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Laos forum

Savannakhet to Pakse - Urgent help please

Posted by Bridgequeen on 7/12/2013 at 08:27

I am currently in Savannakhet and have asked my very helpful hotel to book a bus for me to Pakse, i need to get there on Monday. They kind of laughed. I have spent the afternoon searching for a travel agent. I also googled to find that there is a flight, which I would prefer but you cannot book it on the Lao Airlines site. I know I could probably pay to go to the bus station tomorrow and try to explain but I would much rather sort it in town with somebody who speaks English. any ideas???

#1 Bridgequeen has been a member since 29/7/2013. Location: Earth. Posts: 50
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Posted by exacto on 7/12/2013 at 10:51

queen,

i did a trip report on the savannakhet to pakse bus ride, but that was nearly four years ago. you can read the story at this link. maybe there is information that will assist you.

https://www.travelfish.org/board/post/tripreports/10314_trip-report--the-bus-to-pakse

as i recall, people went out to the bus station to purchase their ticket that morning. sort of a walk-up, first-come, first-served situation. it was an interesting but long and uncomfortable ride. best to arrive at the bus station early to at least have your choice of departures. you could maybe even head out there a day early to see what is on offer, although i don't know if they'll sell a ticket one day in advance or not. good luck!

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Posted by DLuek on 7/12/2013 at 20:53 TF writer

Strange that your hotel staff would laugh at that question.

Last year around this time I was told at the bus station that buses depart for Pakse at 7:00, 9:00, 10:30, 14:00 and 17:30, costing 40,000 kip. (That was roughly the same schedule as it was back in '09 so I doubt it has changed much in a year). The bus station is not far from the center of town - it took about 15 minutes to reach it by bicycle as I recall. Why don't you just go down there today and buy a ticket in person? The ticket sellers are used to dealing with travelers and can speak some English. Personally I don't see the need to shell out extra cash for a travel agent here.

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Posted by Bridgequeen on 8/12/2013 at 01:30

Thanks for your advice. I went to the bus station this morning and was told you can't book a bus for Pakse in advance - this may have been why the hotel staff were laughing. According to the lady at the bus station all the buses are the same despite the differing prices. I think she said that the luggage goes underneath, not inside all the buses. I really hate it when they pile everything on top of each other at the back of thte bus. So now the decision is which one to go for? I have no idea how busy they will be - and don't really want to get there and have to wait for hours for the next one.

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Posted by MADMAC on 8/12/2013 at 02:54

Bridgequeen you are in the wrong country - definitely the wrong city. Savanakhet is a backwater. English is of minimal use there. I've been five times, and if I wasn't able to speak reasonable Thai, well, it would have been a challenge. Not insurmountable, but a chalenge. The bus station at Savanakhet is not burger king, you don't get it your way.

"I really hate it when they pile everything on top of each other at the back of the bus."

I was taking a Song Taew in Yaso once... it was so crowded that myself and five other guys were on the roof. Not our luggage, but us.

Buses suck.

Did you go to the airport to inquire about a flight?

#5 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by Bridgequeen on 8/12/2013 at 04:23

Didn't bother going to the airport. According to Laos Airlines they only fly to Bangkok from here. With only one flight a day I thought they would be closed anyway. Wrong city? yes, should have gone straight through to Pakse. However I do like the Dao Savanh restaurant and shall be going there for another meal tonight.

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Posted by MADMAC on 8/12/2013 at 04:43

"However I do like the Dao Savanh restaurant and shall be going there for another meal tonight."

Good call, I like it too. They still sell French beer there?

I suspected there were no flights to Pakse from Savanakhet. Giving Laos Airline pricing, I'm surprised they're in business at all.

#7 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by Bridgequeen on 8/12/2013 at 07:39

Not sure about the French beer. none on the menu but I am happy with Beer Lao anyway. Another good meal and at 65,000 for 3 courses I don't think it is expensive.

