18 days Thailand & Laos
15 Nov to 02 Dec 2003
|(L-R) Yeap Guan Leng & Ching Neng Bin @ Hua Lampong Train Station, Bangkok. Sawatdee-krap greetings in Thai and Sabaidee greetings in Lao.|
2 types of traveler Both are bag packers. The 1st type; pack the bag, pay in advance and everything will be well taken care by the tour leader. The 2nd type, like me, is also packing the bag, bring enough money and pay as I travel. However, I have to decide where to go, where to eat, where to sleep and when to come back.
Things to bring Money, Passport, Photos for Visa, Medicine, Backpack, Toiletries, Camera, Food (coffee & biscuits), Clothing, Shoes & socks, pen & notebook, plastic bag, slipper, sun glass & cap
Currency The Kip is the official currency of Laos.
Notes of 20, 50, 100, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 & 10,000
1 RM = 10.25 B 1 RM = 2,500 kip
1 US = 10,000 kip 1 B = 250 kip
Day 01 (15/11) 1400 km > Sitiawan > Butterworth > Bangkok
Day 02 (16/11) 624 km > Bangkok > Nong Khai
Day 03 (17/11) Nong Khai
Day 04 (18/11) 200 km > Nong Khai > Vientiane > Vang Vieng
Day 05 (19/11) 260 km > Vang Vieng > Luang Prabang
Day 06 (20/11) Luang Prabang
Day 07 (21/11) 260 km > Luang Prabang > Vang Vieng
Day 08 (22/11) 160 km > Vang Vieng > Vientiane
Day 09 (23/11) 654 km > Vientiane > Udon Thani > Bangkok
Day 10 (24/11) 190 km > Bangkok > Pattaya
Day 11 (25/11) Pattaya
Day 12 (26/11) Pattaya
Day 13 (27/11) 1035 km > Pattaya > Bangkok > Trang
Day 14 (28/11) 45 km > Trang > Koh Mook Island Resort
Day 15 (29/11) Koh Mook Island Resort
Day 16 (30/11) 180 km > Koh Mook Island Resort > Trang > Hadyai
Day 17 (01/12) Hadyai
Day 18 (02/12) 300 km > Hadyai > Taiping > Sitiawan
5,308 km of road/rail traveled and total expenses was RM850.00 per person
Day 01 (15.11.2003) Sitiawan > Butterworth > Bangkok (1400km)
09.30am - by air-con express bus to Butterworth (RM10.50)
12.30pm - arrived at Butterworth and met Mr Yeap Guan Leng for lunch beside bus station 02.20pm - 2nd class overnight train with berth to Bangkok (RM95-00)
05.30pm - arrived at Padang Besar for both Malaysian and Thai immigration checking
There is a small duty free shop at the train station. We had our dinner in the train canting.
Padang Besar to Bangkok is 990 km.
|I felt very comfortable and was my second time on this train.|
|Yeap Guan Leng was happy with the cleanliness.|
Day 02 (16.11.2003) Bangkok > Nong Khai
By 11.10am we arrived at Bangkok Hua Lampong Train Station. We then went straight to get our next train ticket to Nong Khai.
Kept our back-pack at station locker for 25B. Walked to China Town and had lunch - very good chicken rice & beer Chang for 120B for two of us. (Had this the last time I went to Northern Thailand in 2001 with Lau Youn Chong.)
03.00pm Tuk2 dropped us at JJ Market (Chatuchak Market) near Mo Chit.
07.00pm - After 4 hours at JJ we took the Mo Chit sky train at BTS Building to Sala Daeng station to see the famous Patpong gay pups and sexy shows. There are two sky train operators; we have to change from the Sukhumvit Line to Silom Line to get to Sala Daeng changing at the Siam interchange.
We took the sky train from Sala Daeng station to National Stadium station which is nearest to the train station. From there we walked all the way back to the Hua Lampong train station. After taking a bath for a fee of 10B at the station, we walked to a nearby shop for supper. It was the 9.45pm non air-con with berth train to Nong Khai (418B).
Overnight train to Nong Khai is 624km – B418pp
|The train approaching Bangkok City.|
|At Hua Lampong Train Station, Bangkok.|
|Walked up to the top of Temple Mount for a 360 degrees view of the city skyline.|
|The first temple visited was Temple Mount situated in the heart of the city on a hill top.|
|The beautiful compound of Happy Buddha temple.|
|Here, we witnessed devotees performing Dana followed by prayers (offering of food to monks). Inside this temple there are beautiful paintings on the wall.|
|Free tramp transport is provided inside the market.|
|Many musicians entertaining the public by the road-side.|
Day 03 (17.11.2003) Nong Khai
10.00am arrived at Nong Khai train station. Had good lunch at a shop by the train station and bought a bottle of Thai whisky - Nam Song. (Suddenly thought came to my mind - how nice if Val Allan is here.) Took a tuk2 to town and check-in at Mae Khong Guest House for 100B (single room with fan).
