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Laos forum

Overnight bus Vientiane-Pakse

Posted by amz155 on 29/11/2006 at 06:30

Just wondering if anyone can provide info/their experience about the overnight bus from Vientiane to Pakse. Are their different options? How much should we expect to pay? Is the ride a safe one?
Thanks!

#1 amz155 has been a member since 30/8/2006. Posts: 111

Posted by steviej on 29/11/2006 at 07:01

Hi Amz,

Although I've not done the trip myself, it was looked into for our impending adventure.

If my memory serves right it can take anything from 10 to 15 hours depending on the type of vehicle. I think a VIP bus leaves Vientiane around 8pm and costs about US$10 and takes 10+ hours. There is another bus called a KTV or KVT (???) that one leaves around 8:30ish and scoots down south a little quicker (maybe half a hour) and comes in at a hefty US$15ish.

OR....you could be really brave and snag a standard bus for a gruelling 15+hour ride costing about US$7 but you’d be setting off around 5pm.

As for safety, I'd say you'd be hard pressed to feel any more threatend than in your nearest village...............;-)

Whatever you decide ENJOY!!

Chill
stevie

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Posted by amz155 on 29/11/2006 at 09:09

Thanks stevie!

After arriving in pakse, our intention is to immediately continue on to the 4,000 islands. Any info on this transfer is appreciated. Is it easy to continue on the same morning? What are our transport options ? (We're headed for Don Det)
Thanks

#3 amz155 has been a member since 30/8/2006. Posts: 111

Posted by steviej on 29/11/2006 at 17:51

Hi again,

Although not impossible, that'll take some doing as it'll takes around 8 to 9hrs to get from Pakse to Don Dhet travelling by bus; have a look here: https://www.travelfish.org/trip_planner/southern-laos-holiday

Personally I'd plumb for a lazy 3 to 4hr boat to Champasak https://www.travelfish.org/location/laos/southern_laos/champasak/champasak and stop there even if it was for only one night. The boat leaves Pakse around 7am. I suppose you could go all the way to Don Khong on the same boat but it takes around 9hrs, if your lucky.

Chill
stevie

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Posted by Pip on 30/11/2006 at 10:32

Hi Amz,

I just took the Vientiene to Pakse bus last night. I was on the local express that leaves at 7 pm. Looking back on it I would have taken the VIP. This is the only trip in all of Lao so far where I would have prefered this option and I have come all the way down from Huai Xai by bus. The reason is that the VIP is only $4 more than the express, and you get picked up at your guest house (saves $1.50) and you get more comfortable seats, a meal included and dropped right in town instead of five km outside of town (another $ 0.5- $0.75). My bus also spent two hours getting out if Vientiene because we picked up two motorcycles and an engine and had to get them onto the roof.
If your really hard up on cash then take the express, otherwise I think the VIP is actaully worth it on this trip.
Remeber that this advice is comming from someone who's bus to Luang Nam Tha got stuck in a ditch in the jungle for three hours and I don't regret that decision nearly as much.
My friends are trying to make the one day connection down to Si Phan Don but I don't have any advice for you there yet.

Good luck.

Pip

#5 Pip has been a member since 19/7/2006. Posts: 5

Posted by JoHe59 on 30/11/2006 at 17:10

Hi,
Don't know where Steviej read this 8 to 9 hrs from Pakse to Don Det. I'm preparing my trip to Laos and I've read many travel journals. Many people take the night bus from Vientiane to Pakse and go on straight to Don Det/Don Khone. They all talking about approx. 3 hours (maybe 4 if your bus has to make long stops to load some local stuff) by bus from Pakse to Ban Nakasang, where you take a boat to one of the islands (short trip).
Have a nice trip and keep us informed
Johan

#6 JoHe59 has been a member since 22/8/2006. Posts: 21

Posted by steviej on 30/11/2006 at 17:45

Hi all,

Ooops.................................

Well spotted Johan, my mistake. I was looking at departure times instead of journey times............. ;-()

Cheers
stevie

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Posted by amz155 on 30/11/2006 at 22:47

thanks everyone. i will look into the VIP bus as it seems a better deal. is it easy to book this VIP bus in vientiane on the day one wishes to travel?

JoHe59; thanks for your reply. I have also been reading through a slew of travel blogs to plan for my feb/march trip. but i wasn't shure if the trip can be made smoothly in one day between VTN and SPD. do you have any info on the bus to catch in pakse that's headed for SPD? what time does it leave and from where?
thanks!

#8 amz155 has been a member since 30/8/2006. Posts: 111

Posted by Pip on 1/12/2006 at 21:18

As far as I could tell every guest house sells vip bus tickets to pakse and some even can get you a ticket right down to SPD. Those I believe are just a ticket for the local bus from pakse and a tuk tuk connection out to the south bus terminal. There are four bus terminals in Pakse so they are pretty far appart, but you should be able to get there pretty easily and if you know your lao or Thai #'s then it is really easy to bargan them down to a reasonable price for the trip (about $1 US from VIP bus terminal, but you may have to pay more).

