Lazing in Laos and Gallivanting a Wee Bit Around Asia

This is the introduction of our ‘Lazing in Laos and Gallivanting a Wee Bit Around Asia’ trip report, in which we will travel to Laos and a few other destinations in Asia.

A trip to Laos

Some trips look perfect on paper at the moment you book them but might not be as good of a plan at a later point. This is the perfect example of such a trip. Laos is one of the few countries in south-east Asia which I haven’t visited to date, so it made for a logical destination. There are some great sights and wonderful nature to see in the country – and the food should be equally superb.

To get to Laos, I booked a one-way ticket from Bucharest to Athens, from where I booked a great 350 EUR one-way journey to Kuala Lumpur on the recent Saudia business class deal. For a lie-flat bed all the way to Asia that is an unbeatable price. From Kuala Lumpur it is then a short hop on low-cost airline Air Asia to the Laotian capital of Vientiane.

China stopover

The return journey looked excellent on paper too. I booked a business class ticket on China Eastern from Luang Prabang to Dubai with a 24-hour stopover in Kunming, China, using a chunk of my Flying Blue miles. It would give me the opportunity to fly a new airline (which includes China Eastern’s excellent Boeing 787 from Kunming to Dubai) and explore Kunming for a day as China gives visa-free access to many cities if you have a stopover en route to a third country.

From Dubai I would then head back to Bucharest via Istanbul on Turkish Airlines in economy class. Itinerary decided and settled for you would think.

Then came the Wuhan corona virus crisis.

bucharest laos trip otp vte map
The trip to Laos as originally booked, with the return journey passing through China. ©Great Circle Mapper

Rebooking the ticket

When most countries giving a negative travel advisory to China and doctors warning that it is perhaps better to rethink all non-essential travels to the country, I decided to cancel the return journey. Luckily, most airlines have issued waivers allowing you to cancel a booked trip to China for free.

Although even in normal circumstances I could refund my China Eastern ticket as I booked it using miles, Air France as the issuing carrier was waiving the 50 EUR redeposit fee which the airline normally charges to deposit the frequent flyer miles of a cancelled award ticket back in your account.

As the Dubai-Bucharest ticket was now no longer needed, I decided to cancel this too even though I had to pay a 120 USD cancellation fee to see the ticket costs being refunded as it was only a semi-flexible economy class ticket.

Alternative travel plans

After a lot of last-minute stress (and admittedly, also a wee bit of fun puzzling together a new itinerary!) I finally managed yesterday – only a day before departure – to come up with an alternative way how to get home from Laos.

I would say that the new route is perhaps even more exciting than the original route when it comes to airlines flown and places visited on the way!


Typing this article right now from Athens Airport after having completed the first flight, I can only say to stay tuned for more updates in the coming days as I will attempt to live blog the trip as best as I can. Plenty of airline reviews and destination trip reports will definitely follow soon!

aegean espresso mastiha
A proper espresso, some chocolates and a glass of mastiha liquor on my Aeagen Airlines flight from Bucharest to Athens to kick off the trip. ©Paliparan

Trip report index

This trip report consists of the following chapters:

1. Review: Aegean Airlines Business Class Bucharest to Athens (Airbus A320)
2. Review: Goldair Handling Lounge (Non-Schengen) Athens Airport
3. Review: Saudia Business Class Athens to Jeddah (Airbus A320)
4. Review: Saudia Alfursan Lounge Jeddah Airport South Terminal



Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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