Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Travel Laos for 8 Days 7 Nights [Part 1]

I booked a trip to Laos last year and it was quick to come, I did little homework this time, rushing to study Laos the night before I left on board. And my brief itinerary was to land in Vientiane - Vang Vieng - Luang Prabang - Vientiane.

Quick facts on Wikipedia:
Laos is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and People's Republic of China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west. Laos traces its history to the Kingdom of Lan Xang or Land of a Million Elephants, which existed from the 14th to the 18th century.
The exchange rate was $1 to 8,200 Kip, or RM1 to 2,500 Kip as of time I was there.

Day 1 - Vientiane

I touched down at Wattai Airport, and I shared the ride with a French couple. Vientiane's weather wasn't really good to me, it was ok when I touched down but it changed quickly after that it was already raining when I entered the town in 15min.

The one thing noticeably nice, there was only one taxi counter and $6 was the standard that everyone going to pay, no additional cost for sharing a ride.

No taxi drivers were calling at me when I walked. It made me quickly settled in easily on the far land from home & felt pretty good.

I went straight to Saysouly guest house which was recommended by my travel book & I got there without a problem. The single room rate was at 60k Kip. I checked the room & shared toilet, they looked pretty decent & deal!

My single room

My single room

The shared balcony

Saysouly guest house

I thought I could have bargained a little but I gave in usually on the first night in foreign land.

I started walking down the street with the umbrella that mom asked me bring with me just because she overheard I said it was raining month in Laos. It proved to be pretty handy at times. Sweet!

I had Lao beef steak for dinner at the restaurant down the street, it was pretty awesome. Thumbs up for the food & wifi, must try! And fantastic environment.

Lao beef steak

You got this nice wooden wall in the restaurant, and with bamboo trees and people hanged around the bar as the other open roof tables were wet in rain.

I continued to walk along the river down west & found the stalls selling some familiar food back home at the street.

Yau Cha Guai, choc roti canai, noodle soup & there's a lot of fruit shake stalls too because of the hot weather in day time.

Roti canai stall

Roti honey - 10k Kip

油炸鬼 - 1k Kip

It was still early, at about 9pm an I went to check out Wild West bar with great live band performance.

This bar is one of the bar that you wouldn't want to miss, by 11pm it was packed with young & pretty looking Lao ladies. The people in the bar dressed up pretty much ok but as a tourist, they were totally fine with how worn down I was.

Good mixed of music they played, it was raining heavily when I was about to leave, I was worrying how could I get back but thanks to Ssavalit, a lecturer of the local university cum sports couch and manager who kept telling me how much he loved Malaysian songs & sepak takraw.

Ssavalith dropped me off at my guest house & left his contact so we could meet again possibly when he's in Malaysia.

He was such a sweet character that he always put up a great smile at the end of each conversation, and he looked like a panda, so cute.

Day 2 - Vientiane to Vang Vieng

The second day wasn't looking great because it rained as soon as I stepped out of the guest house.

It screwed up my plan so what I did was adaptively rescheduling my plan ahead to move away from Vientiane to Vang Vieng, a small northen west town where I took on tubing & kayaking tour.

The AC bus fare was 45k Kip from the guest house, I almost missed the tuktuk that came to pick me up at 9am.

The bus usually wouldn't hit on the road until it's full and it only started leaving at 10.30am although it stated clear departure time was 9.30am.

On the way to Vang Vieng

Lao people

I reckoned it would have been easier for travelers on peak season.

I was told that it's tremendously fall in number of people traveling in raining season especially in the month of August when you get most rains.

On peak season, a tuktuk driver would earn up to $1,000 or more, good money for the local and sufficient to pay for everything they need for a family of 5 members.

Now back to Vang Vieng, it's 4 hours from Vientiane with bus. Walk to the town center with the rest of the backpackers and you would probably find some good deals at the guest houses along the way to the center of town.

This paricular one, Grand View guest house ($12 per night or about 100k Kip), mentioned by the book, really worthed everything.

Grand view guest house

It has got the stunning Nam Song river front view in front of the beautiful limestone, nice twin bed, clean private toilet, and pretty new and decent with the balcony facing the little island where the most happening bars were at.

Stunning view from the balcony

The loud blasting techno mixed music could be a problem to someone who loved quieter bed time because it could start as early as 6pm and stop only at 1.30am midnight, but I was absolute fine & in love with it, no complain.

The bridge that linked to the island of bars

Beautiful limestone cliffs, amazing river front view, best DJ mixed club music blasting from across the island, I was enjoying every moment just by hanging at my balcony with cheap cigarette between the two fingers and a bottle of beer Lao in another hand. Good life!

This type of laid back restaurant was commonly found in the town, Friends episodes were shown everywhere on TVs. I typically like Sakura restaurant where the WiFi was so reliable, just take a walk and explore the town for half an hour, it wouldn't be difficult to spot the restaurant.

You must try tubing down the river at the cost of 50k Kip with the company that was located at the busy intersection in the town, you can't miss it.

Enjoy the magnificent view of the mountains rising directly beside the river, and make stops at the bars to chill. You can try sling shot that releases you from the platform with swing and drop yourself into the river. I did that couple of times, it was unbelievable!

You have to be back to return the turn by 6pm to get your 65k Kip deposit back from the company.

At night, I went to the Bucket Bar whom everyone was talking about, it was amazing. Drinks and dance and drinks! Good stuffs!

Next up, kayaking and caving tour in Vang Vieng, and Luang Prabang.


  1. U got me droooling for Laos now!
    Scenery is beautiful yes, but there is WIFI!!! WOOOOOO!! LOL.
    My idea of travel means i mz stil access to speedy WIFI! ;p

    RM4 for a honey bread? Quite ex hor Laos? And RM20 (50K kip) for tubing? The prices are weird! (or am i calc'in wrong?)
    RM1 = 2500 kip?

  2. Watch out for the wifi, test it before you start ordering food & drinks. WiFi didnt work in many restaurants..

    It could be quite expensive as places I went to eat were highly concentrated by tourists. But it's ok.

    An yes, RM1 to 2.5k Kip.

    Stay tune, more pics and blog about Laos to come.