Accommodation Guide – Laos

Luang Prabang

Bou Pha Guest House
Th Sisavangvong
Luang Prabang
Laos Peoples Democratic Republic
Phone: 252405
Stayed there: May 7rd to 9th 2007
Rates: Lonely Planet says $3 to $6. I paid $4 for a 2-bed room without an attached bathroom

The Bou Pha is one of those places that just ticks all the boxes in my “requirements” list. No more, no less than what you need.
It’s easy to find on the main road of the Historic Temple district, one street up from the Mekong and right next door to the bank. The lovely old gentleman who seems to sit outside all day completely failing to harass passing backpack-wielders unless they show an interest is a top bloke. His English is better than one would expect for an older Laotian and he’s always happ to help out.
My room itself was clean and tidy. A thin carpet floor was more comfortable and less of a slip risk than the more common tile floorings. The beds have the usual hard mattresses I’d gotten used to in Lao, though they did seem softer than previous hostels’. The single electric socket worked, as did the fan (no aircon at this price!), and the furniture also included a little desk & chair, a more relaxed armchair and – bizarrely – an old safe that couldn’t be used. Still, it looked pretty cool.
Both the window and the door had insect-proof screen doors as well as wooden shutters for security and privacy.
The two bathrooms shared with the other rooms were small but had a loo, sink and electric shower – what else do you need? They were also clean, though loo roll seemed a scarce commodity.
The standard and pricing of accommodation in the immediately surrounding area is hugely varied. For those on a tight budget, this is perfectly acceptable.

Vang Vieng

Babylon Guest House
Main Road
Vangvieng
Vientiane Province
Laos Peoples Democratic Republic
Phone: +856 (0) 235 11 054
Web: babylonvangvieng.com
Stayed there: May 3rd to 6th 2007
Rates: $5.50 single room to $8.50 triple room (per room, not per person)

Very swish. As you should learn if you ever visit Laos, the currency exchange is good and you’ll get a for your money. My double room (for a single person) was a little small by western standards but more than acceptable by SE Asia ruling.
All the facilities are as brand new as can be expected – gleaming, in fact. Tile floors, shiny new shower units, new toilets. The pool table, telly, DVD player and PS2 ($1 per hour) are nice facilities.
My only quibble roomwise is the hard mattress, but at least it’s smooth as opposed to the lumpy one I had in Vientiene. There are signs stating that if it’s too hard, you can request a softer one at no charge, though.
The restaurant and bar serve quality food in good porttion sizes, the beer is reasonably priced, they have more DVDs than anywhere else in the area (no more flipping Friends) and the staff are friendly and helpful. In fairness the latter seems to be the case across the entire of Laos.
A big selling point is the availability of free wireless, something that at the time of writing isn’t available elsewhere in Vang Vieng. As I type it’s being done through a laptop that has to be requested, but a new router is on its way up from Singapore. Expect it to be ready by the time you get here.
Yes, it’s slightly dearer than some other places in the area, but qualitywise it’s top notch. If you’re that fussed over a pound a night, then just stay in one of the scruffier places along the road.

Vientiane

Mixay Guesthouse
39 Th Nokeo Khumman
Vientiane
Phone: 262210
Stayed there: May 1st and 2nd 2007
Rates: $3-6 for a room

Cheap as, and you do get what you pay for. The guy on reception was very enthusiastic and helpful with good English. The exchange rate they offered on Baht and US Dollars to Kip was very above board and favourable. He even insisted we watch him date and sign each receipt to show he’d collected our payment. No doubting their honesty here!
The facilities are spartan to say the least. We got the last 3 beds, all in one dorm so $2 each. They were singles rather than bunks and about the hardest things I’d slept on outside of India. Having said that, I did get a good night’s sleep though partly as the night before I arrived I had been on a 20+ hour coach journey from Hanoi.
However – towels were provided, both fans functioned nicely, hot showers were indeed hot (very!), rooms were secure and the location was convenient for everything in the centre of town. It all seemed clean enough as well.
When you pay a pound for a night, you can’t really complain – but I’d have liked one of the five plug sockets in the room to actually have worked.
On the second night, one of our party moved out and it was our responsibility to find someone to “replace” him, otherwise the price rose to $3 each which was fair enough.

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