In this mini blog, we'll be taking you through some of our top tips for how to survive the South East Asia sleeper bus. On the whole our experiences with them were very positive, other than the odd grumpy driver. They were comfortable, relatively cheap and quite a laugh. It was something definitely worth experiencing, but if you aren't prepared then it can be far from fun. Read on to find out how to get the most out of your trip.
Even if you don’t think you need to wee when you stop, go anyway.
You never know when the random need to go to the toilet might hit you and you never know when exactly the next stop will be, play it safe and get off whenever possible to save yourself the distress. Which leads to…
Pack toilet roll and hand sanitiser.
Most of the stops won’t have toilet roll and some may not have running water, pack a roll or some tissues and a small bottle of anti bac to save yourself money and frustration. It doesn’t take up much space in your bag and can be such a lifesaver.
Pack food and water.
This seems like an obvious one, but it is important none the less. Some of the journeys can be very long and again, you never when the stops will be or even if the stops will have shops. Pack everything you need beforehand and consider yourself lucky if you’re able to get a hot meal, but don’t count on it.
When you sleep, turn your phone off. All sleepers have a clock for the time.
Save yourself battery wherever you can. There’s nothing worse than finally getting to your location and having no idea of where you’re going. You don’t need your phone on when asleep, other than for the time, but all sleepers we’ve been on have a clock.
Pack reusable chargers.
Leading on from the previous point, make sure all of your reusable chargers are full and packed in your carry on bag. Use them tactically, put your phone on airplane mode when using them to make the most of the charge they have.
Download enough stuff on Netflix.
The journeys can be long and ever so boring, if you make space on your phone you can download a whole load of stuff on Netflix to keep yourself busy.
If you’re going over a border, already have the currency for that country.
Sorting your visa is easier in their own currency and getting money out from the bus is hard. Make this as easy as you can, save yourself money and stress. A side point here, some borders can be a pain, we’re sure we got ripped off a bit going into Laos, but at the time there was nothing we could do. Download XE, which is an up to date currency converter.
Be prepared to be dropped off in a random place when you arrive.
When we arrived in Luang Prabang we had no idea where we were, it was late and after looking in our maps, we realised we were a 45 minute walk away from the city centre. Look up before hand where you will be dropped off so you know what to do next.
Be prepared to get cosy, some sleeper buses make you share a single bed with a complete stranger.
We were lucky that we had our ticket booked together so we shared a bed, but others didn’t have that privilege. Complete strangers had to sleep in one single bed together, so be prepared for that.
Wear slip on shoes.
When you arrive on the bus the driver give you plastic bags to put your shoes in. Whenever you need to get off it is much easier to put on a pair of flip flops than big hiking boots.
This app continues to be a lifesaver. It is great for seeing how much further you still have to go as well as finding out where you are when you’re dropped off.
Apps to have for the journey