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Overland Viang Veng to Luang Prabang (In comfort)

  • jaizan

    Joined Travelfish
    16th November, 2009
    Posts: 13

    What's my best option for travelling overland from Viang Veng to Luang Prabang, in reasonable comfort?

    I shall be travelling alone.
    Is it reasonably easy to book a shared taxi or minibus with other tourists?

    How long do minibuses take?

    Travelling on a bus is only acceptable if I am guaranteed to have a proper seat.

    #1 Posted: 16/11/2009 - 06:21

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  • christay2009

    Joined Travelfish
    8th February, 2009
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 414
    Total reviews: 4

    There is no need to attempt to book a mini-bus between the two, although i am sure it is possible, i am not sure how much quicker they are anyway. Often they were less comfortable than a bus because they can be easily overloaded with passengers and 'stuff' [bags of produce, suitcases etc]. I met one chap who took a minibus rather than a local one and found the seats weren't attached to anything! this is not a good recipe with Lao mountain roads!

    The road between Vientiane and Luang Prabang [with VV inbetween] is one of the best roads in the area, at least in terms of road surface, and it is a major tourist route. In order to get a seat on the bus its the same as any country, just get there in good time.

    #2 Posted: 24/11/2009 - 19:23

  • jaizan

    Joined Travelfish
    16th November, 2009
    Posts: 13

    Thank you for advice.

    I shall probably be staying overnight in Viang Veng to break the trip up & take it nice & easy. This is a holiday, after all.

    Therefore getting to the bus early is not an option. I need to be able to stroll up to a bus in Viang Vieng & know I shall get a seat.
    Don't mind if it is $10, $15 or $20.

    #3 Posted: 26/11/2009 - 05:17

  • jaizan

    Joined Travelfish
    16th November, 2009
    Posts: 13

    Thank you for advice.

    I shall probably be staying overnight in Viang Veng to break the trip up & take it nice & easy. This is a holiday, after all.

    Therefore getting to the bus early is not an option. I need to be able to stroll up to a bus in Viang Vieng & know I shall get a seat.
    Don't mind if it is $10, $15 or $20.

    #4 Posted: 26/11/2009 - 05:17

  • christay2009

    Joined Travelfish
    8th February, 2009
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 414
    Total reviews: 4

    perhaps you misunderstand or i wasn't clear, by early i only meant 15 minutes pre-departure for a bus at any time of day. Hardly taking away any relaxing time

    #5 Posted: 26/11/2009 - 05:46

  • jaizan

    Joined Travelfish
    16th November, 2009
    Posts: 13

    Perhaps I do misunderstand.

    However. As advised in the second post, I am now likely to stop in Viang Veng overnight.
    If the bus originates in Vientiane & stops of part way in Viang Veng, then when I get on it in Viang Veng is possible many of the seats on the bus will be full before the bus even gets to Viang Veng.
    So I get no seat.

    #6 Posted: 26/11/2009 - 07:05

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6341
    Total reviews: 10

    Jaizan
    That won't stop them from selling you a ticket. So no worries. You'll be standing up the whole trip, but I did that once for almost five hours. And I'm an old man.

    #7 Posted: 26/11/2009 - 07:20

  • christay2009

    Joined Travelfish
    8th February, 2009
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 414
    Total reviews: 4

    I must add that buses from VV to Vientiane directly aren't the ones that come from Luang Prabang. Those ones just drop you off on the road on the way. If you go down and buy a ticket in Vang Vieng the bus will start in Vang Vieng, thus my original advice applies. You will have no problem getting a seat if you get there in good time.

    To be honest, it seems that you have some kind of reluctance to getting a normal bus. I just hope that you don't end up in a 8 person minibus with 12 people in it!

    #8 Posted: 26/11/2009 - 17:24

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 953

    I disagree with Christay. The road from VV to LP is very windy and is unpleasant in a bus. My personal preference is to fly to Luang Prabang from Vientiane. As that is not an option, I would definitely opt for the mini bus. I do not enjoy having people in seats next to me or close to me leave their lunches behind.

