Bangkok, Laos, Thai Island and Hong Kong – Multi Family with Teens

Bangkok, Laos, Thai Island and Hong Kong – Multi Family with Teens Claimed

2 Weeks | July/Aug 2015 | Multi Family | Adventure & Exploration

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Trip Overview

Bangkok, Thailand....Luang Prabang, Laos.....Ko Phanang, Thailand.....Hong Kong - This trip was a great Asian experience that offered big city, developing city, beach and bustling city! We were three families for Bangkok and Luang Prabang (Laos), our immediate family for beach in Thailand and a quick visit to Hong Kong. A great trip - and can't recommend Laos enough - go now before it's overrun with tourists.

Full Itinerary


Week 1: Bangkok, Thailand and Luang Prabang, Laos

Day 1: Bangkok


Arrive Bangkok late afternoon. (arranged airport transport to hotel online via Bangkok Airport Transfer which was efficient, easy and affordable). Checked into Peninsula Hotel (we splurged on this one…but a nice way to ‘land’ and get over jet lag I must admit..and not as pricey as I had imagined it would be). 


Immediately upon check in asked the concierge about a canal trip and they had us on the water within the hour for an  hour canal tour which was terrific and not expensive. Great way to keep us from falling asleep and busy until dinner. 

Dinner first night at Ben Ciang.


Day 2: Bangkok


I had arranged ahead of time online for a tour for our group, via Tour with Tong. The 2 guides and their 2 AC vans arrived right on time and it was a great way to efficiently see the sights. We went to the (hot, crowded) Grand Palace, then to the Reclining Buddah and to Jim Thompson’s  house. We had told them what we wanted to do ahead of time.  Guides were great.  

In the afternoon we hung out at pool, went shopping across the river for silver and antiques, napped etc. 


Dinner at Issaya. 


Day 3: Travel Day/Luang Prabang


Headed to airport in the am. Flew to Luang Prabang, Laos. FYI they said to bring 2 passport photos (which cost about $15 at home) but they can photocopy your passport photo on the spot for $1 or so. Also fyi, be sure to change/use all your Kip (Laos $) before you leave as nobody will change it for you outside Laos we found out!


Check in to Satri Hotel. They had arranged to pick us up at airport. What a great hotel! Really nice people, beautiful rooms, can walk or bike to town, nice pool , great bar and they arranged all of our outings and just took great care of us. Antiques for sale in all the rooms and it’s very ‘colonial/asian bungalow’ feeling – not a ‘hotel’ at all. Highly recommend. 


Afternoon walked in to town (hot, humid..) and had lunch at their rec of Cafe Ban Vat Sene which was so delicious and such a relaxed, nice vibe. We went back once or twice while there. 

Dinner at hotel.


Day 4: Luang Prabang


5:30am  4 of us woke up to see the monks receiving alms at sunrise. Delighted to see that our hotel is across the street from a monestary so in the morning mist the monks start their walk from there and we followed them as they wound their way around town. Beautiful in their saffron robes and they receive alms throughout their walk. 


Mid morning got picked up in two vans to visit the Kuang Si waterfalls. They are beautiful! Part of the group hiked up to the top (slippery and muddy and steep). Afterwards we all went further down the falls and swam in a few of the cascading pool areas, went on the rope swing etc. We had brought a picnic which the hotel made for us and had that there. If you follow the path down the falls you end up at a bear sanctuary which we also enjoyed seeing. We spent a number of hours there – a lovely day. 

In the afternoon some had massages at the hotel or in town (Red Cross and one other spot I can’t recall name of…), went shopping at the Antique House (awesome antiquities from Laos) went across the street at sunset to listen to the monks chanting (wear long pants etc) and had dinner at Dyan Sabai which was great. We had to take tuk tuks to dinner as it’s on the other side of the river and the bamboo bridge was washed out. 

Day 5: Luang Prabang


This was a special buddist day, only happening twice a year. The hotel helped prepare alms for us and have sashes to wear and bamboo mats to kneel on and we were out early to give alms to the monks. The whole town seemed to be out since it was a special holiday and it was a great experience for all of us. 


We took a boat up to the Pakou Cave. It’s a gently, relaxing boat ride there and back (hour each way approx) and a nice chance to see the river/environs. Once at the cave we looked at all the statues inside, but it doesn’t take that long. They climbed up to another part of a cave with more statues. They offered to take us to see whiskey being made in a village, and to lunch but we declined and decided to go back and have lunch in town. Our Family road bikes to Utopia, a backpacker restaurant on the river with very ‘chill’ vibe (they have yoga classes in the am, and their motto is ‘zen by day, party by night’ ) and you can hang out literally over the river.  

Then biked around town, walked up the hill in center of town (pay entry fee for that) and had dinner at Tamarind that night. Some went to night market afterwards, but there had been a downpour so many vendors had left, but still good!


Day 6: Elephants


Got bus to the Elephant Village (we had booked 2 days, one night there ahead of time). We had a great day riding elephants, boat trip to Tad Sae waterfalls (not as good as Kuang Si at all), putting the elephants in the jungle for the night, swiming in the beautiful pool of the lodge next door (not where we slept) etc. We spent the night in a place that was overlooking the river and about 10 minute walk down a dirt path from the elephant center. A bit rustic, but some rooms had AC and we weren’t in the rooms much anyhow so it was fine.


