Our "dreams" Come True...

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by edh, Mar 31, 2018.

  1. edh

    edh Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2013
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Ratings:
    +4 / 0 / -0
    #1 edh, Mar 31, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
    hi all
    finally we did the trip by car (mazda cx-5 awd/xdl).
    here a short report - click on the links to follow the daily tracks!
    there are not all roads we did on google-maps - we use the whole trip the maps.me app with our iphone!
    and the laos-map from www.motolao.com / www.laos-adventures.com

    all photos from the trip you can see here on flickr.com!
    https://www.flickr.com/gp/edhforever/rnP8Y4

    currency exchange - we paid mostly in KIP (1 thai-baht = 250 kip) or in baht!

    day 1: from maechan (chiangrai) to thung chang - Walkmeter - Autofahren - 21.02.2018, 09:45
    stay 1 night at Nan Thailand - Siam Garden - Thung Chang - delicious pasta from marco and dao!

    day 2: from thung chang (thailand) to huay xai (laos) - Walkmeter - Autofahren - 22.02.2018, 08:35
    crossed the border easy in huai kon - no "fees" for immigration or customs! on arrival on laos-site - easy - friendly - fast! - insurance for the car just a few hundred metres after the immigration/custom offices - small restaurant with first fresh and cold laos-beer!
    the first 60 kms after the border are paved and in good condition - then towards the mekhong-river - ferry over to the other side - and then along the mekhong to houay xai. ferry we paid 400 thaibaht - all dusty and very dusty road till about 15 kms before houay xai!
    sleep at a small and clean hotel in houay xai!

    day 3: from houay xai to xieng kok - great trip - all the way up to kapok-city (casino town under construction) is paved - after kapok-city about 20 km are under construction for a new huge highway along the mekhong!
    after that is an allweather road mostly along the mekhong-river. we took the road over the hills to mueng-town - but there was no bed free this day, because it was a football-championship-party! - so we drove down to xieng dao - but there are no guesthouses! - so we had no choice - the last 30 kms along the mekhong to xieng kok is a very bad offroad-trek - luckely we have 4-wheel-drive - it was wet and slippery some parts - with motorbikes no problem - good fun - you pass some rivers - arrive in the dark in xieng kok and found a new chinese hotel for a good price (500 baht) - there is only one guesthouse left near the ferry-port - but this is very old and expensive!
    Walkmeter - Autofahren - 23.02.2018, 09:31

    day 4: we had a look at the friendship-bridge to burma - international border-crossing ;-) - the very friendly laos-immigration-staff told us - this will open soon in the future...!
    so the mostly good all-weather-road to muang sing! - new chinese-hotel in muang sing for very good price (520 baht)
    Walkmeter - Autofahren - 24.02.2018, 09:52

    day 5: back to the future all the way down to luang namtha (actually they repair all the potholes...there are many of them...!) - and took the 13N to NAMO (all paved) - there turn left to BOUN-TAI (good allweather-road) - just 2 kms before arrive at the hotel a nice river-crossing - there is a small bridge - also for cars - but too expensive (200 baht!!!) - - old hotel in BOUN-TAI for 500 baht (VIP-room ;-)! food for dinner only at the chinese-hotel.
    Walkmeter - Autofahren - 25.02.2018, 09:10

    day 6:
    from boun-tai up to phongsali - stay at the Viphaphone Hotel for 2 nights (400 baht/night)
    Walkmeter - Autofahren - 26.02.2018, 10:10

    day 7:
    visit the 400 years-old-teatree-garden and the viewpoint jedi with great views!
    Walkmeter - Autofahren - 27.02.2018, 11:43

    day 8:
    from phongsali in the morning with beautiful views (sea of fogs) down to muang la - the recommended "resort-hotel" on the riverside is due to flooding closed for ever...! - so we stayed for 2 nights at a new hotel nearby (320 baht/night without breakfast) - visiting the hotsprings.
    Walkmeter - Autofahren - 28.02.2018, 08:56

    day 9:
    visiting the old tempel in muang-la and the restaurant on the riverside!

