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How to get from Laos to Vietnam by road

  • Joanna_S

    Joined Travelfish
    1st March, 2012
    Posts: 28

    Hi all,
    I am trying to plan my trip through Laos and it's proven a nightmare!
    I was planning to take a bus from Vientaine to Luang Prabang, then a boat to Nong Khiaw, then another boat to Muang Khua and here I have a slight problem. Is it doable to get from there to Don Bien Phu and then to Hanoi? If so, can you tell me what the route would be as I assume there are no direct busses, and how long each journey from A to B would take? My Lonely Planet guide is not very precise and says different things.
    I would be very grateful!
    Joanna

    #1 Posted: 6/9/2012 - 15:03

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  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6376
    Total reviews: 10

    No matter how you slice it or dice it (and Rufus here can give you details - maybe you should PM him), it's going to be painful. Northern Laos was made for moving slowly - very slowly.

    #2 Posted: 6/9/2012 - 15:42

  • Joanna_S

    Joined Travelfish
    1st March, 2012
    Posts: 28

    Thanks for the reply. I noticed that it might be painful and slow and I don't mind it at all, but I need to be in Hanoi on a certain day and am worried that I won't make it and will be stranded somewhere in laos instead.

    #3 Posted: 7/9/2012 - 02:31

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6376
    Total reviews: 10

    Definitely talk to Rufus on timelines, but if you need to be there for sure and time is tight - fly.

    #4 Posted: 7/9/2012 - 12:29

  • Joanna_S

    Joined Travelfish
    1st March, 2012
    Posts: 28

    Sorry, I'm quite new here: who is Rufus and how do I reach him?

    #5 Posted: 7/9/2012 - 12:41

  • wanderingcat

    Joined Travelfish
    21st October, 2006
    Posts: 730
    Total reviews: 4
    Places visited:
    At least 67

    Muang Khua > Dien Bien Phu : daily bus that leaves early in the morning. fare used to be 50,000 kip but might have increased by now. used to take anywhere from 7 h to 2 days when the road was unpaved, but most of it is now paved so things should be much better.

    there's also a direct Oudomxay ( Udomxai ) > Muang Khua > Dien Bien Phu bus, supposedly daily now: http://laomeow.blogspot.sg/2012/09/oudomxay-province-transport-information.html (but don't know how many seats left by the time it reaches Muang Khua)

    expect delays on the roads during the rainy season, & delays due to all sorts of other reasons when travelling in Laos :) there are no guaranteed departures for boats on the Nam Ou, though it's possible to travel from LPB to Muang Khua by road. if you absolutely need to be somewhere on a certain day & can't plan for a spare 'back up' day & leave a day or two earlier just in case, fly.

    http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=2245654
    http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=2245186

    guidebooks are just guides, & often outdated by the time they are printed. some have quite a few errors too. Google is everyone's friend, i get the latest info by searching for recent trip reports on blogs & forums e.g.

    1. enter destination names into http://www.google.com/blogsearch ---> sort results by date

    2. Google search "destination name"+"forum name" ---> sort results by date (by clicking 'More search tools' on the left ---> select 'past week/month/year/etc')...forum name can be travelfish, thorntree, etc.

    3. use Google to search travel forums for past posts ---> Google search "site:ABC.com destination name" ---> sort results by date...ABC.com can be travelfish.org, lonelyplanet.com, etc.

    for 1-3, if looking for bus or boat or other details, just add +boat or +bus or +guesthouse or +whatever else to your search terms.

    #6 Posted: 7/9/2012 - 16:15

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 962

    I am Rufus, (woof). As WSC states, the trip takes about 12 hours or so.
    Lonely Planet is a waste of time. When is this trip? It has been bucketing down over the last few days, so expect lots of delays. Fly if you have a tight timeline.

    #7 Posted: 7/9/2012 - 21:42

  • Joanna_S

    Joined Travelfish
    1st March, 2012
    Posts: 28

    Wanderingcat-thank you so much for this detailed information! very helpful!
    Rufus - Hi, thanks for getting back to me :) I'm going in January - so still a few months to go-but I thought I start planning the trip as I'm also going to Burma, Thailand and Vietnam. I looked at the whole trip in more detail yesterday and it looks like I'm going to have a few days extra to use, so I guess I'll be able to make it on time to Hanoi. any info on the busses etc will be appriciated.
    Jo

    #8 Posted: 8/9/2012 - 02:26

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