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Vang Vieng To Vientiane: All Transport Options Explained

Find out the best and easiest way to travel from Vang Vieng to Vientiane in Laos. This is a relatively simple journey to make, though there are various ways you can do it. That’s why I will explain each to find the best for you!


After spending a few days in nature and partying away in Laos backpacker hang out of Vang Vieng its time to continue your Laos journey by heading to Vientiane. This is the capital of the country, though there is not too much to do here. Even so, I do recommend staying at least 24 hours in Vientiane. This will allow you to break up your journey further South in the country or some time to chill before your flight elsewhere. I always recommend arriving in your destination a day before your flight to due to leave as delays are so common in Southeast Asia.

There are no airports close by to Vang Vieng, so traveling by road is the best way to go. Though it is never an enjoyable experience being squished in the back of a minivan and neither is being in a local bus stopping every couple of minutes. So let’s find out what exactly is the easiest and best way to travel between Vang Vieng and Vientiane.


Best Ways To Travel From Vang Vieng To Vientiane


How I Book Cheap Transport In Laos: 12Go Asia

rice paddies out of the window from vang vieng to vientiane


Fly From Vang Vieng To Vientiane

Unfortunately, there is no airport in Vang Vieng at this current time, even though there is in Vientiane. Therefore the option of flying is essentially nonexistent.

Though don’t worry, the road from Vang Vieng to Vientiane is actually quite good. There are no insane mountain passes, no curvey parts where you need to hold on tight to survive. The majority of the journey is simple straight roads. In saying this though, the views are quite boring. More on these roads below.


What Is The Road To Vientiane Like?

The road to Vientiane is pretty good, and this is from someone who gets car sick fairly easily. Depending on the type of transport option you take the journey itself should take between 4 and 5 hours. A lot of companies state that the journey is 3 hours, but expect longer. The 175-kilometer ride will take you from the countryside and into a large city. Past rice fields, dry countrysides and through small local towns.

The bus and minivans will usually stop a couple of hours outside of Vientiane for a short lunch break. On my first journey, we stopped at a small little local restaurant which just sold baguettes and a few snacks. Though on my more recent visit it seems many of the buses and minivans are now stopping at a purposely built restaurant stop.

This restaurant bus stop has basically everything you could need and is a lot better than the small eatery I stopped off at a couple of years back. There is a restaurant which serves a variety of Laos dishes and the backpacker staples of fried rice, fried vegetables, and french fries. Attached is also a wonderfully air-conditioned minimart which sells basically all the snacks you could ever want. If the heat is getting to you or the air con on your transport is not the best, definitely grab a couple of cold drinks to help you cool down.

vientiane center out bus window


Bus From Vang Vieng To Vientiane

Taking the bus from Vang Vieng to Vientiane is a great option for those who get motion sick easily and appreciate their personal space. As it is more of a slower journey, 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 and if you decide on a local bus likely even longer. Therefore if you are rushed for time you may be better off taking a minivan. But just in case lets get into the differences between taking a VIP tourist bus or a local bus to Vientiane.

You can book buses from Vang Vieng to Vientiane online from 12.Go Asia. They also have reviews from previous travelers on their website so you can know exactly what to expect of that journey. I have booked through them many times when traveling around Southeast Asia and it is a hassle-free experience.


VIP Tourist Bus

If you are taking the VIP Tourist bus from Vang Vieng to Vientiane either a shuttle bus will come and pick you up from your accommodation or you will need to go to a particular travel agency for the shuttle to take you to the bus 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.

There are 2 main bus companies for tourists which service this route, Soutchai Travel, and Malany Transport. If you decide to book either these companies make sure to confirm that you will be picked up and taken to the bus station, and where from.

At the bus station, you will then have to grab your bags and put them on the bus. It may not leave straight away though as you wait for other passengers to join so just be prepared for that. Depending on the time of year and how many other passengers book the journey you might not even get a bus. If minimal people are booked it is known they will substitute the bus for a minivan.

Being a tourist bus you will 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 break. It will stop once over the 4-5 hour journey. Here you will be able to use the bathroom and get some snacks.

You will finish your journey a few kilometers outside the main center of Vientiane and need to catch a tuk-tuk for the final portion of your journey. Depending on who you book with will decide on where the bus finally stops to let passengers off. This is where I highly recommend either having a local SIM card or an offline map such as maps.me downloaded on your phone. This will allow you to see your true location and can avoid tuk-tuk drivers ripping you off by overstating distances.


