Laos

What to Expect: Luang Prabang to Vientiane Night Bus

One of the oldest backpacking tricks is to take a night bus to save money on accommodation. But is the Luang Prabang to Vientiane night bus safe? If you ask us, of course the answer is a big yes, as long as you choose one of those VIP sleepers.

Now, let’s share some notes and tips for you.

[The image above is taken from the top of Patuxai showing a part of Vientiane. The United Nations House is on the left.]

Some people take the slow boat to Chiang Mai. Here’s a list of top-rated hotels in Chiang Mai’s Old City.

Book a 10-PM ticket or a later time.

If you want to get to Vientiane as early as possible, then skip this tip.

At the travel agency, we were informed that the trip would take 10 hours. We factored in a few hours of delay, so we opted for the 8:30, thinking that we’d reach our destination at around 7 or 8 AM. The cost of the ticket was 150,000 kip (see image below).

But the ride was smooth, and there was no delay.

We arrived in Vientiane early in the morning, around 5 o’clock. It was also raining that day, so we had to wait a bit for the skies to change its color.

The Northern Bus Station in Vientiane is several kilometers from the city center.

We got lucky because there was a tuk-tuk offering to take us downtown, but we don’t know if transportation would be easier or difficult had we arrived at the expected time.

Also read: What’s the Best Area to Stay in Vientiane?

Luang Prabang to Vientiane Ticket Cost

Take the VIP Sleeper.

This is what it looks like inside – 3 rows of upper and lower berths. You’ll have room for your feet, but if you’re over 6 feet, you might find it difficult to fit in.

Why should you not take the other types of buses?

Here’s a precautionary story courtesy of Backpackerlee. Read it to learn from his experience.

Luang Prabang to Vientiane Night Bus

No need to buy food or water.

Your ticket comes with a meal with a small bottle of water. You’ll also be given a plastic bag for your footwear. If you don’t have one, simply ask the conductor.

Luang Prabang to Vientiane Night Bus Food

Don’t forget your jacket.

You’ll be provided with a fleece blanket, but this may not be enough especially for coldies. Expect the AC to be on full blast.

If you decide to put your backpack in the luggage compartment, do not forget to take your jacket with you.

Also read: Dos and Don’ts in Luang Prabang, Laos

Sleep and enjoy the ride.

Some people say the road is rough, but we don’t have any recollection of it being so. That’s because we were fast asleep.

Enjoy your Luang Prabang to Vientiane night bus ride!

Some Notes: Blue Lagoon, Vang Vieng by Bike

Is it possible to reach the Blue Lagoon, Vang Vieng by bike? The short answer is a resounding YES! We did it, and we have no reason to believe that you can’t.

In fact, we recommend that you cycle towards the lagoon. The sights along the way are as nice as the destination.

Here are some notes and tips to heed.

The Blue Lagoon is not difficult to locate.

This Vang Vieng attraction may be at the end of Tham Poukham Road, but you’ll be cycling along a well-paved surface. There are a few uphills, so you may need to stop pedaling and walk your bike until you get to the flat parts of the road.

Choose a sturdy bike.

Sure, a bike with a basket can get you a lot of likes on Instagram, but trust us when we say choose the most heavy-duty one that you can find.

It’s about 8 km. from Molina Bungalows.

Sure, it’s far from the center, but by bike, it’ll take you between 30 to 45 minutes.

According to Google Maps, the Blue Lagoon is about 8 km. from Molina Bungalow, our hostel in Vang Vieng.

Take a look.

Blue Lagoon, Vang Vieng by Bike

Blue Lagoon, Vang Vieng by Bike: Add two side trips.

You can also check out Khan Kham Cave and hike up to Pha Ngeun viewpoint. These should take you only a few hours.

However, if you’re planning on checking out Blue Lagoon 2 and 3, it’s better to rent a scooter. These attractions are too far away.

On a clear day, here’s what you can see at the viewpoint.

Not-So-Short Hike to Pha Ngeun Viewpoint in Vang Vieng

What to Expect at the Blue Lagoon

It’s going to feel touristy, but it’s still nice. Bring enough money with you because there’s an entrance fee, and the restaurants at the lagoon have a higher price tag.

