Welcome to the TravelPod forums
This is the place where TravelPod bloggers exchange travel tips with each other. Have a question? Ask one of our Local Experts by clicking "new topic" in any category.

 
Reply to this topicStart new topic
> Help with itinery please
cider
post Jan 2 2009, 09:27 AM
Post #1


Newbie


Group: Members
Posts: 5
Joined: 2-January 09
Member No.: 265690




Hi everyone

I'm looking for some advice on a trip i'm planning for 1st 2 weeks in Feb.

Plan is to fly London to Bangkok, Bangkok to Chang Mai (train or plane) then on to Chang Rai where we are hoping to travel down the Mekong through Laos back to Thai border and back overland to Bankok.

Assuming this is possible can anyone give me any helpful advice on Mekong ferries, visa requirements, weather, helpful tips.

Cheers Cider
User is offlinePM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
wakingdream
post Jan 2 2009, 11:52 AM
Post #2


Rolling Stone
********

Group: Local Expert
Posts: 5853
Joined: 18-August 06
From: Guelph, Ontario
Member No.: 13336




Hey Cider!

The weather should be pretty good around the beginning of February. In the north, between November and February the weather will be dry for the most part. Temperatures are higher between March and May but still very warm in Feb. You'll find there are distinct cool breezes throughout the north so be sure to take some warm clothing, especially for early morning and later evening. This cooler weather happens during monsoon season.

Mekong travel is popular and you can find a slew of river boats and cruises. There are loads of sightseeing tours as well, the usual 'slow boat' and 'fast boat' from northern Laos generally travels to Luang Prabang. From there you can go on to Vientienne and cross the border.

You can get a two week visa into Laos and depending on where you're from you'll likely fit the requirements for a free, 30-day visa into Thailand. You can get the visa to Laos easily in Bangkok. From Bangkok to Chiang Mai on the way up, train travel is a great choice. You can get a sleeper seat that converts into a bed for the twelve hour or so ride.

The loop you're going to travel is a very popular one and you'll find a host of services, tours, guides, accommodation and everything else you'll need along the way.












--------------------
~Susie

'Yesterday's the past and tomorrow's the future. Today is a gift - which is why they call it the present.'
User is offlinePM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
cider
post Jan 2 2009, 12:07 PM
Post #3


Newbie


Group: Members
Posts: 5
Joined: 2-January 09
Member No.: 265690




QUOTE(wakingdream @ Jan 2 2009, 11:52 AM) *

Hey Cider!

The weather should be pretty good around the beginning of February. In the north, between November and February the weather will be dry for the most part. Temperatures are higher between March and May but still very warm in Feb. You'll find there are distinct cool breezes throughout the north so be sure to take some warm clothing, especially for early morning and later evening. This cooler weather happens during monsoon season.

Mekong travel is popular and you can find a slew of river boats and cruises. There are loads of sightseeing tours as well, the usual 'slow boat' and 'fast boat' from northern Laos generally travels to Luang Prabang. From there you can go on to Vientienne and cross the border.

You can get a two week visa into Laos and depending on where you're from you'll likely fit the requirements for a free, 30-day visa into Thailand. You can get the visa to Laos easily in Bangkok. From Bangkok to Chiang Mai on the way up, train travel is a great choice. You can get a sleeper seat that converts into a bed for the twelve hour or so ride.

The loop you're going to travel is a very popular one and you'll find a host of services, tours, guides, accommodation and everything else you'll need along the way.

User is offlinePM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
cider
post Jan 2 2009, 12:12 PM
Post #4


Newbie


Group: Members
Posts: 5
Joined: 2-January 09
Member No.: 265690




Thanks for the advice Wakingdream

What sort of time-scale are we talking for the "loop" we are talking about, is 2 weeks enough or will it be too much of a rush?

Are there flights from Vienntienne to Bangkok or will it be overland?

Cheers

Cider

ps how is Laos pronounced?
User is offlinePM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
wakingdream
post Jan 2 2009, 11:12 PM
Post #5


Rolling Stone
********

Group: Local Expert
Posts: 5853
Joined: 18-August 06
From: Guelph, Ontario
Member No.: 13336




Hey Cider

I'm thinking two weeks is plenty of time. Ofcourse it's always nice to linger but if you don't have the time you will okay to do it all in two weeks. Yes, flights are available from Vientienne to Bangkok no problem. Your train from BKK will be about twelve hours and you'll be in Chiang Mai and from their I believe it's a couple of hours to Chiang Rai. Your Mekong trip length will depend on how you approach it but it won't be that long and by the time your in Vientienne you're just a hop, skip and a jump back to Bangkok, especially if you're flying.

Laos is pronounced like ow (as in ouch) with an L in front. In English the 's' is pronounced so it sounds like 'louse'. Laotians leave the S on the end silent.

if you have any other questions, post away.

