From Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng

A few days in Luang Prabang before I took a minibus down to Vang Vieng.

Looong time PDR Laos
60 years Lao People’s Revolutionary Party!

After that looong day on the boat I was happy to arrive in Luang Prabang. Took me about 30 minutes to find a room. The guy wanted 50.000 kip but when I turned away he went down to 40.000. That is about 4,50 € and it was a super room with fan, bathroom and shower.

My Hotel Room in Luang Prabang

Wanted to have food at the place where I usually go when in Luang Prabang. But that is now a travel agency. Hmm, no shortage over here anyhow. So I kept walking to the evening market and down the first little street where you find a lot of food stalls. And you find the cheapest food in tourist city as well – that is if you really really manage to fill your plate. 25.000 – a bit over 3 €. I have no clue why the food in Laos is all of a sudden more expensive than Thailand. As long as you do not stick with a classic Lao soup at a street stall it gets really expensive.

Food Stand

Food Stand
They have lots of vegetarian options – great!

Food Stand
That will do! Beer was 12.000 here – but not cold 🙁

Bus to Vang Vieng
After a few days it was time to hit the road again. Sure enough it is way more expensive to drive down to Vang Vieng than up from Vang Vieng. Had a super group in the bus. At last the two rows in the front.

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Banana Bungalow in Vang Vieng
Since we sat the whole day in the van I decided to walk with another guy to town. Stopped for a few beers to cool down and got bungalows over the river at Banana Bungalows. He wanted 50.000 each but after I asked for Student Discount we got ours for 40.000 kip. Thank you!

Mountain View in Vang Vieng
As you can see – the smog was mixed with rain clouds today. And the rain switched on and off the whole day and night. So it was quite humid and everything in the bungalow gets kind of damp. Not really nice but I had a super mattress and could sleep quite well.

Lao Salad in Vang Vieng
Really good salad – 30.000 kip – for 3,40€ you get something like that back home 🙁 There was nothing in the menu that said it does comes with eggs…. at last the “no meat” did work!

Little Racer in Vang Vieng
Cool modification

Little Racer in Vang Vieng
This one – me take this one!!!

My furry friend in Vang Vieng
Best dog at my side of the river!

Marc in Vang Vieng
Good morning Vietnam – errrr Laos!

Cooling down in Vang Vieng
When it gets to hot – find a nice cool spot!

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With AYA Service from Pai to Luang Prabang on the Slow Boat

Last time I went to Laos I organized everything myself and did only one day on the slow boat. Than I took a bus up North. This time I did want to spend as much time as possible in Pai. So I booked a ticket with AYA Service from Pai to Luang Prabang. The mini bus at 18:30 to Chiang Khong for one night. Breakfast the next morning. Than transportation to the border and to the boat. Two days of boating down to Luang Prabang. The only thing you have to pay for is your hotel in Pakbeng.
The ticket is 1750 Thai Bath and that price did not change for a long time now.
If you want to do that trip check out the pictures so you know what you get!

AYA Mini Bus from Pai to Luang Prabang
The usual AYA Service mini bus. Quite new, clean and comfortable. I have no clue why we leave at 18:30 in the evening. There is not that much traffic anyhow so that does not make sense? We arrived at the guesthouse at 1:50 and the transportation to the breakfast place is at 7:00 in the morning. That means less than 5 hours of sleep!

Baanchomkhong Guesthouse
We stopped at the Baanchomkhong guesthouse. It was better than everybody in the bus had expected! You will have to share your room – there are no single rooms. Guess if you pay extra on the spot you can have one. Very comfortable mattress, clean towels and a bottle of water. A glass bottle that was!

Baanchomkhong Guesthouse
Private bathroom with hot shower and toilet. The only downside was the super thin walls so you will hear everything that happens in the next room. Everybody was super tired and after a quick wifi session the hotel was quite.

