Sunday, June 17, 2012

Pakse's VIP Bus Terminal & Other Bus Schedules and Rates

This is boring stuff but we're posting this to provide information.

We have noted bus schedules and rates during our traipse around Pakse so we could share them with fellow travelers who need to have an idea about travel distances and duration of trips, bus schedules, and more importantly, rates of such trips from Pakse to domestic and foreign destinations. The bigger terminal is located south of Champasak Palace Hotel and hosts most domestic travels. The one posted above is the VIP Bus Terminal, a small parcel of land off Route 13. This is the destination and departure point of most VIP Bus Rides to and from Ubon Ratchthani in Thailand. There are 4 counters, two of them operational. There's a left luggage that charges 5,000 kip per bag - although it seems unwise to use it considering how unsealed it is. The doors from both sides are open and no one tends to the bags which are just placed down the floor.

Tuktuks and jumbos usually wait (for "victims") from this terminal that's mostly a "ghost place" between scheduled trips, unlike the bigger, main domestic terminal which is surrounded by a day market. The Kriang Krai Bus services the Ubon-Pakse-Ubon trips, but - like their Thai counterpart, don't allow reservations. You have to purchase them an hour or two before the departure - so it's wise to ask around before your schedule.

I am sharing the other schedules. Please note that items from these trips may have changed by the time you get to read this. My point here is, this information will give you an insight on the possibilities of travel to towns like Kratie in Cambodia, Hue in Vietnam, or Bangkok in Thailand just by merely taking a bus from Pakse. It will also give you an idea of how much it would cost you - more or less.

Finally, check that your passport's ready (the counters will require it when you purchase international rides) and have a safe and pleasurable trip.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

V.I.P. Bus Tickets from Pakse

Vientiane – 8 PM to 6 AM
Ubon (Thailand) – 8 AM, 3:30 PM
Hue (Vietnam) – 7 AM, 7 PM
Da Nang (Vietnam) – 7 AM, 7 PM

AC Minivans from Pakse (vans depart between 8AM to 10:30AM daily)

Don Khong – 55,000 kip
Don Det – 55,000 kip
Don Khone – 60,000 kip

VIP Bus from Pakse to Cambodian towns (departs 7AM and arrives in…)

Stung treng – 12PM, 160,000 kip
Kratie – 2PM, 180,000 kip
Banlung – 6PM, 200,000 kip
Kampong Cham – 5PM, 200,000 kip
Phnom Penh – 7PM, 220,000 kip
Siem Reap – 9:30PM, 280,000 kip

Champanakhone Travel - schedule and rate for travels from Pakse to:

Champasak – 45,000 kip, depart at 8 AM, arrive at 9:30 AM
Ban Nakasang (for Don Det) – 55,000 kip, depart at 8AM, arrive at 10 AM
Don Khong (Big Island) – 55,000 kip, depart at 8 AM, arrive at 10 AM
Attapue – 88,000 kip, depart 8 AM, arrive at 2:30 PM
Saravanh – 65,000 kip, depart at 8 AM, arrive at 12:30PM
Savannakhet – 80,000 kip, depart at 8 AM, arrive at 3:30 PM
Thakeak – 170,000 kip, depart at 8:30 AM, arrive at 1 AM
Vientiane – 170,000 kip, depart at 8:30 AM, arrive at 6:30 AM the next day
Vang Vieng – 250,000 kip, depart at 8:30 AM, arrive at 2:30 PM the next day
Luang Prabang – 360,000 kip, depart at 8:30 AM, arrive at 5:30 PM the next day

Champanakhone Travel, International route from Pakse:

Lao Bao – 180,000 kip, depart at 8 AM, arrive at 3 PM
Dong ha – 200,000 kip, depart at 8 AM, arrive at 7 PM
Hue – 200,000 kip, depart at 8 AM, arrive at 8 PM
Danang – 200,000 kip, depart at 8 AM, arrive at 9 PM

VIP Bus to Thailand:

