Advertisement

Author Topic: Going to Laos... For Dummies (Like Me)  (Read 160709 times)

0 Members and 4 Guests are viewing this topic.

Offline LonelyHmgGuy

  • PH Regular
  • **
  • Posts: 327
  • Respect: +47
    • View Profile
Going to Laos... For Dummies (Like Me)
« on: August 31, 2012, 03:21:08 PM »
First of All, I am not a travel agent and I am not out to offend anyone. Please don't have any preconceived ideas of what I may or may not do while I am over there. This is my first time to Laos and I will be visiting my grandmother on my mother’s side. I am just trying to document the process I am and will be going thru. Follow my thread me if you want and if this helps you too, than my mission was accomplished.

So… to start off, about 5 years ago, after my mother’s death, I had an awakening. Her mortality made me question my life and who I was. In my search for myself, I realize, I needed to reconnect with my family including those relatives still back in Laos. Well, this year I am going to do it… I am going back to Laos, a place I left when I was just 3 years old.
1.  First thing first. I verified I have enough Paid Time Off at work and I have money for this trip.  Have my passport and importantly, it has more than 6 months left before expiration. Checked on PTO, about 300 hours left. Checked on cash on hand, about 4500.00. (Not sure if this will be enough.)

2. Requested time off at work and received approval for 3 weeks in December. Hmong New Years in Phonsavan is Nov. 14, 2012 and in KM52 is Dec. 14, 2012, according to the Hmong calender.

3. Started to look at Airline tickets back to Laos about a month ago. I will be flying from San Francisco (airport code SFO) to Vientiane (airport code VTE). Others codes of interest for Southeast Asia are TPE (Taipei), HAN (Hanoi), BKK (Bangkok), CNX (Chaing Mai), ICN (Seoul) and LPQ (Luang Prabang).
 
Very important note… All of my research seems to suggest that the best prices on international flights to Laos are in the Winter and are made 3-4 months before your travel date. In addition,  you must fly out on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday to get the best prices.

Vayama.com and Cheapoair.com are two of the best sites for flights to Laos and Thailand, I am not using a travel agent for my trip. Keep in mind that these prices are cheap, but they ARE NOT transferable or refundable. Please also make sure that you have the correct names when booking... EXACT and CORRECT spellings. Changes are not allow after booking.
 
On August 30, 2012, the best prices for Laos were on Cheapoair.com. Please see attached screen shot. (HELP.... How do I attached PIC?)
932.52 per person. SFO to ICN to HAN to VTE.

Stay tuned for HOTEL updates and Visa preparations.. .


« Last Edit: September 01, 2012, 12:17:46 AM by LonelyHmgGuy »

Like this post: +3

Adverstisement

Offline LonelyHmgGuy

  • PH Regular
  • **
  • Posts: 327
  • Respect: +47
    • View Profile
Re: Going to Laos... For Dummies (Like Me)
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2012, 11:08:41 PM »
Posted by: Shade

Thank you Shade... A couple of questions for you. My layover in Hanoi is rather long, about 10 hours. Do you know if they have hotels at the airport? How much? and is it worth trying to get some sleep? My gut feeling tells me I am going to be either too excited or too scared to get some sleep. I have nightmares about missing my flight...



« Last Edit: August 31, 2012, 11:51:52 PM by LonelyHmgGuy »

Like this post: 0

Offline LonelyHmgGuy

  • PH Regular
  • **
  • Posts: 327
  • Respect: +47
    • View Profile
Re: Going to Laos... For Dummies (Like Me)
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2012, 11:49:43 PM »
Posted by: Shade

Yes... Vietnam will be my next destination... but for this trip, I am sorry to say, it will only be a long layover. I will just focus on Vietiane and KM52 for now. Thanks for the Hotel Info... I will check it out.



