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suep1 Apr 4th, 2013 01:19 PM

Good Side trips from Luang Prabang?
My husband and I will be travelling in Thailand and Laos the first 3 weeks of July. We are in our 50's, in good shape and definitely do our best to have "authentic" experiences of the non-touristy sort (though we do like a bit of luxury when it comes to hotels).

We plan to spend 6 days based in Luang Prabang--decided not to do the drive to Vientiane. We'd love to hear suggestions on day and/or overnight trips that would be good out of LP. We know about the basics: the caves, the city itself, boat trip up Mekong; but if we want to go a bit further afield, what do you suggest? Also, for outside the city, any suggestions for guides?

We'd so like to hear from you--this is such an amazing forum with such knowledgeable and helpful travelers! Thank you for your thoughts in advance.


Kathie Apr 4th, 2013 05:26 PM

While you certainly can do a side trip from LP, 6 nights is not too long there, IMO. We spent a week there quite a few years ago. LP is a place to slow down and soak up the atmosphere. I'd suggest that after you get there you decide if you want a side trip. There are plenty of agencies in town, and it will be much cheaper to book there than to book ahead.

crellston Apr 4th, 2013 10:27 PM

I think a side trip would be a great idea. LP was a nice tranquil place 15 + years ago when I first visited but it has got a lot busier in recent years. I was last there about 5 years ago and was amazed at the difference ( still a great place though) . The further you get away from LP the more "authentic" and less touristy the experience will be. I would suggest a camp in the forest for a night or two it is easy enough to source providers via google TA etc but please do check carefully on credentials where animals are involve as some are badly mistreated. has good reviews as does Elephant village and Tiger trails although I have not used either.

Kathie is correct that it will probably be cheaper to book when you arrive but I would do your research into quality and ethics before you get there so you can hit the ground running

suep1 Apr 5th, 2013 12:05 AM

Kathie and Crellston, thanks so much for your help. Especially since the advice is that it is ok to wait and see (though research is good)--that takes some of the pressure off as long as you say 6 days is not too much. Any suggestions on where to stay in town (Kathie, i know you really liked a place about 10 minutes drive out, but i'd love to be in town if there's luxurious accomadations to be had.

offwego Apr 5th, 2013 01:41 AM

I go to LP pretty regularly and agree that it's a good place to chill out, but if you're someone who gets bored with sitting around after a couple of days, I also agree that all around are great getaways. I find the agencies in Luang Prabang running (mostly) boring touristy things where you're just herded to one over-touristed village after another.

You can get on a public boat early in the morning and go up to Nong Kiew, which is a small but lovely village right on the Nam Ou River about 6 hours north. The journey there by water is beautiful. The village is sedate and atmospheric; there are a couple of (not very luxurious but perfectly serviceable) guesthouses and I found the food to be wonderful. You'd need to spend the night, or maybe two, if you wanted to enjoy a day trek through the lovely countryside, which requires no guide, your guesthouse can assist.

Some pics here:

and here

Also had a lovely experience at a two day elephant trek with Shangri-Lao.

crellston Apr 5th, 2013 01:53 AM

Last time we were there we stayed at the 3 Nagas which is probably they best location in town and has nice rooms stuffed with antiques (except in the annexe across the road which is not so nice!) and The Apsara, also a nice place but not to the same standard and one stret removed from the Main Street. I suspect the 3 Nagas is pretty expensive these days but the Apsara should be a reasonable price. Another out of town place which would be nice for a break would be the

Kathie Apr 5th, 2013 06:04 AM

It was so long ago that we stayed at La Residence Phou Vao, that we paid about $110 a night. It's on the edge of town, not one of the places outside of town. We would have preferred to stay in town, but the places we wanted were full - and that was well over 10 years ago! So choose your hotel soon and get it booked.

Friendship_Bay Apr 6th, 2013 02:49 AM

We just finished 5 nights at the Mekong Riverview, we loved it. Quiter location than 3 Nagas, I think, but still very convenient walking. And they have a golf cart for short shuttles. Staff/service was great.

suep1 Apr 7th, 2013 10:22 AM

Everyone's advice really appreciated and the pictures really got us psyched. I'm pretty sure we'll stay at the RiverView because La Residence Phou Vao, which did look amazing, we quite pricey--i think around $300, which seemed a lot.

We'll wait till we get there before deciding if we take a side trip. Maybe a float down the Mekong to Nong Khiaw and go on the 100 waterfall hike.

khunwilko Apr 11th, 2013 08:41 PM

Famous waterfalls nearby - Kuang Si - worth a visit. Climb to the top or swim. Get there early on public holidays as they are very popular with locals.

Get a HOBO map on the AREA and follow the cycle routes on that. Very interesting through some beautiful countryside and villages. Can be done in a vehicle.

khunwilko Apr 11th, 2013 08:44 PM

PS - be very careful about supporting exploitative wildlife activities.

thursdaysd Apr 11th, 2013 08:55 PM

Another vote for the river trip up to Nong Kiew - absolutely magical. Back in 2002 accommodations there were pretty basic but I imagine things have changed a bit. Luang Prabang certainly has - I visited in 2002, 2004 and early 2011 and was very sad to see the changes in 2011. Still worth visiting, but the atmosphere had changed for the worse.

Vientianeboy Apr 19th, 2013 01:12 AM

6 days is too long for LP. 3-4 is fine. Take a trip to Phonsavahn and see the enigmatic Plain of Jars.

thursdaysd Apr 19th, 2013 04:26 AM

Well, I once spent six days in LP, but I was resting up during a ten month trip. With only three weeks in LP, spend a couple of days in Vientiane.

Friendship_Bay Apr 21st, 2013 03:07 PM

If you do stay at the RiverView, you will find the staff very helpful in planning your shorter excursions (and I agree, wait until you get there...). We found the suppliers and drivers/boatmen they proposed to be uniformly professional and timely (some with limited language skills, but it was never a problem).

The morning trip to Kuang Si was the highlight of our visit. But we got there early, and by some fluke had the upper pool all to ourselves for swimming for a short time. We only had to share it with the butterflies.

Is 6 days too much? I didn't find our 5 days too long, but we were in the middle of a 10 week trip, and had just finished 2 intense weeks in Bhutan, so we really appreciated the opportunity to just coast around on bikes, go to some yoga classes and take advantage of the many nice cafes and restaurants. So I guess it depends on what you are looking for. BTW, the best massage place in town is right next to the is a little stark (no private rooms) but technically better than the "softer" spas recommended for tourists.

suepea May 28th, 2013 09:22 AM

Thank you all for your help! Our trip is getting close and we can't wait. Been reading trip reports and getting psyched!

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