Ubon – 75,000 kip, 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM and 3:30 PM to 6:30 PM
Bangkok bus – 240,000 kip, 3:30 PM to 6 AM
Bangkok by bus and train – 340,000 kip, 3:30 PM to 6 AM

VIP Bus to Cambodia :

Stung Treng – 120,000 kip, 7:45 AM to 11:30 AM
Kratie – 170,000 kip, 7:45 AM to 2:30 PM
Banlung – 200,000 kip, 7:45 AM to 4:30 PM
Kampong Cham – 200,000 kip, 7:45 AM to 5”30 PM
Phnom Penh – 220,000 kip, 7:45 AM to 7:30 PM
Siem Reap – 240,000 kip, 7:45 AM to 10 PM

Left Luggage room: see how easily things can disappear in such untended room.

Waiting hall

Bus Station, the backyard - where buses usually park and wait.

More schedule from Kriang Rai VIP Buses

More trips

Tuktuk waits beside the small canteen by the gate.

My bus from Ubon Ratchathani to Pakse

My bus from Pakse back to Ubon Ratchathani in Thailand. Now you have to remember your Bus Number because you need to write the number on your Immigration Forms at the border.

One of the few beautiful sights found at the VIP Bus Terminal but people mostly ignore this bas relief.

Map of Laos and its contiguous areas care of Magellan Geographix and



To answer a question posted below, here are a couple of maps showing the two most common routes and border crossings if you're headed to Pakse (South Laos) from Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon (Vietnam).

Owing to the geographic location of HCMC (at the southern end of Vietnam), a traveler has to cross the Khmer border, pass through Phnom Penh and get to Siem Reap up north. From SR, you can book for another bus that will cross the Lao border to get to Champasak. Then from Champasak, take another bus that travels to Pakse. I'd say this itinerary is 3 buses worth and would take roughly 48 hours or more.

The other route would be to travel to Hue, north of Saigon. From Hue, there are buses that cross the Lao border and on to Savannakhet, north of Pakse. From Savannakhet, you take another bus for Pakse. That's another 3 buses worth of travels and would, again, roughly take more than 48 hours - if you get continuous trips, which is highly unlikely. Cross-country buses are limited and usually travel either very early in the day or late in the evening, except for the Saigon-Phnom Penh (there should be plenty because this is an easy 2-3 hour journey), but Siem Reap is far from PP.

HCMC to Hue. Then Hue to Savannakhet. Take another bus from Savannakhet to Pakse.

HCMC crosses the border to get to Phnom Penh then travels onward to Siem Reap. Take another bus from SR to Champasak, then another to Pakse. 


Ola said...

the sculpture there is very original, taking into account where it is located...
Blog about life and travelling
Blog about cooking

eye in the sky said...

@ Ola:

I love it too. It's like an exotic jigsaw puzzle. Haha.

NRIGirl said...

For once would you show us your face @Eye in the Sky?!

eye in the sky said...

@ NRIGirl:

I'm a little shy where my photos are concerned. But sure, I'll post a few soon - maybe... or I can send one through email. I am aware that many people who read through my travelogues are curious, but I think it gives my blog a sense of universality the way yours does. :)

bus to cameron highlands said...

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Limo VIP Bus said...

Great article.
A must read especially to a travelers like me.
Thanks for giving us a background on what it looks like.
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Anonymous said...

I have a few questions, can you help me? My husband and I are planing to go from Hue to Pakse (more directly to Si Phan Don, but figure we might have to stop at Pakse regardless). I see that the bus goes from Pakse to Hue so I figure, it works the other way? Is there a bus from Hue to Pakse? Where would we go to take it, how much and how long would it take to Pakse? Any sleeper bus? Thanks so much for your post, it was very helpful! I hope that you can answer my questions.

eye in the sky said...

@ Anonymous:

Hi. I have been to Hue; In fact, I was there last year.

