Wish you were here:
On The Road
in SE Asia

ITIS researcher Andrea

Andrea's travel itinerary:

Thailand-Cambodia-Laos-Central Europe

Andy returned home to Japan in October 1998.
See Taka & Andrea's Central Europe page

Any questions for Andrea? - itis@itisnet.com



back to On The Road Index

June 15 from BKK
New internet cafe in Khaosan.
Internet zone 55:
Rambuttre Rd, Banglamphu. Internet 2.5/min. Guysrunning the place know what they're doing. Fast service, friendly staff. Let you use floppies.
June 5 from Chiang Mai
Transport from Pakxe Don Khong
Boat from Pakxe:
not regular service. Confirm boat schedule at boat landing in Pakxe. the boat arrives on W coast of Don Khong at Muaung Saen.takes 8-10 hrs, 3500kip(may be You asked for 5,000kip.)
To Muaung Khong from Muaung Saen, 10km E
by tuk-tuk 4-6,000kip, outrageous price but not many tuk-tuks on the island).
by bus 1-2 buses/day. price ? dep about 8:00 but confirm with GH owner.
Bus from Pakxe: takes 5hrs and,crowded, uncomfortable, but enjoyable and interesting, 3500kip. see Pakxe for mote details

Don Khong (main village Muang Khong)
Muang Khong
is very small village, easily walkable.
Exchange: Possible to change $ & Baht at GH's and Restaurants for very low rates $1=2200kip
Transport:
Bicycle
is the best way to explore the island. Cycling to Muang Saen along the river route is highly Rec. rental are available at GHs.2-3000kip, negotiable. Tuk-tuk: 4-6,000kip (tourist price), rip-off due to little competition.
To Don Khon, Don Det islands.
The cheapest option is to take the ferry across
to the mainland 2-400kip/p, take a bus from Hat Xai Khun to Ban Nakasong -500kip, then take the boat across, cost? (Travelers report: 6000kip for whole journey for two people- a mix of public/charter
transport.)
You can charter a boat from Muang Khong to the islands,20,000+kip.(Travelers report: Don Khon-Muang Khong may be possible to negotiate down to 10,000kip with boat owners.
Accomdation in Don Khon/Don Det. An increasing number of travelers are choosing to stay here. But only 2 places. Don Khon has one attractive GH that charges 5000kip/bed, One in Don Det is a complex of very simple 1 person bungalows - 3000k/p. No electricity and food options are minimal.
Warning! There is a 2-tier local/tourist pricing system in operation, check around and negotiate.
Accommodation:
All GHs are near the ferry landing and on the riverside road. Staff speak English/French. GH's have electric generators, electricity is on only at night. There are a limited no. of rooms and cheaper rooms are often fully booked during the high season (Dec/Jan). Aim to arrive early in the day to have a choice. Prices are sometimes negotiable.
Don Khong GH: in front of ship landing. f sb s7000kip d10,000.C4 R Simple rooms. Pleasant social veranda. Popular restaurant.
Kang Khong Villa: (formerly Auberge Sala Don Khong Branch): W of Don Khong GH, f ab LS/HS s8000/13,000kip d10,000/15,000kip C5 bf3000kip bicycle 2-3000kip Elegant, furnished home with spacious, comfortable rooms. Social lounge and veranda. Very hospitable host. Rooms are cleaned daily, sheets changed every 2 days. One of the best GH's I've stayed in. Delicious 3 course breakfast. Highly Rec.
Food:
Very limited choices, near the boat landing sell hot/cold drinks. All cold drinks are served with ice as there is no electricity.
Popular food stalls are in the early morning market.
Bungalow Souk Sun: Chinese/Lao. 3500kip Scenic river views. Open only during meal times.
Don Khong GH Basic: good value.
Pon's Restaurant New: popular social place. Food is variable. Highly Rec is the fish in banana leaf (order in advance). Mr Pon the owner also offers boat trips to Don Khon and the waterfalls.
SIGHT:
Boat trips to Don Khon Island
(Not to be confused with Don Khong) 30,000kip/day (8 person) On the trip you will see some of the 4000 islands(Don't count) visit Don Khon island and Taat Somphamit waterfalls, (Khon
Phapheng falls costs 20,000+/-kip extra for tuk-tuk)
Possible to charter a boat at a restaurant in Muaung Saen which may be cheaper than in Muaung Khong.
Travelers are increasingly opting to stay at GH's on Don Khon/Don Det. If you plan to do this then we recommend you don't take the boat tour from Don Khong as Taat Somphamit is walkable from here and you can cross over to the mainland and visit the Khon Phapheng falls.
Taat Somphamit waterfalls: Go to Don Khon by boat and walk.
Dolphin watching: hire boat on Don Khon 6000kip+- /hr. (traveler report: possible to swim with the dolphins).
Khon Phapheng falls: Supposedly the biggest waterfalls in SE Asia. Most people go on a boat trip however you can get there by public transport+tuk-tuk.
Transport from Don Khong: ferry to Hat Xai Khun 2-400kip, bus to Ban Nakasan 500kip, and hire tuk-tuk 20,000+/-kip to the waterfalls. If staying on Don Khon or Don Det take ferry over to Ban Nakasan and tuk-tuk 20,000+/-kip to the waterfalls.

