Another of my nine lives went when travelling with a camera on Route 13! But, I wouldn’t have changed it for the world – one of those wonderful but weird memories you never forget. A 6 hour / 190 km road trip on Route 13 from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang. Ticket price £9.50 – bargain! Check out my road trip from Vientiane to Vang Vieng here.
Route 13 is the most important road (national highway) in Laos. The highway commences at Boten in the north at the Chinese border. It connects the city of Luang Prabang to Vientiane and roughly follows the Mekong River to Cambodia. Three of the four Laos international airports are reached by the highway – Vientiane, Luang Prabang & Pakse.
My hints and tips on road travel in Laos:
- Get to the bus station early – pick your seat wisely where possible. Travelling in these conditions crammed in the back seat for 6/12 hours can be a traumatic experience.
- Personally, I wouldn’t take the night bus. You would never get any sleep, may end up on the floor or hit your head on the ceiling – yes roads are that bad in places! The roads aren’t lit and other drivers often travel without lights, plus add in the animals on the roads = accident waiting to happen.
- The road is very bumpy and windy – if you suffer from travel sickness or claustrophobia, flying maybe your answer.
- Check out up to date tourist safety information. There have been ambushes and kidnappings on this road – these have become less frequent recently, but do still happen.
- There are stops along the way, however, if you are a fussy eater, take your own supplies. Toilets were payable (a few pence) and clean but the squat versions mainly – carry a supply of tissues.
- Ignore the advertised journey duration and don’t plan a timed event for your supposed arrival. You get there when you get there with these road conditions, traffic and roadwork delays and frequent punctures.
- Your luggage is carried on the vehicle roof. Not all vehicles cover the luggage so take extra precautions for adverse weather. Bags do sometimes come off, so keep anything fragile or expensive with you.
- They do overcrowd buses – this is why I prefer to take a minivan. Be warned, on buses, you could end up sharing your journey next to an animal of some kind or someone else sharing your seat.
- I book travel through my accommodation. Inevitably it is the same price, but if there is a problem, they are on hand to sort out any issues for you.
An interesting trip climbing the mountain, but very hairy at points – check out my VLOG. The driver was amazing and I have no idea how he kept the minivan so clean!