Getting to Luang Prabang on the road

Getting to Luang Prabang on the road

Highway 13 connects Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng and Vientiane in the south and via Highway 1 to the north. Highway 13 is sealed and in good shape all the way to Vientiane. Though there have been incidents of violence along this stretch of road in the past, presently it is safe.

There are three bus stations, each a little bit out of town, which serve different directions. Tickets can be bought at every travel agent in town, at the bus station, or when boarding the bus (if there's space). Booking bus tickets through travel agents usually incurs hefty surcharges compared to doing it yourself. Just plan to arrive at the bus station between 30-45 minutes before your departure, and you should have plenty of time to make your purchases before you bus leaves. Tuk-tuk drivers know which bus station to go to for which destination. Ask around for bus schedules.

If the bus is full and you can't get a ride, try to get fellow travelers together and hire a pick up together. It should cost per person about what the bus ticket would cost per person.

- Vang Vieng - The air-conditioned so-called VIP bus costs 70,000 kip to

- Vientiane - Air-con VIP bus costs 115,000, more if booked through an agent. It should be noted that tickets purchased in Vientiane to Luang Prabang are more expensive than those purchased in Luang Prabang. Travelers have reported that the VIP bus can been a bit of bumpy ride, but is generally more reliable than the public bus. Those prone to motion sickness should know that this trip travels a winding, mountainous road.

- Muang Xay - Takes about 5 hours. Costs 40,000 kip and points onwards, such as Luang Namtha, is done by public minibus only. Big backpacks are carried on the roof. Reservations are usually not necessary, just take care to go early in order to secure a good seat.

- Luang Namtha - Takes 8-9 hours in good conditions. Direct local bus via Muang Xay at 09.00. Otherwise take bus to Muang Xay and switch there.

- Nong Khiaw - 3 hours away by public bus from the Northern Bus Station. From there boats connect to Muang Ngoy.

- Huay Xai - 15 hours away. Public buses leave at 09.00 (arrive 12 midnight) or 17.30 (arrive 08.00, normal sleeping bus, not sleeper). Costs 160,000 kip.

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