    #9 Posted: 27/11/2009 - 07:27

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6341
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    Rufus
    It's even more fun when it's really hot and the AC isn't working...

    #10 Posted: 27/11/2009 - 11:04

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  • somsai

    Joined Travelfish
    1st March, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 564

    Now Mac, you have to admit you've never been on a bus Vientiane to Luang Prabang that didn't have a fully functioning AC, safety belts, extra padding on leather seats complete with cupholders and ergonomic setting for bad backs, sliding windows with stops for panoramic photos, hot and cold running bus hostesses, arrived ahead of schedule, included only foreigners, and everyone spoke English.

    True right?

    You've never been on a bus on that road that didn't include those things, right or wrong?


    I myself find the bus to be enjoyable and relaxing with some of the nicest people in the world through pretty scenery on one of the best roads in Laos. The bus makes me so ungodly happy and just plain old giddy that I bring along a big ol bag a limes out a the market to bite down into from time to time to return to my sour old self.

    #11 Posted: 27/11/2009 - 11:49

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6341
    Total reviews: 10

    I've never been on a bus of any kind on that road. But I was on a bus from Yasothon to Udon Thani that was standing room only (I was standing), some people got sick AND the AC wasn't working.

    #12 Posted: 27/11/2009 - 11:55

  • christay2009

    Joined Travelfish
    8th February, 2009
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 414
    Total reviews: 4

    Each to their own, i quite enjoyed the bus rides in Laos. I can't really relate to not wanting to ride a bus because of people sitting next to me as it is a bus afterall. Surely on a Vang Vieng minibus you would have that same problem? albeit with a tourist sat next to you.

    I don't think we need to delve any deeper into this debate as we won't get anywhere

    #13 Posted: 27/11/2009 - 17:55

  • somsai

    Joined Travelfish
    1st March, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 564

    OMG!

    Mac?

    You mean to say you're opining about something you've never done in a place you've never been?

    Reminds me of that time I took a Greyhound bus Boston to Denver, horrid ride.

    #14 Posted: 27/11/2009 - 21:38

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location United States
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    At least 98

    personally, i loved the bus ride from luang prabang through vang vieng and on to vientiane. i particularly loved the scenery. but it definitely was not the most comfortable bus ride in the world either. fortunately, nobody barfed on that journey.

    anyway, i didn't necessarily mind the discomfort, but it sounds like jaizan would. and to be clear, there were quite a few people who didn't get a regular sit-down seat and either stood or sat on little plastic stools in the aisles.

    if a guaranteed seat is a must, then seriously consider flying as rufus suggests. plus, the scenery from the air is spectacular as well. cheers.

    #15 Posted: 27/11/2009 - 22:41

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6341
    Total reviews: 10

    Christay
    I actually enjoy a short bus ride. Often it leads to an interesting discussion with the person seated next to me. BUT... when it's long, hot, someone has puked in the bus, and I'm standing because there are no seats left... my fun meter has been pegged.

    #16 Posted: 28/11/2009 - 07:59

  • christay2009

    Joined Travelfish
    8th February, 2009
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 414
    Total reviews: 4

    Mac - have you seen those buses that run from Ubon Ratchathani to Bangkok that are operated almost like an aeroplane. I am not sure of the company but it has 'air' in the name. You get a massive seat with a pretty impressive recline, loads of leg room, air con, blankets and pillow[if at night], a meal, drinks, snacks and there is a toilet. They are pretty expensive but i opted for this when heading back to BK. Probably the best bus ride i've ever had, at least in terms of comfort.

    #17 Posted: 29/11/2009 - 01:02

  • somsai

    Joined Travelfish
    1st March, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 564

    Well I have caught that paticular bus. Four or five times on each occasion that I've stayed in Laos over the past five or six years. Altogether quite a few trips. And I've always had a seat. And so has everyone else who got on at a regular stop.

