The bus people picked me up at the hotel in a pickup taxi a little after 07:00 to go to the Northern Bus Station. The crappy VIP bus left right before 09:00, almost an hour late. It was a long, slow, 12 hour trip to go the 330 kms to Luang Prabang. The trip is mostly through very scenic mountains but the roads were horrible and there was a lot of slow, barely crawling truck traffic.
In Luang Prabang, there was a shared truck taxi from the bus station to downtown. The prices were all fixed at 20k per person. The driver took us to a hotel on the far side of downtown and tried to make us get out. It looked like he had a deal with that hotel because a lady came out. I made him go to a more central location where the other people who didn't have hotel reservations got out. He then took took me and one other tourist to our hotels.