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Posted by DLuek on 8/12/2013 at 08:42 TF writer

If I were you I'd get there around 8:30. If the 9:00 is full, waiting 1.5 hours for the next one isn't a huge deal (assuming that timetable is still correct). I enjoyed the big market next to the bus station - had some good noodles and fresh rolls there. Even if you're scared to try the food it's still a good place to walk around. Otherwise, yeah, not much to do out that way. Bring a book?

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Posted by MADMAC on 8/12/2013 at 12:04

To be on the safe side, I would not eat before you get on that bus. It's a long ride. If you get the runs, it will be very unpleasant (it's already going to suck).

#10 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by Bridgequeen on 9/12/2013 at 08:22

Thsnks everyone; just to let you know I went at about 8.00. The reason I asked for help was because I was worried about not getting on the bus. No worries there. I can tell you categorically that the 9.00 bus stops everywhere and takes over 7 hours. There is no concept about the bus being full. I need not have worried. By the end we were a full bus plus the contents of two trucks, plus at least 15 people in the aisles - you just have to go with it. I didn't eat before for the very reason you suggested. However, a German guy did and I kid you not there were no toilet stops in 7+ hours. He barely got off and made it back. Interesting but I would n't be doing it again. BTW the Pakse Hotel restaurant which people rave about has nothing on Dao Savanh in Savannkhet, just had ( or rather left) overcooked chicken there.

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Posted by MADMAC on 9/12/2013 at 09:25

Yep - sounds about right. Buses suck.

#12 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by Bridgequeen on 9/12/2013 at 09:40

So how come they can do it Ok in Cambodia?. I am not even talking about Giant Ibis which are fantastic but I have only used once. The other buses I have taken have been (compared to here) fine. I really do think that Laos has a way to go.

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Posted by MADMAC on 9/12/2013 at 11:31

All busses suck in all countries in all times. Some suck more, some suck less. Laos is a poor country with a poor infrastructure and the economic drivers are not there for much improvement in the transportation sphere yet.

#14 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by froglink on 20/1/2014 at 09:13

Hi Bridgequeen, I did that trip in December. It's an easy ride now, although you do have to run for a piss when it stops. Hey MADMAC, shame I missed you in Muk. Had a brilliant trip up, around and down the Mekong. Plenty of ideas for my book, too.

#15 froglink has been a member since 13/2/2013. Location: France. Posts: 18

Posted by MADMAC on 20/1/2014 at 22:57

Oh well Frog, maybe next time. I'll be here.

#16 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 21/1/2014 at 07:35

Yep buses suck. I did buses a lot as a kid. Short mini bus rides r ok but anything over 4 hrs sucks. Best ride i had was a brand new mini bus from chang to bkk. Driver was still taking the plastic off when we got in. No one else on the bus. Driver wasnt a maniac either. Thats as good as it gets.

#17 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by chinarocks on 21/1/2014 at 10:17

Overnight buses in South America don't suck at all. They are relatively cheap, safe, very comfortable and the best way to travel on a budget. Depending on the journey they are also a great way to see some of the countryside, albeit that is not a major consideration in using them.

#18 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740

Posted by MADMAC on 21/1/2014 at 11:37

Earth to China, Earth to China - SEA isn't South America.

#19 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by chinarocks on 21/1/2014 at 17:03

You said earlier that all buses in all countries suck. I disagree. SEA buses appear to be among the worst of any continent.

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Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 21/1/2014 at 21:45

Fair point china. But South amer landscape is more scenic.

In sea boats r the way to travel if avail.

If by land cars heaps better than buses. U can make detours and stop when u want.

#21 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by froglink on 22/1/2014 at 04:22

C'mon guys, get over it. Slow bus travel in SEA can be one of the most rewarding things you can do in life. You may have to manage the piss spots, but if you relax into it, dream away, maybe listen to some good music - it's travel at its best.

#22 froglink has been a member since 13/2/2013. Location: France. Posts: 18

Posted by chinarocks on 22/1/2014 at 05:48

"Slow bus travel in SEA can be one of the most rewarding things you can do in life. You may have to manage the piss spots, but if you relax into it, dream away, maybe listen to some good music - it's travel at its best."

Certainly rewarding in its own way but give me Emirates business class any day!

