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 BerlinCanary has been a member since 6/10/2012. Posts: 6
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.
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 BerlinCanary has been a member since 6/10/2012. Posts: 6
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.
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 BerlinCanary has been a member since 6/10/2012. Posts: 6
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.
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 BerlinCanary has been a member since 6/10/2012. Posts: 6
That was quick mooball! Thank you! So route 13 is a lot faster, which is encouraging for the trip south.
#12 BerlinCanary has been a member since 6/10/2012. Posts: 6
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).
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.
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)
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 BerlinCanary has been a member since 6/10/2012. Posts: 6