Right from the start. I had always allowed for topics on mass transport from other South East Asian countries. But until recently I never had the chance to document the mass transport in other South East Asian countries. This is mostly due to not having a suitable camera while visiting other countries or not enough time to actually go out and get photos in other countries. Now I have the chance to put the transport of Vientiane Laos under the microscope.
Background Information on Vientiane and Laos.
Laos is a small totally landlocked country bordered by Thailand, China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Burma. It has a land area equivalent in size to the state of Victoria in Australia. Laos is mostly made up of mountainous land with a narrow fertile lowland area along the Mekong river. It is also one of the least densely populated South East Asian countries with a population of approximately 6 million. The people of Laos mostly live in rural areas and make a living from agriculture. It is estimated that only 10% of Lao people live in urban areas.
Culturally Laos is very similar to the Isarn (North East) area of Thailand. It is so similar in fact that people from both areas speak the same local language but Thailand's Isarn people cannot read or write Laos written language. Religion wise Laos is a strongly Buddhist country and obverses a very similar style of Buddhism to Thailand. The majority of Lao people cannot speak even basic English and the Lao language is a difficult to learn tonal language similar to Thai that is only used in Laos and north eastern Thailand.
Vientiane is the capital city of Laos but is one of the worlds smallest capital cities with a population of about 200,000 people. Vientiane has only one very small and recently built shopping centre. There are no major supermarkets or western style fast food outlets in Vientiane. Almost all packaged food and household items are imported either from Thailand or China which are Laos major trading partners. Most people do there shopping at local “wet markets” and small privately run minimarts around Vientiane.
The urban layout of the city is totally mixed land use with no real city centre but is extremely low density for a major capital city in Asia with most buildings less than 5 stories tall. The standard of living in Laos is considerably lower than Thailand. Therefore making it not viable for large shopping malls and condo towers to be built in Vientiane at this stage. The rural areas are even worse off financially with large numbers of people living on less than US$5 a day.
Laos past has a lot to do with its current situation. During the 1960 and 1970's Laos was one of the most heavily bombed countries in the world as it was regularly a battle ground for side battles in the Vietnam war. This has left a long legacy of unexploded bombs and stifled economic growth right up until the early 1990s. Today Laos is run by a stable communist government which is very slowly trying to adopt the Chinese model of socialism and economic growth. But its small population and very limited infrastructure makes it hard to compete with Vietnam and Thailand economically.
The people of Laos are some of the friendliest in world. The country popular with Eco tourists and backpackers due to its untouched rural areas and low living costs. The other main source of tourism comes from people obtaining visas for Thailand in Vientiane and Thai people who cross over the Mekong river for cheap fresh food and Beer Lao. Beer Lao is known throughout South East Asia as on of the best beers.
The mass transport system in Vientiane is a 100% bus operated system. The buses come in two types “full size rigid” and “Mini buses”. The buses are all operated by the government. In addition to the government buses is a network of privately owned small mass transit truck – buses. The other form of mass transit in Vientiane are Motorised taxi trike's and Korean made aircon taxi vans. The fares for vans and trikes are by negotiation as there are no taxi meters in Laos.
This process can be complicated as 3 different currencies are used in Vientiane at the same time. These are US dollar, Thai Baht and Lao Kip. The Lao Kip comes in units of 1000. This means a short motor taxi trike ride would be 10,000 to 20,000 kip (40 to 80 Baht) (1.20 to 2.40 USD).
The aircon Korean van taxis which can be rented anywhere around Vientiane and from the immigration checkpoint at the Thai – Lao friendship bridge 25 km outside Vientiane. They cost between 300 and 600 baht for half a days use including any waiting time.
If your heading to Vientiane Laos from Thailand I recommend using this van taxi service.
Mr Teng's Minibus and taxi service: Phone 020 649 4973 (inside Laos) +856 20 649 4973 (outside Laos) Note the staff only speak (Lao/Issarn) Languages.
Now its onto the photographs from Vientiane Laos. Unlike in past topics the 1st section of this topic will show some street view and interesting local sites before going into the mass transit photos.
1. This is a view of the street outside the hotel. Taken looking north. The pink building is the hotel. All over Laos one will see the yellow signs of the Beer Lao company.
2. This is a shot of the Mekong river front just around the corner from the hotel. The Vientiane government is filling in a huge section of the river with sand to build a river front park and some 5 star hotels. In the background is Nong Khai province Thailand.
