From Vietnam to Laos by bus
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Today we leave the north of Vietnam, where we've stayed for 2 weeks. With the Italian passport, in fact, it is possible to have a free visa on arrival in the country that lasts 15 days. This permit can be used a second time only if you stay outside the country for at least 30 days. Alternatively, you can apply for a 1-month visa in advance at your embassy.
During these days, therefore, we have had the opportunity to visit chaotic cities like Hanoi, landscapes with breathtaking views in the province of Ha Giang, waterfalls at the border with China like Bang Cioc in the province of Cao Bang and much more. At the end of our tour in Vietnam (see other articles about it), we decide to reach Laos from Hanoi. We book a bus in a travel agency for $ 41. The pick up from the agency is at 5 pm. We then change the bus for a night one (here in Vietnam they are really good, with seats almost completely reclining) and we leave at 7.30 pm. We take supplies of food and water as the trip will last between 24 and 30 hours. Remember not to drink too much, there is no bathroom on board and you never know when the next stop will be!
The journey continues well until the arrival of the Vietnam border (we cross the border at Tay Trang Border Gate). It's 7 am and we stopped just once. Once you have obtained the exit stamp (very slow procedure), we take a sandwich with eggs for breakfast and continue by walking towards the border of Laos. We apply for the visa at the entrance. We pay $ 35 (attention: you must have US dollars or Baths - Thai currency). Then you have to pay 60,000 dong for taxes that is just a little bit more than 2 euros. After the first check, you must pay 20,000 kips (Laos currency: 10,000 kip is 1 €) and then another 20,000 kip (it is not clear why).
Back on the bus and then when we reach Udom Xai we change bus. Unfortunately, we have no local currency and there are no ATMs around so we cannot buy food. After half an hour on the new bus, we realize that we are proceeding very slowly due to a failure (we cannot understand what it is because of the difficulty in communicating with the driver).
After about 2 hours, therefore, we stop and change bus again. Finally, after only 28 hours, we reach the town of Luang Prabang. We made it! Unbelievable!
It was a long journey but luckily we did not have big problems and the buses were really comfortable. Definitely, an experience to do!