How to get to Vientiane

 

HOW TO GET TO VIENTIANE CAPITAL

Laos is a convenient hub for travel in the Indochina region. Vientiane Capital is the main point of entry for Lao PDR. Most visitors to the country come either through Wattay International Airport, or the Friendship Bridge 18km away. The majority of tourists come from Thailand, either overland from the border town of Nong khai, or by air from Bangkok.

Most travelers arrive via the Friendship Bridge connecting Vientiane with Nong khai, Thailand. The bridge was built in 1994 and is the easiest land route from Thailand into Laos. Open daily from 6:00am – 10:00pm. Vientiane is also connected to most major towns in Laos by an extensive and cheap network of buses. From Vientiane it is possible to catch a bus at the Northern Bus Station directly to the northern cities: Phonhong, Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang, Oudomxay, Luang Namtha, Bokeo, Phongsaly, Xieng Khouang and Houaphanh, and even to China\Vietnam. The Southern Bus Station runs buses directly to the southern cities of: Paksan, Thakhaek, Laksao, Seno, Savannakhet, Salavanh, Sekong, Attapeu and Pakse. The Morning Market bus station runs buses directly to Nong khai, Udon Thani, Khonekaen in Thailand, and around Vientiane.

The most popular method of transport in Vientiane is the Tuk-Tuk. These can be hailed almost anywhere in Vientiane but bargaining is essential. Taxis, Bicycles, motorbikes, and cars are also available for hire at many guest houses, restaurants, and shops in Vientiane. Bicycling and walking in particular are great methods of seeing the city, as it is almost completely flat, and most attractions are within a short distance of the center

Norhtern Bus Timetable

Destination

Departure

VTE – LAK20

5:00

6:00

7:00

18:30

local

local

local

local

VTE – NAMTHONE

13:00

14:00

local

local

VTE -VIENGTHONG

9:00

11:00

local

local

VTE -THAKHEK

4:00

5:00

6:00

12:00

13:00

local

local

local

local

VIP1

VTE - NAKYE

17:50

local

VTE – SAVANNAKHET

5:30

6:00

6:30

7:00

7:30

8:00

8:30

9:00

20:30

local

local

local

local

local

local

local

local

VIP1

VTE -PAKSE

7:15

10:00

12:30

13:30

13:30

14:30

15:00

15:30

16:00

18:00

19:00

local

local

local

local

local

local

local

VTE –SALAVANH

16:30

19:30

20:30

local

Express2

VIP1

VTE –SEKHONG

4:30

20:30

21:30

local

local

Express2

VTE -ATTAPEAU

9:30

17:30

20:30

local

local

VIP1

VTE – DONETALATH

11:30

local

VTE –DONEKHONG

10:30

local

VTE –VERNKHAM

6:00

7:00

8:30

20:30

local

local

local

VIP1

VTE –XIENG KHUANG

6:00

local

VTE – MEUNG KHAM

6:00

local

VTE – KONG LOR CAVE

10:30

local

 

Southern Bus Timetable

 

Destination

Departure

VTE – LAK20

5:00

6:00

7:00

18:30

local

local

local

local

VTE – NAMTHONE

13:00

14:00

local

local

VTE -VIENGTHONG

9:00

11:00

local

local

VTE -THAKHEK

4:00

5:00

6:00

12:00

13:00

local

local

local

local

VIP1

VTE - NAKYE

17:50

local

VTE – SAVANNAKHET

5:30

6:00

6:30

7:00

7:30

8:00

8:30

9:00

20:30

local

local

local

local

local

local

local

local

VIP1

VTE -PAKSE

7:15

10:00

12:30

13:30

13:30

14:30

15:00

15:30

16:00

18:00

19:00

local

local

local

local

local

local

local

VTE –SALAVANH

16:30

19:30

20:30

local

Express2

VIP1

VTE –SEKHONG

4:30

20:30

21:30

local

local

Express2

VTE -ATTAPEAU

9:30

17:30

20:30

local

local

VIP1

VTE – DONETALATH

11:30

local

VTE –DONEKHONG

10:30

local

VTE –VERNKHAM

6:00

7:00

8:30

20:30

local

local

local

VIP1

VTE –XIENG KHUANG

6:00

local

VTE – MEUNG KHAM

6:00

local

VTE – KONG LOR CAVE

10:30

local

Domestic Buses Frome Vientiane Morning Market, Tel: +856-21-216507.

 

To further complicate the already arduous task of overland travel in Laos, Vientiane has three bus stations: the Central Bus Station, the Northern Bus Terminal and the Southern Bus Terminal. 

