Does anybody have any suggestions about the route Banlung -Champassak? Does catching the first transport possibility in the morning (from Banlung to Stung Treng ) make it possible to travel onward to the Lao border and further to Champassak in the same day? The point is, I would rather avoid staying overnight in Stung Treng or arriving in Champassak after dark and I understand that the second will be the case, if I get the Phnom Penh-Pakse bus (Sorya?). If not on this bus, will it be problematic to organize transport from the border to Champassak? Finally, do you think it is advisable to book the whole trip in Banlung, or do it in stages?
Many thanks in advance.
I haven't been to Champassak for a few years, but when I was there you could not cross the Mekong to get to the town after dark. The rickety old ferries (if that's what they really are) stopped running at sundown. Also, there was nowhere to stay in Muang on the east side of the river then. That may have changed since.
Don't let that discourage you. I thought Champassak was great and worth kicking back in for a couple of days. There's not much to do but take it easy, wander around the incredibly sleepy town, and visit Wat Phu in the very early morning by bike.
When I was there it only had one paved road that ran parallel to the river, and it had a traffic circle!!! Getting there is half the fun ... crossing on the contraptions they call ferries make the trip worthwhile.
You should make your decision on whether-or-not to push on when you cross the border, and not before. If you can't beat the sun, hang out on an island for a bit and leave later. It's definitely not far. Maybe 2 1/2 - 3 hours in a songthaew or minibus.
I hope that I don't strech your patience too far. I probably wasn't clear enough : I absolutely want to spend some days in Champassak. My main question was refering to the transport possibilities after the border (if done independently), as I couldn't get a clear picture from my readings. Given that afternoon transport in Laos (excluding major hubs) can be hard to organize and accommodation at the particular border even harder, I was wondering if the whole route could be done smoothly in one day, and if not, what would be the best option for an overnight stop.
I suspect your only option might be the bus from Phnom Phen and if it is possible then booking a seat in Banlung (or elsewhere) for the bus from Stung T might save the disapointment of it coming through full. Pakse is a nice place to spend the night enjoy some lovely fish by the river with a cold beer
billytheliar ... I believe there are lots of songthaews running between Si Phan Don and Pakse . From what I understand, you can get one from Veun Kham to Pakse if you want. For Champasak, you just get dropped off at Lak 30 and then head west to the river. It's a bit of a hike if you want to walk, but doable. There are mototaxis and other vehicles waiting for customers at Lak 30, so it shouldn't be a problem. You can probably get a songthaew directly (or indirectly) to Champassak from Muang Khong at Si Phan Don. I think they go when there are enough people to justify going.
Now, I haven't taken any of these rides, so I'm not talking from experience. I was on my bike when I was in that area. But I did see lots and lots of songthaews full of backpackers making the trip up and down #13 along the river.
If you start early enough, you shouldn't have any trouble getting to Champassak before dark.