Like this post: 0

IB THIAB NEEJ

  • Guest
Re: Going to Laos... For Dummies (Like Me)
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2012, 01:50:37 AM »
What airline are you looking into? CheapOAir is a rip-off (can discuss in PM)



Like this post: 0

Offline LonelyHmgGuy

  • PH Regular
  • **
  • Posts: 327
  • Respect: +47
    • View Profile
Re: Going to Laos... For Dummies (Like Me)
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2012, 07:28:25 AM »
Posted by: IB TIAM NEEJ

Thank you for your input. On what evidence do you based your claims? Don't take me wrong, I just want to know where you got your information.  As with any online services... you must do your research and you must know exactly what you want. As far as I can see, this is a ligitimate company that offers inexpensive tickets. Again, as I disclosed earlier... You must know exactly what days your travel plans are. Because once your reservations are made, there are NO refunds, exchanges, modifications and it is nontransferabl e. But for most travelers, this is NOT an issue and I would suspect this is also true for the Hmong community. I feel the cost savings outweights the restrictions. For both my sister and I going to Laos, we saved over 400.00 each over a traditional travel agent.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CheapOair



Like this post: 0

IB THIAB NEEJ

  • Guest
Re: Going to Laos... For Dummies (Like Me)
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2012, 11:11:34 AM »
No I'm not arguing against you bud...but FYI I don't use wikis (they're not a credible reference source according to APA/MLA standards because it's an open-ended source--meaning anyone can adjust it).

I've used cheapoair and onetravel many times. It's just their insurance is balony. If you miss your flight in an event of a family death, missed connecting flight, etc-insurance was suppose to cover it. (yes it's in the fine-print). Well a customer service rep with an east indian accent was trying to charge me $2300 USD for a ticket I already paid $1600 for. He said since I missed my flight, I can't just catch a flight to Paris, then SFO. He wanted me to pay a whole 'nother ticket. (I fly around the world 4-5 times per year. This year alone, been to Thailand 4 times).  Anyways, I hung up on him and he called me back after I declined his offer. (I was in the middle east and my AT&T roaming rates were $5 USD per minute. (which I already told him to seed things ups) I was flying Air France. And damn the French--don't work weekends so I couldn't reach them either. Luckily I was able to get ahold of KLM (AirFrance partners) and paid $350 USD to re-connect with them. So now I never use CheapOair. I just use their search engine to find who's the cheapest airline and use them directly. A 1000 USD ticket will charge up misc fees and make it 1300-1500 or something too.



Like this post: +1

IB THIAB NEEJ

  • Guest
Re: Going to Laos... For Dummies (Like Me)
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2012, 11:36:34 AM »
*correction--4 times within a 12 month time frame, not YTD.



Like this post: 0

couchpotato

  • Guest
Re: Going to Laos... For Dummies (Like Me)
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2012, 11:46:42 AM »
I find that when traveling in Asia, it is better to book directly with the airline. And just in case something happens and you need to change your flights, Asian airlines have much better customer service than Western airlines.

Shade has a pretty good checklist.  O0

One thing I would definitely advise is to get a card with your hotel address on it in the native language whenever possible. That way if you ever get lost or are too tired to find your way back to the hotel, you can simply hand the card to the taxi driver.

Last, don't forget your Lonely Planet book!  :)


« Last Edit: September 01, 2012, 01:52:39 PM by couchpotato »

Like this post: +1

couchpotato

  • Guest
Re: Going to Laos... For Dummies (Like Me)
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2012, 11:41:08 PM »
I almost forgot, if you haven't done so yet, look up what airlines you will be flying with and sign up for their frequent flyer miles. It's free! :)



Like this post: +1

MilesDaddy

  • Guest
Re: Going to Laos... For Dummies (Like Me)
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2012, 11:51:25 PM »
First of All, I am not a travel agent and I am not out to offend anyone. Please don't have any preconceived ideas of what I may or may not do while I am over there. This is my first time to Laos and I will be visiting my grandmother on my mother’s side. I am just trying to document the process I am and will be going thru. Follow my thread me if you want and if this helps you too, than my mission was accomplished.

So… to start off, about 5 years ago, after my mother’s death, I had an awakening. Her mortality made me question my life and who I was. In my search for myself, I realize, I needed to reconnect with my family including those relatives still back in Laos. Well, this year I am going to do it… I am going back to Laos, a place I left when I was just 3 years old.
1.  First thing first. I verified I have enough Paid Time Off at work and I have money for this trip.  Have my passport and importantly, it has more than 6 months left before expiration. Checked on PTO, about 300 hours left. Checked on cash on hand, about 4500.00. (Not sure if this will be enough.)