June 5 from Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai:It's hot in Chiang Mai.
Exchange Rate: 42.26B T/c 42.45.
Internet Cafe: Thapae Online, at 400 Thapae Rd, 2B/min. open till 20:00
Hotels: I'm staying at Paradise GH, 12 Srichandon Rd, T270413. 100B (until Dec, 99), a swimming pool, cable tv and an elevator what more could you ask for? With 210 rooms I think it's temporary home to a large % of the travelers in Chiangmai at the moment.
I bumped into Mike (ITIS friend) in Bangkok, I thanked him for his 'hot info' - he said he would continue sending to us.
Pakxe:
Vietnamese visa:
Theoretically possible to get a visa for $25,however can take anything from 2-4 weeks, staff are reluctant to process it. They are much happier if you ask for the Express visa,$55, 3 days. When told that it costs $50 in Vientiane the officer replied if 2 people apply can reduce to $100/two.!!!. 2 photo
required. Vietnamese Consulate is on Road 24, T212058, open M-F8:00-11:00,14:00-16:00.
Food: There are some good cheap food stalls in the inside section of the market.
The local restaurant opposite the Pakxe Hotel sells good noodle soup.
Sedone Rest. S from the Pakxe Hotel is the most popular
travelers restaurant. Staff are friendly, prices are cheap.
the Dornsokdee Rest. On the street behind the Pakxe H. This is popular with locals for the Korean style barbecue it serves. Slightly more expensive than the others, only open in the evenings.
Exchange: Possible to change T/C into US$ at Banque Pour Le Commerce Exterier Lao (new location) on road 13. Cash Advance for Visa into kip 2.5%, Baht 2.8%, US$3.5%. Cash advance for BOTH M/C & Visa is possible at the Phak Tai Bank nearby, however only into kip, The
souvenir shop next to Sedone restaurant gives good rates for $ & Baht.

to Champassak:
Boat is the most relaxing way to travel to Champassak. DON'T go to the ferry/boat landing to Thailand - boat owners there will try to get you to charter a boat to Champassak for about 20,000kip, instead head down the slight hill behind the tuk-tuks - about 50m N from the landing to Thailand. There's supposed to be several boats between about 7-10:00 but no fixed time. The cost is 1000kip but you'll probably be asked for 2000kip. It takes about 2 hours. From the ferry landings at Champassak you can hire a tuk-tuk to Wat Phu - 5-6000kip return. The last ferry back to Pakxe is supposed to leave at 14:00.
Travelers report:
1)
possible to visit Wat Phu and continue on to Don Khong or Don Khon (by bus) in the same day, but you must leave early in the morning - no information on this route.
2) Accommodation at Champassak,limited and overpriced.
3)Attapeu (Bolaven Plateau) to Pakxe is easy to hitch, takes about 4 hrs. Sekong to Attapeu: Guest House owner at Sekong was asking 65,000kip for boat charter to Attapeu.
Don Khong:
the main destination in the 4000island region. The islands of Don Khon (S from Don Khong) and Don Det have less facilities but are attracting an increasing number of visitors. These 2 islands are the best base for visiting the Somphamit waterfalls and dolphin watching.
to be continued

June 2 from BKK
BKK Info
Baths:
cash $1-39.90B, T/C $1=40.30B,
Weather: hot & sunny
bus to Chiang Mai:Current special offer:50B for 1 week only.
internet: Today most I-cafes put their price up to 4B/min, will check around to see if there are any that haven't raised their pricea.

Visa info (Travel Agencies)
Vietnam:
1-M visa: 3 days-2,700B, 4 days-2,100B
plus 800B for overland entry/exit.
Laos: Visa 1-M: Express 1 day 2000B, 3 days 1200B. Myanmar: 1 day 500B,
India: 5 days 2300B

Laos:
Travel Expenses in Lao:
$11/day (if you don't fly anywhere). I met several travelers who were on a tight budget and spent $200-250 for a month in Lao.
Visa extension: Although Vientiane immigration is the only office issuing visa extensions, several guest houses in Luang Prabang are organising 'Passport runs' to Vientiane - $3/day.
Cash Advance: Visa card is accepted by many banks. I only found 2 banks. 1 in Vientiane, 1 in Pakxe, that accepted Master Card (probably more will start accepting in the future). Charges for cash advance vary between 2-4% and depends on whether you want kip, $ or Baht.
Road conditions in Lao: It seems like every road and bridge in the South is under construction. This means that journeys can take a lot longer as diversions and travel on dirt roads or through rice fields is common. Until construction is finished delays will be normal
especially during the upcoming rainy season. Rumours along the travelers grape-vine is that Travelers coming from North of Houay Xai are reporting that the road conditions are terrible due to heavy rain, several travelers have turned back.
Two tier pricing system for some transport.
Flights,official, foreigners pay about 4 times what Lao people pay.
Many boats tourists are charged more than locals. To/from Luang Prabang the 2 prices are written on a board-Luang Prabang to Houai Xai by slow boat: 24,000kip for tourists,16,000kip for Lao.In the South overcharging is standard practice on boats, share taxis and some
trucks,though if you give them the local price they won't insist you pay more.
New Border Crossing between Laos-Vietnam: I met one traveler, her name was Uta who traveled along this route, she didn't recommend it as it took 3 days from Hanoi to Vientiane and transport is not well organised. Her trip was: train from Hanoi to Vinh about $30, bus is a lot cheaper. Accommodation options in Vinh are minimal,$6 after negotiating (that was the cheapest option).
From Vinh there is supposed to be public transport running to the border(Cau treo) but Uta got dropped in the middle of nowhere and had to continue by bus and jeep. the border area is rainforest, stunning scenery, apparently a new species of deer has recently been discovered in this area. On the Lao side of the border there is no public transport but tuk-tuk's will run you to the nearest town for around $3. En route there are many traditional Lao villages so this section
of the trip is interesting.

