Lao/Luang Prabang

Old Jun 5th, 2007, 12:31 PM
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Lao/Luang Prabang

I have quite a few vacation ideas going around in my head at the moment!! We are thinking that our next trip will probabaly be to Bhutan but if we want to do that in the Oct time then that will be 2008 which is way too long!!! So I was pondering where we could go for a quick 2 weeks that would not be too expensive but would keep us going so we don't feel like we haven't been away in forever! So I was thinking about Luang Prabang. My thoughts would be to fly to BKK and then on to Chaing Mai (not set in stone but I thought it would be an easy gate to the north) and have a couple of nights there then somehow get to Huay Xai and possibly take the boat to LP. It would be the one day trip and not a speed boat. Then spend some time in LP. One question is that we could potentially spend 7 nights in LP. It sounds like a magical place but am wondering if this would really be too much. Should we search out another Lao destination if so where? We have spent 10 nights in Siem Reap in the past and that was not too long for us we loved it. Would love to hear any thoughts or ideas any of you may have in coming up with a quick getaway idea. We would probably go in Feb or there abouts. When I come up with some ideas I will see what mu hubby thinks!!

Thanks J
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Old Jun 5th, 2007, 12:56 PM
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We spent a week in LP and loved it. It's really a place to take your time and soak up the atmosphere. If you want to go out of town, the Pak Ou caves are a good trip, and there are waterfalls and Hmong villages nearby to visit.
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Old Jun 5th, 2007, 02:03 PM
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Thanks Kathie I gathered that you really liked LP and since you also are a fan of Siem Reap you can probably draw some comps for me. We love SR and in 10 days never tired of just heading out to the temples. My hubby loves to photograph so you can always go back to the same temple in different lights etc and never get bored!! We did spend some time on Tonle Sap and also at schools but the majority of our time was spent at the temples. So I guess I am trying to get a feel for how we would spend our time in LP. Any markets etc always hold a facination and it is always interesting to just take in the surroundings. I have read about the caves I need to go and spend some time in a book shop and do some more reading about the surrounds of LP. What about any places that would say be an overnight trip or so from LP? Have you or anyone else any ideas about that? What about some of the "eco lodge" type places what would be the draw with those do you think? Thanks again for anyone feeding my day dream!
J
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Old Jun 5th, 2007, 03:19 PM
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Yes, we did love Angkor as well.

LP is a great place for a photographer! The wats themselves are lovely, but as they are all working wats, the photographic opportunities are often of the interactions among the monks, novices, visitors, etc, and are endless.

If you want an out of town trip, someone recently posted about a place north of LP it sounded just great. Only a few cabins out in the mountains, it really sounded idyllic. Sorry, I can't remembr the name of teh poster. If I run across it, I'll post it. The post was within the last week or so.
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Old Jun 5th, 2007, 03:23 PM
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Hi Jules39 - we spent 5 nights in SR in January and 4 nights in LP - we loved Luang Prabang and could easily have spent 7 days there (although we can be described as slow travelers)

Here's a link to our blog - lots of pix -

http://lizandrichardsa.typepad.com/2...ang/index.html

As mentioned in another post we really recommend a guide we hired

Khamta (Ta) Keovongsy

[email protected]

LP is very reasonable - we were eating extremely well for $15 - and our wonderful day with Ta and the elephant was $34.

Ta has other tour options (caves, etc) plus some overnight trips you could consider as well.



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Old Jun 5th, 2007, 03:25 PM
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Kathie - I was thinking about that post too

Here's a link to it

http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...7&tid=35005795
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Old Jun 5th, 2007, 04:12 PM
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Elizabeth, thanks for finding that post!

By the way, Jules, you can look at our LP photos at www.marlandc.com
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Old Jun 5th, 2007, 05:47 PM
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Thanks Kathie & Elizabeth I had somehow missed Matts posting when I was browsing though but I am about to check out his links now. Thanks also to the links to both of your sites I will be checking them out! J
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Old Jun 5th, 2007, 11:20 PM
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Jules, I was going to mention the Lao Spirit Resort. Think that fits the bill for the eco-lodge atmosphere you're looking for. It looks simply gorgeous--but it is a bit far out of the city. If that place is of interest to you, I'd split your time between Lao Spirit and another hotel in town to break it up a bit. Happy travels!
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Old Jun 6th, 2007, 06:22 AM
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There's more to Laos than LP.

It's nice but if you are going to spend time and energy getting to Laos might it not be a good idea to see some other parts of the country?

Maybe you are not that way inclined?

