Siem Reap to Don Khone
Take off on an overland UNESCO adventure from Angkor Wat to Vat Phou in Champasak. A private transport company offers a comfortable 12-passenger minibus or van ride from Siem Reap through northern Cambodia and the Lao border, before arriving at the popular Don Khone tourism haven in the 4,000 Islands. The 265-km drive takes about 7 hours, including immigration formalities, for about $26. From here, busses and sawng taews frequently depart for the short ride to Vat Phou.
Phnom Penh to Pakse
Hop on the International Bus in Phnom Penh and go directly to Pakse, or stop on the way at the 4,000 Islands or the ferry to Champasak Town and Vat Phou. A comfortable daily bus leaves the Sorya Bus Co., Station near the Central Market and railway station at 06:45 for the 615-km, 13-hour drive to Pakse for about $32. If you want to get off at Champasak’s more southern destinations, tell the driver. You may also have to change busses at the border, so be sure to keep track of your luggage.
Phnom Penh to the 4,000 Islands
Head straight to the 4,000 Islands to start your Lao visit. Asia Van Transfer Co. (AVT) offers a comfortable van service to the Don Khone-Don Det ferry for $30. The van departs at 06:45 for the 11-hour trip that passes through immigration and continues to the Don Khone ferry. AVT occasionally offers overnight vans that depart at 23:00.
Mekong Discovery Trail to the Lao Border
Adventurers staying at Kratie and Stung Treng on the Mekong Discovery Trail can reach the Lao border by minibus and boat. From Kratie, head to the Santepheap Hotel by 07:00 for a van to the border checkpoint. You may have to switch vehicles at Stung Treng, which is about 150 km north. The ride takes 3-4 hours. Those in Stung Treng can hop on the public bus to the border for the 2-hour drive. Once you pass through immigration, take one of the waiting vans or sawng taews to Nakasang and the ferry to Don Khone and Don Det.
The Mekong Discovery Trail to Laos by Boat
Well-heeled travellers can work their way up the Mekong by boat from Phnom Penh, depending on demand and river levels, which are best during Green Season (June-October). Start at Sisowath Quay near the Japanese Bridge for a 2-hour cruise in a longboat to Kampong Cham. From here, you can hire a boat to Kratie, which takes about 3 hours. Boats are available in Kratie for the 6-7-hour cruise to Stung Treng, where you have to catch the bus to the border.