Laos - Highway 23 - anybody have anyinfo about this road ???

Discussion in 'Laos - General Discussion Forum' started by fm2002, Oct 13, 2008.

  1. fm2002

    fm2002 Ol'Timer

    On the 15th of October I plan on crossing into Laos from Thailand at Mukdahan in my 4x4 (not motorcycle this time) and cruising east on Highway 9 as far as Muang Phin or Sepon. Than if possible back track to Highway 23 and head north, continue on 23 B to Highway 12 than West back to 13 and than up to VT.

    Couple questions:

    1. How good are the 3 roads mentioned (I do have a 4x4, but really don't want to do any serious off roading)
    2. Is there a bridge or a way to cross the Se Noi river
    3. What interesting stuff can you recommend along the planned route

    Thanks
     
  2. Loading...


  3. mat.ward

    mat.ward Ol'Timer

    I think you might be out of luck with that plan if you don't want to do any off-roading.
    What map are you looking at?
    Jim at Remote Asia (http://www.remoteasia.com) could probably help in drawing up a route that would be interesting but keep you out of trouble.
    One option might be to head north on 13 till Thakhek then head east on 12 then north on 1E through Nakai towards Lak Xao (on highway 8 ), then west on 8 to meet back up with 13 for VTE. Apart from having to avoid the trucks for the dam construction it is a pretty interesting route if you only have four wheels.
    Here is the section I have done from this loop:

    Vientiane – Pakxan – Na Hin
    Straight boring highway until you turn east onto highway 8 at Vieng Kham. Then it turns into a very scenic tarmac road winding through black karst and jungle.

    Na Hin - Kong Lor Cave 40km-ish
    This will soon be a fast sealed road. At the moment it is a fast dusty packed-dirt road where you need to slow for the unfinished concrete fords. Cool karst scenery. Check the 7.5km long Kong Lor cave out, US$10 for boat hire and boatmen (return).

    Na Hin – Lak Xao
    Na Hin to Lak Xao is winding great condition asphalt that travels through awesome limestone karst and jungle. Excellent.

    Lak Xao – Nakai
    Winding dusty/rocky road through jungle. You will get dusted/taken out by the trucks heading to/from the dam.

    Nakai – Mahaxay – Xaybuathong
    Fast packed dirt, the karst of Khammouane continues.

    A couple of posts about getting from 9 to 12 are here:
    http://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorc ... t1941.html
    http://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorc ... t2462.html
     
  4. fm2002

    fm2002 Ol'Timer

    Looking at the Lonely Planet map. Left my German Map of Laos at home. If you look at Garmin "Road Trip" map it lists the Highway as 29 or the one that's north of it and running parallel as 28. Just looked it up on Goggle Map and it is 28 & 29. 28 is the one that looks like it connects through to 12. Any info on 28 or 29 north to 12 ???
     
  5. mat.ward

    mat.ward Ol'Timer

    Don't pay much attention to the Lonely Planet or Google or Garmin maps of Laos. The info for some areas must be years and years old. From memory I think highway 23 was an old French road, and some areas probably haven't been worked on since the French were there! One section of 23 south of Phin is tricky on a motorbike, let alone a 4x4. Not the impression that you get if you look at Garmin's map where it is classified the same as 13.
    I headed from 9 to 12 a bit further west than you are looking at, but I don't think it is easier if you try it on the roads east of there. Someone else on the board may have more info, but there certainly ain't a main highway out there.
    Tracking down the GT-Rider map would be worthwhile, it has been made by people actually riding the roads that are mapped on it.
    Mat
     
  6. fm2002

    fm2002 Ol'Timer

    Thanks Mat

    Last July I got as far South as Tham Kong Lo cave. Believe it's the same one you mention. Wanted to continue on to Lak Sao, but didn't make it. Had some time to look at your route and it looks interesting. I can follow everything about it except I can't find Xaybuathong ??? Can you guide me to it ? Also have read a post on GT Rider about a guy that had some unprovoked trouble with the police/military in Xaybuathong. Did you run into any trouble ?

    Already PM'd David to see if there's anywhere in Savanakhet to buy his Lao Maps.
     
  7. mat.ward

    mat.ward Ol'Timer

    I shouldn't have included that bit about Xaybuathong. I just cut and pasted a road summary of the section that I have done. I did not do the section you will from Thakhek east on 12 to "Lak 60" (on the GT-Rider map). Instead I continued south (I was coming from Lak Xao) towards Mahaxay, Xaybuathong, and Xepon.
    If you have Gnommalath or Nakai on your map, that is where you should head towards from Thakhek.
    Mat
     
  8. fm2002

    fm2002 Ol'Timer

    Bear with me if I'm being redundant. How did you get from Mahaxai to Sepon ? Did you go 12 east, 13 south and 9 west or if you instead went directly south from Mahaxai to Sepon you must of took one of the roads I'm speaking of ???
     
