Two weeks for Laos and Cambodia

Feb 5th, 2009, 05:59 AM
  #1  
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Two weeks for Laos and Cambodia

I understand that September / October is a good time to visit Laos and Cambodia. We will probably fly into Bangkok from South Africa. We will be a small group of forty somethings that want to experience some of Laos & Cambodia, including Angkor Wat. Any suggestions will be appreciated.Basic and budget please
Abrie is offline  
Feb 5th, 2009, 09:25 AM
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How many weeks/days?
nycjk is offline  
Feb 5th, 2009, 09:26 AM
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Sorry just saw your title. I will respond shortly.
nycjk is offline  
Feb 5th, 2009, 03:49 PM
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What else are you interested in?

Most people seem to concentrate on Luang Prabang in Laos. There is a lot more to see and I've only been to the north. Bear in mind that Laos is very laid back and it takes a long time to get anywhere. Bus travel is very cheap but 8 - 9 hour trips are not uncommon.

Angkor Wat is a must and, while a lot of tourists do a quick one day visit, I think 3 - 4 days is quite justifiable. There are a lot more temples than just Angkor Wat.

Also both countries can be fairly cheap. I was paying $US 5-6 a night for guesthouses in Laos last year and $US 15 - 20 in Cambodia. These are clean rooms with your own facilities and air-conditioning in Cambodia but not Laos - didn't need it) Have a look at http://www.travelfish.org for budget accommodation, restaurants etc in both countries. Meals in reasonable restaurants will cost well under $US 10.

Buy a good guidebook (Lonely Planet, Fodors etc) and think about where you'd like to go and what you'd like to see. Then you will probably get more helpful suggestions as people learn more about your interests.






silverwool is offline  
Feb 5th, 2009, 05:36 PM
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It takes three full days just to see the so-called major temples at Angkor. If you are really interested in the temples, you'll want more time. We spent a week and would have enjoyed even more time. The best guide book on Angkor is Dawn Rooney's book, Angkor (get the 2006 edition). Do your research so you know how much time you'll want in Siem Reap. If you want a preview of Angkor and Luang Prabang, you are welcome to view our photos at www.marlandc.com
Kathie is offline  
Feb 5th, 2009, 06:55 PM
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You have to go to Luang Prabang. Simply beautiful. Relaxing. Great food, great atmosphere, pleasant walks. We spent 10 days there.

I have also been to Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Vientiane. Vientiane is quite sleepy (a lot of tourists miss Vientiane and go straight to Luang Prabang). I liked PP, I think 4 days would be enough to see all the sites.

Friends have been to Vang Vieng (Laos), a little town where you can tube down the rivers. It's between Vientiane and LP. They had a ball there.
cookiescompanion is offline  
Feb 6th, 2009, 02:30 AM
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Re Vang Vien, the town itself is very touristy. The surrounding area is beautiful. I hired a bicycle and went out into the countryside. Visited caves, lagoons, villages, it was really great. Another area I loved was the far north. While I only stayed in, and went trekking from, Luang Namtha, there are other towns which are very popular. Muang Sing is one that gets a mention.

