This map you will find very useful for Laos plus tourist places and things to see and do
Choice of routes:
Houyxai-Luam Phrabang-Vang Vienne-Vientianne leave for Nong Khai Thailand or head South to Pakse and Cambodia.
Houyxai – Luam Namtha (+ Muan Sing)- China Yunnan or Oudamsia- Phongsali or Luam Phrabang or Mong Noi /Nong Khiaw. Onto Sam Neue and
Routes through Laos is dependent upon time ie 10 -28 days VOA $35 I usually start north to south from Houxai if you haven’t taken the speedboat I recommended from Chiangmai to luamphrabang if on limited time, if not and you have time on your hands then maybe via Luam Namtha; Muang Sing; Oudamsai and Sam Neue etc. Or take speedboat to Pak beng and then onto Oudamsai with bus great scenic journey as most are in Northern Laos with lots of ethnic tribal areas ie Hmong and Akha, Yao, Lissu /Lahu/Lai Thai etc
If not stopping in Chiang kong then get bus to drop you off at the new border just south of Chiang kong loads of taxis at junction ready to overcharge you the few kms to the new border. Once through customs then choice speedboat / Slow boat to Luam Phrabang or taxi to bus station for bus to Luam Namtha also there are shared minivans going to luam Namtha quite reasonable as they drop you in town opposite ATM and good restaurants.
I always stay Adounsiri tel: +856-20 22991898 email: Adounsiri @yahoo.com on the 1 road back from main road they also have small restaurant now. There are buses direct to Muan Sing It’s a few years back now but I stayed Adaami near the border although cheaper places in town. But from here there are some nice treks you can do on your own, when I was there the owner sold you cheap a map of the area with your route marked out on it through ethnic villages, with some beautiful scenery. From here take a regular bus service to Oudamsai normally viewed as just an overnight stopover but many outlying places of interest of interest. I always stay at Vilavong GH (856) 81 212503 turn left from Bus station and its on the left Hot showers shared bathroom, cheapest roms very clean and comfortable.
From Oudamsai is great side trip buses go to 1) Muang Khua and border to Dien Bien Phu and Sapa in Vietnam. etc Or maybe the boat ride down to Mong Noi from Muang Khua also 2) great bus ride to Phongsali with ethnic minority villages on the way and cheaper trekking with Lao trek companies as opposed to the foreigners in tourist areas making excessive profits from Trekking etc. See tourist office next to Yahouwah GH and restaurant (I enjoyed the food here ) and around corner is Pinekham GH with reasonable priced rooms. You can also get speedboat down to Mong Noi from here but very expensive if you can’t find others to share the boat so its back to Oudamsai or at junction drop off and catch bus to Muang Khua.
From Oudamsai you can also get sleeper buses to China, Yunnan Kumming & Jinghong Xishanbana via Mohan border. Also Minivan to Nong Khiaw and boat to Mong Noi (Warning) there is a group of thieves operating in Mong Noi and Nong Khiaw and many have had their possessions robbed from their rooms, I have my suspicions But! The Police seem reluctant, Too reluctant in my book to investigate properly. I say no more just keep you money close to you even when asleep as often money is stolen from rooms never leave your money in your back packs. From Oudamsai there are also buses to Luam Phrabang and also Sam Neue For Sam Neue from Mong Noi there is an overnight bus, Which stops top of hill outside Sam Neue at the new bus station, just a short walk 1km downhill to town centre. I found the GH at first roundabout turn right and on left very reasonable but to get to the caves you need taxi to the other bus station then pick up to the Vang Xie caves well worth visiting as king of Laos died here during his imprisonment. There are buses into Vietnam at this border also maybe take bus to Ponsivon or at junction Nam Meun head for Ponsivon from here . Then choice the new road goes direct to Lax xau route 8 to Vietnam get off junction and take pick up back to Nahin from here you will get trip to Konglor caves, a river that runs through the mountain. Then back to junction 8 and route 13 either back to Vientianne or after dinner at junction stop one of the overnight buses to Pakse
If you use the minivan to Cambodia from Kaosan rd note the following: 1) they will try and overcharge you for visa (just say you have it already) 2) they will then try and get you to exchange you money but Cambodia operates on $’s US so no need. Also once the other side they will try and get you to take shared taxi to Siem Reap not the the bus you were promised. Once in Siem Reap you get free taxi to your Gh and there they will extract money from them which means you will pay more for your room
– Chiangmai (2 -5 nights depends on trekking etc )– Luam Phrabang (by speedboat all inclusive trip from Chiangmai which includes meals and overnight at border) Luam Phrabang 2 nights . – Vang Vienne (2 nights) – Vientianne (head out same day) to Konglor caves (same day or 1 night) route 8, then overnight bus from junction to -Pakse (open bus ticket to Phnom pen via Don Det ) and Don det (2 or 3 nights)- Phnom Pen (2 nights) bus to Siem Reap direct service to Koh Chang and if time do Battanbang (1 night) (bamboo rail trip ) then onto Paillin border cross same day and pick up Chantaburi and bus to Trat stay over night POP 2 GH 150baht to 450baht rooms then Koh Chang for last few days on beach and after head to airport and home.
Arrive Bangkok BKK and take sky train 35baht to Paya Thai and if heading for backpacker Kaosan Rd then grab a taxi from here. If more than 2 of you then at airport head up to arrivals and grab a meter Taxithat has just dropped off and head to Kaosan rd again during rush hrs then maybe the sky train is quicker. If Taxi then you will need to pay 80baht for tolls to avoid the traffic jams on Sukhumwit but late evenings and early am flights its not necessary.