peoples travel blogs have made crossing in and out of Laos out to be a dammed nightmare.
No lines huh? Just a mass of people waving their papers in the air, pushing and shoving? That makes me rather uncomfortable.
What about currupt officals trying to ascertain bribes or issuing papers that once you get to where-ever-your-going, turn out not to be accepted, and your stuck somewhere.
Are the particular parts of Laos that are more dodgy than others?
I really want to stick with the fairly well traveled backpacking paths--> Vietienne to Vang Vieng to Luang Pabrang, and then on to Vietnam.
I want to hit up laos really bad. But is it worth the risk?
You seem to be entering Laos via a major entry point so everything should go smoothly. I have only entered by air and, apart from filling in blithering forms with spces too small to give the information required, and also about a 15 min. delay, I have never encountered any problem.
If you are worried avoid the more isolated border crossings and just enter via VTE
The route that you proposed is perfectly safe and you will really enjoy Luang Prabang
I entered Laos via land in Northern Thailand and had no problems. I have never heard of any travellers having major issues on the main border crossing so I think you will be fine.
I entered Laos at the Chiang Khong/Huay Xai border and had no problems whatsoever.
It was kind of cool to take a boat ferry accross the river and on the Laotian side we basically just had to fill out a form and pay for the visa. Fair enough, it was a bit annoying they charged us US $ 2 extra because it was after 5 pm, but nonetheless we had no hassle at all. Just one more thing, make sure you have 2 passport sized photographs with you, because that's what they require for the visa form and it comes in handy to have a number of small dollar notes, because the visa will cost you around $ 32 (well, that was what I paid at least for a 30-days visa) and the border officials don't have or give change .
[ Edit: Edited on Jun 13, 2008, at 7:06 AM by steff ]