After the Gibbon Experience adventure in Laos, we decided to head straight for Thailand. There are frequent buses from Laos overland into Thailand and the land border crossing was really easy. The bus to Chiang Mai was supposed to take 6 hours, but we had yet another driver who drove like he stole the damn thing. We made it in 5 and beat the bus that left 30 mins before we did.
One of the main stops at Huay Xai is ‘The Gibbon Experience’ which is an eco-based jungle tour experience in Laos. The project helps protect gibbons in the national park and has reduced the number of hunters out for their blood.
Anyone travelling in Lurang Prabang heading north will have the dilemma of either taking the slow boat or bus to Huay Xai. For us it was a no brainer. Even though the boat takes twice as long, we have done our fair share of bus journeys, but not once have we sailed down the Mekong. Continue reading
Luang Prabang (LP), much like the rest of Laos, is quite sleepy and quiet and that’s not a bad thing by any means. It’s a definite tourist stop along most travellers routes in Laos, as it should be.
The flight from Hanoi to Vientiane was less than 50 mins, we took a flight after reading some horrible stories about the bus journey from Northern Vietnam into Laos. When we arrived at our hotel, we were gagging for some food, so we took a stroll and instantly realised that this capitol city was very different from the others. There weren’t 2,000 mopeds racing around the streets, in fact there were only a handful. Vientiane felt like a very small and quiet city, much like a mute lap dog compared to HCMC or Hanoi’s growling rottweiler.
We took a passenger ferry from Halong City to Cat Ba Island, it cost $3/£2 per person and it’s one of our best buys yet. The ferry only takes an hour, journeys through the 100 islands of Halong Bay with the sun shinning and birds flying, all at a fraction of the cost of the tourist boats most people take. You won’t get a better ferry ride than this.
A very long and bumpy 15hr bus journey to Siem Reap was ahead of us and it lived up to our expectations. On the positives we had our own seat. It did beg the question of which bus journey was worse and it’s a question neither of us can confidently answer. The road infrastructure of Cambodia is is poor, worst we have seen in SE Asia so far. Most journeys involve going back through Phnom Phen and a lot of the roads are glorified dirt tracks riddled with pot holes.
Before leaving Phnom Penh, we were sat in the bar of our guesthouse. An american voice emerged “wanna take a shot?” And it wasn’t Katie’s. It turns out a great way to travel is after 4 shots of Stollis vodka. That stuff is smooth and 4hrs on a bus flew past. I even managed to make my way through a Hannah Montana movie the bus was playing and quite contently I might add.
What can we say, we’ve already fallen in love with Cambodia. We had several people tell us that Cambodia is one of their favourite counties in SE Asia, and we can confirm, the country is living up to the hype. The people are incredibly nice, the cities are very green, easy to walk around, and have more charm in general than other cities we’ve visited. We arrived in Phnom Penh after an overnight sleepless layover in Singapore. We hopped into a tuk-tuk that trekked us into the city centre for $7.00.