All of Laos’ most magical offerings can be found in Vientiane and Luang Prabang: beautiful temples, glimmers of French colonial architecture and art, great food, and that laid-back lifestyle that has you feeling everything is A-OK. Absorb all that Laos has to offer and visit both. Despite their similarities, you’ll find the capital of Laos, Vientiane, and the once royal capital, Luang Prabang, distinct in key ways. You’ll just have to discover how for yourself! To travel comfortably between two of Laos’ gems, read on for our helpful tips.
Vientiane to Luang Prabang By Bus
There are several buses that make the journey from Vientiane to Luang Prabang every day, so you’ll have no trouble finding a departure time that works well with your schedule. A single ticket will cost between $22-33, depending on the type of bus you choose. Each one will vary in comfortability.
Sleeper buses are generally a little more expensive than other buses since guests are given more space to stretch their legs and even lay down. On other buses, you can expect the usual upright seats that are found on buses. The journey can last anywhere from 10-14 hours, depending on the route, so consider spending a few dollars extra for some more comfort. Whichever bus or route you choose, bathroom and meal stops are always made along the way. That said, we still recommend bringing snacks onboard for if you get peckish between stops.
If you get car sick easily, we don’t recommend taking the bus for this particular route. The roads that get you to Luang Prabang from Vientiane are well-known for being extremely bumpy and winding. If you’re on a tight budget and the bus is your only choice, consider doing what other travelers do and take the sleeper bus. This way, you can try and sleep through the journey.
If traveling by bus sounds right for you, book your bus tickets on 12g0.asia or Baolau for the best prices. Many buses leave from specific hotels or tourism offices in Vientiane, but most bus operators have no problem swinging by to pick you up from your accommodation if you arrange it beforehand.
Vientiane to Luang Prabang By Minivan
A less-known way of getting around Laos is by minivan. And if you’re going with a partner or small group, you may find that splitting the cost for a private driver is well worth it. Better yet, find other travelers to add to your group, and you’ll find the cost per person rivals bus travel. The drive from both locations takes 7.5 hours with no stops; with a few stops factored in, the journey can easily be made in under 9 hours.
A minivan offers far more comfort than a bus. Your group is in full control of when meal or bathroom stops can be made, and how long for. Along the way, you can focus all your attention on enjoying the beautiful scenery of the Lao countryside, adding to your overall travel experience.
Costs for a private driver will vary widely, depending on the comforts offered in each van and the experience of the driver. For a long trip, you can expect the cost per day to be about $150 and upwards.
We recommend asking your hotel or guesthouse in Vientiane for the contact information of a reliable driver. Or alternatively, you could check and ask around the Laos Travel Forum on TripAdvisor. Past visitors are always willing to share their recommendations!
If timing allows for a slight detour or if you can afford to pay for two days of travel, then consider stopping by Vang Vieng. This gorgeous Lao town is well-known for its blue lagoon, limestone caves, and all-round amazing views. Vang Vieng falls about halfway through your drive and it’s a stop you won’t regret making. Enjoy yourself and make the most of everything Laos has to offer!
Flights from Vientiane to Luang Prabang
If you’re not on a strict budget, then why not fly from Vientiane to Luang Prabang? Air travel is quick, easy, and by far the most comfortable option. The 40-50 minute trip from Wattay International to Luang Prabang airport costs between $60-155 for a one-way ticket. If you catch a flight in the early morning, you’ll make it to Luang Prabang just in time for brunch or lunch. We recommend checking Skyscanner for the best prices.
4-5 flights make this trip every day, so tickets should always be available, even when booked fairly last minute. Laos Airlines dominates this route, but you can also make this journey with Lao Skyway. If cheap prices are your priority and you’re flexible on your departure time, we recommend flying with Lao Skyway.
Since Wattay International Airport is Laos’ biggest and busiest airport, you can expect a bigger crowd than you would at Luang Prabang’s Airport. Play it safe and get to the airport at least two hours before your departure time, especially if you’re traveling during the high season.
More information about getting around Laos
Did you find this article about travelling from Vientiane to Luang Prabang helpful? Are you looking for more information about how to travel around Laos? Then check out these other articles about Laos transportation!
- How to get from Vientiane to Luang Prabang from Northern Vietnam
- How to get from Vientiane to Luang Prabang from The Northern Boy
- Getting Around Laos: a guide for falangs by Alex Trembath from Career Gappers
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