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Lots of Questions re Bangkok; Luang Prabang; Vang Vieng; Vientiane

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I will be visiting SE Asia for the first time February 6 - 24. We will fly from Los Angeles to Bangkok and stay in Bangkok from Feb 6-10. My thought was then to fly to Luang Prabang; then to Siem Reap; then perhaps to Krabi.

QUESTION 1: We essentially have 3 days in BK. Is that sufficient or should we stay for another night? Any must sees? Do we need a guide or is it easy enough to get around by ourselves (my daughter lives in Seoul, I have traveled a lot and we are pretty independent).

I have allowed 3 nights in LP. I would like to stay at a very nice hotel but cannot decide whether it is better to stay in the historic/old part of town (easier to walk everywhere) or at one of the new hotels with a pool which are outside of the town. I have looked at the Luang Say Residence, Kiridara, and Xiengthong Palace. Hotel de la Paix has also been suggested but the reviews I have read don't seem that great.
QUESTIONS: Does anyone have advice as to whether we would be better staying in the historic part rather than outside of town? Has anyone stayed at any of these hotels? If not, and you've visited LP recently, do you have any suggestions?

I hear the drive between LP and Vang Vieng is spectacular but VV is not very attractive.
I know it is a windy road and 5 - 6 hours between LP and VV but my thought is we could go by private car with driver between LP and VV and then just take the minibus between VV and Vientiane. I would hope we would also get more a view of Laos and see some more typical villages along the way, along with the great scenery. I hear there are 2 new 4-star hotels in VV now and it may be worth breaking up the trip by staying overnight in VV before driving to Vientiane.
QUESTIONS : Has anyone done this drive? Is it worth it? What about staying overnight in VV? Also, should I allow one day for Vientiane? Any suggestions as to what to see there?

In closing, I am thinking about 5 nights in SR. We will stay at Raffles. Any thoughts?

THANKS!!

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