The flight from Phnom Penh to Vientiane takes 1.5 hours (Nothing compared to my last flight from NY – PP). Not many people fly from Phnom Penh to Laos so the flight’s pretty pricey. We ended up paying a little more than $330 per person :S yikes! However, I hear that it is cheaper from Siem Reap to Laos because first of all, it’s closer and second, more people tend to go from there. If you are backpacking Southeast Asia, the best option would be is to take the bus to Siem Reap, stay for a few days and then fly to Vientiane. You can however, also take the bus to Pakse, Laos, which I hear is beautiful as well and then go to Vientiane from there.
At the airport, we didn’t have to get visas since it’s ‘free’ for Koreans. When you get out of the airport, there’s a little booth by the door where you can get taxis or vans for a fixed price to the city. I thought this was really convenient because since we don’t know the price range here, having a fixed price eliminates the trouble of negotiating the price and being suspicious at the people.
Anyway, first night in Laos. I’m glad we have wifi in the hotel rooms but I have to say, it is pretty slow. Actually, really slow. Reminds me of internet in Cambodia few years back. I’m kind of used to it though so it doesn’t frustrate me too much. The hotel we are staying at is D’Rose Hotel, located right in the city – which I found wasn’t too big. There’s a huge hotel in the front called Laos Plaza, which we were originally staying at but I personally don’t like to spend too much on accommodations because all I need is a bed and of course, AC. Laos Plaza costs around $80 a night while D’Rose is $40 a night. Hey, what’s 50% right? The service here is almost non-existent but the rooms are spacious. I like it! There are more hotels and guests houses around the area so there should be no problem finding one. There’s no pool here though which sucks but I can go somewhere else to swim. :)
We decided to walk around the city for a bit. On the way we found an outdoor Laos restaurant called Khop Chai Deu. Pretty little garden with decent food.
We ordered a set menu which came with barbecue chicken, sticky rice (I love sticky rice) and papaya salad. There’s papaya salad EVERYWHERE in Southeast Asia but this one was the spiciest I’ve ever had! Ahh! And we also ordered Fish cooked in Banana Leaves – I wanted the one in Coconut Milk but they ran out :( Altogether, it came out to around 120,000 Kip, including drinks, which is around $15. Not bad.
After dinner, we walked down to the Mekong River. It was so clean unlike Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City. Not too many people, no sellers, nice park on the side – very laid back and relaxed. No people harassing us to buy things on the street. I can’t imagine walking around like this in Phnom Penh without getting frustrated. I hear that right across the river, you can see Thailand. Please correct me if I’m wrong and the people were saying it just to make fun of me.