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Warning! dangerous minivan from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng

Level Contributor
2 posts
26 reviews
Warning! dangerous minivan from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng

We booked this from a backpacker hostel. Don’t bother going with the minivan, get the bus instead. It’s cheaper and includes lunch. The only plus with this one was it left later. Here’s the list of what went wrong:

After getting a tuk tuk to the bus station, it became apparent they’d overbooked the minivan so there was a kafuffle while they figured who would sit where – turns out one person simply had to sit at the front next to driver, but it took them long enough to figure it out.

The minivan stopped in the night for a toilet break (which obviously wasn’t free) and some douche who worked in the sandwich bar came & informed us all that if we wanted to go into Vang Vieng itself, rather than be dropped off outside town, there’d be a 5000 premium for each passenger to pay. We told them in no uncertain terms where to shove it, which angered our driver, who’d asked the sandwich douche to translate as he himself didn’t speak a word of English.

After a few more hours of winding roads in pitch black down the side of this neverending mountain, two teenage boys signalled to the driver, in the middle of the night. He stopped and they got on. He proceeded to squeeze one of the hitchhikers in the front next to himself, and the other on a stool in the tiny corridor of the packed minivan, restricting the passengers’ leg room. He then puts the hitchikers’ massive bag on the lap of the girl sat next to me, who was squeezed like a sardine. She told him (as we all did) that it was NOT going to happen, and that he could put the bag on his own bloody lap! At this point he actually became VIOLENT and yanked her arm as if trying to force her out the van! All the passengers shouted at him and he angrily went back to driving. At this point the atmosphere was really tense, the girl’s arm aching, and we were all glad to get the hell out of this loony man’s van! Also, don’t bother getting a tuk tuk into Vang Vieng, it’s a really short walk – 15 minutes straight down the road, couldn’t be easier. Tell all the rip off merchants to shove it, it’s the only way they’ll learn not to take you for a walking wallet!

p.s. the psycho minivan driver’s license plate: nn_0199 (looks like “n” but in local alphabet)

Level Contributor
112 posts
36 reviews
1. Re: Warning! dangerous minivan from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng

All the best toilets are pay toilets. I wonder if there is an app for locating the best/nearest Lao toilets?

BTW its hard to tell from your post if the passengers started the escalating tensions, or if the driver did. Personally, I wouldn't anger my driver.

Singapore, Singapore
Level Contributor
23 posts
2. Re: Warning! dangerous minivan from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng

5000 kip is $.50, or .4 Euro, not really something to get really upset about. Nevertheless, I'll guess as to what has happened during your trip:

-The fee to use to toilet is set up ahead of time. They are designated stops to get $.50 from each foreign passenger. I'm guessing a kick-back to the driver occurs as well. It's similar to any tour anywhere world-wide that stops at designated places for eating and shopping breaks.

-The passengers that are picked up in route is illegal. The money from the extra passengers is pocketed by the driver. What this does is inconvenience the paying customers. This happens in many developing countries.

-The overbooked van happens either by design or more likely due to the inefficiencies in the management of the transportation company in deciding how many passengers will fit. This is similar to what airline companies do in order to maximize the chance that seats are all filled to capacity.

Now, does having these as explanations help you feel better about the situation? Probably not. But keep in mind that this experience is not unique and you've only lost $.50.

Cape Town Central...
Level Contributor
3 posts
11 reviews
3. Re: Warning! dangerous minivan from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng

Thank you for this advice. Very helpful as i will be doing this trip soon.

4. Re: Warning! dangerous minivan from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng

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