I think you're going to have a fabulous time. I've been to Laos a few times over and never tire of it. In fact, each time I've been I've loved it more and more. It's a beautiful country full of beautiful people.


--------------------
~Susie

'Yesterday's the past and tomorrow's the future. Today is a gift - which is why they call it the present.'
User is offlinePM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
ScottWoz
post Jan 3 2009, 12:21 AM
Post #6


Rolling Stone
********

Group: Local Expert
Posts: 6745
Joined: 24-December 04
From: Burma to Cambodia
Member No.: 124




Couldn't agree more, you'll have a fantastic time. While two weeks isn't much you'll definitely pack a lot in. In fact the worst that can happen is you'll wish you could have hung around each location for a week at a time.. yes.gif

I've just done a similar 'loop' (with a few hiccups, scrapes and scratches) and it still ranks way up there in my 'most memorables'.

Everything Suse has said is spot on so there's no point me reiterating, though there are a couple of things you need to know following some recent changes:

Visas

Thailand: Your 'visa on entry' is now only 15 days - not that that should affect your itinerary unless you decide at the last minute to stay for longer periods in Thailand.

Laos: You shouldn't have to arrange your Laos visa in advance. You can get a 30 day visa at the Huay Xai border, depending on where you're from. Where are you from?

I would strongly recommend the north of Laos, though depending on how long you spend in Chiang Mai/Rai, you'll only know then how much time you have to play with. The Mekong boat trips are scenically fantastic, though there are some excellent adventures to be had up the Nam Ou and beyond - though this is a little more off the tourist trail. Again, timescales will permit. Depending on what sort of things interest you will depend on what places suit you. While there are some highly touristic places on this route, there are also accessible riverside villages where you'll find you're the only foreigner for miles. Whatever floats your boat.

Either way, you're in for a good ride. Enjoy! thumbsup.png


--------------------
Woz..

Living on a string of one-way tickets - currently kicking about in: southern Cambodia
User is offlinePM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
cider
post Jan 3 2009, 03:18 AM
Post #7


Newbie


Group: Members
Posts: 5
Joined: 2-January 09
Member No.: 265690




Thanks Scott and Susie

I've now booked for 3 weeks so we can now slow up in some places, go north in Laos or further down the Mekong before returning to BKK.............wherever we happen to drift at time.

Any suggested "must dos"? I think Lou would like to Elephant trek in Chang Mai area. Are they all tourist traps or some fairly reasonable?

Am I right in thinking that my 15 day Thai visa is effectively renewed when I cross from Laos on my return? Does it cost anything?

Cheers

Cider
User is offlinePM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
ScottWoz
post Jan 3 2009, 03:51 AM
Post #8


Rolling Stone
********

Group: Local Expert
Posts: 6745
Joined: 24-December 04
From: Burma to Cambodia
Member No.: 124




Yep, you're right in thinking. It's renewed on re-entry, and costs nothing.

Must do's? Hmmm, depends on what sort of traveller you are and what sort of things you like. If you can shed some more light I'm sure we can come up with a few must do's for you.

In the meantime take a look at this elephant trekking entry from Laos. All the entries prior to that one are from the north of Laos, while the entries that follow touch on a few locations east and south of Luang Prabang - they should give you and Lou a few ideas at least. There're plenty of tourist 'hells' covered and plenty of foreigner-free solitude spots too. See what you think, you might just find a few must do's in there. Laos is strikingly beautiful and the people are warm and wholesome. I'll be heading back there myself in a few months..


--------------------
Woz..

Living on a string of one-way tickets - currently kicking about in: southern Cambodia
User is offlinePM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
cider
post Jan 3 2009, 05:47 AM
Post #9


Newbie


Group: Members
Posts: 5
Joined: 2-January 09
Member No.: 265690




Cheers again Scott

Lou and I like to get away from it all, off the beaten track but are not averse to the odd slice of tourism as long as its not among teams of fat yanks bussed in for the day!

Your photos of the waterfalls and elephant treking look right up our street, where are they exactly?

Cider
User is offlinePM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
aopaq
post Jan 3 2009, 06:04 AM
Post #10


Tripper
******

Group: Local Expert
Posts: 1919
Joined: 31-May 06
Member No.: 893




QUOTE(cider @ Jan 3 2009, 03:18 AM) *

Any suggested "must dos"? I think Lou would like to Elephant trek in Chang Mai area. Are they all tourist traps or some fairly reasonable?



