Laos Country Guide

Getting Around

Travelling across Laos by road or river can be as rewarding as the destination itself, passing through farmlands, villages, small towns, forests and mountains. Travelling by air is of course a faster option but you will miss much of the adventure. Take note that the country's transport system is not as efficient compared to neighbouring Thailand or Vietnam. Therefore, allow plenty of leeway in your schedule for the near inevitable delays, cancellations and breakdowns.
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By Plane
State carrier Lao Airlines has a near-monopoly on domestic flights. The fairly comprehensive network is by far the fastest way of reaching many parts of the country. The popular Vientiane-Luang Prabang route takes 40 minutes by air but would take you at least 10 to 12 hours by bus. Flights to more remote destinations (on turboprop planes) are frequently cancelled without warning if the weather is bad or not enough passengers show up.

Wattay International Airport in Vientiane (Central Laos) is the main airport and hub for domestic air travel in Laos. Luang Prabang International Airport (Northern Laos) and Pakse International Airport (Southern Laos) are the other main airports. All three airports are directly linked to one another by Lao Airlines. Other (smaller) airports serve the towns of Phonsavan, Savannakhet, Louang Namtha, Sayaboury and Thakhek. Lao Airlines flies directly between Vientiane and the airports serving these towns.

Pakse Airport by Jialiang Gao

By Songthaew
A songthaew is a truck-based vehicle with a pair of bench seats in the back, one on either side - hence the name meaning "two rows" in Thai. The most common type is based on a pick-up truck and has a roof and open sides. Songthaews operate extensively as local buses (most economical way to travel short distances) and as taxis - sometimes the same vehicle will be used for both. Be careful if asking a songthaew to take you to someplace if there is nobody in the back, the driver might charge you the taxi price. In this case, check the price of the ride before embarking.

By Tuk-Tuk
The name tuk-tuk is used to describe a wide variety of small lightweight vehicles. The vast majority have three wheels, some are entirely purpose-built and others partially built from motorcycle components. The rates are negotiable and you should clearly bargain rates prior to getting on a tuk-tuk. In Vientiane, a tuk-tuk organisation controls prices that tourists are expected to pay for point to point destinations.

Tuk-tuk in Laos by Jpatokal

By Motorcycle
Motorcycle travel in Laos is not without risks but the rewards of independent travel are great. There are several rental shops in Vientiane. The quality of machines varies from shop to shop, so you need to fully inspect the motorcycle before heading out on the road. Helmets are not only mandatory in Laos but a valuable item in a place where traffic rules are made up by the minute. Police have been cracking down on people who do no have a motorcycle licence, so expect to pay a fine if caught without one.

Country Guide

Laos Hotels
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Huay Xai
Louang Namtha
Luang Prabang
Muang Sing
Vang Vieng

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