11.00am Went to the border check-point for a visit to the Friendship Bridge and also to collect some information regarding visa application at the tourist information centre. From here we paid a tuk2 man to take us round the town and visited some famous temples and sculpture.
Afternoon was spent walking around the town and along the Mekong River. Visited the Tha Sadet Market an Indo-Chinese market which open daily from 9 am to 7 pm. Had very good Thai dinner at Nong's place in the evening and drank 2 bottles of Beer Chang - very cheap at 50B (RM5) per big bottle. The waitress was very pleasant and helpful.
Mae Khong Guest House for 100B (single room with fan).
|Sticky rice field|
|Sugar cane plantations|
|Check-in at Mae Khong Guest House, This GH at 519 Rimkhong Road is just by the Mekong River. Excellent accommodation with Thai style house, hot shower, internet cafe with good food and drinks.|
|First visit was the Wat Luang Pho Phra Sai. The Buddha image here is not big but said to be one of the most beautiful statues in Thailand. It is reckoned to be carved in Lan Chang period, the former kingdom of Laos.|
|Many huge sculptures some more than 7 storey high|
|River view at Mae Khong Guest House|
|Visited the Tha Sadet Market an Indo-Chinese market. Most of the goods and souvenirs are from China. For the first time I tasted the first cup of Lao coffee and some BBQ banana and potato here.|
|At a Buddhist monastery|
|We met a crazy German gipsy in his big bike at Nong's place|
After breakfast, we took a tuk2 to the border checkpoint and crossed the Thai immigration checkpoint by paying 10B as overtime fee. Crossed the friendship bridge by bus for 20B. Did our Laos visa for USD30 at the Laos immigration office within 15 minutes - very efficient. After passing through the Laos immigration, we took a van to Vientiane for 100B each.
In Vientiane we walked around the town towards the Mekong River looking for guest houses. We were fortunate to see the doll exhibition organized by the Japan Foundation on the World of Kokeshi dolls at the Vientiane Town Hall in conjunction with the Japan Week in Laos. Visited the Vientiane Revolutionary Museum - admission fee is 1000 kip. Visited the Public Bank Branch in Vientiane. Visited the Patusay (Victory Gate) built in the late sixties to resemble the Paris Arc. Walked to Talat Sao (Morning Market) a shopper's paradise and had lunch there.
04.00pm The driver took us back to Public Bank to collect our back-pack, took some pictures of the staff and say goodbye to them who had given us much information. We were driven to the bus station to catch a local bus to Vang Vieng. The bus fare was 10,000 kip per person (RM4). Very cheap for a 160 km journey.
Vieng Villa Guest House for USD2-00 pp per room
|Walking towards the Thai immigration checkpoint|
|The Friendship Bridge is the first international bridge spanning the Mekong River. It was jointly built by the governments of Australia and Thailand to link Nongkhai and Vientiane of Laos. The bridge was officially opened in April 8, 1994.|
|Laos immigration checkpoint|
|The Vientiane Town Hall|
|Vientiane Revolutionary Museum housed in a French colonial structure, the Museum displays memorabilia from the period of struggle for freedom and independence. A section features the achievements of the Lao PDR since 1975. Admission fee is 1000 kip.|
|The ceiling decoration features is mainly Kinari - half woman half bird creatures|
|View of the city from the top of the monument. There are shops selling T-shirt and textile on the 4th floor. We bought our Beer Lao T-shirt for 7000 kip.|
|Walking around town we came across a big monitor lizard in front of a shop house|
|Walked back to Public Bank the ABM was kind enough to arrange for his driver to drive us for a city tour and visited the best three temples in town.|
|1st temple was the Wat That Dam the black stupa, another landmark of Vientiane. It is surrounded by legends. It is believed to be the shrine of mighty Nagas-mythical dragons - who are the protectors of the capital city.|
|3rd temple was the That Luang the Grand Stupa.|
|At the bus station to catch a local bus to Vang Vieng|
|The 160km journey to Vang Vieng by bus was interesting. This local bus carried anything from software to hardware. Crates of Beer Lao were loaded on the roof-top of the bus and other goods were in the bus.|
Day 05 (19.11.2003) Vang Vieng > Luang Prabang (260km)
11.00am - VIP bus to Luang Prabang. Fantastic view of the villages along the road and the sight of the mountains.
5.30pm - Arrived at Luang Prabang bus station. Took a tuk2 to town and walked around the Nam Khan River towards Mekong River.
6.00pm Sunset view at Mekong River was superb. Stayed at Mekong Guesthouse by the river for USD3-00 (fan twin sharing).
