Does anyone have any recent information about either of these routes/border crossings? Will be in northern Loas in ealy January and heading into Vietnam. We are thinking of leaving from Nong Khiaw and would like to hear any suggestions and information about crossing into Vietnam at either Na Meo or Tay Trang: eg. transport ideas, timing, places to stay or avoid. We will fly out of Hanoi at the end of January. Any ideas about best routes and suggested places to see along the way are appreciated.
#1 monesprit has been a member since 29/11/2010. Posts: 2
My information is not the newest one but at the time of Oct.2009(DBP) - Mar.2010(NaMeo) when i travelled Laos & Viet Nam and i think it's still useful for your trip.
A. Nong Khiaw – Udomxai - Muang khua - PangHoak/TayTrang border - Dien Bien Phu – Ha Noi ---(the simple and straight way for going to Ha Noi by bus)
(1). Nong Khiaw - Udomxai by local bus about 3 hours
(2). Udomxai(=Oudomsay) - Muang Khua by local bus about 3-4 hours
(3). Muang khua - PangHoak/TayTrang border - Dien Bien Phu by direct bus about 7 hours in dry season, and sometimes 10-11 hours in rainy season due to bad road condition at Lao side but Junuary is dry season so maybe no problem.
(4). Starting point of direct bus at Muang Khua is oppsite bank of Nam Ou river so you have to cross river by small regular boat before taking a direct bus in the morning. Departure time is around 06:00am.
(5). Dien Bien Phu - Ha Noi by regular local bus about 11hours but sometimes it takes 12-13 hours due to road construction or repairing at VN side.
(6). You can also take a Vip night bus going to Ha Noi from DBP (now several night Vip bus are running every day and arrive Ha Noi south bus station around 06:00am next morning)
B. Nong Khiaw - Muang Khua - PangHoak/TayTrang border - Dien Bien Phu - Ha Noi ---(fantastic & amazing water route by slow boat to Muang Khua if you can take it successfully)
(1). Nong Khiaw - Muang Khua is river cruise by slow boat and you have to wait other passengers coming on board with whom you can share the boat fare, and if the number of passengers are not enough for a boat, you have to wait a day or two, but still not enough, you have to charter a boat by yourself(about 100 USD per boat) or change your plan to taking bus route (Nong Khiaw – Udomxai – Muang Khua). If you take this slow boat successfully, you can enjoy fantastic and amazing scenery all the way to Muang Khua for about 6 hours.
C. Nong Khiaw - Sam Neua - NamXoi/NaMeo border - Thanh Hoa - Ha Noi---(long journey from LPB by bus but very intereting route less tourisy for going to Ha Noi)
(Sam Neua to Ha Noi via Mai Chau is also possible and i have detailed informations but i think it‘s still diffcult getting transports & transfar at some points for the first time travelers.)
(1) Nong Khiaw - Sam Neua by local bus coming from Luang Plabang stopping at Nong Khiaw in the afternoon or by local bus coming from Vientiane via Luang Prbang and passing through Nong Khiaw at night .
(2) Bus leaving Luang Prabang to Sam Neua running in daytime departs from “LPB south bus station” at 08:30am and i’m not sure what time this bus will come to Nong Khiaw(LPB to Nong Khiaw--about 4 hours) and whether you can successfully catch this bus in the afternoon, but you can catch another bus that leaves Vientiane in the morning and arrives Sam Neua next day morning and before that this bus passes through Nong Khiaw at night every day.
(3) This bus passing through Nong Khiaw at night crosses Nam Ou river on the bridge at around 21:30-23:00pm so if you wait this bus at a riverside Cafe-Restaurant besides the bridge, you can catch this bus and go to Sam Neua but you surely have to show a sign to the bus driver for stopping and being picked up by bus at Nong Khiaw, and if not , you will miss it in the dark.(please ask Lao people (at café restaurant) to call the driver with mobile telephone before coming to Nong Khiaw).
(4). Sam Neua - NamXoi/NaMeo border - Thanh Hoa(VN) by direct bus.
Now there exist several direct bus services between Sam Neua and Thanh Hoa--both of “daily” direct bus service and ”not daily” direct bus service"--and a Vietnamese bus company "Bao Chung & Km 88" are operating a direct bus from both sides of Sam Neua and Thanh Hoa every day/Departure time is 08:00am at both sides. (See my post below 5-A)
(5)-a. direct bus service (daily) ----(my post)
(5)-b. direct busservice (not daily but 3 or 4 buses a week)----
Departure point in Sam Neua is Sam Neua East bus station(3km from city center) or South bus station(1km from city center)./Departure time is 07:30-08:00am /300,000Kip/please ask and confirm about departure days and time directly at East or South bus station if you want to take one of these buses.
(6). Thanh Hoa - Ha Noi by express bus running on NR.1(many) and you can easily catch a express bus at one of several pick up points on NR.1 by shifting there after arriving Thanh Hoa city (local people know well it). It takes about 3-3.5 hours from Thanh Hoa to Ha Noi (=Ha Noi Ciap Bat=south bus station) and you will arrive city center of Ha Noi around 21:00pm and it‘s enough time for getting accommodation.
(7). If you have enough time, i recommend you to visit and stay at Vieng Xai village (-28km from Sam Neua on the way to Lao border) for a few days. Vieng Xai village is very carm and pieceful village surrounded wlth low mountains and having many caves with war memorial and plenty of flowers every time in a year.
And if you have contact with the driver(of direct bus) or Vietnamese restaurant(*) at Sam Neua before going there for being picked up at the entrance of the village on NR (2km from the village), you will be able to catch this bus without returning to Sam Neua. (*--in my post above URL).
VOA is not avalable for entering into northern Viet Nam at Tay Trang, Na Meo , Nam Can border.
#2 tf_geckozy has been a member since 2/9/2008. Posts: 82
I'll correct my post at a point of bus fare from Sam Neua .
From Sam Neua to Thanh Hoa at East or South bus station
>Departure time is 07:30-08:00am /300,000Kip
Bus fare(we can buy tickets of direct bus leaving bus stations at Lao side) is not 300,000Kip(=a mistake in my memory) but 180,000Kip (about 21.5 USD--Mar.2010)
#3 tf_geckozy has been a member since 2/9/2008. Posts: 82