But the possibilies are many and infinitely rewarding. I would rate my time in the south of the country far higher than the nice, rather bijou, and definitely over-touristed Luang Pabang.

Yours to research.

Happy travels.
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Old Jun 6th, 2007, 04:34 PM
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hi -- i've been away from the boards a bit, but you guys found my post on lao spirit. jules, i stayed there three nights and wished i'd allotted 4-5. if you do want to spend your time in the luang prabang area you can get a nice contrast experience by staying in town for some nights then staying in a place like lao spirit. my personal preference is to spend time in the more remote places rather than in town, but that's not because luang prabang isn't lovely.

practicalities: it's about a 45 - 60 minute drive from town. they arrange to pick you up.

also, since it's small, if you might be interested i'd investigate early as that's the high tourist season and they only have 5 bungalows.

finally, if i'd had more time and understood the area better, i'd have headed farther north. there's a place called 'the landing' in luang namtha that i've heard good things about and would like to see. it's accessible by boat and bus, so you could conceivably loop through it as you travel south from thailand. have fun.
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Old Jun 7th, 2007, 03:11 AM
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I actually found a couple of days in LP was enough for me, I like to get out into the countryside a bit more. If you feel you have seen enough of the place you could head up to Nong Khiaw 4-5 hours by road and Muang Ngoi Nuea, 1 hour by boat up the Nam Ou. Muang Ngoi is very pleasant little village which can only be accessed by road. It's a bit of a backpacker haven but not a party town. Accomodation is pretty rustic and there is only electricity for a few hours in the evening. I would recommend it as it is in a very scenic and tranquil spot on the river.

http://www.travelsinasia.com/Laos/MuangNgoiNuea.htm
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Old Jun 7th, 2007, 07:13 AM
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The landing that matt mentioned is actully called the boat landing and if you have the time a great experience to visit. Here is their site if you are interested.
http://www.theboatlanding.laopdr.com/
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Old Jun 8th, 2007, 11:50 AM
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Thank you everyone! This gives me lots to look at and contemplate. Who knows if it will pan out but I will be prepared if it does! Chimani I totally hear what you are saying and appreciate your input. Thanks for the links to the "eco lodges"

Happy travels.

J
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Old Jun 9th, 2007, 12:32 AM
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I have been to Laos about 5 times now and have visited many different areas. I was in LP in April having travelled down the Mekong by boat from Northern Thailand. I still enjoyed LP but was quite shocked by the level of commercialism and the growth in tourism even over the last 3 years. It is still worth visiting for a few days but saly, it is no longer the tranquil asin town it once was. Matt mentioned Lao Spirit which is owned by Tiger Trails a tour company which has a couple of offices in the high street. We planned to sty there and then go trekking with them, staying at local villages but cancelled because the smoke fron the forest fires was just too bad at the time.
As Chimani quite rightly points out " there is far more to Lao than Luang Prabang. My favourite part is the far North. If you have two weeks that would be plenty of time to visit place like Luang Namtha, Muang Sing, Phongsali. The scenery is amazing and so are the people. As you have limited time and, unless you are used to backpacking type holidays, I would suggest that you organise vis a tour operator as th travelling can be quite rough (as indeed can the accomodation) but it is well worth it. It you are interested, I could try and find our itibnery and email it to you.
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Old Jul 8th, 2007, 07:24 PM
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Well we are still thinking about Loas in Feb. Will only be able to get 2 weeks away. Definatley want to go to LP and then we are contemplating. Some of the areas down south look beautiful. But also the north looks like it could appeal to us. Crellston you mentioned it could be advantageous to book travel with an agent to save time. Do you mean cars or the like between places? Do you or anyone else have an agent you can recommend. We don't mind rougher accomidations as long as they are clean & safe. With regards to the fires that you experienced Crellston were they due to the farmers burning fields in April time? Love the look of Loa Spirit & the boat house. Crellston if you could give me a run down on your ininerary that would be great.
Thanks all.
J
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Old Jul 9th, 2007, 06:17 PM
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Testing.

I just typed out a very long reply that I tried to edit but it doesn't seem to be showing up. I am typing this one now to see if my original post appears between the one prior to my posting and this one.

If it doesn't, I will post it again but forgive me if it suddenly appears for some reason. Fodors is known to be tempermental at times.
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Old Jul 9th, 2007, 06:18 PM
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I guess it really didn't show up so here it is:

Hey Jules! I saw your call on the Africa thread for me to come here to respond to your post.

Yes, I do love Lao! I have found the Thai's to be friendly but I think the people in Lao are even friendlier! They are very light hearted and have an amazing sense of humor as well.

