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_cjw_ Oct 18th, 2009 06:29 PM

Lao portion of Thailand-Laos-Cambodia planning
am planning my first trip so SE Asia and looking for comments, tips, recommendations, etc. I always appreciate the advice I find here and make an effort to post trip reports afterwards to follow up. So SE Asia folks, please share your expertise!
As background, I’m early thirties, female, travelling solo. I usually try to pack in a lot and prefer to keep it moving in order to see and do more. As such, I often prefer to have travel arrangements and accommodations secured in advance. I’m more interested in physical activity and/or exploring and wandering than I am interested in museums and/or lying on the beach. That said, art/temples and the beach/coast of southern Thailand are top agenda items for this trip. I’ve outlined a very rough itinerary below and jotted couple of country-specific questions. I’m particularly interested in recommendations for budget accommodations and restaurants. Lastly, I know it’s high season…I prefer to travel shoulder season, but this was the only time I could take off of work for an extended trip. High season will be challenging for my budget, so any cost conscious tips are appreciated. Also, I’m thinking about getting the Discovery AirPass to get around.
Dec 17-20 BKK, Thailand
Dec 20-25 Laos
Dec 25-29 Siem Reap, Cambodia
Dec 29-Jan 3 Southern Thailand
So far I think I’m mostly interested in Luang Prabang and maybe the far south (then cross over into Cambodia). Any budget guest house recommendations?
I like trekking and so could be persuaded to check out the north, but I’m really thinking of booking a multi-day kayak trip in the south. Anyone done that? I’ve not been kayaking, but have rafted. I’d love to do it if it is a real kayaking trip…eg, not ¾ time on shuttle and ¼ time on water.
Is it difficult to cross into Cambodia over land?
Thanks in advance!

seagypsy Oct 18th, 2009 06:49 PM

Hi cjw,

Because of your very limited time and the number of destinations you're hoping/planning to visit, then I don't realistically think you can 'do' any overland journeys. Your only practical option is to fly.
But fortunately, the Bangkok Airways 'Discovery Pass' might work well for you which is a minimum 3 flight package that you need to purchase in advance. Bangkok Airways offers the Bangkok>Luang Prabang>Siem Reap>southern Thailand routes (but you'll need to transfer at Bangkok and connect for flights to Krabi or Phuket Airports, or even Ko Samui but the Andaman Coast offers better weather during the period you're visiting and Krabi offers superior scenery).

I don't think you'll have time to visit the south of Laos and especially since Pakse Airport which services southern Laos is not expected to re-open until early January 2010.

However, you can still do some good kayaking along the Nam Khan River and there's some scenic kayaking to be had along this river since there are only a few Lao villages along the banks. Very easy to book the trip after you arrive and there are several places in LP that offer these kayaking trips.
There are even rafts but I think you're the type which would prefer either your own solo or to share with a guide.

Anyways, have a great trip!

PS--Lao Airlines also offer the BKK>Luang Prabang>Siem Reap routes but that would only be 2 segments. They're still likely to give you a small discount but it's probably better to get the Discovery Pass since you'll need to book those flights very soon given you're travelling during the peak period and flights get filled up quickly for your destinations.
It's not too early to start booking your flights.

seagypsy Oct 18th, 2009 06:51 PM

PS--to go overland from southern Laos, say Don Det/Khon, to Siem Reap would take 2 days.

Kathie Oct 18th, 2009 06:57 PM

I'm in agreement with seagypsy on this. You don't have time to go overland, and you really only have time for Luang Prabang in Laos and some day trips from there. You haven't accounted for travel days in your itinersy, but figure it will take you a minimum of a half a day but often a full day to get from checking out of your accommodation in one place to checking in in the next destination. So you have 4 days in Laos.

Are you planning this trip for this year? If so, you need to book your Discovery Pass ASAP. You'll find that many flights will already be full.

_cjw_ Oct 19th, 2009 02:06 PM

Thanks for the feedback, on this and my other 2 threads :) I am going to see if I can book the airpass tomorrow.

As I said, I usually keep moving a lot...for example, I wouldn't mind spending only one day/night in L.P., then move south for a 2 day kayak trip, then head into Cambodia. That said, I'm glad to hear there is good kayaking in the L.P. area so maybe I'll stay there.

I appreciate your input. Your comments to others has been helpful, too! Thanks!

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