How to Travel from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng?
Situated on the banks of the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers in Northern Laos, Luang Prabang is an ancient Laotian capital, offering a perfect balance of beauty nature, peace and bliss which stands within the UNESCO World Heritage protected zone. From Luang Prabang, you can access all of nature and wilderness that makes Laos more popular.
Meanwhile, Vang Vieng lies in perfect location in halfway between Luang Prabang and Vientiane, the capital of Laos. Standing on the banks of Song River, Vang Vieng offers stunning landscapes with karst mountain ranges and the scenic paddy fields. This is perfect eco-adventure paradise for those who love active with many attractive outdoor and sporting excursions. You can also have chance to enjoy amazing views from a local hot air ballooning operator when it comes in dry season. A great experience!
Then, how to travel from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng in Laos?
There is no airport in Vang Vieng nor train or ferry services, so the only way to access between these two destinations in 183km distance is by land.
Let’s learn about this way of transport and find the easiest and best choice of traveling options to Vang Vieng through this post.
View Travel Route from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng on large Google Map
Road Options from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng: Old Road and New Road
To get in touch with nature during your Laos trip, there is no better option than a visit to Vang Vieng. This destination can give you a lot of things that you could not ask for more. However, the travel to Vang Vieng from Luang Prabang is not the most comfortable journey as the road conditions are not the best. It takes 4-6 hours to reach between two places.
There are two road options that you can take to Vang Vieng, including the old road and the new road. The old road is simply main route 13, taking longer time – about 6 hours or more by buses. This road condition is twisty, windy that can’t really drive fast but more scenic with great views. The other road called “new” has been upgraded from the other old one. The first 30kms or so from Luang Prabang is still on old windy road, then turn right onto the new road which is widened and better paved to save the driving time much shorter (~ 4 hours instead). This new route is used by private cars and minivans while buses are not allowed.
However, there are some points of new road that travelers should know, that is less scenic and the part of Kasi road is steep and very high which seems more dangerous. Some parts have not been completed with potholes and dirt sections which can cause muddy or even landslips when it’s wet, especially in the rainy season.
For those who get car sick, it is better to take motion sickness pills before trip for the best travel experience.
Traveling by Bus to Vang Vieng from Luang Prabang
Bus is good option for those who get sick motion because it is more of a slower journey on the old route which has fewer curves. However, you need to add at least one hour more to your trip if taking bus than minivans or private vehicle on new route.
Soutchai Travel is bus company that provides service from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng at the average cost of US$ 18/ticket. From Luang Prabang, the buses leave from Southern Bus Terminal or Luang Prabang Northern Bus Station and arrive at Vang Vieng Soutchai Travel or Vang Vieng Bus Station. So, you need to arrange your own way to/from the stations to start the trip with bus.
There is also another type of bus as “Local Bus” with more stops in villages and towns to load and unload the locals. This way of transport can be cheaper but you should be familiar with crowds, open windows, small plastic stools added in the walkway as extra seats, especially can add another couple of hours to an already long journey time due to more stops along the way.
VIP Tourist Bus for Travel between Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng
For VIP Tourist Bus, there is service to pick you up from your accommodation and take you to the station where you get your bags on bus to Vang Vieng. Depending on the numbers of passengers, it can take you a bit time to transfer around for picking up other guests (if any) before reaching the station. The quality of VIP bus is also better with air-conditioner and/or toilet and comfortable seats. However, don’t expect too much for “VIP” in Laos as it sometimes depends on the bus type available on travel day which can bring more or less comfortable to the passengers.
The best parts of taking by bus is the beautiful scenery out the window with lush mountainsides and local family’s life. Your journey will finish a few km outside the main center of Vang Vieng where you need to catch a tuk tuk on your own for the final portion of your destination.
Travel by Minivan from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng
This option better saves time of traveling as it runs on new road. Moreover, the quality of minivans is also pretty good with free pick-up service. However, the minivan provides less space for leg room. If your seat is at the back, you can even share your leg room with other’s luggage inside. Another points for traveler’s awareness, that is some steep roads which can cause “dangerous” feel and the road’s twists and turns can also give more motion sickness to those who have this health problem.
Driving fast or not much customer service from driver is also a part of review that you can meet if taking this transport way. Anyway, to be honest, there really isn’t much of a choice aside from them. There are several transport companies for your choice, including Naluang, Thavisouk and Laos Group Tour with first van departing at 6.45am and last one at 4.00pm for traveling time of around 5 hours. Not recommend to take the transfer in the late of the afternoon because of the mountain road’s twists and turns which can bring more risks.
Naluang departs from the Southern Bus Terminal (2km from the center) but they arrange free pick up from the client’s accommodation. It arrives at Vang Vieng North Bus Station, north of the city center. Providing multiple trips on this route, but they aren’t known for having the best customer service.
Thavisouk departs from any hotel in the Luang Prabang’s center and arrives at Vang Vieng Night Market. Currently, there are not much reviews about this provider.
For Laos Group Tour, this is relatively new but getting more good customer services for this route. This minivan company departs from Luang Prabang Southern Terminal and arrives at Vang Vieng North Bus Station. For all of these, Laos Group Tour comes to be a good transport company for every choice.
The station in Vang Vieng is about 2km out of town which seems not too far but becomes a whole lot longer under the heat while carrying all the luggage. Don’t worry as there will be tuk-tuk services around to take you into town which cost at least 20,000LAK per person.
Private Car or Taxi to Vang Vieng from Luang Prabang
This way of transport is likely the most expensive option for traveling to Vang Vieng from Luang Prabang. However, you are given the most comfort and flexibility along the way with the pick-up and drop-off right at your doors. The cost can be generally around 150$, more or less depending on your negotiating skills. You can ask your hotel or travel agent to book for you, better at least one day ahead of time.
While in Vang Vieng, you can explore its best with many outdoor interesting activities, including mountain biking, trekking across rice fields, kayaking down the Nam Song River, go caving and explore sacred Buddhist sites, jumping and swimming in refreshing stream stretches or just simply wandering around and enjoy your resort’s facilities. When dry season comes, you can also have opportunity to enjoy amazing views from a local hot air ballooning operator.
Here are some suggested good accommodations in Vang Vieng when you are here. The room rates vary depending on the hotel category, room type and season (green/high/peak).
- 3* Silver Naga Hotel
Add: Ban Savang, Vang Vieng
Tel: +856 23 511 822
- 3* Villa Vang Vieng Riverside
Add: Ban Viengkeo, Vang Vieng
Tel: +856 23 511 460
- 3*+ Villa Nam Song Vang Vieng
Add: Ban Viengkeo Vang Vieng
Tel: +856 23 511 637
- 4* Riverside Boutique Vang Vieng
Add: Ban Viengkeo, PO 360, Vang Vieng
Tel: +856 23 511 726-8
- 4* Inthira Vang Vieng hotel
Add: Ban Viengkeo, Vang Vieng
Tel: +856 23 511 088
Whatever transport way you choose to travel from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng, it is sure to be an unforgettable memory for your trip in Laos, a hidden gem of South East Asia. Also remember to pack your camera for the beautiful mountain scenery where you’ll be passing along the way. Contact Laos Travel team at any time and you will get the prompt assistance and necessary information that you need for any travel interest to Laos.