The bus from Hanoi to Vientiane for an excruciating 18 to 24 hours just did not appeal that much to us so we looked for another way over the border… and we did meet people who had done the journey (that lasted up to 24hours because of delays) and told us “never again!”
So we thought, if we go to Sapa, why not cross in the north and from there travel down Laos? It would definitely save us a lot of trouble!
So we took a bus from Sapa directly to Muang Khua, accross the border in Laos.
The bus costed us 100 000D per person and lasted from 7pm to 11am.
We changed to a minibus before reaching the border at 9am (if you need it, do take the time to pee!! After the minibus leaves you will be stuck for hours until the border!)
At the border
The process was pretty straight forward. They took us to the Vietnam border where they gave us the option to change our Dong to Kip. It says that at the Laos border they only accept kip, that’s a lie. They actually accept a lot of currencies, just not Vietnamese Dong… then they stamped our passports with the date of exit.
Afterwards, we hopped on back on our minibus that was waiting for us on the other side of the building (take the number plates if there are a lot of vehicles) and left to get to the Laos border.
At the Laos border they gave us forms to fill and the opportunity to take the passport photo for the forms if you did not have one already (for 5$). We then had to go from window to window, paying different fees for different stamps until the health check.
You can skip the health check. They make you pay 2000D and check you temperature. Its a tourist trap, again, so just skip it and go forward to your bus.