There are several transportation options in Vientiane. So you have some choices. However, apart from some modes of transportation set fares are uncommon and therefore you’ll have to bargain. But don’t worry. Almost all drivers are open for negotiating. They’ll usually start with a way higher price than the one they actually expect you to pay. That means it isn’t rude to make a counteroffer. They already think you’ll to do that. Just don’t be too brazen. Stay polite and we’re sure you’ll find a price that everyone’s happy about. Just don’t act like a clueless and rich tourist and you should be fine. But we’ve already talked enough. Let’s take a closer look at the types of transportation and some popular routes starting from Vientiane.
Different modes of transportation
The infrastructure in Vientiane may not be the best. Still, you’ll have some choices when it comes to transportation. So, let’s take a closer look at them.
Tuk Tuks are three-wheeled motorized vehicles and a popular mode of transportation especially around South East Asia. If you want to explore Vientiane, they are the best choice. You are going to find two types of tuk tuks in Vientiane. The first are the tuk tuks, who usually take a guest or a group of guests (belonging together) with them. The second ones are more kind of a bus. Although they are generally much cheaper, it is waited until the vehicle is full of guests. Then the guests are let out at different places. Just tell the driver where you want to go. However, be aware that in some rare cases it can take half an hour or even an hour to get going. That’s why we prefer the normal tuk tuks. But it’s entirely up to you. Both are viable choices.
Taxi cabs are not too common in Vientiane. We really didn’t see many of them and we spent quite a time in the city. But they exist. However, these are often older taxis or vehicles that aren’t really identifiable as taxis. This is partly because many are former taxi drivers from Thailand, who already retired. So you should not necessarily expect a taximeter. And even if they have one. It’s normal to bargain about the price, especially if you’re a tourist. Nevertheless, they usually have fixed prices for certain routes. Especially for longer trips, it may therefore be that you get a fixed price offered directly. In such cases you probably don’t even have to bargain about the price. But it’s okay if you do so. Well, Iif you take a taxi from the airport, the price is always fixed. So, don’t try to bargain. That would be really rude and won’t help you at all.
Not only in Southeast Asia, but actually everywhere in Asia, you can find motorbike taxis. If you’ve ever been to Thailand, you know exactly what we’re talking about. Well, motorbike taxis are not as common in Laos as they’re in Thailand. Even in Vientiane you won’t see as many of them. So, don’t expect large groups of motorbike taxis. But they exist and especially for short drives they may be a good option. However, you shouldn’t expect that they are cheaper than tuk tuks or taxis. However, they are usually faster. That’s because they can use shortcuts and avoid traffic jams.
Rental cars, rental motorbikes and rental bicycles
If you don’t want to rely on anyone else you can also just rent a vehicle. But be aware: We don’t know know where you coming from, but for most of you the situation on the streets will be shocking. Most people here drive very risky and road accidents are not uncommon in Laos. Besides, the situation of most roads is bad. Nevertheless, it can be worthwhile, of course, if you rent a vehicle. There are some cheap options for that and it’s definitely not a bad way to explore the city. But be careful. Even experienced motorcyclists who have traveled the world for life with their motorcycles have been killed in Southeast Asia. Don’t give your life for the adrenaline kick. Better safe than sorry. But one thing is certain: Driving in South East Asia (especially by motorbike) is an unforgettable experience.
The cheapest mode of transportation in Vientiane. But we can guarantee that it isn’t that easy to use them. Especially if you don’t live in the city. There is a simple explanation for that. First of all there are no clear signs at the bus stations and the designated bus stops are hardly identifiable. You may just walk to one and don’t even notice it. Also, don’t expect timetables or route maps. They’re really rare. You’ll have to find your way around without them. However, there is also something good. To catch a bus, you don’t have to be at one of the stops. You can just flag them down anywhere between the stops. It’s totally acceptable. Give a sign to the bus driver by sticking out your hand and waving and you should be okay. It has never happened to us that the driver didn’t stop.
There are two main bus stations in Vientiane: The Central Bus Station and the Northern Bus Terminal. The Central Bus Station is your first choice if you want to drive around Vientiane. But if you want to go to another city, you’ll have to go to the Northern Bus Station. You can even find international buses to Vietnam here. There is a big advantage with these bus stations, since you can just go to the ticket counters to easily find the right bus. Well, if you only want to drive around in Vientiane, you should also know the other bus stations. For this reason, we have listed below all bus routes and their times for you. If you still have orientation issues, just leave a comment and we’ll help you as soon as possible.
By the way, if you’re at the Vientiane Wattay airport you should know that there’s a shuttle bus service there. It’s the best way if you want to save some money. The bus goes to the Central Bus Station, where you’ll find buses to all the other bus stations. In addition, the shuttle bus stops at a number of well-known hotels. If yours happens to be there or nearby, you can get out earlier. In most cases, you don’t even have to drive to the Central Bus Station. Just tell the driver about your hotel and he’ll let you go out where it’s the best. Of course we also have the timetables of the shuttle bus for you.
Vientiane to Vang Vieng
There is no airport in Vang Vieng. If you’ve ever been there, you might know why. For you, that means you have exactly two options to go to Vang Vieng. Either you take a bus or a van. Keep in mind that the vans are often referred to as buses too. So don’t get confused. It’s important that you don’t start your journey to Vang Vieng too late. From 4pm, there is no more transportation. If you still want to go to Vang Vieng, either it isn’t possible or you’ll have to find someone private and pay a lot. We wouldn’t recommend you the latter. Especially at night, the ride isn’t safe. There is a lack of lighting and the condition of the roads is suboptimal. If you want to travel to Vang Vieng, you should go to the Northern Bus Terminal. Keep in mind that buses and vans only run from 8am to 4pm.
