How to travel from Hanoi to Luang Prabang
Hanoi and Luang Prabang are two popular cities for any tourist when traveling to Indochina as well as Southeast Asia. Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam that has been influenced by the Chinese and French. It attracts travelers by the diversity in culture, cuisine and attractive architectures. As the former Royal capital of Laos, Luang Prabang is one of the country’s top tourist destinations. Filled with gorgeous Buddhist temples, Luang Prabang was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1995. Traveling between Hanoi and Luang Prabang is fairly simple but can take a whole day depending on how you choose to travel.
There are 2 popular ways to travel from Hanoi to Luang Prabang: by air or by land.
Travel from Hanoi to Luang Prabang by air.
By far, traveling by air is always the easiest way, especially when we travel between two countries. Direct flights from Hanoi to Luang Prabang take only 1 hour. You can book tickets with Vietnam Airlines and Laos Airlines which operate daily flights between two of them. Compared to 24 hours spending on bus, flight is much faster even when you add traveling time to/from airports as well as time for check – in, security… One-way air ticket costs about from 120 USD/ person.
Actually, there are not many options for this route, so we suggest you to book your flight as early as possible to get better deals. Besides, it helps you to avoid a risk on the flight being full already.
Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi is about 30 km far from city centre. It will take 30 – 60 minutes for the airport transfer depending on your location. You can hire a taxi at very reasonable price (about 10 – 12 USD for 4-seater car). If you want to save money, public buses are available from every urban district of the city (Bus No 7, 17, 90, 109 & 86). Bus ticket is 9.000 VNC (0.5 USD), except for high quality express bus No.86 which costs 35,000 VND (1.5 USD). Vietnam Airlines also provides shuttle bus to the airport as well. You can take it from its head office at No 1, Quang Trung Street in city centre. Price is 40,000 VND (about 2 USD).
Luang Prabang International Airport is easy to get to from the city center as it’s only around 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) out. You can take a taxi or tuk tuk to your hotel. The cost is around 10 – 15 USD.
Travel from Hanoi to Luang Prabang by land.
The distance from Hanoi to Luang Prabang is about 1000 km which takes you about 24 hours riding with amazing mountain view on it’s way.
It is the most economical way to travel from Hanoi to Luang Prabang. Bus ticket is much cheaper than air ticket. It is about 50 USD per person. With 24-hour journey, it helps to save for one night accommodation as well. Therefore, it is preferable mode of transportation for budget travelers and local people. However, although the schedule is 24 hours, you should expect few hours more (actually it can be 27 – 30 hours).
You will leave around 6PM from Hanoi and arrive about the same time the following day in Luang Prabang by crossing Nam Can Border in Nghe An Province. Normally, you will reach Nam Can Border around 5.00AM, so need to wait there until 7.00AM when the border is opened.
After immigration at Vietnam side, you will walk to Laos side where you can get Visa on arrival. When all of passengers are ready, the driver will meet you and continue driving to Luang Prabang. There are several companies which offer a bus from Luang Prabang to Hanoi but two of the most popular ones are HTX Van Tai and The Sinh Tourist. On the buses, you will have reclining seats which allow you to lay back, relax and get some sleep.
Most of buses depart from Nuoc Ngam Bus Station which is 10 km from downtown. Considering you need to reach it during rush hours, you should depart from the city center 1 hour before departure time. If you book tickets through travel agent, the cost you pay may include transfer to the bus station. Please check when you make booking. Otherwise, you can get a taxi which costs around 7 – 10 USD.
When you arrive at Luang Prabang Bus Station, you can get a tuk tuk to your hotel. It should cost about 5 – 10 USD depending on your hotel’s location.
Nuoc Ngam Bus Station – Tam Diep Town – Vinh City – Dien Chau – Nam Can Border – Muong Kham – Luang Prabang Bus Station.
An advantage of traveling on land is that you would travel through local villages as well as over mountain passes overlooking unforgettable scenery. If you love to discover ethnic groups and enjoy natural beauty but want to be more comfortable, guided tour is an ideal option. In guided tours, instead of traveling head to the South of Vietnam, you can combine a visit at some beautiful mountainous areas in the North as Sapa, Mai Chau. Then, cross Tay Trang border at Dien Bien Province. It makes the journey less boring and shorten traveling time per day. Besides, you will have a private car and guide which shows you all the interesting things on the way.
In Laos side, you also have a chance to make a stop at Nong Kiaw, one of best places for adventures before heading to Luang Prabang. If you are interested in this kind of travel, contact Laos Travel for further assistance. Our team will get back to you with most useful information for your plan.