Airports in Laos
Laos is a beautiful country in South East Asia with over 7 million inhabitants. Also known as “The land of Million Elephants”, this landlocked country attracts visitors by its rich culture, history, unique charm with natural beauty and the hospitality of the local people. So, it is undoubted that Laos is one of the highlight destinations of any visit.
Obviously, the most common and fastest way to explore Laos are presented by flights. However, Laos is still overlooked than its neighboring countries so its infrastructure has not been much developed and not for massive tourism. As a result, the numbers of flights are limited between Laos and China, Korea, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. From other destinations, passengers need to take a transit flight with a stop from one of the above listed countries with specific routes.
Therefore, knowing the list of important airports in Laos will bring you the better choice to get to this destination. Let’s learn with Laos Travel team!
Wattay International Airport – The largest airport of Laos
IATA (International Air Transport Association): VTE
ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization): VLVT
Location: Vientiane, Laos
Located in the capital of Laos, this airport is just 3 km away from the center of Vientiane, serving both domestic and international flights with 2 terminals. Consisting a runway of 3,000-meter in length and 45-meter in width at a 172m high over sea water level, Wattay International Airport is currently the main and largest airport in Laos.
In 2018, a larger domestic terminal was constructed, connecting to the international terminal. Lao Air Force installation is at one end of the airport, so don’t feel unfamiliar with the presence of army forces in this airport.
The airport terminal in Vientiane provides various services, including shopping, restaurants, currency exchange, tourist information, ATMs and public transportation options such as taxis or shuttle buses. The shuttle bus service operates between the airport and the Central Bus Station with stops at several hotels in the city center at around 15,000LAK/ticket/way (~ US$ 1.8) while taxi costs about US$ 6-8/way.
There are intercontinental flights operating from Wattay International Airport between Vientiane and China, Eastern Asia and South-Eastern Asia on several choice of airlines providers such as Lao Airlines, AirAsia, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Air Busan, Jeju Air, Thai Airways and Vietnam Airlines. For domestic flights, Lao Airlines and Lao Skyway are main carriers, of which, the national one names Lao Airlines, serving flights to Luang Prabang, Luang Namtha, Muang Xay, Pakse, Phonsavan and Savannakhet.
According to the official statistics, the airport served about 520,000 passengers in 2011, and the number reached approx. 800,000 after next 2 years. It is expected that Wattay International Airport will welcome the annual number of passengers at 2 million by 2025.
Together with Luang Prabang International Airport, they are two busiest airports in Laos.
Luang Prabang International Airport – The second largest airport in Laos
IATA: LPQ – ICAO: VLLB
Location: Luang Prabang, Laos
Luang Prabang International Airport is one of the two major international airports of Laos with a 2200-meter runway, and also considered as an important airport in terms of economy and tourism in Laos. This airport is 4km from the center of Luang Prabang City. Every year, the airport welcomes a large number of domestic and international flights.
The airport has one terminal serving both domestic and international flights and provides services like restaurants, tourist information, currency exchange, shopping, transportation, ATM.
Several airlines operate scheduled flights from Luang Prabang Airport, including Lao Airlines, Bangkok Airways, Thai Airways, Vietnam Airlines to China, Korea, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. This airport has been recently upgraded to reduce the risk factor during landing.
Domestic flights run by Lao Airlines from Luang Prabang to Vientiane, Xieng Khouang, Pakze and Lao Skyway to Vientiane, Xieng Khouang.
From the airport to the center, there are choice on taxi, bus or tuk tuk. Taxi is the most comfortable and fastest option for the transfer at price about 50,000LAK per way (~ US$ 6). Bus is more budget at around 15,000LAK, payable at Bus Station in the airport or direct on bus while tuk tuk takes a bit walk to the parking area and price is negotiated.
IATA: PKZ – ICAO: VLPS
Location: Champasak Province, Laos
Pakse is the capital and most populous city of Champasak Province in Southern Laos.
