Laos Customer Reviews
We are very proud of the feedback that we get from our trips and are pleased to share reviews from past travellers. These are kept as up to date as possible. Please have a read through to get a real sense of the kind of experience that you might have on a family trip to Laos.
Bartolini Family (with children aged 13 & 15)
Travelled Christmas – New Year 2019/20 – Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia
We have travelled with Stubborn Mule twice in the last 2 years – a 2 week trip to Myanmar (Burma) and a 2 week trip to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Both times we have had the most amazing family holidays with our 2 daughters (aged 13 and 15). Kelly at Stubborn Mule has a wealth of first hand knowledge of these countries and put together brilliant itineraries for us – a great mix of sightseeing, relaxing by the pool/beach time, activities such a zip lining or cycling, going to elephant sanctuaries and cooking lessons. We have only been home a week from Vietnam and are already trying to decide where our next Stubborn Mule adventure should be!
Kelly – We had a long chat so this is just to summarise.
All flights were great and ran on time. The overnight train was also a fun trip and the cabins were nice and clean. Even the toilet stayed clean for the whole trip! We took some food with us for dinner and breakfast (pot noodles for dinner and rolls/croissants for breakfast) plus lots of snacks and drinks. It was easy to buy other drinks on the train or at any platform. We got picked up and dropped off at all the airports and train stations with no issues…
All the hotels were lovely. In Siem Reap we had a suite which was enormous! It had a washing machine which was very useful as you can imagine. The pool was lovely. In Luang Prabang the hotel was gorgeous all round. We had adjoining rooms which makes life very easy. In Hanoi we stayed at a very central and had a roof top pool. We had adjacent rooms but not adjoining. Roof top pool was freezing but still got used by S and M! In Hoi An our hotel was lovely. We had adjacent rooms. The pool was beautiful here with views over the river. The hotel also offers free boat trips which we took advantage of. In Saigon we stayed at a huge glamorous hotel where we had adjoining rooms. The rooftop pool was lovely and a good place to spend a few hours sunbathing and swimming at the end of a long trip.
The guides were all great – Mr Leap in Siem Reap, Mr Sphack in Luang Prabang, Annie in Hanoi. In Saigon we had 2 different guides for the 2 different tours so didn’t really get to know them very well. They both seemed nice enough, but neither of them went “above and beyond” like we felt the others had. I think partly because each one was only with us for a few hours and partly we think because the tourism culture in Saigon doesn’t promote this attitude – there is plenty of work for the guides and no-one needs to go the extra mile to get repeat business.
As I mentioned before we found that there were lots of little things in Saigon which added up to it not having such a friendly feel…
We loved all the trips except the Mekong Delta trip and Tonle Sap – in the dry season there just isn’t much to see on this lake or in the village… I am sure in the wet season it would be lovely to cruise through the village and mangrove forest.
As I mentioned on the phone, the trip in Hanoi to Lien Mac to cycle round the veg and flower fields was great.
On the money front it would be worth mentioning in the trip notes that if you take pounds or dollars to change then make sure the notes are clean and crisp. We took some £20 notes and some were rejected a few times by money changers for being too old or having small tears or writing on them.
Also in Siem Reap there is no need to have any Cambodian money – absolutely everywhere deals in dollars.
Finally, I always travel with a travel washing line, travel wash, travel sink plug and travel hangers which are great for when you just want to just hand wash a few small items rather than sending the smaller bits for laundry – something to add to you packing list?
Also the water bottles you recommended were great and I think should add them to the packing list.
I think that’s it! Will send some photos soon… We had a lovey time and are already thinking about our next big trip.
Thank you for an amazing experience. I have to add that the guides in Cambodia, Laos and northern Vietnam were excellent. We definitely had more than we expected. From my point of view, once they knew I’m a tree expert, then I was treated to some amazing trees!
Finally a useful trip note; the greater the value of the note, be it $100 or £50 then the better the exchange rate. Having 100 $1 notes got less than a single $100 note by quite a lot.
Martin Family & friends (with children aged 11, 14 & 15)
Travelled Summer 2019 – Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia
Hi Liddy – The itinerary worked brilliantly, the contrast between the three countries was fantastic to see. I’m glad we skipped Ho Chi Minh, whilst there is undoubtedly lots to see around there, once we had included two large cities it would have been too much to include a third (we couldn’t believe the change in Phnom Penh). Luang Prabang was a great sleepy way to start and we all loved the waterfalls and the elephants.
Hanoi was great for a night/couple of days and the bicycle tour/spring rolls were a hit. We loved the boat in Halong Bay, the accommodation was superb.
The mini stopover in Ninh Binh was much needed and the Esmeralda was perfect for a night. The homestay was awesome.
We all really enjoyed Hoi An, the break by the sea was just what was required at that point.
Siem Reap was obviously very different from before but not so much so that it couldn’t be enjoyed and the lodge was very special.
And finally, Phnom Penh, awful traffic! We had a great time and specifically a great night out to finish the holiday.
Our guides were fabulous, it all ran smoothly and we loved it.
