Sam Neau/Vieng Xai Hotel Recommendations Needed
Replies: 32 - Last Post: Dec 5, 2012 7:49 AM Last Post By: Herbie47
Nov 30, 2012 7:13 PM
15Trip Report: Got lucky with a brand new Hyundai 20 passenger mini-bus. After being offered a ticket for 180,000 by a travel agent on the Riverside Hotel side of the bridge, I went to the bus station where they placed two phone calls to verify that there were seats and that the bus was on time. I paid them 130,000. I figured if I went to the bus station, I'd have a better chance of getting a seat for the long ride and I did get the very last seat. In this case, it wouldn't have mattered since no one was waiting at the bridge. I saw the bus station operator hand the driver 100,000 for my fare. I also know that they charge 140,000 from LP, so I overpaid a bit, but I think at least I got some service from the phone calls. Bus arrived early in NK (11:30), but immediately took a lunch break. Entire trip after lunch took 9:45, including a 20 minute dinner break in ViengThong, an up and coming little town with two nice looking GHs. It was late and cold, so we opted for the 10,000 tuk tuk ride to the hotel area. 6 choices within a few meters, so very convenient for travelers. The photo Montyman sent was of Miss Bounhome's GH. It's perfectly adequate at 60-70000 (70 gets you a slightly larger room, though both rooms are fairly small) and I'm typing this on their (so far) excellent wifi in my top floor room. My only complaint is that the beds are rock hard, but it's not like I haven't run into a few of those over the years here
Nov 30, 2012 11:32 PM
16Thanks for the feedback bruce hire a motorbike to do VangXie its cheaper than the pickups to bus station and then pickups return to Sam neue
In Laos bsues are subsidised by Govt thats why Falang pay more ie bus for local 100,000kip and you 140,000kip or at least thats what I was led to believe lol
now the next beautiful ride is through nam Muang back to Ponsivon from sam Neue
Dec 1, 2012 3:45 AM
17Unfortunately, the motorbike guy charges $10/day and insists you return the bike at the end of each day. Since I plan to spend two nights in Vieng Xai, I'll have to rely on public transport. Current cost of bus to VX is only 15,000, but I'll probably have to pay more on a tuk tuk to get out to the distant bus station (4 kms from the center); going to try for the 7AM bus and I hope there's a tuk tuk or two running around before dawn. I'd considered just riding a bicycle out there, but couldn't find anyplace to rent one. The trip back is going to be a squeeze, since the first tuk tuk leaves VX around 8AM and it will be real tight trying to catch the 9:30AM bus to Phonsavan (next one after that isn't until 2PM). Sam Neau is a nice enough place, but I really don't want to spend two full days here.
Dec 1, 2012 4:25 AM
18I agree once you have done the market and maybe walked around the town a couple of times thats it and getting out to the outlying mountains andsettlements is like going to Vang Xie and because of the popularity of Vang Xie one would have thought it about time someone did arrange the tourist trip daily from city centre by now, the first time there at old bus station was dead easy as they went from town centre and returned to town centre crazy or what?
Dec 1, 2012 5:00 AM
19There's only one bus (in fact, likely to be a sangtaew) a day in each direction between Sam Neua and Vieng Xai. Since the moved the bus station way out of town, locals have largely stopped using the buses. If you miss the one daily bus, hitchhiking is an alternative. You're very, very unlikely to make the Phonsavan bus coming back. I don't think my bus actually left Vieng Xai until nearly 9 o'clock.
Interesting you had a full minivan; when I traveled from Nong Khiaw towards Sam Neau (this was only a couple of months ago) it was in a fairly big bus that was less than half full. I only went as far as Vieng Thong, and I can't remember exactly what I paid, but it was 20,000 less than I was quoted at the bus station. That bus station is the only one I've ever had problems in during my time in Laos.
Dec 1, 2012 6:32 AM
20The bus station situation seems to be getting worse in Lao. I can understand a tuk tuk mafia wanting the bus stations to be well out of town, but then you get to some of these places and there aren't even tuk tuks! Some old research indicates songtheuws leaving VX as early as 5:40AM (Hobo maps), so I should be OK, but I also now have to factor in the National Holiday on Monday, which means most buses won't run. Ah well, what's independent travel but having to think quickly and improvise once in awhile? One thing sure, things always work out, so I won't stress too much and, damn!, it sure is fun traveling around this wonderful land.