Savannakhet:
Hotels
Best value accommodation is Xayamunghun, 186 Rasavingsank Rd. ab 6000kip. Spotlessly clean, spacious homely rooms, friendly staff, Relaxing 2nd floor verandah.
Santyphab on Tha Dan Rd.-Many travelers stay, 4,500kip, cheapest, dirty, noisy, basically a crash pad for those transiting. The one good point is that it has an information board.
Phonepasut Hotel on Sisavong Rd has a swimming pool open to non-guests- 1500kip.
Transport to Vietnam: Bus leaves at midnight, stops at Dong Ha-17,000kip, Hue-12hrs, 22,000kip, Da Nang 16hrs, 28,000kip. I was told that there is no bus to Vietnam on Thursday or Sunday, but please confirm this. Also told that sometimes buses only go as far as Hue.
bus To Hanoi once a month, leaves on the 6th at midnight,48,000kip, 72hrs. Warning long delays on these buses are common.
Bus to Vientiane: 5:00,11:30,12:00, 10,000kip,8-10hrs, road is in reasonable condition.
Bus to Pakxe: 4:30, 6:00 8-10hrs, 5000kip,
bumpy, dusty road, delays are common.
Bus to Lao Bao: leaves 6:00 told it arrives about 17:00? please confirm, costs 5000kip.
Share tuk-tuk to/from bus station 500kip.
No boats seemed to be running at this time.
Ferry to Mukhudan,Thailand. Leaves from pier, 1800kip. 5 boats scheduled per day, less on weekends. Vietnamese Consulate: Charge $55 for visa, officially
takes 4-6 days to process but several travelers received their visas in 2 days, 2 photos.
The market reportedly,town's main attractions, has been
relocated out of town.
Exchange: T/C into $ cash Banque pour le Commerce Ext. Lao. - $1/com.
Visa cash advance: 6000kip charge. Black market at jewelry shops, S from former market offered $1=2620kip. Lao May Bank is more convenient, 1 street inland from the pier. T/C to $cash 1.5%. $1=2540kip

PAKXE:
2 bus stations: 1 to destinations in the N, 1 to destinations in the S have been relocated. Both are 8km out of town 1 in the N, 1 in the S of town. Share tuk-tuk costs 500kip/person.
Accommodation: Compared with elsewhere in Lao it is poor value. The 2 main backpackers options are dirty, badly maintained.
Champasak Palace Hotel,The high class hotel but is a bargain at $27 including bf (half price from last year). Great facilities- S-TV, gym, etc., unfortunately no swimming pool.
Phonsavanh on road 13 is the cheapest option at 5000kip single, 6000kip double, shared bathrooms. It's a dump, lots of complaints though it does have a good information board.
Pakxe Hotel, Rd 5. A former cinema, the building has a lot of character, rooms are spacious but the hotel is dirty and badly maintained. Prices from 8,000kip, 11,500kip with attached bath and a/c. Twice as much as Phonsavanh but most travelers prefer it. The
Vanna Pha best value budget option is (formerly North Village GH), Rd 9. Clean, attractive rooms however most rooms seem to be occupied longterm by businessmen. rooms from 8000kip.
Border crossing near Pakxe: from Pakxe ferry pier take official ferry(100k) or charter a boat (1000k?) to Ban Muang Kao. Walk 10min. take open bus-truck to the market at Vang Tao, 1000k, 1hr30m+.
Warning: Lao immigration charge 50B.not official, many people negotiate. Some travelers refused to pay, the officer refused to give us an exit stamp and told us to go to Thailand so we did. We had no problems at Thai immigration and we got to keep our Laos entry/exit form as a souvenir.
Report from another traveler: He overstayed several days, passed through this border, paid the 40B and wasn't asked for the $5/day overstay charge.
From the Thai border Bus-trucks that take you to Phibun 20B, then bus to Ubon Rach. 20B.
Ubon Rach.A big town, has a lot of bus stations and a train station. The bus will drop you off at bus/train station that you need. 5 trains a day to Bangkok. The last leaves at 19:00. 2nd Cl. Sleeper costs 431B.
Guest House near the train station: River Moon.
To be continued.

May 31 from BKK
BKK info
I met my cousin(British) in a bus in BKK today. What a small world.
It's pouring with rain at the moment.
The Laos kip was devalued yesterday $1=3200kip.
Baht: US$1cash=39.18B, T/C39.80
The hot info for Laos is coming tomorrow.

May 27 from BKK
Savanahkhet:
There aren't a lot of sights but this is a pleasant local town. Everyone is friendly, especially the children who will often shake hands with you.
Swimming pool at Phonepasut Hotel, Sisavong Rd, visitor 1500kip.
The market has been relocated, it is now far out of town.
Banks: There are 2, the most convenient is Lao May Bank on Horkadua Rd. Charges $1.5 to change T/C into $ cash. Rate for $1=2540kip, Jewelry
shop near the former market offers 2620kip (Cash only).
Vietnamese Consulate: $55 for a visa, takes 2-4 days.
Bus between Vientiane-Savanakhet New private A/C service costs the same price as the public, basic non-A/C service. Several GH's in Vientiane have posters advertising the service and maps showing you were the booking office is.
Xayamungkun GH, Rasavongseuk Rd., good value budget option -
s/d 6000kip sb. It's an attractive, interestingly designed GH and spotless. The rooms are spacious and homely - towels, soap, drinking water provided.
Santyphab GH: Many backpackers stay here, near the pier. This place is basically a crash pad, it's cheap, rooms from 4500kip, basic, dirty and noisy.
The Savanhlaty Food Garden in front of the Church is the best place to eat in the evenings. There is a great milkshake stall. The Mango and honey dew melon shakes are particularly recommended. There are many
soup stalls throughout the town. A traveler style restaurant called
Hay Thien is near the Food Garden.
The road between Savanakhet and Paxse is currently undergoing construction. The condition is bad and the journey takes about 8-10 hours. Buses to Paxse cost 5000kip, dep.approximately 4:30-6:00.There may be more late afternoon.
Bus to Lao Bao(Vietnam border),5000kip, dep.6:00 arr. in Lao Bao about 17:00 (according to the bus inspector). Bus to Da Nang-28,000kip, Hue 22,000, Dong Ha 17,000kip, leaves at midnight. The bus may not leave everyday and on Mondays & Thursdays it terminates in
Hue. The journey to Da Nang is supposed to take 16 hrs however one traveler who made the journey Da Nang to Savanahkhet took 24 hours,and paid $25 in Da Nang. There is a bus to Hanoi once a month 6th midnight. Costs 48,000kip, supposed to take 72hours.
To be continued.....

