Luang Prabang International Airport
The name makes you think of a bigger airport but surely there are none as grand as this. An old Chinese truck came and picked up our bags as we walked across the weed rudden runway after just disembarking an Air Lao flight. Five customs officers stared at my passport before finally stamping it and then I walked past them found my bag lying on a table in the next room and waded into the taxi drivers. A lot faster then Heathrow.
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Luang Prabang is very small town rent bicycle if you are only stay around the town with 40 Thai Baht or 10,000 Gips for one day . It's very convenience can rent every conners of the street. Give them smiling , price can be bargain
Bus from Vientiane
There are at least 3 daily buses from Vientiane to LP. The first one leaves at 7:30. It takes 9 hours to get to LP, as the road (paved, one of the few in Laos) is narrow and twisted (though there is practically no traffic).
The trip is long and there are no night buses, but is cheap (about 6 USD I think). It stops in Vianvieng too on the way.
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If you wanna go out of LP by boat, there are mainly 2 kinds:
- Slow Boats, the traditional ones.
- Speed Boats, modern powerful off-shore motors.
With both you can go up the river to the Thai border or down the river to Vientiane.
The slow boats do this in 3-4 days, they take their time and have frequent stops. Take your own food if you choose this, as there is not always restaurants on the way.
The speed boats are HIGHLY DANGEROUS, as they go fast as hell by the river, and the Mekong is a dangerous river. You have to wear a helmet in these, and is kind of extreme sport. They do the same routes in 8-9 hours!!!! so imagine...
- Water Sports
Jumbos are the laosian "Tuk Tuks". They have place for up to 8 persons, so don't be surprised if in the middle of the ride the driver stops and gets a few more customers.
Distances in LP are very walkable, but you might get one to go to the bus station (about 10.000) or to the airport (same price).
Some of them offer also daytrips to the caves or waterfalls. Bargain the price before.
- Budget Travel
LP has a little airport for local flights only. It's 10 minutes away, expect to pay about 2 USD if you go there by jumbo or moto.
I took there a flight to Vientiane, that took 40 minutes with Lao Aviation (45 USD).
There is a little shop, a cafeteria and 2 waiting rooms. No airport taxes, as U won't leave the country from here.
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Boats up the Mekong
There are a few excursions that can be made by the river. Basically, there are 2: Some nice waterfalls down the river and some buddhist caves up the river. I did only the caves, which took me 2 hours to get there (upstream) and 1 to come back (downstream).
You will see advertising of those daytrips everywhere. I just went to the riverside and chose the first little boat I saw. He charged me 10 USD for the trip, having the boat (capacity 6 persons) all for my own. I guess if you are a group you can negotiate.
It rained, but as it has a wooden roof, I didn't care. They always go by the shore, as the currents in the Mekong are strong in Monsoon Season.
- Sailing and Boating
- Jungle and Rain Forest
We flew to and from Vientiane. The ticket was cheap and the journey took around 40mins once airborne. The view as you approach Luang Prabang is amazing.
Don't expect much of the airport though. It is little more than a landing strip and a small building.
The plane was also quite old and had cargo nets rather than luggage lockers!
Not really needed!
You don't need transport in Luang Prabang. It is such a small compact place that you are never really far from where you want to go.
If you plan your day effectively you won't have to walk long distances between your accommodation and anywhere.
If you are hot or tired stop at a cafe or restaurant for a rest and a drink before going on your way.
Walk slowly, nobody rushes here.
buses (and roads)
Coming from the south (vientian and vang vieng basically) the cheapest way to get to Luang prabang is by bus. I heard it's definitely not comfortable: buses are overcrowded, slow, and the road is twisting and turning - when it's not washed away. Having heard many horror stories, through a travel agent I managed to organize a group and rent a mini-van - making the trip a lot more bearable. Still we had our rough patrches, like trying to navigate a river of mud while avoiding to fall down the ravine where the road had just vanished.
If you insist on taking the bus - buy your ticket in advance: buses are often full and there are only a handful of them a day
the slow boat
Coming in from the North the logical way of getting to Luang Prabang is by boat - slow boat if you please. it takes a total of 18 hours not including an overnight stop in Pakbeng but it is so much safer (and scenic) than fast boats. The entire boat portion cost me 550 bhat (about 15 $). Slow boats officially carry 25 passengers + cargo (rice, normally) but we were about 50 people (+rice). They are very safe, which is a plus since there are no life-vests on board and the mekong is everything but peaceful. The noise of the engine can be a bit annoying, but you can go and sit outside on the deck: it's quieter and you can sunbathe.
(pic left : bicycle in Luang...
(pic left : bicycle in Luang Prabang)
I did an overland travel from Bangkok to Vientaine by bus. It was a great journey, basically slept throughout the way from Bangkok till the next morning in Nong Khai. From Nong Khai there are tuk tuk service for about 20-30bt to the Thai Immigration Complex. After getting your passort stamp you can easily hop into a mini bus that service both the Thai and Laos immigration complex across the Friendship Bridge.
On the Laos site there is suppossingly a bus that run from the the complex to Vientaine but I took a taxi for 60bt per person.
I would not say this is the best but I wanted to see the Friendship Bridge.
Around Vientiane, I would suggest you to rent a bicycle as the city isn't very big but its really dusty. But you will be able to cover the whole Vientiane in a day with a Bicycle.
In Luang Prabang, a bicycle will also do the job but if you are going to Pak Ou Cave (don't waste your time and money if you are travelling alone, too far and expensive to be on the boat) or Koung Si Waterfall you might be able to experience the boat on the Mekong River. I was on a shared boat and paid USD7 per person for 2 days to Pak Ou and Kong Si Waterfall.
Tuk Tuk is also available around Luang but why waste the money if you can walk around the town by foot.
Boats are best
Overall, boats were the best mode of transportation. Make sure you have enough time on your trip to use them.
The last leg of our trip was by slow boat across the Mekong to the Thai border control checkpoint. We were happy and relieved that we had made it. Laos was a great adventure!
Speed Boats again
Here we are getting ready for the first leg of the journey. We tried not to think of the people who were killed when their boats hit rocks in a shallow part of the river the previous dry season.
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