2. Requested time off at work and received approval for 3 weeks in December. Hmong New Years in Phonsavan is Nov. 14, 2012 and in KM52 is Dec. 14, 2012, according to the Hmong calender.

3. Started to look at Airline tickets back to Laos about a month ago. I will be flying from San Francisco (airport code SFO) to Vientiane (airport code VTE). Others codes of interest for Southeast Asia are TPE (Taipei), HAN (Hanoi), BKK (Bangkok), CNX (Chaing Mai), ICN (Seoul) and LPQ (Luang Prabang).
 
Very important note… All of my research seems to suggest that the best prices on international flights to Laos are in the Winter and are made 3-4 months before your travel date. In addition,  you must fly out on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday to get the best prices.

Vayama.com and Cheapoair.com are two of the best sites for flights to Laos and Thailand, I am not using a travel agent for my trip. Keep in mind that these prices are cheap, but they ARE NOT transferable or refundable. Please also make sure that you have the correct names when booking... EXACT and CORRECT spellings. Changes are not allow after booking.
 
On August 30, 2012, the best prices for Laos were on Cheapoair.com. Please see attached screen shot. (HELP.... How do I attached PIC?)
932.52 per person. SFO to ICN to HAN to VTE.

Stay tuned for HOTEL updates and Visa preparations.. .

where do you live in Cali? Do you need a ride to the airport? or back from the airport?



Like this post: 0

Offline LonelyHmgGuy

  • PH Regular
  • **
  • Posts: 327
  • Respect: +47
    • View Profile
Re: Going to Laos... For Dummies (Like Me)
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2012, 02:22:03 PM »
No I'm not arguing against you bud...but FYI I don't use wikis (they're not a credible reference source according to APA/MLA standards because it's an open-ended source--meaning anyone can adjust it).

I've used cheapoair and onetravel many times. It's just their insurance is balony. If you miss your flight in an event of a family death, missed connecting flight, etc-insurance was suppose to cover it. (yes it's in the fine-print). Well a customer service rep with an east indian accent was trying to charge me $2300 USD for a ticket I already paid $1600 for. He said since I missed my flight, I can't just catch a flight to Paris, then SFO. He wanted me to pay a whole 'nother ticket. (I fly around the world 4-5 times per year. This year alone, been to Thailand 4 times).  Anyways, I hung up on him and he called me back after I declined his offer. (I was in the middle east and my AT&T roaming rates were $5 USD per minute. (which I already told him to seed things ups) I was flying Air France. And damn the French--don't work weekends so I couldn't reach them either. Luckily I was able to get ahold of KLM (AirFrance partners) and paid $350 USD to re-connect with them. So now I never use CheapOair. I just use their search engine to find who's the cheapest airline and use them directly. A 1000 USD ticket will charge up misc fees and make it 1300-1500 or something too.


Got cha... Well, hopefully, my trip will be a little less eventful than yours. My trip is pretty straight forward, but only time will tell. Stay tuned.



Like this post: 0

Offline LonelyHmgGuy

  • PH Regular
  • **
  • Posts: 327
  • Respect: +47
    • View Profile
Re: Going to Laos... For Dummies (Like Me)
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2012, 02:24:50 PM »
It may or may not be necessary, but some safety tips my group and I did prior to our departure were as followings:

1) We notified our banks/credit companies that we were traveling to SE Asia and planned on using our bank/credit cards for transactions.  The intention of this prior notice was to avoid card cancellations if they see suspicious transactions in Asia.  My bank advised me to change my access code to a 4 digits which was for my convenience when using the atm machines in SE Asia.  I was also given an international phone number as a contact number if I shall have to deal with thefts or stolen cards.   

2) We notified our phone companies about traveling to SE Asia.  We were informed of the difference ratings in each countries.  I found that helpful.  My phone company gave me free texting/photo and provided me with specific ratings for  each countries.

