Road and Off-road trip to Laos with friends

Lone Rider

Blokes Who Can
Jan 29, 2011
4 Wheels
Road and Off-road trip to Laos: Houayxay to Vientiane via Hongsa, Paklay and Vangvieng

Matt and myself had been talking about this trip for quite some time but never found the opportune time for a joint trip. However, finally in early May we made it as I would be going to laos for a mapping trip and Matt had 2 weeks in between jobs. The plan was as much ofroad as possible but this did not always work out the way we intended due to various reasons. We left Chiangmai on May 3 and spent our first night in Laos in Houayxay before starting the trip in earnest.


Ready to cross into Laos over Friendship Bridge No. 4


Getting ready for the trip


The route taken during the first 4 days

Big thumps up for the owner and staff of the Oudomphone Guesthouse who insisted that we unload our stuff at the back of the truck as they were afraid that it would be stolen while the trucks were parked at their premises. In the end the staff unloaded our stuf, stored it in their kitchen and the next morning they had loaded our trucks before we even came down for breakfast.


The reception of the Oudomphone Guesthouse after the upgrading of the premises (coordinates N20.27817 E100.41111)

The plan for Day 1 of our trip was to head south along the Mekong on the east side, cross the Mekong to the westside and explore the new roads in the Mueang Khop/Xienghone are before heading to Hongsa for the night. Just a bit south past the Friendship Bridge 4 on Rd. 2201 a stupa appears on the other side of the Mekong. This stupa part of Wat Phrathat Doi Mae Ya Mon on the Thai side of the Mekong.

The long straight from Ban Danthin to Ban Xaichaleun

At Ban Paktha we headed south over the Nam Tha river and continued along Rd. 2202 where a bit further on you can take the ferry (coordinates N20.08369 E100.59525) to the west side of the Mekong


On the dusty road 2202


Waiting for the ferry (Coordinates N19.82961 E100.57770) to cross to the westside of the Mekong at Ban Kontum


The Mekong is flowing quite fast here



Ready to hit the road again which quickly changes from dirt to a nicely paved road


A bit further is the local border crossing from Laos to Thailand (Ban Huak, Phayao Province) - coordinates N19.67420 E100.44315 - which hopefully will become an International Border Crossing Point


The junction (N19.69965 E100.55301) at Mueang Khop - to the right (Rd. 3604) goes to Mueang Xienghone and straight on (Rd. 3603) goes to Ban Pakkhop and Ban Kontum


Another junction at N19.57809 E100.75892 which goes to another local border crossing with Thailand and Ban Mai Chai Daen/Song Khwae at Rd. 1279 in Thailand


Preparing dinner at Hongsa at the end of Day 1.


Stocking up with essential supplies at what was once the Jumbo Guesthouse in Hongsa at the start of Day 2 to Mueang Saisathan and Xayaboury.






Ban Sala - N19.43773 E101.26687 at the junction with Rd. 3601



Mueang Saisathan - picture copyright Khemphone Phomnouinh


The district administration of Mueang Saisathan - picture copyright Thanaphon Chantharas

We arrived early in Xayaboury and decided to continue to Ban Nampouy (Mueang Phieng) in order to have an early start the next day when the plan was to take the offroad track through the Nam Pouy National Park. While at the Agriculture and Forestry Department where we went to ask about the road condition we were told that trucks would not be able to go through the National Park as there were several single track section so only motorbikes would be able to make the trip.


Motorbikes can go - picture copyright Gone911


But cars can not go through the Nam Pouy National Park as the track is a bit narrow - a picture from 2014 - copyright Fritz O.

Unfortunately, no Nam Pouy National Park for us so we decided to head straight to Paklay for an overnighter there at the Anousone 2 Guesthouse.


Sunrise over the Mekong


The Paklay bridge is still not open so it was the ferry again o the other side of the Mekong


Matt enjoing one of the small river crossings

Todays trip was a bit of a disaster - it started of nice and sunny with interesting tracks (Rd. 4502) with some small river crossings north of Xanakham. However, later on it started to rain and the red clay tracks became extremely slippery and we both had some very scary moments with the truck just sliding sideways, backwards, etc. At one time my truck came to within 6 inches from going over the side of a small cliff. Don't know how I managed to get control again over the truck but it stayed on the track but only till the next hill where I went again almost off the road. Sorry, no pictures except for the next picture nor videos (we both had the dash-cam running) as we were to busy to keep the trucks on the track.


We decided to wait till the rain would stop and the track would dry out a bit before making another attempt to reach Mueang Mad (Met) another 20 km. further to the north. After an hour or so we decided to go for it as the people informed us that a few hundred meters further on the road builders had added gravel to the road surface which made keeping the truck on the road much easier for the next 60 km. till we reached tarmac on Rd. 13N. From here it was an easy ride to Vangvieng for our 3rd night on the road as well as good food and cold beers.


