If you need to be scared into flying across Asia and the like, then type the words “Border crossing on a local bus”. 

You will find the SEO friendly “hell ride” often  in caps “NIGHTMARE BUS”, scenes seemingly cut and paste from a Horror movie review  “on the edge of my seat with fear”.

Few travellers seem to post the average (long but decent) to good (without a hitch) experiences. I guess they figure Lonely Planet will pick up the slack.



(The fight: the border. The prize: Beer Lao)

So I thought i would take on the challenge and GoPro the bus ride from Hue, Vietnam to Savannakhet, Laos to see if it was as awful as some posts would have me believe.

I got warned I would have to:

  • fight for a seat on the bus and might end up sitting in the aisles
  • fight the long and crazy queues at the border
  • fight to get my passport back (they keep it to mess with you)
  • fight to get my  change back from my visa fee
  • fight to get back on my bus (they leave you stranded at the border only to make your way to the lunch spot 1km away via motorbike taxi, which is probably a scam)

All in all, it sounded like a rigged fight that would probably go eight rounds and leave me bruised and battered for the experience. Excited now. Sure.

My experience?

Border crossing- from Hue, Vietnam to Savannakhet, Laos from cat pritchard on Vimeo.

My top phrases for the journey:

  • “Tea and pee” – there is no bathroom on board but luckily you stop every 1h30min-2hrs for snacks and toilet breaks, some you might have to pay a few thousand for, so keep a few dongs spare.
  • “Sharing is caring” aside from the toddler next to me that kept kicking me in the thigh i never had to fight for my space and even swapped treats with a local girl. i gave her some coconut coated nuts and a piece of fruit, she gave me clorets breath mints and chewing gum (started wondering about my breath after the second treat).
  • “Easy and Breezy” – I got stamped out had had my visa hand written in under 20 minutes and the bus was still waiting when for me when i finished.
  • “Are we there yet?” – it  takes longer than they say and what you think. Every stop seems like the end, but it’s not.


Musing on…. the fact (or fiction) that coconut juice keeps mosquitos at bay and how many I need to drink to avoid malaria. Anyone?




Categories: LaosTravelVietnam

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