The weather forecast for Vietnam was looking very bad so we decided to leave Vietnam a few days before we had initially planned to. Unfortunately, due to Covid the border crossing we wanted to use was closed so we had to aim for Lao Bao.
How not to get to Lao Bao
Do not buy a ticket through a travel agency or your hotel if you want to save money. We did because there was a lack of information out there. Our ticket cost 300,000 VND each. I am sure it is much less than that. I think the real cost should be 100,000 VND.
A minibus picked us up at 08:15 from our hotel and took us to another minibus at a location in Hue.
We then waited until 09:00 before heading to the north bus station. We then waited until 10:00 before leaving.
I think that there are several minibuses leaving daily so just come directly to the north bus station, buy your ticket and get on the bus!
The journey from Hue to Lao Bao
The first half of the three hour long journey is not so exciting as it goes along the main road to Dong Ha.
The second half is quite beautiful as the road winds it’s way inland through the mountains to the border.
Crossing the Vietnamese and Lao borders
We arrived at the Lao Bao border at 1pm and by 2pm we were heading for Savannakhet!
Exiting Vietnam was very straightforward. First our passport was checked briefly to get us through to the Immigration area. A Vietnamese official took our passports when we entered the Immigration building. He reviewed them and passed them on to an underling who stamped us out.
We then walked the 500 metres or so across no man’s land and entered the Lao Immigration building. There were no queues and the Immigration Officer gave us entry forms to complete and submit with a passport photo.
He entered the full page visa into our passports and stamped us in. The first time for me for 26 years and 9 years for Mai.
How we got from the Lao Border to Savannakhet
We had initially planned to walk into the town about two Kms away to go to the ATM and get some money out. However, there was a bus leaving from the border which had come from Da Nang, Vietnam and heading to Savannakhet.
We negotiated the price a bit and used up the last of our VND(about $8 USD), as well as $10 USD in cash. The bus was pretty expensive because it was a sleeper bus. Completely unnecessary for our needs, but what the hell as it was very convenient.
The journey from the border should normally take about 5-6 hours, but our driver raced on without stopping and did it in 3.
It was great to arrive in Savannakhet and be greeted to 30C and dry weather! A good decision!
We walked twenty minutes to the Leena Guesthouse and got an Aircon room…100,000 kip compared to 60,000 kip…$5.80 USD instead of $3.48 USD. Good to be back! (Ironically we hardly used the Aircon:)