Photo: Best in town.

Viphaphone Hotel

Creature comforts

On main road, east of market T: (020) 9817 1031 (088) 210 999

Viphaphone Hotel

Our rating:

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Once a dated behemoth, Viphaphone Hotel has a new lease on life and as of 2018, is Phongsali’s best accommodation option thanks to revamped rooms and offering the services and clear information that independent travellers seek.

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Centrally located and just steps to the old Chinese quarter, Viphaphone is a three-storey tile and concrete modernist creation and looks rather grim and unattractive from the outside. The building’s bones aren’t the most appealing—wait until you see the hallways and stairs straight out of an Escher drawing—but after an Australian expat took over, the crazy halls lead to rooms that now sport the clean comfort that some backpackers seek.

Perfect post-trek spot to recover.

Perfect post-trek spot to recover. Photo: Cindy Fan

The deluxe rooms are the best and would satisfy the pickiest of flashpacker, or be a treat for a backpacker after a trek. Fully refurbished in late 2017, these rooms have a king bed with good quality, soft white cotton linens and a bedside plug. The plug action doesn’t stop there: the desk has plugs galore as well as an electric kettle with packets of tea/coffee provided. Other creature comforts include TV (with instructions on how to actually get the channels) and a clothing rack. Some sensible thought went into the spacious bathrooms. There’s a wide shelf and the floor slopes down towards the drain, both rare features in a Lao guesthouse. The shower has a robust heater that delivers piping hot water.

Their most expensive deluxe room comes with an air-con unit that delivers heat, a feature to be revered during Phongsali’s frigid winter months. Another highlight is the view over the mountains—that is, if it’s not shrouded in fog. Everything is clean and exceptionally tidy. We appreciated the no smoking sign in the room, which you don’t always find in northern Laos. Some of the rooms have been designated non-smoking.

The smartest digs in town.

The smartest digs in town. Photo: Cindy Fan

There’s a range of prices for the other rooms (100,000 to 170,000 kip) based on size, view, amenities and number of beds. Overall, these rooms are clean but small and not surprising, given the weirdness of the hallway, have a strange layout/odd angles within which they’ve done their best to furnish. Standard rooms have a window, dresser, electric kettle and freestanding coat rack. Beds have a mattress topper and white cotton linens. The bathrooms are the weakest part. They are a basic wetroom with regular electric heated shower and looked like they could use a bit of remodelling. It’s comfortable and neat but for a frugal traveller, it’s not a sure sell as they could save up to 30,000 kip at one of the other guesthouses in town.

But no other guesthouse has a rooftop with a wonderful view like Viphaphone and this somewhat makes up for the very echoey hallways and unwanted early morning wake ups from departing guests. The staff are also still learning and sometimes they were unable to assist with basic queries. On the upside, Nathan the Australian proprietor, who is usually available in the daytime, is friendly and extremely helpful. The hotel gives each guest a binder containing handy information such as transport options and timetables.

The view, the information and English speaking service are the biggest selling points of Viphaphone Hotel. WiFi worked well when we stayed there. They do money exchange, including Chinese yuan and Vietnamese dong.

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Walk-in rates at Viphaphone Hotel

Type of room
Type of room, low and high season prices
Sgl fan private bathroom
80,000 kip
80,000 kip
Dbl fan private bathroom
100,000 kip
100,000 kip
Dbl air-con private bathroom
200,000 kip
200,000 kip
Deluxe double room
250,000 kip
250,000 kip
Room: Sgl fan private bathroom, low season: 80,000 kip, high season 80,000 kip. Notes:
Room: Dbl fan private bathroom, low season: 100,000 kip, high season 100,000 kip. Notes:
Room: Dbl air-con private bathroom, low season: 200,000 kip, high season 200,000 kip. Notes:
Room: Deluxe double room, low season: 250,000 kip, high season 250,000 kip. Notes:

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Where is Viphaphone Hotel

Viphaphone Hotel
On main road, east of market
T: (020) 9817 1031 (088) 210 999
Coordinates (for GPS): 102º6'19.32" E, 21º40'53.02" N
Room rates: Under US$10

Map for Viphaphone Hotel

Map for Viphaphone Hotel

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