    day 10:
    from muang-la to the world-class resort (65 us dollars) - Namkat Yorlapa Resort and Hotel in Oudomxay, LAO PDR
    Walkmeter - Autofahren - 02.03.2018, 08:59

    day 11:
    from this resort to muang hiam - just a short stop in nong kiaew - (we want to avoid all the "farangs" in laos ;-) - beautiful road over the mountains
    Walkmeter - Autofahren - 03.03.2018, 08:24
    after arriving at the hotsprings booked the brandnew room (200 baht) opposite the hotsprings (see my other posting)

    day 12:
    from muang hiam to phonsavan - stay at the Jennida Guesthouse for 320 baht
    Walkmeter - Autofahren - 04.03.2018, 08:24

    day 13:
    from phonsavan to thakhek - mostly good roads
    Walkmeter - Autofahren - 05.03.2018, 08:15

    day 14:
    from thakhek to savannakhet
    Walkmeter - Autofahren - 06.03.2018, 09:12

    stay for 3 nights in savannakhet - then over the bridge back to the future and via mukdahan-yasothon-roiet - pilok back home!

    who wants more details - just PM me - or post it here!

    here are some videos on youtube - recorded with the garmin-dashcam!

    1) in the dust:


    2) crossing a bridge:


    3) through the jungle:
     
    • Like Like x 1
  2. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2003
    Messages:
    10,797
    Likes Received:
    790
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +790 / 0 / -0
    Good one Martin.
    Im pleased eveything worked out ok for you.
    That's one hell of a trip that you have been planning for awhile.

    On day 2
    the first 60 kms after the border are paved and in good condition - then towards the mekhong-river - ferry over to the other side - and then along the mekhong to houay xai. ferry we paid 400 thaibaht - all dusty and very dusty road till about 15 kms before houay xai!
    sleep at a small and clean hotel in houay xai!

    What river was that you were crossing to pay 400 baht for the ferry - the Nam Tha river?

    So overall what was
    1. The highlight of the trip
    2. The best day driving that you enjyoed te most
    3. The worst day
    4. Any place that you wouldn't go again.

    A zilion kip for the contribution.
    Great to se you on GR.

    Many thanks.
     
  3. edh

    edh Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2013
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Ratings:
    +4 / 0 / -0
    #3 edh, Apr 3, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2018
    On day 2
    What river was that you were crossing to pay 400 baht for the ferry - the Nam Tha river?

    david - if you have looked up my daily tracks - you would know it...! ;-)
    it's the ferry over the mekhong-river - here are the coordinates:
    19.83208611, 100.58194444

    Bildschirmfoto 2018-04-03 um 08.47.45.
    here a small video to drive on the ferry:


    So overall what was
    1. The highlight of the trip


    there were many highlights...!
    one of the best was the brandnew guesthouse near the hotsprings in HIAM for only 50'000 KIP...
    including the hotspa! you can use the bath as long you want! private room! great views out of the bath! special in the morning the sunrise!



    2. The best day driving that you enjyoed te most

    was sure the 2 days along the mekong-river!
    and of course the bad roads up in the topnorth also from nongkiaew to hiam!


    3. The worst day

    we have NEVER worst days - as you know - edh! every day holiday! ;-)

    4. Any place that you wouldn't go again.

    as we travel in LAOS more then 20 years already - we do not visit/stay anymore at the top-places for tourists now, for example luang prabang - vientiane - vang vieng - nong kiaew - houay xai etc. etc.!
    we try to avoid places with backpackers and 5*-tourists!
    we are still looking for special roads all over laos!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. GTR-Admin

    GTR-Admin Ben Kemp
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2016
    Messages:
    141
    Likes Received:
    62
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +62 / 0 / -0
    Hi Martin - that was an epic journey, thanks for taking the time to share the story, routes and videos, much appreciated.
     
  5. Jimenator

    Jimenator Ol'Timer

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2016
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +8 / 0 / -0
    edh/Martin, many thanks for the write up. This information was very useful.

    I must say, you chose a very long way around to reach Huay Xai, given that of course, the 4th Friendship Bridge is only 82km away from your place but I assume you probably cross there often so wanted to experience something different.

