Luang Prabang To Vang Vieng: All Transport Options Explained 2024

Find out the best and easiest way to travel from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng in Laos. This is not the most comfortable journey as the roads are not the best, but there are some awesome views waiting which makes it all worth it!

If you have limited time in Laos and are looking to get in touch with nature there is no better option than a visit to Vang Vieng. This once drugged-filled drunken backpacker town has been rebranded into an adventure nature lovers’ paradise.

With spectacular viewpoints, the bluest lagoons, and karst limestone mountains there is nothing more you could want. Though, traveling from Luang Prabang is not the easiest journey.

There are no airports close by and the roads are not in the best condition. It never is the most enjoyable experience being squished in the back of a minivan, but neither is being stuck in a local bus stopping every couple of minutes.

Luckily enough this is a journey I have done multiple times throughout the years. Laos may be relatively small but I love it and always find myself back there exploring!

So let’s find out what exactly is the easiest and best way to travel between Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng, and if it can be done on a budget!

Transport MethodLengthPriceBook Your Trip
Train1 Hour$20.00Book Now
Bus7 Hours +$30.00Book Now
Shared Shuttle6 Hours$28.00Book Now
Taxi5 Hours$150.00Book Now

🚗 How I Book Cheap Transport In Laos: 12Go Asia

Option 1. Luang Prabang To Vang Vieng Train

The newest and definitely fanciest option to travel from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng is by taking the train. This will allow you to avoid the motion sickness-inducing winding roads and instead be able to have a comfortable and enjoyable journey.

The total travel time is 3 hours including transfers. Since it is a high-speed train you are able to cut out a lot of travel time, instead giving you more time to enjoy your destination.

They definitely look super futuristic and don’t fit in with the chill and quaint vibes of Laos.

These are actually electric trains with air conditioning that were built in China. You can travel from the Laotian capital of Vientiane, right to the town of Boten which is on the border of China.

This is perfect for backpackers looking to explore further afield, just make sure to organize your China visa in advance.

Nevertheless, it is definitely the best option for a quick and enjoyable journey from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng. It is a little bit more pricey with tickets starting at $25.00, but if you are someone who suffers from motion sickness it is definitely worth splurging out and booking this.

You can book your tickets online with 12.Go Asia. This is a booking platform I have used all throughout Southeast Asia and highly recommend. You can even see other travelers’ reviews of certain transportation companies, so you know what to expect.

Train NoDepartureArrivalJourney TimeBook Tickets
#C8511:4112:491 hour 8 minutesBook Now
#D88714:4915:3849 minutesBook Now
#C8116:5117:4352 minutesBook Now
#C8319:0019:5252 minutesBook Now
the seating arrangement inside the train luang prabang to vang vieng
the seating arrangement inside the train luang prabang to vang vieng
the luang prabang to vang vieng train outside the station
the luang prabang to vang vieng train outside the station

How To Book Tickets For The Train Luang Prabang To Vang Vieng

Luckily you do have a couple of different options when it comes to booking your train tickets. Though one thing to note is these tickets can be hard to get your hands on.

This is no doubt the most popular way to travel from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng now so you will find locals and tourists alike wanting to take the trains.

Option 3. Book Through The LCR Ticket App

You can download the LCR Ticket app on your phone to book tickets on the Laos China Railway. It is pretty straightforward to use, however, to actually buy the tickets you need to be registered on the app and have a Laotian phone number.

It isn’t too hard at all to get a local SIM card. For example, a Unitel sim with data for 15 days costs 70,000 / $3.40.

Prices start from $7.00 for a second-class seat, which for a short journey is all you need. However, you will need to organize a tuktuk or taxi to take you to the train station.

2. Booking Through 12GoAsia

For an easy and chill experience simply book through 12Go Asia. Prices start from $21, which includes your transfer from Luang Prabang city center to the train station.

This is perfect if you are arriving in the country quite close to your date of travel and don’t have time to organize a Laotian sim card to purchase on the app or spend time waiting in line.

The best part about buying your train ticket from 12Go Asia is that you can book even months beforehand, which gives you peace of mind knowing the journey is all sorted.

3. Booking At The Train Station

Now this will only work if you plan to spend a few days exploring Luang Prabang prior to booking your train to Vang Vieng.

Basically, you will need to go to the Luang Prabang Train Station 2 to 3 days before your desired date of travel. Unfortunately, this journey does get booked up so trying to buy them the day of travel is not an option.

At the station, you will be able to line up and purchase your tickets for $7.00.

4. Luang Prabang Ticket Office

Now I know this might seem like the ideal choice, a ticket office smack bang in town selling tickets at the normal $7.00 price + a $1.00 surcharge.

