Vientiane is very walkable. Also, by walking you will see a lot that is often missed.
One suggestion though, Male or female, carry a folding umbrella with you, you will appreciate it in the heat of the day.
Tuktuk Vientiane style
This tuktuk is a cross between a Thai tuktuk and Filipino jeepney. It has a larger passenger wagon than the Thai counterpart. Negotiate the price before setting off. Great to see tourist sites that are a bit way out from the city centre. I tell you, it is very hot to walk around the streets of Vientiane, as the streets are not well covered with trees. The drivers are willing to wait for you while you sight-see.
- Budget Travel
Bus-long distance/Tuk tuk&walk-short distances
If you have a day /2 in Vientiane, you can cover most touristic spots and enjoy walks around town on foot. Or if you dare (assuming you don't know your way around and would need to refer to a map often) rent a motorbike/bicycle.Lots of travellers do it.
*From Wattay International Airport to city centre of Vientiane
By tuk tuk, it takes about 15minutes. Rate is 55kk but can be reduced to 45kk at least one way. Approach others who are likely to be headed in that direction and share the tab! Maybe they're gonna be headed in all directions you're heading to as well! Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng etc.
*From VTE to LP-Express bus
If you are pressed for time, take the Express bus 160kk one way if you purchase from your guesthouse. Evening bus is 7pm eventhough they might not leave on time. My guesthouse included transportation to the bus station which is more than 20minutes from the city centre. You are encouraged to 'check in' half hour before time. Seats are fixed so do request for WINDOW seat at the FRONT portion of the bus is best. Can get quite stuffy on the bus. No toilets but the bus will stop at least twice. 9 hours ride. They stuffed the bus with passengers even along the aisle so it was not easy to sleep and the driver drove pretty fast. Good experience but took the VIP for return journey.
*Opt for VIP Bus if you have the time from LP to VTE
Gotta check but think we paid 115kk one way from LP to VTE via the guesthouse who got us good seats. Upper deck is where the seats are. One row are single seats. The other row was double. Both sides you do get nice views so be prepared with your camera if that's your thing. Does get hot and sunny midway but there's the curtain. Lower deck is for toilet and lugguage. About 9 hours ride. This fee included transport to the bus station and lunch-noodles or rice with some vege/meat. Keep your ticket safely coz they will need to see it to redeem your lunch at the restaurant. Indicate to the waiter/waitress that u want 'khao' which means noodles in lao. OR if you want rice, just queue and a portion will be given to you. The bus stops in Vang Vieng for those who want to get off.
Why can't they have VIP buses doing overnight trips? More comfortable, cheaper, safer and has air-condition!Whyyyyy????
Strong advice-forgo overnight bus. Take the day VIP bus. The overnight bus is a health and safety threat! Too stuffed with passengers for the long journey.
AIRPORT TO CENTRE OF VIENTIANE BY BUS
Should you wish to avoid paying several dollars for a taxi from the airport to downtown Vientiane, walk straight out of the arrivals and out of the airport road to the main road. It is 5 minutes walk, then cross the main road and to your left is a bus stop where you can flag down a bus, which will take you to the centre for 4000 kip. The bus will drive down Thanon Setthathirat where you can hop off at the guest house area, Thanon Manthatulat.
speed boat to Pak Lay
Another water mode of transport to Pak Lay is by speed boat. They leave more frequently (daily, and a few times a day if enough costumers) from the same boat station as slow boats in Kaoieuw. This is also the most expensive, most dangerous and uncomfortable way to get there, but it's the fastest. It normally takes 4 hours, but we had some problems with the engine and it took us 5. There can be about 8 passengers in one boat and you'll be squeezed between the wooden bench and next passenger's back. It's certainly not for big people! No roof or front window which means you'll be exposed to direct sunlight, winds and rain. The sides are quite low and you can get wet very easy when you run over the rapids, so some waterproof jacket will is good if you have. Apply sun block cream, wear sun glasses (winds and reflection) and protect your ears with ear plugs as there's deafening noise if you're sitting just in front of the engine in the last two rows. You may want to protect your head with a scarf too, direct sunlight can be quite severe threat.
Helmet and safety jackets are provided, but I can honestly say they're not really in good shape.
Don't worry about your stuff (bags and backpacks), it's tight hard with ropes in the end and front of the boat. But do have good bag for your camera and protect it with waterproof cover (and keep it by yourself to minimise shaking which can harm it).
Boat stops once half way at the Mekong petrol station to fill the petrol. It's a short stop, but use the chance to straighten your back and legs or go to toilet. It is important to be practical for your maximum 'comfort'.
The procedure before taking boat is the same as by slow boat: buy ticket at the desk or directly by driver plus go to immigration desk. You can expect to pay something like 1000 baht as a foreigner (still, double prices).
Don't take speed boat if you're in any way afraid of speed or don't trust the boat or driver - truth is that few boats already drowned.
IMPORTANT UPDATE 2011: Speed boats no longery ply the route between Kaoliew- Pak Lay. Now, your only way to get there is by bus. Pity, that slow boat is off, too.
- Diving and Snorkeling
- Water Sports
boat to Sayabouly province - Pak Lay town
There are three ways to get to Pak Lay:
1. slow boat
2. speed boat
3. local bus
Going by slow boat you'll need to get to Kaoliew boat/ferry station, which is about 10 km outside the VTE centre. Take tuk-tuk. Slow boat to Pak lay leaves few days a week (Fridays for sure), around 9 am (it is never really punctual) and it's recommended to be there before 9 in order to sort out ticket and something what they call immigration (which is strange, because you don't leave Lao teritorry really and you'll land in Pak Lay... on the other hand, you'll be flowing on the borderline, so it somehow make sense). In the immigration "office", you'll be required to show your passport or identification paper if you're Thai, Lao, or working in Lao, then pay some small fee before departure - we were charged 2000 KIP. The officer will only make a note in their notebook including your name, destination and nationality plus they'll take money.
