Hi, i am just wanting some guidance and information i will be departing Ha Noi in Vietnam and then wanting to travel through Laos open to suggestions to where to visit but i am having to go to the capital to pick up a thai visa before heading back into thailand to Chang Mai to do some trekking which is already booked.
Suggestions on the following would be fantastic and extremely helpful
- Route to take
- What form of transport would be best to take and length, time, prices (no flights)
- Where to stay
- What to see and visit on the way
I did it the opposite way to you.
But opted for the flight from Vientiane to Hanoi, as the 48hr bus did not appeal. I went on the slow boat to Luang Prabang from Chiang Khong...but another time I would take the speed boat. And avoid Pak Beng like the plague!!
I guess it depends how much the destination means over the journey. Only you can make such choices for yourself.
You will find people to travel with no matter which route you choose. There are always backpackers everywhere...and often you meet the same people time and time again!!!
Which can either be reassuring or annoying.
Firstly, I concur with Clanger regarding taking a (cheap) flight between Hanoi and Vientiane in preference to the bus. Unless your young and extremely adventurous then avoid the bus trip (most people's blogs share a similar sentiment 'never again'). Regarding accom. it is best to provide a price range. This will give you a better chance of a reply or two. I have researched Laos for my impending visit in 2011 (2010 will be Vietnam). I will be travelling opposite to you from Chaing Mai.
Suggested route: Vientiane - Vang Vieng (VIP minibus $5US, 3-4hrs). Tubing seems to be the highlight of visiting VV. Vang Vieng - Luang Prabang (VIP minibus 105,000kip, 5hrs). From LP you can travel along the Mekong to the Thai border by speedboat (around 5hrs,6 to a boat cramped with bike helmet). My preferred option is the 2 day slow boat overnighting in Pak Beng (obviously not Clanger's favourite destination).
However, I will bypass this river trip if it is practical to do so ie coming from the Thai border I hope to take a bus to Luang Nam Tha(5-6hrs) then a bus to Pak Mong(6hrs)then travel on a songthaew (1-2hrs) to Nong Khaiw (a quiet layback place on the river with stunning landscape and local villages nearby).From Nong Khaiw to Muang Ngoi (by riverboat,20,000kip,1hr)(another small layback destination on the river).
From Muang Ngoi/Nong Khaiw take a boat to Luang Prabang (50,000+kip,7/8hrs).
Note: Most of these prices are around the 2008/9 mark.
Tips: Any boat ride along the river buy a cheap cushion to sit on. Opting for the speedboat include ear plugs.
If your interested in the Gibbon Experience Tour the consensus is to opt for the Laos tour over the Thai one, although you will have to allocate additional time. You can google this for yourself.
My accom. preferences (sourced from various travel froums) is for aircon double bed under $20US. If your interested in accom. at any of the above destinations send me a message. Many of my preferences have fan rooms as well which equates to cheaper tariffs.
If I'm not mistaken you cannot travel directly from the Laos (Huay Xai) Thai border (Chiang Khong) diretly to Chiang Mai. You will have to take a bus to Chiang Rai (regular bus,65baht,2hrs) and then another bus to Chiang Mai (Green VIP bus, 360baht in 2008,3hrs recomm.). Please realise all my quoted costs are ballpark figures. Prices change, timetables change etc etc. Hope this assists with your plans. Safe travels.
I did this trip very recently. I will post current prices of travel etc when I have the time....Which will be soon, as im goin home...booooo! I wrote down prices and how long each trip took.....Pakbeng was awesome by the way!!!!
Trainrider- that would be fantastic to get some information if you have done it recently, thanks and look forward to hearing about it very soon.