Getting to the border The Lao Bao–Dansavanh border crossing, on the Sepon River (Song Xe Pon), is one of the most popular and least problematic border crossings between Laos and Vietnam. Buses to Savannakhet in Laos run from Hue via Dong Ha and Lao Bao. From Hue, there’s a daily 7am air-conditioned bus (350,000d, 9½ hours) that stops at the Dong Ha bus station around 9.30am to pick up more passengers. It’s also easy to cross the border on your own; Dong Ha is the gateway. Buses leave the town to Lao Bao (60,000d, two hours) roughly every 15 minutes. From here xe om charge 15,000d to the border. You can check schedules and book tickets at Tam's DMZ Cafe & Guesthouse. Tam's also book tickets to Vientiane (14 hours), Thakhek (10 hours) and Pakse (10 hours). It's not possible to cross on motorbikes from Vietnam at the Lao Bao border.
At the border The border posts (7am to 6pm) are a few hundred metres apart. Lao visas are available on arrival, but Vietnamese visas need to be arranged in advance. There are several serviceable hotels on the Vietnamese side. Try not to change currency in Lao Bao: money changers offer terrible rates.
Moving on Sawngthaew head regularly to Sepon, from where you can get a bus or another sawngthaew to Savannakhet.
Buses from the Dong Ha bus station depart regularly to Dong Hoi (60,000d, two hours), Hue (60,000d, 90 minutes), Danang (100,000d, 3½ hours), Khe Sanh (50,000d, 90 minutes) and Lao Bao (60,000d, two hours).
Direct buses for Son Trach and Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park leave three times a day (160,000d, three hours), and can be booked through Tam's DMZ Guesthouse & Cafe.
A one-way car trip to the Lao Bao border will set you back US$45 and is a good option for three or more passengers. Motorbikes can be hired from US$6 per day. For motorcycle transfers to and from destinations including Hue, Dong Hoi and Phong Nha, contact Tam's Tours and ask about the DMZ Adventure Rider tours.
Dong Ha’s train station, 2km south of the Dong Ha Bridge, has trains to destinations including Hanoi (sleeper from 650,000d, 11 to 14 hours, five daily), Dong Hoi (hard seat from 65,000d, 1½ to 2½ hours, six daily) and Hue (hard seat from 50,000d, 1½ to 2½ hours, six daily).