Cohrs Family (with one child aged 3)
Travelled May 2019 – Laos and Vietnam
Thanks again for organising our trip. We had an amazing time and are really impressed by Stubborn Mule. Some of the things that were really brilliant and special: In Luang Prabang our guide was great at avoiding the crowds. We were nearly the first people to the waterfall and the first to the swimming area, as an example. This really made the experience special…
– In Luang Prabang, there is a buffalo farm on the way to the waterfall. We stopped there on the way back and really recommend it for families – you feed and wash buffalo and also other animals and it is a social enterprise, trying to improve local farmers nutrition and finances. (A great example of the flexibility of the guides – with no issues about adding an extra stop.)
– The guides in Laos were really amazing, interesting, brilliant with Z and a delight to spend time with – especially Sad in LPB and Ting in Champasak. We would highly recommend using them again. The drivers were very good too – and the overall tour company to be recommended.
– Nong Khiaw was great and we were able to do a small canoe trip as an extra – again, great flexibility by the guide who also checked with the agent / his boss that it was Ok to do that we were impressed by. He then joined us to make sure it was OK.
– Our son is train mad and we got to see the only train in Laos in the 4000 islands tour. We loved the tour as well.
– The hotel in Hanoi was superb – excellent service and lovely place. The other hotels were also excellent; all had charm and character and were clean and good value.
– Halong Bay trip was excellent and really good vessel / service / experience. We avoided the crowds again.
– The train trip between Hue and Danang is AMAZING – brilliant views and worth doing even if it is just that bit. (We also loved the whole overnight train – especially as Z is a train nut).
There are a few things to be aware of for future trips:
– The hotel in Vientiane was a bit tired and I think you can get one with more charm and character
– The guide in Danang who picked us up didn’t add anything. We could have just had a driver.
Some other things we enjoyed
– train street in Hanoi
– walking on the beach in HoiAn / And Bang to the nearby resort for dinner
– Seeing the washing the Budda ceremony in LPB
Palmer Family (with children aged 6, 10 and 12)
Travelled April 2019
We’ve had a really wonderful time in both Laos and Cambodia. The two weeks have flown by and we have a treasure-trove of memories. Although it seems a lifetime ago, Vientiane was a great place to start. The hotel was practically empty (only saw one other couple there the whole three days), but that just meant the pool was ours. Tuk-tuk ride around town was great – great driver, good English and we enjoyed watching the sticky rice production and especially making the offerings. The kids spent an hour trying to get the banana leaves to do what they were meant to do….We visited around three temples and the stupa, but it was increasingly hot and we ditched the COPE centre in favour of ice creams round the pool.
Our arrival in Oudomxay was where we felt the trip began. Just wonderful guide Phak who was with us for the rest of Laos. So amazing with the kids, informative, endless questions answered patiently. Real insight into Laotian life. Even picked up his wife from the village school she works in to take her to Luang Prabang with us in the van. Bought gifts for the kids and was generally the best guide we could have hoped for.
Trip up into the mountains was wonderful. Hot, yes, but a real eye-opener for the kids. Felt a little voyeuristic at times (walking into people’s houses etc) but I hope the impact wasn’t too negative. Following day we walked to the local temple with Phak and received the Buddhist bracelets from the village chief/monk, a process that took around twenty mins what with all the chanting and the hand stroking for five Palmers. We had a wonderful couple of hours with Phak at a floating restaurant near by – kids playing in the water, us chatting with him, having a drink.
V long drive to Luang Prabang – views would have been phenomenal but was so foggy you could barely see the ground! However, caves were v interesting, especially the info about those who used them for hiding during the civil war. Boat trip also great fun (but no view due to fog!) and best way to arrive in LP.
Loved LP – such a gem of a place – would have stayed longer! Lots of exploring of the streets, night market, restaurants. The elephant day was terrific – and v informative chat with the elephant expert before we headed across the river to meet with the mahouts. Kids loved feeding them and walking with them through the forest. Our guide had worked at an elephant lodge where tourists could ride three to an elephant, but he has converted to the sanctuary’s vision re what’s best for the animals, and was fervent in his desire to spread the word. E started planning her gap year there.
Our last day in LP we needed a bit of a lie-in, so didn’t watch the alms giving. The Museum closed at 11am due to New Year, so will have to visit another time. But did visit more temples in the searing heat before returning for a splash in the pool.
Having just mastered most of the key phrases in Laos, we found ourselves unable to mutter a word in Khmer when we arrived in Cambodia! So much harder! Such tricky sounds! However, we all managed ‘thank you very much’ which generally went down pretty well.
Cambodia was hotter than Laos so even though we were at Angkor Wat by 9am, we only managed 2 hrs there before flaking out.
We loved our zip line trip – was brilliant fun and we were with three others, two Cambodians and a brother-in-law who had lived in the US most of his life, so a perfect translator for us. Spectacular views and excellent guides accompanying us.
Overall, we’ve had a brilliant time. Sorry this is so lengthy – for a family not used to quite such adventurous trips, this was the perfect initiation into hopefully more trips abroad in the future!
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Laos in pictures
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