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Laos itinerary help

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Hi Foderites

Plan to travel Feb 2014 for three weeks to Laos & Thailand. We are 50 ish, like food, markets, architecture, temples and sitting in a bar people watching. We can handle bus trips with stops every two hours or so

We travel via Singapore from east coast Australia on Scoot (the budget arm of Singapore Airlines) then straight through to Phnom Penh for two nights. We have been there before and have seen the major sights, but want to do markets and spit roasted pig.

Fly to Ventiane for two nights.
Is Vang Vieng worth the 4 hour bus trip ? Which then means 6 hours to Luang Prabang, or fly through and give VV a miss ? What are the buses like ? Do they make frequent stops, is food available ?

Thanks for any suggestions
Plan 4 nights in LP, then boat to Huay Xai.
From there how easy is it to cross into Thailand to Chaing Khong, and then how to get to Chaing Rai ?

Any suggestions for agencies to arrange hill tribe treks from Chaing Rai ?

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