The airport in Paske was completed in 2009 with one terminal for both international and domestic flights. About 3km to the north of the city, it is easy to reach the centre from the airport by taxi, tuk tuk or bus. Although this is small airport in Laos with 1625-meter runway, passengers can also find services here including ATM, restaurants, information desk, currency exchange, shopping…
The airport is currently serving the main activities of Lao Airlines and Lao Skyway with domestic flights and destinations in Southeast Asia. On Laos Airlines, there are several regional flights from Pakse to Siem Reap, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and domestic routes to Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Savanakhet. One more choice to Vientiane from Pakse can go with Lao Skyway.
However, as not main links as airports in Vientiane and Luang Prabang, the flights from/to Pakse will not be operated frequently during week, especially for regional routes. So, passengers should check the flight schedules to guarantee your plan to this destination in advance.
IATA: ZVK – ICAO: VLSK
Location: Savannakhet Province, Laos
Around 2,5km from the center, Savannakhet Airport is small airport with a 1,633 m long runway and a 2-room terminal, of which, one room for domestic flights and one room for international flights. There is little passenger traffic and the distance from the station to the apron is very short, only a few hundred meters on foot.
Lao Airlines is the only provider at this airport now. From Savanakhet, there are some regional flights to Bangkok and Danang while it serves domestic flights to Vientiane and Pakse.
No services for ATM or currency exchange so passengers should bring cash along (LAK, USD and THB are accepted). For transport, there is no taxi and less frequent operated tuk tuk or bus. At the entrance of the airport you can find locals using their cars or trucks providing passenger transportation. Price should be negotiated as the vehicle is not equipped with an odometer, but it can take 80,000 – 100,000 LAK (~ US$ 8-10) with a journey. Same as Pakse Airport, the flight schedule from/to this airport will not be as daily routes so your pre-check before trip is recommended.
Besides 4 listed airports above, which serve both international and domestic flights, there are some more airports in Laos that helps to connect the nation better. Here are the names of other domestic airports that you should know for your trip.
Luang Namtha Airport
IATA: LXG – ICAO: VLLN
Location: Luang Namtha, Laos
This is one of the few domestic Laos airports which is about 6 km south of the city of Luang Namtha. The airport was closed for 2 years (2006-2008) for a renovation to extend the runway (from 1,200 to 1,600 metres) which helps to accommodate larger planes. Luang Namtha Airport only provides flights to the capital of Laos, Vientiane on Lao Airlines or Lao Skyway.
Xieng Khouang Airport
IATA: XKH – ICAO: VLXK
Location: Phonsavan, Laos
This is another small airport in Laos with domestic flights only. Xieng Khouang Airport has non-stop flights scheduled to 2 major destinations of Laos, including Vientiane and Luang Prabang.
Two main carriers that operate at Xieng Khouang Airport are Lao Airlines and Lao Skyway.
Location: Phongsali, Laos
Also known as Boun Neua Airport, this airport serves only flights to Vientiane available with Lao Skyway, however, the schedule might not be listed on their website. You should better to book directly at their offices because the desk at Phongsali Airport just opens two hours before flights. Please be aware that the flight services are often cancelled due to bad weather or fog. So, the alternative choice of land transfer can be considerated in this case.
IATA: ODY – ICAO: VL0S
Location: Muang Xay, Laos
This airport is also known with another name Muang Xay Airport and provides domestic flights to Vientiane only.
Lao Airlines and Lao Skyway are main providers at this airport.
Sam Neua Airport
IATA: NEU – ICAO: VLSN
Location: Sam Nuea, Houaphan Province, Laos
Also called Nathong Airport, this is a domestic airport that serves Sam Neua, the capital of Houaphan Province of Laos. Sam Neua Airport has the runway of 1,132m × 24m.
Flight between Sam Neua and Vientiane is operated by Lao Skyway only.
As you can see, the lack of the required infrastructure can challenge your trip to Laos, but it is also an interesting point for those who love more adventure and wish to find a more isolated world from the outside. Let’s plan your trip and Laos Travel team will assist you at best to get the most suitable customized schedule as your own interest!