Travel Guide to Vientiane Province
Though often overlooked, the province is easy to access, and an adequate local transport system offers several ways to get around. Accommodation is readily available in all price ranges, and dining choices start giving you a true taste of Laos.
Busses to towns in the province depart from the capital’s Central Bus Station near the Morning Market and the Northern Bus station west of town. Busses leave on the hour for Vang Vieng and Thalat/Nam Ngum, and a daily bus departs for Kasi at 08:30. You can also book passage in a van for Vang Vieng from Vientiane. Or, simply grab a ticket for a minivan at a travel agent.
The more adventurous can take the first step into an authentic Lao experience by jumping on a sawng taew (Pickup trucks with benches) at the Northern Bus Station for a slower scenic ride with locals who get on and off along the way. Vans and busses are also available from Luang Prabang and Xieng Khouang, and VIP sleepers depart Pakse. You can book direct bus and van service from Bangkok.
There are loads of options for getting around Vang Vieng. You can walk around town, ride a bicycle to caves clusters, and hop on a mountain bike for rougher terrain. Motorcycles can get you around faster, whether you need a scooter, motocross bike, or quad. Plenty of shops around town offer rentals. You can also travel independently by tuk tuk, and create your own itinerary. Negotiate with a tuk tuk driver, and you should pay him to wait to ensure a ride back to town.
There are also several ways to get to and around the Nam Ngum Lake area. You can reach Thalat Town from Vientiane Capital, and from there, you can take a tuk tuk to Na Nam near the dam, or to your guesthouse or resort. You can hire a taxi for about $25 in Vientiane to tour the lake and its surroundings. Try travelling between Tha Hua on the lake’s north and Na Nam near the dam by boat.
Vientiane province offers 18 hotels, 26 resorts, about 12 bungalows, more than 200 guesthouses, a homestay village, and camping. Most accommodation is located in Vang Vieng and the south-western shore area of Nam Ngum Lake. Guesthouses start at around $8 and can run to more than $40 per night depending on its facilities. Hotels and resorts can range from $25 to more than $500. Some resorts on Nam Ngum provide water and outdoor activities.
Vientiane Province offers more than 200 restaurants. Those near Nam Ngum mostly offer a selection of fish dishes, including minced fish salad, fish soup, and steamed fish with fresh herbs. Vang Vieng has plenty of eateries serving international and local dishes, and organic farms have mulberry shakes, tea, wine, jellies, and jams on their menus and shop shelves.