Private car hire, generally with driver, can be arranged through any travel agent in Vientiane or Luang Prabang. Unless you have very specialized needs (or are traveling with your family in tow) private car hire is not a cheap way to explore Laos.
Larger enduro-style dirt bikes can be hired long-term from some travel agents. Prices are reasonable but be sure to carefully check the bike, and whatever you do, do not use the chain and padlock provided by the shop to lock up the bike at night — use your own.
Given how hilly Laos is, it is surprising just how popular the place is with cyclists. Most nearly every town in Laos will have some lodgings, so you shouldn’t struggle for a room. Things to pack include a good supply of inner tubes and patch kits, and of course, your bike — you will need to bring your own.
As the road network has steadily improved, boat services have dropped off drastically as it is far cheaper to transport cargo, including people, by road. As it stands, the only boat routes still operating are those popular with tourists. The Huay Xai – Pak Beng – Luang Prabang trip, the Nong Khiaw – Muang Ngoi – Muang Khua – Hat Sa route are the most popular. Less so is the Huay Xai – Xieng Kok route.
General Laos Travel Tips
Following these tips can make traveling around the country a little bit easier:
- Get to the station early to bag tickets for local buses which go on sale about an hour before the bus leaves.
- If you book your tickets through a tour agency or your guesthouse they’ll provide you with a tuk-tuk to the bus station.
- If you don’t book through an agent, you’ll have to make your own way to the bus station. Expect to pay about 10,000 LAK (£0.80) per person if you share a tuk-tuk.
- There’s no seat reservation on local buses so as soon as you arrive at the station and have bought your ticket, grab yourself a decent seat.
- On the local buses there are aisle seats which fold down from the sides and are incredibly uncomfortable, try to avoid ending up in one by getting to the station early.
- There aren’t many ‘proper’ toilet stops on Laos bus journeys, often you’ll be expected to just go by the side of the road in the bushes, men and women alike.
- Expect your bus to break down. Luckily, we only experienced one break down while we were in Laos but we did see plenty of broken buses by the side of the road as we journeyed through the country.
- Even if your bus doesn’t break down, you can expect delays. We often arrived at least an hour or two later than expected, so make sure you bring something with you to pass the time.
- Finally, Laos people do tend to suffer from motion sickness so get used to hearing them throw up. In fact, if you get a car sick yourself bring some travel sickness pills as the roads in Laos are extremely windy.
- Enjoy your trip!
Visit Laos with Trans Asia Discovery
Traveling around Laos can be tricky, especially if it’s your first time there. But fear not, we’ve got all the info you need to know. The country is not exactly known for its modernized roads and transport, but isn’t that half of the fun of traveling? Laos is a real adventure, so just dive right in, but to explore further afield you’ll need to suss out buses, boats, automobiles and more.
Regardless of how you choose to get around, knowing which methods are safer and which should be avoided will help you to plan your trip accordingly, and we will get you where you need to go without any issues.
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Edited by Lynette Fu/Fu Yunrui