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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Public Transportation, Udon Thani to Sakon Nakhon, Thailand

After having been driven off the road into a tree by a typical Thai driver I traveled by bus from Udon to Sakon Nakhon. There are 3 classes of bus in Isaan. 1st class, the least cramped, and can be divided into 2 categories, private VIP and government. The VIP generally does not allow standing passengers while the government does.
Also VIP coaches generally have assigned and pre-booked seating while government coaches do not. Most 1st class coaches have toilets and some work.
Please note that I am using generally and usually since things in Thailand are usually in a state of change, generally speaking.
2nd class coaches are usually airconditioned, some with toilet facilities some not.
Plan your trip, you do not want to be on a bus while children are going to or coming from school, as they get packed into the coach and no amount of aircon can keep up with the mass of bodies jammed in. Midday travel during the hot season only if you enjoy public sauna or steambath
Expect an average speed to your destination in the range of 50kph.
Most coaches will stop in towns enroute. On the Udon Sakon Nakhon route that means, Nong Han, Sawang Daeng Din, Phang Khon, Phanna Nikkom, and Khamin.. It will also stop frequently departing and arriving at start and finish. Only VIP coaches exceed the 50kph estimate and only VIP coaches do not usually stop along the road. Coaches will stop at intersections with main rural routes to other destinations. Rod 2096 to Ban Dung in Udon is an example.
All in all the least uncomfortable part of the trip was I did not have to drive and arrived in Sakon Nakhon generally unfrazzled by the 2 near misses along the way. Remember thai buses are not known for their safety record.
Here's a video taken going through Sawang Daen Din, the largest town between Udon and Sakon Nakhon.