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Self drive in October

United Kingdom
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Self drive in October

I'm planning a trip to Laos in October and have been looking into hiring a 4WD and driving ourselves around. My rough itinerary so far is from VTE to Luang Prabang, further into the north e.g. Muang Sing or Luang Namtha, then to Phonsavan, Vang Vieng and back to VTE.

I'd be very grateful for your advice on the following:

1. What will the road conditions be like in October? I know it's just coming out of the rainy season - would this make self-driving a bad idea (landslips etc)?

2. Is a car a good way to see the country or more of a hindrance? I'm a photographer so having the ability to stop and take pictures would be a huge bonus (rather than being on the bus). But would a car just be a nuisance, particularly in the north (e.g. parking, filling up with petrol, small villages not suited to 4WD)?

3. What are the driving conditions like generally? I've driven all over the world including Asia. How would it compare to driving in Cambodia for example?

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

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1. Re: Self drive in October

Self-driving isn't that difficult compared to neighbouring countries, primarily because the lower population means less traffic. However, you still have to deal with bad roads, kids and animals in villages and mountains (I spent a whole day driving in fog). There are plenty of cars and trucks driving around the remote areas so there is usually petrol around but you might want to identify locations in advance. Finding your way around can be difficult and, although sometimes you'll find a fluent English-speaker in a remote town, it can be difficult to get assistance.

I drove around a few years ago and it gave me a lot of flexibility but it wasn't reallynecessary for most things. Your alternative would be getting buses to main towns and then finding a driver or a scooter, but this won't help if you want to stop along the long highway stretches.

Security for the car might be an issue so stick with reputable hotels that will guard your car at night. Off-street parking could be rare in the smaller towns but the risk of theft will be lower there.

I don't what the weather will be like but going off the main roads in wet season can be very unpleasant.

Vientiane
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2. Re: Self drive in October

This is not a good idea in October. This is the end of the wet season and there willprobably have been landslides on the road to LP. I do not drive this route as it is very windy from Kasi onwards.

Vientiane, Laos
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3. Re: Self drive in October

Driving will be fine - there are plenty of petrol stops, and where there is no station there are manual pumps from a drum. Most of the rain has slowed by October, and if there are slips, they are usually cleared enough for a lane of traffic quickly.

I have driven in the far north in all seasons and never had any problems. If you value the flexibility to stop when you want it is a good option - but expensive as in Laos a 4wd is about $100/day plus mileage.

Vientiane, Laos
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4. Re: Self drive in October

Duplicate

Edited: 19 May 2014, 12:44
Vientiane
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5. Re: Self drive in October

I don't know how long it took to clear the landslide that blocked the road 80 km Nth of Kasi in about the middle of October last year. Perhaps BC can tell you?

Edited: 20 May 2014, 08:40
Earth
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6. Re: Self drive in October

Would any of you respond differently to a road trip the first week in September with pretty much the same itinerary?

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7. Re: Self drive in October

Thanks everyone, I appreciate your comments. I'll need to have a good think about it. The flexibility particuarly from a photography point of view would be brilliant and we're both confident and experienced at driving in all kinds of conditions, in many different countries... but I'm still wondering if the car will just be a hindrance.

Apparently Avis rent cars for 1 day, pick up in VTE and drop off in Luang Prabang... pretty pricey but maybe worthwhile if the scenery on that road is special?

Vientiane, Laos
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8. Re: Self drive in October

Boudecca#6- first week September is well inside the wet season but I wouldn't let it stop you. People drive year round on the roads servicing this itinerary every day. Also, wet seasons vary a lot year to year. The last 2 years have not been bad at all in most parts of the country.

Vientiane
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9. Re: Self drive in October

Advance weather forecasts suggest that this wet season will have plenty of rain. September is in the middle of the wet season. As I stated, I do not drive this route myself any more as it is windy and can be dangerous.

10. Re: Self drive in October

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