Nong Khiew to Phou Lao on Highway 1C - need updated road condition

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by fm2002, Sep 17, 2011.

  1. I'm planning a trip leaving from Chiang Rai end of this month crossing in Chiang Khong to Luang Namtha -->Nong Khiew-->Phou Lao in my 4x4 truck. I've done this before a few years back, but am wondering about the present condition of 1C?

    Second, wil be going from Phou Lao-->Phonsovan (done this before should be no problem). However from Phonsovan I don't want to take Highway 7 west to 13 south to Vientiane. Would like to head east out of Phonsovan on Highway 10 to Thoum than drop down south what looks like a small road on GT Riders map to Viang Lang. Than head west to Xaysomboune. After Xaysomboune hang a left and go south on what looks like a bigger road to Langsane and continue to Thabak where I can hook up with Highway 13 back into Vientiane.

    I'm no newbie; been riding bikes/trucks through Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam for many years. That said I don't have or would want to use a winch or have to dig myself out. So is this trip doable ???
  2. Hello,
    I have done it last Feb on a 250 AX Honda. Nong kiaw-Phou Lao all paved now.
    After Phonsavan I went to Paksan,using 10.Paved to Muang Khoune.
    Beware: Out of Muang Khoune,at the bottom of the hill,about 100 meters after the petrol station there is a temple. Turn right there,dont go to Thoum.There was a lot of big road works all along to Tha Viang where I headed East.
    The beginning of the trail to Xaysomboune seemed OK.
    Have a nice trip.
  3. So your'e saying that the turn down(south)or (at the bottom of the hill,about 100 meters after the petrol station there is a temple) is before you get to Thoum ? Second after you make this turn I believe you would be headed south not east toward the the town called Viang Lang. Than you head east toward Xaysomboune. Does this make sense ? Lastly, the town of Tha Viang you refer to; I don't see this on the GT Rider map ???

    Thanks for your help
  4. FYI, Tha Vieng = Vieng Lang

    I came down Hwy 10 in May, Moung Khoune to Paksan, with one night at Tha Thom. FYI, the rains had just started then. Note, the initial portions of the road were great, wide sweeping curves, etc, beautiful, and will be nice when it's finally finished and paved all the way. But, and this is a big BUT, it's not finished, and it's been raining!

    First potential problem might be a monster mud hole we encountered at N19-36-11 x E103-06-56. Only one loaded logging truck headed north there at the time. Another logging truck, empty, tried to pull it out, no joy. Then a road grader showed up, he also couldn't do it, but since there were by then a few more vehicles backed up wanting to head south, with us in front, he was kind enough to rough out a bypass, which we took. FYI, the next morning at breakfast on down the line at Tha Thom, we heard that there were now forty (40) log trucks back up there wanting to head north, eventually to Vietnam, I suppose.

    Next problem for you in a pickup will be at Vieng Lang where it's necessary to cross the river to get west to Xaysomboun. The bridge there, N19-13-11 x E103-21-22, is for people and motorcycles ONLY. 4-wheelers and up must use ford the river but with the rains, I expect that'd be impossible right now. Last time I tried this was early December 2009 and the current was just to strong over in the channel on the west side to try. Our drive waded across to check. In any case, even in the dry, might have a problem heading west; a couple of the motorcycle guys were stopped at an army checkpoint just west of the bridge a few months back, and were turned around. I guess it's sometimes possible to go through, sometimes not.

    Last real problem would probably be at a ford just south of Tha Thom, assuming that is, that you don't make the trip west to Xaysomboun. There's a new bridge still a-building at N18-59-9 x N103-36-26, with a ford across the river close by. There was (remember, this was back in May) a pretty good mudhole before the ford but we made it through that OK to the bank of the river. Our drive waded across to check the channel on the east side, came back looking not so happy, fairly deep and fast, sez he. As we weren't looking forward to a drive all the way back to Phonsavanh, even if we didn't get stuck at the mudhole to the north, I suggested he ask one of the empty log trucks there at the mudhole near the ford if they'd tow us across. One said OK, and did the deed, kip 100,000, which I thought was quite fine. From this point on, only one small ford, small in May, and on to Paksane and Vientiane.