3. This is a close up of some of the equipment used in the land filling works. All day long trucks bring in sand to build up the land.
4. This is a close up of a sand pump used to help move wet sand to a higher level. All I can say is that this construction work is creating a lot if disruption to the few km long river front area.
5. This is a shot of a typical street in the centre of Vientiane. At the entrance to this soi there are larger shophouse style building followed by standalone houses with small gardens.
6. This is a general view of the river front road looking west. In the background is the river and the land filling works. All along the river front are small roadside restaurants that serve local Lao food and drinks.
7. This is a general view of a larger more commercial street in central Vientiane. This street has a number of hotels and restaurants. Most of the restaurants appear to close between 2 and 6pm which is unusual compared to Thailand where they are open all day.
8. This is a shot of the ornate entry gate to a typical Lao temple with a new hotel in the background. It shows the changes that are under way in Vientiane as it becomes more popular with tourists.
9. This is a shot of the drum tower and Lao style Buddha image with 6 Naga outside the main temple building in central Vientiane.
10. This is a shot of the main temple building of a temple in central Vientiane. In the foreground are Buddhist monks. Note the ornate detail on the front of the temple building.
11. This is a shot of another temple near the Doi Chan palace hotel. Note the detailed Buddhist images painted on the outside of the building.
12. This is a close up shot of the detailed Buddhist artwork painted on the outside of the temple building. On the steps are 5 Lao guys taking a mid morning nap. One thing that is different to Thailand is that most of the Buddhist temples in Vientiane appear to lock up the main building of the temple.
Now onto the Mass transit photograph of Vientiane Laos. Unlike in the other Thai topics I will not be able to give detailed information regarding destinations of buses due to Lao written script being different to Thai script.
13. This is a shot of an old Hino metro bus. Taken as it was heading east along a main road in Vientiane. This bus appears to operate on a longer distance service. Not the poor condition of the bus.
14. This is shot of town service “truck – buses” laying over after the morning peak. These are truck buses are either based on small Korean or Japanese pick up trucks that are converted into mass transit buses.
15. This is a shot of a Thai style tuk tuk used as a town truck – bus service. It is noticeable that most mass transit in Laos tend to be stuffed full. This is partly due to much lower service frequency than in Thailand.
16. This is an image of a modified Mitsubishi Rosa on a intercity service. Taken looking west along a street in Vientiane. Note the 3 piece windscreen. It seems to have been rebuilt at some point after an accident.
17. This is a brand new Aircon Chinese intercity bus. This bus is used as a tour bus for group tours around Vientiane. Taken outside of the Laos national museum. Bus type high floor Seikwang.
18. This is a shot of a town service “truck bus” stuffed full on a trip to the outer suburbs of Vientiane. Taken in front of major government building.
19. This is a shot of a couple of buses passing each other on a major street in Vientiane. The bus in the background is an old Hino. The foreground is most likely a Mitsubishi Rosa.
20. This is a shot of bus number 030 taken as it heads east along a major street in Vientiane. This bus appears to operating on route 19. Note the ladder and roof storage rack. These roof racks are very common on Vientiane buses.
21. This is a shot of bus number 056 taken as it waits to depart the Vientiane bus terminal on a route 32 service. Bus type Mitsubishi Rosa.
22. This is an image of an older Toyota coaster taken as it waits to depart the Vientiane bus terminal. This bus is non aircon appears to operate on an intercity service.
23. This is an image of a strange small bus taken as it was departing the Vientiane bus terminal. As it appears fairly clean id say it is used on a town service. Make unknown.
24. This is a shot of bus number 009 taken as it waits to depart Vientiane bus terminal on a route 52 service. Bus type Hino non aircon.
25. This is a shot of bus number 002 taken as it waits to depart Vientiane bus terminal of a Route 6 service. Bus type Hino non aircon.
26. This is a shot of bus number 015 taken as it was leaving the bus terminal on an intercity service. Bus type Hino non aircon.
27. This is an inside shot of a Hino bus. Taken looking towards the back doors. Note the poor condition of the bus.
28. This is a shot of the drivers seat on the old hino bus. Note the condition of the bus. Also these Hino buses have the engine at the front next to the front doors and the driver.
29. This is a shot of bus 023 taken as it was waiting to depart Vientiane bus terminal. Bus type Hino.
30. This is a shot of bus 047 taken as it was leaving the bus terminal. Bus type non aircon Mitsubishi Rosa.
31. This is an image of the Thai – Lao international bus. This bus is used on the cross border bus service between Vientiane and Nong Khai in Thailand. Bus type Hyundai aircon. This service is one of only a few that operate with aircon buses in Laos.
