I was hoping to catch the slowboat from Vientiane up to Pak Lai next week, then onto Sainyabuli and LP via bus. Does anyone have any up-to-date info about the boat trip - is it still running, roughly how many times a week etc? There seems to be a lack of info on the net about it - and I can't even find a section on Sainyabuli on travelfish! Relying on my library copy of LP Laos (which I won't be able to take with me...)
#1 kahrani has been a member since 2/10/2008. Posts: 8
It's still running 4 times a week but I forget which days. I just spent a night at the "Kaoliew Harbor Hotel" where the boat leaves Vientiane, 020-588-8555 also 544-8777 or 567-5845 they probably know which day the slow boat leaves but beware no English spoken. Heard one of the Guest Houses in Pak Lai has hot water now too.
Kaoliew is a ways out of Vientiane, past the airport out where the road turns right to go to Luang Prabang you go straight instead, after a couple kilometers there's a sign on the left. If you see the market you've gone too far. There are also busses out of the Northern Bus station in Vientiane, leaves at 8 AM 90,000 kip.
plug all sorts of spelling variations for Sayabouly/Xaignaboury/etc into blogsearch.google.com, select 'sort by date' when results appear. will find most recent reports/blog posts from people who've been there or live there (working for NGOs, etc). with the elephant festivals in Pak Lai (2008) & Sayabouly (last weekend), accom options in these two towns have increased/sort of spruced up.
could also try looking for a guy named Sithad at Saysouly GH in Vientiane (evenings & weekends) & ask him (should know all ways to get to his home in Sayabouly). if you're lucky a Kaoliew tuktuk driver (look for 'Kaoliew' on sign at front of tuktuk) who hangs around outside that GH will know too if Sithad doesn't (most locals take the bus now), but he can't speak English (Sithad does pretty well).
Thanks for your help guys! I can't wait, I'm leaving for Bangkook tonight, will be in Laos on saturday! Woohoo!
#4 kahrani has been a member since 2/10/2008. Posts: 8
Following advice of Lonely Planet guide (and some research on internet0 I was in Paklai today (Monday) hoping to find a regular boat for Vientiane. Sadly the boat no longer exists - I cannot assert with certitude it is definitely over, it might be a seasonal problem, but it seems likely this boat is dead.
Note that I took the bus ride instead, and that it is quite nice (forested hills, beautiful stretches along the Mekong) though a bit tiring (half the route is on unsealed roads).
#6 GillesFromFrance has been a member since 13/12/2010. Posts: 6
Thanks Gilles for letting me know that the boat is no longer operating. I also did a bit of research and most people I contacted said forget it too hard if not impossible.
Enjoy the trip
#7 mandyoz has been a member since 29/10/2010. Posts: 4
Rugged the bus ride is, fun too, enough to write it up, http://farsidetravel.net/2010/12/26/the-journey-is-the-destination-third-in-a-naga-saga/
#8 AnneAnderson has been a member since 30/12/2010. Posts: 3
If you have a phone, Mr Van 2892968 is a phenomenal linguist I met when he was a tuk tuk driver in Pak Lai. Since the new Vientiane Pak Lai bus route opened, he has been recruited to work on it, but he's given permission to still pass on his number on via the Internet to anyone who wants to know more about getting to Pak Lai, places around it, and so on, such as the Thai Lao border markets, or the folk temples in the mountains.
The pick of the guesthouses is probably the one where the Vientiane bus drivers stay. Hot water and aircon work just fine, rooms start from 50,000kip for non-farang and 80,000 for farang. The sign isnt in English, but its immediately opposite the stalls of the morning market, on the northern side of the road running from the river street along the market's north side, and all the tuk tuk drivers know it. Though its showing a bit of wear and tear, and the hot water heater is not much more than novelty box, the upper rooms with balconies at the KP guesthouse, same price, are worth the climb up the staircase.
#9 AnneAnderson has been a member since 30/12/2010. Posts: 3