Hope that helps.

Pip

#9 Pip has been a member since 19/7/2006. Posts: 5

Posted by JoHe59 on 14/12/2006 at 20:32

Hi,
Pip already gave you some information. What I've read in the travel journals is that you leave Vientiane around 8 pm and you arrive about 10 hours later. Some cheap buses leave earlier, but take longer. You arrive in the northern bus terminal so you have to take a tuktuk to the southern bus terminal. Then you have to look for the bus with Don Det on it (or Don Khone; this I don't know exactly, but it's not in Lao writing). You get your ticket on that bus (costs about 25000 kip), which will get you in Ban Nakasang 3 to 4 hours later. There you take the boat to Don Det or Don Khone.
I leave for Laos 11th March. If you do this trip earlier, please let me know if my information is correct. Thanks,
Johan

#10 JoHe59 has been a member since 22/8/2006. Posts: 21

Posted by somtam2000 on 14/12/2006 at 23:25 admin

Johan,

Your info sounds about right -- we've got a researcher in the area at the moment and his updated Pakse research is online already (transport info here).

Apparently a lot of people are opting to do it by private minibus, but there's no reason why you can't (as you say) just head to the southern bus station and get a bus.

Updated info on Don Khong, Khon and Dhet should be online within the next week...

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Posted by indravarman on 15/7/2007 at 14:48

The sawngthaew "bus" from Pakse's southern bus terminal (8km from town, by tuk tuk)takes 11/2 to 2 hours to reach the ferry stop for Champusak. Then there's another 2 hours to reach Ban Nakasang, where the snake boats leave for Don Det and Don Khon. For this bus trip add anwhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours of waiting time to pick up extra passengers, including large white goods - I was squeezed at the back end next to a fridge in its cardboard box, which was roped rather precariously over the back step, with the ticket seller sitting on the ropes. Once you're at Ban Nakasang there's then the usual standing around waiting for each small boat operator from Don Det to pull the boat onto the sand, have a coffee and/or chain smoke, then negotiate passengers and prices for the return trip. The boat trip takes about 10-15 minutes to Don Det and then another 10 minutes for Don Khon. So the whole trip from Pakse is unlikely to go according the scheduled time of arrival, more likely 1-2 hours longer with all these stand around/waiting breaks. Same deal with the minibus. I found it wasn't that much faster than the regular (sawngthaen) bus, because there's still that ongoing delay picking up extra passengers along the way. Also, they really pack then in with the minivans, so it can end up more of a squash than in the sawngthaews - they at least have open sides, which makes for a less claustrophobic if slightly longer journey time.

#12 indravarman has been a member since 8/7/2007. Posts: 6

Posted by indravarman on 15/7/2007 at 15:02

The sawngthaew "bus" from Pakse's southern bus terminal (8km from town, by tuk tuk)takes 11/2 to 2 hours to reach the ferry stop for Champusak. Then there's another 2 hours to reach Ban Nakasang, where the snake boats leave for Don Det and Don Khon. For this bus trip add anwhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours of waiting time to pick up extra passengers, including large white goods - I was squeezed at the back end next to a fridge in its cardboard box, which was roped rather precariously over the back step, with the ticket seller sitting on the ropes. Once you're at Ban Nakasang there's then the usual standing around waiting for each small boat operator from Don Det to pull the boat onto the sand, have a coffee and/or chain smoke, then negotiate passengers and prices for the return trip. The boat trip takes about 10-15 minutes to Don Det and then another 10 minutes for Don Khon. So the whole trip from Pakse is unlikely to go according the scheduled time of arrival, more likely 1-2 hours longer with all these stand around/waiting breaks. Same deal with the minibus. I found it wasn't that much faster than the regular (sawngthaen) bus, because there's still that ongoing delay picking up extra passengers along the way. Also, they really pack then in with the minivans, so it can end up more of a squash than in the sawngthaews - they at least have open sides, which makes for a less claustrophobic if slightly longer journey time.

#13 indravarman has been a member since 8/7/2007. Posts: 6

Posted by icaronz on 12/4/2008 at 06:40

I am planing my trip now and i couldnt find any inf about overnight bus, how did you guys find out about it? Could somebody send some links?
Thanks a lot,
Icaro

#14 icaronz has been a member since 12/4/2008. Posts: 1

Posted by Pip on 12/4/2008 at 07:33

As far as I can remember almost all of the buses that make that trip are overnight (it's pretty long). I don't think you will find much online as there wasn't a year and a half ago when I took my trip, but every guest house in Vientiane can give you info, or sell you a ticket. I just went to the bus terminal with a friend the day before we left and found out that way. I'm a really relaxed traveller though. Good luck and have fun. Lao was my fav country.