32. This is a shot of a Vientiane – Vangvieng intercity bus. Taken as it waits to depart Vientiane bus terminal. Bus type Hyundai FB500 non aircon.
33. This is another angle on the Vientiane – Vangvieng intercity bus. Taken as it waits to depart the bus terminal.
34. This is an inside shot of the Hyundai FB500 non aircon bus. Note the condition of the bus.
35. This is a general view of a group of Hyundai and Hino intercity buses waiting at Vientiane Bus terminal.
36. This is a shot of a Vientiane – Vangvieng – Kasi intercity bus. Taken as it waits to depart the bus terminal. Bus type Hyundai FB500 non aircon bus.
37. This is an image of two buses waiting to depart Vientiane bus terminal. The bus on the left is a MMC non aircon. The windscreen is made up of 6 sections of glass.
38. This is a general view showing a group of Hino and Hyundai buses waiting at Vientiane bus terminal.
39. This is a shot of a modified Mitsubishi Rosa waiting to depart from the bus terminal on an unknown route.
40. This is a shot of a Route 33 bus waiting to depart from Vientiane bus terminal. Bus type Nissan non aircon.
41. This is a shot of route 20 and route 52 passing each other at the back of the Vientiane bus terminal. The route 20 bus is a Mitsubishi Rosa the route 52 bus is a Toyota coaster.
42. This is a general view of the bus departure area at Vientiane bus terminal. Each platform is numbered with a Roman numeral and a list of bus services and there timetable is provided in lao script.
43. This is an image of bus 076 waiting to depart on a route 23. Bus type Nissan non aircon.
44. This is a general view of a group of Hino buses waiting at Vientiane bus terminal.
45. This is an inside shot of a non aircon Nissan bus. Note the extra rails on roof for standing passengers.
46. This is an inside shot of a non aircon Nissan bus. Showing the drivers seat and the extra bench seats placed on the engine.
47. This is a shot of a passenger waiting for a bus who was repacking his fish that had spilled all over the bus waiting area.
48. This is a another shot of the Thai – Lao international bus. Bus type aircon Hyundai. To the left of the bus are luggage trolleys and there operators.
49. This is an inside shot of the Thai – Lao international bus. Note the dark curtains that are an attempt to keep the inside cool as the aircon is crap on this bus.
50. This is a shot of the drivers seat on the Thai – Lao international bus. Out of all the Lao buses this is the best condition drivers seat.
51. This is a shot of the bus timetable and route information on the wall of the main terminal building. This applies to interurban and outer suburban bus routes around Vientiane city. These routes operate either every 10 to 15 minutes or every 20 to 30 minutes during daytime only.
52. This is a shot of the map of the Laos intercity bus system it is above the route and timetable information on the wall of the main terminal building.
53. This is a shot of the bus timetable and route information on the wall of the main terminal building. This applies to long distance intercity buses most are very infrequent.
54. This is an image of the Bus stop timetable for the Vientiane Bus terminal to Airport bus service. It runs every 20 to 40 minutes throughout the day. All the bus stops have these signs. How timely the buses are is big question? All of the above timetable information appears to have been put up in 1999 and not updated since so its possible some routes may operate more frequently.
55. This is an image of a Motor taxi trike. Taken as it waits for customers outside a hotel in the riverside area of Vientiane City. These are very similar to Thai tuk tuks but have longitudinal seating in the back rather than one large seat.
56. This is a short movie of a motor taxi trike ride along the riverside road in Vientiane City. Note how the traffic travel on the opposite side of the road to Thailand at least most of the time. A good view of morning street life can be seen including quite a lot of foreign visitors.
I hope you enjoyed the images and information on Vientiane City Laos. If you have any comments or questions about this topic please post some comments below.
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- After living and working in Thailand for over 5 years in October 2010 I relocated from Mahachai Thailand to Melbourne Australia. I have a wide interest in railways, ferries, metros, trams, buses and mass transit system planning throughout Thailand and the Asian region.
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Thai Mass Transport Topics List
- Welcome to the Thai Mass Transport Systems Blog
- The Buses of Rama 2 road
- The Buses of Wong Wian Yai
- SRT Mahachai Train runs with the doors wide open.
- A Trip from Wong Wian Yai to Bang Bon on the SRT Mahachai line.
