Vientiane to Sayabouli province


Aug 4, 2005
I am not sure if this has been discussed here yet, , couldn't find a post.

I am not sure when your most recent addition of the Laos map dates, I'm using a 2003 version. Since that didn’t show the road from Vientiane to PakLay, I thought I’d describe it here, just did it last Saturday

I thought you may want to hear about my recent trip (by 4x4 pick-up truck, a Strada)
(My XT 600 is still suffering from Lao paper problems, endemic here.)

I had to deliver a NZ volunteer to Kenthao in Sayabuli, where they built the new bridge between Thailand and Lao. The bordercrossing is open now for farang, although i am not sure if they give visas there, I think they do.

Because the women had a Lao collegue with her, who didn't have a borderpass, we had to drive from VT to Kenthao through Laos. i thought that was only possible by driving almost to LP, and then turning south towards Sayabouli, but a guy from Foreign Affairs told me about a new road.

We followed the Mekong from VT all the way to Naphiang. The road was at times almost no more then a very narrow dirt track on the side of the river, often not being able to pass two vehicles. sometimes steep and extremely dusty, At one occasion a small truck that didn't have 4x4 had to be unloaded, pushed uphill, then the load of 30 ricebags had to be carried up and stacked again.

I wouldn't do that track in the wet season, even with 4x4. a good dirtbiker would probably enjoy it though.

We could have gotten to Naphiang via R 13 and the turn-off at Hin Hoeup, probably better road, but much longer distance .

At Naphiang, we turned North, through a few villages, probably about ten KM, until a road turned right off the main road. Probably at Houay Khonken, although I am not 100% sure. From there, a new road goes to PakLay, on the Mekong.
The first half was recently sealed, and very good. Windy, sometimes steep, (I spent a fair bit of time in second gear, which is rare in that truck, usually do uphill in third) but great road.

The second half was still under construction, and would probably be unpassable in the wet (reminded me of doing the HouyXai -Namtha Road in June). But they are working on it, and when finished it will be great.
At present, I think a bike could do it OK, but it is extremely dusty, so wouldn't be too much fun.

VT - Pak Lay took me 5 1/2 hrs driving, somewhat slower then I usually do because of the three passengers on my cramped backseat. Possibly alone, 5 hours doable.

At PakLAy they had a new ferry, which stung us for 130.000 Kip (five people + car). The Lao car ijn front of us paid about the same, so I don't think it was falang price. From there it was about 90 minutes to Kenthao, on usual Lao unsealed road, rough but drivable.

Next day my wife and I crossed at the new border, and drove back to VT via Udon. The border crossing itself at Kenthao took about 90 minutes. My car is a Lao car with NGO plates, I have proper Lao papers, but I think maybe they'd never processed such a mixture before at that border. Both the Lao side as well as the Thai they made a bit of a fuss. Lucky, one of my Lao passengers spoke pretty good english, and could help when my Lao and Thai became inadequate.
in the end, we got through.

back to VT was a breeze. I love Thai roads!

When the road to Pak Lay is finished, it will be a real help to people wanting to do loops around Laos, or go to Sayaburi from VT. Now just hope one day they put in a border crossing for farang on the road from PakLay west towards Ban Baw Bea in Nan province, that would add another bit to the loop.
Nov 30, 2005
Did that road in the other direction in jan 2005 on a baja.
Good to hear there's a ferry at Pak Lay now...I had to cross in a small fishingboat...
VERY dusty riding indeed...hate to think what that road looks like in the wet season...but good scenery...
The track along the Mekong leading back to VTE makes for nice riding too...