Flag of Laos

Laos forum

New road south from Phonsavan?

  • BerlinCanary

    Joined Travelfish
    6th October, 2012
    Posts: 6

    Planning a trip to Laos & Cambodia starting in Vientiane . We want to go north and then return south without going through Vientiane again. We've heard there's a new road due for completion going south from Phonsavan to Savannakhet. Anyone know if it has been completed or what the options are for this sort of journey?

    Google maps certainly suggests it's a possibility (journey time about 6 hours or so); but that may be misleading.

    #1 Posted: 6/10/2012 - 06:12

  • Advertisement

  • wanderingcat

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

    http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=2239340
    http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=2245823

    the 'new' road (rather than cutting a new road, it's the paving of an existing dirt road & building proper bridges at the river/stream crossings) is between Phonsavan & Pakxan (also spelt as Paksan). at Pakxan it joins the main HWY 13 between Vientiane & Savannakhet.

    i don't trust Google maps for Laos - at least for parts of northern Laos, it shows roads that are way off from the actual roads on the ground, or even roads that simply don't exist.

    #2 Posted: 6/10/2012 - 12:55

  • BerlinCanary

    Joined Travelfish
    6th October, 2012
    Posts: 6

    Thanks wanderingcat! Your second link is very encouraging; but some suggestion that there might be mudslides on any mountain roads - at least in the rainy season.

    No I don't trust google maps in those sort of remote regions; but had a look at Apple maps on an iPad today and Laos is vast swathes of emptiness...

    #3 Posted: 6/10/2012 - 14:06

  • busylizzy

    Joined Travelfish
    31st December, 2007
    Location New Zealand
    Posts: 2091
    Total reviews: 20
    Places visited:
    At least 107

    Mudslides are possible on any of the roads. I came across a few on the well-established road between Phonsavan and Luang Prabang.

    #4 Posted: 6/10/2012 - 16:01

  • wanderingcat

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

    maps like GT Rider Laos map are much better, where those drawing the maps actually travel on the roads & trails.

    someone just replied to another old thread with an update: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=2064984

    paved roads in Laos don't stay paved for long...poor quality of paving + damage from overloaded large vehicles + weather = degenerate into 'ex-paved' roads, like the current state of the Oudomxay-Pak Mong road.

    #5 Posted: 6/10/2012 - 20:48

  • caseyprich

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd March, 2010
    Location China
    Posts: 1249
    Total reviews: 53
    Places visited:
    At least 48

    all this talk about the roads in Laos makes me all misty eyed

    #6 Posted: 6/10/2012 - 22:35

  • BerlinCanary

    Joined Travelfish
    6th October, 2012
    Posts: 6

    Thanks everybody! This is really useful information. I guess the point is that the road has been fully paved; but there might well be delays en route. But that seems par for the course. Never mind politics, sounds like a week is a long time in Laotian roads...

    I guess we'll play it by ear when we're there; but it sounds more than doable and saves us having to go back to Vientiane.

    #7 Posted: 7/10/2012 - 03:36

  • wanderingcat

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

    all the best & let us know how things turned out for you!

    #8 Posted: 7/10/2012 - 05:10

  • mooball

    TF writer
    Joined Travelfish
    19th June, 2010
    Location Australia
    Posts: 320
    Places visited:
    At least 132

    I can confirm its possible to catch a bus directly from vientiane to phonsavan via paksan and vice versa. 10 hour trip and departs once per day. Use the southern bus station in Phonsavan.

    #9 Posted: 26/10/2012 - 04:46

  • BerlinCanary

    Joined Travelfish
    6th October, 2012
    Posts: 6

    Thanks mooball. We'll hopefully be going further south after Paksan rather than returning to Vientiane - any idea how long the Phonsavan to Paksan bit takes? I'm assuming the main drag south (route 13) is a relatively good road so will be quicker than roads north of Vientiane.

    #10 Posted: 28/10/2012 - 03:02

  • Advertisement

  • mooball

    TF writer
    Joined Travelfish
    19th June, 2010
    Location Australia
    Posts: 320
    Places visited:
    At least 132

    8 hours.

    #11 Posted: 28/10/2012 - 03:04

  • BerlinCanary

    Joined Travelfish
    6th October, 2012
    Posts: 6

    That was quick mooball! Thank you! So route 13 is a lot faster, which is encouraging for the trip south.

    #12 Posted: 28/10/2012 - 03:21

  • mooball

    TF writer
    Joined Travelfish
    19th June, 2010
    Location Australia
    Posts: 320
    Places visited:
    At least 132

    Yes, but it is very new. They even have a different bus station in Phonsavan now.

    #13 Posted: 29/10/2012 - 09:16

  • billytheliar

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd April, 2012
    Posts: 41
    Total reviews: 7
    Places visited:
    At least 19

    Early November 2012 : 1 bus and 1 minivan daily Phonsavan-Paxan (bus departs from the bus station 4km outside the city, minibus from the new station in the city). I think 80 or 90k kip (+40k for the transport to the bus station, so it's the same if you book from an agent).

    #14 Posted: 13/11/2012 - 21:13

  • mooball

    TF writer
    Joined Travelfish
    19th June, 2010
    Location Australia
    Posts: 320
    Places visited:
    At least 132

    Hey Billy, did you see the minibus at the minibus station or catch it when you were in Phonsavan? When I went to the minibus station earlier this month (or maybe late last month), there were definitely no minibuses to Paksan listed and the drivers also indicated that there were only minibuses to LP and Vang Vieng -- Vientiane services had stopped. Would be good to know if they started them up etc.

    #15 Posted: 14/11/2012 - 07:09

  • billytheliar

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd April, 2012
    Posts: 41
    Total reviews: 7
    Places visited:
    At least 19

    Mooball, I didn't check myself. The info is from a travel agent I did the "soft" PoJ tour with (plus the standard BS : lao-lao village + aluminium village). I give him some credit because his info proved very accurate in the things I've checked.
    I think he would clarify what is, if one calls him.
    Contact : 061-211532, 020-5475297, 0205760559 - Mr. Phao (Lao Youth Travel Xieng Khuang Branch)

    #16 Posted: 14/11/2012 - 15:45

  • BerlinCanary

    Joined Travelfish
    6th October, 2012
    Posts: 6

    Just back from our four weeks in Laos & Cambodia. In the end we didn't do the Plain Of Jars so can't comment on the road south from Phonsavan. To be honest travelling in Laos was generally a pain! Bad roads I kind of expected; but not people sitting on plastic chairs in the aisle because they oversell seats and refuse to put on extra buses. Too often buses sold as VIP when they are nowhere near that class. And the annoyance of being dumped at a bus station miles out of town and having to tediously negotiate with tuk-tuk drivers who wont go anyway until they've filled all seats (and some). Still the scenery around Luang Prabang and north of there was very much worth it - highly recommend getting a boat up to Nong Kwiah.

    #17 Posted: 17/12/2012 - 12:13

Have questions? Jump to our menu of forum quicklinks

Add your reply

Your reply

Check this box if you want to be notified of replies.

Please be familiar with our user guidelines before you post. Thanks!

Businesses planning on plugging their guesthouse / hotel / karaoke bar should read our "Addition guidelines" very carefully.

You need to be logged in to answer an existing post on the Travelfish forums. Please login via the prompts just above and refresh this screen -- before writing your post -- and you'll be in business.