from Phonsavan to Pakxan ?

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by Moti66, Oct 9, 2005.

  1. Moti66

    Moti66 New Member

    Hi guys,

    We plan to go from Phonsavan south to Pakxan via Muang Thathom, Muang Huang and Bolikhan via route 6.

    Did anyone here travel this route and can give us information about its condition and problems we may encounter during this trip.

    Any advice would be more than welcome.

    Many thanks

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  3. jimoi

    jimoi Ol'Timer

    Hi Moti,
    When do you plan to do this? I am going to make this run about the end of October and will post.

  4. Moti66

    Moti66 New Member

    Hi jimoi,

    Sometime in November. Not sure yet. Would be happy if you could post here will check also just before we go.

    Thanks and have a great trip.

  5. bill

    bill Ol'Timer

    Went thru 3 days ago. Brilliant scenery. Road in good shape
    No problems with police or military.
    Around 6 shallow river crossings.
    Fairly straight forward trip
    Took around 6-7 hrs at a leisuerly pace on a DRZ400.
    Highly recommend it.
  6. scot harper

    scot harper Ol'Timer

    Bill, more info please,a ride like that needs to be shared[:D]
    Scott (60 min, where, when, what, at what speed, how many Beer Lao)
  7. bill

    bill Ol'Timer

    Will be back in Cambodia next week and will post a trip report then.
  8. scot harper

    scot harper Ol'Timer

    Cool Bill Ill look forward to the read, thanks again.....Scott
  9. petersuter

    petersuter New Member

    Hi Bill! I was thinking about doing this trip as well, but with bycicle at mid january, so looking forward to you report as well! Because I´ll go a little slower, are there any guesthouses or other possebilities to spend the night on the way? Road surface? Are there ferries to cross river or walking/biking? Thanks mate!
  10. bill

    bill Ol'Timer

    I'm surprised there is not more discussion on this fantastic route.
    I posted a trip rpt recently that included this leg and Jimio also posted a great trip report
    However, not much followup discussion.
    Is no-one else going this way ?
    Time is running out near term to take this route as rain will soon make the rivers impassable until next Dec/Jan.
  11. Auke

    Auke Ol'Timer

    It is in my plans to do soon - probably early April - as I want to GPS that road and collect waypoints for the villages and other useful info like guest houses, etc. However, time is in short supply so not sure if I will be able to make it.
  12. cdrw

    cdrw Ol'Timer

    On Feb 18th, 2007, I did this route, but the _opposite_ way...from Pakxan to Phonsavan.

    Photos indicated in text are located here:

    I'd initially entered Laos at Dongkalaw (Dong Corlor), above Strung Treng in northern Cambodia. I went on the Pakxan>Phonsavan route as I wanted to avoid Vientiane as well as Vang Vieng at all costs, as I'm severely allergic to boring predictable backpackers and most tourists.

    I'd brought with me a copy of "jimoi's" excellent and lengthy January post of his trip ("Lao Road Report...2007") to use as a route suggestion list for some of my travels in Laos. I was also using the latest GT map of Laos.

    I should add that I'm a rookie biker and old fart...having just bought my first bike, an older Thai licensed Suzuki Djebel just a few months take my comments with that in mind. ;-)

    I found the dirt sections from Pakxan to Phonsavan not difficult, except for one area between Muanghuang and Thathom. I also believe there may be a needed addition to "Jimoi's" post on this route as well as a route addition to the GT map.

    As I was leaving Muanghuang, I stopped at a drink stand on the left side of the road [pix]. At that point there is a fork in the continues straight and another goes to the right. Also at that intersection, there is a gas station (the country variety) on the right [pix], as well as a building on the right which is the towns post-office [pix]. I was so surprised to find a PO in Muanghuang, that I posted a letter back to the States. Unless there are Lao gals, like Thai hookers, who mail money pleas to naive farangs, my letter may be the only International mail that has ever originated from there. l wonder if it will ever get delivered!!

    I asked the gal at the drink stand which road was the way to Thathom. She motioned 'go straight', I got the same reply from the post master. I then asked which way to Thasi and was directed to take the road to the right. I continued straight...

    My hastly written notes indicate the following... in a narrow hilly section I encountered some deep mud (about 50-meters long), but recent trucks had somewhat compacted two lanes with their tires, so traversing was not difficult. Later, I encountered 2 streams
    (maybe 3...BUT not '6' streams as someone else has posted), none of which were much more than a foot deep and easily passable. Later, approx 27-km from Muanghuang there is a downhill section of hardpack covered with maybe 3-4" of soft powder. Here is the 'rookie' rider stuff. This proved my downfall (literally!) as I crashed with only a
    bruised ego. My ego was further bruised as I moved the bike so the wheels were downhill and perpendicular to the slope before lifting the bike. I tried raising the bike and it only slid further downhill on the hardpack....twice! Then, with a big final heave to right the bike...the wheels got some traction on the hardpack ...and the bike went all the way over on it's other side. I was pissed, frustrated and exhausted from the heat and effort. Thinking I might be spending the night on this slope, I recalled having earlier passing two Laos on their tractor. I was thankful when they arrived about 30-minutes
    later and helped me to raise the bike!! The rest of the journey to Thathom was uneventful.