    I'll be up to Phonsavanh in October and will be asking about that route to Paksane, would like to do it again, but in the dry, I expect.

    Will also be up to Xaysomboun end of this month, hopefully, as with the late July rains, the road from Tha Bok to Longsan and on to Thong Koune has had landslides and at least one bridge severely damaged. Understand, tho, that the Phu Bia Mine ore trucks are running again, so should be doable.

    So, if you do try the route south of Moung Khoune, would appreciate an update when you get through....

    Thanyaburi Mac
  5. First, thanks for the detailed report ! If I read your report correctly that unless I'm willing to cross what's now for sure a swollen river in my truck that Xaysomboun is unreachable ? Is Xaysomboun cut off to all 4 wheel traffic during the raining season ? How will you get to Xaysomboun at the end of this month ?
  6. Correct, east to west via the ford there at Vieng Leng-Tha Vieng would be unlikely this time of year, perhaps on through November, too.

    The other way to Xaysomboun, if you really want to go there, is north from Tha Bok, about Km 92 on Rt 13S to Long Sane, on through Xieng Me, then crossing a bridge across the Nam Bak, part of which was washed out in July. Then up to the junction with the left and new fork going down to the Phu Bia Mine area, and the right fork, the old twisty road, to Thong Khoun. There it's a quick run east to XSB.

    FYI, sometimes the authorities there at XSB can be a bit picky. In May ran into an Immigration guy was pretty officious, not a real pleasant guy.

    Not a whole lot to see in XSB altho it is a beautiful valley. Roads out of town are normally restricted.

  7. I had no idea Xaysomboun was such a controversial place. Now after reading up I know. My reason for going there was I'm coming from Chiang Rai and I didn't want to go through Luang Prabang on my way to Vientiane and it was one of the last places in Laos I haven't been to. So I thought i would do a wide northern loop around LP and go through Phonsovan and Xaysomboun than drop down to Tha Bok. Guess from Phonsovan I could go to Pakxan than head east to Tha Bok and do what you described ???????? I'm guessing that would add at least 4 days to my journey.
  8. That's about what I'm planning for late January, Vientiane-LP-Nong Khiew-Vieng Thong-Phonsavanh-Paksane-Vientiane.

    However, for you, and for next month, that ford in the river just south of Tha Thom might well be out for a pickup. Note, we got a tow across and the water was almost up to the bottom of the headlights. I'd think the Phonsavanh-Paksane route would be better left for next dry season.

    FYI, you still can bypass LP. From Phonsavanh, head west on Rt 7 to the junction with Rt 13N at Phou Khoun, and head south via Vang Vieng (aka Ban Farang!) to Vientiane, about an 8 hour drive. FYI, there's that new guest house about 5 km south of Phou Khoun with good buffet eats for lunch, and if you're lucky with the weather, great photo op looking west.

  9. Yea I guess that's the call. Really appreciate your help. If you wouldn;t of posted I would of went for it and got turned around. Not such a bad thing I guess, but I'll save it for next time.
  10. Sabaidee,
    Sorry,I've been away for some time ,but I can see you've found the right man.
    Just to answer your previous questions: the right turn (south) is beforeThoum.
    On my GT-Rider map,Tha Viang is 50K south of Muang khoune, the trail is on the right bank of the Nam Gniap river.That same trail ,numbered 10 , appears to be on the left bank ,on the Gecko map!
    It's there that the trail goes East to Thatom or S/W to Xaisomboune.
    As it was in Feb,the river crossings where not too deep for the bike and when it was not passable they had built some
    temporary narrow bamboo "bridges".
    Hope you have a thrilling tip,
    Cheers, Lung.
  11. Just finished up my trip. In vientiane now and want to thank all who helped. Putting together the story now. Should be an interesting read.

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