I would be remiss if I did not mention that an excellent place to interact with elephants (but not ride) is the Elephant Nature Park (Elephant Nature Park) which is an amazing conservation project near Chiang Mai. You also learn about the other side of the elephant trekking industry in Thailand.
I still try to support the amazing work of Lek and the volunteers there.
User is offlinePM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
wakingdream
post Jan 3 2009, 11:22 PM
Post #11


Rolling Stone
********

Group: Local Expert
Posts: 5853
Joined: 18-August 06
From: Guelph, Ontario
Member No.: 13336




QUOTE(cider @ Jan 3 2009, 03:18 AM) *

Thanks Scott and Susie

I've now booked for 3 weeks so we can now slow up in some places, go north in Laos or further down the Mekong before returning to BKK.............wherever we happen to drift at time.

Any suggested "must dos"? I think Lou would like to Elephant trek in Chang Mai area. Are they all tourist traps or some fairly reasonable?

Am I right in thinking that my 15 day Thai visa is effectively renewed when I cross from Laos on my return? Does it cost anything?

Cheers

Cider


Yayy!! Three weeks! I'd totally agree with Scott. While a trip down the Mekong is defineitly worth it, I would definitely spend some time up in northern Laos, especially if you like to get off the track well traveled. I think it's more traveled than when we were there back some years now but I know you'll find some very authentic experiences and some truly beautiful people.

QUOTE
Laos: You shouldn't have to arrange your Laos visa in advance. You can get a 30 day visa at the Huay Xai border, depending on where you're from. Where are you from?


Ahhh, I forgot about this! It's just been too long since we've been smile.gif Well Scott's got you sorted out for you visa then smile.gif

Must-sees and dos? Well, like I said up there, go up into northern Laos. That's a top spot for me. There is a definite busy loop but if you guys do like to get off the beaten path, it's easy to wander and find some incredible places and faces. Just wander. You'll be pleasantly surprised. I'd have to say Laos for me, though incredibly beautiful was far more about the people for me. You do end up seeing alot of striking scenery during your travels throughout the country, heading here or there. It just seems to be everywhere smile.gif

I've never been to the Elephant Park Project in Luang Prabang but it might be worth checking out. Getting up close and personal with the elephants is an insanely awesome experience, well above and beyond only riding them. I've done some volunteer work with elephants in Thailand over a few years and have to say it's one of the best experiences of my life yes.gif The EPP offers a chance to together support the locals and the elephants. I've heard it is great but can't vouch for it myself. Have to say this is the kind of thing you want to be doing over their, not supporting BS touristy rides that just exploit elephants, not help them. (OK, done ranting ranting2.gif smile.gif )


--------------------
~Susie

'Yesterday's the past and tomorrow's the future. Today is a gift - which is why they call it the present.'
User is offlinePM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
cjgr
post Feb 16 2009, 09:40 AM
Post #12


Newbie


Group: Members
Posts: 1
Joined: 23-July 08
Member No.: 216484




Hi Having spent two weeks volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park near Chiang Mai. I would strongly suggest you spend some time there where you can interact with Elephants in their natural environment rather spending time riding elephants that will more than likely have been seriously abused by their owners.
Please check out the link below you will have a really fantastically rewarding time there whether you spend a day or a week there.

http://www.elephantnaturefoundation.org
User is offlinePM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
rbisset
post Feb 16 2009, 11:24 AM
Post #13


Planet Pioneer
*******

Group: Local Expert
Posts: 2215
Joined: 3-May 06
From: Guildford, UK
Member No.: 692




When I was in Laos the roads were still pretty awful. It took over 12 hours to get from Luang Nam Tha to Luang Prabang (including a 2 hour Saengthaew ride in the rain). The slow boat also takes 2 days to get to Luang Prabang!

Still well worth it. Scott will know the state of the roads better than me.


--------------------
User is offlinePM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post

Fast ReplyReply to this topicStart new topic

 


- Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 28th July 2014 - 04:02 AM
Top Hotel Destinations in Thailand

Ayutthaya Hotels
Bangkok Hotels
Cha-am Hotels
Chaweng Hotels
Chiang Mai Hotels
Chiang Rai Hotels
Chon Buri Hotels
Hat Yai Hotels
Hua Hin Hotels
Kanchanaburi Hotels
Kathu Hotels
Khao Lak Hotels
Khon Kaen Hotels
Ko Lanta Hotels
Ko Phangan Hotels
Ko Phi Phi Don Hotels
Ko Tao Hotels
Krabi Hotels
Lampang Hotels
Loei Hotels
Mae Hong Son Hotels
Nakorn Ratchasima Hotels
Nakorn Si Thammarat Hotels
Narathiwat Hotels
Nonthaburi Hotels
Pai Hotels
Patong Hotels
Pattaya Hotels
Phangnga Hotels
Phetchaburi Hotels
Phitsanulok Hotels
Rawai Hotels
Rayong Hotels
Songkhla Hotels
Sukhothai Hotels
Surat Thani Hotels
Tak Hotels
Trang Hotels
Trat Hotels
Udon Thani Hotels



Copyright © 1997 - 2011 TravelPod.com, a proud founder of travel blogs on the web. All Rights Reserved.