#23 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 22/1/2014 at 06:36

If listening to music is the highlight that proves its boring.

#24 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by MADMAC on 22/1/2014 at 23:17

"Slow bus travel in SEA can be one of the most rewarding things you can do in life. You may have to manage the piss spots, but if you relax into it, dream away, maybe listen to some good music - it's travel at its best."

Do you get high before you get on the bus? My bus travel here has come in two types:

1. Overnighters to Bangkok. Seat is reasonably comfortable for my 5' 6" frame. Reclines well. I still can't sleep in it though. So I sit and read. Bus is always too cold and that shitty little blanket isn't enough to keep you warm. I never have a hot babe in the seat next to me, it's always someone like Leonard who is even less comfortable in his seat than I am. The bus stops in Khorat at about 1 a.m., so on the off chance you were sleeping, the bus crew announcing you've have 20 minutes and turning on the lights will guarantee you are awakened so you can try and fall alseep again for the last leg to Bangkok. I usually start dozing off in some unfortable position around 3 a.m. or so. Hit Bangkok around 5. Maybe I get two hours of bad sleep so I can be a zombie the next day. The trip blows. I've made it more times than I can count.

2. Bus from province to province. These buses have mostly been grossly overcrowded with the AC not working and few piss stops. I took one once from Yasothon to Ubon. It took over five hours to get there and I was standing in the aisle the entire trip. It was so hot inside that everyone was dying... It took the word "suck" to a new level in bus travel. On a bus trop from Mukdahan to Khon Kaen the driver was insane, passing where the only way to do so was to run cars coming the opposite direction off the road - which he did. Wife and I decided to get off in Khalasin before we ended up dead. I've taken this bus five times. My son hates it so much he'll do almost anything to avoid it.

So... dude, buses suck. They can suck a little. They can suck a lot. But they always suck. I ride my motorcycle almost always now. Even to Bangkok.

"You said earlier that all buses in all countries suck. I disagree. SEA buses appear to be among the worst of any continent."

All buses suck. It's just that some only suck a little bit, and some suck a lot. But they always suck. Just like flying always sucks. Anytime I am jammed in a seat for a protracted period of time that I can not control, it's going to suck.

#25 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by chinarocks on 23/1/2014 at 03:43

"I never have a hot babe in the seat next to me, it's always someone like Leonard who is even less comfortable in his seat than I am."

I think I'd rather walk to Bangkok than sit beside Leonard!

"All buses suck."

In your opinion. Not in mine. Some yes, not all.

#26 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740

Posted by froglink on 23/1/2014 at 04:14

Hi guys, it looks like we're not going to agree on this one. OK, I'll admit it. Some bus trips suck. Like the old bus from Srinagar to Leh; up and down through dangerous corners, two days of bumpy cramped travel - except that you are going through some of the most awesome scenery on the planet. Overall, I guess I like bus travel cos I like travel. Perhaps it's the nomad in me.
Madmac asks: Do you get high before you get on the bus? Well, that reminds me of a wonderful trip from Pokhara to Kathmandu I did far too long ago. But that's an entirely different thread altogether...
Also, I found air travel in Thailand this time really cheap if bought in advance. I guess they need a strip in Mukdahan!

#27 froglink has been a member since 13/2/2013. Location: France. Posts: 18

Posted by MADMAC on 23/1/2014 at 09:20

"Madmac asks: Do you get high before you get on the bus? Well, that reminds me of a wonderful trip from Pokhara to Kathmandu I did far too long ago. But that's an entirely different thread altogether..."

Aha! Now the truth comes to the surface.

"Also, I found air travel in Thailand this time really cheap if bought in advance. I guess they need a strip in Mukdahan!"

Man do they ever. They were suppose to have let expats use the one in Savanakhet to get to Bangkok without having to pay visa fees on each end, but that didn't happen. So we have daily flights leaving from less than a mile from my house, and I have to drive to either Ubon or NKP to take a flight. Annoying to say the least.

"I think I'd rather walk to Bangkok than sit beside Leonard!"