On the road to Vangvieng

Day 4 would bring us to Vientiane via Hinheup, Mueang Fueang and on Rd. 4501 to Ban Vang and from there on Rd. 11 to Vientiane.



Early morning in Vangvieng


Wildlife on sale along the road

Just after turning west at Hinheup we were stopped by the police. They could not find anything wrong with our paperwork so they started to ask for beer money. After some joking with them we managed to drive of without contributing to their beer fund.



Matt testing out the brakes of his truck



A small lake and a market along the road



Stop along the Mekong river with Thailand on the other side
Day 5 through 9: Vientiane to Xam Neua via Thakhaek, Boaualapha, Na Hin and Phonsavan

Sorry, just noticed that I never finished this trip report probably due to a lack of pictures but anyway, here we go.

Vientiane to Thakhaek - The breakfast in the hotel was so-so but, as Kesorn always brings loads of yummy food we did not worry and about 1.5 hours later while parke a bit of Rd. 13S she whipped up a very nice breakfast. As we did not like to be on paved roads to much, we decided to head right after the bridge over the Nam Pang right after Pakkading. The first bit is paved but, as you'll see quite often in Laos, the money ran out and the remainder of the road was left unpaved.

Ferry Crossing (N18.07642 E104.15150) over the Nam Ton (Nam Khou) at Ban Pakthon

At Ban Boungkoang we took Rd. 5165 to the east to link up with Rd. 13S to Thakhaek. Overnight at the Villa (coordinates N17.39750 E104.82584) behind the Thakhaek Travel Lodge

The next morning we had a quick look at the Buddha Cave (coordinates N17.47659 E104.85173) off Rd. 5502 amd bit north of Rd. 12. Nearby are the Paseum Cave and the Nongthao Lake.

In the neighbourhood there are lots of other attractions but we left these for another trip

Buying local honey along the road

Crossing the Xe Bangfai river with the new bridge under construction in the background

Crossing the Houay In using the new bridge (coordinates N17.54109 E105.73229)

A quick stop at the Wat in Ban Phanop (coordinates N17.53811 E105.74427) with a wingtip of a plane shot down there during the Vietnam war and other war scrap

Another stop along Rd. 12 at the Gnommalat Fistrict Office to see the reamins of a Surface to Air Missile (Russion SA-2 Diva) missile used during the war.

Overnight and a Rest Day at the Sai Nam Hai Resort (coordinates N18.18042 E104.54594) in Ban Namsanam on the way to the Konglor Cave

The Konglor Cave (Pictures copyright Matt Harry)

On the way back from the Konglor cave a car blasted past only to stop a bit further - they were chasing people and were ready to blow out our tyres with spikes in case we would not stop. Lucky for us we stopped and they indicated they were chasing the wrong car and after apologies they let us continue to the Sai Nam Hai Resort.

The next day we continued our travels to Phonsavan and Xam Neua via Viengthong, Mueang Moc (Mork), Mueang Khoun and Mueang Kham - very few pictures as my camera malfunctioned from time to time.

On the way to Mueang Moc (Mork) - a new road and a new military base between the road we were travelling on and the Vietnam border

The bridge over the Nam Chat river (coordinates N19.07006 E103.95272) just west of Mueang Moc

A small waterfall along the road from Mueang Moc to Mueang Khoune

The temple in Mueang Khoun which was almost destroyed completely during the Vietnam war and That Foun

Tad Saluey (Dat Salai) Waterfall (coordinates N20.22913 E104.00456) along Rd. 6 near Ban Saleuy

After Xam Neua my camera gave up completely so that is the end of this trip report. Once in Luang Prabang I found the problem - the SD card did not lodge properly in the camera and after replacing it, all was well again with it.
Any news on a completion of the Xe Bangfai bridge, its been going on for some years with little progress, still one of the longest ridable crossings in Laos, hope it stays that way a little longer.

Nice find with the what looks like a Wiley Pete rocket in Phanop have to search for that on my next trip.
Any news on a completion of the Xe Bangfai bridge, its been going on for some years with little progress, still one of the longest ridable crossings in Laos, hope it stays that way a little longer.

Nice find with the what looks like a Wiley Pete rocket in Phanop have to search for that on my next trip.

Yes, I was surprised that last year they were working on it again as well as a few other bridges in the road from Boualapha to Ban Langkham on Rd. 12. The other bridges are the one over the Houay In (just west of Ban Phanop), a new bridge over the Nam Ngo at Ban Saenphan and a new bridge at Ban Khagnou.
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