Getting there and away
At the time of writing, Lao Airlines fly between Udomxai and Vientiane three times weekly. The flight from Vientiane to Udomxai goes on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 10:30 and Udomxai to Vientiane flies on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 11:50. It takes an hour and a half and costs $115. In Udomxai the Lao Airlines booking office is at the airfield, otherwise tickets can be bought at Litthavixay Guesthouse.
The airport is extremely close to town and the Laos Airlines office is next door. The whole set up is quite 'sleepy' but the staff are helpful and the flights seem to arrive and depart on time.
Udomxai is northern Laos' main transport hub -- everyone travelling in the north has to do so via here. Most people don't wish to stick around, preferring to transit straight through. The bus station has afternoon departures to most destinations to facilitate this.
Buses depart regularly, as scheduled, although if there are enough passengers, extra departures may possibly be added on some of the more regular and popular routes, such as to Luang Prabang. All major destinations are clearly marked in English on the windows, with ticket prices.
Vehicles leave from particular platforms, and while the bus or songthaew may not have its destination marked in English, signs on the pillars in front of each space will keep you informed.
Sample destinations include:
Huay Xai: Departs 09:00, takes 10 hours and costs 85,000 kip.
Luang Nam Tha: Departs 08:30, 12:00, 15:00, takes 4 hours, costs 40,000 kip.
Luang Prabang: Departs 08:30, 11:30, 15:00, takes 5 hours and costs 55,000 kip.
Muang Khua: Departs at 08:30, 12:00, 15:00, takes 4 hours and costs 35,000 kip.
Pakbeng: Departs at 08:00 and 10:00, takes 4 hours and costs 40,000 kip.
Phongsali: Departs at 08:30, takes 9 hours and costs 75,000 kip.
Vientiane: Departs at 11:00, 14:00, 16:00, 18:00, takes 15 hours and costs between 130,000 and 170,000 kip.
A small songthaew stand is also located in the small street between the monument to Kaysone and the bank. From here, there are regular departures between about 06:00 until 19:00 along each of the main roads that lead out of Udomxai. These do not go as far as the public buses, but are handy if you want to get to Muang La or one of the other small local villages.
Songthaews depart every few hours, depending on when they're full. You can also rent a tuk tuk from here for the day.
Adventuring around Udomxai, including as far as Muang La and Buddha's footprint at Ban Longya, costs about 150,000 kip.
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