Vang Vieng is approximately 160 kilometers from Vientiane. Due to the condition of the roads but you have to expect about 4 hours drive. This duration will also be shown in most schedules. However, that does not mean it’s always 4 hours. From experience we can say that it is between 3 and 5 hours. It always depends on the weather conditions and the driving style of the driver. Personally we didn’t like the driver, who needed only 3 hours. His driving was quite risky. For the ticket you should count with 60000 to 120000 kip per person. The price depends on different factors, including the time when you departure. However, the trip isn’t expensive.
Vientiane to Phonsavan
If you’re traveling by van or bus, you can prepare for a long drive. However, you also have the opportunity to fly. There are two flights per day and they only take about 30/45 minutes. The flights departure from Wattay International Airport and you’ll arrive at Xieng Khouang Airport. Below you can find a schedule for both flights. The prices may vary and we recommend you to book in advance. Unfortunately flying isn’t always that cheap. At least if you book at the same day. Then you’ll usually have to pay $ 150 to $ 300 per person. But if you book in advance you may get a ticket for about $ 50 to $ 100, what is much cheaper.
Well, the cheapest option is definitely a bus. You’ll only have to pay around 200.000 to 250.000 Kip. That are just $ 22 to $ 28. However, you should prepare yourself for a long drive. To Phonsavan it takes about 10 hours. That’s why we highly recommend buses who drive overnight. That way you can just sleep most of the time. If you are traveling with a group, there is another option that could be interesting for you. It is also possible to rent private vans who bring you to Phonsavan. They usually will offer a price around $ 200. But you can still negotiate the price. Most drivers are also satisfied with $ 150. Less is unrealistic. Well, with a private van you may arrive in Phonsavan in about 6 to 7 hours. That’s a lot faster than by bus.
Vientiane to Champasak
Vientiane and Champasak are far apart. In fact, it’s more than 600 kilometers. If you go by bus you have to expect a long drive. Usually it’ll take about 12 hours to arrive at your destination. With the night bus, it is often a bit faster. However, it’ll be about 11 hours here as well. Besides, the ride is not that cheap. You should expect prices up to 600.000 Kip. That’s up to $ 70. But there are also tickets for $ 50. Especially if you decide to take a night bus.
If you don’t like long rides you can also fly. But that option usually is really expensive. If you aren’t lucky enough to find a cheap ticket, you’ll have to pay a lot. $ 100 to $ 200 are not uncommon. Well, if you book too late, the price may be twice as high (or even more). This is the main reason why most tourists choose a bus. At least there are three daily flights, so you have some flexibility. In addition, a flight usually doesn’t take more than one and a half hours.
Vientiane to Si Phan Don
The trip to Si Pha Don is a bit more turbulent than to most other places in Laos. That’s because you also have to take a ferry to get to the riverine archipelago. But don’t worry. In fact, the journey is quite cheap despite the high distance. At least if you travel by bus. For bus and ferry you usually pay a maximum of 300.000 Kip. That’s less than $ 35. However, the journey really takes a long time. On average 13 to 16 hours.
If you want to arrive faster, the only choice you got, is a flight. Still, you’ll have to take a bus and the ferry afterwards. The flight time itself is not more than one and a half hours. Nevertheless, you’ll need at least seven and a half hours for the entire journey. This is only about half as long, but you pay much more. By the way, there is no airport in Si Pha Don, therefore you’ll have to go to the airport in Pakse first. You should budget at least $ 100 to $ 200 for a flight.
Vientiane to Vieng Xai
You should absolutely look that you book a good trip. Otherwise, the journey from Vientiane to Vieng Xai can easily take up to 30 hours.That’s because you usually have to take a lot of buses and vans and they all leave at different times. That’s why it can be a good choice to rent a private van. It shouldn’t be more than $ 300 and if you’re traveling in a group it can save you huge amounts of money. Depending on the driver you should arrive in Vieng Xai in about 10 to 12 hours. Still, these option isn’t the cheapest one. If you don’t have enough money, you better take the buses and vans. After all, you only have to pay $ 80 for the whole journey. But keep in mind that this is the price per person. If you’re traveling in a group a private driver could be the better choice.
Well, if you take a flight to Sam Nuea it wouldn’t even be that expensive and afterwards you would just have to take a taxi or tuk tuk for about 30 minutes to one hour. Like this the travel time wouldn’t be more than two and a half hours. Provided, of course, that you are booking everything correctly. You usually won’t have to pay more than $ 150 for the whole journey. With a little luck, it’s only about $ 100. But it can also be significantly more expensive. So book in time. In addition, there is only a single flight and it may be overbooked.
Vientiane to Pakse
The travel distance from Vientiane to Pakse is about 700 kilometres. If you take a bus you’ll only have to pay around 200.000 to 300.000 Kip. That’s a maximum of $ 35 per person. The journey is quite affordable. But the travel time isn’t short with at least 10 hours. Not to mention that it almost always are 11 to 12 hours anyway. If you don’t want a long bus ride, you can book a flight as well. As you can see below, there are three direct flights every day.
The flight departure from Wattay International Airport and arrive at Pakse International Airport. The average flight time is about 1 hour and 15 minutes. This option is self-explanatory more expensive. Theoretically, you can already find a flight for around $ 75. But for that you need extreme luck and have to book long before that. You absolutely should not expect that. Plan at least $ 100 to $ 150 .