After a few days in Vientiane, it's time to head further north to see the rest of Laos. These are our experiences taking a bus between Vientiane to Vang Vieng, two of the country's most popular tourist destinations.
Taking the bus in Laos
How much does a ticket cost?
A ticket from Vientiane to Vang Vieng cost us 40,000 kip per person (just over $4).
Where to buy a ticket in Vientiane
We booked our bus directly from our guest house. Every hotel, hostel, and guest house will have a tour booking desk, so just ask around. Prices will be the same everywhere.
What is it like riding the bus between Vientiane and Vang Vieng?
We booked the earliest bus from Vientiane to Vang Vieng. The company would pick up up around 9:00, and we were told the bus would take about three hours. Here is our experience:
9:00 - we sit in the lobby of our guest house waiting to be picked up
9:30 - an electric golf cart arrives in front of our guesthouse to take up to the bus station
10:00 - we board the bus, but have to wait for the golf cart to go back and pick up the rest of the travelers from their hotels
10:30 - we are on our way!
1:00 - we take a 30-minute break to use the toilet and buy snacks at a rest area
3:00 - we finally arrive in Vang Vieng
How long does it take to get from Vientiane to Vang Vieng?
Although we were told the trip would only take three hours (from 9:00 am to noon), we didn't leave until after 10:00, and didn't arrive until 3:00, three hours later than we were told. We have come to expect this while traveling in southeast Asia, though. Be sure to add a few extra hours to any travel time that you are quoted.
What is the bus like?
We were very happy to be riding on a regular coach-style VIP bus, and not a minivan. The minivans are small, cramped, travel too fast, and result in a lot more accidents than the regular size buses.
The bus we were on was new, comfortable, and modern. It was nothing special, but completely comfortable for the long journey.
Is it safe to travel by bus in Laos?
As long as you are traveling by day, it should be ok. The roads are terrible - even the best roads, such as the national highway between Vientiane and Luang Prabang are muddy and potholed at the best of times. All of the trucks, buses, and cars slow to a crawl while navigating the potholes in the road, adding hours to driving time.
The roads in the mountains can be winding, and drivers will accelerate through the wrong lane to try to pass others who they deem are going too slow.
The bus we were on never drove too fast or recklessly. Overall, as long as you are on a bus and not a minivan, you should be ok. Just make sure that you are traveling with a reputable company.
Does the bus stop between Vientiane and Vang Vieng?
The bus makes a stop at a rest area about halfway between Vientiane and Vang Vieng. The bus stops for about half an hour, giving riders time to stretch their legs, visit the toilet, and grab a snack or a drink at the little minimart at the rest area.
- Overall, it was a fairly comfortable and stress-free experience. Yes, the roads are bad and VERY winding, so you might want to take a Dramamine if you happen to be prone to motion sickness.
- The driver drove slowly and carefully, and we felt safe on the entire trip.
- The journey did take longer than we were quoted, but it was about as long as we expected it to take.
- There is NO TOILET on board the bus.
- The bus is comfortable and air-conditioned.
- Ticket prices are reasonable and easy to book.
- There was amazing scenery outside the window as we drove through the countryside.