There are now three daily trains from Vientiane to Luang Prabang on the Laos-China Railway. We took the slightly slower train which basically cost half that of the faster train.
How to buy a train ticket for the Vientiane to Luang Prabang train
In December 2022 it was not possible to buy tickets online because they have had lots of technical problems.
The main options were to buy a ticket through a travel agency/hotel, buy it from the railway station or go to the ticket office which is about 1,5 Kms from most of the Guest Houses.
The railway station is not a realistic option because it’s 16 Kms from the centre and as we prefer to do things independently and not pay a commission we simply went to the ticket office.
The ticket office opens at 10am, but we deliberately went there a little before (09:40) because we were hoping to travel the next morning.
There was a line already when we arrived and took us 50 minutes in total to get our tickets.
The ticket sales person spoke a little English. The problem of them not accepting cash or foreign credit cards is easily resolved because there is a man who will pay through his phone for you. You only have to pay a 30,000 kip commission.
We were lucky and managed to get the exact tickets we wanted – 08:00 the next day. There is also a faster train at 07:30 and at 15:30.
How to get to Vientiane Railway Station
We were up early and had some congee (rice porridge) at a roadside stand.
We then managed to negotiate a tuk tuk for 120,000 kip which was much cheaper than we had been quoted by our Guest House.
Vientiane Railway Station
The Laos-China has only been opened a year and everything is new. The Station is huge with airport like security.
I had read that it was very strict and was managed by a Chinese company. We found it very straightforward.
The toilets are free and very clean and you can also get hot or cold water from dispensers.
The train from Vientiane
It’s a new train which runs from Vientiane to the border with China. Seats are a little squeezed with five across the carriage.
The journey was smooth and ran perfectly on time with an 08:00 departure and an arrival of 10:45.
How to get from Luang Prabang Railway Station to town
It’s really easy to get from Luang Prabang Railway Station to town. There are minibuses waiting outside the station and you simply buy a 35,000 kip ticket before boarding.
It takes about 25 minutes to travel the 13kms into the centre of Luang Prabang.