I know I will probably be chastized for what some may consider "dangerous, foolish, risky, etc" I had some experiences that were life changing for me. I haven't posted much about my experience because I didn't want to suffer 50 lashes with a wet noodle but I will touch on it now. ;-)
I spent 4 nights in Luang Prabang, which was plenty for me. As a solo traveller, as I walked by homes that were having celebrations people would invite me in, offer me a beer and food and treat me like a long lost friend. I had this happen two of the 4 nights I was in LP! Even though I speak only a few words of Thai and even fewer of Lao I managed to have a great time at both celebrations. It was an unforgetable experience for me that I don't think would have occurred if I had been with someone.

As a farang, we can't rent motorbikes because of the regulations. I had been talking to a local guy in LP and I asked him if there was a possibility of a tour agency to arrange for me to ride on the back of a motorbike into some more remote places around the area. The boy I was talking to offered to take me on his motorbike the following day. I asked what he would charge and he said he really just wanted an opportunity to practice his English but I could pay for gas if I wanted.

The next morning we met at 8 a.m. and our adventure began! We rode for hours, stopping at 2 different waterfalls. One we hiked around for an hour or so and then had lunch, which I paid for as a courtesy. We actually had to take a boat to the next waterfall and it was so beautiful that I couldn't resist jumping in for a swim even though I only had shorts and a t-shirt to swim in.

We rode through some lush countryside and through several villages. The villages were doing double takes at the site of a farang riding on a motorbike behind a local! Everyone smiled and yelled out "sabaidee" as we rode by. The smiling children would run along side the bike (we rode slowly) and hold their hand out for me to slap as we rode by

I also spent 4 nights in a remote village. It is village that most would not stumble upon as it is a 6 hour boat ride up the Mekong from LP and then a 2 1/2 hour hike into the jungle. I stayed with a family of a 17 yr old boy I met in LP. He had been a novice monk for 5 years and had not been home to see his family since he was 12. He invited me to his village. I was due to fly out the following day but I changed my plane ticket to Hanoi in order to head out on this adventure.

The following morning I met the boy, Chit, at the market, stocked up on some food gifts for his family and lots of water and headed out. Of course there wasn't a way for Chit to let his family know he was coming home after 5 years away so imagine their surprise when I walked into their village/home with Chit in tow!

Chit's family welcomed me and I spent 4 nights sleeping on the floor of their hut, gathering food with the women during the day including harvesting rice and picking the "seaweed" off rocks in the river to be dried and eaten later. The village doesn't have a well, bathrooms, etc and electricity is only run by generator for a couple of hours each day. I bathed in the river each evening in my sarong under the watchful eyes of half the village who had never seen a farang before, let alone one bathing in their river along side all the other bathers.

I asked Chit if the teacher in the village would allow me into his classroom to teach a few words of English. I spent about 2 hours at the school and the children were very receptive. After that, I walked through the village like the Pied Piper of Hamlin but instead of rats following along I was trailed by no less than 20 children each time I went out. They would point to something and I would say the word in English with them repeating the word several times. Amazing!

I am now paying for 2 years of English for the boy and I plan on returning to the village again soon. I am also involved with a local organization that helps villages in Laos and Cambodia and I am so happy they are located right here in Portland!

I think your plan to spend a couple of nights in Bangkok and Chiang Mai and then head to LP is a good one.

If you want more of an "off the beaten path" location, just an hour or so out of Chiang Mai is a beautiful tiny village called Chiang Dao. This place was very appealing to us and I am sure I will return to it over the next couple of years. Absolutely beautiful!

To check out info about Chiang Dao you can go to www.chiangdao.com.

To see my trip photos go to www.windjammer.smugmug.com and go to the Laos album.

Well, you asked for info and it brought me back to that special time so I have rambled on! Please let me know if you have specific questions.
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Old Jul 13th, 2007, 11:32 AM
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Euro thanks so much for posting this. Sounds like you had a fantastic experience. Excellent. I also really enjoyed your photos.
Where did you stay in LP?

Thanks again
J
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Old Jul 14th, 2007, 09:31 AM
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Hi jules, I stayed at the Somjith guest house. It was just a couple of blocks away from the big night market down a side alley near a bakery (can't remember the name of the bakery).

It was a big clean room with a nice tile bathroom with a fan, no air. It was warm during the day but I was out and about. At night I slept with a light banket on me.

I did have a fabulous time in Laos and I look forward to returning, maybe next year when we visit Myanmar!
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