Itinerary help - Laos and Thailand

Old Apr 4th, 2013, 04:10 PM
  #1  
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Itinerary help - Laos and Thailand

My husband and I are in the initial stages of planning a three week (20 nights) trip to Laos and Thailand in November. We spent three weeks in Vietnam, Siem Reap and Bangkok last year and are coming back to visit some of the places we weren't able to see. We’ve always been independent travelers, but got spoiled having private guides and drivers on our last trip. I've been trying to work with some travel agents for this trip, but I've been less than impressed with their itineraries (and pricing) and am about to give up and do it myself. We begin our trip in Vientiane and leave from Bangkok, so this is a rough idea of where I think we want to go:

Vientiane (2 nights); we arrive on a Sunday afternoon
Luang Prabang (3 nights - may have to be longer if we go on the boat trip due to timing)
Mekong Boat Trip (or fly from LP to CR) (Saturday departure)
Chiang Rai (1-2 nights)
Chiang Mai (3-4 nights)(we want to do some furniture shopping, so will build some time into our schedule)
Lampoon-Lampang-Sukhothai (1 night) (fly to Trang)
Trang (2-3 nights)
Bangkok (remainder of time), with day trip to Kanchanaburi

Am I trying to do too much? Have I omitted anything?

I'm hesitant about the Mekong Boat Trip because we're at the mercy of their scheduling, which leaves us with too much time in LP. Does anyone have any strong opinions one way or another? I’m afraid spending two days on a boat will end up being monotonous after a while.

Does anyone have any private guides, drivers, or local travel agencies that they'd recommend, particularly in Laos? We don't need anyone for Bangkok or the beach, but would like someone who could guide and drive us from Chiang Rai to Sukhothai.

We're not avid beach people but the Thai beaches look so beautiful, it would be a shame to not spend some time at one of them. Would you recommend Trang or Krabi, or somewhere else to spend a couple of days? We’re an older couple so the party scene and crowds are not our thing

Lastly, do you have any recommendations for modern style furniture makers in Chiang Mai? We hope to have a dining room table and chairs made, but want to use our time wisely if we decide to go shopping.

Thank you in advance for your sage advice.
internetwiz is offline  
Old Apr 4th, 2013, 06:23 PM
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Three or four nights is not too much in Luang Prabang. We spent a week there and loved every minute. LP is a place to slow down and soak up the atmosphere. Indeed, I would highly recommend you spend more than three nights, which is only two days. You will spend all of your time going from place to place, no time to relax and experience.

Personally, I think you are trying to do too much. Remember that two nights somewhere is just one full day. Often, it takes most/all of a day to get from one place to another. If you fly from LP to CR, it will take most of a day - you have to fly to Bangkok, then Bangkok to CR.

For sure I'd cut the Kanchanaburi trip. Slow down and enjoy these places.

I love the Golden Triangle area of Thailand, CM not so much. But CM is the place to do furniture shopping. Though I'm not so sure you'll find modern furniture. One or two nights in CR is really worthless. I;d say cut it.

You can do all of this yourself. No need for a guide in LP. Just hire a driver to go to Sukhothai. Buy Dawn Rooney's book, and you can guide yourselves.

I'm not sure it's worth a night or two at the beach either. I think you need to edit your itinerary.
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Old Apr 5th, 2013, 02:24 PM
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Thanks for your advice, Kathie. I didn't realize we couldn't fly non-stop from LP to CR. I guess it comes down to whether we opt to take the Mekong Cruise or fly. If we fly, we'll go straight to CM and do some sort of Golden Triangle road trip instead.
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Old Apr 5th, 2013, 02:53 PM
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Look at our trip report. We struggled with whether we'd have time to visit a beach area also, and did not regret that we didn't. There is only so much you can do...
http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...m#last-comment
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Old Apr 5th, 2013, 06:48 PM
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For the Thailand part of your trip I think it's already good and you will be visiting a lot of worthwhile places that many here have not been to.

Chiang Rai for 2 nights - good IMO. This will give you time to explore for 2 full days, your 2nd and 3rd day and you can transfer by car or bus to Chiang Mai after that. The drive will be around 2.5 hours from downtown Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai for 3 - 4 nights - again good. Many attractions and things to do. Old part of town + the surrounding villages and towns. Good shopping for local stuff and for furnitures and art try the area around Nimmanhemin Road. From Nimmanhemin Soi 1 to Soi 10 will have a lot of little furniture shops as well as art galleries. For more mass produced local furnitures try Baan Tawaii. One of the guide there, I have not used but a few people here have is Sergeant Kai.

Lamphun, Lampang and Sukhothai. The old wats in Lamphun and Lampang are beautiful and worth a visit. For shopping there are some nice silk and ceramic shops in these towns. The drive from Chiang Mai to Lamphun will take you around 45 minutes and then another 45 - 60 minutes to Lampang. From Lampang to Sukhothai will take around 2 hours and the main attractions in Sukhothai will be the historical park.

Trang - a very nice seaside resort South of Phuket. Some nice beaches and wonderful seafood and so much less touristy or developed than Phuket. From Sukhothai you will have to either catch a flight from the small airport there to Bangkok and transfer to the Trang flight or you can drive to Bangkok and catch your flight. Driving time will be around 4 hours.
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Old Apr 5th, 2013, 06:52 PM
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For the Luang Prabang to Chiang Mai non stop or direct flight I believe Lao Airlines fly that route. From Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai is only 2.5 - 3 hours drive so well worth it IMO.
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Old Apr 6th, 2013, 03:43 AM
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why you are missing Puket?
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Old Apr 6th, 2013, 07:11 AM
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Thank you, everyone! Still need to decide whether we want to do the Mekong River trip, but I'm leaning against it because I think we can use the time doing some more interesting things. Sam_Sen, if we go to a beach, we want to go somewhere that's quieter than Phuket.
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