Vientiane, Laos

Getting In


By Road

Within Laos
Buses from destinations in Vientiane Prefecture arrive at Vientiane's Talat Sao Bus Terminal, just east of the Morning Market. If you plan to depart from Vientiane to other destinations in Vientiane Prefecture, there is an informative schedule and schematic diagram of the bus piers painted on the central building, where you can also buy tickets.
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The city's Southern Bus Terminal is used by all buses (including VIP) arriving from the south. The terminal is located on Thanon Kaisone Phomvihane, which is the first stretch of Route 13 South - about 10 km north east of the city centre. If you are lucky, the cost of a tuk-tuk to the city is 15,000 kip. Public bus No. 23 stops by the entrance of the Southern Bus Terminal and connects it with the Talat Sao Bus Terminal (fare 5,000 kip). The Northern Bus Terminal has moved out of the city centre (20-30 minutes ride) and where all buses from the north arrive.

Buses at the Southern Bus Terminal by Ilya Plekhanov

From Thailand
The Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge (Saphan Mittaphap) connects Nong Khai, Thailand, with Vientiane. The bridge cannot be crossed on foot or by bicycle (however people have been seen strolling on the bridge), but there are frequent shuttle buses just past Thai immigration. The fare is around 20 baht but the price changes depending on the time of day and day of the week. Bicycles can be carried on the buses in the cargo compartment.

There are direct buses from Nong Khai (55 baht), Khon Kaen (180 baht) and Udon Thani (80 baht) arriving at the Talat Sao Bus Terminal. These buses are not an option if you plan to obtain a Lao visa on arrival at the bridge - the buses will not wait long enough. To get from the Udon Airport to the Friendship Bridge, a 200 baht minibus fare can be purchased at the airport and will drop you off on the Thai side of the bridge.

Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge by Media lib

From Vietnam
A direct bus from Hanoi to Vientiane takes at least 20 hours and should cost USD15-20. There is a local bus service that departs every day and twice a week VIP bus (better seats). For the local buses, apparently you're not always certain of a seat. The journey from Hue is 14-18 hours and cost USD20-30. The buses arrive at the Southern Terminal where you have to bargain hard with the tuk-tuk drivers. The ride to the city after midnight is 30,000 kip.

From Cambodia
The bus trip from Phnom Penh to Vientiane costs about USD50 if you go "VIP" - this involves a bed for the night portion of your trip. The bed is comfortable, though there have been reports of leaking windows and wet mattresses. Regardless of what the travel agent or bus company tells you, the Phnom Penh-Vientiane trip usually involves four separate buses (not two) and the whole journey takes about 27 hours. The Phnom Penh-Lao border and Pakse-Vientiane legs are comfortable enough. However in between the Lao border and Pakse you will be crammed into a minibus as the vehicle does the rounds of every guesthouse in the region. You will eventually be transferred into another van. It can take 4-6 hours and seldom clear where you are, where you are going or who is in charge.
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