#15 Pip has been a member since 19/7/2006. Posts: 5

Posted by regina5 on 30/4/2008 at 13:00

Hi there
I took the overnight bus in the opposite direction last January. It cost about 15$ per person -but it was worth every penny! The most comfortable busride I've ever taken because- it was a sleeper bus! No, not just recling seats- real beds!!
The buses are advertised everywhere so booking is easy, we booked on the morning of the day we wanted to leave. Songthaew to bus station was included (right from the place where we were having dinner - how luxurious is that!) as was water and a snack on the bus. One stop, slept well and arrived in Ventiane at about 7am and caught the aerobic scene on the riverbank while dringing Lao coffee. Get me back there!!!!!

#16 regina5 has been a member since 24/9/2007. Posts: 32

Posted by EdSue on 4/7/2010 at 15:17

Any more recent info on travelling to 1,000 Islands from Pakse? We are actually planning to go south by bus Feb/March 2011 as we understand the river is a bit of a no goer now. Is this correct?

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Posted by appro on 5/7/2010 at 22:17

Pakse to 1000 islands is pretty straightforward. Takes about 2-3 hours by bus (with a quick hop over the mekong to get to your chosen island). No one really does it by boat any more as the roads have been improved greatly.

#18 appro has been a member since 9/5/2009. Posts: 32

Posted by Tilapia on 6/7/2010 at 00:12

You can get to Si Phan Don by boat from Pakse , but your best bet for this would be to charter a longtail. Any guest house owner can do this, as can the people who work at the Tourist Info office near the bank. It can be quite expensive, though, unless you've got a bunch of people AND another group at the other end to take the boat BACK to Pakse. There's also the "service fee" for the person who makes the phone calls.

We did this and the boat broke down about 4 times. We had to be rescued from some pretty treacherous water between Champasak and Pakse. The trip took about 3 1/2 hours longer than it should have, and we arrived back in Pakse in the dark. Despite all this, it was excellent!

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Posted by MADMAC on 9/7/2010 at 18:15

On a comical side note I was on a bus from Khon Kaen today, it was hot, stuffy and too many people for too few seats. There were a bunch of school girls (probably about 16) on the bus, and a woman with an infant child boared. I yielded my seat to her, and while we were cruising down the road I felt this hand rubbing my butt. One of the school girls decided to get naughty, and she and all her observing school girl friends thought this was very funny. I wagged a disapproving finger at them, but inside I had to say to myself "this would only happen in Thailand." That event notwithstanding, the trip was long with me on my feet half the way.

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Posted by EdSue on 9/7/2010 at 19:08

Most blogs talk about bus from Vietiene to Pakse and onwards south, but we are planning to do train from Bangkok to Vietiene, bus to Luangprabang (in total about a week) then bus to the south. Is this advisable or are we better to take the expensive option (to cut down on the ware and tear at our age!!) and fly to Pakse?

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Posted by exacto on 9/7/2010 at 21:39

it depends. just how old are you? ;-)

by going to vientiane first and then taking the bus to luang prabang, you'll be backtracking quite a bit when you head south again to pakse. you might consider flying either to or from luang prabang from vientiane for a bit of variety if nothing else. i loved that bus trip from LP to VTE, but at my age i absolutely wouldn't want to do it twice in one week.

if that 700+ km overnight bus ride from vientiane to pakse sounds like too much for you, you can always break it up with stopovers in thakhek and/or savannakhet.

one thing many folks do is to take the train up to chiang mai, thailand and from there fly to luang prabang. there won't be the backtracking that way, and then you can head south enjoying vientiane on your way to pakse. the flight from chiang mai to luang prabang is on lao airways only and costs in the $150 to $165 per person range. hope that helps. cheers.

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Posted by wanderingcat on 23/10/2010 at 06:28

sorry to dig up an old thread...
trying to find out if anyone (e.g. expats) has heard of a recent (early October 2010) accident where an overnight bus from VTE to southern Laos crashed near Pakse, resulting in the deaths of 2 European (Spanish?) passengers. no mention of it in the news thus far, no further details (e.g. if others were hurt too, possible reasons for crash). would like to know the bus company involved (there are a few doing this overnight route). thank you.

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Posted by Rufus on 23/10/2010 at 13:58

Haven't heard about this at all, neither in the paper nor on the grapevine.

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Posted by Siamcat on 26/10/2010 at 13:02

Hi. I live and work in Pakse. I'm not sure about the exact details of this accident, because I heard about it from different sources and I met two tourists, who were on that bus, but they were too much under shock and didn't talk at all. I heard there were 5 deaths and 80 injured, and they were stuck in the bus for three hours until they got any help...! I don't know the name of the company, but I'm going to find out and post it here.

#25 Siamcat has been a member since 26/10/2010. Posts: 2


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