Photo: Classic scenery surrounds Vang Vieng.

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Local bus from Vang Vieng to Vientine

Posted by AGRO on 13/8/2011 at 16:36

Hi everyone.

We usually like to figure out travel ourselves rather than using tour agencies because it's cheaper, less likely to get ripped off etc etc

We were wondering how we can catch the local bus to Vientiane. We don't like the big VIP busses as we found you can't really see much out the windows, and a few other things while the 2nd class bus (from luang prabang) was cheap, comfortable and overall was a fine experience as far as long bus rides go.

Can we just walk up to the main road or do we need to go to that new bus station?
If so what time, we're hoping to leave early AM

#1 AGRO has been a member since 27/7/2011. Posts: 31

Posted by christay2009 on 13/8/2011 at 17:57

I went to the bus station to buy a bus ticket for the next day as I guessed it would be just a 'local bus' and cheaper. It wasn't either of those. I just went to the bus stop at 'x' time and got put on a minibus which took us to the other bus station with all the other foreigners. In fact, because they booked in town, they knew where to go and got there first / best seats. The price was no different either - bus station or guest house. Might have even been more from station. You don't have to worry about it being VIP either, it was probably the worst bus I've ever been on.

That was late 09 so might have changed now or perhaps It was just a one off. Despite the actual ride being bad, it wasn't so bad overall as plenty of people to speak to.

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Posted by travellingsarah on 14/8/2011 at 10:01 TF writer

Posted from within Vietnam.

We walked to the main road (go across the gravel field / carpark from the tourist centre of town) and got a local bus from there. We had to wait a bit and ward off touts etc. but it saved some money. We paid on the bus as far as I can remember. There were also tuk tuks going from there. Afraid I can't remember what we paid for it.

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Posted by wanderingcat on 14/8/2011 at 12:52

think there are 2 bus stations in VV. one in the north at GP194 in this map: http://hobomaps.com/VangViengAreaMap.html
& the other opposite the southern end of the disused runway at HJ196 of the same map, labelled as 'tourist bus station'.
christay - did you buy your ticket from the former or the latter?

like what christay described...many reports of tourists being sold tickets for the VV-VTE VIP tourist bus that turns out to be a battered ordinary bus. once saw such a bus crawling along HWY13 :P

perhaps you could go to the northern bus station & try your luck there...don't buy a ticket in advance - check what type of bus is the next one leaving & whether you are allowed on it first, before buying your ticket. if people there refuse to let you take the non-tourist bus...you could try what #3 did, walk out to HWY13 & wait along the road to flag down a passing bus. but there won't be many in the morning...the buses from Bokeo & Phongsaly to VTE might pass through VV early in the morning (exact time highly unpredictable)...apart from those you'll probably have to wait till early aftn for the first of the Phonsavan-VTE & more frequent (one per hour or so) Luang Prabang-VTE buses to pass through.

VV-VTE ordinary bus fare should be ~30,000kip (maybe more given how fuel prices have risen).

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Posted by AGRO on 14/8/2011 at 15:33

I agree with traveling Sarah, I'm sure we could've walked out to the road and flagged down a local bus.

We ended up booking form an agency for 50 000. It was a smaller bus but very nice and the aircon worked etc. No complaints on the journey at all.

However at the end they drop at the North Bus station which is about 3km out of town. And then a bus of the same company is waiting for the tourists and charging 20 000 for the 8 minute trip, almost half the price for the 3.5 hour trip.

I tried to avoid that by getting another tuk tuk or taxi but they kept pointing at the bus, taxi wouldn't even accept the same price of 40 000 for 2 (just so I can beat the system haha)

Oh well....I guess it's just the bus companies clever way of getting an extra 20k from everyone. Not the end of the world, but that's why I try to avoid the tourist buses, so many little ways to nickel and dime you.

#5 AGRO has been a member since 27/7/2011. Posts: 31

Posted by travellingsarah on 14/8/2011 at 15:41 TF writer

Posted from within Vietnam.

Yup, that's a typical bus trick! The local bus we got drove straight down Sethathilat Road so we just jumped out and walked.

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Posted by wanderingcat on 14/8/2011 at 16:05

thanks AGRO for reporting back!

yup the buses from the north to VTE end up at the northern bus station, that's where most of the buses are parked. only the ordinary VV-VTE buses terminate at Khua Din bus station next to the morning market in the middle of central VTE (travelling along Setthathilat Rd past the area with most of the tourist accommodation on the way there).

20,000kip/pax for the shared transport from northern bus station into town has been the standard rate for the past ~2 years, including for locals. new thing is that it's now served by buses. used to be served by tuktuk only, some of whom demanded much more than 20,000kip from foreign tourists. perhaps the tuktuk & taxi drivers might get into trouble with the bus company if they accepted your fare, so can't blame them for turning you down? the bus station is run by the company that operates all of the public bus services to northern Laos & also some of the services to southern Laos.