However, because of its popularity, you are likely to spend a good portion of your day waiting in line with queues reported over 2 hours long! Plus you can only purchase 2 tickets per person and you need to bring along your passport.

No Visa or MasterCard are accepted, so best to bring cash.

It should be noted that there are a couple of companies posing as the Luang Prabang ticket office in town, but you will want to make sure you head to the correct one.

Location: The OFFICIAL ticket office is located on Phothisalath Road opposite the Luang Prabang Provincial Administration building.

Opening Hours: 10 am – 12 pm & 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm – perfect for standing around in the midday heat.

taking the train from luang prabang to vang vieng
taking the train from luang prabang to vang vieng

Luang Prabang Center To The Luang Prabang Railway Station

The Luang Prabang Railway Station is located 12 kilometers outside of the main city center.

Depending on where you buy your ticket a transfer may or may not be included. For example booking through 12GoAsia you can book just the train and a transfer for just a couple of dollars more.

If you plan on doing this herself a taxi or tuk tuk will take you about 30 minutes and cost between $5.00 – $8.00.

Vang Veing Railway Station To Town Center

The Vang Vieng Railway Station is 4 kilometers from the town center. You will find plenty of tuk-tuks waiting at the train station available to take you the 10 minute drive.

Expect to pay around $2.00 per person for the short journey in a shared tuk-tuk.

LAOS-CHINA High-Speed Train to VIENTIANE 🇱🇦

What Is The Road To Vang Vieng Like?

The road from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng is not the most comfortable journey, so let’s hope the vehicle has good suspension.

There are many potholes and curves which is never fun. If you have motion sickness tablets I highly recommend you take them.

Seriously I would consider this to be one of the worst journeys on the banana pancake trail around Southeast Asia. Though the worst of all is no doubt Chiang Mai to Pai.

The plus side is that there is a lovely stop where the majority of tourist buses and minivans will stop. On my most recent trip around Laos, our guide called this stop the ‘loo with a view’.

There are a few small stores selling snacks like chips as well as cup noodles for a quick bite. It will also cost you just under a dollar to use the bathroom.

From the parking lot, there are sweeping views of the valley below. The green mountains seem to go on forever and it is incredible to see how high you have climbed. Just be prepared for a very curvy downhill journey from here.

One of the times I was here the roads after the ‘loo with a view’ stop were being resurfaced, so they were just dirt. It made for quite an amusing experience to see cars struggling to get up on the other side and instead, slipping back down the road.

dirt highway luang prabang to vang vieng
dirt highway luang prabang to vang vieng

🚗 How I Book Cheap Transport In Laos: 12Go Asia

Old Road VS New Road

There are two different roads you can take to Vang Vieng, the old road and the new road. The old road is the one which the buses have to take and the total journey does take longer this way. Though, it is a lot more scenic with great views and overall fewer hills/curves.

The new route is used by cars and minivans and is quicker by about an hour or two. It may not be as scenic as the old road, though it is still pretty good. I mean there is still the impressive ‘loo with a view’.

The new road is now finished, so you don’t have to worry about potholes and dirt sections.

However, the main thing to note with the new road is that it is very curvy and hilly, not great for people who get car sick. It is common to see vans pulled to the side of the road with people vomiting. My advice is just to take motion sickness pills.

viewpoint driving from luang prabang to vang vieng
viewpoint driving from luang prabang to vang vieng

Option 2. Bus From Luang Prabang To Vang Vieng

Taking the bus from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng is a great option for those who get motion sick. As it is more of a slower journey, as well as the bus takes the old route where there are fewer curves, it makes for a much more comfortable and less vomit-inducing experience.

Though, in saying this, taking the bus will at least add an hour to your journey. Therefore if you are rushed for time you may be better off taking a minivan.

But just in case let’s get into the differences between taking a VIP tourist bus or a local bus to Vang Vieng.

VIP Tourist Bus

If you are taking the VIP Tourist bus from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng a shuttle bus will come and pick you up from your accommodation to take you to the station. This may mean being stuck while it picks up other guests. Though it could also mean the complete opposite and you head there straight away.

At the bus station, you will then have to grab your bags and put them on the bus which will transport you to Vang Vieng. It may not leave straight away though as you wait for other passengers to join so just be prepared for that.

When the bus finally heads off you will be taking the old road from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng. This is perfect for people who get motion sick as you won’t constantly be being tossed around corners.

Being a tourist bus you should also have air conditioning for the journey. Though this is Laos and there is no promise that it will be working.

Luckily, you will be able to get some fresh air during the refreshment breaks. It will stop at least once over the journey and you can use the bathroom and get some snacks.

One of the best parts about taking the bus is the beautiful scenery out the window. From lush mountainsides to children playing, farm animals, and local families, there is always something happening out there.