- A Ride on Route 147 (Kanchana Phisek rd)
- A Ride on Route 146 (Kanchana Phisek rd)
- The New Southern Bus Terminal + Intercity buses.
- The Mass Transport Vehicles of Mahachai City.
- SRT: The Maeklong line and Maeklong railway market
- The Maeklong Bus Terminal
- The Modern Rail Based Mass Transit of Thailand
- The Modern Bus Based Mass Transport of Bangkok.
- The Mass Transport Boats of Bangkok (Chao Phraya Express)
- The Mass Transport Boats of Bangkok (Dao Khanong Klong Boat)
- The Mass Transport Boats of Bangkok (Klong Saen Saep Boat service)
- The Mass Transport Boats of Bangkok (Phra Khanong Klong Boat Service)
- SRT: The Mahachai line a trip from Bang Bon to Mahachai.
- SRT: The Mahachai Rail Yard.
- SRT: The Eastern Line and the construction of the Airport Rail Link.
- SRT: The Main System (Hualamphong Station and rail yard).
- SRT: A trip on the Ayutthaya Commuter Line (Main North line).
- The Buses of Suvarnabhumi Airport and Suvarnabhumi Bus Terminal.
- SRT: Prachuap Khiri Khan railway station and night shots.
- The Mass Transport of Prachuap Khiri Khan.
- A Summary Bus Guide to Bangkok’s Mass transport bus system.
- SRT: Thonburi Rail Yard + Thai Steam Engine Fleet.
- The Buses of Nakhon Pathom and Bus Route 402.
- SRT: The Thonburi to Nakhon Pathom Commuter Line.
- The Mega Mochit 2 Bus Terminal.
- Mochit 2: The Metro Bus Terminal.
- SRT: Bang Sue Junction and Station.
- The Main South line: Bang Sue to Taling Chan link.
- The Mass Transport of Samut Chedi and The Temple in the Sea.
- The Mass Transport of Kheha Thonburi + Vans of Rama 2.
- The Buses and Trucks of Paknam City
- The Mass Transport of Phra Pradaeng.
- Free BMTA Bus and SRT rail travel.
- SRT: The Queensland railways SX commuter carriages.
- A little extra BTS and SRT.
- The Bangkok BRT (Bus Rapid Transit System) and Buses of Thaphra.
- SRT Cargo Trains and Chachoengsao Junction (Eastern Line).
- SRT: Kaeng Khoi Junction night shots and movies.
- SRT: Hin Lap Station and Curve + Dong Phraya Yen Pass.
- Alternative Travel arrangements for Bangkok Airport Passengers.
- The Mega Victory Monument Metro Bus Terminal.
- The Eastern Bus Terminal.
- SRT: Cab Ride Mahachai Line: Bang Bon – Wong Wian Yai.
- The Buses of Rangsit.
- The Rangsit Metro Bus Terminal and Bus Depot.
- The Buses of Pathum Thani.
- SRT Northern Line: Paknam Pho Station and Yard.
- SRT: Kaeng Khoi Junction in the Daylight.
- SRT: Bua Yai Line and Chong Samran.
- The Buses of Saphan Taksin.
- The Buses of Sanam Luang and Tha Chang.
- The Buses of Nonthaburi.
- Chao Phraya Express Boats – The New Pak Kret Service.
- The Southern Line: Hat Yai Junction Station and Yard.
- The new BTS Extension to Wong Wian Yai.
- The Tha Din Daeng cross river ferry + Route 20 terminus.
- The Buses of Chinatown.
- The Eastern Line: Kabinburi and Prachantakam.
- SRT: Khok Salung and Pasak Chonlasit Dam.
- SRT: Southern line the second attempt.
- The state of the Mahachai Line and Bang Bon "Track Lake".
- The Mass Transit of Vientiane Laos.
- Udon Thani's Mass Transit System.
- Thai VIP Intercity Buses + Thai - Lao International Buses.
- The Mass Transit of Mukdahan.
- SRT: Hualamphong Station by Night + Overnight Trains.
- SRT Northern Line: Thailand's Highest and Longest – Khun Tan.
- The Bangkok Airport Rail Link: The fastest train in Thailand.
- SRT: Maeklong Line – Ban Bo Station.
- Bangkok BRT System: Chong Nonsi BTS (Sathorn) to Ratchapruek.
- SRT: Mahachai Line + Buses of Wong Wian Yai during morning peak.
- The new BTS extension from On Nut to Bearing.
- SRT Northern line: Steam Locomotives at Bang Pa In.