Laos Country Guide

Getting Around


By Road

The roads and highways in Laos have improved since the beginning of 2000, but the fact that 80% of the roads remain unpaved is a telling statistic. Still, the main routes connecting Vientiane, Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang and Savannakhet are now paved with asphalt. Furthermore, there are several transport options including bus, minibus and converted trucks.
Save on your hotel -

Route 13 by Pho Nhay

Some common routes through Laos include:

Paksan to Phonsavan
Much of the road from Paksan to Phonsavan is paved and travel time is 4-5 hours. The small town of Tha Thom is half way between Paksan and Phonsavan, several guesthouses and noodle shops line the road. The lush forest along the route is disappearing due to logging but still a beautiful route.

Luang Prabang to Phonsavan
Riding in a minibus can be cramped, so arrive early to get good seats and be near the front as possible. The journey passes beautiful views through the countryside and forests, so secure a window seat if possible.

Phonsavan to Sam Neua
Ride in a converted pickup truck and the journey passes through beautiful views of hills and forests. There are also lots of bends and therefore prepare yourself for possible nausea.

Sam Neua to Muang Ngoi
A 12-hour minivan trip along a horrible road but offers good views. A necessary evil but fun if you're prepared to get a few knocks and talk to some Lao people who are, after all, in the same boat.

Muang Ngoi to Louang Namtha
A much travelled route by backpackers. Take a boat from Muang Ngoi to Nong Khiaw and from here take a bus to Oudomxay. From Oudomxay there are buses to Louang Namtha.

Louang Namtha to Huay Xai
The road is only passable in the dry season but the same journey can be made by boat in the rainy season. The road from Luang Namtha to Huay Xai is very good.

Route 20 by GuillaumeG

VIP, Minibus or Car?
A typical VIP bus is just an old bus (generally retired Chinese tour buses) and may be prone to breakdowns but offer leg room which can make a long journey more comfortable. Minibuses are quicker and more expensive but doesn't mean they are necessarily better. Both are usually air conditioned, though they may not always work. A rented car with driver is even more expensive (usually around USD95 per day) but certainly the most convenient. Some even drive into Thailand, China, Cambodia and Vietnam. Cars can be arranged by the tour agencies, tourist hotels and car rental companies.

Hop-on Hop-off Buses
You can also travel the entire length of Laos using a fully guided "hop-on hop-off" bus service by Stray Travel ( This is the only guided hop-on hop-off bus in South East Asia. There are several routes that you can choose and are specially designed for backpackers and adventurous travellers. Though not the cheapest way to travel, they are a convenient option into the off-beaten track. Also, your accommodation (often local villages and guesthouses) are arranged by Stray Travel before your journey.

Country Guide

Laos Hotels
Search 100+ sites in a single site for the best hotel deals. Powered by HotelsCombined.

Huay Xai
Louang Namtha
Luang Prabang
Muang Sing
Vang Vieng

More destinations...

Click here for the best hotel deals -

Guide Southeast Asia l  About Site  l  Terms of Use  l  Privacy Policy  l  Creative Commons  l  Site Map  l
Written content sourced and credited to this Wikitravel page.