You can pay the ticket on the boat (in this case they can sometimes charge more) or the ticket office and as a foreigner you'll pay 130 000 KIP. If you live there or work or Lao national, you'll pay less. It's a long journey, about 9 hrs to Pak Lay and about 5-6 hrs to Sanakham so take snacks or lunch with you and drinking water. There is toilet on the boat, which can be sometimes very small place (depends on the boat) and you need to have your toilet paper.
It's probably the nicest mode of transport to Pak Lay and the most comfortable too. You'll learn a lot about Mekong on that journey.
IMPORTANT UPDATE 2011: Boats no longer run to Pak Lay! Buses, do.
- Road Trip
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
.. to Vang Vieng, Hin Heup and so on...
If you want to take a local bus to VV, HH and so forth (short distance) you'll take one at the bus station near Morning Market, by Khua Din Market precisely. These buses won't have air-con, comfy seats, they'll get crowded and journey will take 4 hrs untill they reach Vang Vieng. But... you'll experience how Lao people travel and maybe made have some nice conversations with s local. Quite a growing numbers of backpackers and adventurers take these buses nowsadays. Ticket price is 40 000 KIP to VV and you pay on the bus.
From the very same bus station you can take Lao Thai bus to Thailand (Nong Khai, Udon Thani). Buy ticket at the counter, but since tickets are real cheap, they can sell out pretty fast, so it's worth to come earlier to secure a seat at one of the buses. They run several times daily.
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
go to South
If you travel to Southern provinces, you will have to go to Southern bus station, which is about 8 km from the centre. Take tuk-tuk. It's new station, opened since 2006 only.
There are many buses leaving almost every hour to Pakse, Savannakhet and once or twice a day to Paksong, Attapeu and less popular destiantions; for the local bus VTE-Paxse you'll pay 100 000 KIP one way, VIP is more. But... we took once VIP, got flat tire twice, seats were old... and arrived there in 12 hours (we took it in Thabok!) Suppose you arrive to the station with your backpack and just want to leave with the fist one, you better ask what kind of 'VIP' bus you get at that time and for what price, because perhaps you will feel disappointed over the VIP title - it won't look much better than a local bus, but you'll pay more than it was worth.
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Bicycle around Vientiane
In late march 2001, we rented bicycles and cycled around to have a look at some temples, pagodas and the city in general. It would have been nice if it wasn't for the heat!... We stoped at any place with AC, like internetcafes, cafes etc. But we did see some pagodas and temples inbetween...
- Arts and Culture
Thai-Lao International Bus
There's a Thai-Lao International Bus from Vientiane to the Thai town of Nong Khai, which is just over the First Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge that spans the Mekong River. It left at 9.30am from the main bus station beside Talat Sao Mall and took all of 10 minutes to clear immigration on the Laos side. However, Thai immigration took ages as it was a Sunday with many Lao people visiting Thailand for the day. The trip took about 2 hours and cost 15,000 kip (55 baht). Remember that a land crossing back into Thailand now only gets you a 15-day stay.
Tuk-tuks and their bigger cousin’s jumbos are ubiquitous in Vientiane. To charter a tuk-tuk/jumbo, agree on the fare in advance; short hops within the city shouldn't cost more than 5000 kip, although as a tourist you may have difficulty bargaining to less than US$1 (10000K). All the tuk-tuk drivers carry a fare card for popular destinations but these fares are ridiculously inflated. Walking away can make the fare drop by 50% instantly.
Airlines servicing Vientiane
Flights to Vientiane are not frequent or cheap. Most air service is only once a day. The exception being Lao Airlines from Bangkok, Siem Reap and Hanoi with two flights a day and Thai from Bangkok. Other airlines with service are China Southern from Guangzhou, Air Asia from Kuala Lampur and Vietman Airlines from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Phen.
Tuk Tuk is the way to go
The Tuk Tuk is the best way to get around town under $3 to anywhere you want to go no matter how far the distance. From the airport to downtown its about $2 verses a taxi which is at a fixed price of $5. In order to get a Tuk Tuk at the airport you must go to the main road in front of the airport. They are not allowed to stop at the airport in order to give the taxi's more money.
when u take the 'tuk tuk'
My family spent 4 days in Vientianne. It was a lovely family holiday. Jus a simple tip when you hire the tuk-tuk..these people are very much aware who are tourist. From the hotel we stay Ramayana Gallery Hotel at Lanexang Avenue to Mekong River is US$6. Finally on the third day, we found that we could take a nice walk to Mekong River !!
Jus beware of the price quoted and try to bargain...
- Family Travel
Train from Bangkok to Vientiance (well border)
Review of thaifocus travel agent, seat61.com and buying train tickets from bangkok..
Came across a website called www.seat61.com which details train travel across thailand. Found it very helpful. It listed a number of travel agents you can use to book your seat on the thai railway system. I wanted a seat from bangkok to the border of thailand where you reach laos. I think its called Nong kai. It recommends one called thaifocus which i decided to use. It stated that the company does charge high commission, but did not basically tell me that the company was a rip off. I bought tickets equaling 150 usd and then found out the tickets only actually cost 75 dollars and they had charged me 75 dollars in commission. Thats a complete farce. Be wary when using the recommendations on seat61 website, and travel agents in thailand. If possible go directly to the thai railway station to buy your tickets to avoid this. Also avoid khao san road travel agents, they too charge extortionate amounts.
- Budget Travel