Laos/Vietnam - One more time...

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Jun 26th, 2007, 11:08 PM
  #1
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Laos/Vietnam - One more time...

I'm back! Sorry to have been off the grid for so long...lots of travel around the country and finally settling back into the homestead.

Today officially begins the 'it's almost here i can taste it' countdown for our trip, so I'll just dive in:

I've just received word from Bangkok Air that our flight from BKK to LP has changed (this seems to be the M.O. with Bangkok Air, as this kept happening to us last year when we booked our flights early with them)...short of it is, this new schedule change is making me feel like our time in LP is too short (in comparison to Hanoi, our following stop) as we're losing even more of our first day there now.

So I look to you guys to tell me, should we add a day to LP and remove a day from Hanoi? That's what I'm leaning towards.

Current itinerary goes something like this:
Day 1 Fly to Luang Prabang (1:30 PM)
Day 2 Luang Prabang
Day 3 Luang Prabang
Day 4 Luang Prabang
Day 5 Fly to Hanoi, Vietnam (5 PM)
Day 6 Hanoi
Day 7 Halong Bay
Day 8 Halong Bay
Day 9 Hanoi
Day 10 Hanoi
Day 11 Hanoi
Day 12 Fly to Hong Kong (11 AM)

Any helpful advice would be appreciated.
filmwill is offline  
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Jun 27th, 2007, 01:25 AM
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Depends what you are looking for. LP is very much a chill out place , whereas Hanoi is frenetic but with lots to see and do. IMO you should definitely keep the day in Hanoi. The travel from time from the airport to LP is only around 15 mins. so you will have almost a full afternoon in LP on arrival and virtually a full day on departure. LP is still one of my favourite places in asia although it is now much more touristy than when I first visited. You will have a couple of days (or half days)to see the town at a leisurely place and still have some time to visit some of the surrounding villages/elephant camps etc.
crellston is offline  
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Jun 27th, 2007, 06:26 AM
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I think your itinerary is fine as it is. Bangkok Air's schedule is seasonal, so when you make your reservations far ahead, your reservations are for the times they fly in the current season, not the times they will fly when you are there!

Both LP and Hanoi are fascinating places, in very different ways.
Kathie is online now  
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Jun 27th, 2007, 02:28 PM
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crellston + Kathie, thanks for your feedback! I guess my concern is that we're doing all cities on this trip (BKK, Hanoi + Hong Kong) and LP is the only "rural" place we're going to.

Siem Reap was our favorite part of our trip last year, and while I know Laos is not Cambodia, it seems to have a lot of that chilled-out, French Colonial flair that I found to be sooooo relaxing.

Do you still think it's enough time given that?
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Jun 27th, 2007, 03:06 PM
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If it wer me, I'd leave it as is and figure that the universe is telling me something about how much time to spend in each place. ;-)

Remember you also have Halong Bay to "chill."
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Jun 27th, 2007, 03:10 PM
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will,

Looks perfect to me. Have a blast, I know you will

Aloha!
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Jun 27th, 2007, 06:55 PM
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I also think it looks fine!

Not to mention that the flights could change again. Why not wait for a while?

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Jun 27th, 2007, 08:38 PM
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I was in LP last year and 4 days seems like just about the perfect amount of time to me too.
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Jul 5th, 2007, 05:40 PM
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Hi, filmwill! I was in Luang Prabang for 3 nights last month, June 2007. Believe me, those 3 nights were like an eternity! I specifically went there because of the UNESCO designation as a World Heritage Site.

The only worthwhile sight for me was visiting the Pak Ou caves; the rest of the town is a dump. Yes, there are several appealing temples to visit, but by and large the town is a dump: lack of refrigeration and air conditioning that causes food spoilage, lack of food hygiene, unclean eating conditions in the street, barefoot and half-naked children about, ridiculously out of place baguettes that are soggy and gummy, etc.

Please let us know of your experiences; many of us feel that Luang Prabang is highly over-rated. And no, I can't imagine what the French ever saw there.
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Jul 5th, 2007, 05:57 PM
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Wow - what different expereinces we had, easywalker!
Kathie is online now  
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Jul 5th, 2007, 06:01 PM
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You just beat me to it Kathie! I've been to LP twice - the second time for a full week, and wanted to stay longer. Of course, I wasn't expecting the Ritz. My only concern is that it's getting too popular, so I'm not too unhappy that some people don't like it!
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Jul 6th, 2007, 09:59 PM
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I have visited LP three times now. The first time was in 2000 and the the last in April this year. The first time I absolutely loved it. It was the iconic asian city that the guide books usually describe, wonderful friendly people and relatively few tourists. We started making plans to move there in a few years. The next time I visited was it was in 03 when it was busier, more hotels were being built, there were more tourists but it was still one of my favourite places in Asia. The people were getting wealthier and the place was getting more westernised in terms of food accommodation internet cafes. This year when I visited I was genuinely shocked by the scale of development. The city had grown and there was a lot of hotel building going on all over the city. There has been some sympathetic construction in the Lao style but muuch concrete block type development - I am amazed that this is allowed in a world heritage site but I guess it is theprice of a developing country developing. Having said all of this it still has a certain allure, the peole are great and if you stay away from the baguette shops and pizza restaurants of the main street and try the local food you will find some of the best food in Asia. What did sadden me though was the behaviour of a number of western tourist who were incredibly rude. some seem to thiink they are visiting a human zoo and weres hoving cameras in to the faces of monks during thealms procession, blocking their way to get a good shot etc.
I do understand where Easywalker is coming from, but, IMO< I feel that the comments are just a tad over-negative. LP is definatiely worth visiting if you haven't been but do get out and about and do try and avoid the usual tourist traps. Would I return? To Laos yes. I have travelled all over and it is an amazing and beautiful country with the most friendly people. To LP probably only to transit up north.

Finally, as you will be flying into LP I am sure you will have absolutely no problems with immigration but I, unfortunately did - see my trip report for more details http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...7&tid=34984619

for my trip report on LP http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...7&tid=34988056

crellston is offline  
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Jul 7th, 2007, 01:40 PM
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Thanks for the update, crellston. I was in LP in 2001 and 2004, and didn't think it had changed TOO much by 04, although there were new walkways going in. The biggest shock was the young woman walking down the main street in a backless top! And I must confess to enjoying baguettes for breakfast, after several weeks of Chinese food.
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Jul 7th, 2007, 11:13 PM
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thursdaysd - I know exactly what you mean re the baguettes for breakfast. Much as I love noodle soup for breakfast, the attraction does wear a bit thin after a few weeks.

The big difference I noticed this year were the number of tour buses entering the city. They are supposed to be banned but no one takes any notice. Also, I just compared the photo of my first and last visit. One thing that struck me was the increase in the size of the Lao women in the morning market - must be all those baguettes!!
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