    It's also good to have a report about entering at Huay Kon/Muang Ngern. It was mentioned about 2 years ago that in the aftermath of the banning of bicycles and motorcycles from entering on the Lao side that only buses, trucks and vehicles belonging to the Hongsa power plant would be allowed across. However, I later found out that in fact, private cars were OK to cross as usual and you have confirmed this with your report. A friend of mine also crossed there in his truck at least leaving there, not sure if he also entered there at the beginning of the year. Given that Thailand and Laos share an agreement covering cars, buses and trucks, they are obligated to adhere to it but motorcycles aren't covered, hence why it's quite easy for them to change local policies regarding their entry overnight.

    Good to know about the new road from Hongsa to Huay Xai. This will be useful in future once the Ban Huak crossing opens. Otherwise, it's a loonggg long drive via Udomxai and then from there via Luang Nam Tha over to Huay Xai!

    Kapok city - in Ton Pheung township in the Golden Triangle overlooking Chiang Saen? That's the site of King Romans group casino and resort, a fully integrated casino and hotel/entertainment/resort facility built by a Hong Kong based company and opened over 5 years ago now. I was there recently, but just to Don Sao island, which is part of the complex. It's a strange place, you have Chinese murals and buildings rising up out of nowhere surrounded by Lao jungle. Most visitors tend to arrive here by boat from Chiang Saen (there is an international border crossing there) some also arrive by car or bus from Yunnan, China. Not many people drive there from Thailand, despite being only a 60km drive from Huay Xai along the Mekong, but one can spot lots of Chinese cars driven hundreds (even thousands of km?) away from China! Many Chinese people seem to love long distance driving considering it a normal thing to do, but Thais who don't have to drive nearly as far seem to be more reluctant, which explains the relative lack of Thai cars once you are about 20km or more out of Huay Xai. Perhaps Chinese are more adventurous! Of course it's pretty easy just to cross by river without having to drive all the way around and pay for insurance and all if traveling via the bridge.

    Lao-Myanmar friendship bridge. Even when it does open [to foreigners] I doubt vehicles, other than goods transport vehicles will be allowed across. Even if they are, they will be restricted from traveling more than a few km inside Myanmar. There is also the problem of the Kengtung-Taunggyi road being closed to foreigners. Therefore, I wouldn't get too excited about this crossing - if or when it does open to foreigners it will only be useful for backpackers who just got off a domestic flight at Tachilek or Kengtung (or those flying to Heho from these airports heading in the opposite direction) and caravan groups who have expensive permits and guides for their vehicles.

    Currently, Thai cars (not sure about motorcycles?) can cross from Mae Sai to Tachilek and travel as far as Kengtung if they hire a guide at the border for THB 1000 a day. Mong La may be possible too, but this depends on the security situation there.
     
  6. edh

    edh Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2013
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Ratings:
    +4 / 0 / -0
    Jimenator, Yesterday at 11:06 AM
    I must say, you chose a very long way around to reach Huay Xai, given that of course, the 4th Friendship Bridge is only 82km away from your place but I assume you probably cross there often so wanted to experience something different.

    no we drove once in chiangkhong over the bridge - but we not want to support "UTM" without a receipt on both sides! ;-)
    and the main reason this time was - to drive all the way up towards houayxai along the mekhong-river!


    Jimenator, Yesterday at 11:06 AM
    It's also good to have a report about entering at Huay Kon/Muang Ngern. It was mentioned about 2 years ago that in the aftermath of the banning of bicycles and motorcycles from entering on the Lao side that only buses, trucks and vehicles belonging to the Hongsa power plant would be allowed across. However, I later found out that in fact, private cars were OK to cross as usual and you have confirmed this with your report. A friend of mine also crossed there in his truck at least leaving there, not sure if he also entered there at the beginning of the year. Given that Thailand and Laos share an agreement covering cars, buses and trucks, they are obligated to adhere to it but motorcycles aren't covered, hence why it's quite easy for them to change local policies regarding their entry overnight.

    we passed this border 4 or 5 times already (entry and exit) - was never a problem! - this time we MUST tell the laos-customs the exit-point in laos - otherwise we would have to pay a fine, if we will exit another border!

