The limited options available on getting to Vientiane are some of the factors that keep Vientiane being flocked by tourists. International routes and services are quite limited, but this is slowly changing. There are basically two ways to get to Vientiane from outside of Laos: one is by flying and the other is by crossing the border from Thailand.
The quickest way of getting to Laos by air is to fly to the Wattay International Airport, the country’s main air gateway. The airport is located about 4 kilometers west of the city of Vientiane. Unfortunately, if you are coming from North America, Europe or Australia, there are no flights that go directly to Laos. The most common route is to fly to Bangkok in Thailand and from there transfer to another flight that heads straight to Vientiane. Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways and Laos Aviation have daily flights to and from Bangkok and Vientiane. Air Asia also offers three flights weekly from Malaysia. Flights are also available from Vietnam to Vientiane.
Now for those who are on a budget, the most affordable option of getting to Vientiane by air is to fly to Bangkok to the Thai border at Udon Thani. From there, cross the Mekong River to get to Vientiane.
There are a few options for getting to Vientiane by land. Although there are no trains in the country of Laos, you can take a train from Bangkok, Thailand to Udon Thani. Udon thani is located at the Thai Border of Laos. Cross the Friendship Bridge at Nong Khai that goes to the country of Laos. Just past the Thai immigration, you’ll find shuttle operators that will bring you across the border. It is not feasible to cross the Friendship Bridge by foot so travelers must make use of such services. Numerous transit operators offer bus and van services from the Khao San area of Bangkok to the border of Laos.
Once on the side of Laos, you can take another mini-bus to take you to Vientiane city. Public buses are also available. However, they are not too frequent and you might find yourself waiting for one to pass for a long time. You should be aware that international bus lines are extremely rare and hard to find, especially if you do not hold a visa. Bus ticketing officers often check passports, visas and documents before issuing a ticket as buses do not want to wait at the border for a painfully slow immigration process.
Although driving from Vietnam or Cambodia to Laos is possible, it is not highly recommend for two reasons. One, expect a minimum of 24 hours on the road along with some very tough and bumpy roads. And the second reason is that it is not advised due to the numerous incidences of banditry along the country borders.
Aside from Laos’ public and tourist transportation system, there aren’t too many options on getting to Vientiane independently. But for those who would love to visit the country, getting to the capital city by air is the easiest, quickest and most comfortable means of transport.