to anyone that has spent time in Laos and Vietnam on a shoestring....
How much can one expect to spend per day in Vientiane and Hanoi?
Also, any comments/anecdotes/warnings on the Vientiane-Hanoi bus journey would be appreciated!
And... does anyone know if it is possible to get the bus from Luang Prabang to Hanoi?
Happy travels to all,
Vientiane is one of the cheaper destinations in SEA - a single room with shared baths normally costs 5 USD or less, and this normally gets you a very clean room, and i even had furnishings like a closet and some tapestry of sorts, with a nice lamp at the Joe Guesthouse beside the river.
Beer Lao is near one dollar for a bottle, cheap meals can be bought at local night markets. So realistically i think you can survive on 10 dollars or less if you really scrimp in Vientiane...
I havent heard of this one, but isnt it going to be an extremely long journey Vientiane to Hanoi???? From Luang Prabang to Vinh takes in excess of 20 hours (in the company of rice sacks, sometimes chicken and almost always chain smoking Vietnamese), so if you arent a bus fan Vientiane to Hanoi is so not going to be a fun ride... In my opinion at least...
In Laos travel is very slow - buses pick up people along the way, breakdowns are to be expected, and the mountainous terrain also makes it difficult to cover vast distances in a short time, especially in the north....
HaNoi is going to be more expensive than Laos, but not too much. I spent about $15/day on room/food/transport. Plenty of rooms under $10/nite and if you eat with the locals, that is cheap as well. You will end up taking some tours, so that will booster your daily average costs.
If you have specific questions, send me a PM.
I met a couple in Hanoi who did the Laos to Hanoi bus trip and they had an iPod stolen from the bus while they were crossing the border. They thought they'd only be off the bus a few minutes, but it turned out to be 3 hours so don't leave anything on the bus. Probably obvious advice wherever you're travelling, so soz if I'm stating the obvious.
In Hanoi I was paying 7.50 dollars a night at the hostel and about 2 dollars per meal, then add any beer money, etc to that depending on what else you'll be buying. Although having said that, you can buy beer on the street for 8 pence a beer (2500 Dong), so even if you're a serious drinker it won't add much to your daily budget.
My girlfriend and I took the opposite trip a couple of days ago (Hanoi - Vientiane) and, much to our surprise found it probably the easiest overnight bus trip in the whole of S.E Asia. We were picked up at our guest house at 5.30pm on the Thursday. We arrived at the Laos border at around 3.30am Friday morning. The bus parked up there for the night as the border didn't open until 7am. We slept on the bus with the drivers (not literally!) At around 6.50am we were woken up, got our visas withing half an hour and were back on the bus within the hour. Another 7 hours onboard taking in beautiful scenery from the border to Vientiane and we were there. Ok so it took almost 23hrs in total when we were told it would take 18, but this, I'm sure you have become used to in S.E. Asia! We were dreading the journey after reading so many horror stories, but weather we were lucky or what, I don't know, but it really was quite a pleasant journey. Obviously we took the usual precautions of keeping our valuables close by at all times etc. but that goes without saying. Unfortunately I can't give you the name of the company we booked with as it was all dealt with through our guest house in Hanoi. I did try to ask the driver what the name of the company was, but this was lost on him (maybe my welsh accent threw him!!) However I can strongly advise you to stay at Ocean Stars 2 hotel in Hanoi. They arranged all our tours, were very helpful and honest and it's a very clean, reasonably priced (12us$/night double room inc. breakfast) guest house in the middle of the old quarter.
Anyway. Hope this is of some reassurance to you and your journey is as easy as ours was.
p.s. Did I read elsewhere you are taking the Trans siberian around April time? My girlfriend and I are planning the same. Would like to hear how you are going with the planning.