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Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang - book thru travel agent?

Honolulu, Hawaii
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Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang - book thru travel agent?

Hi Everyone,

I've been reading about Luang Prabang and am absolutely fascinated! I am entertaining the prospect of squeezing a three day trip to Luang Prabang. I'll be in Chiang Mai, Bangkok during the first week of January so I'd like to go during this time. Should I prearrange my flight and accomodations now OR should I wait and secure a travel package through a travel agent in Chiang Mai? Would I be saving money by making my arrangements through a travel agent or am I better off booking things like my air fare and hotel on my own? Does anyone have an idea of how much a two night package (w/air and hotel) would cost? I'd like to book via Lao Airlines but it appears I can't book online? Has anyone got any experience or suggestions to share on this matter? Thanks! I'd appreciate any information!

Sydney
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1. Re: Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang - book thru travel agent?

I really don't know the answers to most of your questions, as we didn't book a tour, but my feeling is that you would save money by doing your own organising, and you'd probably get better accommodation to boot, as the big hotels (which the travel companies would undoubtedly use)that are, alas, starting to spring up around Luang Prabang are all well out of town.

We flew with Lao, and were very pleased with the experience; while there was no agency for that airline in Sydney, Lao Airlines has a sweetheart deal arrangement with Bangkok Airways, so you might be able to arrange your tickets through their offices, as we did. Bangkok and Lao have joined together for a Discovery Airpass, which enables you to travel VERY cheaply if you book a minimum of three flights -- possibly you could work that into your schedule. Check this website: http://www.airtimetable.com/airpass_asia.htm.

There is no lack of cheap accommodation in Luang Prabang; we chose Sayo's Guest House, which charged us (in late September)$40 a day for a two-bedroom apartment (actually one large bedroom with a mezzanine)for four people.... with outlook on three sides and directly opposite one of the temples, we felt we couldn't have done better at three times the price.

Valley City Ohio
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2. Re: Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang - book thru travel agent?

I was there in the beginning of Nov 05 and flew to LP from CM. The airplane was full. THere were whole tours, etc on it and there aren't that many planes daily, maybe only one. You need at least two full days in LP to walk around town, see the temples and go on the riverboat trip to PakOu caves. We stayed at Sala Prabang, great place. It is high season, so you may have trouble getting a place, our hotel was booked for the whole season, basically and there are lots of Germans and tours and backpackers. I would go through Tov Mason, Footprints Travel of Toronto, he arranged everything for us thru Indchina Services which was very reasonable and worked like clockwork. We had a guide and a driver, no problems, a joy all the way. There are lots of noisy guesthouses for around 15-20 per day, but again, you are in high season and it's not like there is anywhere around there to go if you can't find a place. I think you could contact Bangkok air, too. I think we went Lao air. Good Luck

Honolulu, Hawaii
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3. Re: Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang - book thru travel agent?

AlanJ and Juris,

Thank you so much for your thoughful suggestions. It sounds like I will need to go ahead and book on my own considering that I would like to go during peak season (and flights are scarce!). Thanks AlanJ for the helpful link - now I can navigate my own flight plans. Juris, your suggestion for Sala Prabang sounds divine and I will surely not miss PakOu caves. Perhaps I'll stay even longer than the three days I originally planned. Thank you both for your helpful insights and terrific recommendations!

Best Regards,

Marilyn

Valley City Ohio
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4. Re: Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang - book thru travel agent?

Remember to take two passport pictures with you for your visa. Also, a lot of small bills, 1S 5S AND 10S, us only there is a visa fee and a departure tax dollars only The five dollar fee for taxis to town is set by law, do not let anyone talk you into more, tho tips for service is in order. THE NIGHT MARKET is great, again cash only. this will be easier to bargain if you have lots of small bills. do not take trav checks, lots of stores will take credit, but higher p[rice SALA PRABANG is right on the river, and includes a full breakfast, which is so nice to watch the sun come up and have coffee anad see people fishing and carrying on on the river. BEWARE THE MONK FOOD SCAM LADIES, by monk food in the market. NOT FROM VENDORS. GET your clothes washed in a guest house and not by the hotel, they do it by the lb and is really cheap even tho You will see lots of signs for washing laundry AND it's fun to get them done, even when you see the soap going down the sluce STRAIGHT INTO THE RIVER. HAVE FUN! Eat at the ELEPHANT, CALL FOR A RESERVATION AND TELL THEM YOU DO NOT WANT TO SIT BY ANY FRENCH PEOPLE SMOKING STINKY CIGARETTES. IT'S THE MOST WONDERFUL DELICIOUS FOOD AND VERY REASONABLE EVEN THO THE MOST EXP PLACE IN TOWN. I SAW A BUNCH OF FUNKY STUFF GOING ON IN THE STREET MARKET WITH PREPARED FOOD HAVE ALL YOUR SHOTS IF YOU'RE GOING TO DO THIS. THE PALACE IS VERY INTERESTING, EVEN HAVE MOON ROCKS FROM RICHARD NIXON. TAKE A LOT OF TIME IN THE TEMPLES, THERE IS LOTS TO SEE.

