Has anybody got any opinions or stories about Laos as a destination? I'm thinking of visiting Laos on my way from Hanoi to Thailand and don't know too much about it, apart from a few things I've seen on some sites. There seem to be multiple airports but not knowing much about the dirrerence between the areas I wouldn't know which one to look at coming in on, or even if I'd need to fly there.
Sorry if this is a bit vague but any help or advice would be appreciated!
Have you had a look at www.travelfish.org they got tons of info on SE Asia incl Laos. Me and my family went to Laos as part of our rtw and it was a really pleasant experience, we enjoyed every second. We got the overnight train from Bangkok to the bprder near vientiane and moved up towards Luang Prabang where we got a flight back to Bangkok. You can fly from Luang Prabang to Hanoi or get a slow boat (2 days) to the Thai border up north.
Laos is stunning! It's much more unspoilt than most of the other SE Asian destinations - I'd highly recommend it.
From Hanoi you could fly into Vientiane (the bus journey on that route is a nightmare apparently) and then work your way up by bus to Vang Vieng (do the tubing there) and on to Luang Prabang, which is a great city. As Pia said, from there you could do the slow boat up the river into Northern Thailand.
Laos is an amazing country and I definitely think that you should make time for it during your trip. I spent my time mainly in Luang Prabang, Vietienne and Phonsovan to see the Plain of Jars.
Luang Prabang is a lovely chilled out town with some different things that you can do during the day, if you have time I would suggest that you go bowling, it’s apparently so I was told the nations favourite past time and it is unbelievable how hard and fast they can chuck the ball down the alleys!
A trip to the Plain of Jars is really worth it if you can get up that way.
There are a few options to get to Laos from Hanoi:
Option1: Flying from Hanoi direct to Luang Prabang. Then take a slow boat up stream to Chiang Kong (Northern Thailand), or take a bus or mini van to Vang Vieng and Vientiane. (mini van is more comfy given the road condition, up/down hills, though it costs more). Most travel agents can arrange mini van.
From Vientiane you have many options to get to Bangkok,
1) take an overnight train or bus,
2) fly direct from Wattay International Airport in the capital or
3) Take a Lao-Thai international bus at morning market bus station to Udonthani and fly from Udonthani to Bangkok (domestic flight, cheap)
Option 2: Flying from Hanoi to Vientiane Capital. If you want to see other parts of Laos you might want to
1) go up north to Vang Vieng and continue to Luang Prabang (the UNESCO World heritage site). And depart from Luang Prabang by flying to Chiang Mai (takes around 1 hour) or flying to Bangkok, or taking a slow boat up stream to Chiang Kong (Northern Thailand).
2) go down south to Khammouane, Savannakhet or Champasak province and depart from there to Thailand. All have international border checkpoints. From Savannakhet and Champasak (Pakse) there are direct flights to Bangkok 3 time a week. laos-guide-999.com have more detailed info (http://www.laos-guide-999.com/Flights-from-Thailand.html)
Option 3: Taking a bus from Hanoi to Vientiane. (there are also buses to other provinces of Laos but I don't have info). It takes a looong time though.
Hope this helps