May 12 from Vientiane Laos

I am in Vientiane.I'm going to Savanahket tomorrow. Laos is a wonderful country. It is not expensive anymore. Normally $13/day, possible less than $10/day. Vang Vieng is a beautiful town surrounded by mountains.
Cuurency
Kip rather than dollars is better in the smaller towns such as Phonsaven and Vang Vieng. Even in Vientiane kip is more acceptable EXCEPT for hotels & airtickets.
Exchange Rate $ is increasing slightly.
visa extension.
Not possible to extend visas in Luang Prabang. However several travelers have said that they met people who managed to get an
extension in Luang Prabang. Staff at the immigration office in Vientiane told me that you can only extend your visa in Vientiane and it costs $1/day IF you
1) have a visitors (1 month) visa AND
2) a letter from a Lao sponsor/friend.
If you don't or you have a tourist (2 weeks) visa then you will have to pay $2-3/day. (Negotiate-I was told it depends on how rich you are, that's true.)


LUANG PRABANG
Sun Keo GH:
Wisunalat Rd, near Lao Aviation. Rec by several travelers, 6000kip. A traditional style house. A relaxing place, simple rooms, hammocks, friendly staff.
Viradesa GH: 13/2 Hoa Khoie Rd, T252026, dr 3,000, rooms 7,500+, Popular. Modern building. Simple rooms, friendly staff.
Several guesthouses charge from 5000kip/room with shared bath. Facilities are generally good, many places provide towel and
toilet roll. Currently some of the best value accommodation is in mid-range Guesthouses as they are offering discounts.
Bane Lao GH: 80/5 Manorom T212438 f sb s5,000 d8,000, ab s10,000, d15,000, a/c ab s15,000, d20,000 A new mid-range hotel. Spacious, attractive furnished rooms. Currently excellent value but prices will probably go up once it is established. Popular,traditional Lao restaurant. Noisy during May - it caters for wedding parties.
Vanvisa GH: Road S from Hoe Khoi Rd, leads to the Mekong. T212125, f s/d $5, More expensive than many of the others but it has a Homestay atmosphere, The house is stylish with antique furnishings. There is a high class antique shop downstairs.
Rama Hotel: Popular ab 8,000/room
Food: Lots of street stalls selling fruitshakes 700kip, noodle soup 1000, baguette sandwiches with pate and salad 1000-1500kip. A good place for breakfast is at the street market along the Mekong River, on the corner of Kitsarath Settatirat. Buy a sandwich at one stall, sit down at the coffee and cake stall. Free hot tea.

Phonsaven (Xieng Khong) US$1=2470kip,
Phonsaven is not an interesting town, apart from the Plain of Jars, there is little to see. Few people stay longer than 1 or 2 days.
Area Code: Changed to 061, all telephone numbers have also changed.
The temperature: Much cooler than in the lowland areas, it's very pleasant.
Electricity: 18-23:00 only.
Tuk-tuk from airport: 1,500-2,000kip/p,
Tuk-tuk to Plain of jars: 1 & 2, 30,000+kip/group (Round trip, Dry season only.) Some driver speaks English and can guide you.
Warning
all guest houses will tell you that tuk-tuk's are not permitted to take tourists to the Plain Of Jars. However some travelers are using them
tours with guides: Plain of jars 1 & 2 + village or hot springs: $35-50/day. Can arrange at travel agencies or guest houses. Price varies so ask around and negotiate.
Flights to Vientiane: daily, $44. Supposed to be US $ cash only, however Lao Aviation staff will change Kip at a low rate. Confirmation is necessary 24h before your flight.airport service fee 300kip,

Lively local food market behind the Post Office.
Hmong market: held On Sundays about 1hr away. It attracts people from all over the region, it starts about 4:00.
During November opium poppies are in full bloom, and GH's and travel agencies can arrange trips out to poppy fields.
Accommodation:
Ving Thong GH: Rte 7 N of cross-point T312047
sb s/d 5,000 ab s/d-7,000kip, C3-4, I
tours $10-45/jeep, depending on where to.
Newly renovated attractive rooms. Front balcony. Lots of decorations made out of bombs and artillery. Owner speaks English, good source of information on the area.
Dokhoune: T312189 sb s5000kip, d 8-10,000kip C3
Most popular place with backbackers. Simple rooms, attractive lounge, Lots of decorations made out of bombs and artillery.
New Xieng Khouang: Near the market T312049
f ab s/d12,000kip, Huge rooms, spacious bathrooms. Garden, 24h electricity, disco.



Joe Cummings (Lonely Planet author) passed through Phonsaven last month. I was shown his name in the hotel register.

