Photo: Classic scenery surrounds Vang Vieng.

Laos forum

Trouble on Route 13

Posted by longleat on 18/2/2007 at 01:54

I have read on the US Embassy in Laos website that there has been fighting again on Rt. 13 and advice that there should be no overland travel from VV to LP. Does anyone know about this situation?

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Posted by somtam2000 on 18/2/2007 at 05:53 admin

Hi Longleat, thanks for the heads-up: here is the text from the US embassy website:

"Laos – Warden Message
Reported Fighting and Troop Movement Near Vang Vieng
February 17, 2007

Multiple sources, including other embassies in Laos, report one or more incidents of fighting involving Lao Government forces, as well as sightings of increased movements underway by Lao Government forces, in the area of Vang Vieng in northern Vientiane Province on or about February 7, 2007.

At the present time, the Embassy urges U.S. citizens to use caution when traveling in and around the area of Vang Vieng and recommends against travel by any form of ground transportation north from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang.

U.S. Embassy personnel are currently prohibited from undertaking personal travel by ground transportation north of Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang, along Route 13 and contiguous roadways."

Link to embassy site here.

There's nothing about this on the Australian Govt "smart traveller" section, which seems a little odd given the reports date back to the 7th Feb and the Aust govt tends to be very reactive in issues like this.

I don't know anything more about this, but have contacted our live bodies in Laos to see if they can shed further light on the matter.

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Posted by longleat on 18/2/2007 at 07:45

Thanks so much Somtam2000. It will be good to hear from your contacts in Laos to get more information. One can't help but worry!

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Posted by wanderingcat on 18/2/2007 at 15:44

came across this Travelblog post earlier last week.
& has anyone has heard about this incident regarding boat landing guesthouse?

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Posted by somtam2000 on 20/2/2007 at 13:26 admin

Just the latest I've been able to rustle up on this...

"Sources who were in Vang Vieng on the weekend of 10th / 11th Feb, reported they had seen very large numbers of Lao troops to the north of Vang Vieng. The most obvious area of activity on R13 North is understood to be around 15km north of Vang Vieng. It's not clear what precisely took place, but some locals believe it may be Lao Govt "attack" on people in nearby Hmong villages connected to the Hmong refugees in Nong Khai who are scheduled to be returned to Vientiane. February through April are known to be the months of highest bandit - Lao Govt conflicts.

Vang Vieng Town itself is considered safe, but travellers should exercise caution on R13N, and for the time being - should probably avoid cycling and/or trekking too far north of Vang Vieng.

The "troubles" do appear to have spread south of Vang Vieng as well, with arrests being made as far south as Phonhong (around 70km north of Vientiane) and skirmishes taking place south of Vang Vieng over the past few days. Partly as a result of this there remains a high profile troop presence throughout Vang Vieng District.

The risk to tourists is still very low indeed. The bandits are not a competent, aggressive fighting unit looking to blow up bridges and kill tourists -- they are really just "on the run" and only fight back when they have to.

Having said that, as a tourist, it is probably not the best time to be in Vang Vieng right now simply because there are restrictions on what you can do. Certainly doesn't sound like time to try the Happy Pizzas anyway!"

There's also a thread about this over on the Lonely Planet ThornTree.

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Posted by longleat on 20/2/2007 at 18:58

Hi Somtam 2000,

Thanks for checking this out. Please continue to keep us posted on happenings in the area.

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Posted by coxs on 17/3/2007 at 09:48

Posted from within Vietnam.

BEWARE!! Pakbeng...Donesilavat guest house....these guys tried to pressurise us into buying dinner and Opium...we refused and went to dinner elsewhere...returning to find our room still locked..but our rucksacks padlocks cut off and loads of our stuff stolen, including our credit cards, driving licenses, ipod stuff, binoculars etc etc, thankfully we had our passports and travellers cheques on us, but they basically owned up to it and said 'what are you going to do about it?" Not nice guys so be on your guard.
Next day on the slow boat many other people had similar tales to tell.
This was during the 2 day slow boat trip to Luang Prabang from Chaen Kong Thailand.

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Posted by marakusch on 4/4/2007 at 16:36

It is not a tale, now officials (I know that from 100% sources) say the road will be blocked for a few days "to clean off". That means there could be some days without buses going or only cars with special permissions. I will keep you informed about it, as I need to find out anyways.

It is not a tale, a driver was "nearly" killed. Locals reported about a bullet in arm or leg.

So stay in Vang Vieng, order a Pizza and don't think about it too much.

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Posted by longleat on 4/4/2007 at 21:35

Dear Marakusch,
Thanks so much for the update! So little has been shared on any of the boards about the situation there. Do you know if it is recommended not to go a little north of VV to reach the tubing start site? Do you know how far north you have to go for that? Also, on another subject, sort of: is the water level good for tubing in mid May? My husband and I are travelling with our son and want to, of course, ensure safety. Again thanks for the update and please keep us informed.

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Posted by Butch on 5/4/2007 at 15:16

Longleat - re: tubing
You normally travel only about 5km upstream of VV town to reach the tubing start point.

During May the mean water level is about as low as it gets and far from being unsafe, it's actually a bit of a pain trying to float downstream when there's next to no flow.

Having said that, there are occasional rises in the water level following storms which become more frequent in May as the wet season approaches. So you may be lucky and find there is enough flow for an enjoyable trip. These water rises are nowhere near the levels experienced in August and September and are not considered dangerous - but exercise the normal parental caution.

Enjoy the trip.

#10 Butch has been a member since 2/1/2007. Posts: 5

Posted by AmandaJordan on 13/4/2007 at 10:58

Any updates about travelling between luang prabang and vang vieng. Has anyone travelled on route 13 lately?

#11 AmandaJordan has been a member since 15/1/2007. Posts: 12

Posted by Rufus on 22/4/2007 at 13:02

There is no problem whatsoever on route 13. My next door neighbour regularly drives it.

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