You’ve arrived at the Luang Prabang Airport, the gateway to the one-of-a-kind UNESCO heritage town of Luang Prabang. A fantastic trip awaits, but you’re likely knackered from your journey, and let’s face it, airports can be confusing.
Most travelers who come to Luang Prabang need to get a visa for Laos before they can enter the country. It’s not a complicated process, but there are a few things you should keep in mind. Read on for all the information you need to settle in and continue your journey comfortably.
Luang Prabang Airport General Information
The airport is 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from central Luang Prabang. Despite being a small airport, it is one of the few international airports in Laos and the second busiest airport in the entire country. The airport has one terminal, used for both domestic and international flights, so getting to and from flights is an easy process.
Luang Prabang airport is a popular hub for flights to and from cities such as Bangkok, Siem Reap, and Vientiane, so you can expect a small to moderate crowd of travelers.
Laos Visa Requirement
Fortunately for all travelers, visas can be obtained upon arrival at the airport, but please note that those holding a passport from certain African, South-Asian and Middle-Eastern countries may not be able to collect their visa on arrival in Laos.
Tourists will be allowed to stay in the country for 14-30 days, depending on their nationality. See this page for more information, if you plan on staying in Laos for more than two weeks. Overstaying in Laos is not seen as a big crime, but you will be charged for each extra day. As of today, this fee is $10 per overstayed day.
If your planned length of stay is more than what is allowed your nationality, rest assured that all tourists can apply for a visa extension of $2 per extra day.
Countries that do not need a visa for Laos:
Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Russia, Japan, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Brunei, Myanmar.
Countries that cannot get a Laos visa-on-arrival:
Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, DR Congo, Eswatini, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Mozambique, Nauru, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Suriname, Syria, Tonga, Zambia, Zimbabwe
These countries are ineligible for a visa-on-arrival and will need to apply for one at a Laos embassy or consulate in a different country:
Laos Visa Collection
To collect your visa from the Luang Prabang airport, make sure you have the following:
- $30-42 in cash (the exact cost of your visa will depend on your nationality)
- Two 2 x 2 visa photos with a white background
Please note that visa payments can be made in Laotian kip, Thai baht, or United States dollars but will only be accepted in cash, whichever the currency. Surprisingly, the airport prefers payments to be made in US dollars, and it’s not uncommon to receive a small fee for paying in the other currencies.
If you forget to bring a visa photo, don’t fret! You will still be able to obtain a visa, but you’ll be charged an extra fee of $2 for the scan of your passport photo.
When you step up to the visa collection desk, you’ll need two sets of completed forms: the immigration forms given to you on the flight and visa-on-arrival forms available when you arrive at the airport. If you’re in a rush, we advise traveling with a pen so you can fill out your forms quickly and get in line as soon as possible. Waiting in line can take up to one hour on crowded days.
Once you’ve applied for your visa at the desk, you’ll need to wait nearby for it to be ready; your exact wait time will depend greatly on how many people are ahead of you and the time of day. It is usually no more than 15 minutes.
If you arrive in Luang Prabang on a weekend or outside the hours of 8AM-4PM (Lao immigration hours), expect to be charged a $1 fee. However, there have been cases of travelers getting charged this extra fee, regardless of their arrival time so we advise having an extra dollar handy, just in case.
Getting to Town from the Luang Prabang Airport
Congrats! You’re past immigration and baggage claim. Now there’s just one thing left to do: get to central Luang Prabang and/or your accommodation. There are only two ways to get from the airport to town: by tuk-tuk or taxi. Both methods of transport are inexpensive and take between 10-15 minutes.
Taxi from Luang Prabang Airport to town
- Price: 50,000-70,000 kip
Once you’re through to the arrival hall, you’ll locate the taxi counters near the exits easily. There is no need to try and flag a taxi down yourself, everything is arranged for you at the ticket counter. A ride into town varies depending on the route taken but usually remains within the range listed above. If you’re with a group larger than three people, you’ll likely get charged a higher rate for a bigger car. Taking a taxi is stress-free and by far the most comfortable way to travel out of the airport. If you’d like to pre-book your ride, you can do so here.
