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Getting around in Laos & Cambodia

Travel Forums Asia Getting around in Laos & Cambodia

1. Posted by Steve_ell (Budding Member 39 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Four of us have about 3 weeks in January 2007 spread over Chinag Mai, Luang Prabang, Vientiane, Siem Reap & Phnom Penh, before returning to Bangkok. Can anyone please answer the following re travel between them? 1) Is taxi or Mekong fast boat practical from Luang Prabang to Vientiane as opposed to bus. If so, what is the cost roughly per person, how long does it take and which is more fun/scenic/educational? 2) Is it difficult to get flights from Luang Prabang to Vientiane, or Vientiane to Siem Reap when booking only a couple of days before? 3) In regard to the flights mentioned above is it cheaper to buy them in Chiang Mai, Laos (Luang Prabang) or outside Asia eg Oz? 4) Our proposed route is Chiang Mai to Huay Xai by bus/mini-bus or taxi; Huay Xai to Luang Prabang by fast boat on the Mekong; Luang Prabang to Vientiane by fast boat, taxi or air; Vientiane to Siem Reap by air; Siem Reap to Phnom Penh by fast boat; Phnom Penh to Bangkok by air. Any comments at all? I look forward to the benefit of your experiences. Thanks.

2. Posted by bex76 (Moderator 3915 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Hi Steve,

I can advise on parts of your trip. I would recommend getting a taxi, coach or minubus from Luang Prabang to Vientiane and stopping in Vang Vieng where there are a few things to go including tubing down the river which is fun. (and its a long drive otherwise). the scenery on route 13, especially between Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng is stunning so it would be a shame to miss this by flying. If I remember rightly it took around 5-6 hours from LP to VV, then a bit less from VV to Vientiane. I'm not sure exactly how much it cost but it was cheap! I got the 2 day slow boat down the river from Huay xai -I would recommend this as there are doubts as to the safety of the fast boats, especially during the wet season. you can fly from Phnom Penh to Bangkok with Bangkok airways - its probably a good idea to fly this leg of your trip as the road from Phnom Penh to the cambodian border is bad.

3. Posted by Steve_ell (Budding Member 39 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Thanks bex76 for your advise. Unfortunately 13 hours via VV might be too long given our short stay - and as for fast boats - I'm already over 50 so what a way to go.
Anyone else with comments on any of my 4 questions?

4. Posted by lukeg1980 (Budding Member 20 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

I did this exact route this time last year.

From Chang Mai to Huay Xai I went via minibus, booked the trip into Luang Probang all in Chang Mai - minibus, 1 nights accom at the border, crossing the border and then the slow boat, another night accom and final leg in the boat. Was a great way to see rural areas of laos and to meet other travellers.
From Luang Probang to Vientine I went via bus, it was cheap, scenic and safe. This road is quite dangerous, so dangerous infact that the bus drivers are armed! Bex76 is right, the fast boats are soooo noisy I could not handle that for a full day and they have terrible safety records...if teh idea of the slow boat is not for you I would fly from Chang Mai into Luang Probang.

I never really looked at flights, but I understand certain routes especially out of Vientiene only operate on certain days so you may need to book in advance. Vientine doesnt offer that much so you dont want to be stuck there a few days trust me....the sunsets are nice, the Bhudda park is great...thats about it. After Luang Probang it has nothing! Like everything in Asia, it is much cheaper doing it locally then from oz.

Hope this helps!


5. Posted by Steve_ell (Budding Member 39 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Hi Luke - thanks for that info. Anyone got any feed-back on my original questions 1 to 3 in particular?

6. Posted by Garrier (Budding Member 13 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Hi Steve

Here is a blog about getting a fast boat into Luang Prabang. It certainly does not look like a good experience. I think you may get most of your information need form the various blogs on this site.


7. Posted by attaque46 (Budding Member 16 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Apologize in advance if the question sounds utterly stupid, or if this has already been mentioned elsewhere:
I would be very grateful if someone whos been to Laos, Kambodia and Vietnam could tell me :
- is it too late to travel there in April & beginning of May (considering the monsoon-season)? Is it safe or advisable to travel around at that time of the year? Or does it start somewhat later?

(I was planing to go there in Feb or March, but something came up, and it seems ill have to postpone it for a month. Im now in a sort of panic that ill have to wait even longer. Any advices would be very helpful. Thx in advance)

8. Posted by danalasta (Respected Member 519 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Hi Steve,

I have backpacked through Thailand, Laos,Vietnam, Cambodia a number of times. I can tell you that the LP-VV-Vientiane route is very safe. Well, I have taken far more unused routes in Laos -Muang Ngoi to Xam Neua; Ponsavan to Xam Neua; LP to Luang Namtha. Well, you may see an armed guy, but there has hardly been a highway problem the last few years!

Send me a PM, if you want all the details - routes to take, where to stay,transport,costing, etc. Would appreciate your e mail as I can attach the itinerary I worked out.

It is perfectlhy alright to travel in doesnt rain all day long... use slow boat when doing the Huayxai-Pak Beng-LP trip.You will enjoy it more! You will be putting up in Pak Beng overnight.

If you opt for the boat ride, then I suggest, you do the road route from LP to VV.

And Steve, I am hitting 60 year end! It's never too old to travel even with a backpack!



9. Posted by c_dog03 (Budding Member 13 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

The trip from Luang Prabang to Vientiane should definitely be made by bus. Despite the fact that the cities in Laos are beautiful, I found the bus trips between cities to be some of the highlights of my travels there. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking, and you drive by lots of small mountain villages with people selling things along the side of the road. Plus, if you factor in the extra cost of purchasing a plane ticket and the time that it would take to purchase a plane ticket, check in for your flight, wait for your flight, etc., it's not nearly worth it.