3) We made a cheat sheet of currency.  It was somewhat helpful especially when we moved thru different countries over a three week periods. 

4) We got all our vaccination shots done before leaving US.  It was for health reasons. Anyways, in our last week, we went to Laos. One of our group members got sick and so did I.  It was probably from the unsanitary food.  Our Laos relatives made delicious kapoon, papaya salad, and seeweed appetizers.  We also had a lot of street vendor foods, aside from hotel food.  Err...shouldn't have done all of that, but it was unavoidable when experimenting the fresh taste of SE Asia cultures.

5) Don't carry too much cash unless you plan on giving a chunk of it as gifts to your relatives which I don't advise.  They will always ask, but we probably know our limits.   Oh, if you and your sister have to buy clothes/purses or merchandise, always barter for reasonable price.  It always works in SE Asia because they want your business. 

6) Stay only at hotels only if you want to experience the richness of their counrty.  Relatives can be such a bother because they wanted unlimited attention and it can deviate you from your original plannings.  Most of the hotels in Vietnam, Laos and SE Asia are very cheap and comfortable where you have access to tv, internet, hot baths, and meals.  You can still hang out with relatives in the day time, but at night, for me, I need a me time to rejuvenate. 

7) Make a copy of your passport and keep it somewhere safe.  Most hotels will take your passport for copies and then bring back the originals.  Its they system of keeping tab on international travelers.

8)  Always tips, but be leery of airport screeners/bankers.  They can be prejudice if you are from America.  Just a heads up if this is your first time.

Ok, weed out what you find unnecessary on here and enjoy your trip.   

Shade... Great List and great contribution. I will keep this list in mind when writing my final Blog and Summary page. Number 7 and Number 8 scares me a little, I have to admit... I was told never ever to give up my passport and I know the guys at the "airport" usually requires a "tip" for you to pass "without" incidents... Hehehe. I will have some dollars bills on hand.


« Last Edit: September 02, 2012, 02:32:07 PM by LonelyHmgGuy »

Like this post: 0

Offline LonelyHmgGuy

  • PH Regular
  • **
  • Posts: 327
  • Respect: +47
    • View Profile
Re: Going to Laos... For Dummies (Like Me)
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2012, 02:27:20 PM »
I almost forgot, if you haven't done so yet, look up what airlines you will be flying with and sign up for their frequent flyer miles. It's free! :)

Couch...

Thanks for the info... Not sure if it will be worth my effort. This is my first time back and I am not sure when or if I will return anytime soon. HEHEHEHE... with that said, I will look into it and let you know.



Like this post: 0

Offline LonelyHmgGuy

  • PH Regular
  • **
  • Posts: 327
  • Respect: +47
    • View Profile
Re: Going to Laos... For Dummies (Like Me)
« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2012, 02:30:44 PM »
Posted by MilesDaddy

Hey MilesDaddy... I am coming from East Bay Area. I am not sure yet about transfers to and from airport yet. Did you have something in mind you wanted to share? Any issues with drop offs? Any issues with long term parking, if I choose to go that route? Any recommendation s in general for all other travellers? Drop offs vs. Long Term parking. I am sure SFO is not the best case to test this theory, everything is more expensive there???



Like this post: 0

MilesDaddy

  • Guest
Re: Going to Laos... For Dummies (Like Me)
« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2012, 03:59:42 PM »
Posted by MilesDaddy

Hey MilesDaddy... I am coming from East Bay Area. I am not sure yet about transfers to and from airport yet. Did you have something in mind you wanted to share? Any issues with drop offs? Any issues with long term parking, if I choose to go that route? Any recommendation s in general for all other travellers? Drop offs vs. Long Term parking. I am sure SFO is not the best case to test this theory, everything is more expensive there???
you should use Bart or a cab, guess it all depends on you luggae situation. ..I thought you were in the Central Valley and that I could probably offer you a lift. My mom lives in Hayward and I am always looking for an excuse to go visit.... Not to many Hmong folks in the East Bay, although my wife has a cousin in Alameda.



Like this post: 0

 

Advertisements