You will finish your journey a few kilometers outside the main center of Vang Vieng and need to catch a tuk-tuk for the final portion of your journey. Unfortunately, drivers won’t be willing to negotiate. Though if you walk down the road a bit you should be able to find a cheaper ride.

changing from tuk tuk to bus in luang prabang
changing from tuk tuk to bus in luang prabang

Local Bus

The local bus is similar to the VIP Tourist bus, though will be a couple of dollars cheaper. This is because local buses are infamously slow. You will likely be stopping off in numerous villages and towns, loading and unloading locals.

It will also be much more of a cramped journey as they try to squeeze on as many people as possible. It is not unusual to have small plastic stools in the walkway acting as extra seats.

Lastly, be prepared for just having Southeast Asia air conditioning aka an open window. There is not usual air conditioning on the local bus meaning it could get quite dusty inside from the open windows.

The local bus might not be as much of a direct journey, nor as comfortable. Though, if you are looking to save money and are not worried about time and comfort this could be your best option.

cows on road from inside minivan
cows on road from inside minivan

🚗 How I Book Cheap Transport In Laos: 12Go Asia

Option 3. Shared Minivan From Luang Prabang To Vang Vieng

We booked our shared minivan from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng in advance from a travel agency in the town. If you want to do the same there are so many around you will have no problem finding one.

Though, if you want some peace of mind you can check out 12.Go Asia and prebook from them. On their website, you will also be able to check out reviews so you will know exactly what to expect.

Prices for these shared minivans generally range between 170,000 – 250,000 LAK. This will include pick up in a tuk-tuk from your guesthouse or hostel in Luang Prabang to the bus station.

CompanyDeparture / ArrivalLengthTicket PriceAvailability
Vieng Chaleune07:30 – 13:30
08:00 – 14:00
11:00 – 17:00
14:00 – 20:00
17:00 – 23:00
18:30 – 00:30
6 Hours$28.00Book Now
Naluang08:30 – 14:30
11:00 – 17:00
6 Hours$28.00Book Now

My Experience Taking A Shared Minivan

A tuk-tuk comes and meets us at our accommodation in Luang Prabang. Luckily we don’t have to pick up too many passengers and are soon on our way out to the city center and to the bus station. Pulling up on the side of the road we enter a gate to a property with a few different minivans around.

There was a little bit of confusion, but we finally figured out that we needed to exchange our ticket for a different ticket.

My partner does this for us while I use the bathroom. After that, we are ushered over to a minivan and packed in preparation for the journey.

Being someone who often can get mountain sick on these journeys, I try to sleep most of the way. Though it can be hard to keep your eyes closed while being tossed around each corner. The van is packed full of people with a couple of bags downs the middle which cannot fit in the back of the van.

A couple of hours into the journey we pull over at the impressive ‘loo with a view’ stop. The bathrooms are unimpressive, though the view is quite the opposite.

Even being the burning season we can still see across the valley and over the beautiful rolling hills.

There are a couple of snack places here, but I purchased some lollies and chips last night at a supermarket to keep me going.

Sleeping away a few more hours on the bus the landscape quickly begins to change. The rolling hills become impressive karst mountains and we follow alongside a river to the town of Vang Vieng.

Pulling into the bus station outside of the center of Vang Vieng we quickly become swarmed with tuk-tuk drivers. Being 2 kilometers outside the town options are limited, especially in the heat. We quickly give in and pay the 20,000 LAK for a shared ride to the doorstep of our hostel.

inside a shared shuttle from luang prabang to vang vieng laos
inside a shared shuttle from luang prabang to vang vieng laos

Vang Vieng Bus Station Into Town

Like most transportation in Southeast Asia, the minivans and buses will drop you at a bus station inconveniently out of town. In Vang Vieng, this station is situated 2 kilometers outside of the city center of the town.

Realistically 2 kilometers is not too far, though under the hot sun, carrying all your luggage makes it seem a whole lot longer.

Don’t worry though as there will be tuk-tuks waiting around to take you into town for an expensive price knowing they are basically your only option. Generally, they ask for at least 20,000 LAK per person for the short ride.

Though, if you walk a little further down the ride you should be able to flag down a driver for a cheaper rate. Just prepare to pay at least 10,000 LAK. Which only a dollar difference you might not worry too much about finding another driver and just suck it up.

This is what I did and it was not a big deal since the drivers will drop you off right at your accommodation door.

inside a typical laos tuk tuk in vang vieng
inside a typical laos tuk tuk in vang vieng

Option 4. Private Car/Taxi From Luang Prabang To Vang Vieng

This will likely be one of the most expensive options for traveling from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng. Though it provides you with the freedom to stop wherever you like along the way and avoid being stuck with a bunch of randoms.

If you ask your hotel or a travel agency in Luang Prabang they will be able to advise you of their costs. Generally, it should cost around $150.00. Though you might have to visit a few places in order to get a decent rate.