    All the aisle sitting has been by locals taking the one hour lift up the road, not by us long distance riders.

    And I always used to flag the bus down after it left Vientiane so to avoid going in to town. And if anyone had been sitting in the aisle it would have been me.

    Other routes in Laos see fewer busses, but every bus headed to Huay Xai, Luang Namtha, Boten, Udomxai, and Phongsali pass through Luang Prabang , and there are many direct busses out of Northern bus station, Dalat Sao, and Vang Vien. More busses than people. Back in the day you might have to sit in the aisle, and on a lot of other routes to this day, but not Vientiane to Luang Prabang that I've seen of late.

    More on why it's a good thing if tourists are uncomfortable later.

    #18 Posted: 29/11/2009 - 01:29

  • idreamofdur-
    ian

    TF writer
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    christay -- I always use the same company when I go from BKK to Khon Khaen. It's a quick, smooth ride. Definitely worth the extra 100B!

    #19 Posted: 29/11/2009 - 13:54

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6341
    Total reviews: 10

    "Reminds me of that time I took a Greyhound bus Boston to Denver, horrid ride."

    Actually I was only opining on the bus ride I took from Yaso to Udon - however I do not need to actually take the bus from Boston to Denver to know it would suck. Isn't that obvious. Look at a map.

    Some things don't need to be experienced to understand they would suck. Getting hit by a truck, for instance. I'm pretty sure that would be a lousy experience. Or getting eaten by a shark.

    #20 Posted: 29/11/2009 - 15:04

  • jaizan

    Joined Travelfish
    16th November, 2009
    Posts: 13

    1.5 hours is the maximum I would contemplate standing for in a bus.

    Would quite happily hike for 6~8 hours but standing on a bus or sitting on a poxy plastic stool is a no no.

    Flying is a last resort, as it means I see less of Laos.

    Are minibuses a good option?

    #21 Posted: 29/11/2009 - 17:40

  • somsai

    Joined Travelfish
    1st March, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 564

    Interesting about the bus to Koen Khaen, but why not the train? Even regular seats seem much more comfortable. There's also really cheap flights to Udon Thani and Koen Khaen is only a short distance from there. Of course you'd have to go all the way out to the airport first, then back track to Koen Khaen.

    What about the train jaizan?

    Oh, that's Thailand we are all talking about, there is no trains in Laos. and no large private bus companies so to take the same luxury bus on the same route every time. Only owner driven busses operating out of government bus stations for government fixed prices. But then if you'd ever ridden a long distance bus in Laos you'd know that wouldn't you. I guess that's why information about busses in Vietnam (or Boston to Denver or to Koen Khaen or to Yaso Udon)aren't really that relevant.

    There's only one bus every day or two and the road is mostly dirt and often cut off due to landslides, in 1996, guess that's not so helpfull either.

    Had to stand allmost all night on the Phitsianalook to Udonthani bus. It was already full when I got on. AC hardly worked too. Had one of those super delux sleepers with blankets and stuff from Ubon to Chonburi, whish he'd driven on the right side of the road. OOps Thailand again.

    I have taken that exact same bus on that exact same road maybe twenty times or more in the past few years and never had to sit on anything but a seat. Of course having talked about not having a seat for 3 weeks on two different forums it will probably be just your luck to not only not have a seat but not have a little plastic stool with a back, the one you get will be backless, And one of the legs will continuously buckle. And then the tires will blow which really won't matter too much when the rear axle overheats and bursts into flames. They don't send replacement busses in Laos. Everyone sleeps on the bus until it's fixed. Bring water and food.

    Did I tell you about all the shooting?

    Don't read this. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,501030217-421079,00.html

    #22 Posted: 29/11/2009 - 20:03

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6341
    Total reviews: 10

    Somsai
    I think you are guilty of some hyperbole here... Are the buses in Laos somehow special? Are they super buses? Perhaps they are never over-crowded, but otherwise they are still buses.

    #23 Posted: 30/11/2009 - 10:04

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