Tuk-tuk from Luang Prabang Airport to town
- Price: 25,000 – 30,000 kip
Traveling by tuk-tuk is your cheapest option, though you’ll have to walk outside the airport gates to catch one. Tuk-tuk drivers may try to overcharge you at first, but it’s always possible to negotiate for a lower fare. Make sure to come to an agreement before you begin the journey, or you may find yourself with no choice but to pay the higher fare.
There is much less legroom in a Lao tuk-tuk than in a taxi, so keep this in mind if you have big bags with you. If you’re traveling lightly, however, a tuk-tuk ride can be a fun experience upon arrival in Laos. Enjoy it!
Mad Monkey Insider Tips
Getting a SIM Card in Laos:
If you’d like to get data or minutes on your phone ASAP, you can do so at the airport. Before exiting the arrivals hall, you’ll see many booths from various telecommunication providers, such as Beeline, Laotel, and Unitel. SIM cards are cheap and start as low as $3. If you can stand to wait until you’re in the town center, however, we advise getting your SIM card there instead. You’ll find shops selling SIM cards all over central Luang Prabang and prices can be as low as half of what you’d pay at the airport.
Currency Exchange in Laos:
In case you haven’t realized yet, the Laotian kip is a non-convertible currency. In other words, banks outside of Laos will not accept or exchange kip, so you can only exchange your foreign currency once you’re in Laos. Since most tourists do not arrive with kip in their wallets already, there is a currency exchange counter at the airport.
Our advice? If you’re selling a currency other than US dollars or Thai baht, only exchange enough to get yourself to the town center and not much more than that. You’ll find much better exchange rates for all other currencies in town – though even there, you should always make sure to compare your options.
Avoiding Money Scams in Laos:
If you’re receiving kip in cash, whether it be newly exchanged money or change, always make sure to count your money properly. A well-known scam in Laos, as well as other parts of South-East Asia, is to pass off a smaller bill for a larger one. In Laos, the bills for 20,000 kip and 50,000 kip look similar. Many currency exchange booths and vendors will take advantage of naive travelers by giving them smaller bills.
A good rule of thumb is to always count your money while you’re still at the booth. Count all your zeros! Other scams involve docking a zero from the correct amount. For example, you may be given 10,000 instead of 100,000. If you’re given a pile of small bills, don’t allow yourself to feel overwhelmed and confused! Count these through too, as scammers are often counting on you to lose track and not notice. Stay shrewd and smart when dealing with kip!
Luang Prabang Flights:
If you’re mulling over your flight into or out of Luang Prabang, rest assured you’ve got a number of different options. Luang Prabang has direct flights to 13 destinations with 10 different airlines from Luang Prabang’s International Airport. The most frequent flight from this airport is to Vientiane in Laos, with over 30+ flights a week making this trip.
Lao Airlines is the biggest and most popular airline at the airport, with Bangkok Airways in second place. Vietnam Airlines, Lao Skyway, and China Eastern Airlines are some of the other well-known airlines arriving and departing from Luang Prabang.
Popular Direct Flights to and from Luang Prabang:
- Wattay International (Vientiane, Laos) in 50 minutes
- Noibai International (Hanoi, Vietnam) in 1 hour
- Chang Mai International (Chang Mai, Thailand) in 1 hour 13 minutes
- Siem Reap International (Siem Reap, Cambodia) in 1 hour 30 minutes
- Bangkok International (Bangkok, Thailand) in 2 hours 5 minutes
- Changi Airport (Singapore) in 3 hours 10 minutes
- Pudong International (Shanghai, China) in 3 hours 20 minutes
More Information About the Luang Prabang Airport
Did you enjoy this article about the Luang Prabang Airport? Do you need more information about Luang Prabang travel? Then check out these other articles we’ve rounded up for you!
- Luang Prabang Airport Guide from Sleeping in Airports
- Luang Prabang International Airport from Hotels.com
- Best way to get into the city from Luang Prabang International Airport from The Travel Brief
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