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Journey from Hue in Vietnam to Vientiane, Laos

Documenting our Day of Travel with an iPhone Camera

We’re now in Vientiane, capital city of Laos! New country, new adventure.  Those of you who follow on us on Twitter (or indeed Facebook or the little Twitter widget on the front page here) may have seen me attempting to tweet our journey here. Unfortunately, I got carried away and drained the battery in my phone too quickly. So, I’m here to cover it properly.

Vietnamese tea in a tiny cup

08:30 After waiting for 30 minutes already for the bus and having our free coffees we have our final cup of Vietnamese tea at the Star City Hotel

After my long, wordy last post I thought I give our readers a little break from processing so much text, here is a photo based post about our day travelling between Hue in central Vietnam to Vientiane, Laos All the pics were taken on my phone, hence the patchy quality.

Star City - Henry and Luan

Time for a quick pic with Luan, the manager of Star City hotel

iphone pic Hue to Danang Bus

9:40 am  – On the bus from Hue to Da Nang – it was 40m late to pick us up and then took over an hour to leave the city

We booked and paid for the bus journey several days earlier with a local agent; cost 80,000 VND each (£2.49/person) The agent told us it would take 4 hours.

Central Vietnam scene Hue to Da Nang bus

10:45 am – Views of central Vietnam through the bus window, following the train line we took north 3 months before

Lake in central Vietnam through bus window iphone 4s

11:37 Just north of Da Nang city now, nice view of a lake before the long tunnel through the mountain

We then finally arrived in Da Nang, the bus dropping us off in the city centre. It had  taken just under 4 hours.  We hailed a taxi and headed straight to the airport in air-conditioned comfort. (Taxi cost: 70,000 VND including 15,00 airport surcharge, £2.18)

Check in at Da Nang International

12:30 pm – We arrived at the airport and we were soon checked in without our bags being weighed! Bonus!

We queued up and made it through security. We have never yet been asked to separate our liquids in any airport in India or south east Asia and Da Nang was no different.  We are always ready to be asked (1 litre plastic bags at the ready) and at this check point I was ready for us to have several things confiscated.  They were not.  We got through with an oversize toothpaste and aerosol deodorant without a peep from the scanner operators.

Burger King Whopper Meal

12:51 pm  – Burger King meals in the departure lounge. We both rather enjoyed our Whopper meals with real Heinz ketchup. We’d had no Burger King or McDonalds since leaving HCMC 3.5 months before…not healthy but very tasty.

Da Nang from the air

2:34 pm: Taking off over Da Nang City

My Khe Beach from the air AKA China Beach

12:35 pm – We head over the staggeringly long My Khe Beach (also known as China Beach) on our way north to Hanoi

Leg Room Vietnam Airlines

Well, look at that legroom! Much more generous than Air Asia. We’re impressed.

Taking a picture on an iphone out of a plane window

Henry capturing the moment

foggy Hanoi from the air

3.31 pm – Coming into land over a foggy Hanoi

Da Nang airport had been fresh modern and easy to navigate; Hanoi was the complete opposite.  On arrival we struggled to navigate to the right desk and found the building very busy, dark and depressing.

Hanoi International Check In Desk

Waiting to check in for our second flight of the day at Hanoi International Airport

After rushing to check in (our bags, again, were not weighed), queueing for rather a long time at immigration where I had to have a word in my teacher voice with a man trying to push in and then making it through security with contraband items for the second time that day we made it to the dingy departure hall where all items of food cost a ridiculous amount of money and there were no foreign exchange booths.  We needed some US dollars to pay for our visa on arrival in Laos and, thanks to my paid-in-cash wages we had plenty of Dong but no Dollars.  After asking in a few shops we eventually did an exchange at a duty free perfume and chocolate shop, at not quite as good a rate as a booth would have provided.  Judging from the reaction of the staff it was not an uncommon request.

Lao Airlines boarding the plane

5:02 pm – Boarding our Lao Airlines flight. We were pleased it was a jet as we’d seen several planes hanging around with just old fashioned propellers. Our flight was booked as Vietnam Airlines like the first one but operated by Lao Airlines – different plane, uniforms etc

clouds from a plane window

5:42 pm – A lovely drop of cloud action

snack served on Lao Airlines June 2013

5:54 pm – Our eagerly awaited snack is delivered; a bread roll with sausage inside and a very pink cup cake, served with a complimentary drink (beer or soft drinks only, no wine unfortunately  Again, better than paying over a pound for a bottle of water on Air Asia

clouds from a plane

6:02 pm – More clouds

Mekong from a plane Laos

6:13 pm – First sighting of Laos from the air – mountains and the mighty Mekong river

Laos Vientiane airport sunset on runway

6:27pm – Landed safely in Laos at sunset, ready for a new adventure

After landing we made our way through to immigration and had our 30 day (full page) visas added to our passports for the sum of $35 each. At the immigration point we had the novel experience of an immigration officer who smiled and made small talk with us – a first in all our experiences so far. We made our way outside expecting to be besieged by taxi drivers but nothing of the sort happened. We stood and watched enormous 4x4s pull up and drop people off and nobody approached us at all. In the end we had to go hunting back inside the terminal and arranged a taxi into town with a pre-paid voucher.  The shiny, silent taxi took us into town and we eventually found a reasonably priced place to lay our heads for the night.

So, after 1 bus, 2 taxis, 2 flights and some walking we were in a new country. We’ve had to get used to a new currency (Laotian Kip) and a new language and so far, quite a bit of rain. More on Vientiane in my next post.

Hue, Vietnam to Vientiane, Laos – 20th June 2013


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