Traveling in Laos by public transport

Traveling in Laos by public transport

I thought that Myanmar had the record for the disorganization of public transport and unlikely routes and timetables, but I was wrong.

Laos, to my great surprise, was expensive and had terrible means of transport, as well as practically unusable roads.
Traveling in Laos by public transport is for strong stomachs and for those who have a lot of time to waste, I actually believe that to be able to do everything I wanted I spent more time sitting on a bus than lying in a bed.
In particular the last trip from LuangTha to Vientene, which lasted exactly 24 hours, it was the best. The conditions of the bus were precarious, people sat in plastic seats in the aisle, me with two other girls in seats for two, luckily Asians are small and the suffering was minimal
A bus ticket sold as VIP costing 205,000 kip (or $25) it turned out to be a bus ticket which I think was local, maybe VIP’s just had the air conditioning too strong.
The concept of VIP is relative although in fact comparing the VIP bus with the local ones in Laos for the first time I decided to pay a little more to at least have air conditioning.
But the scene that appeared before me as soon as I arrived at the bus station was somewhere between dramatic and funny.
Let me start by saying that I was the only tourist on the bus, which means that there were no other crazy people who took on this journey of hope and that no one spoke English.
The bus was already quite dirty before people got on it, the conditions in which we left it were reprehensible, in the middle of the corridor there were so many child seats that already made me understand what they would be used for.
Once I took my seat I had the happy surprise of not having a seat mate so 2 seats all to myself, although I didn’t feel like I was in the Caserta palace however I thought that I had gotten used to it and it didn’t weigh on me that much.

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As we proceed 20 kilometers per hour and numerous stops on the street to collect people, what I thought were 2 seats for me become 2 seats for 3!
I had two girls sitting with me, the gentle giant (me) with two Lilliputians.
Thai music, in fact in Loas the Thai influences are unfortunately strong also on a musical level, it starts at 8 in the morning and continues to play at full volume at 1 in the morning the next day. Partly due to the inconvenience and partly because Thai music is a bit hard to digest I ask the driver if he can turn it off because neither I nor the people next to me (including a newborn baby) could sleep.

man driving truck

In fact, it seems that it is the custom of drivers in Laos to listen to music all the time and thus make us sacrifice ourselves to this sort of Karaoke on 6 wheels.

In these weeks spent in Laos and after having covered kilometers on the buses I have come to the conclusion that this country should be toured by motorcycle.
In fact, the landscapes and villages that you pass when you are on the bus are many and all authentic, genuine, it would be worth being able to stop and test the goodness and kindness of its inhabitants. If you’re lucky, you can also take beautiful photos, I say lucky given that holidaymakers are a little reluctant to have their photos taken, especially women.
Alternatively, if you don’t have a motorbike or don’t want to rent one, the bus seems to be the only solution, I don’t know that there are trains and even if there were I can’t imagine what conditions they are in.
My advice for those traveling by bus is: organize short tripsdon’t try to want to do everything together because the time expands and I assure you that after a day of travel you need at least another to recover.
Furthermore, in my opinion, the tickets are very expensive, especially when compared for example to the efficiency of Thai buses.
Bus tickets can be purchased at guesthouse oh restaurants which I recommend doing as generally the prices also include a tuk tuk that picks you up at the guest house, and tuk tuks in Laos are the most expensive of the countries I’ve been to, you don’t pay less than 15,000 or 20,000 rips that is, no less than $2.

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