Honolulu, Hawaii
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5. Re: Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang - book thru travel agent?

Hey Juris,

As the kids in my neighborhood say, you are DA BOMB! Your suggestions will be MOST helpful and I am so grateful for your frankness! After reading your other posts, I will be sure to be EXTRA WEARY about the "ladies" selling monk food with a PENCHANT for spitting when one refuses to complete a purchase! While it's rude and abhorrent, and downright NASTY, I find it funny at the same time (I can just picture it)! Thanks for the warning on staying away from the heavy smokers - have to remember we're not in the US where most eateries BAN smoking...and the Obnoxious French! I'll be sure to get some clothes dirty...so that I can get them washed! *LOL* As far as the food at the night market, I'm actually game for the "Funky Stuff" and I pride myself with having a stomach of steel (must have eaten a lot of funky stuff in the past, and lots of bacteria in there to fight off any new funky and dangerous bacteria that may join the heap in there). But having said that, I will take due precaution. Finally, thanks so much about the small bills suggestion, the visa info, AND the info on what it would cost me for a taxi into town from the airport. These are minute details that are extremely important so that you at least feel like you know what's going on! Thanks for assisting in what will be a lovely trip to Laos!

bangkok
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6. Re: Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang - book thru travel agent?

i have just been reading these posts about the"obnoxious French"; shame on you yankee rednecks...arrogant smokers with their selfish attitude don't carry a nationality...i have experienced numerous loudmouth usa-citizens blowing their smoke around ; a lot of french culture has become part of nowadays Laos don't forget that; the only remains of us-"culture" are the pothole-leftovers from the bombs you dropped on this beautiful country...mind your words( by the way: i'm not French); shame on you!

Kurashiki, Japan
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for Kurashiki, Cambodia, Myanmar
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7. Re: Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang - book thru travel agent?

I ate at L'Elephant for Christmas dinner and it was fabulous. No smokers nearby, thank goodness. (People from many countries are obnoxious with their smoking habits, by the way, it ain't just the French!)

I hear the Sayo Guesthouse is overcharging nowadays- I stayed at a little guesthouse for $15 a night. It was just fine for me! There will be guesthouses with vacancies even in the high season, so no worries getting accommodation. I found LP to be more expensive than Vientiane(hotels, market prices) and teh best purchases I did in Laos was at the central market in Vientiane. I usually buy bulk so I can get away with haggling quite a bit...

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8. Re: Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang - book thru travel agent?

Hello, I am going to L.P. Dec. 31st but can't decide whether to stay for 2 days or 4.I've read alot about it but can't decide.Also,am trying to decide to stay either at the Sayo River or Nam Sok or something in that price range.Any reviews on this would be helpful.Thanks.

New York
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9. Re: Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang - book thru travel agent?

Lots of good ideas in the above posts. Make your reservations promptly - The N. Y. Times in tomorrow's travel section lists the 3 top world destinations of 2008 as Laos, Lisbon and Tunisia!

As suggested do have plenty of small bills, $1s and $5s, and they should be clean or new bills. As for food while restaurants like L'Elephant, Apsara and 3 Nagas are top of the line the food stalls along the river banks are also very good - in part thanks to the French influence on Laotian cooking!

Melbourne, Australia
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10. Re: Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang - book thru travel agent?

Have just been going through the process myself. Planes may be full if u leave booking till u r there. I have booked my flights already but not accom. as there are plentiful guesthouses. The bigger hotels are expensive. Way too expensive, so we have done our own research with Lonely planet and other forums and have a list to try out.

Just some advice - ask to see the room beforehand. We have found that people have widely differring tastes and what some rave over you may hate and vice versa.

The proprietors don't mind and if they can't be bothered before they have your money imagine the service afterwards.

We balance our trips so we have a little luxury and a little budget. You can always use the other hotels for dinners and some let you pay to use their pools. There are plenty of places to eat out and enjoy the ambience of different places.

Enjoy!