Dec 1, 2012 9:13 AM
21As the PoJ requires 2 nights in Phonsavan anyway, and Phonsavan itself is IMO nothing special (unless you are interested in Vietnamese "massage" girls working in Laos - OK, the market is interesting, too), you needn't feel stressed. You could take the early afternoon minivan SN-Phonsavan (a month ago, I got the front seat as the only falang on the trip, very comfortable). You should arrive at 21:00 and can arrange accommodation easily. Next morning you can check the PoJ tours offered by the agencies on the main street, or, as others have suggested, you can get yourself a map and organize a motorbike and visit the sites independently. You save yourself the lao-lao village, bomb village and russian tank visits (standard tourist crap) and a considerable amount of money (by Laos standards).
PS In SN, I paid for a tuk-tuk from Nathong to the other bus station 10k kip.
Dec 2, 2012 9:24 PM
22Chittivanh GH in XN is recently rebuilt and clean. Best rooms in town - spacious, with air con! Restaurant downstairs is pretty good as well - menu is limited if you only stick to what's in English. It's the only restaurant that seems to be open after about 7 PM. Large busy extended family runs the place - nice people.
Dec 3, 2012 12:30 AM
23"There's only one bus (in fact, likely to be a sangtaew) a day in each direction between Sam Neua and Vieng Xai."
I don't think that is correct, maybe bus but there is a fairly regular transport (every hour?) between SN and VX, it is a pick-up type but OK for 1 hour, unless it has changed this year. There are other buses that go near VX, that go onto towns east of SN, so you can catch those as well, thats what I did, you have to walk to main road which is about 1 km north of market.
Dec 3, 2012 8:30 PM
Dec 4, 2012 1:03 AM
Dec 4, 2012 2:01 AM
Dec 4, 2012 4:29 AM
27Herbie47 and StillWithUs, the bus situation in Sam Neua has changed. I was there about 2 months ago. Both bus stations in Sam Neua still had old schedules up at them showing 5 or 6 buses a day to Vieng Xai; but the bus station that the buses actually use (the one 4 kilometers out of town) they'd rubbed this out and showed only one bus: an 8am one.
When I wanted to go from Sam Neua to Vieng Xai, I got to the bus station about 11:30 am. I was told by staff there that there were no more buses that day, and they called up the tourist information office in town so that the guy there could explain to me in English that there was only one bus a day from Sam Neua to Vieng Xai, and it left at about 8 am. I ended up hitching a ride. There are 3 or 4 buses that use this bus station and head to destinations beyond Vieng Xai (including Vietnam), but they all leave early in the morning. After the 8am bus to Vieng Xai has left, there's nothing else in terms of public transport going.
Coming back it's the same thing. I got to the main market square in Vieng Xai before 7am, hoping to catch an early ride, and was waiting for over two hours before the day's only songtaew left.
I spoke to a Chinese man in Vieng Xai about the bus situation. He told me that before, there used to be several buses a day to Sam Neua, and it was very convenient. But since they moved the bus station out of of town (further out of town than the airport!!), people had stopped using the buses, due to the huge inconvenience of getting to and from the bus station 4km outside of town. He told me that he now makes this journey by motorcycle taxi, and it costs something similar to the bus fare, and drops him off right in the center of Sam Neua. I suspect locals also jump on the back of trucks, and find other ways to do the journey. At any rate, when I was there 2 months ago, there was only one bus in each direction, and after that, there simply weren't enough passengers for another bus to go.
Dec 4, 2012 4:39 AM
28OK thanks for the update. Im not sure if that was the bus station I went to or not, it certainly was a few kms out of town. As said there are other buses going east of SN but most go early morning, think mine was about 8.30am, now is bus the same as saugteaws? Can't understand why in Laos even small towns the bus stations are all out of town, while in Cambodia they are all in town. The bus got to VX from further east arrived about lunchtime, so if you go there is morning you can catch that bus on the main road, it does not into VX, its about 15 mins walk.
Dec 4, 2012 4:44 AM
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