    My odometer indicated that the distance from Muanghuang to Thathom was about 42.7-km. I don't recall having passed through I enountered only very small villages, but could be mistaken! The distance for the road on the GT map appears to be about 50-km in length. Yet, what is further confusing, is I that only saw one road
    leading from the South into the middle of Thathom. Could it be there are two roads and the second one intersects with the 'straight' road before reaching Thathom?? Maybe someone will soon verify or clarify this.
  13. jimoi

    jimoi Ol'Timer

    I also found that I didn't actually see Thasi and yes, it is out there. The streams out there come and go and I believe that there are more water crossings than 6 after rainy season. Help out there is hard to find and when it comes it's usually a good exchange. I know where you went down, it is a bitch of a hill. The go Straight advice is what I got on my ride, maps, directions, gps. I believe in using the force adn your ability to talk to people and find info is what it's about most of the time. Sitting on the bike with gps and notes is alright but I've found you don't start conversations as easy.

    The stream picture is interesting, I was there at that point in late January and it wasn't anywhere near that deep.

    Good ride, when you get around VTE drop me a line.
  14. Auke

    Auke Ol'Timer

    Yes, I do have a GPS track of that road (courtesy of Robert H.) which also seems to show that the road does go more or less straight from Thatom to Muanghuang. So one more reason for me to go out there to GPS it once more and get all the village names.

    As a follow-up I have been digging a bit in the tracks I have and loaded them in Google Earth.


    The red track shows the road from Muang Khoune to Pakxan but indeed bypassing Thasi. The blue track is from a group of French riders who last year road from Phontan on Rd 8 to Thasi and then southwest to Muangheung (located where the red track and the blue track cross) and onward.
  15. bill

    bill Ol'Timer

    I encountered around 6 streams in Dec 06 but can appreciate some of those would be dry river beds by now.

    The "ask the locals" method worked for me re directions however I believe it would be very worthwhile if Auke does a detailed GPS track of the route.
    I plan to visit Laos again next dry season and will do this route again then procede on to 1C Vieng Thong-Sam Soun route described by Jimoi
    From San Soun, which is the nicest route to LP, via Nam Bak then down 13, or via Pak Xeng?
    CDRW, when you entered thru Stung Treng, were you issued a permit for your bike and Laos insurance at the border?
  16. cdrw

    cdrw Ol'Timer

    bill wrote...'CDRW, when you entered thru Stung Treng, were you issued a permit for your bike and Laos insurance at the border?'

    The Cambo/Laos border is about 55km north of Stung Treng.

    At the northern Cambo border there was no question about my (Thai licensed) bike. The head Immigration official, who spoke good English, had me pay $1-US for processing my exit from Cambo. Nor, had Cambo Immigration ever ask about my bike when I initially entered Cambo at Ban Hat Lek/Crem Yeam (Koh Kong). Yet Thai Immigration had me check the bike out with Customs when I left Thailand to enter Cambo.

    Maybe a kilometer or so north of the Cambo border is the Laos Immigration shack at Dong Cralor. When I arrived I showed my Laos visa, which I'd obtained in Phnom Penh...and again was charged $1-US to enter Laos. The Laos Immigration officer indicated they did not have anyone from Customs there that day, so they never asked or questioned anything about my bike, nor was I asked to obtain Laos insurance. YMMV...

    I should note that I was initially riding with 3 other guys who all had Cambo licensed bikes. They, too, where charged a $1 entry and no questions were asked about their bikes. All of the guys were experienced riders (unlike me) and had previously been in Laos. I left the group at Thakek (though they were a good group of guys) as I wanted to go solo, not only as a personal challenge, but such allowed me to set my own itinerary as well as stop where I wanted to take pix.
  17. bill

    bill Ol'Timer

    Thanks for the feedback, it confirms what I thought.
    When I entered Laos thru Thakhek I was "processed" thru several stages and ended up with a bike permit and Laos insurance totalling ~Bt450 .

    I actually prefer to be totally legit so I am wondering if next time I can enter Laos thru Stung Treng, then get the paperwork sorted out further up the track at Vang Tao, Savannakhet,or Thakhek.
    Has anyone done it this way ?

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