Another hidden gem in Laos is beautiful Vang Vieng, a riverside town much like Luang Prabang, well-known for its picturesque blue lagoons, limestone mountains, caves, and thrill-seeking outdoor activities. The town is located conveniently, perched on the Nam Song river, about halfway between Vientiane and Luang Prabang. Once known as the party capital of Laos, it has transformed its narrative entirely, embracing a more serene atmosphere. If you’re traveling from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng, your options are to travel by shared bus, shared minivan, or private transport.
Whichever method of transport you choose, be warned that the roads along the way are a little run-down. The ride will be bumpy and for some, a little uncomfortable. Still, we could not recommend making the journey more. Once you set your sights on Vang Vieng’s many beauties, we know you’ll agree it was worth it. You’ll pass through unbelievably scenic locations in Phou Khoun and Kasi along the way, and this alone will sustain you for the rest of the drive. As always, the right transportation for you will come down to your budget and comfort needs. Read on for all you need to know about travel from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng.
Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng By Minivan
If your priorities are speed and low prices, then traveling to Vang Vieng by minivan might be the best choice for you. A one-way ticket starts at $17 and this includes pick-up from your accommodation in Luang Prabang. Travel to Vang Vieng by minivan is about 2-hours shorter than travel by bus. Expect the journey to last between 5-6 hours.
With over a dozen van trips a day made by tour operators, travelers will have a much easier time finding a journey that works well with their schedule. These trips are made at all times of the day. The tour operators than run this route are Naluang, Thavisouk, and Laos Group Tour, and each one offers varying levels of comfort.
Also please note, the length of the trip is much shorter by minivan because drivers tend to go faster. Travelers that are prone to motion sickness are advised to travel by bus, private car, or come prepared with the appropriate medication.
Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng By Bus
Naga Travel is the only bus operator offering travel from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang. Despite the longer trip of about 7 hours and only two departures a day, going by bus is by far the most comfortable way to make this trip. A one-way ticket starts at $33, almost double minivan tickets, but consider the luxuries afforded to you on this trip: bathrooms, more space, and more comfortable seats.
Furthermore, travelers find that the bus drivers on this route drive at a much more sensible pace than minivan drivers. While motion sickness may be unavoidable for particularly sensitive people, the slower motion of the bus will make this journey much easier on the stomach overall. Travelers will have to choose between making the trip by morning or in the evening, as Naga Travel only has two departures per day.
Taking a Private Car or Van from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng
If you’re not on a small budget, book a private car or van just for you and your party. Traveling this way offers far more convenience and flexibility. If motion sickness is a concern, you’ll find this method of transport far more comfortable. You can instruct the driver to stop or slow down, any time you choose. Drivers are also more than happy to stop to allow travelers the chance to take photographs of the beautiful scenery. If you’re a photographer looking to snap some beautiful, but less-seen photos of Laos, consider choosing private transport.
Depending on the travel company you choose, a vehicle can cost anywhere from $130-250. Although this is much higher than shared transport, the cost per person lowers significantly when more people are in your group. With all expected rest stops included, the journey can take up to 7 hours, though it can be as short as 5 hours.
If you’d like to pre-book your private car long in advance, Tours by Group can be contacted online. Otherwise, make your booking at a tour office in Luang Prabang, or check with your hotel about their transfer services.
Mad Monkey Insider Tips:
- For the sake of safety, we don’t recommend traveling in the evening or at night. Due to the rocky, mountainous roads, driving in the dark is an added danger. If you must travel at night, consider taking the bus as they go at a slower pace.
- There are two main routes between these two towns, the ‘Old Route’ and the ‘New Route.’ The New Route is quicker and more comfortable but is more prone to mudslides and other blockages. If you’re lucky and the New Route is clear during your travels, expect the journey durations listed above to be 1-2 hours shorter.
- For those who want to reduce the time spent on the road, an alternate route is to fly to Vientiane from Luang Prabang. From there you can the bus to Vang Vieng, a journey which takes between 3-4 hours. However, this route is very out-of-the-way and overall adds more travel time, so we don’t recommend it unless road travel must be minimized.
More information about traveling from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng
Did you enjoy this article about traveling from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng? Are you looking for more ways to travel around Laos? Then check out these other articles to help plan your Southeast Asian itinerary!
- Getting Around in Laos from Lonely Planet
- How to Navigate Transport in Laos by Regina Beach from The Culture Trip
- Backpacking Laos Travel Guide from The Broke Backpacker
- A Backpacker’s Travel Guide to Laos from Indie Traveller