Option 5. Fly From Luang Prabang To Vang Vieng

Unfortunately, there is no airport in Vang Vieng at this current time, even though there is one in Luang Prabang. This means there are no flights that arrive in Vang Vieng.

If you do perhaps get horrible motion sickness and cannot bear the curvy roads from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng then there is another option that involves flying. Though, this involves 2 separate parts to complete the journey.

For the first portion of the journey, you will need to fly from Luang Prabang to Vientiane. This is a short easy flight to the capital of Laos. Lao Airways and Lao Skyways collectively fly 5 times a day between these cities allowing for many options.

These flights are every day of the week and it is best to book in advance for cheaper prices.

The second half of the journey will consist of taking a minivan or bus from Vientiane to Vang Vieng. I know this may seem counterproductive. The roads between these two cities are a lot better than that of Luang Prabang.

This journey will take around 4 hours, so this way is more expensive than the others as well as overall will take a lot longer. Nonetheless, you will be avoiding the horrible curvy roads and mountain ranges. Overall making for a lot smoother transit.

sunset from plane window over laos
sunset from plane window over laos

🚗 How I Book Cheap Transport In Laos: 12Go Asia

Where To Stay In Vang Vieng

Luckily enough the main town center of Vang Vieng is relateivly small and you will find plenty of accommodation options around every corner.

From backpacker hostels to river view hotels, you can find some great and affordable options here.

These are my top picks:

VangVieng Backpackers Hostel

VangVieng Backpackers Hostel

A fun and social hostel in an excellent location. From $7.00 per night for a dorm.

travelers in front of vang vieng rock backpackers hostel

Rock Backpackers Hostel

A social and party hard hostel on the main road of the town. From$4.00 per night.

Vang Vieng Diamond Resort

Vang Vieng Diamond Resort

A lovely resort with a pool to relax in. Prices start from $22.00 per night.

amari vang vieng hotel room

Amari Hotel

A luxurious hotel with amazing views. Prices start from $100.00 per night.


Things To Do In Vang Vieng

You will find so many awesome adventure activities to do here in Vang Vieng to full your days.

Tham Phu Kham Cave and Blue Lagoon: This is a popular tourist spot that features a beautiful cave and a stunning blue lagoon. You can swim in the lagoon, explore the cave, and enjoy the scenic views.

Tubing: This is a fun activity where you float down the river on an inner tube. You can stop at various bars along the way and enjoy drinks and snacks.

Visit Blue Lagoon 3: For the ultimate paradise venture out to Blue Lagoon 3 for a few hours. Enjoy the refreshing waters and swing from the different platforms.

Hot air balloon ride: This is a unique way to see the beautiful landscape of Vang Vieng. You can enjoy a bird’s eye view of the mountains, rivers, and rice fields.

Kayaking: A great way to explore the Nam Song River and the surrounding countryside. You can rent a kayak for around $10 per day

Rock climbing: Vang Vieng is known for its limestone cliffs, which are perfect for rock climbing. You can take a guided tour or rent equipment and climb on your own.

FAQs About Traveling Luang Prabang To Vang Vieng

How long is the train from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng?

The train from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng is a short journey taking around 1 hour.

How long is the bus from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng?

Depending on the type of bus booked, the journey from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng will take 6 to 9 hours.

Wrap Up: How To Get From Luang Prabang To Vang Vieng

Whether you decide to travel from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng by train, bus, shared shuttle, or taxi it should be a relatively straightforward journey.

However, I definitely recommend booking the train for a unique experience in Southeast Asia.


Find out the best and easiest way to travel from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng in Laos. This is not the most comfortable journey as the roads are not the best, but there are some awesome views waiting which makes it all worth it!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. So, if you click on it and purchase something, I get a small percentage at no extra cost to you. As always all opinions are my own and your support is much appreciated.

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4 thoughts on “Luang Prabang To Vang Vieng: All Transport Options Explained 2024

  1. Avatar for Lucia Potocki
    Lucia Potocki says:

    There is a high speed train now from Vientiane to Luang Prabang (and even furrher to China). The trip is much shorter, about 3h, and there is a stop in Vang Vieng

  2. Avatar for Mathew
    Mathew says:

    I’d say town size is about 10 by 10 miles. Yes some hotel has air conditioning but not sure if there is any at Cafe but there is the night market

  3. Avatar for Stanley
    Stanley says:

    Thank you for those information. I have 5 nights in Luang Prabang, (my 2nd visit) and I am undecided if I should go to Vang Vieng or not and I am not interested to visit the caves.
    Can you tell me how the the town centre size and vibe compared to Luang Prabang ? Are there any cafe with air-conditioning ? Any night market ?

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