Vietnam to Laos by land

Aware that it would be an extremely long bus ride with plenty of opportunity to sleep, I woke early and trekked to the Ben Xe bus station and purchased my ticket to Vien Chang (aka Vientiane) Laos. The relatively small dirt lot supported quite a few buses. I ate some noodles and tried to talk to the locals as I waited for our bus to fill up before departure.

The bus didn’t go the route I expected to minimize travel time, but people got off at various points so it must have been a practical route. After a long drive through Central Vietnam’s countless fields, the elevation started to increase. Finally, by the afternoon we reached the Mụ Giạ Pass border crossing near the top of a mountain ridge. The vehicles were almost exclusively cargo trucks, but I was lucky they knew how to process American passports and they did it without any unethical practices.

0523 Laos x1
At the edge of the sky, Mụ Giạ Pass, Vietnam-Laos border crossing.

The Laos side was extremely mountainous, forested and under developed, which aligned with my understanding that over 60% of the country’s population lives by subsistence agriculture.

0523 Laos x3
Laos countryside

We arrived at Southern Bus Station in the outskirts of Vientiane by late evening after all the buses stopped running, but someone helped me flag down a motorbike who took me to the city center where I was able to exchange some money and pay him for the ride.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to pretend you don’t have any money to pay a driver until they get you to your destination or somewhere safe where you can use an ATM or exchange money at a hotel. This way, you won’t be abandoned in a bad situation. Be cautious if the driver suggests specific places.

8 thoughts on “Vietnam to Laos by land

  1. Very informative, great post!


    1. Thanks! There were definitely other ways to get to Laos. I just didn’t find them, but I like taking the local option if I’m able to, so I got pretty lucky!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I couldn’t agree with you more! I think that’s the point of traveling isn’t it? All part of the experience


      2. Yup. Absolutely! Did you just start traveling or just the blog?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’ve just started the blog, I’ve been traveling for a while. It’s difficult to say when I started because I was born while my parents were traveling in a “foreign” country & went with them to various places while growing up. I’ve been into solo travel for about 2 years now.

        What about yourself?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Wow, two years is a long time. Probably more than I can handle in one go – I haven’t gone that long yet. Your parents are like those Germans who abuse the maternity/paternity leave policies and take their newborn children on vacation :)…

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I should have clarified that – I haven’t been traveling solo nonstop for two years, I’ve been traveling solo on & off in that time. If I could, I would though.

        That was amusing to read, I’m sure they were like that. Traveling through east Africa in the 90s with 5 children – not for the fainthearted.


  2. ha..ha.. about the tips -pretend do not have money. Lucky if the driver do not just drop you somewhere because you don’t have money:)

    Liked by 1 person

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