  9. mat.ward

    mat.ward Ol'Timer

  10. Auke

    Auke Ol'Timer

    Rd 9, 12 and 8 are all asphalt. Rd 13 is boring so try to avoid if possible.

    Xaybuathong lies southeast of Mahaxai (about 17 10 56 N and 105 25 47 E). Don't remember having seen anything on problems with police in Xaibuathong but there was a report on problems in Xaisomboun where police hassled some bikers and were fined 200 USD for reasons unknown.

    The road to Konglor cave is part asphalt (from Na Hin till Moungnamsarn) and the remainder was hard packed dirt (in July this year) and may now be asphalt as well.

    The road north from Rd 12 to Rd 8 should be OK. The new road starting from Rd 12 is asphalt and then at the site of the Nam Theun Power Plant changes to a good new dirt road till the junction (17 57 20 N and 105 2 33 E) which leads to the Nam Theun Dam (this road to the dam is now probably partly under water). From that point the road becomes bad but well doable in a 4WD (no serious offroading) till road 8 at Lak Xao.

    Along that road there is a good new road to the west (junction at 18 2 24 N and 105 3 9 E) which leads to the Nam Theun II dam as well.
     
  11. fm2002

    fm2002 Ol'Timer

    Corresponded with Remote Asia Travel and it looks like the roads I'm speaking of our the same ones listed in the GT Maps of Laos just different #'s. Haven't confirmed yet what the GT # is yet (Jim isn't at home now), but I'd bet my left nut it will turn out to be Highway 28 (Google). Took a screen shot of it, but can't upload on here. If you guys are interested I could send a email with a .jpg pic attached. Looks like the H 28 even during dry season is a bitch on a bike so a 4x4 at the end of the wet season will be out of the question.

    So I will cross at Mukdahan into Savanahket head north on boring 13 to Thakhek. Than head East on 12 to at least to the turnoff to 8B and head North to 8 than West on 12 to finish off the loop I started back in July.

    One question to "Auke":

    you mention the turnoff road; "to the Nam Theun Dam (this road to the dam is now probably partly under water)". Do you think they'll be any problems with the main road 8B ? The reason I ask is when I was at Ban Na Hin staying at Mi Thuna Guesthouse last July (same time period as you) the dam General Manager (a Farang) and the Guesthouse owner told me the road after Lak Sao was 50/50 passable. So I'm very interested to hear what your experience of that road was ???

    Thanks
     
  12. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    FM2002
    Hope you have a good trip, whichever way you decide to go. It would be nice to see you contribute some pix & a brief report after if you can.
    Jimoi arrived in Vang Vieng last night & I arrived in Vientiane.
    Sent you a PM about getting the map, but overall it looks like you left it a bit late.
     
  13. Auke

    Auke Ol'Timer

    Yes, this road will be partly/wholly flooded once the reservoir fills up - reason why they did not make improvements on this road. That is also the reason why they built a new access road to the dam more northerly which is good quality (but you have to backtrack).

    Mon, from the Mithuna GH also mentioned that it would be difficult but in practice this was OK. Yes, it was muddy (rainy season) but otherwise no problem other than being bumpy. They have built a complete new road more to the west as the old road (in the Lonely Planet called "the loop") is now under water. No problem at all in taking this road.

    By the way, did you like the food in Mithuna GH? The year before when Ralph was still there, the food was excellent but since Ralph left, the quality of the food has gone downhill in my opinion.

    With regard to the road from Savannakhet to Thakheak, you can consider to take the dirt road along the Mekong. It is a bit muddy (was there last week) but otherwise no problem. Take the road to Kengkabao (either under the new Friendship bridge - new road) or from Rd 13 (take a left turn at 16 45 0 N and 104 54 06 E at Ban Nasy). In Kengkabao turn north at 16 48 50 N and 104 45 37 E (just past the local government offices on the right). Follow the road and you wil end up in Thakheak passing Nongbok (fuel available) and the Sikhottabong Stupa just before Thakheak).

    If you need more info just PM me.

    Have fun.
     
  14. fm2002

    fm2002 Ol'Timer

    Yes, this road will be partly/wholly flooded once the reservoir fills up - reason why they did not make improvements on this road. That is also the reason why they built a new access road to the dam more northerly which is good quality (but you have to backtrack).

