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Laos forum

should we skip southern Laos?

Posted by wildernessofsweets on 17/12/2010 at 06:11

I love this site - if only it had been around for our first trip to SE Asia over 7 years ago. Wondering if we should skip southern Laos during our short 3 weeks trip through southern Vietnam and Cambodia. We're fairly experienced and independent travels but seems like the highlights of Laos for most visitors are in the north. We like exploring small parts of a country so we have excuses, I mean, reasons to visit again. any advice for leaving out Laos completely or sitting for hours on a bus to get a glimpse of life in southern Laos?

Rough 3 week itinerary:

-fly into HCMC
-HCMC and Mekong Delta, Vietnam for 2-4 days
-Fly from HCMC to Hoi An, 2 days
-cross Dansavanh / Lao Bao border into Laos, spend some time in Champasak & Si Phan Don
-cross border into Cambodia for about 1 week stay
-fly out of Phnom Penh.

Any suggestions appreciated! I'll keep searching this site for ideas.


#1 wildernessofsweets has been a member since 17/12/2010. Posts: 6

Posted by Rufus on 17/12/2010 at 07:14

Champassak is attractive. I would also head to Savannakhet for a couple of days. It is a sleepy little town, but there is lots to see.

#2 Rufus has been a member since 22/4/2007. Location: Laos. Posts: 978
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Posted by caseyprich on 17/12/2010 at 11:08

You're staying in a relatively small area and since you are flying from HCMC to Hoi An you may as well take a nice road-trip while you're traveling and check out part of Laos. It sounds like a nice way to cross from Hoi An into Cambodia by cutting through Laos and stopping for a little while to relax in Si Phan Don.

Your other option I assume is to add a few days to Vietnam and Cambodia each - which will give you more time to relax and less traveling . . . but it sounds like you'd like to sample Laos so I say go for it.

#3 caseyprich has been a member since 3/3/2010. Location: China. Posts: 1,281
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Posted by MADMAC on 17/12/2010 at 12:26

Given the short amount of time you have at all, I would just stay in Vietnam. Saigon is a huge and historic city in its own right. The Delta area is vast with lots of history as well. Exposure to three complex languages means not learning much of any of them...

#4 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by wildernessofsweets on 18/12/2010 at 06:29

thanks for the advice guys. 2 against 1 to include southern Laos - guess we'll decide when we get to Vietnam. Madmac, my husband speaks Chinese and somehow that helped him pick up some Thai when were in Thailand - I have no idea it that will make it any easier for all 3 languages but we will try our best.

#5 wildernessofsweets has been a member since 17/12/2010. Posts: 6

Posted by tf_geckozy on 22/12/2010 at 17:58

Hoi An - Da Nang - Kon Tum (one overnight staying) - Bo Y border - Pakse - Champasak - Si Phan Don - Lao/Cambodian border -a town in Cambodia on the way to PP (Stung Treng/Cratie/Compong Cham)

It may be waste of time to go up north to Hue , Dong Ha, Lao Bo border and Savanakhet then down to south=to Pakse if you rather like round trip in short circuit without changing your itinerary having no intension to surely stay at Hue this time, so i recommend you to take direct route entering into southern Laos (=Pakse in Champasak) via Bo Y border as below.

(1)Hoi An to Da Nang ---by bus or taxi about 30 mins
(2)Da Nang(Ben Xe Trung Tam=Da Nang central bus station) to Kon Tum ---by express bus =Ford or Benz type minibuses operated by several bus companies that leave Kon Tum at morning and around noon and evening. It takes about 5 hours from Da Nang to Kon Tum/110,000-115,000VND and one overnight staying at Kon Tum is required before entering into southern Laos.
(3)Kon Tum to Pakse via Bo Y border---by Mai Linh Express's direct bus going to Pakse (daily) coming from Gia Lai (=Pleiku)/Gia lai to Pakse:300,000VND including delicios lunch fee, and direct bus leaving Gia Lai(=Pleiku) at around 07:30am passes through Kon Tum at around 09:00-09:30am and you can catch this bus through Mai Linh Express's Kon Tum Office(along NR) or a tour desk in Dak Bla Hotel near Dak Bla river. (they will get contact with bus company or bus driver for you being picked up surely)
(4)Pakse to Champasak or Si Phan Don---by tourist bus arranged by tour company in Pakse about 2.5-3 hours
(5)Si Phan Don to a town in Cambodia on the way to PP--avalable in a day by tourist bus arranged by tour company at Pakse or Si Phan Don.
(6)VOA is avalable at both of Lao border gate "Phou Keau" and Cambodian border gate "Dong Kralore".
(7)Gia Lai to Kon Tum--48km, Kon Tum to Bo Y border--80km(=Kon Tum to Ngoc Hoi--62km、Ngoc Hoi to Bo Y--18km). Bo Y to Attapeu--119km, Attapeu to Pakse--185km.

