Which border check point should I take if I want to cross to Luang Prabang in Laos from Hanoi?
Would it be difficult to travel overland during the New Year holidays? SS Rich
There will be many people travelling along this route during the New Year holidays so you need have no worries about making an overland journey during this period.
The distance between the two cities is about 400 kilometres. Direct buses run between Hanoi and Luang Prabang but, as you may already know, it makes for a very long trip. The bus takes between 24 and 32 hours along mountain roads and flat bumpy roads and you get to see some great countryside for around $50. If you are not in a real hurry, I would suggest breaking the journey at a small town along the way.
My personal recommendation would be Phonsavanh, the capital of Xieng Khouang province. Try to stay for a couple of days and visit the famous attraction in the area - the Plain of Jars. The town is roughly 1,200 metres above sea level and surrounded by lush tropical rain forest. The bus from Hanoi leaves early in the morning and you will cross the border at the Nam Sooi Vietnam Immigration Checkpoint then proceed to the Lao side at the Na Meo checkpoint. You obtain a visa on arrival and will be in Phonsavanh around 1pm.
From here, there are buses running daily to Luang Prabang via Route 13 and 7, a journey that takes 8 hours. The fare is less than $10.
Another option is to break the trip at Xam Neua in Houaphan Province. There are several guesthouses and a lot of ethnic minorities living around the valley. From here there are two daily buses to Luang Prabang, and this route takes 15 hours.
This is definitely the best way to travel in the dry season and much cheaper than the almost $200 needed for a direct flight, though, of course, the journey time is only one hour!
Enjoy your trip.
I would like to find a cooking school in Bangkok that offers an advanced Thai cooking course. I have done a few basic cooking classes in Thailand and on my next trip in February, I plan to spend some time learning more Thai cooking techniques. Thanks for your advice. Sue
Bangkok has a large number of schools from which to choose, some more interesting than others. One of these is Wandee Culinary School, the first to receive accreditation from the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Labour's Labour Development Department. The one that I think may fit your requirements is a 150-hour professional Thai cooking "basic course" and "advanced course". Each needs 20 days to complete, and you receive a certificate from the Education Ministry at the end. Classes run Monday through Friday staring at 9.30am and you learn 55 dishes plus fruit and vegetable carving.
Another famous one is Suan Dusit International Culinary School, under Suan Dusit Rajabhat University. Also interesting albeit rather pricey is Le Cordon Bleu Dusit Culinary School, a partnership between Le Cordon Bleu and Dusit International.
UFM Baking & Cooking School in Sukhumvit 33 is popular with Thai students and also offers a range of Thai cooking courses, each with nine dishes. The last is Thai & International Food Technological College, which teaches Thai food enthusiasts to become professional chefs. I am not sure if it has a course for international students, so would suggest you post an enquiry through www.Yingsakfood.com.