Sabaidee! Khawp jai lai lai for taking time to join me on this journey through Laos. While it may have taken me months to finish the whole Laos Chronicles, the actual trip lasted only 14-days including transit from February 5-18 2009. I would have wanted to wraps thing up quickly but there are so many details to write about the place and I want it written in a way people are traveling with me as well. So here’s the summary of the trip with itinerary details and budget.
Route: Initially I wanted to do a Thailand-Laos route but decided to do only a Laos trip. I figured I’d see more of Laos since Thailand is a lot easier to go to. I did enter through Bangkok,Thailand coming from Manila, then caught another flight to Ubon Ratchathani where I border-crossed to Southern Laos going to Pakse. After going around Pakse I took an overnight VIP bus to Vientiane. Staying there a couple of days then took another overnight bus to Luang Prabang. After staying a few days, I headed down to Vang Vieng where I only stayed for a night then back to Vientiane. From Vientiane I flew in to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Stayed there a few hours until my connecting flight to Manila.
- Crossing the Mekong River to Wat Phu Champasak
- Bun Wat Phu Champasak
- Pacing in Pakse
- Riding the VIP Bus from Pakse to Vientiane
- Arriving in Vientiane and finding Lao Heritage Hotel
- Tuk-tuk tips and getting around Vientiane
- Bizarre Xieng Khuan and some tuk-tuk woes
- Vientiane’s Wat Si Saket and Haw Pha Kaeo Temples
- Vientiane’s Patuxai
- The glimmering Pha That Luang in Vientiane
- Transit: The VIP Bus Ride to Luang Prabang
- Wandering the main streets of Luang Prabang
- Charming Wat Choumkhong and the Artists of Wat Xieng Muan
- The Crowds and the Setting Sun at Phu Si Hills Luang Prabang
- The Tranquil Glow of Luang Prabang’s Night Market
- Luang Prabang Monk encounters, giving alms, moving to Thony II, and more temples
- Magnificent Wat Xieng Thong in Luang Prabang
- Meeting a fellow Filipino at Tat Kuang Si Falls
- Across the Mekong river to Ban Xieng Maen Village
- Charming Long Khun and Mystical Tham Sakkarin Cave
- Last Sunset by the Mighty Mekong River in Luang Prabang
Budget: Originally, my target budget was US$ 400. But at the end of the trip I ended up spending up to US$ 550 which is about P 26,700. That includes everything from transport, airfare, accommodation, food, admission/entrance fees, souvenirs and travel taxes. This would have gone more than P30,000 but I was lucky enough to get promo fares on my flights. My average spending per day for food and transpo ranges from US$ 20-30 while accommodations ranges from US$ 10-15 for mid-range types with en suite bath rooms.
On Currency: Years ago, Laos accepts US dollar currency, but recently they encourage tourist to use their local currency which is Kip. Some establishments still accept dollars but very few. As of this writing US$ 1 = 8,500 kip. Be careful with US$ 100 bills some money changers are meticulous with the condition of the bills and marks on it. Shop around as well for the best rates.
On Tuk-Tuks: Beware of tourist tuk-tuks. If you see a laminated price list walk away. If you can’t, haggle for a good price. Preferably start at 60% of the price stated on the price list.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.