Notes: Saisomboun - Muang Khoun - Vang Vieng

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by CraigBKK, Aug 3, 2014.

  1. CraigBKK

    CraigBKK Ol'Timer

    This isn't a trip report, just a few notes from my trip last week that other riders may find useful.

    1. Saisomboun

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    There is a very pleasant short cut coming up the 4508, which brings you out at Baan Thongkhoun, recommended.

    I tried to take the track from Saisomboun east to Thavieng as a short cut to Phonsavan but the mud was just too thick and a few locals told me it continued for 20km. There is also a Police checkpoint on this route where you have a good chance of getting turned back.

    Trying to get out of Saisomboun east, you have the ferry, which leaves at 11:30, it however is not reliable. I arrived too late the first day and told to return at 11:30 the following day. When I arrived at 11:15 I was told to wait it's coming. Then a phone call, and I have to go to the other pier 3km away, the ferry was waiting for me. When I arrived there, it had left without me. I went back to the main pier to ask what was going on and told it had left and that I wasn't getting on the ferry that day either. The woman was confused too.

    Trying to get out north towards Long Cheng and Sam Thong, I made it a few kms, before the road turned to thick, red mud again. It was piled up high to one side and diggers were parked up, looks like some road construction is taking place.

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    Forced to return south I ended up staying at the Vang Chao Guesthouse, situated just before Muang Hom, after the debacle at the ferry pier and heavy afternoon rain. 60,000 kip with TV, 50,000 kip without. Great views over the surrounding countryside.

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    The road between Muang Hom and Route 13 (S) is unpaved and muddy in places but should be no problem, even for a bigger bike.

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    2. Phonsavan

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    Caught up in heavy afternoon rain again.

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    Forced to stay in Muang Khoun. Only one accommodation option here, right on the main road. Friendly, but overpriced at 80,000 kip.

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    Great dirt track route from Phonsavan, turning off Route 7, which leads you back to Muang Khoun. Wonderful views and varied terrain. My CRF 250L was perfect for this route but not advisable for bigger bikes.

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    3. Vang Vieng

    Caught in the rain twice getting there from Muang Khoun.

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    Seng Aloun Guesthouse in Vang Vieng, 50,000 kip, quiet with off street parking.

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    4. General note

    When I was in office 15 at the Nong Khai - VTE Friendship Bridge getting the bike checked in I asked the officer how long was he going to give me to stay in Laos, he replied 14 days, which he thought long enough for a trip to LP. I told him that I was going to Phongsali and then Hua Phan and that my visa was for 30 days, 14 days wasn't long enough. Actually I would only be staying a week but I wanted to test the water. He made a phone call, I assume to a superior, and agreed 30 days. He then wrote that I had permission to stay for 30 days at the bottom of the form. Our conversation was in Lao and I read his handwritten note - I had been given permission to stay with the bike for 30 days, however...

    When I was eating lunch in VTE I pulled out the green computer printed form that the two ladies in another window had printed for me - I was only given 14 days! What had happened I don't know, I should of checked at the time but didn't.

    So, next trip I will try again for 30 days in the hope that once they start allowing this length of stay it will become more common for all riders. Here's hoping!
     
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  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Nice one - a bit muddy alright in the wet season eh?
    That makes it tough going.

    Interesting at the bridge that you ended upstairs in room 15?
    I usually just do the papers down below, without a neeed to go upstairs anymore, but it has been awhile since I rode in across the Nong Khai - Tha Deua bridge. Maybe it has changed again?

    Sorry for the questions, but I'm a bit confused the route you took - in what order?

    How did you get to Saisomboun - which way did you go in?
    From off R13N or from 13S??

    Did you go to Phonsavan last, then down to Pakxan?

    Glad you had a good time.

    I wouldnt worry too much about the Lao import permit, they dont seem to care when you overstay & generally just let you go, no questions asked.
     
  4. CraigBKK

    CraigBKK Ol'Timer

    David

    VTE - Saisomboun -Muang Hom -Muang Khoun - Vang Vieng - VTE

    I went in to Saisomboun from R13S heading up, hoping to cut through to Thavieng and then on to Phonsavan, but in the end I had to go back down again and the long way round to Muang Khoun/Phonsavan, then I headed round to Vang Vieng. Heavy afternoon rains were causing me to stop short, hence the guesthouses in Muang Hom and Muang Khoun.
     
  5. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Thanks for the reply, now I understand a lot better.
    How was the road surface going up from Pakxan, there used to be about 25 kms of bumpy steep narrow old asphalt, just before the river & Thasi.
     
  6. CraigBKK

    CraigBKK Ol'Timer

    Not sure where Thasi is David, the 5101 going North from Pakxan can be frustrating beyond Muang Huang. Every 50m there are potholes so you can never get any speed up, you have to keep slowing down for the next bad section of road.

    Here's a short video of the trip, shot on one of the toys I purchased in England last month, a GoPro action cam.



    I've been asked to share some more information about the Vang Chao guest house in Muang Hom. The guesthouse is set up on a hill, away from the road and the sign is only in Lao. The coordinates are: N 18.58028 E 103.03266°. There is not secure parking but I parked right outside my room. There is a large restaurant in the grounds. The 'sin dard' or barbeque isn't bad.

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