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Laos forum

Vientaine to Luang Prabang

Posted by jadw on 11/7/2006 at 02:59

Does anyone know what is the cost and duration from Vientaine to Luang Prabang by air and bus? Are the roads safe in Laos?

Also, any recommendations for lodging and sights for 5 to 7 days in Laos.


#1 jadw has been a member since 11/7/2006. Posts: 5

Posted by exacto on 11/7/2006 at 11:11


The cost of a Lao Airways flight from Vientiane to Luang Prabang is $60, plus a few other fees like fuel surcharge and airport departure tax. It takes about an hour for the flight, on an ATR-72 turboprop.

By bus, it will take 9 or 10 hours. The cost is between 9 and 11 dollars, depending on which class of bus service you take. If you are travelling straight through, I'd recommend the $11 VIP bus. It will be worth the extra few dollars for the comfort on that long drive.

If you haven't considered it yet, think about at least an overnight in Vang Vieng. A fellow traveller described it as the old wild west to me, and she was spot on. There are lots of fun outdoors things to do there too if you have a few extra days to stay there.

If I only had the 5 to 7 days in Laos you mention, I'd likely just visit Vientiane, Vang Vieng, and Luang Prabang.

In Vientiane, essential spots are That Luang, Pratu Xai (Anousaori), Wat Pra Kaeo (the original one, not to be confused with the one in Bangkok), and a stop at one of the riverside cafes to the west of the city.

In Luang Prabang, essential is sunset on top of Phou Si Mt, the museum, a day trip to Pak Ou Cave and another to the waterfall (available from any travel agent for about $4 each), and if you can, the Royal Ballet theatre - on the grounds of the museum. It shows 3 times per week.

There is a well-written feature on finding a guesthouse in Luang Prabang that you might want to read too. Apart from that, give us an idea of what your accomodation budget and expectations are so we can make specific suggestions. Regards.

#2 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,848

Posted by jadw on 12/7/2006 at 02:46

Thanks Exato for your response.

I was planning to visit Vientiane and Luang Probang, but after reading your response, I think I'll incorporate Vang Vieng, since I have a few extra days. If that's the case, from Vientiane to Vang Vieng, is the bus the only option? Would you know how much it'll cost and schedule.

My travel dates are in November 2006. I will cross the border from Thailand to Vientiane. Have you done that before, if so do you know if its simple and fast, and I can get the VISA on arrival, normally how long does it take? And is it worth visiting Nong Khai or not?

Vientiane - 2 days
Vang Vieng - 2 days
Luang Prabang - 3 days

Do you think this is enough time, or should I spend an extra day in Vientiane and skip Vang Vieng or shorten Vang Vieng to 1 day? What outdoors or stuff is there to do in Vang Vieng?

The sights you mentioned for Vientiane and Luang Prabang, can they be accomplish in 1-2 days, are the sights far in distance?

As for accommodation, I'm open to any suggestions that travelers have stayed and would recommend, but I prefer a room w/ shower and toilet inside.

Would you have any recommendations for Siem Reap and Phnom Penh as well?

Thanks for your help.

#3 jadw has been a member since 11/7/2006. Posts: 5

Posted by exacto on 12/7/2006 at 10:11

Hi again,

I've crossed the border between Thailand and Laos several times over the Friendship Bridge there in Nong Khai, and it is relatively quick and painless. There is a bus that goes from Nong Khai to Vientiane, crossing the bridge and allowing time for customs and immigration formalities on both sides, that costs 55 baht or so per person. We just used that, albeit coming from VTE to Nong Khai, and were quite pleased with the service.

Visa on arrival is available. It costs $30. Have that amount available in US cash if at all possible, along with one passport photo.

On your itin, it would likely be enough time. You can certainly knock out Vientiane in two days. One or two days in Vang Vieng is enough (we just did an overnight to break up the trip). You might want to add an extra day in Luang Prabang if possible, but you could certainly do it comfortably in three days.

The outdoors stuff in Vang Vieng includes tubing down the river, mountain biking, hiking, and cave exploring. There are plenty of travel agents along the main strip to get you set up.

The sights in Vientiane are all relatively central. You could walk it, but a bicycle will be more comfortable. In Luang Prabang, the sights withing the city are clustered together, but you'll need to pay for the tours to get you to Pak Ou Cave (take the boat trip rather than going by road) and to the waterfall. Any travel agent in town can set you up there.

Just so you know, much of what you've asked here, like the questions on accomodation, is already available in other threads on the messageboard on in the accomodation listings section. Take a moment to check out that information so you can get other opinions and make the decisions that will best fit your needs and wishes.

Travelling in Laos is not difficult. The travel agent shops are everywhere, and you'll see boards out front written in English clearly spelling out your options, prices, departure times, etc. Regards.

p.s. bus is the only serious option from VTE to vang vieng, although it is possible to do it by river kayak (at least it was from VV to VTE). the bus will cost about $4, with departures in the morning. check with the travel agents or your guest house for exact details. cheers.

#4 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,848

Posted by jadw on 12/7/2006 at 10:28

Thanks for the information Exato. Your information really helps me plan everything accordingly. Do you know which city in Thailand is better crossing over to Laos, is it Udon Thani or Nong Khai?

So, if I modify the itinerary to 2 nights in VTE, 1 night in Vang Vieng, and 4 nights in Luang Probang, would this be better than?

Also, would you have any travel agency contacts that I can contact? Are both the departures from VTE to Vang Vieng and Vang Vieng to Luang Probang are in the morning, like 8am?

Any recommendations for Cambodia?

#5 jadw has been a member since 11/7/2006. Posts: 5

Posted by somtam2000 on 12/7/2006 at 10:46 admin

Hi jadw,

You can't cross from Udon Thani as it is not on the border with Laos (is is around 100km south of Nong Khai). Nong Khai is where you cross from.

The break-up of your trip is a pretty typical one -- should be fine.

The buses leave in the morning - latest tend to be around midday/1pm ish -- you're best to get there a little early to grab a seat.

You can read hundreds and hundreds of recomendations for Cambodia in our Cambodia section... -- also check the Cambodia section of the messageboard.

#6 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,099

Posted by wolfman on 12/7/2006 at 15:59

dear jawd! don´t get worried-it´s all cool in lao. take a vip 24 bus from b.k.k. to nong khai-cross the border at friendship bridge-buy your visa at the customs-not before! get into vientiane the lao internat.guesthouse is nothing to write home about, but is conveniently located close to the river.take the bus, not a songthaw, to vieng vang-it´s a good place to hang around: the river, the caves,the market. there are hundred of guesthouses and places to eat-including tv screens and endless dvd sessions-stay a day ot two,then move, by bus, to luang prabang. easy to find accomodation there,walk the town,visit the waterfall via a cruising on mekong river. have a good time!

#7 wolfman has been a member since 31/5/2006. Posts: 80

Posted by exacto on 12/7/2006 at 18:20

somtam2000 and wolfman have you covered here jadw. i don't have any specific recommendation on a travel agent, just pick one that appeals to you as you pass by. it is only a 3 hour or so trip from VTE to VV. the buses leave throughout the day, but the air-con bus we took leaves about 10 am. from VV to LP is more like 6 or 7 hours, with the air-con bus i'd recommend leaving at about 10 am too. have a good trip. the scenery on the road from VV to LP is fantastic.

#8 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,848

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