    Jimenator, Yesterday at 11:06 AM
    Kapok city - in Ton Pheung township in the Golden Triangle overlooking Chiang Saen? That's the site of King Romans group casino and resort, a fully integrated casino and hotel/entertainment/resort facility built by a Hong Kong based company and opened over 5 years ago now. I was there recently, but just to Don Sao island, which is part of the complex. It's a strange place, you have Chinese murals and buildings rising up out of nowhere surrounded by Lao jungle. Most visitors tend to arrive here by boat from Chiang Saen (there is an international border crossing there) some also arrive by car or bus from Yunnan, China. Not many people drive there from Thailand, despite being only a 60km drive from Huay Xai along the Mekong, but one can spot lots of Chinese cars driven hundreds (even thousands of km?) away from China! Many Chinese people seem to love long distance driving considering it a normal thing to do, but Thais who don't have to drive nearly as far seem to be more reluctant, which explains the relative lack of Thai cars once you are about 20km or more out of Huay Xai. Perhaps Chinese are more adventurous! Of course it's pretty easy just to cross by river without having to drive all the way around and pay for insurance and all if traveling via the bridge.

    there is NO lao-jungle behind the chinese murals ;-)
    about this project from the chinese search google! you will find many articles!
    and - most chinese tourists today fly from china to chiangrai - there is a free transport from maefahluang-international-airport in chiangrai up to the golden triangle!
    and some drive by car - from kunming to the border in boten/laos is a huge highway and not that far! also many tourists come by boats from guanlei/china
    and there are hundreds/thousends of thais use to play/stay at the casino. there are now many hotels any price! and china-town behind the casino is worth to visit!
     
  7. Jimenator

    Jimenator Ol'Timer

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2016
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +8 / 0 / -0
    Yes indeed most Chinese heading to the casino now fly to Chiang Rai which has direct flights from Kunming - I believe the casino group is also building an airport next to the casino so tourists don't even need to ride 100+km from Chiang Rai airport and catch a boat to the casino. I was just in Kunming and came down by road - it's relatively far (not excessively so, but far enough away that for a trip to the casino you would need to take 4-5 days off work at least because 3 of those days will be spent just driving) 670km to the border along an excellent expressway (though in the northbound direction, just north of Mengla they have closed the road for maintenance so you have to take a 33km detour along a very winding local road through the hills). Then once you cross into Laos you have the enormous construction site that is Boten and you would be foolish not to have a 4WD with high road clearance as that "road" (mud track actually) just after the duty free area eats cars for a living! Then there's the 250km winding road to the casino, doesn't sound like it's very far but it's Laos, it will take a while! Therefore I can understand why most people would want to fly.

    I spotted some beautiful jungle covering the hills behind the casino when I was there 2 weeks ago.

    Thais still go to the casino don't they? Not sure why they would have stopped. The Myanmar casino looks like a joke in comparison, I'm surprised they are still operating given the much grander casino on the Lao bank. Secondly, foreigners can't cross there by boat only Thais and Burmese can further reducing their opportunity to compete against Kings Romans.

    Regarding Huay Kon/Muang Ngern - I entered there once but I must say I wasn't very impressed by the Lao officials there. First of all, when you cross from the Thai side, unlike at virtually every other Thai-Lao crossing there is no traffic switchover lane and then you have a hill with no visibility, so it's anyone's guess where you switch to driving on the right. When I crossed I assumed there would be an indication where to switch lanes but I didn't see it so i kept left until I saw the Lao gate which is when I switched to the right. Head on collision danger! Luckily traffic there is so light chances are nothing will come past you, but many Thai trucks do cross there.

    As for the officials they forced my wife traveling with me to walk - she wasn't allowed to sit in the car while I was driving the measly 20m across the border line. Seems like silly bureaucratic nonsense. No problems for passengers to stay in the car at the bridges or any other crossing - but not Huay Kon/Muang Ngern. Then after the initial good but very steep Thai built road to the Hongsa powerplant you have a narrow and awfully tortuous road down to Saiyabuli if heading towards Luang Prabang where every time a vehicle passes you, you are forced off the road onto the shoulder, that's how narrow that road is. I personally much prefer the Huay Xai and Phu Doo crossings.
     
  8. Jimenator

    Jimenator Ol'Timer

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2016
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Gender:
    Male
    Ratings:
    +8 / 0 / -0
    Could you explain the meaning of UTM?
     

Share This Page