Filled with cultural attractions, caves, elephant camps, ancient temples and royal palaces, Luang Prabang is one of the most interesting places to see in Laos. And being a famed UNESCO World Heritage Site with a modern transportation system in place, getting to Luang Prabang is easy.
There are three possible ways to get to the city. You can fly, travel by land or take a journey by sea. The easiest and most convenient way to get to Luang Prabang is by air, although nobody shall stop you from trying other ways to get to the country, especially if you’re the adventurous kind.
Getting to Luang Prabang by air is the most practical route. The Luang Prabang International Airport runs daily international flights to and from Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Hanoi and Siem Reap. The Laos Airlines, Bangkok Airways and Siem Reap Airlines operate three flights daily to Luang Prabang.
The Luang Prabang International Airport is roughly 4 kilometers away from the city center. There are private airport transfer companies in the city, but you should inquire with the hotel you plan on staying for any free airport shuttle. If free airport transport is not provided, you can hire a tuk-tuk or have the hotel arranged a tuk-tuk to come pick you up at the airport. Either way, a tuk-tuk should cost you less than a taxi.
Getting to Luang Prabang by land is possible although it is an ill-advised option. You will have to fly to Vientiane and Vang Vieng first, which have bus companies with routes going to Luang Prabang. In addition, there are not many paved roads leading to Luang Prabang, plus the land travel from Vang Vieng and Vientiane takes roughly nine hours long.
Getting to Luang Prabang by sea is a popular mode of transportation to get to the city. You can get to Luang Prabang from the country’s capital city (Vientiane) as well as from Huay Xai and Chiang Kong in Thailand down the Mekong River. There are two kinds of boat offering journeys to Luang Prabang: the speedboat and the “slowboat”. There are speedboats from Thailand offering six-hour trips to Luang Prabang, and there are also cruise boats offering two- to three-day cruises from Chiang Kong to Luang Prabang. Also, there’s a one day cruise from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang.
By slow boat, getting to Luang Prabang will take about 2 days, with about 15 hours each day anchored or buoyant in the sea. You can also catch a boat stopping by in Pakbeng if you’re coming from China. Public transportations are available North East of the country from China’s border.
Slowboats and speedboats offer daily trips to Luang Prabang. The Luang Xay Cruise has cruises three times a week.
Getting to Luang Prabang can be enjoyable, especially if your budget will allow it. Take the cruise and enjoy being out in the sea and just delight in the scenery. However, between speedboats and “slow boats”, you’d be wise to choose slow boats unless you want to arrive in the city totally exhausted from the trip.