I'd enjoy sitting and having a beer with Leonard, but he told me he's over 100kg, which means he's not fitting in those seats nice and comfy.

#28 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by chinarocks on 23/1/2014 at 09:52

As things stand, how much would a flight (including all costs) from Savannakhet to BKK cost you?

#29 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740

Posted by froglink on 23/1/2014 at 11:01

Hi Chinarocks, it's not just the fare that would hurt MADMAC - although it was over double the Ubon-DMK or BKK route when I last looked. It's also the 35 dollar Lao visa both ways. And if the Thais do eventually bring in that silly 500 baht "medical" fee - which, again, he would have to pay both ways - that would all add up to a lot of loot for what should be a short trip to the City of Angels.

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Posted by MADMAC on 23/1/2014 at 11:06

China, if word around the campfire is accurrate, about 9,000 baht.

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Posted by exacto on 23/1/2014 at 11:45

I mostly lean towards China's more romantic view of bus rides as a fun adventure, and I can think of several bus rides that were quite interesting and even one on an ultra VIP bus from Khorat to Bangkok that was very comfortable. But the difference here is that when I'm riding the bus in southeast Asia, it is because I am on holiday and want to get to some place exciting. It is never because I absolutely have to get somewhere, because when you absolutely have to take the bus as the only option, then it does pretty much suck.

I like buses because it is a glimpse into how locals live, which is hopefully part of the reason we all travel. But even there, I recommend bus rides of two to three hours and absolutely no more than six hours duration unless there is seriously no other way to go. For longer trips, I'd break up a bus ride into two parts with an overnight stay before I'd sit on a bus for more than six hours. Not that anyone asked... Cheers.

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Posted by MADMAC on 23/1/2014 at 11:52

"I like buses because it is a glimpse into how locals live, which is hopefully part of the reason we all travel."

My local friends hate the bus as much as I do. I just feel compelled to mention. In fact my local wife despises them far more than I do.

#33 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by exacto on 23/1/2014 at 12:26

Right. Like I said, it is a glimpse of how locals live. I didn't say the locals like it, and in fact, since they are riding the bus because they absolutely have to get somewhere and not because they are on holiday like me, I'd expect it to suck for them far more than for me. From my experience, I've noticed that I enjoy the bus ride far more than the locals.

It's a perspective thing, and this is a website for independent travel in southeast Asia. Bus rides are definitely part of the independent travel experience, and sometimes even part of the fun.

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Posted by froglink on 23/1/2014 at 12:48

"sometimes even part of the fun"
Does anyone remember the early slogan of Lonely Planet: "Getting there is half the fun"? This was particularly appropriate then as their maps were so bad, that's all you ever did - you might have been getting there but never got there.
These days, of course, LP guides might be accurate but they are so uncool.
Anyway, bus trips are (generally) fun if you are travelling and take the time to enjoy it. Of course, if you are itching to "get there", the trip will suck. But if you enjoy getting there, they can be brilliant.

#35 froglink has been a member since 13/2/2013. Location: France. Posts: 18

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 23/1/2014 at 19:45

Flying is fun apart from airport waiting time and small seats in economy. Always cool taking off and watching the landscape or city when u land.

I could only imagine how painful it would be sitting next to China bitching like an old woman the whole time.

#36 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 23/1/2014 at 20:02

Frog,

Enjoy looking out the window of a bus?

Far more enjoyable by car or bike cause u can stop and see things along the way. U can stop at waterfalls, caves and beaches. U can stop at a market or restaurant that looks good. U can stop and take.photos and take some back rds to see what is there. You can stop often or little depending upon whats there. The open rd providea freedom.

With buses its designated stops and u miss the best bits. U are like cattle going to the sales yard. You smell farts and bus fumes. Then there is those annoying talkers that wont shut up or the people eating chips and the sound of the packet is irrating like in a movie.

#37 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by exacto on 23/1/2014 at 22:32

"Then there is those annoying talkers that wont shut up or the people eating chips and the sound of the packet is irrating like in a movie."


Are you sure it's China who would be bitching like an old woman the whole time?

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Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 23/1/2014 at 23:09

100%.

