Vietnam/Laos: night bus from Hanoi to Luang Prabang, through forests and hills

World Tour: Bus from Hanoi (Vietnam) to Luang Prabang (Laos)

Advised against by the people from the web, we “enjoy” the Laos hills lying on the uncomforable seats of the sleeping bus.

Percorso Sleeping Bus Hanoi - Luang Prabang

Route of the Sleeping Bus Hanoi – Luang Prabang

As we had to exit Vietnam because of our expiring visas, we decide to make a quick stop in Laos before heading to Thailand. Luang Prabang looks like the symbol city of the country and Lonely Planet puts it at the first place between the things that need to be seen.

We check on the internet how to get there and find out that the flight from Hanoi would be quite expensive, so we look for info about land means of transport and find many articles talking about the sleeping buses. They can take you from the Vietnamese capital to the second Laotian city. After a few researches, I find on the website how to book a bus directly from the web. To tell the truth in Hanoi, there are hundreds of agencies that can organise your transferral, with even a pick up at your hotel. The prices are more or less the same (about 50 Euros) and booking in advance you even have a document that you can present to the immigration office once you land in Vietnam.

Laos: Sleeping Bus da Hanoi a Luang Prabang

Laos: Sleeping Bus from Hanoi to Luang Prabang

Our bus leaves at 6.30pm, we take a taxi from the centre of Hanoi and in about 40 minutes we arrive at the bus station. It’s only a few kilometers to there, but the traffic is quite slow and, with the clock ticking, the fear to miss the bus arises. As soon as the taxi driver tells us we are there we rush to the check-in. Since we still have a few minutes left we look around hoping to find a minimarket where to get some food for the trip but we don’t find anything, weird. We have to be happy with a couple of Colas, some water and biscuits as we can’t find anything else.

The driver and his coworkers are around the bus and load/unload many boxes in the trunkload. As usual there is a strong optimisation, there is no way they would only use the bus for passengers. Finally we manage to get on as well. But for a couple of Vietnamese, everyone else is a foreigner. Some Australian, 3 generations of Russian (Grandma, mom and son), 2 Mexican and other guys from different ethnicities. The more we travel and the more we realise how many travelers there are on the South-East Asia. Beautiful places and cheap prices are an irresistible call to all the backpackers of the world.

Laos: Sleeping Bus da Hanoi a Luang Prabang

Laos: Sleeping Bus from Hanoi to Luang Prabang

I had never seen a night bus like this one: the seats are like lounge chairs, placed in 2 floors in 3 lines. There is no place for hand luggages, unless you can find an empty seat where to drop your stuff. Luckily it is my case and I find myself with a free seat in front of me, so I can put my backpack and my legs there. The spaces are Vietnamese size and I am taller than 1.80m.

They give us a blanchet each (no more, it is forbidden!) and the AC is super strong above our heads. Even though we try to close it, it almost feels like there is a constant breeze against us. Probably this, added to a not extremely comfortable bed in Laos, caused me a lightly stiff neck that made me suffer at every single bump in the road when we rented a bike afterwards.

Laos: Sleeping Bus da Hanoi a Luang Prabang

Laos: Sleeping Bus from Hanoi to Luang Prabang

Around 8.30pm we stop in the worst pub of the Hanoi suburbs to have dinner. We had lunch around 4.00pm so we skip it. In the street we take a look around and we notice there are only lorry drivers around. There are no other pubs in the surroundings, so if you didn’t buy something to eat beforehand, that is truly the only place where to grab a bite.

Vietnam: cena nel peggior bar della periferia di HanoiVietnam/Laos: dinner at the worst pub of the Hanoi suburbs

We go back to the bus and in a few hours, between a bump and the other, we fall asleep. We wake up from time to time until the bus doesn’t reach the border with Laos and it stops again around 5.00am. We stay on board to nap another couple of hours until the border opens around 1.00. Even though we are the first ones in a long line of buses/lorries, it takes us almost 2 hours to complete all the papers needed (there are no ATMs or anything like that but luckily we carry some cash with us).

Confine tra Vietnam e Laos

Laos: Border with Vietnam; you have to walk from one office to the other 

The trip goes on and keeps going for a few hours. The bus crosses many little villages, some made of only a handful of houses along the road. Only a few are made of bricks, the majority of them is made of wood and some are even above the ground, built on piles. We surpess also a few streams where we can see women doing their laundry. The landscape, filled with many hills, is rich of vegetation, thick and extremely green. The ground is red, clayish.

We stop to have lunch at a little village along the way. Driver and coworkers look like they know the place as the back of their hands. The menu is not very various, basically only rice or noodles with meat. The toilet is French style and not particularly clean, but still better than the bushes we will stop afterwards.

Laos: Panorama dallo sleeping Bus tra Vietnam e Laos

Laos: landscape from the sleeping Bus between Vietnam and Laos

Other 6 hours by bus and we are getting very bored and tired. We are forced to lie down by the shape of the seats and the bus, and as the road is very curvy I can’t even read or work on my computer. Night falls and we admire the sun disappearing behind the hills, leaving behind a clear sky, free of pollution.

We arrive at 7.30pm at the bus station and, witha tuc tuc, we arrive at our Guesthouse in Luang Prabang. We expected a “capital” or something like it since it is the second city of Laos, but it is very small. You can visit the centre in about 2 hours.

At the city centre there is the market, with many stalls that sells any kind of clothing (especially ethnic one), wooden objects and to top it off many paintings with views of the typical Laotian landscapes. In the transversal streets you can find many street food stalls with meat, fish and veggies. But we want to save a in-depth visit of the city for the next few days.

Laos: Il tuc tuc che ci ha portato dalla stazione dei bus al centro città

Laos: the tuc tuc that took us from the station to the city centre

Previous stop: Halong Bay

Next stop: Luang Prabang

Page about Vietnam: Clicca qui

Page about Laos: Clicca qui

Our itinerary summed up:

World tour day
Date Activity Mark Accommodation
68 12/12/16 Hanoi => Luang Prabang (night bus from Vietnam to Laos; departure 6.30pm, supposed arrivaò 6.00pm, real arrival 7.30pm) Bus
 69 13/12/16 Arrival in Luang Prabang 7.30pm Luang Prabang

Complete photo gallery:

Author: Ste


5 Responses to “Vietnam/Laos: night bus from Hanoi to Luang Prabang, through forests and hills

  • Ciao! Io e il mio ragazzo abbiamo intenzione di fare lo stesso viaggio da Hanoi a Luang Prabang. Domanda: è possibile entrare ed uscire dal Vietnam via terra? All’ arrivo c’ è da dimostrare qualche documentazione di uscita? Grazie! 🙂

Trackbacks & Pings

Leave a Reply