Information on bus timetables, prices and routes are rare in Laos so I want to give you an overview on how to come from Vientiane to Pakse by bus!
Before you continue reading I want to give you the advice to go to a travel agency in the center of Vientiane and buy a VIP bus ticket from there. Prices for the Sleeper Bus should cost 190,000 kip (about € 21) and include a pick-up from the city center. However, if you want to organize the route by yourself read on, but if you can’t speak Lao don’t expect to pay less than at the agency.
Basically, there are 3 options to get to Pakse by bus:
- The cheapest option is the local bus, it costs 110.000 Kip (about € 12), it is slow, there is no air-condition and it isn’t that comfortable.
- The express bus runs to Pakse either in the morning or evening, and is faster, costs 140,000 kip (about € 15), is air-conditioned but has only normal seats.
- The fastest, most expensive and most comfortable (?!) variant is the VIP bus, which should cost 170,000 kip (about € 18.50). This bus runs daily to Pakse at 20.30 and 21 pm and arrives in Pakse between 6 and 7 am. The bus is air-conditioned, you get a small bottle of water and snacks (depending on the provider!) and it is a sleeping bus – means that the bus has beds. It is important to know that you will share a normal mattress with someone else, meaning if you are travelling alone you should prepare to snuggle with a stranger in a bed. For more information on the experience of the sleeping bus read the detailed post “Sleeping the miles away” on http://www.noplacetobe.com . They wrote a nice article of their experience on the bus!
For all 3 options here’s the schedule (August 2016):
So why is it expensive to organize the trip by yourself?
- You probably want to be sure you get a ticket so you should buy it some time in advance. To buy a ticket you have to go to the Southern Bus Station (called Dong Dok) – Buses leave from the central bus station until 4.30pm every 10-20 minutes for 3,000 kip (about 40ct), from the northern bus station local busses for little money are driving to the southern bus station as well.
- You need to get there in the evening when no local busses are running anymore, so you’ll only have the option to take a Tuc Tuc. Prices for you as “falang” (foreigner) are around 60,000 kip (about € 6.50) and as a woman from Laos negotiated the price for me I ended up to “only” pay 20,000 kip (about € 2.20) for getting there in a full songtaow.
Overall I paid 170,000 + 6,000 + 20,000 Kip = 196,000 Kip that was more than booking the tour through an agency. Then I had to pay an additional 20,000 Kip in Pakse because my “VIP bus” was the only bus stopping 10km outside of Pakse at the northern bus station.
WARNING: Avoid the Operator SENGCHULEAN, since this is the only bus company which does not drive to the central bus station in Pakse.
After all is said, I hope I can help some travellers planning their own trip. I would welcome your comments if you have made the same tour or this article was helpful for you.
If you have more recent information, please send them to me here so I can update this post.