May 5 Vientiane Laos

Laos General:
Lao is great, the food is not so bad.
Exchange: $1=2400-2500kip. 1B=60-68kip. The best rates for cash are from money changers (often women with bags full of kip) in market areas. These money changers will approach you.
Dollars and baht are often accepted for transport, accommodation and at some restaurants, but you will definitely need kip.
The problem is that the largest kip note is 1000kip. Plastic bags are available at banks to carry the huge wads of notes in.


Border Crossing: Chiang Kong (Th)- Huay Xai (Laos), After Thai immigration, take a boat across cost?, Laos immigration Open:? Pay baht for admin?,
Visa: in Chiang Kong, 15-day Visa through agents $60 (Usually at GH).
Need copy of your passport info page. If you apply before 8:00: you can cross at 11:00 the same day, 8-14:00: you can cross the following day,
after 14:00: you can cross following day after 11:00. No visa issued over the weekend. (Reported: A traveler crossed over Saturday morning by paying extral money).
Exchange bureau:
US$1=2400kip,1B=60kip,may change T/C's
accommodation in Chiang Kong:
Ban Taminlee GH, s/d sb 100B,s/d ab 300B
Beautiful complex on the riverside with an excellent restaurant.
accommodation in Huay Xai: f ab s/d 8,000kip seems to be standard. There are several simple restaurants and foodstalls offering mainly noodles,1500kip. Personally I preferred Chiang Kong as a place to stay, cross over the border in the morning and head off to the next destination.
Transport to Luang Prabang
Slow boat:
pier is N of the center,to Pak Beng-200B,to Luang Prabang-400B (stopover in Pak Beng) dep M-Sa10:00 Warning! often not on schedule, sometimes cancelled.
Speed boat: pier is S of the center,by tuk-tuk 1000kip. to Pak Beng-400B/p(3hrs),to Luang Prabang-800B(6hrs), leave regularly when have 6-8 people, a tight fit.
charter a boat: from around 1800B (must negotiate as officially it's supposed to be 2400B/boat) It goes very fast. Helmets provided, protection from the wind and possible accident.

Pak Beng is an interesting, relaxing, small village on the Mekong between Huay Xai - Luang Prabang. Most travelers break the journey here. The main street starts at the river, winds uphill and continues all the way to Udomxai. The villagers (especially the children) are friendly but don't speak much English. The market is worth visiting, there is also a temple. A few restaurants have English menus and some food stalls serve basic noodle and rice dishes. 1000+kip,
Accommodation: all GHs seem to charge the same price.
sb s 3000kip, d 5000kip, all are clean, simple rooms with mosquito net, sheet and blanket provided. Electricity in the evenings only.

Pak Beng to Luang Prabang 2 options:
1)Slow boat: 12,000kip/200B. Speed boat: 21,000kip.
2)Truck: along route 2 to Udomxai (also called Muang Xai), bad road. Reports: Many of the hotels in Udomxai mainly cater for Chinese visitors with prostitutes and often refuse travelers saying "full".
From Udomxai you can take bus/truck? down to Luang Prabang or you can go to Nong Khiaw and take a boat from there down the Nam Ou river to Luang Prabang (Boats may not operate during the dry season).
No info on this route.
LUANG PRABANG is a beautiful town.
Exchange:
Lane Xang Bank on Sisavangvong Rd.
a branch at the market on Wisunalat Rd.Same T/C com. $2 You cannot buy US $ in Luang Prabang.
Immigration:
All foreigners must check in and out with authorities.
Warning Penalty $5/day for delay.
If arriving/departing by:
BOAT - must get a stamp at the Navigation Office near the main pier, NOT at the immigration office,
M-F 8-12:00, 13-16:O0, Sa/Su 8-10:30. If closed go the following day.(No fine).
PLANE - at the airport.
BUS - at the immigration office on Wisunalat Rd (there isn't one at the bus station).
M-F8-11:00,14-16:00, Sa8-11:00.
Not visa extention in here. - must go to Vientiane.
Local Trasnport
Walking or bicycle is the best way to get around this beautiful city. Bicycle 2000kip/day from GH or shops.
Entrance fees to sights have risen -
Pak Ou Caves-2000kip, many temples-1000kip,
Mount Phousi-2000kip, National Museum-3000kip(4000kip on National Holidays).
Herbal sauna: the Red Cross Center-4000kip Highly Rec
They serve free delicious tea. Take a sarong and towel.
Khouang Sy Waterfalls -2,000kip.Highly Rec
transport- tuk tuk 20,000-25kip go in a group, sometimes GH managers will organise trips.
Shopping
Textiles are a popular souvenir. Many are made in the nearby village of Phanom. A bicycle ride to this village is recommended. Almost every house has a weave, and you can watch young girls at work. Also possible to buy textiles here, look around,the quality varies.
Transport from LP:
Flight:
Lao Aviation on Wisunalat Rd (our information is incorrect it is NOT next to Rama Hotel),US$ cash only. If you don't have any, Lao Aviation will give you a note to take to the main Lane Xang Bank on Sisavangvong Rd where you can buy/change your T/C into US$ Rate 2490 kip.
Vientiane-$55,several daily,
Phonsavan(Xieng Khouang)-$35,4 flights/week Tu,We,F,Su.
Boats: Few slow boats to Vientiane due to the low water level. Most people were traveling down by bus. Slow boats to Huay Xai take an additional day going upstream.
Price to: Pak Ben-12,000kip, Speed boat-21,000kip
Bus: to Vientiane-13,000kip(10 hrs),
Vang Vieng-11,000kip, Kasi-10,000kip leaves 4x/day at 6:30, 7:30,8:30,9:30 (approximate times) Arrive early to get a seat. 3 types-A/C bus?/ordinary bus/truck.
The road has been surfaced but the journey is still difficult due to the winding route. to Vientiane.

to Phonsavan by bus/truck. Advised to take via the N route (Luang Prabang-Nambak/Muang Ngoi-Nam Noeng/Muang Kham, (takes 2-3days), No direct route via Route 7, supposed to be dangerous though some travelers are attempting it. Rumour - foreigners traveling on
Route 7 may be turned back by police. One traveler managed to hitch a ride with an NGO vehicle all the way from Luang Prabang. If hitching you will often be charged a small amount.


