Hi. I did this journey in January 2010. I don't suppose much has changed. So, we arranged transport from Don Det through to Hue in Vietnam. This involved: a boat to the mainland; a big bus to Pakse ; a tuk tuk to the bus station; a very long wait (4 hours or so) at the bus station; and an extremely cramped, smokey, noisy and lengthy overnight bus to Hue.
We arrived in Hue sometime late morning I seem to remember and booked straight onto a train to Hanoi which left at 4.30pm or something like that. It arrived in Hanoi about 12 hours later. So our overall journey door-to-door was something like 44 hours.
So it's not easy! And I would say the leg from Pakse to Hue was the worst journey I did in 7 months of travel. But I got over it pretty quickly!
There are other routes you can take e.g. bus to Vientiene then the bus from there to Hanoi but I don't think there's anything significantly quicker.
Quite recently i've just returned to my country(Japan) after 2 months travelling --China, Viet Nam and Laos, and in my travelling i took a route for going to Ha Noi from 4000 islands as below.
*China-Viet Nam -northern Laos -southern Laos "4000 islands- Pakse - Attapeu -Ngoc Hoi (north of Central Highlands in VN)- Hue -Ha Noi"- China-Japan
You can use this route for going to Ha Noi as one more very good option besides "Pakse to Hue via Savannakhet and Lao Bao border" route. I used this route ="via Bo y border" many times for my travellings between southern Laos and Central Highlands & central Viet Nam. It's very good route with no stress and no conflictions, and you can enjoy very good scenery all the way from Pakse to Hue.
(my recent travel from 4000 islands to Ha Noi)
(A)from 4000 islands(Nakasang) to Pakse--booking bus ticket with any agent in Don Det or Don Khong is almost the same content.
(B)from Pakse to Ngoc Hoi via Attapeu and Bo Y border (actually:Pakse 07:00am-Ngoc Hoi 15:00pm)---by Mai Linh Express's(=the Vietnamese biggest bus company) direct bus(Cap:45 persons)= run between Pakse and Gia Lai (=Pleiku in VN) daily
(C)from Ngoc Hoi to Hue (actually:Ngoc Hoi 08:45am catching on NR.14-Hue16:00pm near touristy area)---by Quinh Ngoc's minibus(Ford=Cap:16 persons= run between Gia Lai and Dong Ha daily), with this minibus we can directly go to Hue passing through Da Nang
(D)from Hue to Ha Noi (actually:Hue 05:30pm-Ha Noi 06:00am next morning)---by Sleeper bus operated by TheSinhTourist(this company's sleeper is very comfortable with it's structure of inside)
I stayed at Ngoc Hoi one over night and at Hue 3 overnights and in sleeper bus one overnight before reaching to Ha Noi, but if you want to go to Ha Noi as fast as possible, you may need one overnight at Ngoc Hoi or Kon Tum + one overnigh in sleeper(Hue to Ha Noi) in minimum.
If you are interested in this route for going to Ha Noi, i'll offer you more detailed informations, especially about 2 bus services--booking point & departure point in Pakse and catching point of (C) in VN, timetables, bus fares, driver's Tel number of (C)-it's very important for being picked up, because any travel agencies have no informations about these 2 bus services because those are still out of their buisiness with the reasons of not tourists use but Vietnamese people use even in Laos--but we also can use them as very good transports for our travellings.
#3 tf_geckozy has been a member since 2/9/2008. Posts: 82