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Laos-Vietnam-?, Feb 99-?



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Hanoi (Vietnam), 7 Feb 1999
Laos to Vietnam overland via Cao Treo
7 Feb, This is how my girlfiend and I did it Take a bus from Vientiane to Paksan (7am and 2pm from Talaat Sao, 3500 Kip, 3 hours). Spend the night there. Take the bus to Laksao the next morning (6am from Paksan
Phattana Hotel or the bus station, 12.000 Kip, 4 hours).
From Laksao you take a tuk-tuk to the border (10.000 Kip per person). Spend your last Kip in one of the noodlesoup shops, then head to the Lao Immigration and walk 500 meters
to the Vietnamese border. From there you have to charter a taxi to Vinh (USD 30, 2 hours). Traffic on either side of the border is still very erratic, so start early in case you have to wait somewhere on the way.
There are also direct buses from Vientiane to Laksao (4,5 and 6am) which you could also catch in Paksan. Or you can take an international bus from Vientiane to Vinh. Tickets (USD 35, 10 hours) are sold in a little shop near the PVO
Restaurant. They sell little things wrapped in dirty paper (couldn't classify that stuff) and have a sign "Vietnam Bus Can" outside.
Vietnamese visas are available at the embassy in Vientiane. They are cheaper than in Bangkok (USD 50, 4-6 days, 2 photos).
So long.

Ninh Binh (Vietnam), 2 Feb 1999
Laos Info
Facts for the visitor:
Money -
Parallel Market Rates The official bank rate is about 4300 Kip to the Dollar. You get 5500 Kip from unlicensed moneychangers. They are everywhere on Thanon Phothisalat in Luang Prabang and on Talaat Sao and around the GPO in Vientiane.
Border Crossing to Vietnam, Land - Kaew Neua Take a bus from Vientiane to Paksan (7am and 2pm from Talaat Sao, 3500 Kip, 3 hours). Spend the night there. Take the bus to Laksao the next morning (6am from Paksan Phattana Hotel or the bus station, 12.000 Kip, 4 hours). From Laksao you take a tuk-tuk to the border (10.000 Kip per person). Spend your last Kip in one of the noodlesoup shops, then head to the Lao Immigration and walk 500 meters to the Vietnamese border. From there you have to charter a taxi to Vinh (USD 30, 2 hours). Traffic on either side of the border is still very erratic, so start early in case you have to wait somewhere on the way.
Direct Bus Vientiane to Laksao
There are also direct busses from Vientiane to Laksao (4,5 and 6am) which you could also catch in Paksan. Or you can take an International bus Vientiane to Vinh
Tickets (USD 35, 10 hours) are sold in a little shop near the PVO Restaurant. They sell little things wrapped in dirty paper (couldn't classify that stuff) and have a sign "Vietnam Bus Can" outside.
Vietnamese visas are available at the embassy in Vientiane. They are cheaper than in Bangkok (USD 50, 4-6 days, 2 photos).
Vientiane - City Information
Bookshops:
Raintrees
has moved its main branch to 54/1 Thanon Pankam.
The National Library has some books in English and French. As a tourist you cannot check them out, but the staff will happily make photocopies and bind them for 100 Kip per page. Great service!
Airline Booking Office
There is a Royal Air Cambodge and Vietnam Airlines booking office at Lao Hotel Plaza.
Vientiane - Places to Stay -
Santisouk GH
has the hottest showers in Laos! Roomrates here -as in many other places- dropped to USD 8/10.
Vang Vieng -
Immigration here is keen on you registering. The office seems to open only in the morning (8-11am) and is opposite the international phone call office.
Luang Prabang
The Royal Palace
is now open from 8-11am and 2-4pm. Admission is 3000 Kip.
Around Luang Prabang
Mouhot's Tomb
is now well signposted from Ban Phanom.
Kuang Si Falls
Many travellers think they can do the 32 km from Luang Prabang to Kuang Si in 30 minutes by motorbike or 1,5 hours by push-bike. You should mention that the road is in such a bad condition that the trip takes at least 1,5 hours by motorbike and a lot longer by push-bike. We met some frustrated travellers who had to pay lots of dollars for tuk-tuks to bring them and their push-bikes back to Luang Prabang.
Sainyabuli Province
We went via Sainyabuli Province from Luang Prabang to Vientiane. Although there is nothing spectacular to see we consider this part of our trip to Laos the most memorable one. The area sees close to no tourists at all and the people there were friendlier than anywhere else in Laos. It's always nice to travel to places that see few tourists which these days even in Laos is difficult.
Sainyabuli
Places to Stay and Eat -
Pha Xang Hotel
(15.000 Kip for a double) is pretty noisy.
Phounvilay Restaurant is popular with expats working in the area and has therefore raised its prices.
Opposite the Pha Xang Hotel is the New Sainyabuli Hotel which will open soon. It will probably be in the USD 20-30 range.
Pak Lai - Places to Stay and Eat -
Khemekong GH near the ferry pier has doubles for 9000 Kip. Nearby Nobphalat Restaurant has an English menu and good food. They also sell food for the trip to Vientiane which you have to bring along.
Slow boats leave very infrequent at this time of the year (January) and you have to change boats somewhere inbetween. If they leave they cost 25000 Kip (30 hours). A speedboat is 40000 Kip (only 4 hours). We were lucky to find a cargo boat that went through to Vientiane in 25 hours for 30000 Kip. It was a wonderful experience and the crew sure enjoyed my bottle of Mekong-Whisky
Southern Laos -
The town of Kham Keut is better known as Laksao.
Paksan - Places to Stay
Phonxay GH
does not exist any more. Manolom GH and Restaurant (9000 Kip for a double with attached bathroom) is opposite of where it used to be.


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