Photo: Canals of Ca Mau, Mekong Delta.

Vietnam forum

3-weeks South Vietnam and South Laos itinerary

Posted by Foolslena on 19/6/2013 at 07:15

Hi everyone,

thank you for all your informative posts. I wanted to know if anyone has travelled around South Vietnam and (South) Laos within the short time of about 3 weeks? Is it doable without to much stress?

I think to travel about this route

Fly to: HCMC (1 night) - Phu Quoc (Flight) (stay about 2 nights)- Mekong Delta (Ferry, Bus) (about 2-3 nights)- HCMC (Bus) (1 night)- Hoi An / Da Nang (Train or Bus) (stay 1 night) - Pakse (Bus) (stay 1 night) -Thousand Islands (Bus or Minibustour) (stay at least 2 nights) - Vientiane (Bus) (1 night) - Fly back from there

This makes about 11 days/nights plus travel time, or have I underestimated those times? Should I plan stops in Nha Trang or Mui Ne to split the ride between HCMC and Hoi An or go direct?

Is the direct bus between Hoi An or Da Nang and Pakse (Laos) still operating? Which company?

Is it better to take this Bus via Lao Bao border crossing or the Bus between Kotum / Pleiku in Central Highlands via Bo Y border? Anyone done the latter route? Would it be easier to go across Cambodia to Laos?
(been to Cambodia before, so I don't necessarily have to go there again)

Would it be possible to go to Luang Prabang after Vientiane (and fly back from Luang Prabang) or would this be to far for the little time? I want to avoid domestic flights in or to Laos as much as possible - too expensive.

What do you think about the route? We will travel next January, I think in these regions should be decent weather then. Most interested in beautiful landscapes /nature acitivities, a little less in cities / temples / culture. Not interested in partying.

Thank you for your ideas.

#1 Foolslena has been a member since 19/6/2013. Posts: 17

Posted by Foolslena on 19/6/2013 at 09:07

The reverse way would also be possible. Is it easier to do one way or the other?

#2 Foolslena has been a member since 19/6/2013. Posts: 17


Posted by igougo on 20/7/2013 at 11:00

Posted from within Vietnam.

You might refer to the post of tf_geckory though the info might be out of date and in revert order https://www.travelfish.org/board/post/laos/17443_don-dhet-to-da-nang. I did the route from Kon Tum to Pakse before but I drove my own car so I didn't notice of buses on this route.

#3 igougo has been a member since 20/7/2013. Posts: 1

Posted by travellingsarah on 22/7/2013 at 00:33 TF writer

Posted from within Vietnam.

I appreciate that the schedule you've outlined is shorter than the time you have, which gives you time to add a day here and there when you feel like it, but as it stands it is a crazy speedy and likely to leave you spending all your time asleep (shattered!) or travelling.

In theory the route works and is feasible in 3 weeks, but I'd advise thinking through your timings again in advance to plot out a realistic 3 week schedule. You can still change it as you go, of course, but as you don't have much time it'd still be a good idea to check what you can realistically do.

So maybe something more like this which gets you up to about 18 nights:


Fly to: HCMC (1 night) - Phu Quoc (Flight) (stay 3 nights)- Mekong Delta (Ferry, Bus) (about 2-3 nights)- HCMC (Bus) (1 - 2 nights - depending on how much of the city you want to see and what time you leave for Danang)- Hoi An / Da Nang (Fly if you can! It's a 17 hour train journey) (stay at least 2 nights) - Pakse (Bus) (stay 1 night - bus will take up at least one night, so depending on when it arrives you might be able to go straight to 1000 islands or might have to stay a night) -Thousand Islands (Bus or Minibustour) (stay at least 3 nights - 1/2 day of travelling each way) - Vientiane (Bus) (1 night on the bus + 1 night in Vientiane) - Fly back from there

Note that I took the bus from Pakse to Hue a few years ago and it was not a good experience. You don't have an option if you want to go that route (no flight) but allow recovery time! That's another good reason not to precede it with a 17 hour train journey! I don't know if it runs from Hoi An or Danang.

#4 travellingsarah has been a member since 23/3/2010. Location: Vietnam. Posts: 681
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Posted by Foolslena on 22/7/2013 at 08:00

Dear travellingsarah, thank you for your advice, sounds very reasonable. I think we'll do the tour the other way round, starting with Laos from Pakse only doing the very south and skipping Vientiane altogether (save it for another visit). This would give us some spare time to recover in between travelling times. We definitely consider flying the Danang-HCMC route as favorite option, only problem is that we won't be able to prebook flights as we don't know exactly when we arrive in Danang coming from Laos. So if no seats were left on the plane (or if too expensive), we'd probably have to do another stop along the coast of Vietnam to avoid having to go by train for 17 h nonstop.

Thank you very much, igougo for the link to the post about the Pakse - Bo Y - Kotum bus route. Sounds nice as it's during the day so we could see more of the countryside, but it seems that - different to the Pakse-Lao Bao-Hue-Danang route - would entail another overnight in central highlands Vietnam and is therefore considerably longer if we want to go to Danang/Hoi An.
I guess we decide which way to take once we're in Pakse, as we decided to do the tour that way round now.

#5 Foolslena has been a member since 19/6/2013. Posts: 17

Posted by Night_exile on 8/8/2013 at 01:20

Fly to: HCMC (1 night) - Phu Quoc (Flight) (stay about 2 nights)- Mekong Delta (Ferry, Bus) (about 2-3 nights)- HCMC (Bus) (1 night)- Hoi An / Da Nang (Train or Bus) (stay 1 night) - Pakse (Bus) (stay 1 night) -Thousand Islands (Bus or Minibustour) (stay at least 2 nights) - Vientiane (Bus) (1 night) - Fly back from there

1 night for HCMC is too short, at least 2 days, you miss one of the best food cuisine in the world. Don't forget China town in my city ;). From HCM to Da Nang, you need to spend 22 hours, please buy airplane ticket, much more faster and price is around 700,000VND of Vietjetair. From Da Nang, it has direct bus to Hoi An, Hue . And please spend more time in Da Nang - the mots worth living city in my country and Hue -old capital of Vietnam if you don't want to miss the middle food cuisine of Vietnam with a lots of trekking. Ba Na Hills is worth for staying because of its cool weather.

This makes about 11 days/nights plus travel time, or have I underestimated those times? Should I plan stops in Nha Trang or Mui Ne to split the ride between HCMC and Hoi An or go direct?

Da Nang has greater beach, don't waste your time in Nha Trang or Mui Ne.

Is the direct bus between Hoi An or Da Nang and Pakse (Laos) still operating? Which company?


Yes, Nguyen Phuoc company, 622 Tran Cao Van street, Da Nang city. Tel: 0903 580 585, price: 450,000VND (maybe it changes now, the price of oil has just increased).

#6 Night_exile has been a member since 29/7/2013. Posts: 9

Posted by Foolslena on 8/8/2013 at 04:48

Thank you very much for the advise. We will definately consider spending more time in both Da Nang and Hue and HCMC. About the beach in Da Nang: is it not too cold in January for swimming?

As we will probably start our tour the other way round beginning with Laos, do you think I will be able to still buy an affordable plane ticket Da Nang- HCMC once I arrive in Vietnam/ Da Nang about 2-3 days before the flight? Or would this be to late to book?
Reason for not wanting to prebook is that I cannot really plan how much time we will exactly stay in Laos before heading to Vietnam and how long we want to stay in the Hue/Da Nang/Hoi An area.

#7 Foolslena has been a member since 19/6/2013. Posts: 17


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