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)