However, I didn't make the overland border crossing from Hue, Vietnam to Pakse, Laos (I took the hanoi to Vientiane a few years back). But here's what I know. Buses leave Hue twice daily, one at 7:30AM and another at 7:30PM (19:00 hours). Travel takes 12 hours and costs around 650,000 Vietnamese dong (230,000 kip or would play in the vicinity of US$25 to 30, right about the same amount when crossing Vin (from Hanoi) to Vientiane, the capital of Laos.

Many of these Vietnamese buses run under horrible conditions; i.e. you'd have AC on your 1st 2 hours then the cool air dissipates completely the rest of the trip so you have a bus with shut windows and no air). This is really a common scenario with Vietnamese buses, but maybe things have changed; maybe not.

From Hue, you can actually buy your bus tickets from your guesthouse OR you can proceed to Mr. Duc's STOP and Go CAFE (central Hue) which sells tours and bus tickets at very competitive prices. What's more important is, the owner actually takes pride in offering the best travel advise and rates, and they are trust worthy. They're a respectable and safe namedrop in your Lonely Planet. It's easy to find them because they're right in the heart of Hue's backpacker area and quite easy to google online.

My suggestion is to ask your guesthouse's rate for this trip (I am sure they will make this available for you and help you book it) then compare it with Stop and Go Cafe's rates. (If you order one of their banana pancakes, you have a free Hue postcard.) The bus company will pick you up from your hotel/guesthouse which avoids the additional cost of hiring a tuktuk that will take you to the terminal and, more importantly, avoid the trouble of dealing with opportunist tuktuk drivers and similar Vietnamese scams.

Anyway, you will get a hotel pickup from most bus rides within Vietnam and cross-country trips so make sure you double check on this. I am not sure about a sleeper bus though. I haven't heard of a sleeper bus crossing the Laotian borders. There are sleeper buses that travel within Vietnam (Hue to Hanoi or Saigon) and also within Laos (Pakse to Savannakhet or Vientiane), but most probably, not in border crossing buses. As I've earlier said, things may have changed. But part of the thrill in these travels is in finding out what's available and what isn't.

Enjoy and have a safe trip. :)

Unknown said...

Hi! Would anyone know if there is bus or train that leaves Pakse at night and arrives at Phnom Penh or Siem Reap in the morning? Thanks

eye in the sky said...

There are no public trains operating in Laos or Cambodia. Buses do the overland crossings. As far as I know, there are only morning trips traveling from Pakse to Siem Reap with bus changes somewhere in Kampong Cham, and arriving SR sometime in the evening. However, with the continued influx of tourists in both countries, I wouldn't be surprised if there are buses operating in the evening. Problem is, borders usually close well after sun down. This will entail long waits (like the Hanoi to Vientiane bus trips) prolonging the "uncomfortable". I wouldn't recommend night trips to Cambodia as they are prone to further border crossing problems with the border police. However, if you really want to try, check out "Phnomn Penh Sorya"'s website. They may open some units that depart at night. It's unlikely though.

EarwigRock said...

Hi, thanks for posting this information, it's really helpful especially as there isn't a huge amount of info on travel in Laos. I was just wondering if you know of a bus from Pakse to Ho Chi Minh City? We're hoping to do this journey in the coming weeks and can't find out much about it! Thank you :)

eye in the sky said...

Hi Earwig,

As far as I know, there's none; not a single, direct bus, that is. This is mostly because borders among the 3 countries (Vietnam, Phnom Penh, Laos) are limited. Moreover, most of these borders close after sundown of just before midnight. This is why international buses have limited trips overland because they take into account the opening/closing of these borders. There's more explanation on possible routes from Ho Chih Minh City: one that goes to Hue and on to Savannakhet Laos - and another that crosses the Khmer cities of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Either itinerary would take several buses.

My suggestion would be, that you should consider breaking the protracted rides and visit either Siem Reap or Hue before traveling further to Laos. Most backpackers love the exceedingly laidback atmosphere of Siphandon and Champasak. Pakse is mostly for the transients with onward destinations north of Laos (e.e Luang Prabang, Plain of Jars, Vang Vieng, Vientiane).

Good luck and safe travels. :)