there... a couple of decent temples and dinner on the mekong is lovely, but all in all it isnt very nice! Also its a long, hard, bumpy 8 hr bus ride to Vientienne from LP, so I would highly recommend splitting the trip and stopping in Vang Vieng on the way thru - that place is awesome! Not the town so much, but tubing down the river is what its all about!!! U hire a truck inner tube and get a tuk tuk ride about 2 km outta town and float down the river stopping at all the little bamboo bars set up along the river... its very picturesque as well, with amazing limestone cliffs shooting up outta the jungle along the banks of the river... probably one of my alltime favourite experiences!
Basically travel in Lao isnt all that hard, but just a hell of a lot less organised than in Thailand, so u need to allow as much time as possible... nothing ever leaves on time in Lao, as in lao-time 9am means closer to 10.30!
Unfortunatley didnt get to travel thru to southern lao but met others that did and said it was beautiful! u have to stop at the islands near the border of Cambo, cos thats meant to be unreal! Never heard anyone have any probs getting into Cambo from south of Lao, but cant be sure...
Well as u can tell I really loved Lao, so get over there - fly up to LP and enjoy the PDR experience!
[ Edit: Edited on Mar 21, 2007, at 2:26 PM by bennyevo ]
I have just travelled the length of Laos and come into Cambodia doing the route you said.
I would fly to LP if you dont plan on spending any time in Northern Thailand. It is a 12hr train journey to Chiang Mai and then more onto the Thai/Lao border so it's a bit of a long journey if you arent staying anywhere.
I did the 2day Mekong boat ride from Huay Xai to LP. The first day was great fun, we arrived early and got comfy seats on the boat (there's probably about 15 nice seats and the rest are hard benches). There was plenty of beer flowing, good conversation and great scenery so it was a great day. the boat stops in Pak Beng for the night. Make sure you get off the boat quickly and get a room as there are limited guesthouses for the amount of travellers. I would spend about $5 on a room as we chose a real cheapy one and it was terrible, rats running around and really noisy at night. It's a long day's travelling so get somewhere half decent.
The second day we got a different boat, with only hard benches on it, which was quite annoying. It took 9hrs to get to LP and it rained so it definately wasn't as fun as the first day. Im glad I done it though, the scenery was amazing.
Definately allow a few days in LP, its a great french-style town with lots to do. Make sure you get a tuktuk and go out to the waterfall, its worth it.
You can get buses down to Vientiane which take about 10hrs I think. If you are scared of heights dont look down as most of the road takes you up ontop of mountains and it's reeeeeally scary~!!
Like Benny says Vientiane is just the capital city and there's not loads to do there. I would advise sorting out your Cambodia visa from the embassy there though, its only $20 whereas it will cost you $40 everywhere else.
We carried on down and stopped off at Pakse to do some Bolovean Plateau tours. This is a lovely area with amazing people. We hired out a motorbike and done a little tour of our own and saw some amazing waterfalls and little villages. Definately worth a little stop off.
The bottom of Laos is the Four Thousand Island which were brilliant too. We stayed on Don Deth which is a little island with a selection of bungalows. The perfect place for chilling out and reading. There are a few bars which stay open until 11pm where you can meet people and drink Beer Lao! The island only has electricity from 6 - 11pm so BRING A TORCH!!!
We crossed the border into Cambodia a few days ago which was fine but tiring. We booked a minibus to Kratie through a travel agent on Don Deth, it cost us $20 each. It was a bit of a journey, they squash you on the buses, the road from Don Deth to the border is ATROCIOUS, it's basically a dirt track in a forest. The border crossing was fine, they even do visa on arrival there but we got ours in advance just to be sure. From there we caught a boat over the river, then had lunch, then carried on in another minibus to Kratie.
I'd advise breaking the journey up with a night in Kratie because it's a long old slog if you do it all in one go. We arrived in Siem Reap yesterday after a mammoth 10hr bus ride in which we were dumped in the middle of Cambodia somewhere for a couple of hours to wait for another bus!
Oh - and once you arrive in Siem Reap BEWARE... there is a scam in which they take your last name down and then a tuktuk guy will be waiting to give you your 'free ride"" to the town centre. this is just a ploy to get you to their guesthouse so you're best off choosing and maybe booking a guesthouse in advance and paying to go there.
Don't believe anyone who says it's a free pickup though. We believed a guy and then when we wouldn't book a tour of Ankor Wat with him he got nasty and started demanding money. A lesson learned I guess!
Good luck and hope it goes well
I strongly advise against the two day river boat to Luang Prabang from Huay Xai,in a word,it was 'shit'.
Nice scenery,but after 20 hours it kind of samey,and you tend to focus on your numb arse and cramped surroundings lol!
have fun!angkor wat is amazing!
This has been very informative. Thanks for your help everyone!
I think after considering the possibilities, I'll probably fly into LP from BKK, then do my travels down the Mekong into Cambodia for a few days. Thanks again!
how much is the flight then a swouldnt fancy the boat to be honest too long and asounds uncomfy!! How much did people pay for the flight and how long is it?