    Mon, from the Mithuna GH also mentioned that it would be difficult but in practice this was OK. Yes, it was muddy (rainy season) but otherwise no problem other than being bumpy. They have built a complete new road more to the west as the old road (in the Lonely Planet called "the loop") is now under water. No problem at all in taking this road.

    By the way, did you like the food in Mithuna GH? The year before when Ralph was still there, the food was excellent but since Ralph left, the quality of the food has gone downhill in my opinion.

    With regard to the road from Savannakhet to Thakheak, you can consider to take the dirt road along the Mekong. It is a bit muddy (was there last week) but otherwise no problem. Take the road to Kengkabao (either under the new Friendship bridge - new road) or from Rd 13 (take a left turn at 16 45 0 N and 104 54 06 E at Ban Nasy). In Kengkabao turn north at 16 48 50 N and 104 45 37 E (just past the local government offices on the right). Follow the road and you wil end up in Thakheak passing Nongbok (fuel available) and the Sikhottabong Stupa just before Thakheak).

    If you need more info just PM me.

    Have fun.
    Thanks for the info. Yea the food wasn't that good. Especially when you consider my Thai GF was with me and Mon being Thai and we ordering Thai/Lao food you would of thought it would of been good. Have no idea the real story, but could guess husband leaves and so does the operating cashflow. Everytime we or other guests ordered she had to go to the market and buy the stuff. Hope it gets better not worse. Incredible valley there with alot of potential adventure stuff around. Leaving That Phanom in about 2 hours. Should be in Thakheak around 1-2 PM. Hasn't rained at all the last 3 days here so I'm hoping the water has receded a bit across the river in Laos.
     
  15. jimoi

    jimoi Ol'Timer

    Guess I'm a little late on this but it's because I live in Laos...

    It's all possible and I'd like to know how you made out on the Xe Noi crossing as that little boat for cars is pretty unstable. Many roads out to the east of Xaybouthoung and Mahaxay are passable by 4 x 4 but I'd hate to be buying gas out there.

    Sorry for the delay but looks like Auke came thru for you. Btw, you don't eat Lao or Thai at Mon's, you go Falang and enjoy, have 3 beers while you wait for the food as it's the way it goes.
     
  16. Auke

    Auke Ol'Timer

    Filling stations are not a common sight over there other than those selling from bottles or, if you are lucky, from a drum. Filling up the tank with bottles is no fun and you have to keep a good eye on the number of bottles as it is very easy to get "confused" on both the seller and the buyer side.

    With regard to food in "Mithuna" the last 2 times I was there (February and July this year), there was no western food anymore. Sorry, "No Have". The beer is still cold and the breakfast is still "English style" but otherwise there is for me no reason to stay there anymore.
     
  17. fm2002

    fm2002 Ol'Timer

    Well just arrived in VT. Did Mukdahan, Savanahket, Tha Khaek, Lak Sao, VT. To sum it up it wasn't really an adventure, but a nice little drive. Tha Khaek was a nice little town and the caves especially Buddha Cave was a treat. Road 8 B was easily passable (never had to lock in to 4 wheel drive) and the section after the dam mess was nice. We stayed 1 night in Lak Sao and renamed it "That's It" town. There is only one restaurant named "Only One Restaurant" and we ate there 2 times and each time we were the "Only Ones" there. Have to say the food was good though.

    Am planning a trip South of Savanahket probably in December with a side trek or two (Crater Lake). Perhaps we could put together a bike/truck fusion caravan ???

    P.S. Can anybody teach me how to upload pics directly to my posts ???
     
  18. Auke

    Auke Ol'Timer

  19. deepcdiver

    deepcdiver Active Member

    I did Route 23 south to north a year ago with a description from Jim at Remote Asia.(highly recommended outfit)

    Some 12"+deep silt, and a short steepish river bank to climb were the only technical challenges, easy on a 250cc Baja. The trickiest part is route navigating...I did it in the dry season of course. From the south one has to continue straight at one point onto a small track and NOT continue on the deep silt logging route that bears west...not intuitive at all. The GT-Rider map shows 23 a nice maintanied road....the other map shows a gap of nothing in the middle...far more accurate a depiction.

    The middle section would slow down a 4x4 if you did not have a saw to clear downed trees in a couple places...

    A beautiful ride. But get good route info or if better yet a gps track.

    It helps to know how to ask "is this the road to"...Phin

    Tang Pie Fin as I recall...would still be in the jungle without that phrase :)
     

Share This Page