Mekong Guesthouse by the river for USD3-00 per room (fan twin sharing).
|6.30am sun-rise from a temple compound|
|7.30am at the temple, a young monk was seen hitting a big bell with a wooden hammer to inform the people of the time for prayers.|
|Old folks from the village later came to the temple to offer food to the monks|
|The monks would recite prayers before eating the food offered|
|Visited the beautiful River Side Bungalows|
|The river banks with the limestone hills as backdrop|
|Another riverside guesthouse chalet|
|A typical Laos house|
|Morning make-shift market|
|Exotic animals were sold in the market - worms, dogs, cats, bats, water snails|
|The beautiful river scene|
|Backpackers sleeping in an open wooden platform along the river|
|Children going to school|
|The bridge across to the other side of the river|
|A lady collecting water-weed|
|This is the 'Other Side Guesthouse'|
|Sticky rice and water-weed for lunch|
|This is the post office|
|Fantastic view of the mountains. All the way up, cress crossing through right and left side of the mountain-top before stopping for lunch at a small town known as Lao Soung (hilltop dwellers).|
|Fantastic view of the villages doting the road|
|We noticed this hilltop dwellers carrying guns for hunting|
|Pictures of homes of the hilltop dwellers known as Lao Soung|
|A Lao Soung mother and children|
|5.30pm - Arrived at Luang Prabang bus station. Took a tuk2 to town and walked around the Nam Khan River towards Mekong River.|
|Along Nam Khan River which runs through the town|
|Sunset as we walked along Mekong River looking for guesthouse|
|We had some BBQ fish, banana, potato and beer lao for dinner by the river|
|We walked to night market and a monument on the main road|
Day 06 (20.11.2003) Luang Prabang
After breakfast at 9am, we walked along the Mekong River banks and later took a 2hr boat rides up the Mekong River to visit the Pak Ou or Tham Ting Caves for USD3pp.
After lunch at 2pm we walked to the town centre and visited the central market. At 6pm we walked up the Phousi Stupa (also known as Wat That Chomsi). It is the most prominent Wat in Luang Prabang. It is located on top of Phousi Mountain, in the heart of the city. Admission fee is 8000 kips (RM3.20).
Mekong Guesthouse by the river for USD3-00 per room (fan twin sharing).
|Mekong Guesthouse by the river for USD3-00 per room|
|Over 5,000 ancient wooden and metal Buddha statues placed there by worshipers|
|Every year, during the Lao New Year celebrations in April, boatloads of townsfolk make the pilgrimage up river to gain merit by ritually bathing the Buddha.|
|Stairs to the left of Tham Ting lead around to the upper cave, Tham Phum, which is deeper and requires artificial light for viewing – be sure to bring a torch if you want to see both caves.|
|Bottles of snake wine|
|A monument on the main road|
|A good panoramic view of the town at the on top of Phousi Mountain|
|The airport runway can be seen from here|
Day 07 (21.11.2003) Luang Prabang > Vang Vieng (260km)
After breakfast at 8am, we walked around the morning market and explore the villages along the river. We left Luang Prabang at 10am by mini bus to Vang Vieng for US8 per pax.
We arrived at Vang Vieng at 3.30pm and checked in at Phoubane GH by the river side. After a short rest at the GH we walked along the river-bridges and had a good swim with the local children. In the evening we walked the night market and later send email to friends.
We then booked ticket for the Kayaking trip to Vientiane for USD8 per person which includes lunch. We were also lucky that the next day fee for kayaking to Vientiane be increased to USD20 due to government tax.
Stayed at Phoubane guest house by the river in Vang Vieng - a very Laotian atmosphere. Very good and cheap. (USD3-00 twin sharing).
Mini bus to Vang Vieng for USD 8 per pax
Phoubane guest house by the river – US3 per room (fan twin sharing)
|At Vang Vieng market - birds and squirrels|
|I am not sure what animal is this|
|The way to relax by the river side|
Day 08 (22.11.2003) Vang Vieng > Vientiane (Kayaking)
10.30 am After breakfast, we were taken by pick-up with the kayaks on the roof-top and driven for 1 hour to a village by the Nam Lik River. Kayaking trip to Vientiane is USD8 per person.
11.40 am We started kayaking down the river for about 1 hour and shot 4 rapids before we stopped for lunch.
