Getting to four thousands islands(Si-Phan-Don) or Pakse Laos takes long time despite of relatively short distances from Stung Treng. PP Sorya bus company runs a direct bus to Pakse but the bus starts from Phnom Penh making many stops on the way, and you never know when it would reach Stung Treng.(Ticket dealers say 4 PM ish). If you don’t want to be in Pakse after dark, best bet is to contact Mr. Heng in Stung Treng. He organizes a minivan to Pakse which picks up backpackers from 9 AM and dumps passengers at the border around 10:30 AM. He charges $15 to Pakse.
Below is the actual ticket. I was in doubt if this ticket was going to make a smooth connection all the way.
When you see buildings like this, it is time for dealing with not-to easy-officers.
Exiting Cambodia is sweet with just one problem. $2 they say, what ? Stamping ,uh, charge $2. I can’t see any sign or information on anywhere but these guys keep my passport until they see the money. I could have protested against this dodgy scam but didn’t want to hold the line behind me. Officially there is no stamping charge in and out of country.
Walk across the no-mans land for about 100 metres and you are in Laos. Buying a Visa on arrival is easy with list of price for countries. Keep in mind that if you arrive before 8 AM or after 4 PM , and all weekend there will be $1 surcharge on top of Visa fee. This is official and you can’t argue with it.
For New Zealand passport holder it is $30.
But again, I was asked to pay $2 for getting an entry stamp and I looked around for there is no information sheet attached on windows unlike Visa fees. This was clear sign that they are on their own business.
The next minivan picked up us at the border from Lao side at around noon and dropped fellas going to Pakse at the Nakasang turn-off, and the van carried on to Si-Phan-Don. Me and other backpacker transfered on to another minivan to Pakse for the final two hours ride.
Luckily I could check in super famous and popular Nang-noi guest house in Pakse before 3 PM. A fan single room with everything sells for 80000Kip and this is super deal.
The entrance hall at Nang-noi.
To buy Kip(Lao Money) with US dollar aim at 8400Kip to a dollar.
After all, Mr.Heng’s service was flawless and smooth. No down time or mucking around the clock, and the price was right too. If you missed out 9AM bus, there is another minibus at 1 PM. Sorya bus is best avoided as it arrives in Pakse after nightfall in any season, and you may fall victim of a Tuk-Tuk driver.