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Laos forum

Laos rental car for LP to Sam Neua

Posted by mtnmichelle on 5/1/2019 at 13:54

Has anyone on here rented a car to drive the road between Sam Neua and Luang Prabang? We’d like to check out Plain of Jars, Nam Nern night safari and the Pathet Lao caves. I know there is public transport but we rented a car for eastern Thailand in October and it was awesome to just drive ourselves around at our own pace. I’ve found rentals out of LP for $25/day which is not horrible. Please don’t respond back about how bad the drivers are, believe me we know, I just want to know if driving this route ina rental is feasible and would love to hear from anyone who has actually driven themselves in Laos. Thanks!

#1 mtnmichelle has been a member since 19/3/2017. Posts: 8

Posted by SoManyMiles on 8/1/2019 at 08:07 TF writer

Hi mtnmichelle,
I've lived in Laos and over the years have done many road trips throughout the country, including driving from Luang Prabang to the Nam Nern Night Safari via Nong Kiaow. Have you been to Laos before and when would the trip be?

The route is mountainous, serpentine and narrow in parts. This being Laos, expect poor road conditions (many potholes, sections where asphalt is gone). The main hazards when driving in Laos are transport trucks (you have to be a confident enough driver to overtake on a narrow road), and when driving through villages, as livestock, dogs and children dart out onto the road. In that northeast region during winter months (November to March) there can be heavy fog. Rainy season (anywhere from June to around October) can make it extremely difficult.

I love road trips in Laos and understand the appeal of driving this route at your own pace, the area deserves to be explored. If you have experience with driving in a developing country and in mountainous terrain (preferably having off-road driving experience as well), then it is feasible. My advice would be to slow down when passing through the villages, drive defensively (do not assume anything about what other drivers will/will not do) and be off the road by night fall.

The $25/day sounds a bit low to me. Do you pay extra per km? I would strongly recommend a SUV or truck, and suggest to calculate if a deal with unlimited kilometres is better value. Coincidentally, a few days ago I received a quotation from AVIS for an SUV, $75 per day with unlimited kilometres.

Hope this helps!

#2 SoManyMiles has been a member since 7/2/2014. Posts: 147

Posted by mtnmichelle on 8/1/2019 at 10:34

Thank you for the advice! We are in Luang Prabang now and for the next several days, the price we were quoted was for a Nissan econo car and so that is likely why it is low! I will look into terms and price out a heavier duty vehicle, I think an econo car may have a tough time as the potholes are gigantic.

#3 mtnmichelle has been a member since 19/3/2017. Posts: 8

Posted by SoManyMiles on 9/1/2019 at 01:48 TF writer

Econo car is not a good idea for the trip and you've already noticed how bad the potholes are. You need a vehicle with power to overtake on the steep inclines.

Guides for your entire route -- Nong Kiaow, Nam Nern Night Safari, Sam Neua, Vieng Xai, Phonsavan -- was updated on Travelfish in 2018. Sokdee, enjoy the trip.

#4 SoManyMiles has been a member since 7/2/2014. Posts: 147

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