South East Asia is well known for it’s sometimes difficult to border crossings, especially by land. My experience travelling from Dien Bien Phi, Vietnam to Luang Prabang, Laos didn’t have any controversial payments to authorities (the temperature “health check” was something encountered leaving Laos) but it did have its memorable moments – like a slow boat taking on water and almost sinking!
Leaving Dien Bien Phu in the wee hours of the morning gave beautiful sunrise views of the surrounding mountains, it wasn’t too long of a ride until the border checkpoint. After applying for the visa on arrival and swapping money over the border (surprisingly a decent exchange rate) we learnt two of our fellow passengers hard been denied exiting Vietnam, apparently due to them having an E-Visa.
From here, a four-hour slow boat ride gets you within a couple hours by another bus away from Luang Prabang. Boarding this narrow longtail boat were 9 tourists with large packs and about the same number of locals with household appliances – think TVs and blenders. But we shared a boat and made impromptu stops at the side of an overgrown jungle none the less to let people disembark and pick up new passengers.
You know there’s a real issue when locals have a sense of danger in their voice. When all locals began shouting at the driver in Lao, something was visibly wrong. The boat had begun to take on water and quickly. With the locals bailing the water out from beneath our feet the vibe turned into nervous stares around the boat, trying to spot any leak.
Around 3 hours into the cramped conditions of this boat, not being able to have a bathroom break or even walk around, the sun’s rays began to wear us all down, and my group of three decided to stop off at one of the smallest towns I’ve ever visited – Muang Ngoy. Before continuing on to Luang Prabang by another boat and bus.
Click here for the full story of Vietnam to Laos! https://horizonunknown.com/travel-vietnam-to-laos/