With the very slow bus lines driving around Laos, airlines are the fastest and safest way to get around the country I assume. Lao Airlines operate domestic and international connection from Luang Prabang. They do not operate direct to Europe, only regional countries but with code share you can easily find some flight combination.
I used Vietnam airlines and found it quick and safe. They used the same airplane model I was flying in Europe on domestic flight so all seems to be familiar and easy. The ticket purchasing was easy doing on-line booking and all the procedures, check-in & boarding was run smoothly and easy. Also the flight to Laos and back was smooth as expected on a good weather conditions. I can surely recommend anyone planning visit to Laos to use flight options on the alternative 15 to 20 hours bus trip.
Luang Prabang Airport
Luang Prabang Airport have new small but nice airport. It is only about 10 minutes’ drive from the city and so very convenience. I didn’t have visa in advance so application on arrival was possible with some fee that you can pay in USD or Euro. Have passport photos available with you which will make it even easier. After passport check the language arrived rather quickly and off we went to our resort.
Check-in for departure was ever easier, smooth and quick, surly much easier to fly then taking any 20 hour bus.
Hanging around in Luang Prabang especially by the river you will be often approached by owner of boats who will be willing to take you on a river cruise. It can be just across the river if further somewhere else. I used the formal ferry to cross the river, not sure if I would be very comfortable on such small narrow boat.
Such a small place I could walk almost everywhere I need to. However, sometimes you might need a ride, maybe you are just lazy or caught in a rain storm. Tuktuk is the cheapest, quickest and convenient way to get from one place to another.
Moving around town: Walk or Tuk Tuk
Luang Prabang is a compact enough town so if you are not intending to stray further beyond the Peninsula and surrounds (the old part of the town), you can cover almost everywhere on foot.
It's a mere 30-40 minutes walk from the Post Office to Wat Pak Heng at the end of the peninsula and it can be a most joyful stroll as long as the temperature is not too high and the humidity not too muggy.
If you think walking is detestable, you can always hail and jump into a Tut Tut. Most journey around the old part of town is about 5000 Kips but if you're going further out (like beyond the old part of town), it can go up to 10000 Kips.
Tuk Tuk can also be hired to bring you to the Pak Ou Caves, Tad Se and Tad Kwang Si but make sure you bargain out a price first before you hop into 1 and be on your merry way!
- Budget Travel
- Hiking and Walking
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.
Yoy can rent bikes for not more than 10.000 Kip (less than 1 US $) for a whole day. We hired them in Phounsab Guesthouse but the quelity could be better.
We're too tall for these Asian bikes with their small frames.
- Budget Travel
So I have heard that they have not had a good track record but the flight was 45 minutes and the alternative was to drive on a windy road that can make most people sick to their stomach. The ticket was like $100 from the capital there.
Flying to Luang Prabang
Flights within Laos are fairly cheap but you miss the beauty of the countryside. Luang Prabang was $55 US and Xieng Khouang was $35. Visa-on-Arrival (good for a 15 day entry permit stamp only) is available at the airport - price is USD30 (payable in USD).
The Airport is on Airport Road which is across the Nam Khan River 5 km from town. You can hire a moto or taxi to take you to town.
speed boat from Huay Xai
We rode on a speed boat down the Mekong River from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang, the boat had 10 people on board and was very, very cramped and also loud. The trip took 6 hours and we were stiff and sore by the time we arrived, but i must admit i enjoyed it. Next time i'll catch the slow boat though (this take 2 days). We paid 1200 baht at Chiang Khong, Thailand (across the river from Huay Xai) and despite what some publications say, Loa visas are available on arrival at Huay Xai
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.
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!
Boats are best
Overall, boats were the best mode of transportation. Make sure you have enough time on your trip to use them.
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