I’ve noticed that the more trips I take, the less I plan. My first “backpacking” trip was to Peru in June of 2008. Shauna and I had it all planned out by…February? Pretty early on. Thinking about it now makes me laugh. Of course, some trips do require careful advanced planning, especially if you are visiting a popular destination in peak season.
My tactic now is to do enough research to decide which cities I’d like to visit and what must be booked in advance, and then figure the rest out as I go.
So maybe that’s why I was so in awe my first day in Laos. I didn’t really know what to expect from Vientiane. (Mike had been there before so I was happy to trust his judgement.)
We took a walk our first afternoon and I swear I was stopping every ten feet to take pictures.
A note on crossing the border: It’s really easy. We hired a tuk tuk in Nong Khai to take us to the Friendship Bridge. Once there you walk through immigration on the Thai side (make sure you have your departure card) and get on a bus to take you to the Laos side. Here you pay for your visa (strangely, it’s most expensive for Canadians) and walk on in. At this point we took a taxi to Vientiane, which is still about 20km away.
Of course, the tuk tuk first tried to take us to an agency. Despite Mike explaining that he’d previously crossed the border with no problem, the woman claimed it was impossible to do so without their (400-500baht) services. Don’t believe them. Like I said, it’s really easy.