Local Bus

The local bus is similar to the VIP Tourist bus, though will be a couple of dollars cheaper. 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 in 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. Air conditioning is not common on local buses and instead, you will need to have an open window to keep the breeze flowing. With dusty roads such as those in Laos, you might find yourself a couple of shades darker at the end of your journey and in much need of a shower.

You cannot book local buses from Vang Vieng to Vientiane online. Therefore you will need to visit a travel agency once you are in town, try to book one from your accommodation, or simply just turn up to the bus station. It is not super convenient, 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.

reclining buddha in vientiane


Shared Minivan From Vang Vieng To Vientiane

I am the type of traveler who will happily forfeit comfortability for a faster journey and this is exactly what you will get by taking a minivan. There won’t be that much legroom as you and 8+ other travelers are in a van with your luggage. Though a smaller vehicle can swerve in and out of traffic, and that is exactly what the drivers do all throughout Southeast Asia.

We booked our shared minivan from Vang Vieng to Vientiane from a travel agency in the town. If you are wanting to do the same there are so many around you will have no problem finding one. You cannot book these minivans in advance online, therefore you will need to wait until you arrive in Vang Vieng. Once there you will be able to book at a travel agency or at your accommodation. If you want to look at buses and prices I highly recommend checking out 12.Go Asia.

Prices for these shared minivans generally range between 40,000 – 80,000kip. We generally try to shop around for the cheapest price and ended up paying 40,000kip for our journey. Though expect 55,000kip as an average cost.


My Experience Taking A Shared Minivan

Unfortunately, we honestly did not have the best experience taking a shared minivan from Vang Vieng to Vientiane. Though this was more due to the other passengers rather than the driver himself.

We were actually one of the first people to be picked up for the journey for our accommodation at Pans Place Hostel. Per usual we settle in as the driver begins to drive around the town collecting other passengers. Soon enough we realize something is wrong as the driver continues to circle around the same streets. Supposedly one of the passengers was late and instead of doing what most drivers would do which would be to depart, he instead on waiting. Forty minutes later the man is ready and jumps on board.

We were told the air conditioning in the minivan would start up once we started moving. Unfortunately, this was not the case. It was a hot and sweaty four-hour journey through the countryside and into the city. We did have one stop at a roadside stop where we were able to grab a quick lunch before continuing on.

Unfortunately for a couple of other travelers on the bus, they had a flight that afternoon to catch to Vietnam. With the bus delay, they would be cutting it extremely close and remained super stressed out for the journey. Thankfully we did make it to Vientiane on time.

The journey from Vang Vieng to Vientiane is truly not that exciting. There are no impressive views or anything remotely interesting. My best recommendation is to get some sleep and have a good playlist to listen to.

Once in Vientiane, rather than being dropped off at a bus station as usually presumed. We jumped off on the corner of an intersection and this is when the tuk-tuk mafia takes advantage. Unfortunately, with dead phones, we had no idea exactly where we were in Vientiane and how far away from our hostel. The tuk-tuk driver insists we are ‘too far away’ to walk and charges 60,000kip. I notice we seem to be driving in a circle, though without proof I don’t speak up and we are eventually dropped at our hostel. Later that evening, we figure out the minivan stopped only one block away from the hostel we would be spending our evening at. Just don’t make the same mistake!

arriving in vientiane from vang vieng


Private Car/Taxi From Luang Prabang To Vang Vieng

This will be the most expensive option for traveling from Vang Vieng to Vientiane. Though it provides you with the freedom to stop wherever you like along the way.

If you ask your hotel or a travel agency in Vang Vieng they will be able to advise you of their costs. Generally, it should cost around $140.00. Though you might have to visit a few places in order to get a decent rate. If you are wanting to plan in advance you can also reach out to Green Discovery Laos to find out their rates.


How I Book Cheap Transport In Laos: 12Go Asia


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Find out the best and easiest way to travel from Vang Vieng to Vientiane in Laos. This is a relatively simple journey to make, though there are various ways you can do it. That's why I will explain each to find the best for you!

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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.

2019-08-29T17:28:31+12:00

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Your typical New Zealander, now discovering the world one country at a time. With a high-end backpacking style I prefer to glampack across the globe by embracing the best of each destination. All of which I share right here on Backpackers Wanderlust. 

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