Vientiane internet
Novotel Vientiane: novotlao@loxinfo.co.th

costs $1.10/min, print $.5/page


Apr 19 Chaing Mai
Big News: Maybe Pol Pot is dead. Most newspapers here are suspicious though, they think the cremation was faked.
Chiang Mai
Internet is everywhere now, even AUM restaurant has a service. A
couple of places charge 2B/min. Daret Restaurant is one but the
service is often closed.

Apr 18 Chaing Mai
Nong Khai
Border Crossing Nongkhai to LAOS:

Border open 8:00-18:00
From Nong Khai town, go to international-bus station by tuk-tuk 30B, then take a border bus(20B runs 8:00-15:30, every 20mins)across the Friendship Bridge. The bus will drop you off first at Thai immigration, and will wait only 3 minutes. If you miss it, take
the next bus. It then takes you across the bridge.
At Lao immigration on other side of bridge, you can get 2 week visa on entry $50, 1 photo required.
Additional Visa info in Khon Kaen:
1-month visa from a Lao Consulate. 1200B, plus 300B charge for fax to Vientiane, plus 150B for same day issue, 2 photos.(It could be cheaper to get the same visa in BKK through agents in Khaosan.)
If you're coming from Bangkok one option is to take transport to Khon Kaen, go to the Consulate, get your visa and continue on to Nong Khai without spending a night in Khon Kaen. Many reports that accommodation is not good in this city - many cockroaches. Confirm with the Consulate beforehand that you will be able to get your visa the same day.

Bus to Khon Kaen/Nong Khai from BKK:
During Songkran (New Year Festival) agents in the Khao San Rd, Bangkok were charging 450B for A/C to Khon Kaen and 650B to Nongkhai. Prices from Nong Khai to Mor Chit Bus Station, Bangkok were A/C 263B, VIP 405B, There's a big difference.

Internet:- The Wasambe Book Shop: 1121 Kaeworawut Rd. T460717, E-mail Wasambe@loxinfo.co.th
E-mail 3B/min.for use of computer free to send,20B to check. Internet. 10:00-20:00

Telephone Office: No longer above the GPO, it is now inconveniently located on the highway road. There are several Lenso International cardphones in the town center. One in front of the GPO.

If anyone is interested in a game of scrabble:
Pop in and see Melane. She is an elderly Thai lady who has a shop opposite the GPO. She sells,telphone cards, postcards, guidebooks but she is mainly interested in playing scrabble. Beware, she is a master.

Sunset cruise on the Maekhong River: Recommended by travelers.
Leaves at 17:30 from Wat Maisok, Costs 30B. Apparently the food served on board isn't very good so stick to the drinks.

Restaurants
The Danish Bakery:
An excellent place for breakfast, opposite Wat Srichon, Meechai Rd, 2 blocks W from the GPO. Breakfast from 60B includes endless cups of real coffee, plus free read of the Bangkok Post.
Small Vietnamese food stall: Meechai Rd, between Fuji Film and the Danish Bakery. Sells delicious Vietnamese style stuffed pancakes, 10B.
Vietnamese Restaurant: under the Pepsi sign on the small street opposite Maekhong GH (Rimkong Rd), English menu. Particularly recommended is Nam nuong - make your own spring rolls, 50B. Staff
will demonstrate what to do with the many ingredients.
'Coffee Guy': opposite the Vietnamese Restaurant: A coffee shop popular with local housewives. Good ice coffee.
Excellent riverside restaurant in Nongkhai.
No name but at the East end of the market, opposite a Wat. You'll recognise it from the catfish grilling outside. The best dish is the grilled fish which comes with a wide selection of vegetables, sauces and sticky rice.

Accommodation:
Mut Mee Guest House: Kaeworawut Rd. one of the best guesthouses I've visited in Thailand. Julian and Poi the hosts, are really friendly and have created a very relaxing environment.

Apr 10 Bangkok

Cambodia
Departure Tax:
International $20, Domestic Departure Tax: $10
English Language Newspapers are essential to keep up with the political and safety situation in Cambodia: Cambodia Daily, 1000R,
Bayon Pearnik
- monthly (free), Phnom Penh Post - fortnightly, 2500R.
Border Crossing: Poipet(Cam) - Aranyaprathet(Thai).
I crossed at this border on the 8th April 1998.
Transport Siem Reap to Sisophon and Poipet by Pickup, (may need to transfer at Sisophon)
Many Guest Houses arrange transport to Poipet. Or you find a pickup around the main market in Siem Reap. To Poipet for $4/p (in the back),negotiable. A big group will get a better deal. We,a group of 7,booked through Smiley Guest House and paid $8p for A/C cabinseat, $6 for seats in the back. Many guest houses arrange transport $15/p for the cabin seat.
The road from Siem Reap to Sisophon is in a terrible condition, takes 5 hours.
Border: open 7:00-17:00.
Transport from Siem Reap drop you off at the Cambodian immigration. Border crossing is eazy, takes 30min.
1-M Thai visa will be given at border.