Central Bus Station 
The Central Bus Station (also referred to as Khou Din station or Talat Sao) is located beside the morning market and is a bustling hub with bus services for the city, municipalities and a few further destinations in Laos and northern Thailand.
 

A fleet of green and white air-conditioned public transit style buses has routes throughout the city, including:
Bus #14: Is the cheapest way to get to the Friendship Bridge and Buddha Park (6,000 kip). It departs frequently, roughly every 10 to 20 minutes, 05:35–17:30.
Bus #29 goes to the Southern Bus Terminal (Dong Dok) every 10 to 20 minutes and costs 4,000 kip.
 
A few buses (#3, #30, #49) pass the turn-off to the airport, though none actually go to it. Note that local buses are often marked only with Lao letters and numbers in the front windscreen, but station staff can direct you to the right bus. Be wary of tuk tuk drivers who say you’ve already missed your bus.

It's also possible to get a local bus to Vang Vieng, Savannakhet or Pakse. However, the other terminals have far better buses and more frequent departures for these routes.

Kasi departs at 08:30, Vang Vieng departs at 07:00, 09:30, and 13:00; 
Savannakhet departs at 05:00, 06:00, and 07:00
Pakse departs at 13:00, 14:00, and 15:00
Attapeu departs at 09:30 and 17:00
Tha Khaek departs at 06:00, 11:30 and 12:00

The Central Bus Station also offers convenient service to Nong Khai, Udon Thani and Khon Kaen in northern Thailand, with the bus waiting for passengers to clear passport control. From these cities it is easy to catch buses to other destinations within Thailand.
 

Nong Khai 07:30, 09:30, 12:40, 14:30, 15:30, 18:00, takes 1 hour, costs 15,000 kip
Udon Thani 08:00, 09:00, 10:30, 11:30, 14:00, 15:00, 16:30, 18:00, costs 22,000 kip, takes 2-3 hours 
Khon Kaen 08:15, 14:45, costs 50,000 kip, takes 4-5 hours
Bangkok 18:00, takes 12 hours, costs 248,000 kip

Northern Bus Station 
The Northern Bus Station, 8 km northwest of the city centre, is the main departure point for Luang Prabang and all northern destinations, as well as buses to southern China. It’s sometimes referred to as the Luang Prabang bus station.

Buying your ticket through a travel agency or guesthouse in Vientiane will cost more but it will include pickup from your accommodation and shuttle to the bus station or departure point – some VIP bus companies serving popular tourist destinations Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang load up passengers and depart from the city centre, bypassing the bus station completely.
Buses and large minivans bound for Luang Prabang depart regularly throughout the day, at least one every couple of hours. Air-con buses are comfortable, and the VIP buses provide a bit extra space, a snack and bottled water. Most tourists prefer the overnight air-conditioned sleeper bus as a way of saving time and money on accommodation. Note: sleeper buses usually consist of a single bed shared between two people. If you’re travelling solo, that means getting cosy with a stranger. They do make a concerted effort to pair you up with someone of the same sex. Tall people will all too quickly discover that the beds are quite short.

As with all travel in Laos, travel times listed are optimistic estimates.

Luang Prabang (air-con) departs 06:30, 07:30, 08:30, 11:00, 13:30, 16:00, 18:00, takes 10 hours, costs 110,000 kip 
Luang Prabang (VIP) departs 08:00, 09:00, 19:30, takes 10 hours, costs 130,000 kip
Luang Prabang (VIP sleeper) departs 20:00, 20:30, takes 11 hours, costs 150,000 kip
Luang Prabang (air-con minivan) departs at 07:00, 09:00, 19:00, takes 8 hours, costs 150,000 kip
Luang Nam Tha (air-con) departs 08:30, 17:00, costs 200,000 kip
Udomxai (air-con) departs 06:45, 13:45,17:00, 170,000 kip 
Udomxai (VIP sleeper) departs 16:00, costs 190,000 kip
Bokeo (Huay Xai) (air-con) departs 17:30, costs 230,000 kip
Bokeo (Huay Xai) (VIP sleeper) departs 10:00, costs 250,000 kip

