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Two Weeks in Laos: Recommended Itinerary

Two Weeks in Laos: Recommended Itinerary

Old Dec 4th, 2022, 03:22 PM
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Two Weeks in Laos: Recommended Itinerary

Hi,
My wife and I arrive in Bangkok on 18th December (leave on 7th January) and will spend at least 2 weeks (out of 3) in Laos - we can be flexible.
Highlights below, based on my reading so far. What do you think? I will keep reading around, but any suggestion - places to visit/skip, things to do is super-welcome.
Thanks,
Alessandro

North Laos
  • Vientiane - Vang Vieng - Luang Prabang. Classic itinerary, but is Vang Vieng worth the stop? it sounds like "yet another place to do lots of amazing trekking" (i.e. I am sure it's amazing, but so is the rest of Laos)
  • Luang Prabang - Nong Khiaw (with detour by boat to Muang Ngoy) - Luang Namtha (and Nam Ha national park). Great for eco-trekking, homestays, ethnic tribes, boat trips
  • Phonsavan (Plain of Jars). This seems very interesting, but it's 7 hours by car from Luang Prabang, and where does one go after that?
Central/South Laos
  • Tham Kong Lo Cave. Beautiful, but really remote.
  • Pakse - Ban Kiat Ngong (Xe Pian National Park).
  • Si Phan Don (four thousand islands).

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Old Dec 8th, 2022, 05:15 AM
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It has been many years since we were in Laos but have taken several trips and have visited all of those places and a few more. I dare say a lot has changed in that time but hopefully not too much. It is a magical country once you get off the beaten path.

As for the places you mention, my favourite region would be the far north. Nong Khiaw, Muang Ngoi and Luang Namtha are all worthwhile. To those I would add Muang Sing and Phongsali. As I recall we travelled much of the region by boat with the odd car and bus thrown in.

Vientienne I have never really been impressed with. Luang Prabang was incredible the first time I visited but subsequently has become very over touristed. I would go sooner rather than later before the world, notably the Chinese, start hitting Asia again. Vang Viang does have some incredible karst scenery and is indeed great for trekking. It was renowned as a party town for a long time. Not sure what it is like now.

The Plain of Jars is indeed a long way and frankly there are better places to stay.

Central Laos is less interesting IMO . Pakes is just a means to get elsewhere. I do recall spending one NYE in Tad Lo on the Bolavens Plateau which I think was reached from Pakse. Again another stunning area with lots of waterfalls

Si Phan Don is the most laid back place in Asia's most laid back country. We stayed there for a few days before heading down over the border to Cambodia via Stung Treng and Kratie - great if you want to visit Angkor Was.
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Old Dec 11th, 2022, 12:30 PM
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Hi crellston thank you. Have you been to the north east, close to Vietnam? That's another area that the guidebook seems to recommend, but it's also rather remote (although we could probably fly there, if worth, and cut on travel time).

Alessandro
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Old Dec 11th, 2022, 01:11 PM
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Yes I have and yes it is remote! We were in Phongsali, Muang Ngoi , Muang Sing and stayed in a few villages that I don't think had any names. It is a big tea growing area and we brought loads back with us and were still drinking it years later (indeed if I looked hard enough we probably still have some!). On the other side of the border in NW Vietnam we did something called the Dien Bien Phu loop which was fantastic. Dien Bien phi was where the Vietnamese finally defeated the French in 1954 after many years of colonial oppression. We had intended to cross the border on that trip into Laos but the border guards had other ideas and weren't letting foreigners cross at that time.
It is probably my favourite part of Laos though travel was challenging at times. Dirt roads through the mountains and much was done by boat. So worth it though! I have lots of photos of our time travelling in that area but for some reason , I never got around to writing about it in our blog.It must be over 25 years since we were in that part of Laos. Not sure if it has changed at all. The Chinese built a railway which goes all the way to Vientiane . Not sure if passes through that part of Laos?

If I get a moment in the next day or two, I will try and dig out a few photos and post them here which may give you an idea of what to expect.
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Old Dec 14th, 2022, 05:03 PM
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I love your suggestions, I'd love to go to Phongsali, but that's properly remote! I think from Luang Prabang we'll start heading north and see how far we get and how long it takes us to get there. We'll decide on the way.

How about the area around Sam Neua? Although it's very remote, it seems to be reasonably accessible through air.
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Old Dec 14th, 2022, 05:44 PM
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Sorry I know nothing of Xam Neua. It is undeniable that Laos is a difficult country in which to travel. I guess that is part of the attraction. I would strongly recommend leaving some slack in your plans just in case they don’t work out.
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Old Dec 14th, 2022, 05:53 PM
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A few photos from our time there:














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Old Dec 15th, 2022, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by crellston View Post
It is undeniable that Laos is a difficult country in which to travel. I guess that is part of the attraction. I would strongly recommend leaving some slack in your plans just in case they donít work out.
yes! if you remember, I was asking for suggestions for a Thai beach, before going to Laos. My wife and I decided we should go straight to Laos: we are planning for a couple of weeks, but are prepared to spend the entire holiday there (3 weeks) if need to.

And: amazing photos!
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