Hello, this is my first post.
I shall be arriving in Vientiane in late August and have roughly 20 days to travel around the country. I'm planning to have a pretty loose itinerary, and focusing predominantly on the North, for i'm not too keen on spending hours upon hours traveling by bus or bike.
My current plan (though will change on suggestions and tips by travellers) is;
Day 1&2 - Vientiane
Day 3- Vang Vieng
Days 4,5,6 - Luang Prabang
Days 7, 8 - Nong Khiaw
After which i'm a bit lost. So if anyone has any suggestions, they be appreciated!
I also have a number of questions i'd appreciate your help with.
What is the cheapest way of getting from the airport in Vientiane into the city centre?
Has anyone attempted a crossing in Northern Laos into China? I hope to spend 4/5 days in China, but have found little information on the towns on the otherside of the border.
Thanks in advance.
You could certainly spend a few more days in Vang Vieng. While the town itself is a bit of a tourist trap, there are lots of activities to do in the surrounding countryside - rock climbing, tubing, kayaking, biking, trekking etc. The same could also be said about activities arund Luang Prabang.
After Vang Vieng you could make a slight detour and go and visit the PLain of Jars in Phonsavanh for a couple of days before heading back to Luang Prabang.
If you are feeling adventurous you could look at heading up along the river from Nong Khiaw by boat, through Mouang Noi and then up to Phongsaly. The trip would take a few days but is meant to be spectular. No tours doing this, but you would need to hire a boat in Nong Khiaw that would take you. Your guesthouse would likely be able to help you.
Alternatively head from Nong Khiaw through Oudomxai to Luang Namtha - some good trekking and rafting trips inside the national park up there. Continue further north to Muang Sing is another option. Border crossing at Boten into China is fine - last I heard the Laos side up there is basically Chinese.
Anything else let me know,
Vang Vieng, has tubing... interesting if you like a river with lots of caucasians floating with beers and more beers. I think it is just a place to drink and eat and watch reruns of friends.... But I liked it... 2 days. Dont expect a lot.
Luang Prabang- I'd say over rated... I did love the capital though...
Friends say that the Thousand islands in the south is the best part, I missed that one...
As for the crossing to China, its easy. You'll get to the border of Yunan Province, and then from that county you can take a sleeper bus to Kunming capital of Yunan... the border town is Mengla county, cute chinese town with some palm lined streets, but I think ATM dont accept cards from foreign countries, and also, Laos currency is very had to exchange to Chinese yuan.
Well, if you are in Luang Prabang, just buy your ticket from the hostel, Laos to China, very little difference. But look at the other hostels too.
Can I obtain a visa when i'm in Laos (for China), or should I arrange one prior to arrival?
I'm attempting to spend most of my time in the Northern part of the country, because I do not wish to spend hours upon hours travelling when I could be taking in to sights and sounds of the country. If one has any advice on the Northern territory it would be appreciated.
The info that laos-info gave was very good.
I would certainly recommend as well the bus from Vang Vieng to Phonsovan to see the Plain of Jars-worth a stop for a day or two. Then you can easily head to Luang Prabang- which is a great place to visit for a few days- with a great night market, and some really nice temples.. Lots to see there.
I also went from LP- to Nong Khiaw and after staying there just 1 night headed further north to Muong Ngoy- a great little village to relax, extremely friendly locals, with lots of backpacker huts, good hiking opportunities. I had a great time there.
If you are into trekking and don't have trips planned elsewhere in SE Asia ( like Northern Thailand or near Sapa in Vietnam), I would also strongly advise then heading west to Luang Namtha- where you can indeed arrange some great trekking trips of a few days with stays in local villages- One of the highlights of my stay in Laos.
You can then easily head towards China- I did not do it, but have heard others who did.
I personally entered Laos from the south in Cambodia- and had a great time in Don Det- but there are also cool things to see in Pakse, Champasak, the Bolaven Plateau and the southern part of the country. But if you are heading into China from northern Laos it likely would be too hard, with limited time to properly explore the southern part of the country as well...