If you still have some energy left, you might want to check out Tham Poukham Cave. The entrance/exit point is located within the Blue Lagoon compound.

RELATED: E-Bike: Best Way to See the Temples in Bagan, Myanmar

Here are some images.

Blue Lagoon, Vang Vieng by Bike

Vang Vieng Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon in Vang Vieng

Buddha Park

Pumpkin – What Bounleua Sulilat and Yayoi Kusama Have in Common

We took the night bus from Luang Prabang to Vientiane, and as soon as we arrived in the capital, we went straight to Buddha Park (Wat Xieng Khuang) following these instructions.

“Buddha Park is more curious than spectacular,” says Travelfish.org.

We couldn’t agree more.

But we’re writing this because we’d like to celebrate the artistry of Luang Pu Bounleua Sulilat, a Lao sculptor and the mastermind behind the grotesque figures in Buddha Park, which he started constructing in 1958.

We forgot how many statues are in the park, but most of them are influenced by Hinduism and Buddhism. Expect to see figures of animals, gods, and humans. Of course, Mr. Sulilat has one for himself.

For us, the most striking of these sculptures is the 3-storey Giant Pumpkin with a gaping-mouth entrance. It’s supposed to represent the “level of hell, earth and heaven.”

We can’t help but wonder. What is it about pumpkins that Mr. Sulilat and Japan‘s Yayoi Kusama find interesting? Of all the vegetables, why the pumpkin?

Here’s Mr. Sulilat’s Giant Pumpkin at the entrance of the park…

Giant Pumpkin Buddha Park

… and here’s one of Yayoi Kusama’s pumpkins displayed beside Kyoto‘s Gion Corner.

Pumpkin Sculpture Kyoto Yayoi Kusama

Here are some more images of the sculptures in Wat Xieng Khuang, starting with what’s inside the Giant Pumpkin.

Inside the Giant Pumpkin Buddha Park

Animal Sculpture Buddha Park Laos

Buddha Park Sculpture

Buddha Park

Dos and Don'ts in Luang Prabang

Dos and Don’ts in Luang Prabang, Laos

While looking for a nice place to eat, we stumbled upon a bamboo-framed board listing some Dos and Don’ts in Luang Prabang. Of course, we took a picture, and we’d like to share its content with you “for future reference.”

  • Do check your money at exchanges (particularly nearby).
  • Do visit Utopia – go for a drink and relax all day.
  • Do exercise caution and wear helmets renting bikes.
  • Do climb Phousi at sunrise from the back.
  • Do observe a colourful monk procession.
  • Do brave the heights of the communist era bridge.
  • Do cross the Mekong and visit an abandoned temple.
  • Do dance and drink at a Lao disco.
  • Don’t walk the streets alone late at night.
  • Do eat at a Lao sindad.
  • Do visit 2 of the 3 waterfalls.
  • Don’t engage in undesirable behavior with local females.
  • Do swim with the children under the old bridge.
  • Do listen to the 4:00 PM rhythmic beat of Wat Sene drums.
  • Do spend a unique overnight in a Hmong hilltribe homestay.
  • Do kayak on one of the four tributaries of the Mekong.
  • Do give back and donate some books for Lao children.
  • Don’t stay less than 3 nights in Luang Prabang.
  • Do combine multi-days of mountain biking, treking, and kayaking.
  • Do meditate or do yoga in the esthetic gardens of Utopia.
  • Do respect Lao culture, tradition and customs by… wearing more and thinking more.
  • Do photograph this board for future reference.

What do we think about the list?

One, we like that it also emphasizes on the cultural experience of a Luang Prabang trip. This is unlike a lot of travel blogs that, for the most part, suggest sightseeing activities. However, if you do all the “do’s,” you’ll need at least a week in Luang Prabang.

Two, we haven’t heard (or read) anyone say “disco” in a long time. Wink!

Three, Utopia is quite difficult to find. But if you must drop by, don’t forget your favorite brand of insect repellent especially late in the afternoon. Four, as what we’ve stated here, avoid Laos during the rainy season.

Enjoy Luang Prabang!

Also read: A Not-So-Short Hike to Pha Ngeun Viewpoint in Vang Vieng