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Safety and Travel in Laos

  • annifrid23

    Joined Travelfish
    14th September, 2011
    Posts: 8

    Hello Everyone,

    I am planning my trip through Laos and I was reading about some banditry on some of the transportation routes. In my guidebook, it says that Route 13 between Kasi and Vang Vieng is a target of Hmong bandits and insurgents and it also said to take extra precautions on Route 7 between Phonsavan and Phou Khoun.

    1. Has anyone heard of any problems on these routes? I was planning on taking buses to my stops.
    2. Does anyone know the best way to go from Vang Vieng to Phosovan to Plain of Jars? I have looked into taking a flight to Phosovan from Vientiane or Luang Prabang but it seems like no flights go to Phosovan anymore. So now I'm thinking of taking a bus there.

    Currently, I am thinking of going from Vientiane to Vang Vieng to Phonsavan/Plain of Jars to Luang Prabang (after that not sure but I know I need to head my way to the Vietnam border after that. If you have any suggestions where to go, please feel free to drop them).

    Any help is much appreciated. Cheers!

    #1 Posted: 9/10/2011 - 17:00

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  • Captain_Bob

    Click here to learn more about Captain_Bob
    Joined Travelfish
    27th May, 2006
    Location Thailand
    Posts: 1530

    "In my guidebook, it says that Route 13 between Kasi and Vang Vieng is a target of Hmong bandits and insurgents and it also said to take extra precautions on Route 7 between Phonsavan and Phou Khoun"

    This warning was relevant about 10 years ago but not these days.

    "I have looked into taking a flight to Phosovan"
    Check with http://www.laoairlines.com there are sometimes flights to Phonsavan (Xieng Khuang) but depends on season.

    Bus from Vang Vieng to Phonsavan run daily and take about 5 hours if roads are clear (very scenic drive). See http://laomeow.blogspot.com/2011/10/xieng-khouang-province-transport.html for buses from there.

    If you're going to north Vietnam next, consider to do Vang Vieng then Luang Prabang then Phonsavan, and continue from there into Vietnam via Xam Neua and the Na Meo border.

    #2 Posted: 11/10/2011 - 11:53

  • busylizzy

    Joined Travelfish
    31st December, 2007
    Location New Zealand
    Posts: 2043
    Total reviews: 20
    Places visited:
    At least 107

    You can fly from Vientiane to Phonsavan but there only 3 flights or so a week. Check the Lao Air website: http://www.laoairlines.com/. I have booked tickets online twice recently and had no problems with them. You need to select Xien Khouang as the destination though - not Phonsavan. The airport is only minutes from Phonsavan town.

    No flights between Luang Prabang and Phonsavan though so you will have to take a bus or minivan.

    #3 Posted: 11/10/2011 - 18:28

  • caseyprich

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2010
    Location China
    Posts: 1140
    Total reviews: 50
    Places visited:
    At least 43

    Don't worry - just watch your wallet like you would anywhere. I agree, the bus ride to Phonsavan has some things to see, but also not wonderful compared to more northern areas of Laos. It was fine for one way, but not sure I'd want to bother with the round trip if I was on a short schedule. However, if you have the time it'll save you a cash to take the bus.

    #4 Posted: 11/10/2011 - 21:06

  • altmtl

    Click here to learn more about altmtl
    Joined Travelfish
    18th May, 2009
    Location Earth
    Posts: 825
    Total reviews: 5

    #5 Posted: 12/10/2011 - 01:16

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 949

    You do realise that this information is about 9 years old, don't you. Perhaps it might be time to invest in a more up to date guidebook?

    #6 Posted: 12/10/2011 - 14:11

  • annifrid23

    Joined Travelfish
    14th September, 2011
    Posts: 8

    Thanks everyone for you input. I checked into Lao Airlines and there seem to be no flights right now to Xien Khouang. My schedule is fairly flexible so taking the bus or minivan is not too bad.