I also went to the Plain of Jars which I enjoyed, but it is a day by bus from Luang Prabang and about 6 hours back to Vang Vieng. May not be worth the time, it depends what you are interested in.
silverwool is offline  
Feb 6th, 2009, 06:05 AM
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Hi
I was in Laos in Nov 08 and again was mainly based in Luang Prabang as it can be quite difficult getting around - we did a 2 day Elephant Mahout course (allao travel I think) which was based just outside LP and you overnight in individual eco lodges .. It really was fantastic. Also we went to Mong Nwai (spelling!) which is 4 hours by bus to Nong Khai and then you get a boat to Mung Nwai - it's really pretty and unspoilt and limited electricity but they have guest houses ! We stayed at Moon for about 6usd (which was the tip top!) it's run by a Swedish guy and his wife who is originally from Luang Prabang. You can go on treks through to other villages and it is just idylic and so peaceful.The places are listed in Lonely Planet -I'm not sure my spellings are correct !!
kilmainham is offline  
Feb 9th, 2009, 08:54 AM
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Thanks for all the feedback....the puzzle will get together as more info come to light !! I am thinking of the option to do a trip down the Mekong River for a few days ? Any comments ?
Abrie is offline  
Feb 9th, 2009, 06:11 PM
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my family and i just got back from cambodia and laos tour planned by Global Travel & Tours Mr ann. he is supremely professional, helpful and accommodating. our guides were all very knowledgeable. we saw everything we wanted to see and stayed in hotels that were just what we wanted. when we were unhappy with one hotel in lp, mr ann promptly got us another room in another hotel without a problem. i would highly recommend global travel and will likely use them when i go to vietnam next year. if you are considering planning a trip with them i urge you to do so! btw, this was the first trip i've taken for which i used a service like this and it made traveling much easier and i feel like i learned more than i would have on my own.

Their website www.globaltravel-cambodia.com

Happy holiday

Salie
saliejohnson is offline  
Feb 9th, 2009, 06:29 PM
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hmmm.... Salie's first post on Fodors and it's touting a tour company. Why am I suspicious?

Abrie, as you know, since you've been reading Fodors, the regulars here do not recommend using a tour to visit SE Asia. The trip you are planning is easily done on your own, and you'll get exactly what you want rather than what a tour company wants to sell you.
Kathie is offline  
Feb 9th, 2009, 10:18 PM
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The only time I'd consider joining a tour group is for traveling overland from Laos to Cambodia. There are apparently so many border scams that its easier (and considerably cheaper) to book a tour to take you across.

silverwool is offline  
Feb 10th, 2009, 01:27 AM
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In April last year we travelled overland from Siem Reap - Phnom Penh - Kratie and then into Laos to the Si Phan Don (4000 islands area)where we stayed on Don Khong, a great island in the Mekong. There is a lot to see in the area, including Wat Phu, a pre Angor temple and Tad Lo (a nice village ight by some waterfalls in teh highland region. From there we headed on to Pakse and Vientienne (neitehr of which I could recommend). Luang Prabang is the next obvious stop, which, although now heaving with tourists is still worth a few days. My favourite part of Laos is however the far north around Muang Sing, Luang Namtha where it really is possible to get off the beaten track and stay in villages and towns that still are relatively unscathed. It is perfectly possible to do this all be public transport as we did. It just takes a bit of planning. Travelling by boat is the bes way to get tothe far north but it can be a bit time consuming. An alternativel would be to hire a guide and car in LP - there are loads in the Main st. but bargain hard on price (expect to pay 3-4 times the DIY price) and get them to write down what exactly you are paying for.

Silverwool - I note your comment re Cambodia / Laos border scams. We were asked by immigration to pay a "fee" of $1 per person coming out of Cambodia and another $1 upon entering Laos. Annoying but no big deal, especially compared with teh $400 we were asked to pay at LP airport the previous year for allegedly not having the right stamps in our passports! We evetually got out when we agreed upon $50 pp!

Finally, regarding the cruise on the Mekong, you should be ok with the smoke at that time of year although a lot of the forrest north of LP to the Thai border has now been slashed and burnt but the trip in the far north is still great. If you are thinking of sailing from Cambodia to Laos then that should be good and at least part of it can be done on public boat.

Budget accomodations can be found everywhere. Some great some very bad. Budget for $20-$40 in Cambodia, a bit less in Laos. You can pay a lot less and get a great place to stay and conversely pay more for somewhere truly awful. It is one of those areas where it is best to turn up and have a look at a few places before deciding. If travelling by bus/boat there are usually ltouts around selling there places and it is worth talking to them and haggleing on price. (TIP - get 2-3 around you and they will soon start undercutting each other. There are some really great places for around $50 (the Boat Landing in Luang Namtha springs to mind.

Have fun, it is a great part of the world
crellston is offline  
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