#6 tf_geckozy has been a member since 2/9/2008. Posts: 82

Posted by dgilland on 23/12/2010 at 10:43

4 Thousand Islands was easily one of my favourite parts of my Laos trip! So nice! Very relaxed!

#7 dgilland has been a member since 23/12/2010. Posts: 2

Posted by wildernessofsweets on 25/12/2010 at 18:58

Posted from within Vietnam.

thanks for the advice tf_geckozy. we've made it to Hoi An so now just have to decide whether to head to Hue or go down the route you've suggested.

great trip so far, especially the food!

#8 wildernessofsweets has been a member since 17/12/2010. Posts: 6

Posted by tf_geckozy on 2/1/2011 at 02:59

Additional INFO.

I don't know whether OP have already started in their trip so please keep in memory (=OP or other readers) .

DIRECT BUS FROM HUE TO ATTAPEU/SEKONG(Bolaven Plateau in Laos) runs once a week as below.
Hue - Da Nang - Ngoc Hoi - Bo Y border - Attapeu - Sekong

*This direct bus is operated by Vietnamese auto company "Duc Loc" in Sekong(Laos) every Wednesday from Sekong to Hue and every Friday from Hue to Sekong.
*If you want to take this direct bus for going to southern Laos directly from Hue, you have to adjust your departure day from Hue on "Friday", and go to Sekong or abondon(get off) it at Attapeu then(next morning) take a bus going to Pakse . (Dep.from Hue 04:00am - Arr.Sekong 16:00pm in the same day)
*From Attapeu to Pakse, it takes about 3.5-4 hours by bus and you will have enough time to go to Champasak or Si Phan Don in the same day if you need.
*Departure point in Hue is "Phu Luong market" near Phu Bai airport in Hue at 04:00am(very early morning !) and this direct bus arrives Sekong around 16:00pm so i estimate this bus arrives Attapeu 14:00-15:00pm, and probably you can catch this direct bus near touristy area in Hue by getting contact with bus company beforehand because this bus passes through Nha Van Hoa(a theater for concerts and shows) at the rotary where 6 main roads are crossing on NR.1 near the touristy area. ( "Duc Loc"auto company in Hue---Tel no.0166.520333 / 0982.160190)
*At Attapeu, one overnight is required before going to Pakse. 
*Departure time of bus going to Pakse from Attapeu bus station ---local bus /06:55am, 07:40am, 10:30am and Vip bus/09:00am. (Attapeu bus station locates 3km from Sekong river=Sekong bridge)

ANOTHER OPTION skipping southern Laos and directly head to Cambodia from Hue---(rough itinerary)
Hue - Pleiku in Central Highlands - Duc Co - Le Thanh(VN)/O'Yadaw(Cambodia) border - Ban Lung(Ratanakiri) - Stung Treng - PP

*Hue to Pleiku---1 day by minibus(Ford type with daily service) directly going to Pleiku from Dong Ha via Hue and Da Nang and Kon Tum in Central Highlands ( "Quynh Ngoc" bus company in Dong Ha that operates this long distance bus --Tel no.0984.354.354=Dong Ha).
*I think you will be picked up on NR.1 near touristy area in Hue by getting contact with this bus company in Dong Ha beforefand (once i successfully got contact with this bus company in Dong Ha by telephone from Hue).
*Pleiku to Ban Lung---1 day via Duc Co and LeThanh/O'Yadaw border(VOA is avalable for entering into Cambodia)
*Ban Lung to PP via Stung Treng ---1 day to PP about 12 hours by bus and you can also cut it at Stung Treng or Kratie.

#9 tf_geckozy has been a member since 2/9/2008. Posts: 82

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