Laos Buses: Adventure Seekers Only!
Due to a chronic history of major issues, we cannot recommend Lao public buses to just anyone, but travelers if your travelers do wish to take them, be prepared for a serious adventure!
The intercity bus system in Laos relies on a fleet of hand-me-down buses that have been retired from more developed countries such as Korea and Japan. These used vehicles, on arrival in Laos, are refurbished and repainted and put back on the road. There are bus timetables, but it is not unusual for the driver to ignore schedules and wait until there are enough passengers to make the trip worthwhile. There are a host of problems that can arise of course, but if your travelers are not in a hurry, are fit, healthy and informed of the risks, have a spirit of adventure and some Laos language skills, this mode of transport will certainly make for a memorable cultural experience! Sharing such a journey with local people can be an incredible bonding experience and give unique insight into their daily lives that otherwise would not be possible.
Naturally, on rough roads and with the bus barreling along through Laos’ curvy mountain passes, the chance for motion sickness can rise dramatically. Khiri Laos staff recommend the following nuggets of advice to minimize the perils of this kind of travel: carry a motion sickness bag, just in case! Sit near a window as the moving breeze in the face can settle a sick stomach. The front seats behind the driver are best for foreigners with longer legs. Minimize the size of luggage (and keep valuables close at hand). Disembark a bus before leaving the station if the bus becomes overcrowded with people and/or cargo.
Alternatively, there are two VIP (newer, larger, air conditioned) bus routes that are more comfortable for travelers who enjoy this type of travel. The overnight bus from Vientiane to Pakse is not bad as the road is flat. Tickets are incredibly inexpensive, even for the VIP busses. Khiri Travel Laos recommends to purchase an additional ticket for guests to guarantee sitting next to an empty seat and thus more space.
The Loei (Thailand) VIP bus to Luang Prabang is a workable bus option as well. By circumventing the main mountain ranges along the way, these Thai-maintained buses are newer and go through a very scenic stretch of countryside. If travelers are on a budget and want to get to Luang Prabang from Thailand, this is an excellent option.
Photo by: garycycles
For more information and booking requests on this adventurous travel option, please contact [email protected] or Stefan — See information below.