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Posted by christay2009 on 15/8/2011 at 20:48

Could always try leaving the bus station and attempt to get a tuktuk out on the street???

I'm pretty sure I just followed my tourist hoard friends onto a bus to town. I don't remember it being as much as 20k though. Even if it was... what's $2.50?

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Posted by chopin on 17/8/2011 at 18:53

Christay, it's not abt USD2.50, it's abt it not being fair and proportionate to the 50,000 kip (or even as low as 30,000 kip) for a 3.5 hours trip, compared to this 20,000 kip for a mere 8 minutes city trip. This is a rip-off to me. Yes, I'd try my best to walk some blocks away and then take a cab EVEN if at a higher price, just NOT to let the %$#$%# bus company (most likely controlled by politically-linked cronies) get my $$$, i'd rather let an honest, hard-working local cabby/tuktuk earn it.

It's about principle.

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Posted by wanderingcat on 17/8/2011 at 23:53

further to #9...a ride in a shared tuktuk for the same or even longer distance in VTE costs 3000-5000kip for locals. but even locals are charged 20,000kip for the ride into town from the northern bus station.

once there was a family from the north who got on my VTE-bound bus in the countryside north of Vang Vieng. they were heading to Mahosot hospital in VTE to seek medical help. clearly far from well off from the way they were dressed & the few belongings they had, they couldn't even read the letter (in Lao script) referring them to the hospital & had no idea where to go (their first time travelling beyond their village - all wide-eyed at the vehicles & buildings of VTE). & they didn't have the 50,000kip (fare for 2 adults + 1 kid) to get from VTE northern bus station to Mahosot hospital (near the morning market & Hor Pha Keo).

this 20,000kip fare is also steep for Lao friends living/working in VTE...they either get a lift on a friend's motorbike or walk all the way out.

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Posted by christay2009 on 18/8/2011 at 00:25

Good info wanderingcat although not a happy story at all for that family. Interesting to know this particular fare is set for all, locals and tourists.

Transport costs are not priced based solely on distance/time. I am surprised you haven't noticed this in your own country - and how unfair it is :)

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Posted by AGRO on 18/8/2011 at 10:13

Stuff like this happens everywhere in SE Asia.

In Krabi town, there is a 100 bhat bus waiting to bring you to the centre of town or for those who do some easy searching there is a songthaew that brings you for 10 bhat.
Most tourists just get hoarded like sheep from place to place and pay the money asked for.

And really there's nothing wrong with that. I mean 100 bhat isn't much money. It's really just annoying that in each city you have to figure out that days scam like a puzzle. Maybe it's fun and annoying at the same time. haha

I just always remember not to let it ruin my day. Certain bus companies run their whole operation, especially in Vietnam, by selling cheap tickets and then they get commission from all the food, toilet and hotels they drop you off at. I try not to stay at their hotels because they're usually outside of town, and it can be annoying being dropped off at them while they lie saying they're in the centre of town.

But hey...that's just the way it works and I'm not gonna change it, so if I can avoid what I want to avoid I will....and not stress about it

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Posted by MADMAC on 18/8/2011 at 23:16

I guess that's why I like living here. Pretty tough to scam me, since I know what things cost. And I don't need a bus anyway - got my CBR to get me around.

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Posted by Rufus on 19/8/2011 at 20:30

"Could always try leaving the bus station and attempt to get a tuktuk out on the street???"

Of course you can. The price is the price and I laugh at those p[osters who think they are being extorted. If you don't want to pay the price, do as Christay says and walk a 100 metres down the road and grab a tuk tuk. Is that so hard?

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Posted by chopin on 20/8/2011 at 08:09

AGRO: "I tried to avoid that by getting another tuk tuk or taxi but they kept pointing at the bus, taxi wouldn't even accept the same price of 40 000 for 2 (just so I can beat the system haha)"

so in the end did you actually beat it? according to wanderingcat: "perhaps the tuktuk & taxi drivers might get into trouble with the bus company if they accepted your fare, so can't blame them for turning you down? the bus station is run by the company that operates all of the public bus services to northern Laos & also some of the services to southern Laos."

seems some powerful people are protecting the bus business. those who have not actually been there might want to know if they can walk away from the station and get on a tuk tuk at all, or rather, how wide is the "protection perimeter"? maybe it is not as bad as having to walk all the 3 km to town? i have been to some small towns where the outbound stations are quite far from town and there's no shops or whatsoever along the road, that you have no choice but to take whatever is available-wondering if this the case here.

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