Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng – Highway to Hell?

Once you google “Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng” you’ll find tons of articles on how bad the trip is, that even people who are normally not prone to motion sickness get motion sick, that the road is in a bad condition and that this 7 hour ride will be the worst ride of your entire life…

Let’s be honest. Haven’t we read the same thing for almost every bus ride in Asia? I can remember reading the same for the trip from Dalat to Na Thrang in Vietnam, from Ubud to Lovina in Bali, from Chiang Mai to Pai and almost every location in Laos. I have to admit that I always check travel forums to prepare myself for another tiring journey. It doesn’t do any good. So, in case you are about to travel from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng or vice versa, this post might help you. (please don’t read forum discussions like these.)

Getting to Vang Vieng is fairly easy. We purchased two tickets for the morning bus at 9:30 at one of the several tour companies in Luang Prabang. The procedure is the same as the one to Nong Khiaw. You’ll be picked up by a driver with a way too small mini van and you’ll be wondering how you will survive the next hours in that crowded car. Don’t worry, you will exchange cars at the main bus terminal. Read my tips for that procedure here. Long story short: get off the pick up mini van – leave your luggage on the roof of the mini van – run to the lady at the cashier – get registered – get your bus number – run to your assigned bus- get the best seats!

There are two roads that lead to Vang Vieng, one is the more scenic but also more curvy one, the other one is a little bit more pleasant. This is the route that we took. We’ve been told that the route via Route 4 is the newer and better one. We were glad that we took this route. If you want to be sure, ask your driver if he will take route 4. IMG_3217

The other route would run via Vang Kham. It is supposed to be more scenic but at the same time more dangerous and curvy. The estimated 3 hours 44 min were definitely not right for the journey but neither were the 8 hours that you here about in forums. Our journey was about 5:30 hours long and we were surprised how fast it went by. There is a stop with a little restaurant and restrooms available.

We arrived in Vang Vieng at around 3 o’clock. You will be dropped off outside Vang Vieng where Tuk Tuks are waiting for you to get you to the centre. We bargained but couldn’t drop the price a lot although we were a big group. We payed 20.000 each.

Take away: Don’t be stressed if you’re up for this journey. Sure, no bus ride in Asia is fun, but this isn’t as bad as people tell you.

IMG_8008
our minivan with a well working air-con
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