05.00 pm Arrived at Vientiane. The whole trip cost USD8-00 but the next day fee be increased to USD20. Lucky wasn’t it. In Vientiane we stayed at Xayo Guest House by the Mekong river for USD5-00 (non air-con twin sharing)
|Visited morning market again|
|A backpacker from England at the Phoubane guesthouse by the river|
|A free car-wash by the Nam Lik River|
|Here we were briefed on kayaking and how to tackle the rapids. We were also briefed on the safety measures to be taken.|
|A few kayaks were capsized while crossing the rapids. Mr. Yeap was the first kayak to capsize as he hit against a rock. It was a fantastic kayaking experienced in the crystal clear cold water.|
|During lunch time at the river bank, while 2 guides were preparing BBQ the other guide took us for a dive. We started with the 5 meter dive followed by the 10 meter dive. I could only manage the 5 meter jump. It was nice swimming in the river.|
|The scenery was superb just like in New Zealand said Mr. Yeap|
|The road journey to Vientiane|
Day 09 (23.11.2003) Vientiane > Udon Thani > Bangkok (654km)
|Breakfast at Talat Sao Market|
|Took local bus no.14 to boarder|
|At custom check-point we took a taxi to Udon Thani for 120B each|
|Lunch at Udon Thani and then explore the town. Visited Robinson Shoping Centre. Udon Thani was well lighted and lively with a big night market in the evening. Had beef porage & BBQ octopus for dinner in the market.|
|09.00 pm - left Udon Thani by non air-con train to Bangkok (399B)|
9.00 am - Arrived at Bangkok Hua Lampong train station. Breakfast at side stall and met a Thai who speaks Chinese. He taught us how to take a bus to Pattaya. First take bus number 25 or 40 to the Eastern Bus Station at Ekkamai. From there take the express bus to Pattaya.
We stayed at B.R.Inn at 224/26 Soi 12, Pattaya Beach Road - 400B (twin sharing & air-con). The whole afternoon was spent exploring the water-front area. By evening we were so tired that for once we slept early at 9.00 pm.
|11.00 am - At Ekkamai, we book the VIP bus to Pattaya for 90B. pp.01.15 pm - Arrived at Pattaya bus station. Took tuk2 for 20B to town.|
|Hard Rock cafe Pattaya|
|After dark, options include open-air bars, nightclubs, cabaret shows and discos. The nightlife centre is South Pattaya, popularly known as "The Strip".|
Day 11 (25.11.2003) Pattaya
After breakfast, it was time to say farewell to Mr. Yeap who had to go back to Penang as he has to work on 27 Nov. I changed to P.S.Guest House at 219/5M. 10 Soi Yamato for 250B (single room air-con). In the afternoon, I explored the Southern part of Pattaya. Visited the Big Buddha on a hill top at the southern section. Evening was spent walking along the beach front area and the "Walking Street".
Day 12 (26.11.2003) Pattaya
The day was exploring the Northern and Central part of Pattaya.
Evening was spent walking along the beach front area and the "Walking Street".
|Pattaya city is divided into 3 sections: Northern, Central & Southern|
|Hi there, I am relaxing here in Pattaya like the rest of them.|
Day 13 (27.11.2003) Pattaya > Bangkok >Trang (1035 km)
08.00 am - After breakfast I took a tuk2 to the bus station for 20B.
09.00 am - Took the bus to Ekamai, Bangkok for 90B.
11.00 am - Arrived at Ekkamai bus station. Walked 2 hours towards Siam interchange by following the sky train route just to explore the City. I continued walking to Phloen Chit station where I took the sky train to National Stadium station which is nearest to Hua Lampong Train Station. Lunch at China town - chicken rice & beer chang.
Train leaves for Trang at 6.00 pm. (Non air-con with berth is 510B).
|There was this traditional Thai dancers performing in the compound and also accompanied by traditional Thai musician.|
|A golf course in the center of Bangkok|
Day 14 (28.11.2003) Trang > Koh Mook Island Resort
|08.35 am - Arrived at Trang town.|
|Had breakfast at the backpacker’s coffee shop on the main road and later booked two night stay at Koh Mook Resort for 200B a night.|
|Walked around town and the fresh market|
|12.30 pm - Resort's van took me to Kuantungku jetty - 40 km from Trang and the 30 minutes boat ride to the island cost 170B.|
|02.00 pm checked-in at the resort. Went swimming at the beautiful beach.|
Day 15 (29.11.2003) Koh Mook Island Resort
Relaxed at the resort - free and easy. Explored the fishing village nearby. Explored other beaches and resorts on the island. Swimming at the beautiful beach.
|The fishing village|
Day 16 (30.11.2003) 180km Koh Mook Island Resort - Trang - Hadyai
12.30 pm - Checked-out and pay 170B for boat and car to Trang
02.30 pm - Traveled by the local bus to Hadyai (70B)
05.30 pm - Arrived at Hadyai
Stayed at Hock Chin Hin Hotel for 150B (fan single room)
Day 17 (01.12.2003) Hadyai
Time to relax and be easy.
Walking around town and window shopping.
Day 18 (02.12.2003) 300 km Hadyai - Butterworth - Taiping - Sitiawan
07.15 am - Express Train to Butterworth (322B). Lunch at Padang Besar station cafeteria after customs and immigration check.
01.30 pm - Arrived at Butterworth.
02.00 pm - Bus to Taiping (RM5).
03.00 pm - Arrived at Taiping.