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Revision as of 21:13, 13 November 2015 by Laurieking101 (talk | contribs)

Earth > Asia > South-Eastern Asia > Laos
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Flag of Laos Laos
Language: Lao
Capital: Vientiane
Population: 6,521,998
Currency: Kip (LAK)
Hitchability: <rating country='la' />
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Laos is a country in South East Asia surrounded by China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Burma. Hitchhiking is fairly uncommon, and sometimes people will expect money. Check out the Thai-Lao phrasebook for language pointers.

Hitching in Laos is very different between the north and south part of the country. While in the south it is relatively easy to hitchhike 300 kilometers a day and people don't commonly expect money, in the north it's hard to go more than 150 a day -- on some roads, expect to cover only as much as you can walk in a day. It can take a long time to be picked up, as few cars drive on the so called 'highway', often just a dirt road with random pavement sections. Looking at the amount of cars (in January 2011 and 2012) there are around 1 (pick up, car, truck) per 6 minutes. This makes travel in Laos very different from hitching in Thailand. But even in the north it is still possible to get a lift. Solo hitchhikers can get a ride between villages with one of the many motor bikes that roam all over the country Near the border with Vietnam, on the road 7, there are many logging trucks, coming from China. They speak no English most of the time. Try the pickup trucks and point that you want to sit in the back. It helps to say in advance that you have no money and it can also be a good idea to have a local person write down a few sentences like "have no money", "short distance is ok" etc. There are more than a few improvised pickups that will give you a ride for less money than the organized busses. sometimes it seems cheaper to go with these pickups as out of 10 hitches, you need to pay 3 of them if you don't make clear in advance that you're looking to travel for free. [rule of thumb: 30-40,000 kip per 100 km for a "hitch", or 10,000 per person (per 30km) for a bus-truck.

Still, if you are determined to hitchhike for free through Laos, it can be done, even in the north (the south is very easy, similar to Thailand). Since almost nobody can speak English, and they will expect a payment for the rides, it is essential that you make yourself understood: a hitchhiking letter may help a lot with that, and will also help you to be helped by the locals in order to find free rides to your destination. Aside from that, be prepared for the long waits (or walks), have lots of patience and do it mostly for the fun!

In the '80s a lot of people went to Russia for their studies, and these are often people who have cars these days, so you might be able to use your Russian skills. English is not very common outside of cities and tourist destinations.

You should be aware that some maps of Laos (Google Maps in particular is one) are not accurate.

My personal experience

This article is very accurate in that it is possible to hitch hike from north to south, but be prepared for long waits and dusty walks. The road leading from the Chinese boarder to Luang Prabang is currently undergoing upgrades since 2014 and apparently will be completed by August 2015, however when I passed through in November 2014 it looked a long way off with a majority of the road still dirt. It is possible to stay in Wats even in the north of Lao and I had no problem camping, however in Lao there is a law in which any foreigner staying with or in a local Lao person house must be registered with the local village elder, different person from the police so don't worry. This is to protect both you and your host, all the elder will want is to see your passport and if this doesn't happen you may receive a visit from the police next morning as happened to me on my first night in the north of Lao staying in a Wat, yes even in a Wat they must register you. Apart from that Lao is an amazing country with some very very friendly people.

Experience in July 2015:--Laurieking101 (talk) 21:13, 13 November 2015 (CET)

While being slightly put off by the above comments, I persisted in giving Laos a go. Managed to travel all the way from Huay Xai to Vientiane via hitch hiking (apart from one bus journey from Oudomxay to Pak Mong). Do be prepared to wait at least a couple of hours in some places though! A top tip would be keeping your eyes peeled for Chinese number plates (if you see a rather fancy car coming towards you, it's probably Chinese) - about 80% of my rides were with incredibly helpful Chinese visitors, many of whom offered food, drinks & ciggies :) GO FOR IT!!!


Amylin hitchhiking out of Luang Nam Tha to the border between Laos and China.

Getting in

From China

There is only one border crossing at Mohan - Boten. It is possible to walk from the Chinese to the Lao side. If you get stuck in Mohan and need to spend the night, accomodation costs 40-60 yuan but there are some empty shops, open building entrances with space to hide under the stairs, and RovingSnails walked to the top of an apartment building and slept on the rooftop without any complains.

From Thailand. There are 8 land border crossings.

Border crossing at Chiang Khong - Huay Xai. Walking or cycling across the friendship bridge joining Thailand with Laos is not allowed, but it is possible to hitchhike if one ignores the comments from the bus service (20 baht). From Thailand to Laos, the border police kindly stopped a car for RovingSnails and even gave them water for the way under the sun.

External links