The border to Aranyaprathet town: 6km, by public bus to the town costs 5B. Walk 7min through the market to open air buses.
Motor bike taxis were asking 30B.
Siam City Bank in the bus station of town, M-F.8:30-15:30 Bank rate. US$ cash 39.65. Y10,000- 2938B
Train to Bangkok: dep13:45,arr 19:15,50B (reported),
Buses to Bangkok: dep12:00,12:30,13:00,14:00,15:00, 17:00, 18:00,5hrs,144B.
The total journey from Siem Reap to Bangkok, takes 12-15 hours.
Bangkok to Siem Reap: leave very early morning in order to arrive in Siem Reap to avoid traveling at night. Train dep6:00 arr11:30 in Aranyaprathet .If you get stuck in Poipet there is a brand new hotel opened


Phnom Penh
Flight Phnom Penh to
Siem Reap
O/W US$55 R/T$110, 6-7flights/day
Bangkok OW$73,RT $125,
Ho Chi Minh OW$65, RT$115,
Vientiane OW$135 RT$260
Siem Reap OW$55, RT$110
Travel Agent: Capitol Guest House 14 St.184 T364104.Travelers' notes, Bulletin Board.
Vietnam Visa: 1-month Visa(Good from the day you specify) Overland entry possible.2day processing:$80 3days:$65, 4days:$55, 5days:$48 7days:$45
Lao Visa: 1-month, US $58? (Don't understand why this is so expensive,it's only $35 at the embassy) Canadian $45, other $40
City tour: $5(entrance fees extra). Tu-Su8:30, Silver
Pagoda, Wat Penh, etc.
Mekong Island Tour: $32
Taxi to the Vietnam border $23 or $6/person
Rental bicycle 4,000R/day In bad condition.

Restaurants: many new restaurants near the river catering to the Ex-Pat community. Prices are expensive compared to local alternatives but all have attractive environments, serve Western food, imported beers and are popular for socialising.

Shooting Ranges: A popular tourist activity is to try out a number of the wide range of guns that are available in Phnom Penh. Anyone interested should ask at their guest house for information.
Transport:
Central Market Bus Station:
2 blocks S from Central Market.
Buses to Sihanoukville, several companies,- GST has 3 buses/day,12,000R,4hrs, on excellent road. A/C, very comfortable, free bottled water and a wet wipe, video,w/English/Chinese subtitles.
Pickups to Siem Reap leave from the Central Market but if you book through you Guest House they will pick you up there. Pickups leave around 7:00. Cabin-A/C-seat $10. Back-no-seat-open-air $5,8 hours. Warning the road is very bad. If you sit in the crowded back you will get very dirty, hot and possibly even bruised because of the constant jolting. Several travelers complained about the maniac driving. Despite the hardships it is a popular trip with travelers but most need a days rest to recover from the journey.
Bus to Ho Chi Minh,Vietnam:
V.Oknhe Tep Phon, 182st+211St.Office is closed but you buy ticket when you take the bus. non-a/c $5 MWF 4:30, ,a/c $12 TuThSa 4:30 Arriving in Ho Chi Minh -15:00.
Warning, the bus may be under repaired. Please confirm Check the situation the day before.
No one at the station speaks English so go with a moto driver who can translate for you and check whether the bus will leave on schedule or not. Most travelers use the taxi method.

Taxi to Ho Chi Minh(Vietnam) $20-23/taxi to the border, From the border to Ho Chi Minh$20/taxi, $5/p (must bargain)

Killing Fields. You are asked for $2. No official sign and no receipt issued. According to the tourist office the fee should be $1, but who feels like negotiating at such a place?


Siem Reap
The King is spending the New Year in Siem Reap, the Prince is planning to join him. So security could be tight in the area.
Post cards/books: No good postcards of Angkor Wat
Postcards at the post office 2000R,extortionate price. Postage is 2000R to any destination. But same postcards cheaper from the children in the temples, around 5000R for 10. Guidebooks(photocopies) for Angkor Wat from 10,000R+. Books with colour photos cost from $4.

Angkor Wart
Entry to Angkor Wat.
Free entry after 16:30 is no longer possible. However you can enter to enjoy the sunset(for free) on the evening before your Angkor ticket starts. Ticket $20/1day, $40/3days, $60/week.
Fake tickets $30/3days from moto drivers/some guesthouses. 2 people,I met, were accused at gate of having fake tickets (The inspector said that they hadn't been in the complex before, the stamps or punch holes show their tickets had been used before. ). They denied it, insisted hat they had already visited the temples. If you do buy these tickets be prepared to lie.
We haven't heard of anyone being refused entry but you take that risk and of course none of the money is going to the maintenance of the monuments.
Transport to Ankor Wat: moto taxis in front of the guest houses -$6/day. $4/day if you ask around and negotiate.
Bantaey Srei ruins, 25km from Angkor Wat,very popular. The bas-relief and carvings are the best preserved and most detailed. The journey is not so hard by motorbike though the road is dusty. Wear a scarf and sunglasses. Entry fee $4 to the checkpoint police though entry to the ruins is included in the Angkor Wat ticket.
E-mail: There are 2 places offering Email in Siem Reap. It is very expensive - $1/KB, about 1/2 page, or $30 for unlimited usage for 1 month.
1) Lotus Temple, #6, Road 269, in the New Market. 6-22:00. The terminal is actually in the Guest House Chao Say a few doors away(Both have the same Belgian owner).
2) Swiss Center, Sivutha St. will be open sooh.
Accommodation:
Many GHs in town, all basic sb s$2-5,d$4, ab d$5.
Food:
Noodle stalls at the New Market,excellent noodle 800R, baguette sandwiches-500R, open until 11:00.
Chivat Thai: Wath Bo Street.good Thai Khmer food, Traditional surroundings, floor seating, friendly service and delicious food,little expensive but the servings are huge.
Little India : New Market area,Indian food
a budget place popular with travelers. The food is good and cheap except the nan is like plaster board.
milk shake stalls: along Sivutha Streetthat open afternoon, excellent Shakes-1200R and iced tea-free.