Morning at the Mekong
Woke up at 6:30, took a quick shower and waited for the others to get ready. The view from the guesthouse balcony. The Mekong and Laos on the other side. A bit after 7 the owner of the guesthouse took us to another hotel. We had a basic breakfast and she offered to change US $ for the border. Than another small taxi drove us to the border. The good old times when you walked down the river to get to the immigration and crossed to Houay Xai are over since they build the Friendship Bride 4.

Lao Border
You walk to the immigration and get your departure stamp. Than a big bus (for 20 Bath) ships you to the Lao immigration. You fill out the immigration form and hand it together with your passport to one of the guys working there.

Lao Border
After a while a guy on the left window calls your name and gives you the passport in exchange for US $. If you do not have US $ you can pay in Thai Bath but the rate is very poor. There is also a little exchange where you could get US $. You have to find out what you have to pay since it depends on the passport you travel with. For me it was 35 $.

Boat Ticket Counter
Next it is waiting for everyone that has a ticket for the slow boat. If you make your way over the border on your own and arrive early you can get a ticket here and it includes the bus transport to the boat.
Much later you will board another bus that brings you to Houay Xai. Your passport goes again to a little office for more paperwork. This is the time to go shopping for food, water and beer. You should go up the road a bit away from the water since everything gets much cheaper even after less than a minute walking. The beer and baguette were only 10.000 Kip each where I got it. The last few shops next to the water sell it for 15.000 each.

On the Slow Boat
As soon as you have your passport again you should go to the boat to get a seat in the front if possible. In the back the noise of the engine is really loud and if you really unlucky there is no seat for you at all. The bag goes in the lower compartment so you have to get everything that you might need out of the big bag!

The Guitar Man
Than the fun starts! A lot of drinking and laughing. Music and everybody talks to everybody!

My seat neighbors
My seat neighbors – a family that is from Thailand but left for Hollywood in California.

Sleeping Local
There where even a few locals on the boat.

Talking foreigners
Mia and Tim

The consultant
This guy is a consultant for a big company that tries to have big boats transport goods from the North to the South when the river has high water. He told me that the water level changes between 9 and 11 meters in the rainy season.

Speedboat
From time to time a speedboat passes

Passing time with games
Passing time with games

A drink?
Passing time with drinks

More guitar action
More guitar action

Another Speedboat
Another Speedboat

Smoke on the water...
Smoke on the water…
Burning Season in the North – it looked like that all the time. Not really nice.
We did reach Packbeng before sunset and i found a guesthouse for 150 Bath. A very simple room with a big bed, towel and a fan.

Morning view from the balcony
You should get up early to get a good seat again. Had the alarm at 7 and that is the view from my balcony towards the left.

Donevilasak Guesthouse View
Donevilasak Guesthouse view from the balcony down the road towards the river.

The harbour
On the way to the boat docking you should get food and water again. They do sell a few snacks on the boat but everything is kind of expensive.

Sunrise with more smoke on the water
Sunrise with more smoke on the water

Waiting for the last passengers
Waiting for the last passengers. And yes that ship is smaller than the one from last day. Since I got there early I got a seat in the front again. Sweet!

The harbor from the water
The village from the water

Boat
This looks quite similar to our boat. In fact they all do.

The second day is boooring
The second day is boooring. Everybody is still slow from the party day before.

Some Henna tattoo action
Some Henna tattoo action

Finally in Luang Prabang

Boat stop outside of Luang Prabang
Another scam: The Boat stop outside of Luang Prabang. Not to long ago the boat took you all the way downtown. And they still park there but they stop far from town now. And you have to get a bus to get downtown now for 20.000 Kip. And to walk it is really far. And it was too hot as well. Welcome in Luang Prabang!

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Today a coffee in Luang Prabang – tomorrow Vang Vieng

This is the plan – depends if i get a seat in the bus. This town is like Pai – only it is made for French tourists. All the nice original little pop & mom places are gone. They build and build and build – and everything looks the same.
It does not look to bad but very very artificial. And you should see what the night market looks like. Beer Lao t-shirts and other tourist crap. Well well there goes another destination…

Luang Prabang

At last a nice window to have a coffee, banana cake and free wifi…