Sayaboury departs at 09:00, 16:00, 18:30, costs 110,000 to 130,000 kip
Parklai departs at 07:00, 08:00, 09:00, 11:00, costs 100,000 kip
Xiengkhuang (Phonsavan) departs 06:30, 07:30, 09:30, 16:00, 18:40, takes 10 hours, costs 110,000 kip, 
Xiengkhuang (Phonsavan) (VIP sleeper) departs 20:00, takes 10 hours, costs 150,000 kip
Phongsali (air-con) departs 07:15, 210,000 kip
Phongsali (sleeper) departs 18:00, costs 230,000 kip 
Sam Neua (air-con) departs 07:00, 9:30, 12:00, 17:00, costs 170,000 to 190,000 kip, takes
Sam Neua (sleeper) departs 14:00, costs 210,000 kip

Service to China:
Kunming departs 14:00, 18:30, takes 32 hours, costs 729,000 kip 
Meungla departs 11:00, costs 284,000 kip 

Service to Thailand:
Bangkok (VIP Bus) departs 17:00, takes 12 hours, costs 248,000 kip
Nakhon Ratchasima (VIP Bus) departs 17:00, takes 4 hours, costs 149,000 kip
Khon Kaen (VIP Bus) departs 08:15, takes 4 hours, costs 50,000 kip

Any bus bound for Luang Prabang can drop you off in Vang Vieng, though you pay the same ticket price as if you were going all the way. The better option is to book a ticket for Vang Vieng from a travel agency.

Southern Bus Terminal 
The Southern Bus Terminal (Dong Dok) is the main departure point for all destinations in southern Laos and international services to Vietnam and Cambodia. It's located 11 km north of the downtown core, straight up Kaysone Phomvihane Avenue from Patuxai monument. Tuk tuks will ask for 50,000 kip to take you there. An alternative is to take the green and white city bus #29 from the Central Bus Station for 4,000 kip. Buying your bus ticket from a travel agency will cost more but again, it includes a transfer to the station.
 
Sample destinations include:
Attapeu (local bus) departs 09:30, 17:00, costs 140,000 kip
Attapeu (VIP) departs 20:30, costs 200,000 kip
Pakse (local bus) departs 10:00,12:30,13:00, 13:30, 14:00, 14:30, 15:00, 15:30, 16:00, takes 12 hours, 110,000 kip
Pakse (Express) departs at 18:00, 19:00, 20:00, takes 10 hours, costs 140,000 kip
Pakse (VIP) departs at 20:30, 21:00, takes 12 hours, costs 170,000 kip
Salavan (local bus) departs at 16:30, costs 120,000 kip
Salavan (express, via Pakse) departs at 19:00, 19:30, costs 150,000 kip.
Savannakhet (local bus) departs at 05:30, 6:00, 06:30, 07:30, 08:00, 08:30, 09:00, takes 10 hours, costs 100,000 kip
Savannakhet (VIP) departs at 20:30, takes 8 hours, costs 120,000 kip
Sekong (local bus) departs at 04:30, costs 120,000 kip
Thakhek departs at 04:00, 05:00, 06:00, 12:00, 13:00, takes 5 hours, costs 60,000 kip 

Services to Vietnam:
Vinh departs 19:00, takes 16 hours, costs US$20
Hanoi departs 19:00, 19:30, 20:00, takes 22 hours, costs US$25
Hue departs 19:30, takes 12 hours, costs US$20
Danang departs 18:30, 19:00, 20:00, takes 16 hours, costs US$25
Ho Chi Minh City departs 19:30, costs US$60
Quang Nam departs at 19:30, costs US$26
Quang Binh departs at 19:30, costs US$20

Services to Cambodia
Phnom Penh (sleeper) departs at 20:30, takes 24 hours, costs US$45
Siem Reap (sleeper) departs at 20:30, takes 25 hours, costs US$50 

Bangkok VIP Bus
 
Any guesthouse or travel agency can sell you a ticket on the overnight VIP bus or sleeper to Bangkok. The bus is quite comfortable with air-con, reclining seats, movies and WiFi, and the price includes a stop for supper. You'll be picked up at your guesthouse around 17:00, departure is at 18:00, a change buses at the border and you arrive in Bangkok around 06:00 the next morning. Agency price:

To Airport (VIP) takes 12 hours, costs 200,000 kip
To Morchit Bus Station, takes 12 hours, (VIP) costs 200,000 kip (VIP sleeper) costs 250,000 kip (VIP sleeper direct) costs 270,000 kip

Minibuses to Vang Vieng
Book a seat for the minivan to Vang Vieng through your guesthouse or a travel agency. The ticket includes pick-up from your guesthouse. Departs at 10:00, 14:00, takes 3 hours and costs 60,000 kip. Travelling to Vang Vieng by minivan is an hour faster than the bus but it can be quite cramped.

 


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