I dont talk much.

#39 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by exacto on 23/1/2014 at 23:57

Nah. China is a good guy who would be interesting and fun to talk to, and that would be true of you too LC, even if you don't talk much. Over beers would be even better. Regards.

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Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 24/1/2014 at 00:11

I can talk about sports but small talk not into that.

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Posted by MADMAC on 24/1/2014 at 01:40

Leonard, someday we willl run across each other. I got that feeling. I do sports, no problem.

I suspect China is a contrarian, which are types that are difficult for me personally. But I could be wrong. Internet persona is not always matching actual persona.

#42 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by froglink on 24/1/2014 at 04:46

Leonard,
Sure, all of that is right. A lot of it depends on the country, of course. In India the local busses stop all the time, so you can get on and off pretty easily and see heaps. But in France or Oz, for ex, you'd miss lots if you only used busses. It's good on foot through vineyards or in Nepal, on bike in China, private car or motorbike in Laos and Thailand etc, campervan Down Under - all of this is great. The point is to travel, and to take the time to look around without taking photos all the time... Even if it is "your" own country, there's time to travel (but don't start me on the silly tourist vs traveller distinction - each to his or her own)

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Posted by MADMAC on 24/1/2014 at 09:49

"Even if it is "your" own country, there's time to travel (but don't start me on the silly tourist vs traveller distinction - each to his or her own"

Man, I just had a blinding flash.... a new term: Sex travellers.

#44 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by chinarocks on 24/1/2014 at 10:03

"I suspect China is a contrarian."

If by that you mean that I don't follow the herd, then, yes, you are right.

If you mean I argue for the sake of argument, then, no, you are not correct.

As regards Leonard's comments, well I shall refrain from responding as he does a good enough job of making himself look rather silly.

@exacto - thanks for the kind words :-)

#45 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740

Posted by froglink on 24/1/2014 at 10:58

MADMAC, a new term... for an old practice.

#46 froglink has been a member since 13/2/2013. Location: France. Posts: 18

Posted by MADMAC on 24/1/2014 at 11:47

China
People who are contrarian tend by nature to look at "society" and political systems and attack the status quo as their positional norm. For contrarians the glass is almost always half empty, almost never half full.

Frog
Indeed. Cool new term though. I like the idea of hijacking the word "travellers".

#47 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by chinarocks on 24/1/2014 at 12:47

Not according to the dictionary it's not.

In any event, I am an eternal optimist, thankfully.

Stuart, may I suggest you close this one off?!!

#48 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740

Posted by MADMAC on 24/1/2014 at 13:36

I will admit it's my own descriptive term for the above. I made it a noun. A contrarian.

#49 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by exacto on 24/1/2014 at 14:08

Hi,

I'm a long-time visitor but first-time poster to the message board. I'll be visiting Indonesia for three weeks in June and July with some Australian friends. I haven't been to Indonesia since 1999, and I'm worried that you can still only get Bintang Beer in those wimpy little 630 ml bottles and not those 5 liter cans that are so popular everywhere else. Does anyone know? Is maybe Bali the best place to get a man-sized beer?

Also, I'm worried about money. I have quite a bit of leftover cash from a fairly recent trip to North Korea, because despite what everyone told me before I went, there really wasn't much to buy there, and I got stuck holding all this stuff. Do you think I'll be able to exchange this North Korean currency for Indonesian money?

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Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 24/1/2014 at 20:01

China, you got totally embarrassed on the Broome topic.

Not even knowing how to fly there.

#51 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by chinarocks on 25/1/2014 at 08:49

Yeah, I was totally mortified. To be honest, I don't even like talking about it now, if you don't mind.

#52 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740

Posted by exacto on 25/1/2014 at 11:03

nice one, china. good for you staying on the high ground. vbr.

#53 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,651
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Posted by MADMAC on 27/1/2014 at 08:43

"The Broome topic"??? OK, you guys lost me.

#54 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by chinarocks on 27/1/2014 at 10:18

Leonard and I both got one or two things wrong, but he'll choose to only remember my errors.

The name of the thread escapes me.

#55 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740


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