Day 7  – Elephants/Luang Prabang


We awoke to go back into the jungle to get our elephants to ride back to the river. Once there we gave them a bath – a highlight of the whole trip!  Such fun. But NOTE: be sure to wear long pants when on the elephants.Some in our group got a rash where their legs rubbed behind the elephants ears while riding and it’s apparently a rare animal bacterial rarely seen in humans…not harmful but took a while to treat….best to wear pants!


Late morning headed back to town and to the beautiful Satri House!  We rode bikes to the main Wat in town, some swam/hung out or did more shopping at Antique House (which is a little bike ride away and isn’t on main drag fyi), shopped in town since was last day to do so, had lunch etc. 


Had birthday dinner at Satri House, after nightly cocktails in the bar by the pool. Lovely! 

Day 9: Tavel Day 


We got a van to drive us to the airport in Vientienne. There met with the various airlines reps and somehow managed to get on a flight that afternoon to Bangkok and change our flight to Koh Samui to the next day. Booked an airport hotel in Bangkok. Got lucky on this one…all worked out and we escaped the rain.


Spent night at the Best Western Bangkok – very nice and a great dinner there actually. There is bus to/from airport.


Day 10: travel to Koh Samui and then Ko Phanang


Early flight to Ko Samui. There took a ferry (there are people in the little airport terminal there to help you with ferry/transport bookings) to Ko Phanang. Given we’d bumped out our trip we’d done a last minute booking via booking.com to get hotel near our other one we’d already booked at. Took van taxi to hotel Divine Comedie. 


Hotel was actually very nice – good pool, right on beach etc. Very boutique/small. But the water of the ocean was more of a big sandbar and not a ‘swimming’ beach which was a surprise as this was to the be the ‘swimming’ island vs the ‘snorkling’ island next door of Ko Tao. We made sure we were not there during their popular full moon party which turns a sleepy island into party central. 


Day 11: Ko Phanang


We rented a truck and explored the island. Had an awesome lunch at a little hidden gem the hotel told us about…but don’t know it’s name and we passed it 3 times before we realized where it was. Swam at far end of the island…but still shallow swimming. 



Week 2: Van Vieng, Laos…..Ko Phanang, Thailand….Hong Kong


Day 8 Travel Day/Vang Vieng


One family left to go home to US. Another headed up to Myanmar/Vietnam. And we got in a van (Satri House organized) to drive 5 hours to Vang Vieng. It had started pouring rain that day…and didn’t stop….ever.  


Once we were in Vang Vieng, we checked in to the Riverside Boutique Resort. We were planning to spend 3 nights here and do tubing, rock climbing and all the activities the town/beautiful countryside is known for. BUT the town is nothing of note (hotel was nice, right on river) and with the pouring rain causing trees to float down the river that was overflowing into the hotel grounds we decided to stay only one night and change our itinerary. So we ended up not experiencing Vang Vieng, and also did not explore Vientienne as we’d planned to. 


Dinner at Fishermans. Great vibe/dinner. Hotel said it’s best restaurant on the island. reservations needed. Great place out front on sand for drinks. 


Day 12: Ko Phanang


Had booked a day trip to outer islands but the weather canceled it unfortunately – too many waves. So we moved to our originally booked hotel Rainbow Bungalows which was just down the road. It’s very mellow vibe was terrific. Little bungalows (ask for oceanfront) on the sand. John and I explored other side of the island and kids hung out and played cards and read. We all swam, read etc in afternoon. We had changed tix to go to Hong Kong so we only had one night here. 


Day 13: travel to Hong Kong


ferry to Koh Samui. Flight to Hong Kong. Arrived at friends’ apartment in Pok Fu Lam. 


Wandered through central. Pointed out where we had our first date :). Pizza in Western District. The took MTR to Kowloon to watch light show on HK island buildings. Then took Star Ferry back to Central and bus home. 


Day 14: Hong Kong


Dim sum at Din Tai Fung in Causeway Bay (delicious – but arrive 15 mins before it opens at 11 to avoid a wait). Shopped in Jardines Bazaar (right near Din Tai Fung) and in Causeway Bay in general, then took Peak Tram up to the Peak (long, hot line…and it’s like a shopping mall at the top….so best to go right when it opens I think). 


Dinner at American Restaurant in Wanchai (update: restaurant now closed 🙁 )


Day 15: Hong Kong/travel day home


bus to Stanley. Shopped, had lunch etc. Very hot day…so tired. 


Home to pack, shower etc. Checked bags at IFC airport terminal in Central (awesome) and had dinner din sum downstairs from check in area at Tin Ho Way. SO delicious. The bbq buns are like donuts and the shrimp dumplings are to die for. I am dreaming of this meal still. 


Then it was to the airport (started to pour rain on the train to the ariport) and home. 



Photos

Author

Time of year

July-Sept

Type of Trip

Adventure/Active, Food/Culture/Arts, Urban exploration

Duration

2 weeks

Who Went

Multi-family

Accommodation Type

Hotel

Budget

$200-$400

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