Apr 2 Phnom Penh

Border Situation at Kok Kong
Thai guards are turning travellers back to Cambodia. The border MAY be open from next month but that is not certain.
Some Visa information:
Vietnam Visa from embassy
- Go in the morning. same for most nationalities 1 month
Single entry visa $50, 3 days, $80 same day, 2 photos. Vietnam Visa from Capital Guest House; $80 (issued in 2 days), $65(3 days), $55(4 days), $48(5 days),$45(7 days).
Thai: 2month tourist visa $20, 3 photos,go in morning,
pick up following morning. 8;30-12;00
Chinese: British- $25, Japanese/Australian $20, Canadian $40,USA $30, takes 4 days. 1 photo(US 2 photos).



NCDP Center Restaurant - attached to Seeing Hands massage center, wonderful restaurant funded by the Japanese Government. All the proceeds go to help disabled people. Most of the staff are disabled. You should definately visit if you are in Cambodia.

Full Moon Parties in Sihoukanville.
The road to Sihoukanville is well paved. Buses are almost luxurious - A/C, Hongkonk videos dubbed to Khmer with Chinese and English subtitles. Free mineral water.


Mar 29 Phnom Penh
Cambodia
Border crossing to Thailand via Koh Kong
It was reported by 2 German Travelers that this border point was closed to foreigners when they tried to cross on the 26th March. The Thai border guard told them it may be open from the 7th April. I don't understand why it is closed because it became an official border from 4 March.
Exchange Rate
Bank $1 = R3585,
Exchange kiosks around the central market-$1=R3600-20.
American Express (Diethelm Travel) has moved.
It's new address is; No65, St 240, PO Box 99
1 month Entry Visa to Cambodia: issued on arrival at airport. $20, plus 1 photo but may let you off if you don't have a photo. They didn't take one from me.
Transport from airport;
Shuttle bus - $2 person, stops at Hotels & Guest Houses. Operates from 9/9:30-18/18:30.
Taxi (official) $7, buy coupon from counter in airport. Taxi (from outside airport) $3-5.
Taxi to airport: $5
Cardphones are increasing, can find them on many of the main streets. Possible to make international phone calls.

Internet & email:
Lidee Khmer, No 5, St 53,
open daily until 18;00. They charge 10$/hour for internet,or $1 for 1 email. To receive emails is free.
Casablanca Cyber Cafe Frances St+84St.
internet $12/hour. 6;30-21:00
It is very hot and very dry
at the moment in Phnom Penh, worse than Bangkok.

Transport:
Bus to Saigon;
Went to the station but it looks like the service isn't running will try to confirm that.
Bus to Sihanoukville: 12,000R, 3 buses a day, takes 4 hours.
3 routes to Siem Reap
Boat
- The slow boat is not running at the moment due to the low water level (dry season).
The fast boat depart 7;00, $25 if you buy the ticket at the office, $23 if you buy from a guest house. Narins GH transport you to the ferry for no charge.
Road via the north route. pickup along a very bad road. Cabin seat costs 10$, back seat costs $5.
Road via the south route which involves taking a pickup then a boat. This is a very difficult option and I don't have any information about either transport or safety.
Flight prices from Phnom Penh
Bangkok - OW/RT $75/125
Ho Chi Minh - $65/115
Vientiane - $125/240
Siem Reap - $55/110
Visa info
Laos - $35 for most nationalities, $42 for Canadians.
Apply for the visa in the morning and you can collect it the following afternoon, 2 photos are required.
Chinese Visa; $30, $40 from agent ( This information needs to be confirmed embassy staff were in a meeting and unavailable when I visited).
Indian Visa - Most nationalities $30, takes about 1 week, 2 photos.
Russian Market is very popular with travelers - lots of cheap clothing. $10 rolex watches are on sale at the Central Market.
The Prince is returning for a brief visit to Cambodia tomorrow, Embassies are advising caution because there may be some demonstrations.
I heard 2 lots of gunfire 2 evenings ago.
1 woman staying at the same guest house as me was accidentally shot several weeks ago - gunfire between police and thieves.
City Transport: The roads are really busy and in terrible condition. I've seen 2 accidents here. Not many people are riding bicycles now. Few travelers are renting bicycles (4000Riel/day but the bicycles are terrible). Most are taking motor taxis 1000Riel or renting motorbikes from $4/day.

Bangkok Mar 23 1998
Thailand:
Airport Departure Tax - Reported that from April 1st it will cost 500B.
Mail rates: small postcard to anywhere: 12B, large 15B, letter 10gr,
Japan - 14B, Europe - 17B, USA - 19B.
Ko Tao - finding budget accommodation can be difficult.
Much of it seems to be booked by the Tour companies. If you are planning to dive, you should also ask the diving companies about accommodation options as they seem to have deals 50B+ with the bungalow complexes.
There are bungalow representatives from the less accessible bungalow complexes at the main pier. These are usually in the 150-300B rate.
Indonesia:
report on the situation
from Annie who travelled in Bali and Java in January.
Bali is fine but in Java there is tension. Travelers are experiencing hostility from some traders. When bargaining some are aggressive, blaming foreigners for Indonesia's current economic problems. In several restaurants overcharging was common with 10,000Rp often added to the bill. When complaining the waitor
answered - 'you are English you can afford it.' Even things like postage stamps, one day they would be 1000Rp, the next day 3000Rp.

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