After 2 weeks in Vietnam, we found Laos little bit more quiet than what I remember from my previous trip, and the prices seem to have raised (we also upgraded the level of confort, while before I was mainly sleeping in dorms).
We arrived in Savannaket, did the Thakhek loop, Vientiane, Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang before going to Thailand from Louang Namtha to Houayxay.
Coming from Vietnam
We started with a bad experience crossing the border: we had a night bus from Ninh Binh to Vientiane, but at 7am when the border openned they requested a visa we didn’t have and they didn’t deliver it in Cau Treo border. So we had to go to Bao Lao, taking a first van to Vinh which left us on a crossing to take an other bus to Dông Hoi. There we changed for a van to Dong Ha and finally the one to the border in Lao Bao.
Conclusion: dont think as I did that all the border deliver visas ! We spent 85k dongs, 8h trip…
Arrived by night in Dansavan (100.000kip), we stayed at the first guesthouse and took a bus the day after to Savannaket (100.000kip, 6h).
As I was sick we didn’t do a lot, just resting in the beautiful hotel with the view on the Mekong: Pilgrim’s hotel and kitchen (309k a night).
Hotels of Thakhek loop:
– Konglor: Spring River resort (255k double room)
– Thalang: Phosy Thalang guesthouse (180k a double room with breakfast)
– Thakhek: Inthira in the center (240k), or Xaychalern guesthouse (100k) nearby the bus station
Arrived in Thakhek with a mini van driven by a teenager (!), we found a lot of hotels closed… We rented a scooter for 3 days at Mad Monkey (do not hesitate to contact them by WhatsApp if their door are closed). The German owner gave us a lot of advises, many places being closed during the rainy season (rise of the water means caves are flooded, and a lot of hostels haven’t reopen yet).
- Instead of following his advise to stop the first night in Thalang and 2 nights in Konglor, we drove the first day until the end of the loop, stopping by Song Sou waterfall (not really accessible), nice points of views and crossing the beautiful valley of Konglor.
Note: We started at 9am and arrived at 6pm, around 250km.
- Second day we visited Konglor cave (2h, 130k one boat for us two, 5000 to access with motobike), went to the Limestone view point and headed to Talang. We could have stop at the Dragon cave but we preferred to keep going.
- Third day we visited Tham Nang Ene cave – 30k entrance (nice and you can also do a boat tour), the Buddha cave – 5k entrance (disappointing), and went to see the Great Wall.
We were back in town at 5pm.
We spent a total of 450k for 3 days motorbike rental, and 245k for gazoline.
We slept nearby the bus station (tuktuk from the center: 50k) and bought our ticket to Ventiane one hour from the departure.
From Thakhek to Vientiane: it took 7h in the VIP bus starting at 9.30am from the regional bus station. You also have common buses at 7.30 and 8.30.
This capital located at 6km from the bus station (tuktuk: 100.000kip for 2) has a very small city center with a nice night market. We visited there Si Saket temple (30k), Vat Phra Kèo (30k) and rented bikes (20k a day) to go to Pha That Luang (closed at 5pm), passing by Patuxai (with a nice water show).
Hotels in Vientiane:
– Mixay guesthouse (200k a double room negociated)
– Mixok Inn (180k a double room)
Located in a beautiful region full of mountains and limestones picks, we enjoyed relaxing days in our hotel with swimming pool, and rented for one day a scooter to go to the train station and visit
- Kaeng Nyui waterfall
- The Blue lagoon 1 and the amazing Tham Phu Kam cave (don’t forget good shoes and light). Entrance: 10k.
- We finished the day with the most amazing view of the valley: Nam Xay top view. The climb is quite an experience, but it really worth it (access: 10k).
To sleep in Vang Vieng:
Surana Homestay (150k with breakfast and swimming pool)
To eat and chill:
Full Moon bar
Luang Prabang: See the post “Laos from North to South”
From Luang Prabang we took the Train (158k per person) to Luang Namtha where we passed the night before heading to Thailand via Houayxay – Chiang Khong.