    @capitanbob - Thanks for the suggestion. I may look into that unless I decide to go further north.

    @caseyprich - Thanks! Do you have any recommendations on where to go up north? Does anyone have any recommendations? Again, I have a fairly flexible schedule. I had thought about going to Phonsagli.

    @altmtl - Thanks for the article. I was actually looking at going to the places. I think I will have to avoid going there since I'm traveling alone this time around.

    @rufus - My guidebook was published in 2010.

    Does anyone know what the weather situation is like in Laos? I have been trying to search the web but I guess the Laos government likes to keep those stories under wrap. Thank you again everyone!

    #7 Posted: 12/10/2011 - 18:37

  • caseyprich

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2010
    Location China
    Posts: 1140
    Total reviews: 50
    Places visited:
    At least 43

    I did a short loop from Phonsavan up to Sam Nuea for a night. You can then take a (very) long but scenic bus ride across some northern hills to Nong Kiaow . . though from above it doesn't seem as quiant as it was, I still think it was one of my favorite little towns to stay in when I was in Laos. Of course - Of course whenever I stay in any village I don't leave my window open or door unlocked when I'm sleeping. From Nong Kiaow there is a 1 hour boat ride north to Mung Ngoi and that is a nice place to stay for a couple of nights and hike around the local environs.

    You can then either head back to Luang Prabang very easily from Nong Kiaow or head further north to Luang Nam Tha and Mung Sing areas - I have not personally been around there but some friends rented a motor bike out of Luang Nam Than and loved crusing around for a few days up there.

    As for weather in Laos - it depends on what time of year and I didn't see that in your post. There should be good seasonal information provided on the Laos tab here at Travelfish.

    #8 Posted: 13/10/2011 - 08:55

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 949

    "Does anyone know what the weather situation is like in Laos? I have been trying to search the web but I guess the Laos government likes to keep those stories under wrap. Thank you again everyone!"

    What on earth are you talking about? The weather is published daily in the Vientiane Times. Further if you want to know the weather in detail, look at
    http://www.wunderground.com/global/stations/48940.html

    Finally I suggest that your guidebook is probably the Lonely Planet Guide. These are out of date before they are published and recycle the same rubbish with every edition. Download guides from this site.

    #9 Posted: 13/10/2011 - 08:56

  • annifrid23

    Joined Travelfish
    14th September, 2011
    Posts: 8

    @caseyprich - thanks for the information. I have been talking to some people and they have also been saying the same thing about Nong Kiaow. They love it there. I might chance it and go there; however, make sure that I have a room in a guesthouse that has all the bells and whistles on my doors and windows. We shall see. If I can get a travel buddy, I will feel better about being there.

    As for the weather situation, my apologizes for not clarifying my question. I know they post the weather daily for Laos; however, the information that I am looking for is the impact the weather has had on Lao. Since there have been a number of heavy storms that have affected all of southeast Asia, I haven't seen what the impact has had on Laos. I think someone showed that there were landslides in some areas. I want to know if I will have problems getting to places via bus and if there are places that are flooded. Any assistance on that is much appreciated.

    @rufus, my guidebook is actually the most current version of Rough Guides. I knew that LP can be fairly outdated so I opted to try a new guidebook.

    #10 Posted: 15/10/2011 - 22:35

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  • Captain_Bob

    Click here to learn more about Captain_Bob
    Joined Travelfish
    27th May, 2006
    Location Thailand
    Posts: 1530

    This thread on Thorn Tree might help with the flood damage and weather questions
    http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=2115808

    #11 Posted: 16/10/2011 - 01:22

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 949

    The Vientiane Times publishes information on landslides and problems caused by flooding on a daily basis. Nothing is "hidden". I realise that this n/p may not be available to everyone.
    Regarding Guides. I would use them as a rough guide only, (please excuse the pun). As you can see, the information published even in yours is sadly out of date.

    #12 Posted: 16/10/2011 - 09:43

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