I took the midnight sleeper bus from Ven Vang to Luang Prabang. I am no stranger to rough commutes. I have hitchhiked, slept on the road, and overall consider myself blessed to be able to sleep anywhere. Thus, with great confidence, I booked a ticket on a Laotian sleeper bus assured that I would find the conditions fine. It is about ten hours (I think officially it is nine hours), so even if there's a snorer on the bus, I was sure I would get at least five hours of sleep.
Upon entering the bus I realized the beds are about five feet long. I am well over five feet tall, but that's fine. I am used to contorting my body into small places. Once the bus started moving though I realized a few things worth noticing.
First off I sensed that the suspension in the vehicle was pretty shoddy. That meant every bump we hit felt much bigger! There weren’t that many huge bumps, but the road felt as though the driver had fallen asleep and we were driving on rumble strips.
Secondly, I knew very well that the driver was still awake because we seemed to be making very fast turns around the hairpin corners on this mountain road. If I were driving, we would probably have been going a fourth the speed, but he is the expert and I suppose that he has a schedule to meet.
Finally, I felt very much like I was back in Singapore trying to throw a surprise party (this party failed because we had all left our shoes outside the apartment). On the floor of the bus was a collection of everyone’s shoes! After all it would be silly to sleep with shoes on. I don’t know why but recalling the floor of the bus spattered with different shoes always makes me smile.
In short, I found the bus ride an affordable and convenient way to get from point A to point B without losing a day of traveling. I wasn’t very well rested when I arrived, but did get three to four hours of sleep.
If you end up taking a sleeper bus I’d suggest you not only try to find a comfortable position, but also be sure your position somewhat braces yourself so you aren’t awakened by the feeling of being thrown off your bed!